Monday, December 31, 2012

Interview with Rich Atrain and Animal Train

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guys. For anyone new to Animal Train, can you give us a little history on the band?

Rich: Well we started in 2007 and messed around till 2009. We played all over the east coast before relocating to Austin, TX in early 2011. We have always been a 3 piece but after moving here we decided to become a 4 piece with CJ just doing vocals. So with a revamped lineup we were soon rocking out around Austin.

CM: The bands ready to hit the studio and record a new album in the new year. When will the album be done and is there a tentative street release date yet?

Animal Train: Yes we’ll be recording tracks for a new EP early in the new year. There is no release date as of yet but we work quick in the studio so we’ll have something for people to hear mid to late January.

  CM: How does the new material stack up to the older songs? Can we expect anything different on the new album?

Animal Train: We def kicked it up a notch with the new stuff. When you change members the sound of your band is going to change as well. So yeah expect some different sounds on the new recordings.

CM: When it comes to song writing, is it a group effort or is there a primary song writer in the group?

Rich: A little bit of both I guess. I write a lot of riffs on the guitar and some lyrics to. CJ writes most of the lyrics. Our bassist John also plays guitar so sometimes he’ll bring in an idea. Tron our drummer is always coming up with cool beats to tie it all together. Then other times we’ll just jam out turn on the recorder and see what we get playing as a group.

 CM: Who are some of the bands musical influences?

Animal Train: We have so many ok here we go Sonic Youth, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Nirvana, Angry Samoans, Misfits, Black Flag, Mudhoney, Stooges, Minutemen, Husker Du, Germs, Dead Kennedys, Fear, Wasted Youth, TSOL, Flipper, Tad, GG Allin, Butthole Surfers, L7, Patti Smith, Dead Boys, New York Dolls, Clash, Dead Milkmen, Social Distortion, DI, Queers, Screeching Weasel, Riverdales, Methadones, NOFX, Green Day, Rancid, Desendents, Adicts, Subhumans, Citizen Fish, Crass, Buzzcocks, UK Subs, Anti-Nowhere League, Vibrators, Cramps, DRI, Sloppy Seconds, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, Agent Orange, and the list it goes on and on and on.

CM: Will we be seeing you guys on the road in the new year?

Animal Train: For sure we def plan to do a short tour. Nothing set in stone as of where yet though but we’ll keep ya posted.

 CM: Is there a website you guys wanna plug where we can get up to date news on the album, tour dates and merch?

Animal Train: We have a website in the works. We plan to put more time in to that in the new year. For now you can follow us on our Facebook or Reverb Nation pages.
CM: Thanks again for talking with me guys. I'm stoked for the new album. I wanna wish you all a great new year! Thanks guys!

Rich: Thanks so much to you as well for the interest in the band and for taking the time to interview us. Happy holidays to you as well cheers and beers for all the kind words and support.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interview with Infested Records recording artists Mike Defendant and Randy Ray Patterson

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, guys. For anyone new to Mike Defendant and Randy Ray Patterson, can you guys give us a little history on how you got to be where you are right now?

Mike: Story Time! Haha... When I was 15 years old I was in a band called The Defendants. Did that for about 4 years...then started a folk group called This Means Nothing...hit it and quit it to moved on to my solo project!

Randy: Mike and I are very different when it comes to music. We have different tastes and different styles, but we have an identical passion for music. I think we both want to be able to spend our lives performing more than anything else, and that's the foundation of our friendship. We met in high school and both played guitar at the time. I was in The Defendants with him for about a week. Then as time went on, we sort of branched off for a while. A few years later, I got into rapping and wrote and produced a couple dozen songs, when I showed Mike my stuff, I could tell he was intrigued. Mike started his solo acoustic act and started sneaking me onto the bill whenever he got booked. Today, we perform together a lot and bill ourselves a "variety package." We have plans to tour together as well, so stay tuned...

CM: The new CD "The Devil's Red Tie Split" is out now on Infested Records. Blending two different styles of music on this split was a bold move. How did you guys come up with the idea of releasing 4 acoustic/punk songs and 4 hip hop songs on the same album?

