In Rotation: Turnspit - Desire Paths

Phil Collins - February 15, 2018

Desire Paths album cover

The debut full-length album from Chicago punks Turnspit is here and I have a feeling this is going to be one of the big albums of the year. It's instantly catchy. It's lyrically meaningful. It flows incredibly well as a cohesive work. It gets you to shout along. It gets you to listen in the quiet moments. "Breath Taking," the second song on the album, is the first one that started inadvertently popping in my head. The song hooked me right away and it is still my favorite. While universally relatable, the song has a personal meaning to guitarist and vocalist Jason Swearingen, as spelled out in an article over at Riot Fest.

The effort that went into the sequencing on Desire Paths is readily apparent. Guitarist and vocalist Gillian McGhee takes lead vocals on the opening track, "Irish Name," which itself is a prime example of their pop punk/emo sound. The next song, the aforementioned "Breath Taking," features Jason Swearingen on lead vocals. The two vocalists split duties on the following two tracks, "Walk Away" and "Apologies I Have So So Many." There is a good flow in the tones of the songs as well. Slower songs or songs with slower sections are interspersed through the second half of the record.

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Interview with Gillian McGhee of Turnspit

Phil Collins - February 13, 2018

Chicago punks Turnspit release their debut full-length album, Desire Paths, this Friday. You can stream the whole album now over at New Noise Magazine. I pointed this out earlier this year as one of the albums to look forward to in 2018. It is full of catchy, emo-tinged pop punk songs that are as high on meaning as they are on hooks. Look for a full review here later this week. Desire Paths was recorded right here in Chicago at Atlas Studios. Preorder the album through Dodgeball Records. Catch Turnspit live at their album release show this Saturday at the GMan Tavern with Retirement Party, Blood People and Third Twin Sister. More info on that show here. I chatted with guitarist and vocalist Gillian McGhee about the new album, live shows and making a hot sauce.

Turnspit band photo

Phil Collins: How does it feel to have it coming out where people are going to hear the full album and kind of having it released to the world in a few days here?

Gillian McGhee: Right now I just feel like there is so much to do before that actually happens but I think we're all just ready ... We started recording it in December of 2016. It's just, you know, we've had these songs for a long time and we're so proud of it and we've been sitting on it for a long time ... We're just super stoked to have people finally hear what our sound is now as a band. We've matured a lot since those (2015 and 2016) EPs.

PC: I'm sure kind of announcing the record and then putting out a song and then putting out another song, that's a good lead up and it gets people excited about it but having recorded everything I'm sure you must be ready for people to just hear the whole thing already.

GM: Yeah, definitely.

PC: You said you have kind of a lot of stuff to do between now and it coming out, is it mostly promo stuff and getting ready for the release show or what does that look like?

GM: Yeah, totally. Just even like scheduling an interview like with you, doing a couple podcast things ... promoting the record release show. Just a lot of things getting tied up leading up to the release.

PC: The sequencing of the songs on the album comes off very deliberate to me. It makes a lot of sense switching off who's on lead vocals if you're listening track to track and the tones of the songs. How much did you guys bounce that around?

GM: That was really important and I have to credit Jason with the bulk of that. Because sequencing is something that personally for me, I had a general idea of like oh this song should be at the beginning and this song should be toward the end, whatever. Jason really took over and really analyzed the sequencing and I will say, almost every interview that we've done or friend that we've sent it to, one of the first things that they mention is how smart the sequencing is. That's something that as a songwriter, you don't always think about because your songs are like the meat and potatoes, right. But the sequencing is really important and is something that I never really had to think about too much because I just put out solo EPs with three or four of my songs. This was a different beast with different songwriters and I think the fact that people are noticing that is really really awesome. That was a lot of Jason's doing but we all obviously agreed as a band on the final order of everything.

PC: As a full album listener, in the music industry at large, that's kind of been going off the wayside for the last several, many years. Since the whole Napster thing, it seems like people are just pushing more singles and stuff. So when that is apparent on an album, I definitely appreciate it because that's still how I consume music.

