Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Redemption 87 - The Spidey Sessions 1995

I think most of us would probably agree that Redemption 87 was one of the best and most important Hardcore bands ever to come out of Northern California… along with Second Coming, Powerhouse and Hoods, they were an essential band that played a pivotal role in helping revive Hardcore in the Bay Area (and beyond) during the mid-late 1990’s. Without them, Northern California Hardcore as we know it would not be the same…

Redemption 87 originally formed sometime back in 1995 (thanks due in large part to a mutual friend of the band; Lars Frederiksen of Rancid), with the intention of playing more traditional Hardcore in the vein of bands like Youth Of Today, Bold and Gorilla Biscuits. Having collectively played in such diverse bands as; Unit Pride (Eric), Skankin’ Pickle (Ian), The Hi Fives (Gary) & Token Entry (Timmy) the newly formed group set out to play Hardcore reminiscent of the classic bands that they had all loved so much growing up.

In the following months Redemption 87 would play out whenever possible, often alongside local bands like AFI, Screw 32, Good Riddance and Powerhouse. Touring would prove extremely difficult however, as Timmy Chunks was living in Southern California at the time and was already committed to touring full-time as a guitar-tech and roadie for popular bands like Green Day and L7. Scotty (The Struggle Buggies) would eventually join Redemption 87 as a rhythm and “back-up” guitarist, although he would ultimately be replaced by Jade (later of AFI).

Redemption 87 would eventually go on to release their CLASSIC “self-titled” full length album on New Age Records (Turning Point, Lifetime, Strife, Unbroken) sometime in late 1996. Two years later, the band would issue “All Guns Poolside!” (a collection of unreleased, cover and demo songs) through the legendary Blackout! Records (Sheer Terror, Breakdown, H2O, Outburst) as well. You can hopefully expect to see related-posts for both of those records in the not-so-distant future…

Although these 4-songs (produced by Lars Ferderiksen) were originally recorded sometime back in 1995, this 7” wasn’t released until 1998 when it came out on San Ramon’s Breakout Records (now defunct). Unfortunately, the band was essentially done by this point, and I can vaguely remember them rescheduling their ‘final’ show at Gilman Street several times before “officially” calling quits sometime in late-1998/early-1999 (Redemption 87 would later reunite for a pair of shows in April of 2004).

As we all know, Eric Ozenne later went on to front The Nerve Agents during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and he subsequently formed Said Radio with fellow Redemption 87 alumni; Gary. This is definitely some classic material from an essential Bay Area band… do yourselves all a favor and check it out.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

All Bets Off - Roshambo Deathmatch

San Francisco’s All Bets Off would eventually become one of the most beloved and popular Hardcore bands in Northern California, but for years they labored and toiled relentlessly… playing shows and developing their own distinct sound, forcefully carving out a niche for themselves in the local scene. Their efforts would not be in vain however, as the band would eventually become responsible for drawing an entirely new and different generation of kids (sometimes affectionately referred to as “the Bets” or “Bets kids”) into the Bay Area scene throughout the early-mid 2000’s.

All Bets Off officially formed back in February of 1997, after Sammy the Mick joined up with a group of young musicians that needed a vocalist. Andrew (guitar) and Jake (drums) had already been jamming together for a couple of years when they hooked up with Forest (bass) in the fall of 1996. With Sammy as their new singer, the band played their first show at the Alameda Saloon in April of 1997 and shortly thereafter decided to record a demo tape. All Bets Off would quickly release the “Everyone Is Suspect” demo (8-songs) in August of 1997, followed by another 4-song demo (self-titled) in December. Both tapes were well-received and by this point, the band was already starting to play alongside some ‘bigger’ touring acts like: AFI, Hatebreed, 25 Ta Life & H2O. Following the success of their demos, All Bets Off would take the next logical step and record their first vinyl EP.

This 4-song 7” was released through Sammy’s own label; Cynic Squad Records (pre-Spiderghost Pressgang to those unaware) in November of 1998. I’m not 100% positive, but I believe that these songs were recorded by Andy Ernst at Art of Ears Studio (Green Day, Rancid, AFI, etc.) in Hayward, CA. The cover art for “Roshambo Deathmatch” was done by Joey Vela (vocalist of both Second Coming & the legendary Breakaway) and personally I think it looks fucking awesome. On a side note: Joey was also responsible for creating the artwork for Powerhouse’s classic “No Regrets” album (which you can hopefully expect to see a related-post for sometime soon) as well as many amazing local Bay Area show flyers.

