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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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wmmberger on 09/05/2013 at 05:18AM

Jamaica-Queens-The World; Psychic Limb Live on My Castle of Quiet Pseudo-Finale

What makes a great grind band? Doing as much as you can in an average of 43 seconds' song duration, flexing those ferocious chops from all angles, and, though this may be hard to explain to someone whose ears are attuned to pop music and the traditional song form, a certain "catchiness," an anthemic propulsion that will make the listener/receiver want to propel oneself into the pit without a care for personal safety. Psychic Limb have all these qualities, in spades.

I've liked these guys from the second I heard them, they stand out mightily from the pack of late 2000s grind on bandcamp and elsewhere, and they make records that stand firmly amongst the classics of the genre. And yes, they can and do reproduce it all in person.


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