DeFaced by Michael Stahl: Five Rock Albums You Should Own

16 04 2012

FIVE ROCK ALBUMS…

That Inspired Big-Name Acts You Probably Don’t Own, But Totally Should

A Blessay by Michael Stahl

Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts
Released: 1998 Genre: Punk/Hardcore/Emo/Screamo
Influenced: At The Drive-In/The Mars Volta, Isis, Thursday, Panic! At The Disco

From the moment this album begins with a sound byte declaration of “They told me the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we’d do too,” privileged listeners become immediately cognizant of an impending assault of creativity comparable to few other sources. Now over 13 years old and the extreme polar opposite of “dated,” this work of Swedish hardcore rockers sounds as fresh and edgy as ever, thankfully rendering that intro’s self-fulfilling prophecy unfounded. Pit Shape against any punk album since and many would have a fit trying to comprehend how it has gone so unnoticed in the mainstream and calculating an assumed release date would prove equally as trying. As the United States continues to toil in rocky, murky economic waters, the opening lyric “I’ve got a bone to pick with capitalism / And a few to break” could give the Occupy movement a potential rallying cry. From “Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull,” the newly-hooked travel through some radio station signals (interludes that were totally jacked by Panic! At The Disco on their work A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out) to land on “Liberation Frequency,” a track about the band’s desire to hear more envelope-pushing music dominate the airwaves, vocally highlighted by: “We don’t just want air time / We want all the time / All of the time.” After the eardrum clapping “The Deadly Rhythm” (with jazz ensemble intro), the more catchy “Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine,” and the acid jazz break “Bruitish Pome #5,” the album’s cornerstone track “New Noise” begins to unfold with marching band drums building upon a repetitive guitar sequence. After a slowed-down house music sidestep, vocalist Dennis Lyxzen returns to yelp: “Can I scream?,” hoping that the louder he offers the option to listen to more challenging works of art, the more people will heed the call. Some of the most incredible audio engineering exists midway through this LP when, as “New Noise” comes to a prolonged, screeching close, a live speech about capitalism actually being “organized crime” is blended in as a skit/intro to “Refused Party Program,” creating the illusion that the previous song was being performed on stage all along. More calls for revolution are announced in “Protest Song ’68,” a plea for people to revert back to the proactive mindset of the 1960s. By the time one gets to the tour de force “Tannhauser / Derive,” exhaustion may have settled in, but the Celtic violin startup will redux the hype that has been similarly insisted upon by Dropkick Murphys in their more recent and popular classic “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Front-to-back, The Shape of Punk to Come is a must-own and appears to only have grown in terms of relevance and importance.

ONWARD! »»

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ed tullett: poetic sounds from the UK

12 04 2012

i first heard 18-year-old UK musician ed tullett‘s song “ribboned blood” on a random tumblr playlist, and was struck immediately by the jangling banjo and his strong, distinct sound, both musically and lyrically. the brooding acoustics on his new album never joy – released december 2011 – were completely (and impressively!) written, recorded, and produced by ed himself. he’s a great example of just how independently successful you can be when you embrace what the internet can do for your music. never joy is available for free download on bandcamp, and thanks to his open dialogue with fans from around the globe on multiple social media platforms (and of course his undeniable talent), the first pressing of his CD recently sold out. we spoke to ed to find out more about his music, what inspires him, how he feels about the new model of the music industry, and more. check it out!

ONWARD! »»





New World Order Employment Applications #008: CONNOR DWYER

11 04 2012

Introducing the next candidate to fill out SUGAR -N- THUNDER’s New World Order Employment ApplicationCONNOR DWYER!

Connor Dwyer is the cousin of SNT’s pal Mike Wilson. Clearly acting crazy on the internet runs in the blood. Like Mike and I, Connor acts, shoots and edits his original YouTube content – though he is usually busy pranking his brother, covering songs or posting challenges. He’s stepped up his production with a newly acquired green screen (they can be so fun… and tortuous) and is posting new videos with a mix of commentary on pop culture while showing off his skills.

Who I am & what I do:

I’m a YouTuber and aspiring filmmaker.

Projects you should know about:

The rest of Connor’s work can be found HERE!

The Survey:

1. What defines awesomeness to you? When you see/do/feel/experience/etc. something and it makes your jaw drop every time – that is true awesomeness.

