Buried Treasure: Redscroll Records on Black Friday

Posted in Buried Treasure on November 26th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

When I worked at KB Toys store #1051 in Morris Plains, New Jersey, they used to call it “Green Friday,” and as I started there when I was just turned 16, that was how I came to know Black Friday, which is what most people in the US call the day after Thanksgiving — the busiest shopping day of the year and the “official” kickoff of the holiday retail season.

Black Friday takes its name not from the shadow that consumerism at large casts on American culture, but from the simple fact that it’s the day that moves most stores from the red into the black for the year. It’s when they start turning a profit. Seeing an opportunity to continue their mission of promoting independent music culture, the fine folks behind Record Store Day got involved this year, bolstering the event with special releases and other initiatives. I’d expect more of that kind of thing next year.

Late last month, when I was at Redscroll Records in Wallingford, Connecticut, on my apparently annual autumn pilgrimage, I was given a flyer for their Black Friday specials, and knowing that I was going to be in the state for the Thanksgiving holiday, kindly suggested to The Patient Mrs. that I might like to wake up early and hit up the sale, which was 25 percent off everything in stock except for turntables.

So it was. My alarm went off yesterday at 5:35AM, and when I walked into Redscroll at 6:02 or thereabouts, the place was already full. Outside, the sun was just starting to think about rising. As I suspected I might, I had the CD racks mostly to myself (at least as compares to vinyl — LPs are by far the priority for the shop), but it was easily the most crowded I’d ever seen it. People were friendly, though, making way for each other and handing off releases to other potential buyers. I used the 25 percent discount as an excuse to pick up a few odds and ends, most of which I’d already heard, but hadn’t gotten full copies of, and other discs I’d wanted to grab this year that I hadn’t gotten the chance.

For example, I long since own Sovereign by Neurosis, but a quarter off the price was enough for me to grab the 2011 reissue, and stuff like CandlemassAshes to Ashes live record and Place of SkullsAs a Dog Returns had just kind of slipped through the cracks in terms of getting a physical copy. I bought The Body & Braveyoung‘s Nothing Passes to include in the next podcast (no big surprise: it sounds totally fucked), and was hoping to nab The Atlas Moth‘s An Ache for the End for the same reason, but they were out of it, and I drowned my sorrows in some cheap George Carlin, Goblin and Free instead.

Now that I’ve heard the low-end centric mega-grooves of Saturnalia Temple‘s Aion of Drakon, I’m officially stoked to check them out at Roadburn next year. And because I haven’t been able to leave there without doing so the last couple times I’ve been, I picked up a Cable CD, this time the 2008 reissue of their first album, Variable Speed Drive, the original version of which I’ve been hunting on eBay for a bit with no real success.

It was just over $100 for 10 discs, which wasn’t bad and was enough to earn me a free Redscroll t-shirt that I’ll wear proudly. I went back to the motel and crashed out for a couple more hours before getting up and heading south back to Jersey to go to work, and after that, on the way further south to Maryland, I requested yet another stop from The Patient Mrs., this one to Vintage Vinyl, to pick up that Atlas Moth record and settle the matter once and for all. I also got a full copy of Invisible White by Ancestors. Both at full price, and neither with any regret.

Vintage Vinyl in the evening was empty compared to Redscroll in the morning, which was troubling, since that’s pretty much the only shop in New Jersey where I can do something like stop in and pick up an Atlas Moth or an Ancestors CD and be confident that they’ll actually have such a thing. I know they had stocked some of the Record Store Day Black Friday special releases, but hopefully they come around to the sale stuff too, because god damn, I’d hate to lose that place as a resource.

In the meantime, a package showed up in the mail yesterday from All That is Heavy with a copy of Master Sleeps by Hills, which is jammier than I thought it would be, and the Rise Above reissue of NecromandusOrexis of Death, which Tony “I Have Excellent Fucking Taste and Stone Axe is My Band to Prove It” Reed recommended a while back I make mine. Altogether, this probably represents the bulk of the music I’ll buy through the end of 2011, so it was good to send the year out with a bang. I should have plenty to keep me busy until January comes.

