Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate

descendents - hypercaffium spazinate
Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
Epitaph (2016)

We had to wait 12 years, but the world finally has a new Descendents album. And depressingly, the band that didn’t want to grow up finally has. Then again, earlier this year, frontman and biochemist Milo Aukerman told Spin magazine that he’d quit working for chemical giant DuPont, to “try this whole music-as-a-career thing,” for the first time, at the age of 53.

From the first few seconds of opening track “Feel This” to the last of closer “Beyond the Music,” Hypercaffium Spazzinate purrs with raw rhytmic power. “Lead” bassist Karl Alvarez is a monster, punctuating the album with incredible, unmistakably finger-style flourishes. Backing him up, death-cheating drummer Bill Stevenson is truly one of a kind – such a unique, unchained and powerful style, that sounds surprisingly modern and in-touch as well.

Despite the wait, Hypercaffium Spazzinate doesn’t waste time on overindulgence – in fact, track five, “No Fat Burger,” is a grease-free ode to moderation and reeling it in for longevity. It’s no-nonsense; the perfect combination of Descendents’ influential brand of abrupt, geeky hardcore meets pop punk, with reflective, thoughtful, emotional lyrics and catchy melodies.

Song by song, Hypercaffium Spazzinate reveals how staggeringly influential Descendents have been, on everyone from Lagwagon and NOFX to Green Day and Blink-182. And even now, 34 years after their first studio album Milo Goes to College, they sound vital and alive. The lyrics are pensive and reflective, with topics ranging from death and illness to friendship, brotherhood, looking back and, ultimately, love. Everything you’d associate with getting old and lives well spent.

My favourite song, “Without Love,” is an instant classic; relevant, pertinent and understatedly beautiful. “Shameless Halo” is another standout, with the kind of rich, layered, catchy melodies made famous by L.A. punk rock legends Bad Religion. And songs like “On Paper,” “Victim of Me” and “Fighting Myself” keep Hypercaffium Spazzinate bubbling at a high-level.

Of course, there’s still time for an angry Aukerman to rage against the government, only this time, as a parent, furious with the limiter forced on his son, who was diagnosed with ADHD. It’s also interesting to see how well shared the credits are, with lyrics and songs coming from all four bandmembers.

In 1996 Descendents asked “What will I be like when I get old?” And even though Hypercaffium Spazzinate is dark and intense, it percolates with an air of putting the past to bed, optimism and trudging forward. Additionally, Descendents recently wrapped a quick-fire European tour and are about to launch into a full-scale U.S. one (and play São Paulo, Brazil in December) – so the future still looks pretty bright for Milo and co. Let’s just hope he still tries to grab his wife’s ass…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer – The Force (of Disney) Wills It

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first instalment in Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Anthology spin-off series, is due out this December 16 – just in time for Christmas. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it; Star Wars karaoke, blockbuster cosplay or the start of something special?

It doesn’t help that Forest Whitaker still looks like Ker from Battlefield Earth. That it was directed by Gareth Edwards – who was in charge of the 2014 Godzilla reboot. AND there’s no John Williams. Time will tell, I guess…

Die Antwoord Accuse Suicide Squad Director of Biting Their Style

yes David Ayer u jockin our style. callin ninja up before your movie came our pretendin 2b down, so it looks OK when u bite our black & white graf style & our opening sequence to umshiniwam & an all da lil tiny details u nibbeld dat other people wont see but we notice. Cara & Jared told us how much u were talkin abt us on set but u never asked our permision to rip us off. An when ninja texted u sayin wassup wif dat u said nothin like a scared lil bitch. U were jus flauntin our names pretendin to b down. u aint down an u never will b. but before we knew da extent of ur two face nature – u invited us to ur movie premiere(which i didnt wanna go to) but ninja went , tinkin ur solid guy an mayb there was jus a lil "misunderstandin". Den poor ninja had to sit thru dat hole bullshit movie. An u even got da nerve to say wassup to him smilin – an ninja has to b nice cus he is there wif his kid. But we all tink u wack. U shud start a crew called:,"im a fake fuck" ask kanye if he wants to join u. Cum show ur pretty face at my studios. U know Muggs & u know where da Soul Assasin Studios at. we watin for u. @djmuggs_the_black_goat_ @zef_alien @boojie_baby_ @ragingzefboner @_dark_force_ @dejanvisser @djhitekisgod @jipsi518

A video posted by ¥O-LANDI VI$$ER (@prawn_star) on

Woh, Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser has taken a huge baseball bat swing at Suicide Squad director David Ayer. The adorable-yet-terrifying South African rapper has accused Ayer of “jockin” and nibbling at her and Ninja’s signature zef aesthetic. And based on the video she posted on Instagram, the evidence looks pretty damning.