Personally, “Roshambo Deathmatch” is BY FAR my favorite All Bets Off recording. Although their sound has always been difficult to describe; I can easily say that this record, alongside their early demos is definitely their most straight-forward material. If you can imagine the Melvins mixed with some classic 90’s NYHC (think: Madball, 25 Ta Life, Crown of Thornz, etc.) then you might have a general idea of what this record sounds like…

Honestly, I hadn’t heard some of these songs in close to ten years; I thought that I had lost this record forever to the sands of time, and had basically given up on finding it, so you can imagine how stoked I was when I was able to locate all the mp3’s (and cover art)! The vinyl itself is LONG out-of-print, so good luck finding a copy… do yourselves a favor and check out a Bay Area Hardcore essential!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Blood live @ Gilman St. video

I stumbled across this First Blood video on youtube a little while back and figured that I should definitely share it on the blog. This set was filmed by John Jenkins a.k.a. John Eightclip (Eightclip Media, Allegiance, Right On) on November 30th 2002 at 924 Gilman Street. Hopefully John doesn’t object to me posting this video… The other bands on the bill that night included: Terror, In Control, All Bets Off & Animosity. This was definitely a highly anticipated show; I can vividly remember a lot of people traveling from all over the West Coast (specifically LA, San Diego, Reno, Seattle, etc.) to see it. I can spot a lot of old friends and familiar faces in the crowd here, some that I haven’t seen in years… this was undeniably an amazing time for Hardcore in the Bay Area and anyone who was there will attest.

First Blood’s line-up at the time was: Carl, Doug, Kyle, Dave & “Albany” Mike. This is definitely one of the band’s earlier shows (I think they opened) but at this point they were already receiving crazy crowd reactions (as you can plainly see). Armed with just a 5-song CDR demo, First Blood was quickly gaining a tremendous amount of attention from both fans and labels alike, but ultimately FB would have to take the backseat for a while as Doug toured full-time with his other band; Terror. Carl would also eventually join Terror and for the next couple years, First Blood would only play shows on very rare occasions (Carl eventually quit Terror sometime during 2006 and quickly reformed First Blood with a new line-up).

I plan on posting some of First Blood’s recordings eventually, but in the meantime enjoy this video. The show’s flyer is posted below...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sworn Vengeance - Abbadon

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sworn Vengeance has been rumored to make an appearance live sometime later this year, so I thought it would be fitting to upload some of their material... to those that don’t know: Sworn Vengeance initially formed in 1996, recording and performing under their original name; Downshift. Brothers Eric and Marc Fortner (bass and drums respectively) had hooked up with Brian (Guitar) and Ryan (Vocals) after placing some “Musician’s Wanted” ads in the local classifieds. Over the next two years Downshift would frequently perform at shows throughout Northern California, releasing three very well-received demo tapes (“Flame Still Burns”, “Soul Stealer” & “Nineteen Ninety Hate”) in the process, as well as a split 7” EP with locals Strength By Strength.

By 1998, the band had experienced some line-up changes (specifically after changing bass players and adding a second guitarist) and their sound had already started to move in a new, much heavier direction. They soon decided to change their name to Sworn Vengeance. After recording some new tracks (as well as updating some old Downshift songs) the band released the “My Friend Violence” demo, their first ‘official’ release as Sworn Vengeance. The recording was well-received, and after gaining the attention of Mike Hood and West Coast Worldwide Records, the band quickly agreed to release their first full-length CD with WCWW.

Unfortunately Nate (their second/rhythm guitarist at the time) quit the band only a week prior to recording “Abbadon”, forcing Brian to handle guitar duties on his own. Regardless of member changes, SV (who at the time consisted of Marc, Brian, Ryan and Bob) was determined to push on and they entered the studio the following week. This CD was recorded back in February 1999 at EME Enterprises in Sacramento, CA by Matt Erich and Mike Hood. EME was definitely the staple go-to studio for most Hardcore bands in Northern California at the time and this production style defines that era to me…

Although this CD is not as polished as “Domination” and the music is not as complex as “The Outstretched Arms Of Damnation” this remains as one of my favorite Sworn Vengeance recordings. I’d definitely recommend this CD to anyone who likes HEAVY Hardcore (think: Earth Crisis, Hatebreed, Next Step Up, etc.) or to anyone that is interested in hearing what was happening in Northern California at the time. Do yourself a favor and check it out…


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Towards An End - Change And Pass Through...

