2.22.2017

SPOTLIGHT: NO VICTORY

SPOTLIGHT: NO VICTORY

(Photo by Gabe Becerra)
Hailing from the birth place of the King of Pop is No Victory. Otherwise known as Twitter's flavor of the week. All I've seen lately is tweets about how No Victory is music for people who steal from Goodwill and can't read. I won't lie, I'm guilty of making the joke myself. All jokes aside though, No Victory is music for people who can appreciate violence as a force of nature. I saw them at this year's Midwest Blood Fest and was nothing short of impressed. You know that feeling everyone talks about, of being uneasy, nervous, and paranoid about what could happen at a hardcore show? How that is what makes a band, making music that's able to turn people into feral animals who act on instinct alone? Well, in that one set No Victory reignited that feeling for me in a way I haven't felt in years and proved they know a thing or two about making people act out.

They have three releases, two demos and Time To Die, which is nine tracks of unrelenting hardcore designed without peace in mind. If you love hardcore that is so heavy it might as well be encased in lead, No Victory is the band for you.

You can listen to No Victory on Bandcamp and follow them on Twitter.

2.20.2017

MENTAL ILLNESS 101

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a long time.

Talking about mental illness is never easy. People either think you're seeking attention, having a pity party, or trying to be edgy, depending on your illness. No sick person wants to see that look in someone they care about's eyes when it turns from caring about us to pitying us. You think we won't notice it but we do, and it stings forever.

Now, I can't speak to every single illness because I don't have every single illness but I am a "special case" in that I have a few co-morbid disorders. Ones that tend to make people think I'm some sort of terrible person. I have Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD from here on), Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Mania. So I am, quite literally, an antisocial maniac. It took years of going through doctors, therapists, and a round of neuroimaging to reach these diagnoses. Imagine living your whole life up to a point not knowing what's wrong with you.

ASPD is the prevailing illness, on paper that means I have shallow affect, a lack of empathy, a lack of remorse, a proneness to boredom, and a constant irritability, to name a few things. Does this make me inherently bad? No. Does this mean I don't know right from wrong and my actions are excusable? Absolutely not. It means, assuming I want friends and to not be in jail, that I have to work twice as hard to just be decent than someone else does to be a saint.

People view ASPD as an illness that has a worse effect on those around the person than the person themselves and honestly, they can all eat a dick. Do you know what it's like to watch relationships crumble in front of your face because you can't care? I don't mean you don't want to or you're actually using this person for ulterior motives. Imagine wanting so badly to love and be in love, but feeling absolutely nothing inside. To create only shallow connections because you have no real personality. To have that thrown in your face every time you argue with someone because they think you aren't trying hard enough to understand them when they refuse to understand you at all. People wonder why so many of us don't ever try to get better, don't try to cope with the symptoms, and why we embrace them at the end. It's because we put more effort into feigned emotion and relationship upkeep than everyone else and just get tired.

Here's what you should take from this: when it comes to mental illness it is easier to write people off in some way that flattens them into a character than it is to deal with it as it comes and make genuine efforts to understand and support them. Make the effort. Let your friends explain their illness to you, don't just go off what you've picked up from Dr. Phil and Tumblr. Be there for them. However, that isn't a job for everyone. If your friend has a mental illness and you can't help them because you aren't the type who understands things like this, just leave them alone about it. You more than likely do nothing but patronize them anyway.

2.14.2017

RESISTANCE 101

NYLON curved me on this article because it "doesn't fit their editorial tone." Whatever, man. What can I expect from a website with Lena Dunham posted on the front of it? So here, enjoy it.

Resistance. That's a one word summation of the Black experience. Every act is one of resistance when your existence is political. American dominant culture is rich, suburban, straight, cis, and overwhelmingly White. When your great grandparents are slaves it's hard not to live a life that is political. Wars were fought over your bloodline's right to be treated like human beings. In the present day this makes simple, small acts become vehement protests of culture at large.

When I shave my head, I am protesting.
When I wear bamboo hoops, I am protesting.
When I go to college in hopes of being a doctor, I am protesting.
When I listen to Migos and twerk in the club for fun, I am protesting.

