Saturday, July 21, 2012

the Assistant - Both LPs, EP, and Splits

The Assistant were a hardcore punk band from New Jersey. They played loud, fast, heavy music with lots of screaming. They also played catchy and poppy songs with slightly off key singing. Songs with programming, keyboards, and samples- Yeah, that too. They could also jam for 5 minutes without saying a word. I try not to get to tied up in the genre(s) slapped on a band, outside of the broader things like Hardcore, Punk, Ska, Rock, Emo, Metal, etc.; I know that the Assistant was a Screamo band, but that just sounds so narrow, so I guess I will get caught up in it this one time, which is why I called them a Hardcore Punk band at the onset of this post. I think that does them the most justice, and at least for me, more fairly says what they were and the depth of what they meant to me.

The last song that the Assistant released, "I Have A Name", from the split with Takaru & This Ship Will Sink, states that the Assistant, as a band, was about standing up for what you believe in. To me, that speaks far more to what this band meant to me (and many others). They covered topics that encompass just about every aspect of human emotion, self-reflection, and dealing with life itself, as a whole. From self-abuse to the impacts of illicit drugs (and discussion of the lengths that governments have been willing to go to in order to test out new drugs on the poor and the resulting impacts), sexual abuse, consumer culture, the consequences of convenience, the com-modification of independent and thought provoking music sounds/scenes, and much more. All of it with thought and explanation - an insight into the words and thoughts that are just as heavy (if not more so) than the music they are playing. Multiple members singing and writing lyrics gives a little something extra, not that the band wouldn't have been great with just Leigh singing.

I will leave it at that- as i've said before here, some times less is more. The Assistant, for me, is a band that ranks up there with Battery, Hot Water Music, the Cable Car Theory, By The Grace of God, and other incredible bands that seemed to fuse themselves into the music they played, and shared words that were bits and pieces of themselves and of myself too. That's not said for a dramatic flair; this music of hardcore and punk ; through many bands and people; has indelibly made an impact on nearly every aspect of my life in some way.

Members have been in a laundry list of other bands, especially guitarist/vocalist, Tom. Check each and every one of them out.

Sadly, it seems, everything the band has done has gone out of print. So, in two downloads, you have the Self-Titled LP, In the Year of the Dawg Tour EP, We'll Make the Roads By Walking LP, the aforementioned 3-way Split, Split with Red Scarlet Letter, and a song that seems to come from an internet created Comp (an alternate version of the song "I Have A Name" from a comp called Screamo Room Presents...) ***In the Year of the Dawg actually features two tracks that ended up on the second lp, they are identical, but included for completions sake***


Friday, July 20, 2012

Lay It On The Line - UK Hardcore - 4-Song EP

Lay It On the Line are a hardcore band from South London, England. Described as melodic hardcore, don't stop reading if you're immediately getting images of bands like Final Fight (who are great), Lay It On The Line is much more a hardcore band that has some melodic elements to a more traditional angry and riff filled attack.

The band formed in January of 2012 and recorded a demo shortly after, followed in May with this 4-song EP, "A Lesson In Personal Finance". Each song checks in under three minutes (with Pay Your Rent, Boy coming in under a minute) and builds a good pace without any songs sounding drawn out or forced. With some well placed slightly chugging riffs that definitely draw from heavier hardcore bands and little leads to add flavor and drums and bass that balance and fill out the sound, the music is very strong, especially for a band only roughly 5 months old at the time of recording. Something about the vocals helps to put the band over the top for me, from good sounding band with potential, to new band I am excited to hear more from. While none of it is re-inventing the wheel kind of stuff, it's a fresh sounding EP and the vocals have an almost spacey kind of sound at times to their gruff scream. Where many similarly sounding vocalists would likely opt for a more guttural sound, the vocals here blend into the mix somewhat, and work with the music instead of above or below it.

All in all, a great 4 song ep.

Check their Tumblr and Bandcamp for updates, more music (inc. their demo), and up coming shows. As always, be on the look out for new bands even more than the magical old records. Support the here and now, now.

DOWNLOAD: Lay It On The Line - "A Lesson In Personal Finance" EP