I wish I could say I “like” The Assembly of Arsonists new video for their track “What Lies In Ashes” but that would be far too simple of a statement for such a dense subject. The video, like its architect Travis James, is frightening, clever, original, disgusting, comical, theatrical, and above all intelligent.
“What Lies in Ashes” is the second single off of The Assembly of Arsonists upcoming LP The End is Dear due for release on May 24. The album’s first single “Learning At Both Ends” dropped on April 14,
Check out the video for “What Lies In Ashes” below.
Today we get to show the other side of a songwriter we’ve championed on Dying Scene. Casey Keele of the band Wicked Bears (who’s latest album “Tuning Out” was in Dying Scene owner Dave Buck’s Top 10 of 2017) – has been writing songs and playing basement and living room shows as MCKC for almost a decade. Today we’re featuring his new song “Baker,” a folky, organ driven track off of his new EP “IS OK”, slated to be released on April 14th through Hidden Home.
Keele had this to say about the track:
“Baker is a solitary town located in the Mojave Desert of California. It’s one of the only cities you’ll pass as you drive from Barstow to Las Vegas. This song is an imagining of what it would be like to live there.”
Travis James of Travis James & the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists has always sung loudly the praises of his fellow Phoenix folk punk Daryl Scherrer, and the adoration has always been mutual, a fact held most evident by the frequency with which Scherrer’s The Blood Feud Family Singers pop up on Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonist shows. Of course, the two bands do compliment each other very well, but this musical te ta tet goes deeper than just two bands who sound good one after the other.
Scherrer and James are kindred spirits musically who both come at the art of making folk-punk from a highly romantic standpoint and idolize their musical creations above all others. That’s not said to call them cocky men, or say they are full of themselves, however one of them did release a 30-song record about his divorce entitled Crapheart and the other literally named his band after himself, but I say it more to illuminate the passion which goes into every song they write, even more so the ones they choose to release, and in this case the ones they have chosen to cover.
On January. 17 the two bands released Cover Your Tracks a two-song split EP where TJAAA covered The Blood Feud Family Singers folk-noir masterpiece “Let Me Down and Lay Me Down.” While Scherrer and his BFFS took a swing at James’s high energy punk rock – show tune “Everybody Dies (The Night I Almost Died) of James’ 2014 full-length Overdressed and Under Arrest.
Of The Blood Feud Family Singers handling of his track, James said: “it’s like, how my writing brain works but slowed down and broken up for all the elements to shine.” While Scherrer said, “I often forgot that you, not I, wrote it. In those moments where I forgot it wasn’t my song, I was very proud of what a good song I’d written. And then I’d remember, with a certain amount of disappointment, that I didn’t write it, and I’d think, ‘Well, dammit. Good job, Travis.'”
The EP is on Bandcamp for the low price of free and streaming below.
If you’re not familiar with Coffee Project, let me give you a quick introduction. The duo hail from Gainesville and include Buddy from Less Than Jake and Jake who used to be in Rehasher. Imagine catchy and fast pop punk on an acoustic guitar, then add a trombone. Then imagine that every terrible band you’ve ever heard try something like this wasn’t terrible and were actually awesome. That’s basically Coffee Project. Their bandcamp says they “play upbeat catchy singalong acoustic songs that feel more like a punk rock show and less like a coffee shop gig” and that description is pretty accurate it seems.
That said, Coffee Project is truly one my favorite bands I feel I don’t hear enough from. Their new 7”, Wasted Love, which is out now on A-F Records (the label owned by Anti-Flag) comes off as a simple break up record upon seeing the artwork and hearing the title track. But I’m not sure that’s a fair analysis.
See, what I like about this record is that it reflects a breakup from multiple angles, not just the direct heartbreak and sad songs. It talks about frustration with social media, handling anxiety, and how the rest of the world may be perceived from someone who has just lost love, not just one’s inner feelings of grief.
It’s not my favorite thing the band has ever done, but there’s not a ton for me to analyze with only four short songs. They do a good job, as usual, of combining folk elements with punk energy without sounding like a typical folk punk band. It doesn’t feel like a release I can compare to their others, it just sounds like a continuation of what Coffee Project does.
Regardless, I’m going to give this a 3.5/5, (can I give them a 75%? C?) but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I just wish it was longer and I had more to digest.
Go see Coffee Project at Fest this year, you won’t regret it. Listen to Wasted Lovebelow, and please consider supporting the band and label.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society have really only been playing New York three or four times a year as of late, which makes every one of their hometown performances a must see. Their music is complex and beautiful, their sound is raw and powerful, and they bring a level of showmanship and theatricality to the stage that no other punk band on the planet does.
For their last hometown performance before their annual Hallowmas, Mr. Terricloth and his cohort invited Philly ska/punks Teenage Halloween up to the Big Apple to open the evening in Brooklyn Bazaar’s ballroom. They played well and announced that they would be dropping a new record soon on Philadelphia-based Fistolo Records.