Sausage Party – Adult Animation With Bite

Finally, an animated movie for adults. Or semi-adults; the kind of snickering man (and woman) children who’d rather watch Pineapple Express and The Big Lebowski than boring old Citizen Kane

Out tomorrow, August 12, Sausage Party is a spoof of classic Dreamworks, Pixar and Disney animated adventure-quests, by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – the childhood buddies behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is the End and The Interview.

Like This Is the End, Sausage Party features a huge ensemble cast that includes all the usual suspects; Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill (credited as a co-conspirator this time). They’re joined by Hollywood heavy hitters Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton and Salma Hayek.

The trailer starts out like any other classic Toy Story, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life type adventure, until things take a dramatic, genre-bending turn. And seeing these kind of sweet, innocent-looking cartoon characters swearing, losing their minds and getting caught up in all sorts of terrifying situations just looks so wonderfully bizarre and unreal. I’m sure it’ll be a critical failure, and I’m sure I’ll love it.

Bouncing Souls, Pears – Fighting Cocks, Kingston

bouncing souls, fighting cocks, kingston

Bouncing Souls & Pears
Fighting Cocks, Kingston – 7.07

I’m not the biggest Bouncing Souls fan in the world but I know enough to know that they’re a big deal. The smooth New Brunswick, New Jersey punk rockers have been at it since 1988 – two years longer than Lagwagon and three more than Rancid – and seeing them in a sweaty little pub like The Fighting Cocks, for the first time, was a treat I couldn’t pass up. Plus New Orleans Fat Wreck newbies Pears are supporting, and I haven’t seen them before either.

It’s not like I’m a total Bouncing Souls virgin. I did get massively into their 2003 album Anchors Aweigh, as well as their 2006 follow up The Gold Record. Of course, I also know classics like “True Believers,” “Hopeless Romantic,” “Manthem” and “Kate Is Great.” And that Bouncing Souls have some of the worst album art and t-shirt and sticker designs in the history of rock ‘n roll. Just look at the cover of their new album Simplicity – WTF? They almost make Strung Out’s artwork look decent.

Before the show word goes around that Pears will be on stage at 8:15pm, so I get to The Fighting Cocks earlier than usual. But already, the place smells like sweat and beer, an odour I waste no time contributing to – on both counts. Two beers later and it’s time for Pears.

The Fighting Cocks is the definition of “intimate venue.” And the place hosts big bands like Against Me!, Strung Out, Slaves, and now, Bouncing Souls. Still, the only thing I can think about walking into the venue section of the pub is the stench of sweat, damp and mould.

pears, fighting cocks, kingston

Pears are already on stage and I’m surprised by their look. I don’t know why, but I was picturing hipper, skinny jeans, Warped Tour kids. Instead, these guys already look like a classic Fat Wreck band; overweight, balding, bad facial hair, baggy shorts. I like them more instantly.

Skinny, mustachioed frontman Zach Quinn throws himself around like a madman, barking words so fast they sound guttural and unintelligible. Without his shirt, he looks like a combination of Gollum and Burt Reynolds. And at one point, he goes full-on Pan’s Labyrinth, covering his eyes with his palm tattoos for dramatic effect.

His melodic bits are spot on as well. And guitarist Brian Pretus provides perfect support with his massive, mega-in-tune backups. The music’s schizophrenic, taking in influences like old Propagandhi, NOFX and Guttermouth, and spitting them out in a frenzy of mad-sounding tempo changes, frantic time signatures, old-school hardcore slam dances and straight up melodic punk rock singalongs.

Current drummer Jarret Nathan, who joined the band in 2015, calls the shots on stage – he’s incredible. And his tight fills and Frenzal Rhomb-ish flourishes help prog up Pears’ otherwise punk rock sound. “This song’s for motherfucking Brandon Carlisle,” says Pretus, before the band launches into a blitzkreig-fast take on Ramones’ “Judy Is a Punk.”

It’s easy to spot that Pears have been on the road for a long time. They’re insanely tight and well rehearsed, replicating their albums perfectly – only faster and with more intensity. On top of that, the new songs they bang out sound even more exciting. Before the last song, Pretus begs the crowd to buy the band’s remaining merch, so he can pay rent. Then he begs for some weed, because him and bassist Erich Goodyear, who joined Pears this year, are all out. And suddenly, it’s obvious that this is a band decades apart from headliners Bouncing Souls. But their time will come, and one day their weed will be delivered, free-of-charge.

