Friday, February 20, 2015

Draw Hard Trailer

I am admittedly sad for myself that I did not know about the film Draw Hard sooner than today. Set to be released February 27th through Fandor, it is a documentary by TurnStyle Films about Cleveland's gnarliest and most dedicated poster artist, John G. I have known John for what seems like forever - always welcoming a warm conversation with him whenever we ran into each other. John was one of the first people to regularly read this blog and pushed me foreword with encouraging words when I first moved to Los Angeles.

It was his penchant for drawing humans with animal heads and other such post apocalyptic images that turned me on to his work - later hiring him to draw posters for my band Southern Trespass (I will never forget that babe he drew, shotgun draped over shoulder, for the big Jigsaw gig.)

Anyway, I am glad I know about this film and I am surely going to seek it out next week. And I am over joyed to help spread the word about Draw Hard and my old friend Johns collection of work because he is truly the embodiment of Cleveland's DIY spirit.

Check out the Draw Hard Facebook

Draw Hard Trailer from TurnStyle Films on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Song in Words - HIRAM-MAXIM Visceral


The Lottery League was always a great way to hear some abstract music from people who usually stick to what they know. Much like the Battle Bowl in World Championship Wrestling, it randomly drew names of local musicians from a hat to create bands made up of sometimes total strangers forced to write brand new music together ASAP. This Marvel comics “What If” philosophy is how local ambient stoner metallers Hiram-Maxim came to be – in pure truth is stranger than fiction fashion, they are set to release their first full length record on Aqualamb records.

Thanks to the fine people at Vice, the world got a sneak peak with the early release of the song Visceral: a seven minute opus of raw emotion and down trodden riffs – a journey through a dark dimension of musical experimentation (aka Cleveland weirdness at it’s most artistic). Fred Gunn provides the eerie vocals – a far removal from his days fronting the snotty punk rock antagonizers Sex Crimes. Here he shows another side of his personality: a somber, dare we say more adult, Gunn has a voice full of sorrow on Visceral, a song he says he wrote in remembrance of a deceased friend.

The first two minutes creeps with the vampy persistence of Type O Negative; a gothy mystery that tugs us along until exploding into a doom metal ode to Midwest hardcore, like Windhand covering Endpoint. Pedal fuzz drains the song into horror movie score territory, blissfully spinning into a heavy-eyed end, leaving goose bumps on arms and sleep at bay. If the full length stands up against Visceral then we are in for a long night of exceptional music that’s in a league of its own.

Hiram-Maxim Website


Friday, February 6, 2015

Album Review: Cruelster – Potatoe Boys


The abbreviation LP is for the term ‘”long player” which is used to describe a twelve inch record or a “full length” release from a recording artist. Usually an LP is a chance for a band to give the listener an hour or so of their musical vision but you don’t have to worry about all that shit with Cleveland oddities Cruelster: their first LP is a seven inch disguised as a twelve; clocking in at eleven minutes, it is about the same length as a Rush song.

“Boys in the Biggest City” is Cleveland hardcore at it’s most obnoxious, shitty and all around ugliest self. Reminiscent of all the great late nineties stuff that came out of the city, Cruelster is a monster of thrashy angst and masters of pointless noise. There is nothing considerably great about Potatoe Boys but it’s an insanely fun couple of minutes.


“Lipid” meshes the chaotic joy of the Darvocets with the smart destructive nature of the Homostupids while “I’m Too Small” nears the pained, suburban anger of eighties Cleveland legends the Dark. It’s hard to say if Potatoe Boys needs a few more tunes or its perfect in its gruff and fleeting existence. While not original, the genre has seen it all done before, sometimes a band like Cruelster makes the old seem new and twice as much fun the second (or third) time around. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Album Review: Obnox – Boogalou Reed


Lamont “Bim” Thomas is a scene stalwart for the generations; you knew him when you were a young buck, shared a joint with him when your band opened for his and introduced him to your girl when you came back to town for a visit. He was around when Lakewood was fringe and he continues to push Cleveland toward artistic Valhalla rather than hot topic wasteland.

From the Bassholes to This Moment in Black History and on to his current project, Obnox, Bim has been a Cleveland punk rock ambassador of the high kind. While not for everyone, Obnox has created a body of work as eclectic as the man himself; a dizzying blend of Funk, Punk, Hip Hop and pure noise. Past records like I’m Still Bleeding are difficult to grasp, challenging listeners to broaden their interpretations of music and crushing the idea of genres, tilting from fuzzed out garage rock to unorthodox Miami bass. It’s all a little much for new ears to take; maybe a hit off that joint will help.

We get a good indication of where Boogalou Reed is headed from the gates; starting with a plodding two minute number called “Wonder Weed”, the long player is already pushing our buttons. That is the point of rowdy rock music after all and Bim shovels attitude down our throats on the brash “Too Punk Shakur”; full of pure Clevo snarl, “Shakur” is a triumph of turbulent rock and roll. The title track is an eerie work of experimentation; like a smoother Self Destruct Button sipping on a wine cooler.

“I don’t care about Maximum Rock n Roll” Bim reflects on “Situation”, trading guitar driven garage rock for east coast hip-hop. It’s blunt music, ride or die meets the nineties Cleveland punk scene.

On what may be the most dissimilar cover of all time, Bim spins “Ohio” around on its axes until there is no note of Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young, only the type of Cleveland weirdness capable exclusively from a man who lived to define what that weirdness was. Boogalou Reed is not a normal record by any stretch of the word unless, of course, you are Lamont "Bim" Thomas because for him it's just another day in the life.