Next on the bill was Slackers frontman Vic Ruggiero, who may just be the single most New York human being on the planet (under the age of 60 at least). Vic’s solo sets are like watching New York blues history unfold right before your eyes, and it’s really a thing of beauty. He’s an engaging storyteller, a tremendous guitarist, and a genuine guy.
It’s hard to fill up a stage like Brooklyn Bazaar’s as a solo act, but Vic actually made the room feel full with his electric guitar, a kick drum, a tambourine, and his chest-mounted harmonica. He played his solo stuff, took requests, and even workshopped a new song entitled “Garlic is the Sun” for his hometown crowd. Not all the requests were honored, however, as Vic pointed out to one fan that “if you wanna hear dat one, you’ll need to come to a Slackers show” in his droll New York accent.
As great as Vic was, the crowd was there for one reason and one reason only: to fuck shit up with World/Inferno. The room went bonkers with the first notes of “Tattoos Fade,” and Mr. Terricloth raised a full bottle of Coppola wine to toast the WIFS faithful. The crowd roared along to every lyric of World/Inferno’s opening score, and the ever friendly World/Inferno moshpit sprang into existence. There are punks to help you up in every pit, but something about the WIFS pit is just far more inviting than any other band’s.
In a pre-show interview, Mr. Terricloth had said that Saturday night’s show would be “off the hook,” and he delivered on his word with a big-time performance. The group, which sometimes swells to more than thirteen members, was a lean eight-piece in Greenpoint, but they still packed a mighty punch when performing hits off of Red Eyed Soul like “The Velocity of Love,” “Your Younger Man,” and “Let’s Steal Everything,” among a slew of others.
They went through damn near half their catalogue in a performance that ran nearly two hours, and they did it all with panache. When they left the stage for their admittedly planned encore, the giant who was standing next to me in a denim vest (complete with Choking Victim patch on the back left and Grateful Dead patch on the front right pocket) lept onto the stage and led the crowd in a rousing chant of “tonight we’re gonna fuck shit up” until the band came back.
The encore opened with “Politics of Passing Out,” which required Mr. Terricloth to play a little acoustic guitar — in this case, one that he acquired from his old friend Sly Stone back when he was Sly’s driver — and closed with a tune I just don’t know the name of that was selected by WIFS bass player Ms. Malak.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society is more like a punk circus than it is a band, and Jack Terricloth has been the unquestioned ringleader for more than twenty years. It’s hard to believe that a sound so bizarre has endured for more than two decades, especially among the New York punk scene which has very little tolerance for nuance. But WIFS has carved out their niche in the Big Apple with a mix of otherworldly talent and theatrical pageantry unmatched by any of their contemporaries.
The group has truly graduated some greats, like Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Yula Beeri, and Franz Nicolay (to name just a few). But no matter who they have to replace, they continue to bring the same level of tenacity, talent, and showmanship, due in large part to their diabolical leader Mr. Terricloth.
WIFS has an imminent big-time show at one of Brooklyn’s up-and-coming punk venues, Brooklyn Bazaar, and they are working tirelessly on their new record. But preparatory to unleashing their 13-piece carnival of horrors onto New York, Jack Terricloth sat down with Dying Scene to talk about the new record, how he hopes to one day reunite with Sly Stone, and meeting the members of Leftover Crack through their mutual drug dealer.
As long as I have known the enigmatic Phoenix folk-punk Travis James, he has been threatening to retire from songwriting and performing, and yet still here he is with a fresh new offering in the form of a split EP with his co-conspirator Diego Galvan. The two crusty buskers have been carrying on a social media bromance for more than a year now, so it makes perfect sense that they’d decide to band together for a team-up record.
Hostility/Heartbreak is a noisy little 8-song album where both James and Galvan lay bare some raw emotions, and it really shows through on their well recorded (for folk-punks) EP.
The record starts off very punchy as most James recordings tend to with the track “Enough.” The song is upbeat and drum-driven with Aaron Hjalmarson turning in a stellar percussion performance while James’s brilliantly simple lyrics make it meaty enough to grasp on to. “I’m setting out to prove that I’ve got nothing to prove, and I’ll prove it, don’t assume it’s got something to do with you,” says James in the track’s chorus as his almost supervillain-like cackle rises above the thunderous cacophony made by his Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists.
But as punchy as “Enough” is, the fiercest fighter on the record might just be the the third track “Like it or Not,” where James seems to shed his persona as the Penguin of Punk and takes on a sound best described as the Oogie Boogie Man of Anarchy. The track is a huge accordion-driven show tune, brought to life by TJAAA’S own Voldemort of the keys Mark Sunman and delivered masterfully. The song also satisfies James’ tradition of having a waltz on every album.
Galvan brings a little less of the World Inferno/Friendship Society side of folk-punk and a whole lot more of the Johnny Hobo side. There is much less musicality and far more lyrically driven tunes banged out on an acoustic guitar. While James is an over-the-top cartoon character when he is inside of his songs, Galvan is as much an everyman as one can possibly be.
The Heartbreak side of Hostility/Heartbreak is a pretty minimal piece of music. It’s just Galvan on guitar and vocals, some percussion, and a female backing vocalist, but it’s beautiful in its simplicity; the young punk really shows off some songwriting chops and a knack for arranging a great pop song.