Mike: Randy and I have been friends since grade school so we decided to collab!
Randy: I've always felt that genres divide music in an unproductive way. I think it limits folks when it comes to music, because it puts a cap on what they will and will not listen to. I mean, if you say to yourself: "I don't like rap," then you've just shut your brain off to thousands of songs. For me, I listen to one song at a time and pay no attention to what style it is, because I think every song deserves a chance. Mike and I represent two extremes of music, I feel--opposites--if you will, and for me, this split is about illustrating how different genres can coexist.
CM: Can you give us some of your musical influences?
Mike: The Casualties, Minor Threat, Slayer, Germs, The Exploited. H2o, Tupac, WU TANG CLAN, Black Flag. Misfits...just to name a few.
Randy: Long before I started rapping, I saw the movie, 8-Mile, and while I hate to be another white rapper who cites Eminem as one of his influences, I really felt a peculiar connection with Mather's character when I watched that movie, which was especially strange considering that I actually loathed rap and hip-hop at that time. I'm also influenced by Pink Floyd, Queen, and Tom Petty. But I think it's important to note that while I cite these artists as influences, I've never felt myself attempting to emulate anyone during my process.
CM: So, you guys will be hitting the road in support of this release. Will it be a full on cross country tour? Or east coast and the Midwest mostly?
Mike: far as Randy will take me. I don't have a car.
Randy: I think the short answer is 'we don't know.' There are so many places we want to go, but we have limitations that we need to consider such as our mode of transportation, and budget. We're considering living out of my small, 1998 Monte Carlo for a period of time, busking, and essentially being homeless. We want to struggle and hustle for our music, show how much it means to us, and show what we're willing to go through and sacrifice for it. As far as destinations go, we're looking at Chicago, New York, a few places in California, as well as a few others. Our next step is to get our plans together and officially announce and promote the when's and where's of our tour.
CM: Will there be more shows, after this initial set of gigs, coming in 2013?
Mike: Oh yes! Gigging is my life!
Randy: There will be shows until the day we are both devoured by the monsters that chase us. Ha. I plan to perform even when I have to drag an IV on stage. I know Mike feels the same. I think we'll always perform together as well. So, yes, there will certainly be shows in 2013.
CM: Will we be seeing more split albums from you guys in the near future? Or are there any single albums coming out in 2013?
Mike: I plan on releasing a single album soon. But I would for sure do another split with Randy!
Randy: I would say no. I think The Devil's Red Tie is successful in making the statement I spoke of earlier. That was my only goal with the split. As far as I go, I really don't follow the old-school album format. One has to remember, that I'm primarily a YouTube artist, so I make a lot of videos, and the songs are essentially a massive collection of singles. I'm sure I'll release more albums, but as long as the music gets made, I'm happy. I don't think folks buy albums much these days. People just want to hear songs, and that's okay.
CM: Is there a website you guys wanna plug? Where we can get up to date mews on gigs, new releases and merch?
Mike: I will be working on my full length album "Mike Defendant OUT LOUD" after our mini tour in April. The only website I can really plug is my Facebook
CM: Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass guys. I'm super stoked for what's in store in the new year. Have a great holiday season and we'll be seeing more of you in the new year!
Mike: Thanks for having us man! And congrats on taking management of Infested Records! I look forward to our future together.
Randy: Anytime!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Music Reviews: The Best Of 2012

With 2012 winding down, it's time to look back on our year in music. We've had a pretty great year as far as legends putting out solid releases as well as underground faves and some great new up and comers!

That's right folks.
It's time for the 2nd annual Critical Mass Best Of series.
 We're gonna break things down into different categories again this year. We'll have Splits, 7" singles, EP's, debuts, full length records and of course, the Album of the year! So, let's get right to it!
 Top 3 Splits of 2012

1 - The Homewreckers/City Mouse

Hands down, the BEST split from 2012 goes to these 2 amazing bands! The Homewreckers from NYC
play DIY inspired punk rock. Dirty and rough around the edges, but also high octane and rowdy, this self described "Queer-Core" band give it to you straight (no pun), hard, fast and to the point on their 2 songs, "Nervous Wrecks" and "Uncontrolable Decay".

City Mouse who hail from Riverside, CA. are the perfect combination of sweet and salty on their tracks "Gemini" and "Jughead Jones". This is a band who pop out at you, grab you by the shoulders and shake you to the core with it's awesomeness!

2 - Dan Vapid & The Cheats/The Jetty Boys

Everything we loved about pop punk and power pop is all wrapped up in this neat little package.
What sets Dan Vapid & The Cheats apart from other bands is in this band Dan is bringing different styles of singing and playing to the table on the songs "One More Chance" and the Pointed Sticks cover "Part Of The Noise".

Then we have
the Jetty Boys and their brand of Wisconsin punk rock. The first track "Not Even Close" kicks off with a truly infectious guitar riff that would make even the most seasoned punk rock vet wish they would have come up with this line. I am very much impressed.

