Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview: Julian Berman (Photographer/OFWGKTA)

Hey dude how’s it going, first off I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer some questions for us.
Whatup Wayne! Thank you for giving me the pleasure of being included on the site.

Can you give our readers a small introduction since some may not be familiar with you or your work?
A small introduction..... hah. I'm nineteen years old, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I am a photographer, hardcore enthusiast, tee shirt junkie, straightedge, miserable college student. You have probably seen me at a variety of shows throughout LA, or may have seen my photos of Tyler The Creator / Odd Future, who are my main dudes to photograph.

How were you introduced into the Photography field?
I got sucked into Photography the summer coming into 11th grade. I decided to take up some photo classes after always showing interest in Skateboard Photography and reading countless Thrasher mags. I figured, why not fill in some elective credits, maybe get a cool camera, and actually benefit towards the skate sessions. Little did I know that it would soon become my passion and or trade.

What was your first camera set-up and do you have any memorable moments using said camera?
My first camera was a Nikon D60. I was so stoked on it, but at the same time incredibly overwhelmed as I had never used an SLR before. I was quick to get rid of it after about 6 months so nothing that notable went down. I did tend to set my ISO (for those who are not familiar with camera terms, it is basically a value that corresponds with the amount of light that comes in...) to a ridiculously high number, something like 3200 ISO at all times. I noticed my photos were incredibly grainy and nowhere near sharp, and I was determined that the camera was broken. Hahahaha.

What is your current set-up and how hard was the transition from your 1st camera to your current set up?
Currently, I have a bunch of cameras that I am working with. A Hasselblad 500CM and a Mamiya 7 are my primary choices, both Medium Format film cameras. I've got a Contax T2 which is a dope little film point and shoot, and of course the Nikon D90 and the entire digital/flash setup which has been putting in work lately. Coming from the first little setup, this is a HUGE upgrade. These are some of the best film cameras EVER made, and I am incredibly honored to have them in my possesion. Shooting film definitely took some time to learn, and definitely plenty of money, but it is all so worth it in the end. Shoot more film dudes!

Pick Your Side - Survival Prayer

Pick Your Side is the newest project from Jeff Beckman of ex (current?) Haymaker and Left For Dead fame, and Johnny Ibay (Fuck The Facts.) Well, let me first state that I’m not 100% sure whether Haymaker is active or not. I know they started playing shows again a few months ago – I saw them at the A389 Records anniversary show in Baltimore with Integrity. But I have no idea whether they are still playing shows now or not.

Anyway, back to Pick Your Side. This band picks up right where Haymaker left off. While I’m not overly familiar with Haymaker’s discography, I’ve listened to them enough to know their sound; fast, pissed, thrashy hardcore, and that’s exactly what this is. This 7” blazes through 10 tracks in less than 11 minutes, with music and lyrics (politically and religion based) akin to Beckman’s former bands.

There are two major things I don’t like about these songs/this recording. Firstly, I’m not big on the vocals. While it still sounds like Jeff Beckman, the vocals sound so lo-fi it’s hard to tell if he’s saying actual words half the time or just groaning. Secondly, these songs are very forgettable. I can’t find one memorable riff, vocal pattern, chorus, etc. on this record.

While not bad by any means, I just find these songs a little too repetitive and uninspired to warrant repeated listens. Don’t take my word for it though, head over to listen to a song from the record and maybe you’ll think differently. Oh yeah, and there is a cool Crucifucks cover at the end of this one too.

Rating: 2/5

Pick it up here

Review: Praise- Two Songs

Two Songs is the second effort from melodic hardcore band Praise, these two songs continue to progress the bands sand and establish them within the youth crew scene by combining elements of Dag Nasty, Insted, Uniform Choice and label mates Give. Both Give and Praise share the same approach on hardcore with Revolution Summer/ 80’s Youth Crew blend creating a blend of powerful and moving hardcore. The two songs while being two in a half minutes long both are completely different with “Could Have Helped” taking on the bands more common approach of melodic youth crew, while “Autumn” is a more faster paced song with much Youth Of Today, Bold approach. I would check out this album for this band is still spreading the message of positivity within the hardcore scene and using thought provoking lyrics while having a straight edge back bone.

Rating: 4/5 (This is only leaving me waiting for an LP)
Favorite song: Could Have Helped
Get it here:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: Agitator- Walls Closing In

Ok time to give this review thing a shot, this will be my first review on this site so give me some slack.

Hailing from Eastern Pennsylvania, Aggressive Straight Edge band AGITATOR have returned with their second EP and Six Feet Under debut entitled “Walls Closing In”. Bursting onto the scene in 2009 Agitator caught the attention of Ride The Fury Records and Harvcore Records with their debut demo, which was later released by RTF on cassette. The next year (2010) marked the debut EP from the band entitled “Enter Vice Lords” which was released by the West Chester, PA based label HARVCORE.

The bands debut EP marked them as a bright and vicious band in the Pennsylvania scene, which was later embraced by Joe Hardcore when the band was asked to play the This Is Hardcore. The band’s set at TIH caught the attention of Six Feet Under Records, who came to the band about releasing a new EP in 2011.