GM: We want to create an experience for people, whether that's our live show or our record. We spend time talking about our setlist as well. I think that just goes to show the amount of detail that goes into what we do, how we do it. It's not just like we get up there willy nilly and figure out what we want to play at that moment in time. Everything has a lot of forethought and planning. That's kind of how we operate as a band and I'm glad that that comes through on Desire Paths.

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In Rotation: Short Story Inc - Metanoia: Sink or Swim

Phil Collins - February 8, 2018

Metanoia Sink or Swim album cover

Chicago skacore trio Short Story Inc released their debut album last October. Their sound embraces spins into psychedelia from the opening track "Love Loves Lust." This is hornless ska that does not go straight for the hardcore or standard third wave template. These songs spend more time wandering down trippy alleyways. "Lost and Confused" is the 7-minute-plus centerpiece here. It comfortably occupies a chill winding space before picking up about three minutes in for a couple few minutes of fast-paced skacore before veering off toward a finish that segues nicely into "Revenge of the Wicked."

"Unanticipated Terrorism (Till We Piss them Off)" opens with a hardcore riff and vocals to match. It is the shortest song on the album and represents one of few moments that drops the ska and trippy aspects of the rest of the album. Fans of the DIY punk/hardcore/ska scene should give this a listen. Metanoia: Sink or Swim has only gotten better after several playbacks.

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Interview with Alex Reilly of Wood Chickens

Phil Collins - January 31, 2018

Madison cowpunk band Wood Chickens released their debut full-length LP, Countrycide, last summer. Jangly guitars race thumping bass on these country-laced punk tracks. Alex Reilly of Wood Chickens talked with me via email about the scene in Madison, touring and a couple new Wood Chickens releases coming soon. Last month, Alex shared his favorite records of 2017 with us. Read that here. Wood Chickens play two shows in Chicago on February 1. The first is an early show with So Pretty at Bric-A-Brac Records. Later that night they play at Cafe Mustache with Wet Wallet and Tijuana Hercules. Check their full run of February tour dates on their Facebook page.

Wood Chickens

Photo by Maggie Denman

Phil Collins: You included a couple bands (Fire Heads, The Hussy) from Wood Chickens' hometown of Madison on your top releases of 2017 list. Can you tell us a little about the music scene in Madison?

Alex Reilly: The music scene in Madison is stupendous! There are tons of bands and a lot going on for the size of the city. A significant chunk of the scene is focused on punk / garage rock / powerpop, but Madison's a diverse mixed bag of artists who are always collaborating and forming new bands. Wood Chickens have only been involved in the scene here for a few years but many folks are saying that it's at a peak and the best that it's been for quite some time.

PC: What kinds of venues are prominent for punk shows? Are they mostly in bars or DIY spaces?

AR: There are always DIY spots coming and going - basements, warehouse spaces, etc. - but Mickey's is a great bar venue that's been around for decades and they throw some of the best shows in town.

PC: You played at Subterranean for Ian's Party recently, how was that show? Did you get to do any venue hopping?

AR: Ian's Party was a helluva good time! There were tons of talented acts and the energy in the room during our set was incredible. We stuck around Subterranean to see our buds Nobunny headline that night.

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Interview with Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer

Phil Collins - January 24, 2018

Sincere Engineer's debut album, Rhombithian, knocked us over last year. So much so that it won Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. Deanna Belos is the singer and songwriter behind these songs. She talked to me via email about the response to the album, playing shows with Brendan Kelly and puking. See Sincere Engineer this Saturday night at Subterranean (downstairs) with Blood People, the Reaganomics and How It Got Burned. More info on that show here. Read Deanna's list of her favorite albums of 2017 here and read my review of Rhombithian here.

Deanna Belos

Photo by Randy Korwin Photography

Phil Collins: First off, congrats on winning our 2017 best albums of the year bracket. It is no easy feat as the bracket kind of takes on a life of its own with four people voting. Has the overall response to the album surprised you?

Deanna Belos: Thanks so much! :) The response has definitely surprised me. We’ve been very fortunate with the amount of press and attention it has gotten. I try not to “read the comments” too much, but it seems like a lot people are diggin’ it, which is exciting!

