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Description: Change the Rotation INTERVIEWS SPECIAL FEATURES RANDOM RECORDS SHOW REVIEWS SHOWS NEW MUSIC REVIEWS In Rotation: The Taxpayers - Big Delusion Factory Phil Collins - July 24, 2016 The Taxpayers' latest
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Change the Rotation INTERVIEWS SPECIAL FEATURES RANDOM RECORDS SHOW REVIEWS SHOWS NEW MUSIC REVIEWS In Rotation: The Taxpayers - Big Delusion Factory Phil Collins - July 24, 2016 The Taxpayers' latest album centers on piano-led excursions with on-point lyrics. This album continues to challenge what folk punk is supposed to sound like. Listening to the Portland band's last couple albums, we get another interpretation of The Taxpayers' niche. They embrace a jazzy noir feel on "Little Black Box." Jangly horn and piano lines flow through unexpected turns. "Brain Drain (Tunnel of Love)" instantly ranks among the band's most explosive tracks. "Roll Call" juxtaposes strings and distorted guitar hits. The lyrics on "Easy Money" are urgent and vital. It was surprising when The Taxpayers suddenly released Big Delusion Factory last month. Their last album, Cold Hearted Town, came out in 2013. That does not sound like a terribly long gap between full-lengths, but consider that the group released something every year between 2009 and 2013. So three years without much activity from the band felt like a lenghty stretch. It is important then, that this album delivers the quality material it does. "Goodbye Balance" is exactly the kind of song I think of when The Taxpayers come to mind. They always sound sure-footed on uneven ground. Read more here CTR picks our top 22 PIX releases from 22 years of Plan-It-X Records Steve O - July 20, 2016 Earlier this year the news broke that, after twenty-two years, Plan-It-X Records was calling it a day. Label co-founder Chris Clavin sites the difficulties in running a physical label in these digital times and the financial struggles involved, while also stating that “Plan-it-X is no longer needed.” Now I’m sure that last claim could be debated, but what is unanimous is that it is indeed a sad fact that Plan-It-X is throwing in the towel. Over those twenty-two years, Plan-It-X released over a hundred great records, played a large role in introducing folk punk to the world, had its own festival that raised money for charity, and perhaps most importantly, served as a communal network and aid to innumerable punks and bands. And so here, in the twenty-second and last year of Plan-It-X, and about a month before Plan-It-X Fest (as of this writing), we gather to recollect on those twenty-two years. Much like the passing of Gordie Howe brought beautiful recollections and tales of his hockey prowess and high character; we have chosen here to celebrate the achievements of Plan-It-X Records instead of mourning its retirement. We collectively determined our twenty-two favorite Plan-It-X releases, in honor of twenty-two years of the label, using a pretty legit and mathematical process. In what follows below, we tell you why these twenty-two records stand out and why Plan-It-X Records means so much to us. We all have fond memories of these bands; discovering them, telling our friends about them, seeing them play live. It’s purely speculative fiction to say this still would have happened without Plan-It-X. The fact is that Plan-It-X had a knack for being involved with sincere musicians, who were dedicated to the DIY ethic and made music with a positive and important message. So without further ado (and any more inane rambling), here it is. Change the Rotation’s twenty-two favorite releases, from twenty-two years of Plan-It-X Records! 22) Heathers – Here, Not There PIX071 2008 I can’t help but say that this one seems perfect to me. The pace and intensity is amazing. Even when things are soft, even when things are slow, it is impossible to not be swept into the rhythms and intensity of everything happening. On top of that, we have amazing rhythm guitar work. On top of that, we have the part that most people notice right away: Duo vocals! And beautiful/catchy melodies! And harmonies! And wise/relatable lyricism! Heathers represents so much of what folk music can be while not shying away from the pop elements that keep their songs in your head. Also: What else sounds like this!? God damn!! How is this only two people and one guitar?? — Dave Anians Read more here Interview with Jack Terricloth of The World/Inferno Friendship Society Phil Collins - July 10, 2016 Cabaret punks The World/Inferno Friendship Society embarked on a coast-to-coast tour last week. The band last released This Packed Funeral, which made the final four in Change the Rotation’s best of the year bracket in 2014. World/Inferno play Chop Shop in Wicker Park on Tuesday with Culture Shock and locals Voice of Addiction. More information on that show here. Lead singer Jack Terricloth sat down with us over Skype before World/Inferno’s show in Philadelphia on Friday. Jeff Young, violin player for World/Inferno, transcribed this interview. Jack talked with myself and Danny of Don’t Panic Records & Distro about life in the van, what’s coming up for the band and some Chicago memories. Jack: Hey, how are you, my name is Jack Terricloth from that World/Inferno band. Phil: Hey, doing pretty good, I’m Phil from Change the Rotation. Danny: I’m Danny. Jack: Danny, Phil, nice to meet you, what’s the good word? Phil: Oh, doing pretty good, thanks for joining us, it’s a pleasure to interview you for the blog here, and we’re excited to have you coming to Chicago in a couple days. Jack: Always love to be in Chicago. As you know, or maybe you don’t know, our baritone player is from Chicago, or lives in Chicago anyway. He was in that Deal’s Gone Bad band. Who were very good. I always thought it was a bad idea to have the word “bad” in your band name, but they did pretty well. Phil: Well, here in Chicago we’re familiar with deals going bad, so it’s all right. So today’s day three of your tour, how’s it going? Jack: Day three and no one’s punched each other yet. It’s all been a good time, I haven’t lost my voice yet, no, everyone’s fine, I would still like more sleep - you know, the first week of any tour, you’re still partying, and your body hasn’t realized that you should stop doing that, so as I just said to our friends in Culture Shock, by Seattle, we’re going to be great. The whole tour will be great, that’s just for me personally, I WILL be great in Seattle, but yes, everything’s cool. Phil: Great. So Culture Shock, I’ve just become familiar with them myself, but we actually caught Subhumans a few weeks ago at the Double Door, fantastic show, have you guys toured with the Subhumans crew at all before this? Jack: We certainly have, and I just have to mention that one of the members of Culture Shock is sitting across the room, so, anything I say about them will be sugarcoated- [whispering] terrible, god they can barely, they tuned - [all laughing] …Uh yeah, we’ve toured with Subhumans, god, for the last twelve years, an awful lot, and we toured with Citizen Fish once as well, so yes, old friends, old punk rockers, if they haven’t gotten along by now, they never will, but luckily, we have. Good guys. Read more here Recap: Direct Hit! record release show at Double Door Phil Collins - July 6, 2016 Direct Hit! at Double Door on Friday Direct Hit! played the last of their three record release shows for Wasted Mind at Double Door on Friday. They played many of the songs from their new album, released on Fat Wreck Chords a week earlier. They opened with the lead single, "Paid In Brains." They had a couple horn players on stage for that song's performance. "Was It The Acid?," "Do The Sick," "Promised Land" and "Hospital For Heroes" also made the setlist, along with songs from Brainless God and earlier releases. The crowd moved around plenty for the brand new songs. Read more here In Rotation: Direct Hit! - Wasted Mind Phil Collins - June 23, 2016 Direct Hit! returns this week with their third full-length album, Wasted Mind. Fans of the Milwaukee pop punk band should be into this album from the start. The combination of catchy hooks, storytelling and a sense of humor that has propelled Direct Hit! for years remains the backbone of the band's sound. Horns are a welcome addition on "Paid in Brains" and "Promised Land." Keyboards show up on this release from time to time as well. The band's previous album, Brainless God, got them a lot of attention in the punk world and rightfully so. Like that record, Wasted Mind is a concept album. This time it's about drugs and this time it's out on Fat Wreck Chords. The videos for "Paid in Brains" and "Was it the Acid?" show that the band is still having a good time out there. "Paid in Brains" is the most immediately catchy song on the album and is likely to become a live favorite. Read more here Recap: Subhumans, PEARS, FLAG and more around Chicago Phil Collins - June 15, 2016 I found myself with a week off recently. What else would I do but go to a show nearly every night of the week? Here are some choice pictures from the shows around town. If you're on Instagram, you can find me there now doing Change the Rotation-y things like posting pictures from shows and selections from my record collection. Find me on Instagram here. Road Report: Pouzza Fest Steve O - June 5, 2016 So I spent the other weekend in the great city of Montréal for Pouzza Fest. While the weather was absolutely perfect for Pouzza weekend, it turned out that it actually snowed the week before. We lucked out there. The uniquely named Pouzza Fest is a portmanteau of pizza and poutine, that famously delicious Montréal cuisine of fries, gravy, and cheese. And yes, I did get vegan poutine in Montréal. I also went to 8 museums and walked all over the city. And then there were the 27 bands I saw throughout the Pouzza weekend. So let’s talk about that. Friday The Museum of the Day: Yeah, that’s right, there’s a museum of the day category. None more punk. Jardin Botanique, is the expansive and beautiful botanic garden. It might seem contradictory in a northern city with such long winters, but the Jardin Botanique is wonderfully well sculpted with different themed gardens throughout. While the Chinese Garden was closed, both the Japanese and First Nations Gardens exhibit both the plants, traditional architecture, and plenty of information to learn about their respective cultures. There’s an arboretum at one end, with trees grouped by family, and an Insectarium, a small museum focused