Even in the small, damp pub the bands’ polar opposite statuses are obvious. First of all, there’s a new fan for relatively new drummer George Rebelo, from Hot Water Music, who joined Bouncing Souls in 2013. And on top of that, there’s a tech guy with a beard and a torch setting up and checking all their gear for them.

the bouncing souls, fighting cocks, kingston

By the time Bouncing Souls hit the stage The Fighting Cocks is unbearable. Everywhere I look there are fat guys with no shirts and spotty backs, glistening with sweat under the orange lights. Oh man… It’s gonna get all Along Came Polly in here.

The first thing that strikes me is how unlikely frontman Greg Attonito looks. He reminds me of Michael Keaton, or something, holding the microphone like a rat pack crooner in his smart button-up black shirt. His voice sounds awesome, though, flavoured with decades of punk rock.

The band kicks into “That Song,” from 2001’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation. And by song three, “Kate Is Great,” The Fighting Cocks has lost it. I look up and see Banquet Records’ Jon Tolley smiling in the front row. People literally cannot believe their luck.

The first song that hits me is “Lean On Sheena,” which sounds awesome. But halfway through the song the seven-foot giant in front of me starts calling his buddy, who’s just out of shot, telling him there’s space for him in the front. Only he’s pointing exactly where I’m standing. And of course, the new guy is massive. His friend tells him to take off his shirt, but thank God he decides against it.

Other set standouts include “Hopeless Romantic,” “Anchors Aweigh,” “Kid,” “Sing Along Forever,” “The Gold Song” and gig closer “True Believers.” The second they’re done, though, I’m out the door and away. By the end I was battling to even breathe in there. It takes me more than half an hour to realise it’s actually cold out. Great night. But personally, I found Pears more exciting. More vital, I guess. Hungrier. Speaking of which… I stick on my flannel shirt and head towards Five Guys.

Beer Kat and Tiny Rebel – Simpsons Trivia Night

beer kat, simpsons quiz

So last week Thursday I finally made it to The Beer Kat in Holloway Road. The former seedy Irish pub turned gnarly live music venue has found new life as a hip beer joint that operates under a monthly craft brewery takeover policy. The first month it was Beavertown. Then Siren Craft Brew. Then a threeway featuring The Bristol Beer Factory, Moor Beer and Wiper and True. And currently, it’s under the watch of south Wales’ Tiny Rebel. But the real motivation for our long-overdue visit was the Simpsons pub quiz.

Straight away I’m impressed by Tiny Rebel’s eclectic and interesting-sounding range of beers, stouts and porters. Mostly, all strong. The designs are colourful as well, almost psychedelic. We decide to ease our way in with the Cwtch Welsh red ale, the Champion Beer of Britain 2015. And the dark, 4.6% strength nectar’s delicious; rich and malty with a tangy citrus bite. The thick, dark colouring’s down to its decadent blend of six caramelly malts.

There’s just enough time for another round before the quiz gets started. This time I decide to try something a bit more far-out. I really enjoyed Beavertown’s take on peach cobbler, the incredible Peacherman Belgian wit, so I thought I’d try Tiny Rebel’s mango-fuelled take on the same seasonal bevy: the Mango Down.

As I lean in to sip it, the smell of mango’s pretty overwhelming. But the tartness of the 5% beer’s traditional Belgian wit yeast balances its sweet fruity flavour, creating a refreshing, cloudy, summery experience. Not quite as game-changing as the Peacherman, but it’s good.

mr sparkle simpsons

At this point we’re deep into The Beer Kat’s Simpsons quiz, and instantly I’m shocked by the difficulty of the questions. I thought I knew a lot about the show. But damn, these questions are tough. It’s almost like whoever made the quiz studied other quizzes, ignored their fun, classic charm and went out of their way to design the toughest Simpsons quiz ever.

Instead of filling it with iconic moments and details only true fans would know – Milhouse’s middle name, Kirk Van Houten’s soppy love song – the quiz seems to focus on random, less memorable and re-quotable episode details. Sure, they do throw in a few, like; Why did Bart phone Australia? What was the name of the Japanese dishwashing detergent with Homer’s face on it? But mostly, it’s tough as hell. And what makes thing worse is other tables are clearly cheating; phones out, Simpsons trivia googled. Who comes to a pub quiz and cheats? Seriously, life’s way too short.

Devi's merguez fries

Needless to say, by now, my Simpsons aficionado credit is seriously depleted. Time to scrape off my Blinky tattoo and seriously rethink my toy collection. Meanwhile, my buddy Jerred swoops in with a round of Clwb Tropicana and some exotic, yoghurt and spice-covered fries, courtesy of Devi’s Street Food. The “Merguez” fries are amazing but the beer’s a bit too much.