PC: Has your perspective on any of the songs changed now that you have a little distance from the recording process and have played a few shows with the full band setup?

DB: I think so. I hear a lot of people say that they like the song Overbite best, which I find interesting because it’s not one of my favorites. That song in particular is weird for me because I stopped playing it at solo shows...the guitar part is very repetitive and the lack of dynamic makes it seem (to me) like a drag to listen to (and play) at a live show. That being said, it’s one of my favorites to play with the full band.

PC: Overbite is actually my favorite song on the record. I think it’s great lyrically. I am a fan of that song structure that lets the verses ride for a while and then is more chorus heavy in the second half. What makes that song more fun to play with the full band?

DB: Thank you! I think it just hits so much harder with the band. And thanks to Matt Jordan’s producing talent, it turned into a fun listen. The lead guitar parts in particular are my favorite, and I think the lyrics come off more raw and honest when I’m yelling them over loud instrumentation versus the slow acoustic strumming I used to do, I guess. Also, I used to dread playing it by myself because of the (previously mentioned) guitar repetition, on top of the fact that it’s pretty of the longest songs on the record, at a whopping 3 minutes (lol).

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Albums to look forward to in 2018

Nikki Roberts and Phil Collins - January 22, 2018

We here at Change the Rotation did plenty of looking back at 2017. If you missed it, check out the results of our best albums of the year bracket, the best EPs and other releases of the year and guest lists from Mimi Vacancy (The Vacancy), Elise (Skinny Daisies), Nikki Roberts (Locals Only), Deanna Belos (Sincere Engineer), Chris DeQuick (Chris DeQuick Productions) and Alex (Wood Chickens). Now it is time to look ahead to the future. The very near future in some cases. It is time to talk about some exciting releases coming our way in 2018. Nikki Roberts of Locals Only co-wrote this list. If you like this blog, you will defintiely like Locals Only too. Go check it out. This preview is posted there as well. Let's get into it.

Under the Dark Mark album cover

Bloodletter - Under the Dark Mark

Chicago melodic thrash metal band Bloodletter has been ripping listeners’ ears to shreds since the release of their first demo in 2013. Five years later and with four EPs under their belts, the group was finally ready to tackle writing their first full-length record. And man, did they sure as hell succeed.

According to the band’s vocalist/guitarist, Pete Carparelli, Under the Dark Mark “has the aggression from our Malignancy record, the technicality of our self-titled record, and the melodic approach and sound from our Darkest Reaches EP, all mixed in there.” The influences from past releases are clearly there, but Under the Dark Mark presents a side of Bloodletter that listeners have never heard before. Musically, the ten new tracks are more technically thoughtful and polished than the band’s previous songs; lyrically, the songs address topics such as the occult, life and death, and the supernatural without coming off as cheesy or ironic thrash anthems.

With songs such as “Beyond Belief” that are guaranteed to summon chaotic circle pits and “The Seance,” one of my personal favorites, it’s safe to say that upcoming Bloodletter shows are about to be taken to an entirely new level. You can catch the band playing some of their new tunes on February 20th at Livewire (21+), or at the record’s release show on March 31st at the Subterranean in Wicker Park (17+).

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Random Records with Steve O

Propagandhi - Victory Lap

Steve O - January 18, 2018

Victory Lap

So I’ve had a couple months and like a hundred listens of Propagandhi’s latest, Victory Lap, to digest their new offering of punk/thrash rippers. And my initial reaction pretty much holds. Victory Lap reminds me a lot of Potemkin City Limits. The pace on both records is similar, both are a little less thrashy — at least compared to Supporting Caste or Failed States — though both still have some fantastic guitar work. Both have some sneaky good songs; you know the kind — songs you always underestimate, but every time you hear them you think to yourself how fucking good it is. And both have those blatant political lyrics and brilliant storytelling that Propagandhi is famous for.