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Buried Treasure and Redscroll in Autumn, Pt. 2

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Moments ago, as I was trying to think of a headline for this post, I recalled that I’d visited Redscroll Records in Wallingford, Connecticut, last year around this time. Creature of habit that I am, the date on that post is Oct. 25, 2010. Here we are, a year and three days later and I’m chronicling pretty much the same trip. Surprisingly, there was no band overlap. Small favors, I guess.

It had been or at least felt like a while since I did a good round of caution-and-common-sense-to-the-wind record shopping, which I find is good for the soul, and especially since my prior visit to the store had come up empty, I was stoked to make out pretty good this time. You can probably see the stack in the picture above, but in case you don’t feel like clicking to enlarge it, here’s the rundown:

Aldebaran, Buried Beneath Aeons
Cable, Cable
Desert Sessions, Vol. I/Vol. II
Desert Sessions, Vol. III/Vol. IV
Dove, Dove
Grayceon, All We Destroy
Orange Goblin, Time Travelling Blues
Patton Oswalt, Finest Hour
Reverend Bizarre, Death is Glory… Now!
Sunride, Magnetizer
VA, Judge Not…
Wooden Shjips, Dos
Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestial Lineage

Of those, I already own the Desert Sessions, Dove and Orange Goblin records — but I still have my reasons for buying each. The Orange Goblin was used, and as I looked at it on the shelf, I discovered it was the Japanese version of the record, with their cover of Trouble‘s “Black Shapes of Doom” for a bonus track. That cover originally appeared on the Bastards Will Pay tribute, and since I’ve never had any luck tracking down a copy of that (it’s in my canon of daily eBay searches), I figured all the more excuse to get the import on the cheap.

The Dove, on the other hand, is probably the least reasonable of the repeat offenses. Where the Desert Sessions stuff was priced new, it was also like $12 a pop, and screw it, if I’m already spending money, I’ll hit that up. I looked so hard for those CDs the first time around, I don’t mind having doubles. For the Dove disc, though, there really is no argument. It was there, it was used, and I bought it. It’s out of print, and I might use it in a trade or something at some point — hey, if anyone wants to switch it for that Trouble tribute, drop a line — but beyond that, it was an impulse and an excuse to revisit the album from the Floor offshoot, which I hadn’t heard in years.

Grayceon was one of two discs I knew I wanted to pick up going into the trip — the other was Rwake, which Redscroll was out of — and since I’ve had those songs stuck in my head for the last month, I was glad to have the full version of the album to sate that. That wasn’t used, but it is now. The Wolves in the Throne Room is also their latest record, which I had every intent of reviewing but never got around to, but only had a disc and top liner for. There’s always one or two tracks on their albums that justifies a purchase, and now I can take my time finding out which ones those are on Celestial Lineage. I don’t feel as bad for not reviewing it if I go out and buy the record.

I bought Sunride‘s Magnetizer (1998, Boundless Records) because of a discussion on the forum of the worst stoner rock albums ever. Not that it’s mentioned in there, but Sea of Green is, and I got the names mixed up in my head. I had wanted to buy it just to hear what the worst stoner rock ever sounded like. As Magnetizer isn’t even close to the worst stoner rock I’ve ever heard, I can’t help but feel like I inadvertently won out.

The Wooden Shjips I got because I need to review their new album, West, for work and wanted something to compare it to. It was used, as was the Underdogma Records compilation, Judge Not…, which proved yet again that I don’t like comps until they’re out of print and desirable for their obscurity. I don’t remember the last time I heard Ironboss (guns don’t kill people, they do), so I’ll take it, and with Gammera, Pale Divine, early The Quill and Puny Human on there, all the better. Two discs of heavy rock I didn’t own prior. Six bucks.

Buying Cable in Connecticut had some oddball novelty to me, and the 1997 comp of their early tracks was used and is raw as hell, so that was a yes, and I didn’t even know Patton Oswalt had a new record, but there it was. Since on his last special, he was talking all about his wife being pregnant, I figured this would be his “I have a kid now” material (every comic has it), and sure enough, it is. Still good. The Reverend Bizarre and Aldebaran discs were impulse buys — I grabbed the Aldebaran with all the forethought of snatching a pack of Reese’s on the way out of the grocery store — but reckless abandon is no fun if it’s not actually reckless, so there you go.