solely on those ubiquitous critters. The Japanese Garden at Jardin Botanique The Unknown Band You Gotta Hear: Okay, I guess we’ll talk about the music. Hopefully you’ve become familiar with Boston’s Trophy Lungs, since we featured their debut LP on our bracket last year, but if not, it’s a great time to reacquaint yourself. Playing that style of gruff pop-punk that’s so prevalent, and awesome if I say so myself, these days, Trophy Lungs blast out heartfelt anthems. Think of Dillinger Four if they were from Boston and shared the working class ethos of some of Beantown’s more famous names like Dropkick Murphys or Street Dogs. With songs honoring their working class roots and deceased friends, you know their hearts are in the right place. Trophy Lungs Also worth checking out is San Francisco’s Cut Up. Playing at Theatré Sainte-Catherine, which sounds really classy but was basically about the same size as the Subterranean. Pop punk at a breakneck pace, they covered Latterman’s “Fear and Loathing on Long Island”, doing a spot on job in the process. If you dig that upbeat style, with a bit of grit on it, you’ll be into Cut Up. Fun and fast, I’d definitely recommend checking them out. Read more here In Rotation: We The Heathens - The Blood Behind The Dam Phil Collins - May 30, 2016 We The Heathens bring a crusty folk punk sound to songs that could serve as a backdrop to an epic fantasy series. Violin, cello, mandolin, guitar and bass accompany throaty shouted vocals. All those strings often bring to mind a winding mountain road and an unescapable quest. Before their set at the Slaughterhouse started on Sunday night, We The Heathens warmed up with a little bit of the Game of Thrones theme song. The songs on The Blood Behind The Dam, We The Heathens' third full-length album, are no less epic or evocative. The opening violin riff on "Neurotic Decay" is the folk equivalent of a circle pit starter. The songs have the most muscle when they build up slowly but steadily into a heated alchemy of strumming fervor and traded screams. Take a crust punk band and stir in a propensity for medieval style fables and you have an idea of what to expect from this release. We The Heathens, from Wasau, Wisconsin, share members with the ska/crack rock steady group Atrocity Solution. The Blood Behind The Dam features guest vocals from Jesse and Veronica of Escape From The Zoo on the song "Crooked Kings." Read more here In Rotation: White Mystery - Outta Control Phil Collins - May 19, 2016 White Mystery goes for it on their seventh full-length album, Outta Control. The Chicago garage punk band is made up of frizzy red-headed siblings Miss Alex White on guitar and Francis Scott Key White on drums. The two go off the rails on the aptly named album closer "Thrash Time," as well as on "Finger," which features Francis spitting out some quick vocals. The album's sound more often favors a smooth poppy stroll with bright vocals from Miss Alex White, which is the case on "Cerebellum" and "Best Friend." This is the kind of music you want to listen to on a sunny day while walking down the Chicago streets, wearing big over-the-ear headphones and a denim jacket. Things take a turn toward the unexpected on "Pacci," a mid-album epic featuring effected vocals from both parties. The guitar and vocals combine for a Middle Eastern kind of sound. The lyrics draw from a more dramatic romantic place than is typical for the band. "Sweet Relief" follows this with Francis delivering spoken word verses over a tight beat. Along with keeping up with a busy touring schedle, White Mystery has been releasing new music at an impressively steady clip. The band has put out a new album every year since 2010. Read more here New Track Roundup Flesh Panthers, Beat The Smart Kids, The Grow Ops, Speedy Ortiz Phil Collins - May 10, 2016 Flesh Panthers, Beat The Smart Kids, The Grow Ops and Speedy Ortiz all released new tracks in the last week. Listen to them all in one place right here. Flesh Panthers - "Last I Heard" Chicago garage rockers Flesh Panthers are back with new music in 2016. "Last I Heard" is the first single off their forthcoming album, Willows Weep, which is due out in September on Maximum Pelt. Flesh Panthers released NGC 2632 one year ago. That album made our bracket of the best albums of 2015. We will not have to wait long for the follow up. The first taste of that next record has a western/saloon kind of vibe. This is not the usual fare from Flesh Panthers, but it does not sound like a complete u-turn either. Piano and slide guitar from Joey Rubbish, of fellow local garage rock band The Rubs, give "Last I Heard" that western alehouse feel. Stream the new song below. LAST I HEARD by flesh panthers Read more here In Rotation: Pessimist Prime - Grow Up! Phil Collins - May 3, 2016 The first demo from the Joliet group Pessimist Prime mixes nineties Smoking Popes-esque vocal delivery with intermittent ska riffs. I would not call this a straight up ska release, despite the song title "Skanye West," but there are ska sections. They tend to ride in under the framework of a darker, more pessimistic, if you will, base of fuzz and lyrics. "Delta" is defined by such a change. Midway through, it morphs into a ska song (this exact point is cheekily pointed out in the lyrics on bandcamp). "Delta" is the longest and most interesting song on Grow Up!, simply because of all the changes that happen through the song's 3 minutes and 45 seconds. If you are not paying close attention, you could easily mistake this for two separate songs on the first listen. "Skanye West" is a quick, catchy, upbeat tune. There are plenty of woah oh oh's here. The opening lines to the closing track "Social Ardvark" really feel like a callback to nineties pop punk: "Do you wanna see something that we were never supposed to see?/All the terrible things that we do to our own bodies/Just to get by." The lines get partially repeated at the end of the song, over more lush instrumentation. Read more here Random Records with Steve O Gouge Away - ,Dies Steve O - April 25, 2016 ,Dies. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of another record that features a comma in such a significant position. I supposed we could concentrate on it, but after 12 seconds of feedback, you’re immediately distracted by something else. The blazing fury of “Bleed,” the opening, bombastic 35 seconds of ,Dies. Gouge Away have created an incredibly intense and visceral debut record. It’s in your face from the second the feedback gives way and doesn’t let up throughout 13 aggressive and energetic spurts. This is hardcore that veers into the powerviolence and grindcore territories. Yeah, occasionally songs feel different, like the slower, almost muted feel of “Who Needs Language” or the uplifting, almost poppy, vibe of album closer (and longest song) “Wildflowers.” Otherwise, the Gouge Away crew are perfectly adept at holding nothing back in their attempt to annihilate you. Whether it’s the shouts of “Fuck off / Get out / Eat shit” at the end of “Exhibit: Closed” or the lyrical bluntness of “No White Flag,” ,Dies is uncomfortable in the best ways possible. Read more here In Rotation: PEARS - Green Star Phil Collins - April 21, 2016 Second albums are notoriously tricky affairs. When a band's first album hits it big, expectations are set unrealistically high for the follow up. You have your whole life to write your first album. The fans, the label and the people walking down the street want the second album right away. PEARS' first album, Go To Prison, finished second on this blog's best of the year bracket in 2014 (Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues ran the table that year) and garnered plenty of attention in the punk world. That album was re-released on Fat Wreck Chords, which also released a 7-inch from the band last Fall and Green Star earlier this month. I like this album more each time I listen to it. I know Go To Prison backwards and forwards, so it was hard to even compare these two records until I got to know the songs on Green Star a little bit. The first time I heard the poppy, tambourine-shaking opening of "Cloverleaf," I was looking around wondering what was going on. By the third listen, I was jamming that intro like it was 1999. It's the back and forth between this excessively poppy section and the screamed lyrics that follow that make it so enticing. The New Orleans hardcore band have always had a penchant for messing with the listener. This is perhaps best exemplified by the quick "Partridge Family" guitar lick followed by a screaming tirade that rivals any hardcore section on the album. PEARS can execute this type of gag with the precision, timing and tone it takes to pull it off. Read more here In Rotation: Crystal Gravy - Helicopter to Bang Mansion Phil Collins - April 12, 2016 Crystal Gravy, the acoustic/keytar duo of Dave Green and Nikki Rice, hit a tone on this record that cannot be easy to get right. It approximates that kind of joking, right, but not joking, tongue in cheek, but completely straight-faced delivery found on songs like "Afternoon Delight." Helicopter to Bang Mansion's title track flows like a song from a medieval minstrel, regaling listeners with the tale of "a place where my baby's always got wood." The penultimate track, "Five Regrets of the Dying," also takes a storytelling approach, although it is a more serious song. This runs directly into the closing reprise of "Helicopter to Bang Mansion." This is the DeKalb band's first full-length album, following up last year's Night Dinner EP. For fans of that release, this album builds on the harmonies, evocative lyrics and humor throughout the longer format. Centaur Nikki and Merman Dave on Helicopter to Bang Mansion's cover art give you a pretty good idea of what you are getting into here. We, the listeners, are like the cat looking on from the sun. Read more here Random Records with Steve O: The Falcon - Gather Up The Chaps Steve O - April 10, 2016 If you listened to us discuss the merits of every record on our 2015 Bracket, you heard me mention how I’m not a part of that group that deems everything Jeff Rosenstock does gold. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I fit into a different group, one that seems much more Chicagoan than New York’s Rosenstock. I fall into that demographic that is obsessed with everything Brendan Kelly puts out. The Lawrence Arms were my introduction to Kelly’s gruff voice, his lyrics which masterfully mix crude humor, pop culture, and literature with a somewhat depressing glance at life, and songs that hit hard and fast. But the man keeps busy, writing music or tweeting as a nihilistic fast-food chain (or as his humorous self). Ten years ago, the Falcon released their first record, Unicornography. And now, here we are with record number two, Gather Up The Chaps. Just a couple of listens to Gather Up The Chaps really makes you wish records like this came out more often. Hopefully it won’t be another ten years til Kelly gets the band back together for another record. This iteration of the Falcon got together to play Red Scare Industries’ 10th Anniversary show back in October 2014. And it went quite well. (I was there and I can attest that it was a great performance.) And so, that team, consisting of Kelly, his Lawrence Arms bandmate Neil Hennessey, Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano, and the Loved Ones’ Dave Hause, have put out 2016’s record of the year. That’s right, bracket committee; I’m calling it in April. Read more here Recap: Savages at the Metro Phil Collins - April 8, 2016 Savages at the Metro on Thursday London post punk group Savages swung by the Metro on Thursday in support of their recently released sophomore album, Adore Life. The band's bass-heavy, striking sound made waves when their first album came out a few years ago, propelled on by their electric live performances. Savages lived up to that reputation Thursday at the Metro. The photo above shows lead singer Jehnny Beth walking out on top of the crowd during "Hit Me," a quick cut from Silence Yourself. The band played "Hit Me" for longer than the 1:41 running time on the record, while Beth walked out on top of the crowd and eventually dropped back to crowdsurf. Read more here In Rotation: The Kreutzer Sonata - Fight Songs Phil Collins - April 5, 2016 The Kreutzer Sonata's new 7-inch, Fight Songs, lives up to its name. Four hardcore haymakers swing through in about five minutes. If you did not already feel like punching something when you drop the needle on this one, your knuckles will surely be unrecognizable by the end of it. The Chicago band's trademark combination of ferocious hardcore vocals and interspersed melodic lines, which was on prominent display on last year's excellent album Austere, continues to prosper here. "Excessive Pride" closes out the 7-inch with strong lyrics. Adam screams "People hate without knowing who you are; look down on you for where you're from/But if you're as weak as them to believe their lies, the bastards have already won." This is followed by two lines sneered out by Kat: "No better way to sound less significant, no better way to sound more irrelevant." Those lines are repeated at the end of the song, separated by terse ticking percussion. It is my favorite moment on Fight Songs and the fact that it comes right at the end of the B side underscores the idea that I cannot get enough of this band. "It's Getting Worse" opens the EP with a kick to the teeth. "No Empathy" features some charged up vocals and a cool bass breakout midway through. Read more here In Rotation: The Cheap Dates - A Thousand Year Flood Phil Collins - March 30, 2016 If you listened to The Cheap Dates' debut cassette, Piss Away Another God Damn Year, the follow-up represents the other side of the coin. Released less than a year apart, the uninitiated would be hard pressed to guess that these EPs came from the same band. A Thousand Year Flood is comprised of seven tracks of the Chicago band in their surfy, heavier incarnation. If you have seen The Cheap Dates live, you are already familiar with this dichotomy. Their first EP featured songs with Danny on vocals and Sean on guitar, while A Thousand Year Flood has Sean on vocals and Danny on guitar. For the sake of full disclosure, Danny is my brother. The title track and "Crash & Burn" have been staples of the band's live show since the beginning. "Crash & Burn" closes the EP here - it has switched between opening and closing duties at a lot of their shows. It is one of their most invigorating songs, from the surfy instrumental opening to the chaotic ending. The bass lines on this track could start a fire on their own. "1000 Year Flood" showcases a straight up surf guitar riff and has some of the EP's best lyrics. Sean growls out "Surfing through this downward spiral/Counting the track marks on my soul/Life is getting cheap/And I really need some sleep/These hungry years they take their toll." A few songs that have not shown up in the live set appear here - "End Over End," "Coldbringer" and "Underground." Read more here In Rotation: Warrior Tribes - Warrior Tribes Phil Collins - March 21, 2016 For anyone who went to see Mischief Brew at Fizz Bar last summer, something has been in the air for the last five weeks or so. During that time, all three openers from the show - Warrior Tribes, Poison Boys and The Cheap Dates - released a new EP. I reviewed Poison Boys' Headed For Disaster EP last week. Stay tuned to this frequency for a review of the new EP from The Cheap Dates soon. As if these three EPs dropping in such close proximity wasn't serendipitous enough, Mischief Brew just today released the reissue of their album Smash The Windows. That show at Fizz Bar featured a Smash The Windows era reunion. The moral of the story is twofold: Fizz Bar needs to start having shows again and all these bands should play a show together again. Warrior Tribes' entry in this quartet of releases is a quick burst of hardcore. Pointed, growled out vocals ride over raucous riffs and fast beats. Two members of this local trio split vocal duties on this EP, both offering "super masculine" shouts, according to their bandcamp page. Four of the songs here are minute/minute-and-a-half long bangers. Only the closer clocks in at longer than two minutes. "No Face" has to be my favorite track of the EP. It starts with a snappy riff and has a catchy shouted chorus. Read more here In Rotation: Poison Boys - Headed for Disaster Phil Collins - March 14, 2016 Remember sitting on the yards-long hood of your car in a gravel parking lot late in the evening? One denim leg strung over the side of the beast, leather jacket and sunglasses doing most of the talking. Glass bottles and cigarrette butts pollinating the terrain. Chicago locals Poison Boys' debut EP, Headed for Disaster, channels this generations-old drag of memory. Hair metal riffs give way to short, hopping guitar solos. The vocalist draws out the vowels at the end of lines with old school rock and roll bravado. This is a record that sounds like it should be listened to outside, in or around a car. A car that has a name. Roll the windows down and cruise around, or park and sit on the hood. Either way, crank it up. The cover art of Headed for Disaster speaks to the era conjured by the music. The ropy, pink font and leopard print background give off that glam rock hair metal vibe. The black and white band photo shows little trace of the modern era. The Mot?rhead shirt, the leather jacket and the sunglasses hanging from a white shirt are all on point. Read more here New track roundup Nervous Passenger, Swimsuit Addition, White Lung, Lester and The Finks and more Phil Collins - March 5, 2016 New tracks from Nervous Passenger, PEARS, Swimsuit Addition, White Lung, Evil Empire and Lester and The Finks all came out within the last month or so. Listen to them all in one place right here. Nervous Passenger - "The Slacker's Lament" Local pop punk quartet Nervous Passenger released a split with The Normal Years a couple days ago. It's out on cassette (50 black, 50 white) via Artistic Integrity Records. The Nervous Passenger entry on this release is one 8+ minute song in five parts. That might make you think, hey, are you sure this isn't five songs in 8+ minutes? That sounds like a more likely scenario for a punk release. This is in fact one running thread that covers the A side. Stream "The Slacker's Lament" below and check out The Normal Years' half of the split here. Nervous Passenger also put out a hot sauce this week, so if you want to spice things up, look out for that. Catch Nervous Passenger live at Subterranean on March 26 with Fitness, Brickfight and Dog & Wolf. AIR-030 - Nervous Passenger/The Normal Years split by Nervous Passenger Read more here Steve O - February 29, 2016 Bathory Bathory Black Mark Production, 1984 While Venom named black metal and Hellhammer introduced corpse paint and lower than low-fi recordings, it is Bathory who were the best of the initial wave of black metal triumvirate. The brainchild of a Swede who called himself Quorthon, Bathory was a brilliant and creative band. Later stretching into the realm of epic Vikings, the early Bathory releases, beginning with 1984’s self-titled debut, were raw, energetic blasts of evil, old-school black metal. Quorthon’s raspy shriek, low-quality recording, buzz-saw guitars, constantly pounding, yet simple, drums, and those Satanic-obssesed lyrics not only laid the groundwork for an entire genre to come, but created a masterpiece of a record. You can hear years of the influence dripping through songs like “Sacrifice” and “In Conspiracy with Satan.” The solos sound rough and raw, instead of shining through, while Quorthon spits out verses like, “Hail satanic majesty / tonight we sacrifice / We drink our own blood / and blasphemy while / the moon is our only light,” in “Necromansy.” It’s a dark classic worth revisiting. Read more here Steve O - February 29, 2016 Z is for Zombie Dogs Zombie Dogs Self-Released, 2010 We made it. We finally made it! The letter Z was one of the toughest, because there’s not a whole lot of bands that start with the letter (duh). And also because I’m tired of this and I just want to be done. I’ve had it with the alphabet. Damn thing is overrated. Anyways… I’m finishing up with the Brooklyn band Zombie Dogs, who appear to have not existed for at least the past five years. It’s hard to find much info about them. I discovered them on the site Female Fronted Hardcore, which is a great place to discover some awesome new bands, and should give you an insight into Zombie Dogs. By all accounts, they were short lived and only released one record in their time, 2010’s short and sweet, Zombie Dogs. Read more here Steve O - February 28, 2016 Y is for Yankee Brutal The Everlasting Greed Dying Scene Records, 2012 So Dying Scene is one of my favorite sites to go for punk news. In addition to being a great site to hear about tours and new bands and other news, they have a digital record label on bandcamp. There’s some good stuff on there, like the new Stray Bullets record, Texas hardcore punks