Friday, January 26, 2007

THE FIRST STEP - "What We Know": Best of 2006?

With this post I just want to throw the spotlight on a really, really good hardcore record that came out last year. For me, it's possibly my favorite HC record of 2006, and it's a band that has made quite a name for itself, and for a good reason. The First Step has it all: the music, the message, and a ton of positive energy to give you the biggest smile while moshing your ass off! Their style is fast, old school youth crew with positive, spiritual, friendship and anti-mater lyrics. How much better can it get!?

Let me tell you these guys have got their influences down right. They combine elements from the 88 spirit youth crew bands like Youth Of Today, Chain Of Strength and Gorilla Biscuits but with an extra positive and melodic twist of California straight edge bands like Insted and especially Uniform Choice. Awesome! For anyone who likes 80s hardcore these are all historic, legendary bands and TFS DOES sound as good as them. But TFS has also a personal sound and takes things to a whole new level, as they are good musicians and every instrument makes its presence very strongly. Of course this is helped by the production, which is the job of Walter Schreifels (ex- Gorilla Biscuits, ex-Quicksand, ex-Rival Schools), a legend in his own right.

I've got this on CD by Rivalry Records and it looks pretty good. The booklet is pretty good and it contains the *awesome* inspirational lyrics and the artwork is kind of a homage to the late 80s Revelation bands (b&w moshpit photos, the guitarist doing a superior jump with his Gibson etc). You know the deal! There's also this picture of the band chiling on a dock which is really cool. Rivalry records also put this put on vinyl, and I bet it looks and sounds absolutely spectacular, and it is probably sold out by now.

I didn't know that Carolina, US, had such incendiary bands. I totally recommend this for all the kids who like their hardcore energetic, stripped down but at the same time melodic and multi-layered. Kids: This is a record you will spin again and again. And again...

Friday, January 19, 2007

HAVE HEART - The Things We Carry (Bridge 9)

So everyone's been talking about HAVE HEARTand I have been really curious to see what the fuss is all about. For some reason Have Heart has been promoted as this mid-90s HC revival band but I personally don;t find any similarities with that sound. To me it sounds like a modern, metallic-tinged youth crew band that could fit in the whole Comeback Kid/With Honor genre. I mean, take a look at the cover (which by the way I think is great), does that signify mid 90s to you? I don't think so.

Have Heart is the classic example of an American Hardcore band: They've been around for a while, they've self-released a demo that went fucking well, they have a 7" on a small HC label (Think Fast! Records) and they've played their asses off... So now Bridge 9 does the logical thing, which is to snatch them up and release their full-length. What you get is 11 songs of good contemporary American HC, a sound that of course is very much loved here in Europe too. Have Heart has actually played in mainland Europe and England and got some great crowd responses.

Their sound combines the HC harshness and speed, but there is definitely something more 'elegant' going on. There is a lot of tempo exchange, from the 0:56 "Life Is Hard Enough Opener", to some slow moshy songs and some melancholic parts and interludes and whatever. Of course, it is topped up by a crystal-clear production that makes everything sound fucking huge, especially the drums-hear the rolls thunder mercilessly on your head!

The lyrics are also a bit faraway from the classic straight edge HC template. It is sXe domain for sure, but of another school, less loud-mouthed and more though-provoking. There is some sadness in some of those songs, but overall a good message for the kids to read in their bedrooms inbetween the Terror hatefuckyourevenge stuff.

Summing up, Have Heart is one of those bands that is changing the face of Hardcore music today, with this different approach that doesn't pretend to be very hard or or adopt a pretentious stance. The music speaks for itself, and it is good, straight up music for the year 2007.

p.s. for the record collector freaks: vinyl version recently pressed by Bridge 9 on gatefold 12", solid yellow w/ green splatters. 1000 pieces so hurry if you really want this!