2. Have you ever had a near-death experience? Yes, multiple times! I was hit by a car when I was 8. Luckily I only got a few scratches but then, due to being a skater my whole life, one time I got hung up on a high-ass rail. Whew, if my balls didn’t hit that rail my face would have been done for!

3. If you could be absolute ruler of the world for a day, what’s the first thing you’d do? I would make it absolute law that I was ruler of the world for the rest of my life so I could do whatever the fuck I want.

4. What’s your guilty pleasure? Oh boy, I would say walking around my house naked. A lot of people like it but I would do it all the time if I could.

5. What do you know now that you wish you knew as a teen/kid? But I am a teen/kid! Well if I had to answer I’d probably say knowing how to play 9+ instruments. I feel like that would’ve come in handy.

ONWARD! »»





FUCTIPHINO: live + interview!

10 04 2012

New music writing from Ignas Bautrenas!

FUCTIPHINO: 1) A mystical animal; 2) #%^&!@$?/*; 3) A punk rock trio from Brooklyn, NY.

Lee Pilgrim drives me to Brooklyn and I meet up with the rest of FUCTIPHINO around 1pm. Their practice space is located in the basement of an apartment building, on one of Bushwick’s residential streets. They’re hanging outside, sipping their morning coffee, and Babs is cursing out loud at the paper cup for being too hot. Tim Skrewd is chewing his sandwich and complaining about a headache from a party he went to a night before. It’s still just a casual Saturday morning for the three of them although the time is long past noon already. Once Tim’s sandwich is gone they go downstairs, plug in their gear, tune up, and pound through their set which takes approximately twenty minutes. The music is quick, loud, simple, with a few curse words here and there. But hey, it’s punk rock! And as opposed to many punk rock bands – you can actually hear what these guys are saying. “We don’t crank our instruments up to the max like most bands do,” Lee Pilgrim tells me during their cigarette break, “our lyrics are just as important as our music. It would be good for people to hear what we have to say.”

Who are these three guys, you ask? Fucked if I know!

No, seriously, I’m not being rude. FUCTIPHINO, pronounced “Fucked-If-I-Know” as you might have guessed, is a simple-minded and straight-forward punk rock trio from Brooklyn, New York. “Why do you spell your title this way?” I ask the lead vocalist and bassist Lee Pilgrim. “Well,” Lee tells me, “imagine, that you’re in a safari, right? You’re wearing the whole hunter gear, have a gun by your side and you’re driving around looking to kill the infamous, bloodthirsty Fuctiphino. Get it?” That pretty much sums it up, I think.

ONWARD! »»





THE GIRAFFES: the next generation

10 04 2012

so. HOLY SHIT GUYS.

by now everyone knows that sugar -n- thunder’s favorite band the giraffes played their last show with frontman aaron lazar in feb of 2011. aaron took some time off (and composed some improvised experiments of the “bitter, sparse, dark and expansive” kind) but is now rocking away with DON’T, and the rest of the giraffes – drew on drums, jens on bass, damien on sweet, sweet geetar (and vox!) – have since picked themselves up two lovely ladies with killer pipes by the name of kimberly and brianna, and have birthed a ssssexy new giraffe of a different color.. err. yeah.

it’s THE GIRAFFES… THE NEXT GENERATION!

we are ALWAYS thrilled to see damien, jens, and drew doing what they do best, but the last show they played – their triumphant return to mercury lounge last month – really took the proverbial (jameson-soaked) cake.

they kicked the night off with some nasty surfy jams and sprawling slow numbers punched up with accompanying vocals from the ladies, which is the way the giraffes had been rocking out for the past few shows they played since parting ways with aaron (for the first return gig at st vitus, i believe they were accompanied by – the also very lovely – joanna of the midnight show and bayli from the skins). here and there was a recognizable track like the instrumental “ESF” from their last full-length prime motivator or even a holy throwback from franksquilt (the original giraffes album – pre-aaron, super surf, damien on vox and tim kent – who, did we mention, is a fucking amazing artist?! – on bass).. but mostly it was NEW SHIT – including the track “shaman shakes” from their next album (a soundtrack!..?!!), entitled the tales of the black whistle. NOTE: you can watch a performance of that song HERE as filmed at adrian grenier’s awesome new project wreckroom records (NICE)!