I’ve wanted to do another Towards An End post for a while now, so without further due; here is the “Change And Pass Through...” EP. This 7” was released in the fall of 1999 through the legendary Lookout! Records (Operation Ivy, Green Day, Rancid, etc.) and unfortunately it was the first and last piece of vinyl the band ever put out. Towards An End is often affectionately and nostalgically referred to as both “amazing” and “way ahead of their time” but I know many will disagree. Personally, they were and will always remain to be one of my favorite local bands from the era, but while I know that TAE was always one of the most beloved bands of the region, they were also one of the most despised.

As some of you may know, Towards An End formed in “The Valley” (more specifically San Ramon, CA) sometime in late-1997/early-1998 from the ashes Rely, who had just broken up. Drew, Todd, Darren, Mike & Matt (aka “The Twins”) got together with the intention of playing Hardcore with a ‘poppier’ edge to it (something relatively unheard of at the time). Influenced by bands like 7 Seconds, Shelter, H2O and The Get Up Kids; Towards An End gained almost instant popularity in the Bay Area.

The group would quickly release two well-received demo tapes and eventually go on to put out the CD EP “Chance Of A Lifetime”(available here) through local Bay Area label Give Me Strength Records. TAE played shows up and down the West Coast in support of their new release, but as some members began to focus on college (shortly after experiencing some rather unfortunate 'problems' with other local bands and having obvious 'personality conflicts' with various people from within “the scene”) the band would eventually begin to fade away…

These four songs were recorded sometime in 1999 at Nu-Tone Studios (Green Day, Samiam, Dillinger Four, etc.) in Pittsburg, CA. Shortly after the release of this record the band would break up… it’s too bad, because these are some of the catchiest songs they ever wrote or recorded. Although most people probably prefer their demo’s (which I eventually plan on posting as well), I really enjoy these tracks; I’d recommend this record to fans of bands like the Movielife, early-Get Up Kids, Saves The Day, etc. Come see what all the hype is about…


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back from the dead...

First off, I’d like to apologize to anyone that reads or follows California Hardcore for essentially letting the blog die. I realize that the lack of posts have probably left most of you wondering whether or not this thing was actually finished... believe me, it’s far from done. Although it’s not an excuse, I’ve really had a lot going on this past year (specifically school and the approaching birth of my first child) and needless to say, my attention has been elsewhere.

It definitely took some time for me to try to re-direct some energy to the blog; with that said, recently I’ve been somewhat inspired and motivated to get back to business. Having gone through some of my older posts, it’s very clear to me that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface… although I can’t commit to regular posting, I’ll try to do it when and where I can. I’d also like to apologize for any dead or invalid download links… I am currently in the process of moving and re-uploading everything to Mediafire, which should make most of you happy. If you missed out on something, please try again, it should be working now.

As far as band news, it looks like Lowlife is going to be coming back from the dead and playing some shows together this fall. Rumor has it that they are finally going to be releasing an official CD version of their long-awaited 2nd full length (originally recorded in 2003, newly remixed and remastered). Sworn Vengeance is also rumored to make a Bay Area appearance sometime towards the end of this year. Expect to see some related-posts in the not-so-distant future. As always, thanks for the support.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hoods live @ Danville Grange Hall videos

I was pretty stoked when I stumbled across these videos the other night, and I figured that I had to post them on the blog. This Hoods set was filmed by Eric Fortner (Downshift) at the Danville Grange Hall back in January of 1997. Big thanks to Eric for always being cool about sharing his music and video footage. This very early Hoods line-up featured Mikey on guitar, Mario playing Bass, Billy (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) on drums and Mike Miranda (aka Mike Spaulding) on vocals. Mike Hodson (Lockjaw .44, Strength By Strength, Through It All) also makes a guest vocal appearance somewhere around the end of the first video that continues onto the second video.

Despite the fact that this video is chopped into three parts, this is still is a pretty good quality set, especially when considering the time frame. The band plays mostly earlier stuff here (first ep, demo tracks, new blood, etc.) and closes with a pair of Agnostic Front covers (“Last Warning” and “Friend or Foe”) which was definitely a Hoods-staple for years. Videos like this definitely make me miss the Grange Hall. On a related note, be on the lookout for more Hoods-related posts very soon, and if you haven’t done so already, be sure to download any records of theirs that I’ve already posted.