3 - The Jetty Boys/Boys Club

Back for seconds is The Jetty Boys who's
latest split with Boys Club has the Jetty's doing 2 tracks of super catchy pop punk. Mad riffs abound and sing along lyrics all over this release. It's straight up Ramones style punk rock. With a short blast of fun they really makes me wanna hear more and more from this Sheyboygan, WI trio.

The Boys Club offer up a cover of the Warren Zevon classic "Excitable Boy". It's not a bad cover. It has the deadpan vocal approach that made Zevon's tune about rape and mayhem such a gem back in the 70's.A great split here folks!

Now onto the Top 3 Singles of 2012

1 - Sonny Vincent & The Bad Reactions - S/T

This record
sounds like a freight train headed straight for a brick wall on tunes like "Replica" and "Jokers & Clowns". It's a played with such intensity that you feel like the bands gonna implode at any given second. Sonny still sounds vibrant vocally, and his guitar playing is still flawless. The man never seems to age. He's playing at his best here, soloing like his life depends on it. And who knows...maybe it does! Maybe THAT'S why after close to 40 years the man has never stopped recording music and touring the world. It's in his DNA, this thing called punk rock. And he's not afraid to let loose on that old Gibson Les Paul and melt faces along the way.

2 - Val Ventura - "Sun Down California"

Val is a rare breed in this day and age of punk rock. Not only does she write and sing all the music on this record, but she also plays drums and guitar. Oh yeah, she also produced it and released it on her own label, Astro Girl Records. The record was recorded back in 2007 at Sonic Iguana Studios with a little help from Mass Giorgini (who plays bass on this release) mixing and Luke McNeill (Copyrights fame) engineering. Other than that, it's all about Val's sunny pop punk tunes. And what gems they are.
The title track alone is worth the price of admission. I don't know why it took 5 years for this amazing piece of wax to finally hit the streets...but it was well worth the wait.

3 - Kurt Baker - "Want You Around"

What can be said about Kurt Baker that hasn't already been said? This guy is a modern day version of what was so great about late 70's early 80's post punk and new wave mixed in with major amounts of power pop for added effect. And you can hear this all over "Want You Around".
The title track is another great example of Kurt having fun and sharing it, via song, with all his fans. Rounding out the record are 3 covers from The Vapors, Billy Joel and Thin Lizzy. All great tunes by bands who have influenced Kurt's style of writing and playing. I've said it before, I'll say it again...Kurt Baker has a a lot to bring to the music world. And I feel this guy's gonna be BIG at some point.

The Top 3 E.P.'s of 2012

1 - The Jetbirds - "The Jetbirds"

The Jetbirds play straight ahead rock n roll with a dash of punk rock thrown into the mix. Big on riffs and harmonious sing along choruses, "Suicide Love Songs" is a stellar release from this Chicago quartet in the vein of The Dictators or even early Hanoi Rocks.
Each song, from "New Set Of Wheels" to "Suicide Love" has a way of getting you more and more excited as the seconds tick on. It's such a powerful debut, one of the best I've heard in recent history. No word of a lie. "Without You" keeps the excitement going with great harmonies and more stacked riffs. This band is definitely a powerhouse riff machine. They just keep pulling em out of their hat like there's no tomorrow.

2 - P.T.'s Revenge - "Never Let Her Go"

After a decade of being off the scene and doing other projects Detroit's P.T.'s Revenge are back with "Never Let Her Go" (Whoa! Records). Even though last year saw the release of "Save The Drama" this is actually the first release of ALL NEW material by this amazing band. This 4 song EP is a sure fire sign of things to come.

Singer Kevin Sierzega is hitting each note perfectly and is truly a force to be reckoned with. He's a great singer with a passion for his craft.
"Coo Later Bye" is definitely the "heart on sleeve" track of the year. It's a tribute to the common bond these guys have and they're mutual love of the music they play and the fans they play for. I'm sure I speak for all the fans when I say "welcome back gentlemen!"

3 - The Zits - "Breakout"

The 4 tracks on "Breakout" are meat and potatoes punk rock. Strong on harmony vocals with thick riffs and a dirty back beat. The production is a little less than desirable. But it's punk rock, so who cares. Kicking things off is "Bloody Knuckles In Loserville". It's got the major opening riff in place as well as the 4 chord structure you'd expect from students of the Joe King school of punk rock.