Some Nerve, and New Mexicans Stabbed in Back. But my favorites are Sacramento’s Yankee Brutal. Playing punk rock on the heavier spectrum with some thrashy guitar riffs and pissed off vocals, Yankee Brutal have a political consciousness that hits as heavy as their music. Politically scathing lyrics, lightning quick guitars, some skillful riffs, and lots of whoas, Yankee Brutal remind me a lot of the heavier punk bands like Death by Stereo. Read more here Steve O - February 27, 2016 X is for xTrue Naturex For the Innocent Self-Released, 2008 It’s not cheating. The first letter in xTrue Naturex is X, so therefore this is a legitimate entry. The fact that you don’t pronounce it doesn’t disqualify it. It’s not like Tsjuder wouldn’t count for T just because you don’t pronounce the T. (Let this count as the only time Tsjuder will be mentioned with a vegan acoustic project.) So yes, X is oddly stacked thanks to every straight edge band who puts Xs around their names. So thank you for making this letter much easier than it would have been otherwise. Read more here Steve O - February 26, 2016 W is for Worriers Cruel Optimist Don Giovanni Records, 2013 Worriers' debut full length Imaginary Life came out last year and did pretty well on our bracket. If it was up to me, that wouldn’t have been their bracket debut. I would’ve given that honor to their 2013 EP Cruel Optimist. But, as you know, EPs don’t count, despite its longer play time than some records that have been on the bracket. I don’t remember how I discovered Worriers, but once I heard Cruel Optimist I was instantly hooked. I loved Lauren Denitzio’s voice, and the heartfelt, sincere lyrics meshed perfectly with the catchy pop punk. I was listening to this record all the time on bandcamp until I finally picked up the vinyl when they played in Chicago in 2014. Read more here Steve O - February 24, 2016 V is for Vreid Milorg Indie Recordings, 2009 World War II as a topic has been beaten to death over and over and over again. Having worked at a library, where that particular section is beyond overflowing, and a bookstore, where I was in charge of military history no less, where WWII took up half the section, I feel I can say this with a high degree of confidence. It’s a topic that culturally we’re obsessed with, maybe for that idea of fighting the ultimate bad guy. It hasn’t worked its way into becoming a common lyrical topic for metal bands though (I don’t count NSBM), despite their obsession with violence and gore. Bands like Sabaton, who lyrically take on the whole of military history, or Eastern Front, whose lyrical focus should be somewhat obvious, are nowhere near as common as bands worshipping the lyrical stylings of Cannibal Corpse or Carcass. Read more here All day punk marathon on Saturday Phil Collins - February 24, 2016 We get plenty of nights around Chicago in which there are two, three or four good shows to choose between. This Saturday is another breed of stacked. You can punk out all day and night, and you need nothing more than the Western bus to get between locations. Click on the map for more detail or just read the descriptions below. 8 a.m. sharp at Logan Hardware: Be an extra in Double Feature's first music video. The local pop punk group is shooting a video for "A Fistful of Quarters" at an arcade. Coffee and donuts will be provided and pizza at lunchtime. The shoot should last until noon. More info here. 1 p.m. outside Empty Bottle: Get ready for a "frozen" outdoor garage rock party. The Spits, Black Lips, Meat Wave and Muuy Biien play. It looks like we'll be back up to 50 degrees by Saturday, so you won't even have to freeze to see this show. More info here. 9 p.m. at The Mutiny: A ska punk lineup not to be missed at the Mutiny. Evil Empire, Alley Slob Service, Bombflower and The Grow Ops play. You have enough time to nap and eat between the outdoor Spits show and this one. More info here. Steve O - February 23, 2016 U is for Unleash the Archers Time Stands Still Napalm Records, 2015 I was super bummed when 3 Inches of Blood announced they were calling it quits. They were one of my favorite bands, Advance and Vanquish is one of my favorite records of any genre, and they were incredibly nice and cool people. I’ll never forget hanging out with them in the alley behind Bottom Lounge or that time guitarist Justin Hagberg wanted to trade with me for my too small Bathory shirt (regardless of the fact Hagberg is much larger than me). If there is any consolation to found in this vast void, it is the fact there has emerged from their hometown of Vancouver a band that is actually quite similar: Unleash the Archers. Read more here Steve O - February 22, 2016 T is for This is Hell Sundowning Trustkill, 2006 Part of the fun of doing the Random Records is getting to go back and revisit records that I haven’t listened to as much recently. Sundowning, the debut record from Long Island’s This is Hell, falls into that category. Way back when this came out in 2006, I loved this record. I was super into hardcore back in high school and This is Hell masterfully straddled the line between viscously heavy and the melodically catchy, punctuated with gang vocals. There’s something about everyone shouting “If the good die young we’ll fucking live forever,” that’s cathartic, whether you’re just hearing it or shouting along at the top of your lungs. Whether you’re into the tough guy stuff or more classic youth crew, there’s something for you here. Read more here Steve O - February 21, 2016 S is for Senmuth Jurassic Self-Released, 2014 So I missed yesterday because I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum to see a new special exhibit called Ultimate Dinosaurs, which is all about the dinosaurs of Gondwana, or the continents of the Southern Hemisphere. Those of you that know me are aware of my interest of paleontology, how much I enjoy talking about them, and pointing out all the pop cultures’ botches when it comes to portraying dinosaurs. I never grew up out of that 5-year-old-dinosaur-obssesed-kid stage. So you can imagine how excited I was to stumble upon Senmuth’s Mesozoic trilogy. For the uninformed, the Mesozoic is the Age of Dinosaurs, stretching 186 million years, starting with the greatest extinction event the planet has ever seen (the Permian Extinction) and ending with the most famous, which annihilated the non-avian Dinosaurs (known as the K-Pg, or K-T Extinction). Read more here Steve O - February 19, 2016 R is for Red City Radio The Dangers of Standing Still Paper + Plastick, 2011 So it was Change the Rotation’s own Davey who introduced me to Red City Radio in early 2011, probably not long after the release of The Dangers of Standing Still came out. And holy fucking shit! I fell in love with the band and record after that. The vocal combinations of Garrett Dale (the gruff voice) and Paul Pendley (the not-gruff voice) is perfect and the way the songs are written lines up perfectly with the incredible sing-alongs, which are present on every single song. Whether it’s just a bunch of ‘whoas’ or lines like “Together we can burn this fucking city to the ground” off of “Two for Flinching,” these are the kind of songs to sing along with. And when you see them live, you wanna be right up front, screaming at the top of your lungs, fist in the air, and not caring who is sweating on you doing the same thing. Back in 2012, we actually drove down to Bloomington-Normal to see them play at a pizza place. It was as amazing as it sounds. Read more here Steve O - February 18, 2016 Q is for Queen A Night at the Opera EMI, 1975 So I was debating what to do for the letter Q. It is far and away the letter with the fewest options. Yeah, there’s the Queers, but I’ve never been huge into them. Queensr?che had some pretty decent stuff in the 80s. The first few Queens of the Stone Age records are good; I think Songs for the Deaf is a fantastic album. On my iTunes I’ve got a band called Qwertzuiop, an ambient band from Hungary. I could write about them and see if anyone checks out a random ambient noise band. But there really isn’t much choice. As obvious as the answer is, I gotta write about Queen. Read more here Steve O - February 17, 2016 P is for Primordial To the Nameless Dead Metal Blade Records, 2007 There’s about 50 seconds of calm, before the storm hits, and A.A. Nemtheanga howls “A cold wind is blowing.” And so begins To the Nameless Dead, just one of the many flat-out fantastic records in the Dublin-based band’s catalog. Primordial have been around long enough and have such a distinct sound that they can be difficult to classify. There’s a definite black metal feel, and Nemtheanga has that blackened rasp down. There’s an epic, doomy feel as well. Excluding instrumental interlude “The Rising Tide,” not one song on To the Nameless Dead is shorter than five minutes. And Nemtheanga’s voice is melodic, yet haunting, enough to sound fit for the genre. In fact, he also sings in the band Dread Sovereign, who have old-school doom down pat. Then there’s the part that falls into folk metal, owing to their homage in their native Ireland in lyrics and melodies. Whatever you want to call them, Primordial are definitely their own, distinct beast. And they know that and they have it perfected. Read more here Steve O - February 16, 2016 O is for Oh My Snare! H?yeste Gang Say-10 Records, 2015 Oh My Snare!’s debut H?yeste Gang, not only made the bracket last year, but managed to win a round as well. H?yeste Gang was released in early 2015 and seemingly came out of nowhere (or Montreal). One moment, they were some random band I discovered online, and by the end of the year they released one of my favorite records. And in the sake of full disclosure, I booked them a show in Chicago. I messaged them and about a month later, they were playing in a Chicago basement. It was a great success. Read more here Steve O - February 15, 2016 N is for NOFX The War on Errorism Fat Wreck Chords, 2003 I was well aware of NOFX by the time The War on Errorism came out. I had heard some of the more well-known songs, like “Bob,” “Linoleum,” and “Dinosaurs Will Die.” I really enjoyed them, but they never prompted me to dig a whole lot deeper into NOFX’s extensive back catalog. I was building on a foundation of AFI’s heaviness (remember, this was the early 2000s—I started with The Art of Drowning and worked backwards quickly), Anti-Flag’s sharp political commentary, and Alkaline Trio’s heartfelt sincerity. NOFX didn’t really have much of those elements, and I didn’t really get their sense of humor. Read more here Recap: The Lemons record release show at Bric A Brac Records Phil Collins - February 14, 2016 The Lemons at Bric A Brac Records on Sunday Local sugar-coated retro pop group The Lemons put out their debut album on Burger Records this month. To celebrate, they threw a Valentine's Day Bash at Bric A Brac Records in Logan Square. Take a band on the rise putting out a full-length on a hot label, add in a nostalgia-heavy space in the middle of a music filled neighborhood and you have a packed house. Hello, We're The Lemons, out on cassette and vinyl via Burger, is full of minute-long sugary pop jingles. There are 28 of these ditties on the album. Read more here Steve O - February 14, 2016 M is for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones Let’s Face It Mercury Records, 1997 I am well aware that you and everyone you know—your mom, your neighbors, the people you work with, that weird kid you knew in grade school that had to drink everything out of a crazy straw—has heard “The Impression That I Get.” At least that’s the impression I get. So we’ll get that out of the way first. Yes, it’s a good song, it is extremely catchy, and the Bosstones got huge because of it. Their timing was perfect with punk and ska getting huge in the late 90s. But not only is Let’s Face It full of other great songs, the Bosstones had four records before this that are all equally fantastic. For those who only know of “The Impression That I Get,” they are missing out, not only on the rest of a great record, but also on one of the best ska bands. Read more here Steve O - February 13, 2016 L is for Love and Squalor New Blood, New Songs Self-Released, 2007 I discovered Love and Squalor because of Henry Brawlins. More specifically, a Love and Squalor shirt that he had, with an otter or ferret or some other mustelid wearing a top hat and monocle, and holding a jug of booze, as seen in the design on this flyer: (Side note: remember Ronny’s? That place was great. Anyone know if it’s still an empty building?) So thank you for having a shirt with an awesome design on it. We all have stories like that, I’m sure. It’s safe to say, the music is as awesome as that design. It’s straight up Chicago punk rock, in the same tradition of bands like Naked Raygun, 88 Fingers Louie, Alkaline Trio, and the Lawrence Arms. The songs are Chicago working-class: fast, heartfelt, and they get stuck in your head. Read more here Steve O - February 12, 2016 K is for Korpiklaani Tales Along This Road Napalm Records, 2006 Back in my late teens/early twenties, I was really into folk metal. It was like the ska of metal. The music was lots of fun, it was relatively light-hearted and not too serious, it used instruments not traditional to the genre (like strings, flutes, and accordion), and the live shows were full of energy. Korpiklaani, which translates to “Clan of the Wilderness,” is near the top of the genre. The music is fast, fun, and full of energy. There was a seriousness in the sense of incorporating Finnish folklore into the lyrics, but at the same time, when a band has lines like “Beer, beer! / I want beer, from beer I get really drunk,” in the aptly named “Beer Beer,” it’s clear they are having some fun with their music too. Read more here Steve O - February 10, 2016 J is for Joe Vickers Valley Home Self-Released, 2011 I used my ‘A’ on Against All Authority, which was a good choice, but it means that I didn’t get to highlight Audio/Rocketry. Audio/Rocketry are one of my favorite folk punk bands, writing catchy sing-alongs about music, friends, and travelling over three full lengths between 2009 and 2011. They haven’t been as active lately, which is a shame, but that’s been mitigated a bit by frontman and bandleader Joe Vickers’ solo output. Read more here Steve O - February 9, 2016 I is for Ignite A Place Called Home TVT Records, 2000 My introduction to Orange County’s Ignite was in 2006 or 2007, when I saw them play with Comeback Kid back at the old Clearwater Theater. I was previously unfamiliar with them, which comes as a real shock, cause I was really into hardcore in high school. Ignite play that melodic hardcore, nothing metallic here, full of sing-alongs and uplifting, call to action, lyrics. You might be familiar with them due to frontman Zoli Téglás' brief run with Pennywise (he recorded one album, 2012’s All or Nothing with them.) Ignite hasn’t been a very prolific band. Their newest record, A War Against You, was just released last month, a full decade after Our Darkest Days, which came six years after A Place Called Home. So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s three full lengths in sixteen years. Read more here In Rotation: UGLYBoNES - Growing Concerns Phil Collins - February 8, 2016 Chicago hardcore punks UGLYBoNES put out their second album, Growing Concerns, in January. It is 10 songs of ripping, writhing, true to the template hardcore. Fans of their first full-length, Leave Me Alone and their short-form releases will find much to thrash to here. As is often the case with hardcore, UGLYBoNES' LPs are not exactly long. Growing Concerns sticks to the quick jabs and stiff riffs that have been the grain of the band's sound. The back-to-back hits of "Grown Up" and "Office Destroyer" account for less than 90 seconds between them but represent the most brutal section of the album. UGLYBoNES are at their best when the vocals spin off into an old West coast hardcore style sneer. The best example of this comes in the album's final track, "Lazy". The lines "Thought I cared a lot/I thought I cared a lot/As it turns out" spin off into the sneered "Don't care about anyone". Oftentimes when lyrics are repeated on this album, they get a more jagged delivery the second time around. On "SUX", the second go-around of "Can't believe I see this every day/People walk around with clouds of shame/And for what? Because of them?/Because they don't try themselves?/To be better" is one of the highlights of the album. Read more here Steve O - February 8, 2016 H is for Hoth Infinite Darkness Self-Released, 2012 I missed the golden opportunity of writing about this record back in December, when it would have been posted in conjunction with The Force Awakens. Alas, that thought never entered my mind back then. Instead, I’m taking the opportunity to write about it now, when there is no snow on the ground and it is decidedly un-Hoth like outside. Poor planning part two! Read more here Steve O - February 7, 2016 G is for Guerilla Poubelle Amor Fati Guerilla Asso, 2013 Fast paced, gruff vocals, and catchy as hell pop punk is a worldwide phenomenon. There are a lot of great bands playing this kind of music, and too often the international bands tend to get overlooked in favor of the bands playing down the street. This is not to disparage the local bands, and by all means, please go support your local bands, but since there are bands playing in Europe, or Asia, or Australia that rarely make it over here to play live, we tend to either not be aware of or pay the attention to some of these bands that they deserve. Guerilla Poubelle fall into that category. These Parisians put out their first record in 2005, but I had never heard of them until 2014, when I saw them play with Arms Aloft. Using borrowed gear, since the U.S. customs wouldn’t let them bring anything into the country, Guerilla Poubelle played a fast, tight, catchy set, of gruff pop punk (orgcore if you recognize that as a genre) and definitely left their mark as a band I needed to check out. Read more here Steve O - February 6, 2016 F is for Fucking Invincible It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better Atomic Action Records, 2014 Fucking Invincible. The name conjures forth an intensity and strength that cannot easily be matched. And so it is with Providence’s Fucking Invincible. Featuring members of Dropdead and Daughters, this is furious grinding powerviolence at a breakneck pace. It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better is the debut full length from Fucking Invincible, though flying through fourteen songs in fourteen minutes it barely qualifies as a full length record. That didn’t stop me from giving them a spot on 2014’s bracket, where they, perhaps not surprisingly, didn’t do too well. It’s angry and uncomfortable, an attribute that Fucking Invincible have on all their records. Just look at the title, or of their newest seven inch: I Hate Myself and Want You To Die. There is no happiness, no peace, no calm here. Just rage and vitriol, and a violent, intimidating, brutal grindcore. Read more here Steve O - February 5, 2016 If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck. So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet. So, without further ado… E is for Empyrium Weiland Prophecy Productions, 2002 We’ve seen a lot of heavy and chaotic stuff lately, and we will again soon, so let’s take a short, nice, relaxing breather here with Empyrium. The German band started as doom metallers who had a touch for the symphonic and a deep interest in folk music. There are songs on their debut, A Wintersunset…, that are just dripping in symphonic doom, slow and melancholy. They kept getting moodier, resulting in the neofolk record Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays. This was followed by digging deeper into their roots, with the masterful Weiland, a 50-minute neofolk masterpiece, sung entirely in German, and the pinnacle of Empyrium’s career. For the unfamiliar, neofolk is darker than folk music, and often brings in more orchestral instruments. A lot of the imagery focuses on paganism, or, as in the case with Empyirum, nature. Read more here Steve O - February 4, 2016 If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck. So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet. So, without further ado… D is for Direwolves Aegri Somnia Throatruiner Records, 2013 Part of the fun of Random Records is picking out bands that I don’t think any of my friends know. Sometimes it’s a miss and no one cares about it. Other times, it ends up being a hit. Look at the success Caves had in the 2013 bracket for an example of that. France’s Direwolves is another one of these bands who I have to shine the spotlight on. I don’t quite remember how I discovered Direwolves, but wherever it was, it was the name that drew me in. Dire wolves are more widely known now thanks to Game of Thrones, but my interest in looking into the band was born entirely of my paleontological obsessions. The dire wolf, or Canis dirus, was a large species of wolf that flourished during the ice age and is