The 5.5% brew smells like a strong tropical car air freshener, and it’s fruitier than an old Wham! music video, filled with peach, pineapple, mango and passion fruit, over a backbone of American hops. But it’s not my bag, baby – it reminds me of a fragrant, beer version of Malibu Rum. Too far removed from actual beer. I switch back to Cwtch and nurse my post-Simpsons quiz wounds. Damn, that’s a tasty beer.

Against Me! – 333

Slept on this one… Against Me! has uploaded “333,” the first single from their new album Shapeshift With Me – due out September 16. Woo hoo! If it’s anything like 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, colour me excited.

Here’s a cool comment I noticed under the video, by Fred Lero; “When I met Laura in May, I asked her to sign my trans pride flag and when she did she wrote ‘shapeshift with me’ on it, but obviously I didn’t understand ’til now and now I’m smiling.”

Rockin1000 – Watch 1,000 People Cover Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”

The “biggest rock band on Earth,” Rockin1000, played an epic show at Orogel Stadium in Cesena, northern Italy this weekend. “Stick together. No more conflict. And play rock ‘n roll” was the Italian mega-ensemble’s message, and the mesmerizing en masse performance included this feelgood 1,000-strong cover of David Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs classic “Rebel Rebel.”

Stranger Things – Creepy ’80s Nostalgia With Heart

STranger things netflix

I knew nothing about Netflix’s new show Stranger Things going in. Other than it stars Winona Ryder and involves the disappearance of a kid named Will Byers. Still, something about the classic painted ’80s movie poster and Stephen King titling called out to me. Like an old poltergeist through the TV.

Stranger Things is set in 1983, in the fictional Indiana city of Hawkins. And straight away, the opening scene sucked me right in, with its ’80s banana-seat bikes and BMXs with mounted headlights, and its perfectly cast Goonies crew of heroic high school outsiders. The nostalgia reminded me of J.J. Abrams’ 2011 film Super 8 – before it went on to horribly disappoint me.

The creepy, incredibly shot sequence of events that leads to – what seems like – one of the lead character’s disappearance in “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers” has a spooky Stephen King quality that adds to the authenticity and intrigue. And by the time the glowing red letters of Strangers Things had rearranged themselves to some perfectly eerie ’80s synths in the post-intro title sequence, I was hooked.

Winona Ryder Stranger THings

Without giving too much away, lovable high school geek Will Byers goes missing and is presumed dead. However, his mother Joyce, played by Winona Ryder, is convinced he’s still alive in some kind of upside down alternate reality and communicating with her through lights.

Meanwhile, Will’s friends ride around on bikes trying to find him with the help of their mysterious new friend Eleven, who broke out of a weird government test facility and has some Heroes-like psychokinetic abilities. Then there’s the trigger-happy evil government agents, who will stop at nothing to get Eleven back. And broken down police chief Jim Hopper – played by Josh Brolin-ish David Harbour – who is battling his own demons and finds himself caught in the middle of it all.

the kids in stranger things

The reason the show works so well, really, is its attention to detail. Its heart. Its personality. Mysterious-sounding show creators the Duffer brothers are clearly fans of the same golden ’80s pop culture references I grew up with; Steven Spielberg. Stephen King. John Carpenter. E.T. The Goonies. Stand by Me. Gremlins. Poltergeist. Dungeons & Dragons. Walkie talkies… And everything from the music to the cast, costumes and characters is just so well put together, well thought out and authentic.

The kids are extremely likable. Perfect heroic misfits straight out of an ’80s classic. Newcomer Finn Wolfhard, who plays one of the actual leads Mike Wheeler, one of Will’s three best friends, acts everyone else off the screen. Millie Bobby Brown, however, who plays mysterious, stone-faced female outsider with special powers Eleven, provides perfect backup.

Everyone else is good as well, really, but my favourite character is Will’s friend “Toothless,” who has cleidocranial dysplasia and, as a result, no front teeth. Dustin Henderson, who plays the perfectly named character, is probably the most legit ’80s movie adventure detail about Stranger Things.

David Harbour stranger things

I think it’s the fact that Stranger Things has got this feelgood Steven Spielberg family movie heart, coupled with the fact that it actually does get pretty dark, creepy, sinister – and even Guillermo del Toro-ish – that makes it so captivating. It’s all in the atmosphere.

The original music, by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of Austin, Texas-based synth band S U R V I V E, is incredible. As are song choices like Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” and The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” In the end, all the ingredients are just right. And unlike cheap, nostalgia-mining reboots, Stranger Things is instantly familiar yet hip, modern, stylish and original.