Album opener “Victory Lap” is a perfect distillation of Propagandhi’s sound. Clocking under three minutes, it’s packed full of solid riffs, a fun little pace change in the middle, and Chris Hannah’s distinctive voice delivering biting (and brilliant) lines like “When the free-market / Fundamentalist steps on a roadside bomb outside Kandahar / Bleeding to death / I swear to Ayn Rand / I’ll ask if he needs an invisible hand.” “Cop Just Out of Frame” is one of those sneaky good songs, with some impressive guitar work shadowing Hannah as he waxes poetic about sacrifice (despite their influences, he’s not talking about the band), media misrepresentation, and the power of Quang Duc (who you know from the cover of Rage Against the Machine). “Letter to a Young Anus” is a blazer, probably the heaviest and sonically angriest song on the record, as Propagandhi passes on their wisdom accrued over two decades of activity/activism to a younger scene. “Lower Order (A Good Laugh)” returns animals rights to the scene after a bit of an absence with an autobiographical tale. Though it fails to reach the lofty heights set by “Purina Hall of Fame” or “Human(e) Meat (The Flensing of Sandor Katz),” it still pulls all the emotional punches. “Tartuffle” is a feminist anthem, fitting right in with the growing consciousness of a rape culture, calling out male privilege (while brilliantly/hilariously referencing Less Talk), with the call to arms of “single moms to the front!”

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Change the Rotation's Best Albums of 2017 Bracket

Phil Collins - January 15, 2018

If you are anything like me, you have been on pins and needles waiting to see how Change the Rotation's best albums of 2017 bracket shook out. Well, the results are finally here! Before we get into it, here is a little primer on how this works. Every year (for the last five years,) we here at Change the Rotation choose our favorite 32 albums of the year and then we pit them against each other in a March Madness style bracket to determine the site's album of the year. This is our second year as a four-person bracket committee (Dave Anians, Danny Brawlins, Steve O and myself.) Each of us submitted a regular list of our favorite albums. Any album which appears on at least two of our lists automatically gets on the bracket. The remaining spots are divided up between us. Once we have our field of 32 albums set, we put all their names in a hat and randomly draw them into position on the bracket. We give ourselves a few weeks to think it all over and then we get together and vote on each matchup until we have a champion. Having four people voting means there can be ties. We each secretly rank the 32 albums so that our top album receives 32 points and our least favorite receives 1 point. In the case of a tie, we add up all the points to break it. We have never had the points come out evenly in a tiebreaker although we have had some very, very close calls. I have no idea what we would do in that case. That sounds like a problem for future bracket committees! Anyway, now that we've gone through the logistics, let's get into it.

Bracket region 1

Mobina Galore v. Sincere Engineer was one of the toughest matchups in the whole bracket. How fitting that they were the first two names out of the hat. Both great records, yet one of them had to go out in the first round. Sincere Engineer also took out Propagandhi and Iron Chic on the way to the final four.

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Jahshie P of The Decayed

Phil Collins - January 11, 2018

We have one more guest list highlighting the best of 2017. If you missed it, we've had guest best of 2017 lists from Mimi Vacancy (The Vacancy), Elise (Skinny Daisies), Nikki Roberts (Locals Only), Deanna Belos (Sincere Engineer), Chris DeQuick (Chris DeQuick Productions) and Alex (Wood Chickens). This week I listed my favorite EPs and other releases of the year. The voting on our best albums of the year bracket is complete. Hang on a little longer and I will share the dramatic (as always) results and Change the Rotation's album of the year real soon. Today's guest list comes from Jahshie P of local hardcore band The Decayed and bluegrass punk band Last False Hope. He also founded and organizes the MoonRunners Music Festival. This year's festival takes place May 4-5 at Reggies. Days N Daze, Escape From the Zoo, Harley Poe, Hellbound Glory, Amigo the Devil, The Antidon'ts, Davey Dynamite, Won't Stay Dead, Old Wolves and many more are playing. Find out more about MoonRunners and get tickets at their site. I interviewed Jahshie P ahead of last year's fest, read that here. Jahshie P's list follows:

Jahshie P's top albums of 2017

Hellbound Glory- Pinball
Wheeler Walker Jr.- Ol' Wheeler
Scott H. Biram- The Bad Testament
Joseph Huber- The Suffering Stage
Escape from the Zoo- Killacopter

Top shows of 2017:

Screaming Females at Hideout Block Party
Joseph Huber in a living room
Jeff Shepherd at Tonic Room

The Best EPs and other releases of 2017

Phil Collins - January 8, 2018

Before we announce the results of Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket, it is time to recognize some of the best EPs and other releases (only full-length albums are eligible for the bracket) of 2017. This is not meant to be a comprehensive ranking, but rather a list of some of my favorite releases of the year.