The Patient Mrs. — bless her heart — had come in a few moments prior to collect me so we could make our way back south to Jersey, but as we were leaving, the dudes behind the counter informed that they’ll be doing a special Black Friday sale post-Thanksgiving, opening at 6AM with markdowns on new and used CDs and vinyl — which, at this point, takes up a good deal of the room they have. Turns out I’ll be up that way for the holiday, so if I’m not all drowned out in vino and tryptophan, I may just make that happen for myself. Seems like it could be fun, anyway.

More info on that and the store is here, if you’re interested. I’ll spare you the lecture on preserving independent record-buying culture, because I think you probably know it by now, but anyway, they do good work.

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Live Review: Fuzz Fest in CT, 06.03.11

Posted in Reviews on June 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

By the time I had eyes to see the above wisdom scrawled on the wall next to the urinal at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, Connecticut, I was already several Newcastles into the night. The last time I was at the venue was for a show with A Thousand Knives of Fire, Bloodcow and others, and that was years ago, but not much had changed. Bands still set up in the corner of the main room, the bar was up a couple steps and there was a patio outside for the smokers. Hockey was on the big screen and beer was cheap. I had arrived early — a fruitless stop at Redscroll Records preceded — and immediately set about chipping away at the cash in my wallet. When in doubt: drink.

I had a good hour to do so, and Newcastle goes down like candy, so the cash and the beer were both going quick by the time Stone Titan started up. Fuzz Fest — a collection of local Connecticut acts put together by Ron Vanacore of Curse the Son (who played third) — didn’t actually feature all that much fuzz. With a name like that, you’d expect six or seven Fu Manchu clones on the bill, but instead, the lineup culled acts from different prongs of the doom umbrella, starting with Stone Titan‘s heavy sonic debt to the riffs of Jimmy Bower. They were so young I wondered if they’d have been allowed at the show if they weren’t playing it, but honest about where they came from; an Eyehategod cover went a long way in transitioning them in my mind from “derivative” to “charming.”

Either way, their collective heart was in the right place, and theirs was the start of a night of several impressive covers. The Connecticut scene, if nothing else, has good taste. King of Salem, who played second, covered “Swinging the Chain” from Black Sabbath‘s Never Say Die, and that sat well alongside their straightforward heavy rock. Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli and drummer Mike Petrucci were joined by a bassist (who, if I’m not mistaken, had the night’s only five-string; one too many) and guitarist who looked imported directly from another band.

I was a fan of King of Salem‘s Prophecy way back when I reviewed it, so it was cool to hear some of that material live, and while it was abundantly clear that Tuozzoli and Petrucci were the core of the band, the other half, situated on the right side of the stage area, did well with their parts, the guitarist adding solos to Tuozzoli‘s riffs that were both fluid and accomplished. It was a strange set, but a good one, and an excellent transition point between Stone Titan and Vanacore‘s own outfit, who occupied the center position on the bill.

After hearing their Klonopain full-length, I suspected that the disc, while enough to give an overall impression of their sound (and a favorable one), didn’t do the band full justice, and their live show proved that assertion correct. Petrucci was pulling double-duty, drumming for Curse the Son as well as King of Salem, and he’d reportedly only practiced with Vanacore and bassist Cheech once, two days earlier, but you wouldn’t have known it watching the trio play. He adapted to the songs excellently, and Vanacore‘s tone, which came out of two green cabinets and a green head with “WEED” where “Green” might otherwise have been, was among the highlights of the night.

As the driving force behind the show, their crowd was the biggest. The way the P.A. speakers were set up, it made the stage area look small, but it was actually deep enough so that most of the equipment was backlined, and the high ceiling in the room made it so Curse the Son were able to pull off a loud, full sound, which they did, expressing a clear love for the riffy arts. Admirable enough that Vanacore got the show together in the first place, but doubly so that Curse the Son didn’t then headline or screw anyone into a shitty timeslot. It was a well-constructed evening and good to see everyone getting into the bands. Going to shows in New York, it’s easy to get lost sometimes in how much of a social obligation it is. For me at least, as an outsider up for the weekend, it was refreshing to have it be just about the music.