BUT THEN. THEN, ladies & gents, they surprised the living shit out of us. suddenly – a familiar intro.. the ruled epic “THE CITY” begins and.. KIMBERLY IS SINGING THE LYRICS! and as if that wasn’t awesome enough, then we get another surprise with both girls singing a vampy, raunchy reworking of “THE BORDER” that starts out almost totally unfamiliar but then builds and builds to the reprised chant all giraffes fans now know by heart.. WE! GET WHAT WE WANT! AND WHAT WE WANT! IS WHAT YOU GOT! get. the FUCK OUT! and after that.. an insane finale – kimberly on lead with brianna backing as they blast through “DONE” from prime motivator! we were, in no uncertain terms, ELATED. this is what we were hoping for – the giraffes building upon their legacy and yet becoming something new. the girls aren’t just singing backup, and aren’t just standing in for aaron, whose boots no one could EVER fill. they are truly holding their own as something different – messing with the guys, egging on the crowd, playing around with each other – and yes, even swigging some jameson here and there (naturally!).

in this newest incarnation (which we think suits them the best thus far since their return), we see the band unleashing new tracks, spicing up old instrumentals with vox, AND churning out giraffes classics (yes, they’re classics) with a new flavor, which we assure you is not just the taste of drew’s loogie – we think… and let me just say that not just any ladies could hang with the giraffes we know – but kimberly and brianna CAN, and as they continue getting more and more comfortable rocking the fuck out as the crowned giraffe queens they now are, we can’t WAIT to see what’s in store for old and new fans alike.

ONWARD! »»





tales from the internet: “entertain people and they won’t hit you”

28 03 2012

so – i just saw this video on film courage, and i had to post it. immediately.

thank you, bill oberst jr.* you are pretty damn awesome.

this video is relatively short and you should watch it, especially if you’re chasing a dream.

sometimes you just need a reminder that even if you were or are the underdog, misfit, bullied, “freak of nature” – you can be stronger for it. on the playground or in the classroom when you were just a kid, or while fighting for a dream for the rest of your life – you can get knocked down, but get back up again. you can “turn your vocation into your occupation.”

as part of this interview, in another video he also spoke about actors getting their own work and not relying solely on their agent/manager. it applies directly to actors but it’s also a bigger issue.. when it comes to doing what you want to do in life – don’t rely on gatekeepers or displace the responsibility you hold for your OWN life and journey onto someone else. don’t make excuses. do whatever you can to blaze your own trail. everyone will tell you no.. say YES.

* bill is a creeptastic horror/thriller actor based in LA who started in theatre and went on to earn tons of film/TV/internet credits, among them – playing the face of the viral facebook app take this lollipop AND starring as honest abe in the upcoming flick abraham lincoln vs. zombies. .. yes, yes. we love it too.

thanks to film courage for the videos, and please do check them out as well! they’re ALL about indie film and supporting creative people who are pursuing their passions.

here’s to dreams,

– da leopard





NOW FUNDING: Send hennaflower to Africa Fashion Week NY!

27 03 2012

The always lovely Miss Robin Shumays – New York-based fashion designer, Middle Eastern dancer, and brand new mommy – recently kicked off an IndieGoGo campaign to relaunch her gorgeous fashion line hennaflower and take it to Africa Fashion Week NY this coming July!

Robin puts passion into everything she does, and this chance to bring her line to life in a new way is such an important one. hennaflower is an original couture party dress line with a fun, flirty, ethnic edge that stems from her love of Indian, Middle Eastern, and African culture and textiles. Robin’s first pieces were a cross between Bollywood and Old Hollywood, and she is now dreaming up the line’s return with a new collection that marries Africa and French can-can dancers! We really want to see how it will turn out – and you can help!

Her campaign is a relatively quick one, so please check it out by CLICKING HERE – your contributions will go towards the entrance fee for the fashion show, fabric and notions to finish the collection, new photos, a new website and promotional materials in preparation for the show. There are some really fantastic rewards like hennaflower headbands and scarflettes and opportunities for exposure on the hennaflower website and lookbook. And if you can’t contribute, PLEASE share share share the link! In crowdfunding as in most of life’s efforts – every little bit helps!

We asked Robin a few questions about herself, what this opportunity means to her, and for recommendations on some of her favorite things – check it out!

ONWARD! »»