Now onto the record itself, running at about 13 minutes in length I can honestly say this is one of the best EP’s I’ve heard this year. With the bands drastic improvement on lyrical content, riff structure, and flat out song writing I find this album is more enjoyable and “fulfilling” over their debut album. With their first record I think some people were turned off by the overwhelming sense coming off the ignorant lyrical content, but from my perspective I can say this is a leap in the right direction for the band.

If you heard the first EP and were turned off by the band, I hope you will give this band a second shot.

Rating: 4.75/5
Favorite Track: Social Chameleon
Keep an eye on for ordering information

Review: Skin Like Iron- Arrival

I’ve been a fan of Skin Like Iron since All Human Failings came out so when I was asked to review their newest album Arrival, I knew that it would continue the amazing progression the band has made between that their last album. Arrival does not disappoint at all, going from melodic tendencies to punk, to very experimental songs to even at times being unclassifiable. The musicianship on this album is also worth mentioning for the riffs on this album are much more atmospheric and yet crushing, which adds a much more dynamic element to each song as well as the dark basslines and vocal performance which will make you bang your head. The album as a whole is a lot different than anything else the band has put out and yet in my opinion is their best effort to date and most hard hitting, with no song being a filler song and the flow of the album working perfectly especially with the lyrics since they are usually told telling stories it seems to continue the natural progression of the stories. I would recommend this album for anyone who is into music from Ceremony, Lewd Acts, Pulling Teeth, Joy Division, Deafheaven and a group of other eclectic bands. Yet I would definitely pick up this album if you’ve been sleeping on Skin Like Iron since it has something anyone into hardcore can find to their likings.

Rating: 5/5 (My favorite SLI release now)
Favorite Songs: Silence Swells & Blame II
Get it here:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: No Omega- S/T EP

No Omega from Sweden seem to be a hidden secret since their first EP entitled No Omega shows the band living up to many European contemporaries such as Rise and Fall, Zann, Oathbreaker and Trainwreck. The EP embodies very emotional/ dark hardcore spreading across many topics lyrically from veganism, politics and is written in a poetic muse much like their contemporaries. Though what sets them apart from these bands is the amount of passion and dedication put into each chord and each lyric. I don’t want to lump them into a category but I could definitely see this band on Deathwish Inc. or A389 in the near future. If you are a fan of dark/metallic hardcore and such as Seraphim, Rise and Fall, Oathbreaker, and Cursed then I would definitely check this out.

Rating: 4/5 (While I love bands like this and think they executed it well, I can’t stop feeling like I’m listening to Rise and Fall and Zann which rules but takes away something)

Favorite Songs: Constants and The Design
Check them out here:

Review: Balance and Composure- Separation

Balance and Composure have done it again, proved to me that they can create even more mindfully catchy and amazingly structured songs. Keeping in mind that I just went to see them tonight, I’ll still say that Separation far surpassed anything I had in mind for this band and then some, no song feels like a filler song and each one compliments the next. What is interesting about Balance and Composure is that they have three guitarists to make this trifecta of amazing melody and harmony that works perfectly together. I am even sad to say that this has now one upped Title Fight’s Shed in my eyes and will be on rotation for the next few weeks or so. Please go out and buy this record or go out to see them with The Dear Hunter and Dregd.

Rating: 6/5 (record is pretty much all that I wanted from a Balance and Composure full length)
Favorite Song: The whole album.
Pre-orders are sold out but look for it from the No Sleep Records Store

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Light Hearted- How The World Works

Light Hearted’s new EP How the World Works, shows that the band does not deviate from the fast blooming PA pop punk and hardcore scene for this four piece band can be Title Fight’s twins at some times with songs that are equally as catchy yet also with parts reminiscent of Tigers Jaw, Daylight, Balance & Composure and other bands of the sort from the surrounding areas. While living up to the overly formulated pop punk song writing skills and lyrics, but they do so with energy that will probably get them far. I recommend this for anyone who likes the above bands I have mentioned along with the newer additions to 6131 including Settle For Less and Maker. While I’m not entirely sure who put this out, I can see this band getting signed to a label like Run For Cover very soon with a sound like this and from being from where they are. Still I would not sleep on this at all.

Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Song: NG (No Good)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Review:Pala-We Don't Exist

On their full length debut, Baltimore Maryland's PALA deliver a melting pot of several different sounds that all somehow come together to form a surprisingly cohesive mix. You can hear elements of hardcore, screamo and stoner metal on this record, but this doesn't sound like a band that threw together their songs at random, these are cohesive and extremely well written jams. While the faster hardcore songs on this album are awesome, in my opinion the band really takes it up a notch when they break out into slower passages, some containing riffs that sound downright ethereal/hypnotic. This mix of genres fuses to create an album that stands out as being extremely fresh to these ears, and highly recommended. Fans of newer hardcore/screamo acts such as Capsule, Comadre and Furnace owe it to themselves to check this out, as you may have found yourself a new favorite band.

Favorite Tracks:Inside Of, The Singularity
Stream 2 songs from We Are Nothing Here
Purchase from A389 Records Here