And just when I was most feeling that after Curse the Son‘s set, there came Lord Fowl. It’s not really doing them justice to call them the “find of the night,” because I’d heard three of the total five bands before, but they fucking destroyed, either way. A double-guitar/double-vocal four-piece from just south on I-91 in New Haven, they powered through a set that included the best cover of Thin Lizzy‘s “The Boys are Back in Town” that I’ve ever heard — and I’ve heard a few — and hands down the night’s highest rock quotient. Their set had that same feeling you get watching Roadsaw or one of those really killer Small Stone acts rip it up, where you just know this is how rock and roll should be done and the bullshit factor is nil.

They had a CD for sale, which I bought, and if there’d been others, I’d have gotten them too. The night had already been a winner, but Lord Fowl absolutely made it, and when they finished, I immediately commenced nerding out about how righteously good they were. I haven’t listened to the disc yet only for lack of time, but I’ll get there for sure, as I want to hear if they’ll be able to translate their live energy to an album. Here’s hoping.

Post-that, anything was going to be a comedown, but Sea of Bones closed out the night in front of a wall of amplifiers (the drums, also huge) and emitted the kind of volume that rendered earplugs all but useless. Seriously, I could feel them vibrating in my ears. The levels on their three mics — one for each member of the band — were off, but honestly, with that much noise coming from the cabs, I don’t think anything would have helped. You could’ve blown out the P.A. three times over and still not heard the screams of drummer Kevin, guitarist Tom or bassist Gary (all first names only). Easy to blame the sound guy for that, but even he could only do so much to stem their massive tonality.

My last beer was gone by the time they started playing, and it had been my intention to split a couple songs in, but Sea of Bones held my attention and feet in place. If you’ve never heard them, their ultra-doom borders on post-metal at times, but is mostly angrier and less intellectually pretentious than much of that genre. If they toured, you wouldn’t need my recommendation to check them out, because they’d already be huger even than Tom‘s pedal board. What they had in common with the rest of the acts in the Fuzz Fest lineup, though was a readily evident passion for what they were doing.

And if you’re going to book a show of local acts and try and foster a developing scene, that’s how you do it: by loving what you do and showing that to others. Kudos to Vanacore on picking the lineup he did (the shout-out in my direction from the stage was unnecessary, but also appreciated), since they may have all come from different ends of the genre, but there was an undercurrent that bound them all the same. When I left, it was too late for me to call my mother as per the advice of the men’s room wall, but I was comfortable anyway in knowing my time had been well spent.

More pics after the jump.

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Buried Treasure: Pre-Record Store Day in Connecticut

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 21st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t really buy into the whole Record Store Day thing. It’s cool that the website has a map I can find stores on wherever I go, but honestly, I don’t buy vinyl and just about every payday is “record store day” for me. As an institution, I think the record store is something worth saving, which is why I go to record stores and spend my money on a regular basis. Well, that and the records, anyway.

As I’ve been out of the country three Record Store Days in a row, I thought I’d do a little pre-shopping this year and while I was in Connecticut for the weekend earlier this month, I swung by my favorite shop in the state, Redscroll Records in Wallingford. It’s always good to know you’re on friendly ground, and when I walked in, they were playing Black Pyramid‘s self-titled album, so I immediately felt at home. Time before last, if you’ll recall, it was Sleep‘s Dopesmoker.

It doesn’t quite match the batch of discs I pulled in last time I was there in the fall, but I still managed to find some good stuff. I grabbed yet another Monster Magnet promo CD — it’s amazing how many there are floating around — called Five Reasons to Testify that has the awful God Says No shot of them with Dave Wyndorf‘s metal codpiece on the front (I’m not even going to show it, as well as the first Firebird record, the first Quest for Fire and the 1999 Bong Load Custom Records issue of Fireball Ministry‘s Où est la Rock? Not a bad haul, all told.