This first taste of Galvan comes off as an homage to his folk-punk forebears, but it also hints at tremendous upside for a young artist who is just getting going on his musical path.
The same thing that makes a memorial show for Erik Petersen in Brooklyn more intimate and beautiful than one for someone like David Bowie or Lemmy also makes it far more heartbreaking. Far be it from me to say that all those who went out to dance for the Star Man or have a Jack and Coke for Lemmy were not experiencing a personal tragedy. But most of those people never shared a moment, a conversation, or a drink with their hero.
When it came to Mischief Brew’s poetic front-man, it seemed like every punk who showed up to pay tribute to him on Sunday night had had a more personal encounter with the folk punk icon.
“I absolutely hate the reason we are all here tonight” said Brook Pridemore, the evening’s third performer just before he began his set. Then after he’d broken just about half the strings on his guitar he told a story about a time he had spent at Erik and Denise Petersen’s home in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania when he saw Erik squeeze the poop out of one of the more seasoned of the Petersen’s beloved pugs. He followed that story with a singalong rendition of “Old Tyme Mem’ry.”
Before Pridemore, Early Riser, Cristy Road, and two members of Teenage Halloween had performed short somewhat somber solo acoustic sets. During this time the crowd was rather small and subdued, and when it shouted words at the stage they were encouraging. An audience member called out “But it’s beautiful!” to Road when she pointed out a slight mistake in her rendition of Mischief Brew classic “Every Town Will Celebrate.”
At no point did the show ever feel like anything but a celebration of an inspiring man’s life, but until Pridemore, things felt a bit more like a remembrance. After he flooded the stage with his energy and anger it started to feel like a party. The crowd started forming, the mosh pit opened up, and the evening’s pent-up frustration and rage rose to the surface.
Then Out of System Transfer took the stage, and while the Brooklynites definitely represented the more folk side of folk punk — which toward the latter part of their run Mischief Brew expressly shied away from — the people in attendance didn’t slam dance any more subtly for it. The trombone-toting four-piece played a few covers, and their lead singer waxed poetic about his and Petersen’s shared affinity for obscure folk tunes in a set that included tracks like “The Preacher and the Slave” by Joe Hill, “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt, and “Mary Ellen Carter” by Stan Rogers, a track Mischief Brew had released as a single. They also hit Mischief Brew’s “Lowly Carpenter” along with some Out of System Transfer originals.
By the time the folk punk collective Comrades took the stage the venue seemed so packed it was about to burst, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether it was the loud, angsty, and abrasive sounds of Comrades or another solo acoustic act getting on stage; the audience was ready to lose their minds. The melee ensued the moment Comrades struck their first note and the pushing and shoving didn’t end until after their last. Though Comrades didn’t play any Mischief Brew covers, their track “Give Me Coffee or Give Me Meth” is a clear homage to Mischief Brew’s “Gimme Coffee Or Death.”
It was during their set that the show really started to feel like the sort of shindig that Mischief Brew would have headlined. It felt as though at any second Erik might just come through the door from the merch booth or back from the bar after a glass of whisky.
But in the absence of ghosts, Israeli composer and musician Yula Beeri was no consolation prize. Her three-piece band was one of the most exciting and musically proficient acts of the evening; Yula spent most of their set on a stool and still managed to keep the crowd in a frenzy. She also split part of the set with World Inferno/Friendship Society frontman Jack Terricloth. They did two tracks together, one with Yula’s full band and the other a haunting rendition of “Friend to the Friendless.”
“It is one of life’s absurd jokes that I am playing a memorial for Mr. Petersen, rather than Mr. Petersen playing a memorial for me,” said Terricloth. “Comedy is part of the grieving process, take it from me,” he added before raising a toast to the fallen.
After the official performances wrapped up, Out of System Transfer led a rousing singalong of Mischief Brew songs — among others, “Roll Me Through the Gates of Hell” and “Thanks, Bastards” — before the stage was opened up to anyone who wished to jump up and sing a song in tribute to Erik Petersen.
While fans of Petersen’s took their turn on the mic and the crowd sang along, the real sadness of the event started to take hold of many in attendance. Terricloth stood stoic in the back of the venue surveying the thinning group, while others sat down on the concrete floor.
As people stumbled over lyrics and pulled out cell phones for quick refreshers on tunes, we all realized that this was it. Denise Petersen watched the clumsy, loving efforts to keep things going for one more song. “It’s a beautiful shit-show,” she said, “like my life.”
When you hear that Mischief Brew will perform in your town, you make sure you get your ass to that show, even if you were riding in the back of an ambulance that same morning. I spent the better part of that Saturday getting my mom to the hospital, who came down with some severe viral infection, and waiting around as doctors and nurses performed tests and ultrasounds. It didn’t stop me from seeing one of my favorite bands, and I decided I was taking up too much space in the emergency room. I knew I had to go and see Mischief Brew, just to simply get me out of those hospital blues.