The Zits if the creation of Heath Benson. One man waging war on all things pop and pretty. He's single-handedly bringing back the ugliness of DIY punk music. And it's working out well for him.
I like this EP. It reminds me of how great things were back in the day when I was younger. And it also shows me how things can be again if handled the right way. Let's put the music back in the hands of the young who are willing to do it themselves and release it independently.

Top 3 Debut Albums on 2012

1 - The Hairlips - "The Hairlips"

When it comes to music, I'm pretty open minded. If it can grab me on the first listen and not let go, it's good!
And upon hearing the Hairlips self titled album, my soul lit up like Christmas! This is definitely a band who've cut their teeth on generous amounts of Screeching Weasel, Queers, Ramones, 50's doo wop groups and maybe even a few 60's girl groups!

"Fuck You Darlin' " Is such a great track that reminds me of Grease on acid! It's got the great harmonies and sing along chorus. But it's also twisted with singer/bassist Johnny Wabich repeating the line "I'm gonna fuck all of your friends". If you can't find the humor in that, than you're way too uptight. This is just fun music played by 4 really talented guys. And if "Denise" isn't a hit, I don't know what is! With the Beach Boy style high harmonies and the whole "shooby doo" sing along, you can't help but wanna dance and twist the night away. I LOVE this song!

All in all Hairlips have a sound and style all too familiar, but very much their own as well. Pure listening satisfaction is on the docket for today! Grab a copy of this album now! Your ears will thank you later!

2 - The Enders - "The Ruins Of Ambition"

Hardcore music is either a hit or a miss. It could be limitless in it's approach with a real message about society and trying times. Or it could be some mumbo jumbo made up to SOUND like there's a message there, when in actuality it's just some words that sound alike put to music that should have not been recorded in the first place. So, it's great to hear a band with a true talent for writing songs they feel strongly about and who can create timeless albums that will be just as hard and inspirational 30 years from now as it is in today's society. The Enders are that band and "The Ruins Of Ambition" is that album!

The time frame per song is around the 2 minute mark. But they pack quite a punch in that time. "My Television", "Resist Resist" and "Take Control" are stand out tracks that feature intense, yet precise, playing meshed with smart, honest lyrics about staying true to what you believe in and not being part of the human machine that society wants you to be. Individuality is the heart and soul of The Enders songs and that's something I can stand behind 100 percent.

3 - Casablanca - "Apocalyptic Youth"

What happened to all those kick ass, straight on rock n roll bands that I loved so much back in the 80's? Bands like Hanoi Rocks, Kix and Rose Tattoo? Well, outside of Kix, they all seemed to only exist in Europe. Well, thanks to the internet I've found a new band that brings back all that excitement and stellar music that made me feel like I could take on the world as a young man. The band is called Casablanca and their new album "Apocalyptic Youth" is so full of power and passion, it brings me back to 1985 again.

"Secret Agents Of Lust" is a rocking tune that's got the killer back up vocals and big power chord riffs that make this style of music so enjoyable. I can't say enough good about this tune. It's retro, but at the same time very much a modern day rocker. Not many bands can pull that off, but Casablanca can! And they do it well.
"Downtown" is a modern day anthem about lighting up the night, hitting up a rock show and maybe finding love along the way. Big on harmonies and super catchy in it approach, it just grabs you right from the start and never lets you go until the final guitar strings are hit.

"Apocalyptic Youth" may not be groundbreaking like "Nevermind" or Sabbath's first album. But it's still a solid album by a great up and coming band. I truly enjoy what Casablanca are doing to save this dying breed of REAL rockers.

Top 5 Full Length Albums of 2012...because there was just too much good stuff this year.

1 - Kurt Baker - "Brand New Beat"

Kurt Baker pumps out records like old people pump coins into the slot machines at the casino. The only difference is that, unlike the slots, you can almost bet your last nickel that Kurt's record is gonna be a winner! And he's made the record of his career with his full length, "Brand New Beat".

"Hit The Ground" kicks things off in high gear. Catchy guitar riffs aplenty, lots of background harmonies and another amazing sing along chorus shows that this guy KNOWS how to write hit after hit.
There are your typical power pop gems that Kurt's known for, like "Everybody Knows", "Weekend Girls" and "Qualified". But there is also "She's Not Sorry", which is one of the best ballads I've heard in quite some time. It's a Dear John letter style song that shows off Kurt's ability to slow things down and get serious for a little while. Hey, even the biggest party animals have a soft spot. And Kurt's no different. The way the acoustic guitars and organ play off each other, it's pure heaven.

This is the album Kurt Baker was born to make. It's nothing you were expecting and everything you've wanted all wrapped up in a tight little package. With his masterpiece upon us, I have to ask...where will Kurt Baker go from here? If the world is listening and there's room for one more rock star out there, then superstardom isn't far from reach for this young man.