The Firebird I’d picked up at the band’s merch table at Roadburn 2009, but that was the European reissue and this was the original on The Music Cartel, so I couldn’t resist. When I reviewed the second Quest for Fire album, Lights from Paradise, I said that I’d have to go back and buy the first, and it was good to do that, although I think I prefer the second anyway. I couldn’t remember if I owned the Fireball Ministry or not, but decided to take the chance anyway and it paid off. The record kind of rules. Very Fu Manchu, except maybe for the Obsessed-esque “Death Dealer,” which actually features Guy Pinhas on bass, but enjoyable throughout. Probably the most stoner rock of all their albums, which suits me just fine.

There’s a hole punched in the UPC of the Fireball Ministry, which means it was probably someone’s promo, and I always think that’s interesting, and wonder who got the record initially, what they did or didn’t do with it and how they came to sell it. Every time I get emailed another link to download a new release, I get that “born too late” feeling. I’ve gotten plenty in my day, don’t get me wrong, but when I think of the shit that could have come in my mail (all those Monster Magnet promos, for one) and all the silver-backed bootleg CDs I could have bought in the pre-CDR era, I get a little sad. I guess we make the most with what we’ve got. It’s fun hunting this stuff down, anyway.

Most likely I’ll be back at Redscroll before too long, but just figured I’d share anyway, since it’s a quality store and deserves to have the word spread about it as much as possible. Check them out here if you haven’t yet, or find them on that Facebook the kids love so much.

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Buried Treasure and Redscroll in Autumn

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 25th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

When last I checked in with Wallingford, Connecticut‘s Redscroll Records, I walked out of there with a cassette copy of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos. It’s a purchase I still consider the right move to have made, and as my most recent trip there was most likely going to be my last until Springtime, I figured I’d make the best of it. A thorough search of Redscroll‘s used section has done me right on numerous occasions, and this latest was no different. Dig this haul:

Bottom, Made in Voyage
Chrome Locust, Chrome Locust
Clutch, Jam Room
Fu Manchu, Daredevil
Jethro Tull, Aqualung
Lost Breed, Save Yourself
Lost Goat, Equator
My Dying Bride, Turn Loose the Swans
Natas, Delmar
The Obsessed, The Obsessed
Spiritual Beggars, Ad Astra

A few of those CDs I already own, but there are difference. The Fu Manchu is the original Bong Load Records version, where before I only had the reissue, and though it’s my third copy of Jam Room — probably my least favorite Clutch album — it’s the River Road Records pressing, and I think they only made six of them or something, so I was stoked to find it. Ad Astra is the Music for Nations digipak edition, and Chrome Locust is in a jewel case, where I’d only ever seen the digipak, so I grabbed that as well. The Jethro Tull had a sticker on it that it was the first CD issue, which made it too good to pass up. If you’re wondering, by the way, whether or not I believe everything I read on stickers stuck to jewel cases: Yes. Yes I do.

Lost Goat is on Man’s Ruin and I didn’t already own it, so that was a given. The Natas record I thought might have been a different catalog number than mine, but no, it’s a genuine double. I was bummed out on that until the other night when I thought to myself, “Gee, I sure would like to listen to the first Natas album,” and I actually had a copy on me because I was holding onto it to write about today. Maybe one just wasn’t enough.

Of the two Hellhound Records purchases, the highlight is unquestionably The Obsessed‘s The Obsessed. I had the Tolotta reissue previously, but you can’t beat the original. I had seen it for sale on Redscroll‘s eBay store, and asked if I could buy it right there in the shop. They were more than accommodating. The other Hellhound album, Lost Breed‘s Save Yourself, was the US version, where I’d only had the European before. Or maybe that’s reversed. I don’t know. The catalog numbers and back cover art are different. Apparently that’s enough for me these days.

I legitimately hadn’t owned the Bottom or My Dying Bride CDs (or the Lost Goat, which was meh), and I was stoked especially to hear the former, which didn’t disappoint. Crazy to think it’s been five years since Bottom put out their last album, but I suppose it has. Hearing their debut for the first time, it was easy to tell what Rise Above, Man’s Ruin and Small Stone all saw in the band, and by that I mean killer riffs and lethal groove. An excellent capper for an even more excellent haul.

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