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wmmberger on 08/02/2014 at 11:46AM

Pretzel Bill in a Witch's Blood Sauce...; Grasshopper on My Castle of Quiet, 28th May 2014

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Ah, Grasshopper! A mainstay of My Castle of Quiet playlists from the very beginning. This Brooklyn duo has traversed the most-eerie of improvised / otherworldly territories, and come out the other end, as outstanding soloists and collaborators, in many projects outside of Ghop. Their musicianship remains expert, the sheer quality of them "knowing what they're doing," and choosing to do THIS, is one of the great charms / inspirations of Grasshopper, still very much the "mothership" for Josh and Jesse.

Fans will find the band largely in familiar territory here, painting a slow-burn garden of creeping dread and pulsation, cradled by ethereal long tones. "Witch's Blood in a Sauce" finds them especially "on," adding unanticipated horror-dressing to their usual array of mesmerizing sound evolution. Always good, and always at home on MCoQ.

Grasshopper have new work out or coming soon, on various formats / labels. The new, full-length Grasshopper LP (their third 12" on vinyl), Dark Sabbath: Symbols of Evil is coming soon on Hausu Mountain. Jesse and Josh also have a solo / split tape, Josh Millrod / Shingles, also on Hausu, there's a full Shingles cassette, First God Planted a Garden (2AM Tapes) ,and a Josh Millrod solo cassette, Seeking the Millenary Kingdom, on Solid Melts. (MCoQ archive links: Josh | Shingles)

Grasshopper on My Castle of Quiet, v.1 (2009; our second live-musical guests, ever!)

Thanks as always to audio engineer Juan Aboites, for his professionalism and talent, and to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting, for continuing to immortalize my crappy iPhone band captures.

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wmmberger on 05/31/2014 at 03:37AM

Coffin Nail Kickout; Through Thorn and Brier LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 5.7.2014

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

WFMU, among a great many other things, is about community, i.e., presenting and promoting local musicians / artists / humorists, in addition the great International performers we present. My Castle of Quiet has always been about the business of seeking out exceptional local musicians, and it doesn't get too much more local for us than Through Thorn and Brier, their craft honed in our shared County of Hudson, NJ. At one time, WFMU's staff was chock-full of NJ-bred radio personalities, many of whom lived and or passed through nearby Bayonne, including late-great broadcasters and good friends of mine, Terry Folger and Frank "Vanilla Bean" Balesteri, both of them taken from us way too soon. Bayonne borders directly on WFMU's home town of Jersey City, and offers great pizza, good bars and a decent standard of living for a largish NJ city. All that considered, if you told me that Bayonne had bred a strong, talented, one-of-a-kind punk / metal band, I still might have doubted the veracity of your claim, not sure why though. That is, right up until the first time I heard Through Thorn and Brier.

Originally stumbling upon their songs on bandcamp, in a position I now often find myself in, checking out a band that I missed live for no good reason except that I generally like to stay home. Sporting twin brothers on vocals and guitar, amidst a mighty, accomplished lineup, TTAB play a threatening, driven brand of metal-infused punk music, with arcing guitar melodies, swinging, thudding riffs, and ominous, almost tribal beats; add roaring vocals and a general mood of rolling with reckless abandon. If punk-metal hybrid bands can be "catchy," TTAB certainly ARE, their riffs immediately inspiring head swirling; one of those physically motivating bands that make me wish that I had long, straight, flowing hair to swing in time. 

Every Through Thorn and Brier song is something like a mini-suite, blasting through multiple inspiring riffs and you-must-pay-attention time signatures in a matter of minutes, taking you on a ride you can't fully absorb the first time, and isn't that the way? Shouldn't a band's numbers be such that new pleasures reveal each time you listen?

Call them screamo (don't!), call them hardcore, or metal—all those genre labels quickly dissolve in the hands of the best of bands—and TTAB's songs cover a wild breadth of punk and metal styles with purpose and ease, such that the hops are never gratuitous and always contribute quite naturally to the sum of their parts.

I was very pleased to present this excellent band, well-deserving of more widespread notoriety, as evidenced here. (Note: Where songs were played without a complete stop in between, they are presented here as such, i.e., tracks 1 and 3 consist of three songs apiece.)

Thanks and much appreciation must go to engineer Juan Aboites, for working his ass off, and making everything sound full and ferocious. Thanks too, to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting, who for maybe the 100th time, pieced together a handsome band portrait from my miserable iPhone captures.

You can hear the Good Grief EP and Failure Prone MLP (both worth owning) and purchase hard copy of the same at Through Thorn and Brier's bandcamp page. There, you'll also see their use of non-typical, decidedly un-metal imagery, a move well appreciated by this DJ / writer. Also visit ttabhc.com for more up-to-date band info.

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