2 - Rush - "Clockwork Angles"

Canadian power trio Rush have been on the music scene for close to 40 years. But now the band is back with their first ever full length concept album. Not only is it a return to form, but it very well may be the bands best album in years. Maybe even their best EVER!

The album is 12 songs telling the story of a young man's journey through his life and the people, places and things he encounters along the way. From the "Caravan" that takes him from his home to start his journey to working with the "Carnies" until his final days in "The Garden", this is the Rush album die hard fans have been waiting for all these years. When the band released the Caravan/BU2B single back in 2010 as a teaser to coincide with a world tour, it was easy for fans of all generations to get excited about the possibility of a full conceptual piece. We wondered if the band could pull it off after many years of steering away from long intricate pieces of music in favor of shorter more concise songs. But after listening to CA it's easy to see the band hasn't lost it's touch as far as story telling. And the playing is top notch as well. This is Rush playing at their all time best.

The albums brightest rocking moments are in the tunes "Headlong Flight". With it's musical ode to "Bastille Day", to it's lyrics about looking back on the past with no regrets. It's a real barn burner. "Wish Them Well" is the other straight up rocker. Simple it it's approach but still powerful and imaginative at the same time. You can tell the band is having fun here. And when I hear them having this much fun, it brings a smile to my face. This is a band nearly 40 years in, and they can still enjoy what they do. And it really comes through in the music.

3 - Teenage Bottlerocket - "Freak Out!"

Teenage Bottlerocket have a system for making great albums. They never take themselves too seriously and make fun albums full of fist in the air sing-a-longs. So it's no surprise the bands latest album "Freak Out" is jam packed with some of the best punk rock songs to come out this year.

While the album doesn't steer away from the sound and lyrical content we're used to getting from Laramie, Wyoming's finest, there is one track that's, shall we say, a little bit more mature as far as lyrics and subject matter go. "Done With Love" was written by Kody Templeman after he and his wife divorced. It's one of the best tracks on the album and very well could be Kody's finest moment as a lyricist. He may have a "heart of stone", but he's still got a knack for writing great songs. Just an awesome track!

Kody's not the only one at the top of his game. Ray Carlisle also has a couple monsters on the album in the forms of "Cruising For Chicks", with it's simple lyrical approach and a heavy palm muted chugging guitar riff, it really sets the mood for a Friday night out looking for that special someone to spend a few short hours with. And "Go With The Flow" is a great way to end an album full of high notes ON a high note. Ray's vocals are so great when paired with Kody's backing vocals, and this track really brings the most out of these two singers. This song is such a gem that I can see it as a possible single.

Teenage Bottlerocket are at the top of their game on "Freak Out". And the sky's the limit for this band who continue to put out quality punk rock, album after album.
And for Pete's sake, get the bands back catalog if you don't already have it. You won't regret it.

4 - Dan Vapid & The Cheats - "Dan Vapid & The Cheats"

The debut from Dan Vapid & The Cheats
is jam packed with some of the best material Mr. Vapid has ever recorded. And with his track list of legendary material, that's saying something. The album features 15 tracks that range in style from Ramones style pop punk ("What Do You Wanna Do Tonight") to doo wop ("Girl Group") and even some new wave ("Devo On Speed"). This records is an all around party! Vapid has a band that brings out not only the best in his playing, but also his songwriting as well. Dan sounds more comfortable on this record than on anything else he's done up to this point. And by comfortable I mean he's not afraid to mix styles of songwriting and playing.

The album is book ended with what very well could be 2 of the best songs Dan has ever written in the forms of "Torture Chamber" and "It Lives By Night". But to be honest, any of the other 13 tracks could be put up with the best of em. This is the feel GREAT record of 2012. Bravo to Mr. Vapid and his band of Cheats on making not only a great album, but a record that will stand the test of time as one of Vapid's greatest musical accomplishments.

5 - Kevin Seconds - "Don't Let Me Lose Ya"

I've been a fan of Reno Nevada's 7 Seconds for more years than I can remember. I always loved the bands sense on unity and staying true to what they believe in. So going into Kevin Seconds new solo album, having not heard any of his past solo material, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I gotta tell ya, in all honesty, the new disc is one hell of a ride. It's NOT a hardcore punk album at all. It's an acoustic style singer/songwriter offering showcasing Kev's guitar playing, smart lyrics and wonderful vocal approach. But just so we're clear, this ISN'T your daddy's folk record, I'll tell ya that much.