The thing about dominant culture is it doesn't stop at oppression. It wants you to either assimilate or go extinct. So, when I embrace Black culture I am resisting. Respectability politics is how they get us to assimilate, thinking if we abandon what our elders taught us we'll be accepted. The ugly truth is that no matter how little or how much slang I use, I'm still a second class citizen. Once I attain a degree and become a doctor, I'll still be a second class citizen. Why let them strip me of my culture that is so beautiful just to win a facade of favor from them? It's nothing more than a pat on the back for being a good monkey.

All of that is just inherent resistance; it's as easy as falling asleep. As an active member of the DIY hardcore community I find myself often countering counterculture. Navigating the punk scene as a nonbinary Black person is about as difficult as any other aspect of life. I'm tokenized and if I'm not being tokenized then I'm likely being patronized. The difference is punk gives everyone agency. I wanted to book shows so I did - I didn't need to ask permission. I wanted to start a magazine so I did - no "green light" required. I'm respected now because I worked hard for it. In "real life" I could work twice as hard to only end up with half of what everyone else has.

Of course there's the question of bigotry in the scene. The only answer is that nothing is perfect. Subculture is just a microcosm of society, the same problems are bound to exist on some level. The only difference is that I know my peers here work daily to make it a safe haven from the world. I feel safer presenting the way I want at a show than I do at college or even at home. There's too much good to focus on the bad in a way that isn't trying to fix what's wrong with this scene. 

2.08.2017

REVIEW: SWIFT MINDS OF THE DARKSIDE BY QUEENSWAY

REVIEW: SWIFT MINDS OF THE DARKSIDE BY QUEENSWAY

Swift Minds of The Darkside is the second release by Baltimore unit Queensway. If you picked up issue one of LOD Magazine then I know you've heard of them before. Well, they came back with a seven track EP to follow up the demo they released in February of 2016 and it does not disappoint in the slightest. In fact, I'm extremely impressed.

Most bands that take a similar approach to hardcore can't surpass their initial releases, relying heavily on the simple fact that they play a heavier style of the genre to carry them over from "good" to "memorable." Queensway is no such act. On this release they show you time and time again they made this style a science. Patric Gardner's lyrics are something more of a manifesto, depraved and raw, showing the extremities of where the mind can go when left to its own violent devices.

The album opens with ambient music, followed by Paul Sparer's voice giving the opening from Tales from the Darkside. Then you slide directly into the opening riffs and rhythms of "Fuel for The Darkest Man", almost four minutes of unrelenting guitars and a full on assault of well-written drum parts. The end of which is all feedback, moving seamlessly into "Trenchknife"- my personal favorite song on this release. Namely for its lyrical content.
Weak men, bow to me. Feeble and weak. My trenchknife will make you see. I won't let you stop me.
It's that very line that sums up Queensway's attitude quite well. "Return to Dirt" simply reinforcing the ideas laid out by the two previous tracks.

"Swift Minds of The Darkside" gives us a small intermission with another sample at its beginning, a quote from Burrell of The Wire, before barrelling into the track. Two minutes into this track we are graced with some of my favorite lyrics on this release, swiftly does the round leave the chamber/Playing god; Internal war/Simple lust and a means to an end. Throughout this album Queensway talks on the lasting effects perpetrating violence has on the mind. A refreshing theme from a band in this vein of hardcore. "Violent Breed" continues this with lyrics like what would you do with a strap in your hand?/Inflated feelings unshaken/Power of God: intentions of man.

"I.N.L." and "Shellshock" close out the album, leaving you reeling and wondering who could be responsible for something so violent and visceral. The answer is the one and only Queensway. 

You can listen to Swift Minds of The Darkside on Bandcamp and follow Queensway on Twitter

2.01.2017

SPOTLIGHT: UNITED NOTHING

SPOTLIGHT: UNITED NOTHING

(Photo by Ness Perry)
United Nothing is a five piece hardcore band from the greater Los Angeles area. They’ve been drawing a lot of attention lately, mainly due the energy of their live shows.  Having seen the band on multiple lineups I can vouch for their live sets being what can only be described as a party. They have a unique demeanor to them, considering they’re hip hop heads taking cues from the influences of crossover and youth crew hardcore.

United Nothing released a self-titled three song EP called UN on January 18th. With each member being under the age of 21, United Nothing truly represents the future of the west coast scene and the direction in which it is headed.

Listen to United Nothing on Bandcamp and follow them on Twitter.