famous for its obscene numbers at the La Brea tar pits in California, where specimens represent over 4,000 individuals. The pack hunters were major carnivores during this era of megafauna, going extinct along with the rest of them around 10,000 years ago. Read more here Steve O - February 3, 2016 If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck. So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet. So, without further ado… C is for Crusades Perhaps You Deliver this Judgement with Greater Fear than I Receive It No Idea Records, 2013 If you have been paying close attention, you’ll know that this record earned a spot on our initial bracket back in 2013. If you’ve been paying really close attention, you’ll know that members of the Ottawa (that’s Canada, eh) quartet haven’t been resting at all. In fact, they’ve been busy enough to earn a spot on both the 2014 and 2015 brackets with the Creeps and Black Tower, respectively. Now all three of those bracket spots were filled by my votes, so that gives you an idea of what I think of the work of Skottie Lobotomy (who appears on all three), Dave Williams, and Jordan Bell (two each) and company. Read more here Steve O - February 2, 2016 If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck. So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet. So, without further ado… B is for Bones Brigade I Hate Myself When I’m Not Skateboarding Fight Fire With Fire Records, 2003 Everything about this record should make it abundantly clear that Bones Brigade are a skate punk band steeped in glory days of the 80s. The band name, the record title, the record cover, songs like “Skate or Die” or “Trashin’ USA” just scream crossover skatecore, similar to bands like ANS or S.T.R.E.E.T.S. For your information, the Bones Brigade was a skateboarding team back in the 80s, featuring names you’ll know such as Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, and Mike Valley. Merging hardcore and thrash and blazing through 13 songs in 18 minutes, Bones Brigade do indeed, “All Go No Slow.” Read more here Steve O - February 1, 2016 If you listened in on our 2015 Bracket discussion, brought to you by Brown Bear on the Air (http://brownbearontheair.blogspot.com/2016/01/change-rotation-guest-episode.html), you heard me proclaim the February Alphabet of Random Records. Not one of my brightest ideas, but I’m on record of saying it, so I’m stuck. So the idea is this: in the month of February, I give you a Random Record for each letter of the alphabet. We’ve got 29 days of February this year, so I get three days to be lazy. Three strikes and I’m out, if you will. The point of Random Records is to either write about records I love to highlight bands or records that might have escaped your attention. I try to do the latter more with the February Alphabet. So, without further ado… A is for Against All Authority The Restoration of Chaos and Order Hopeless Records, 2006 I’m sure I’ll get some shit for this, but The Restoration of Chaos and Order might be my favorite Against All Authority record. This should not be a statement against any of their other fantastic records. Seriously, the preceding three (1996’s Destroy What Destroys You, 1998’s All Fall Down, and 2000’s 24 Hour Roadside Resistance) are incredible records that you should listen to. And then listen to them again. The Miami-area band combines ska and hardcore punk with lyrical skill akin to bands like Dead Kennedys and Propagandhi to craft some excellent songs with some strong messages. And there’s something about the songs on The Restoration of Chaos and Order that keep me coming back to this incredible record. Read more here Monthly Metal Mixtape vol. 1 Steve O - January 31, 2016 So we don’t cover metal much at all over here at Change the Rotation. A Random Record here or there, sliding bands like Iron Reagan into the bracket, and recently with Don’t Panic’s top black metal records of the year. Perhaps with no surprise, all of these are my fault. So, in an attempt to bring metal to the site a bit more regularly, I bring you the Monthly Metal Mixtape. At the end of each month, I give a short overview of some of the metal records I’ve been listening to lately. Black metal, death metal, doom, grindcore, thrash, just straight-up classic metal, whatever. It’s all here, so hopefully you’ll find something you’ll enjoy. Abbath Abbath Season of Mist, 2016 So in case you haven’t been paying attention to the black metal gossips, Immortal is not… well, immortal. Abbath lost the rights to the name, even though he was essentially everything in Immortal, and differences with Demonaz and Horgh led him to creating his own, self-titled band. And right from the opener, “To War!” you can tell that’s what is going to happen. It shouldn’t surprise you to notice that Abbath sounds like Immortal. It has that same grimness, the same raspy vocals, the same breakneck pace that was common on Immortal records. Hell, it even has “Nebular Ravens Winter,” off Immortal’s Blizzard Beasts as a bonus track, (along with an awesome cover of Judas Priest’s “Riding on the Wind”). The best time to listen to this is while it’s still winter, so a January release was absolutely perfect. Get grim and frostbitten. Abbath by Abbath Read more here In Rotation: Night Gaunts - Conversations With Creation Phil Collins - January 28, 2016 Night Gaunts deliver a solid set of spaced out ska stompers on their second full-length album. The New Zealand based band's bombastic combination of ska, hip hop and punk is perfect for fans of The Mad Conductor and The Stupid Stupid Henchmen. Night Gaunts bring together the skate/ska vibe and full band hip hop. Live beats make a big difference. In addition to the five people in Night Gaunts, a handful of other musicians stepped in on Conversations With Creation to play synths, melodica, trumpet and more. The band includes keyboards and horns as it is, so the instrumentation on this album has a rich sound. "8 Dollars" and "Nights & Daze" carry over from the excellent split Night Gaunts put out with Days N' Daze last year. They might be from the other side of the world, but Night Gaunts toured stateside with Days N' Daze last year. Hopefully they will be back again soon to tour on this album. My first exposure to this band was at a show they played with Mustard Plug at Cobra Lounge several years ago, so they do get out here every now and again. Read more here Random Records with Steve O Wombat In Combat - The Bro Show Steve O - January 25, 2016 A long, long time ago, when I was either still in high school or shortly out of it, I stumbled across a band with an amazing name and only 4 songs to their credit: the brilliantly titled Wombat in Combat. A name like that simply implores you to check out their music. It’s like Shark in the Park, or Bear-thing in a Boxing Ring, or Hippopotamus in … yeah, guess I backed myself into a corner with that one. Anyways, the name was intriguing enough to warrant giving them a listen. And if memory serves, they had some sort of connection to the Left?ver Crack / crackrock steady / Tompkins Park scene in those late 2000s. It was probably through browsing those highly intertwined bands that all seemed to have some lineage back to Choking Victim that the name Wombat in Combat popped up. And you cannot pass up an opportunity to listen to band with a name like that. And the music verified that decision. With only 4 songs and 11 and a half minutes on their only recording (at least to my knowledge), The Bro Show, Wombat in Combat show quite a diversity given the short play time. (Look close at the wombat on the cover. It has a 666 on its forehead). “A.I.T.” is a minute-long, frenzied hardcore blast about AIT: Arizona Iced Tea. “Jump Jim Crow” alternates from a chaotic chorus to something akin to a southern twang during the verses. “Live by the Bike” maintains this chaos, while closer “My Bike Lock” is a chill closer, with a ska punk feel. Both extol bike riding and villainize driving cars. Read more here Steve O's Bracket Leftovers Steve O - January 20, 2016 So you’ve seen the Bracket results by now, which have crowned Left?ver Crack’s Constructs of the State the record of the year. Have you ever wondered how we pick the records that end up on there? Well, I’m about to let you in on some Change the Rotation secrets here, so listen up. Each November, Phil, Davey, and myself come up with a list of records from the year that we deem bracket-worthy. When we each have our initial list, we compare what we’ve got. Records that show up more than once get automatic spots on the bracket. The leftover spots get divvied out and we fill them up with records we individually thought were fantastic, even if they didn’t get wide approval. What follows are the records that I had on my long list that were unable to grab one of the coveted 32 spots on out bracket. Gallows – Desolation Sounds (Bridge 9) Dark hardcore is a good descriptor for the U.K.’s Gallows. But it goes so much further than that. There’s a weird and esoteric approach to their brand of hardcore. There’s some moments that seem simply like dark rock and roll songs. Other times there’s a metallic vibe to their hardcore. It’s a biting, angry record, with lines like “Even bad dreams are too good for you” from opener “Mystic Death” or “If desolation were a sound, I’ve heard it” from “Desolation Sounds.” Other times it is slow and atmospheric, almost plodding, as in “Cease to Exist.” In a way, Gallows kind of reminds me of Fucked Up. Both are based in hardcore, but stretch the boundaries so far it almost doesn’t sound like hardcore anymore. It’s just dark and angry music. Indulge in the desolation over here: Desolation Sounds by Gallows Read more here Don’t Panic, It’s a Distro’s Top 10 Black Metal Albums of the Year 2015 Danny Brawlins and Steve O - January 14, 2016 Usually when we do anything with Don’t Panic, It’s a Distro, we like to focus on underground DIY punk bands, mostly from the Chicago area (what up DeKalb?). However, there’s a few other genres out there that we are really fucking crazy about that we never cover. One of those genres is black metal. It’s raw, emotional, lo-fi, underground and largely DIY; most of the things we love about punk… that and we couldn’t agree on a 2015 klezmer or avant-garde jazz best of list. These albums were handpicked by both Steve O))) and myself in a very precise, quasi-logical manner. If you feel someone got robbed, or think we missed a good album, or if you just wanna talk black metal find us on Facebook or drop us a line at itsadistro@gmail.com. 10) (tie) Striborg – This Suffocating Existence I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard much of what Striborg has been putting out as of recently which is why I was a little surprised when I first heard This Suffocating Existence. Instead of the harsh terrifying noise and pained shrieks I expect from a Striborg album, there are melodies and song structures. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fucking harsh and terrifying album but it kinda strikes me as Striborg’s version of a pop album. Take that as you will. I don’t know about you but I love this album. If you’re new to Striborg, I’d recommend Foreboding Silence over this. If you’re new to black metal, I’d recommend a different band altogether. – Danny (Razed Soul Productions) Read more here Albums to look forward to in 2016 Phil Collins - January 12, 2016 We have spent the first part of this month looking back at the music of 2015. We named Left?ver Crack's Constructs of the State our favorite album of the year after it won our end of the year bracket. We had guest year end lists from Jason Jerde; Sean Rafferty, Henry Brawlins and Jake Joyce; and Plus Sign and Danny Brawlins. Now let's take a look at what's ahead in 2016. Here are some albums known to be in the works that I am excited about. Most of these don't have an official release date yet, so whether they come out in 2016 remains to be seen. Savages I'll start with one that does have a definite 2016 release date. Savages will put out their sophomore album, Adore Life, out on January 22. Their first album, Silence Yourself, was among my favorite albums of 2013. It did not make it out of the first round in our bracket that year, but that will not stop me from nominating them again if I like this album as much as I liked that one. Their energy is often left simmering in post-punk bassland until it erupts on tracks like "Husbands". Savages released a video for the first single off the new album recently and you can watch that after the jump. The song, "Adore", carries a restrained, subterranean vibe. The video features a lot of close-ups of the band looking directly into the camera without blinking. I guess they are looking life in the face. Read more here Change the Rotation's Best Albums of 2015 Bracket Phil Collins - January 6, 2016 For the third year running, we here at Change the Rotation have pitted our 32 favorite albums of the year against each other in a bracket. The agony, the ecstasy. We love all these albums. There are many albums we loved that did not make the cut. Steve O, Dave Anians and I all submitted our nominations for the best albums of 2015. We then narrowed the field down to 32 full-length albums. Those albums were drawn randomly into the bracket. The three of us voted on each matchup until we came up with a champion, to be named Change the Rotation's album of the year. Full Communism by Downtown Boys defeated Mischief Brew's This Is Not For Children to take region 1. Screaming Females put out a great album this year but fell in the first round Don Giovanni matchup with Downtown Boys. Tel Aviv's Not On Tour got a vote but couldn't overcome Mischief Brew. Read more here Guest lists: The Best of 2015 Jason Jerde Phil Collins - January 4, 2016 Today's guest year-end list comes from Jason Jerde of Manglor Records and Lester and The Finks. Here is his list of 10 records you should buy: 1) Black Panties - Future 7” (Windian) - Black Panties had three 7”s released this year. This one on Windian, another on Lumpy Records and one on Total Punk. They are all fucking must haves, but I think the Windian release takes the lead by a hair. Look for a Black Panties 7” on Manglor Records in 2015. 2) C.C.T.V. - 7” (Lumpy Records) - This record is absolutely amazing. It features members of The Coneheads (Also on this list), but with female vocals. If you like Suburban Lawns and Devo, you will love this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! 3) Golden Pelicans - Oldest Ride, Longest Line 12” (Total Punk) - Golden Pelicans made the list, big surprise there. These guys unleash the most bad ass shit. Their second 12” record came this year on Total Punk and is not one to pass up. More importantly, if you get a chance to see them live, GO. Doesn’t get much better. 4) Cal and the Calories - Bastard in a Yellow Suit 7” (Total Punk) - Snotty as fuck. Lumpy’s (and the Dumpers) alter ego. Title track will be stuck in your head for days. 5) Gino and the Goons - Push Your Luck 7” (Pelican Pow Wow) Gino also came out with a 7” on Black Gladiator this year. I guess really it’s a toss up, so snatch them both up. Read more here Guest Lists: The Best of 2015 Sean Rafferty, Henry Brawlins, Jake Joyce Phil Collins - January 1, 2016 Today we have another set of guests sharing their picks for the best of 2015. This time we hear from Sean Rafferty, Henry Brawlins and Jake Joyce. Sean Rafferty Sean is the guitarist and vocalist for The Cheap Dates and handles vocals, guitar and bass for Firing Squad. Here are Sean's picks from 2015: Favorite Friend Jams of 2015, Y’all Initially, when I started thinking about my favorite releases of 2015, new records by bands like Radioactivity, Vexx, Canadian Rifle, Blank Pages, and Royal Headache, among others, came to mind. Killer stuff. However, I felt like I didn’t have anything new to say about these releases that hadn’t already been said in MRR, Razorcake, or any other solid fanzine being cranked out by a menagerie of unkempt weirdos. So, instead, I decided to make a list of my favorite releases by friends’ bands. However, this isn’t just masturbatory, vacuous glad-handing. Yes, knowing the people who created this music probably endears it to the ol’ earholes that much more, but I have a genuine, abiding affection for these recordings and these songs. It seemed like every few weeks this year friends of mine were releasing something that blew my dick off. It’s hard to have your dick blown off that many times and not find it remarkable enough to surrender to myopia and give these recordings their due. So, in no particular order, here’s a list of some of my favorite friend jams of 2015. Read more here Guest Lists: The Best of 2015 Plus Sign, Danny Brawlins Phil Collins - December 30, 2015 We will soon reveal Change the Rotation's best of 2015 bracket selections. First, we have some guest best of the year lists from people involved in the local music scene. Today, feast your eyes on picks from Plus Sign and Danny Brawlins. Plus Sign + has released 17 albums and puts on fun, unique live performances. Check out + at tenderdiscovery.com. Catch + live with Calvin Johnson and the films of Molly Hewitt on January 23 at Pinky Swear in Humboldt Park. Read Plus Sign's best of 2015 list after the jump. Read more here Long Live Lemmy Steve O - December 29, 2015 For someone who’s been listening to Mot?rhead for about 15 years, I don’t really have many great Mot?rhead stories. I’d only seen them live once, at the large, and completely un-intimate, setting of the Aragon Ballroom. I won’t forget it though. February 2012, an (unsurprisingly) snowy night in Chicago. I remember the treacherous drive downtown and the difficulty finding a parking spot and the long walk in the snow to the show. I remember the commotion of thousands of metalheads converging in one spot. I remember the sheer number of Mot?rhead t-shirts being worn. I remember the extreme volume of their set, one of the loudest shows I’d ever been to where I wasn’t within ten feet of the speakers. I remember how their set completely blew away that of Megadeth’s, whose own, admittedly still very good set, followed Mot?rhead’s. I remember how their set brought in more crowd participation than Megadeth; everyone was simply enjoying themselves and that set. And I will never forget every single human in attendance that night screaming at the top of their lungs: “You know I’m born to lose / but gambling’s for fools / but’s that’s the way I like it, baby / I don’t wanna to live forever!” Read more here New Year's Eve Guide Phil Collins - December 21, 2015 The end of the year approaches fast, followed closely by the beginning of 2016. The Chicago area is never short on options for things to do to bring in the new year. Here is a guide to some of the punk shows happening in the area on December 31. NOBUNNY headlines the Beat Kitchen two nights in a row on December 30 and 31. The man behind the bunny mask delivers consistently entertaining performances featuring solid garage rock jams. The Rubs, who put out a great album this year called The Rubs Are Trash join him on New Year's Eve. Additional locals The Baby Magic play that show as well, along with Minneapolis' COZY. The Lemons and Varsity open the show on the 30th. More information on these shows here. Stream "Bye Bye Roxie" by NOBUNNY below. Read more here Recap: The Methadones, The Bollweevils, Lipstick Homicide at Cobra Lounge Phil Collins - December 14, 2015 The Methadones at Cobra Lounge on Sunday The matinee show carries a different vibe than the average punk show. Daylight is plentiful. You drank coffee not very long ago. A whole night remains ahead after the show concludes. The Methadones, The Bollweevils and Lipstick Homicide played a show starting at High Noon on Sunday at Cobra Lounge. The Methadones and Lipstick Homicide both fit in the Red Scare style pop punk area. The Bollweevils are more of an old school Chicago punk band, closer to bands like 88 Fingers Louie. A good crowd turned out, including some recognizable faces from other classic Chicago punk bands, despite the early start time. The Methadones brought up Joe Principe to play a song on bass (see the above picture). He was the band's orignial bassist and is now the bassist for Rise Against. Also in the crowd were Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun and Denis Buckley of 88 Fingers Louie. Read more here The Best EPs of 2015 Phil Collins - December 8, 2015 Steve O, Dave and I are getting ready to vote on our bracket of the best albums of the year. Every year we nominate 32 of our favorite albums to compete in a bracket to decide which album is named as Change the Rotation's top album of the year. We limit entries into the bracket to full-length albums, so EPs always get left out. Plenty of great releases are of the short-form variety. The following are my favorite EPs from 2015. Look out for the bracket toward the end of the year. Haki - Haki's Big New EP It might be a bummer to give the top slot to a band that does not exist anymore, but this EP is one of my favorite things that came out this year. A lot of Haki's material has an experimental feel to it. The band embraces choppy, halting rhythms while vocalist Kelsey Ashby-Middleton army crawls over them. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Primus are called to mind at times. "Fishtank," the most straightforward punk song on Haki's Big New EP, closes it out on a high. Haki draws you into a trance over the first six songs, then punches you in the face with the shouted count-in and piledriving bass/guitar combo of "Fishtank." I am supremely bummed that this local band broke up before I got a chance to see them live. Stream Haki's Big New EP here. Read more here All Time Awesome Record: Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose Steve O - December 1, 2015 Show of hands, how many of you have ever read the metal magazine, Decibel? Oh, right, this is the internet. Anyways, they do this great thing called the Hall of Fame, which essentially tells the whole story of a classic metal record, from writing to recording to touring and what-have you. It’s one of my favorite parts of each issue, whether I agree with the record of choice or not. And it’s such an interesting topic to think about too. Is this a classic record, worthy of a Hall of Fame designation, or just pretty damn good? Since I started contributing to Change the Rotation, I thought it would be fun to try something like Decibel’s Hall of Fame. Obviously, we can’t do the same thing. For one, they talk with everyone who played on the record, and a little blog like this doesn’t have the clout to do something like that. After much pondering the issue, I thought of something we could do: We can talk about some of our favorite records. Not just records one of us likes, or that we think are pretty good, or that we’ve been listening to a lot lately, but records that have stood the test of time and have had a meaningful impact on each of us. An All Time Awesome Record. After more deliberation about how to do this and worthy records for induction, I am proud to introduce the new, hopefully somewhat regular, feature to Change the Rotation. A record that is at least five years old and has received unanimous support for induction from all three of us. A record that has had some meaningful, lasting impact on us. A record that is so good we recruited a friend to talk about it with us. A record that is so good it deserves the title: All Time Awesome Record. Our first test subject, I mean guest, is our good friend Danny Brawlins. He’s the founder of Don’t Panic, It’s A Distro, an organization we work closely with. He’s the one who brings you all sorts of awesome shows and records in a shoebox. He’s also a Cheap Date. As in, a member of the band the Cheap Dates. You can, and should, check them out here: facebook.com/thecheapdateschicago / thecheapdates.bandcamp.com. And if you don’t already, keep up with everything Don’t Panic, It’s A Distro does over here: facebook.com/dontpanicdistro. Just about a year ago we named Against Me!’s newest record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, as the best record of 2014. We all loved it, and it defeated some great records in its march to glory. It’s another tally mark on their great career, chock-full of great songs that join a catalog of great songs stretching back 15-plus years. And so with our initial All Time Awesome Record, we take a look at Against Me!’s seminal, 2002, full length debut, Reinventing Axl Rose. Read more here In Rotation: Left?ver Crack - Constructs of the State Phil Collins - November 22, 2015 Left?ver Crack releases their third full-length album this week. It is worth the wait. The band's last album came out 11 years ago. That was the anarcho crust punk classic Fuck World Trade. Since then, the band has toured sporadically and released the mostly meh Deadline split with Citizen Fish in 2007. News has been scarce for Left?ver Crack fans for years. The band, after all, was formed as a way for frontman Scott "Stza" Sturgeon to get songs out there that were never recorded by his other bands. In 2015 it is again time to Beware The Wrath Of The Victim. There is a lot to like here for fans of the crack rock steady sound. "?Poliamor Fiesta Crack!" embraces this style with upstringing, gang vocals and sections that are airy and upbeat mixed with sections that are rough and rigid. "Corrupt Vision" and "System Fucked" are potent ska-core romps, the latter featuring Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy and Classics of Love. "Slave to the Throne" is a metal-based thrasher. "Archaic Subjugation" takes on the task of replacing the Left?ver Crack theme song at the top of the album. Both of Left?ver Crack's first two full-lengths opened with a song built around the same guitar riff. "Archaic Subjugation" hits the mark with a short, fierce blast to kick things off. "Bedbugs & Beyond" is my favorite song on the album after a few listens. It features Houston folk punkers Days N' Daze. It gets an all out folk punk intro at the end of the previous track and carries on in an electric crusty folk fervor. Read more here In Rotation: Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre - 'Til Death Do Us Party Phil Collins - November 17, 2015 Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre plays metal that crosses over into the punk world, territory well-trodden by the likes of Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan. Texas Toast throws as many 90s kid pop culture references into the mix as one can wash down with a can of Surge. The final track on 'Til Death Do Us Party, "Secrets of the Booze" could have wound up as the album's title track. It is a thrasher alluding to better days for Ninja Turtles fans. "Michael Bay Ruined My Childhood" blasts the producer of the computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, who also brought us the metal in a garbarge disposal "Transformers" franchise. X-Men, Alien, Predator and KISS all show up on the album. "Pizza Monsters From the Planet Marz" is a standalone creature feature in itself. Read more here Liner Notes: Pigs Suck double 7-inch Phil Collins - November 11, 2015 Welcome to the fourth edition of Liner Notes, a feature in which I will talk about the production design, packaging, and process of buying a particular record. I am building a collection of vinyl. The look and feel of the record is important to me, otherwise I would be satisfied to have all my music solely in a digital format. People do not buy records because it is convenient. They take up a lot of space, they are fragile and they get dusty. Record collectors do not mind these drawbacks so much because of what we get in return: big artwork, full liner notes and the tangibility of vinyl. I spent hours combing through the bins at Jerry's Records in Pittsburgh earlier this year. The majority of the store's collection is old, used vinyl. It is not the place to go for shrinkwrapped records by new bands. If you like sifting through an endless garage of LPs, this is the spot. This place feels like one big garage plus a couple offshoot areas, all filled with genre after genre of music. Classic rock, reggae, jazz, soundtracks. There was not a section for punk, but I dug this out of one of the 7-inch bins. "Hardcore 2X7" Comp" definitely popped out at me, as well as the title. Two 7-inches, eight bands, 13 songs. I was not familiar with any of the bands beforehand. I wanted to give this one a try since the art definitely indicated the music would be in my wheelhouse. I have discovered many cool bands by picking up a random 7-inch. The back cover has a similarly blurby design, using the bands' logos instead of plain type. There are also blurbs about pig behavior and one blurb about Clean Plate Records and its founders. Read more here Recap: Cracktoberfest 2015 at Reggies Phil Collins - November 1, 2015 Left?ver Crack at Reggies Rock Club on October 26 Left?ver Crack only come through town once every few years. The last time I saw them was at Riot Fest, when it was still held at the Congress Theater. I first saw them at the Metro a few years before that Congress show. Monday was my third time seeing them in about seven or eight years of listening to the band, and I do not think I have missed any Chicago Left?ver Crack shows in that time. The band seems to favor more one-off shows and short road jaunts. The upcoming release of their third full-length album, Constructs of the State, called for a full-out Cracktoberfest tour. Mid-set, Stza told the crowd that they did not normally play eight shows in a row and it was wearing on his voice, as he turned vocals over to guitarist Brad Logan for "Stop The Insanity," a deep cut from their first album Mediocre Generica. Left?ver Crack is now comprised of original members Brad Logan, Stza (Scott Sturgeon), and bassist Alec Baillie, as well as newer members on drums and guitar. The New York City crust punk band is known for their commentary on politics, government, police and religion. They carry on the crack rock steady sound started by Choking Victim, a previous band that Stza and Baillie were members of, along with former Left?ver Crack guitarist Ezra Kire. They played a few Choking Victim songs on Monday: "Crack Rock Steady," "Infested" and "500 Channels." They played a few songs from the forthcoming Contstructs of the State, which sounded promising. Read more here In Rotation: Meat Wave - Delusion Moon Phil Collins - October 19, 2015 On Delusion Moon, Meat Wave's second full-length album and first for SideOneDummy Records, the Chicago band has added depth to their hard party sound. The band glammed it up from the start in years past on songs like "I've Got Ants," "Panopticon" and "Brother." On Delusion Moon they haven't lost the glam, they are just coming in for a different approach. Songs start with a faraway gaze before spinning off into a riptide. "Witchcraft" is one of the strongest songs in the set. It starts off with drifting guitar licks and a rolling bass line bordering on post-punk. It hinges on the line "I never meant to throw your computer out the window," which first appears about a minute in. Given the tone of the album and the imagery, the words feel more surrealist than literal. When the line is repeated around the 2:30 mark, the subsequent lines lead into a big guitar riff that takes over the remainder of the song. It is a surprising, satisfying turn in the song's arc. This would be a real fun jam to see live. Read more here Older posts Created 7/28/13. Updated 7/24/16. Contact me.

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