"Forever Try" is a song about youth and innocence. Remembering our childhood where we used to "go out and get our hands dirty" while finding a little bit of trouble...but on a much smaller scale than by today's standards. "Only Drug" is a nice little tune. It seems that Kev is confessing that even when times were tough he still found hope. But what did he find hope in? His wife? His music? The music scene that he's so much a part of? All the above? It doesn't matter! It can be about anything and everything all at once. It's a song about all the good and bad in our life. Sometimes the good outweighs the bad. Sometimes it's the other way around. But to stay focused and true to yourself are what will get you through til tomorrow.

"Don't Let Me Lose Ya" is
a comforting album by a truly gifted singer, songwriter and musician. It just goes to show even the hardest of punks can show us another side of them. A side more sensitive and mellow, but equally as powerful as anything on "The Crew" or "Walk Together Rock Together". This is one of the best records to come out this year, in my opinion.

Album Of The Year

Masked Intruder - "Masked Intruder"

Masked Intruder is a band that consists of 4 guys in colored ski masks who sing about break ins, knife wielding robbery and having your heart broken. Not a bad combination for song ideas.

"25 To Life"
sets the pace for the record. This is one of those tunes that upon first listen you just simply fall in love with the song. It's catchy sing along chorus and lyrics like "in a world of nightmares you're a sweet sweet dream. Just about the prettiest thing that I've ever seen.", it's just pure pop genius in the form of a punk rock tune! I love it!

"How Do I Get To You" keeps it going with slashing riffs and another big sing along chorus. Harmonies galore, this is a damn fine song. The band, Intruder Blue (vocals/guitar), Intruder Green (guitar), Intruder Orange (bass) and Intruder Red (drums), are rooted in pop punk with a splash of 50's doo wop in certain areas. Everything they touch turns to gold on this album. There's not a bad, or even sub par, track on this release. It's just a great record front to back.

Closing out this album are 2 of my favorites. "Wish You Were Mine", with it's 50's doo wop sing along I mentioned earlier, is just a fun track with lyrics like "I want ya to show me romance. Won't you give a lonely masked man a chance". How can you go wrong? It shows the full potential this band has going for them. And "Crazy"is equally as good. Riffs galore and a great beat make it hard to not like this song. Go ahead, just TRY not singing along with the chorus...if you can honestly do it, I'll pay you $50! But I'll keep that fifty snug in my wallet because you won't be able to NOT sing along.

Masked Intruder are a band that will achieve greatness in the years to come. It's not just schtick with the masks...this is a band with talent, drive and a commitment to it's craft. Show some love for these knife carrying, B&E loving goofballs and pick this album up. It's a must have for all you pop punk fanatics.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Music News: Critical Mass Owner Takes Over Infested Records

As of January 1, 2013, I (Christopher Carlton) will be taking over Infested Records as owner and operations manager. This decision came in early December when acting owner/manager Jason Friend decided it was time to step down and purse other interests outside of the label. I want to take this opportunity to wish Jason all the best in his new endeavors. He is, and will always be, a huge part of the Infested Records family.

Infested Records was founded on the belief that in giving back to the up and coming artist, by offering them a label to call home, we can keep DIY independent music alive in the punk rock community. Our roster includes such talents as The Enders, Dead Rejects, The Dead Pollys and The Filthy Radicals as well as recently signed artists Mike Defendant and Randy Ray Patterson.

We are knee deep in brand new projects including the Minor Threat tribute album, "Out Of Step", out on Feb 26, 2013. As well as a tribute one of Chicago's finest, The Methadones, which will be released in early/mid spring 2013.

Now onto new and upcoming releases. Infested Records is proud to announce the release of "The Devil's Red Tie Split" by Mike Defendant and Randy Ray Patterson. This 8 song split CD will feature 4 songs by Mike and 4 by Randy. In an attempt to branch out musically from the mostly hardcore music on Infested Records, this CD features 2 different styles of music in the forms of acoustic/folk/punk (Mike) and hip hop (Randy). It's a bold step to take, but we at Infested believe in change. And we also believe in what these 2 young men are doing to change the face of music. The album comes out Dec 21. So be sure to grab a copy.

The Enders have been a major contributor in the punk scene for a few years now. The bands latest album "The Ruins Of Ambition" is looking for a re-release, since the initial pressing of the album sold out in a matter of DAYS upon release earlier in the year. Infested Records is happy to announce a pre-sale for the album in order to pay for the pressing of this release. If we can reach 60 pre-sales, we can get this amazing album BACK on the streets and into the hands of the fans. Please go to for more info on how you can make this dream a reality.

The Dead Pollys new EP "Waiting For Tomorrow" will be released on Jan 18, 2013. The Pollys, who hail from Sweden, have an infectious mix on folk rock, punk and country that gives them a sound and style all their own. We're excited to see the release of this album and wish The Dead Pollys all the success in 2013.

In the coming months we'll have more exciting news on releases and bands who will be signing on with Infested Records. So please keep checking back on our Facebook page ( and our official website ( If you have a band that is looking to release an album, and is looking for a label with hands on attention to each of our artists, you can contact me at Thanks for all the support during this transition. And here's to a GREAT new year!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Music Reviews: Display Case - "Make Your Mark"

It's nice to see the younger generation actually putting down the plastic Rock Band "instruments" and picking up REAL instruments! You know the ones made of wood, strings and metal? Yeah, THOSE instruments! Well the band Display Case is a young group of musicians who really hit the mark with their debut album "Make Your Mark".

The songs on this album are heavy on riffs and crunch showing a lot of promise for these up and comers. "Such Friends" shows that with enough attention to detail you can take a simple song and make it special. Not that these songs are simple. Not by a long shot. These guys are wise musicians beyond their years. And their sound is a cross between late 90's alternative and modern metal inspired punk...if that makes sense. With high pitched guitar squeals and a great backbeat, I think these guys nail down these songs in a way any other band their age would fail to do. I like what they're doing here. But I can also see the band mature with time and really make a truly great record in the coming years.

"Skid" is a crazed pit starting tune with more of those meaty rocking licks and a heavy beat worth dropping elbows and knuckles to. The band, Jordan Essy (vocals), Joe Wellman (guitar) Dylan Medina (bass) and Joe Heirigs (drums) show that they have spent many hours in their bedrooms playing their instruments and writing songs. And it really shows. This isn't some 4 chord garage punk band. This is a group with talent!

The guys slow things down with "Save The Man", the closets thing you'll get to a ballad from Display Case. It's a nice tune with an army style drum roll, mellow guitar chords and sincere lyrics about being one of the less fortunate in the world. It's a really great song. And this type of tune wasn't what I was expecting coming into this record. So, it's a nice change of pace from the fast rocking band you hear early on in this album.

I think Display Case are onto something here with a nice balance of heavy and fast, and mellow and honest. It shows the versatility in the bands playing and songwriting ability. And I can't stress this enough, they may be young, but they KNOW what they want. They have a vision of the kind of band they wanna be. And I can really see them flourish with time. But for now this is a great start for a band with a very bright future.

4 / 5 stars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interview with Marien (Nicotine) Yonkers of The Windowsill

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass again Marien. It's always a pleasure to speak with you. I read recently that you and the other guys in The Windowsill are gonna be releasing a brand new album in 2013. How is that coming along so far? And why are you guys calling it "Showboating"?

Marien Yonkers: So far we have only recorded the drums for 17 songs. Simon Speechless (who also did our debut album) is uploading them into my dropbox as we speak. Ivo made me promise him I would get my guitar checked before we would start recording the guitars. I’m hoping we’ll be done before February with the entire thing…me and my girlfriend will be getting another kid by then. Maybe we will try and do some shows in April and June, we’ll see….

 “Showboating” because it kind of stuck with me after I told somebody we were recording about 40 songs this year (together with Giant Eagles). He told me I was “Showboating”…
CM: Will this new album still have the same line-up as the first album?

MY: Yes, definitely!, I like this line-up a lot, I mean, of course I know Ivo and Jerry forever, but they are also two of my closest friends. We do dinner every time before a rehearsal (yes, we are all over 30 now, and therefore, we have dinner like adults) which is a really fun. 

I knew Sander a little from other bands he played in before I asked him to join, but now he is my sons favorite band member, so he must be doing something right. On top of that, he brings a different palette to the band, he is (used to be?) a huge Blink 182 fan, so his guitar playing and singing is somewhat influenced by that band, which makes us a slightly more versatile band now…

I say ‘now’, because on the first record Sander had very little to do with the recording process, because the album was done before he really joined. With the second one, that will be different.
L-R Sander Wired (guiter/vocals), Marien Nicotine (lead vocals/guitar) Ivo Backbreaker (drums) and Jerry Hormone (bass/vocals)

CM: I know all the songs on the debut were written by you or with Jerry Hormone co writing with you. Is that the case with the new songs as well?

MY: Yes, that’s just the way I’ve always written songs, finish them for 70 or 80%, try them out in the rehearsal room with Ivo, fix whatever doesn't work back at home, with or without Jerry, go back to the rehearsal room and be happy… Jamming just doesn't work for me, because I can not play the guitar that well, and I have very limited knowledge of musical theory…

If we jam, we usually end up in Neil Young kinda folky stuff, early Queers fast stuff (we have a song called ‘I sharted’, and goes like you would imagine it would go) or Bon Jovi rock stuff…We suck either way, except at the Neil Young stuff…that actually has Ivo smiling once in a while.

CM: I gotta tell you, as I'm sure you already know, the first album is still one of my favorite albums to date. And it very well may be in the top 5 best debut album of all time, in my opinion. Going into the songwriting process, did you feel pressure to come up with songs that are as good as those 12 on the first album? Or does the songwriting come naturally for you?

MY: I don’t know, I always wrote half of the Apers material before I quit that band. And until I started the Windowsill I had never stopped writing such songs, so no, no pressure at all. Those were songs I had lying around just waiting for me to finally start rehearsing again. That took a while because I wasn’t sure about my vocal skills, it’s ok now I guess, but no Freddy Mercury….hélas.

You could say songwriting comes somewhat naturally. We once played with J-Church with the Apers, when Lance Hahn told us that he tried to write a song daily (or maybe I read it in an interview, I dont know, could be, we did play with J-Church though…). I don’t have an obsession like that (or the time for that), but when I play the guitar, I don’t just play for the relaxing sound of the Am, C, G progression, but always with a could-this-be-a-verse-or-a-chorus-attitude, you know? The annoying thing about that though, is that I don’t know how to play any campfire songs…thank god I’m not the outdoor type…

CM: Besides the new album, will there be any other songs released in the new year on either a split EP, a compilation or possibly a 7"?

MY: Yeah, definitely, before the "Showboating" recordings, we already did 24 songs in May, of which 10 are meant for the Windowsill for numerous split 7” with bands like Murderburgers (Scotland), New Rochelles (US), Real Danger (Netherlands), hopefully Tough (Italy), a Mooster compilation and some other stuff. 

The other 14 are for a Giant Eagles record, also due in 2013. Giant Eagles is a band with Simon, Ivo and me, in which we try to do 80's Ramones, which of course is impossible… Fact is that there are synths in every song, so that is 80ties-proof enough I guess. Check out our Giant Eagles page.

CM: Are there any plans for the band to make a music video to accompany any of the tracks? Or any hint as to a possible first single?

MY: No not really, Jerry, Ivo and Sander really want to do a video because they are really good looking guys, but me not so much, so screw them…hehe…No, if there is time or/and money who knows…Or a great idea, I think it starts with a great idea…

No singles either…

CM: Is there a tour in the works for the new year? And if so, are there any chances of getting you guys over to America for some live dates? We would love to have you guys play in Chicago at some point.

MY: Like every year (once), we’ll probably do a couple of shows in Italy, we went there last year and a had a really good time. Any offer from the US would be great of course, but since we only sold one album to you and one to Geoff Useless, I don’t think anybody is wanting for us to come over.

(**editer's notes**: Let's get this band to the states for some shows. Please, go buy the record. It's pure unadulterated ear candy. This record won "Album Of The Year" in 2011 at Critical Mass! Listen to the album on Bandcamp.)

I would love to go back to Chicago though, I went there with my girlfriend in 2009, and really enjoyed the city as well as Oak Park, where we were staying. I especially enjoyed all the outside public art in Chicago, and the fact that it stays intact,  doesn’t get vandalized….or is there a death penalty on that? I’m pretty sure all that outside public art would have been destroyed by idiots if that were to be in a Dutch city…

CM: Before I let you go, do you wanna plug any websites where fans get get copies of the first album, get news on the new album and buy other merch?

MY: Yeah, you can get our LP locally (Chicago) at Brandon of Mooster Records, he has a couple. I think Interpunk has some too still. If not, me and Stardumb Records still have a lot. If it is the CD you want, go to Monster Zero Records, they might have a couple left…We just have the Facebook as a band page , but if someone uses my brilliant status updates in a commercial in the near future, I will delete it…and go wherever the hip kids go these days…

CM: Marien, again it's always a pleasure talking with you. I am beyond stoked for the new album! I wanna wish you, the band and all your families a Happy Holiday season and a safe New Year! Thanks man.

MY: Thank you for this interview Christopher! All the best to you and your family and all you future ventures...see you in 2013.