Ecdysis cover

Dead Split Egos - Ecdysis

Ecdysis came out early in 2017 and quickly earned its place as one of my favorite releases of the year. It is punishing in its deliberately-paced delivery, to the extent that when a song does kick into a faster gear, it hits like a punch in the face. "Guilt" is one of my favorite songs of the year. The traded deliveries of the song's key line at the climax is a perfect moment. The slowdown at the end of that section with simultaneous vocals from everyone finishes the song at a high point. This whole EP has the ring of a band that shot for a specific sound and knocked it out of the park. Stream Ecdysis at Dead Split Egos' bandcamp page. You can also listen to their new split with Livid. Read my original review of Ecdysis here.

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Alex of Wood Chickens

Phil Collins - January 4, 2018

We have arrived at our final guest list highlighting the best of 2017. Thanks to all this year's contributors. If you missed it, read picks from Mimi Vacancy (The Vacancy), Elise (Skinny Daisies), Nikki Roberts (Locals Only), Deanna Belos (Sincere Engineer) and Chris DeQuick (Chris DeQuick Productions). We are not finished with our end of the year coverage yet. Soon I will post my list of the top EPs and other release of the year. Following that, we will reveal the results of our best albums of the year bracket. Today's guest list comes from Alex of Wood Chickens. The Madison-based cowpunk band released the full-length Countrycide last summer. Listen to the album on their bandcamp page and find Wood Chickens on Facebook. Catch Wood Chickens live at Ian's Party this Friday night at Subterranean (Downstairs). More info on Ian's Party here. Alex's list follows:

Here's my "best records of 2017" list:

Leche - Inhalant Dangers (Digital Hotdogs)- A whopping 41 tracks of speed-punk, scum-country, and other strange things from these Texas cowpunks!

Fire Heads - Fire Heads (Big Neck Records)- Darker 'n' heavier 2nd LP from these Madison homies!

Angie Hosh - Has The Mystique Faded? (self-released)- 5 fresh tracks from the Sioux Falls, SD death rock quartet!

The Hussy - I See Just Fine 7" (Big Neck Records)- Madison garage-punk heroes release this 3-track EP featuring a hauntingly beautiful A-side and a B-side of 2 powerpop bangers!

Sex Scenes - Swallow EP (Gloss Records)- 5-song cassette that clocks in at under 6 minutes! Noise punk / hardcore from Milwaukee featuring a pounding rhythm section and craaaazy frontman!

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Chris DeQuick of Chris DeQuick Productions, Friskie Morris Sessions

Phil Collins - January 3, 2018

This is our penultimate guest list for 2017. If you missed it, so far we have had guest lists from Mimi Vacancy (The Vacancy), Elise (Skinny Daisies), Nikki Roberts (Locals Only) and Deanna Belos (Sincere Engineer). Keep your eyes open for one more guest list, my list of the top EPs and other releases of 2017 and the results from Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. Today's guest list comes from Chris DeQuick of Chris DeQuick Productions. Do you have a band looking to record some tunes? Chris is recording at Atlas Studios now (yes, that Atlas Studios). He recently mastered the new Bombflower album, Bleed Me Out. Find out more about Chris DeQuick Productions over at Facebook. Chris also handles sound for the Friskie Morris Sessions podcast. If you are on this site, you must be interested in local music and if that is the case, this podcast is for you. Listen to interviews with local bands along with songs recorded for the podcast at Atlas Studios. Listen to the Friskie Morris Sessions podcast on Soundcloud or find it in the Apple podcasts app. Chris's list follows:

Favorite albums, no particular order.

1. The Menzingers- After the Party
2. Tim Barry- High on 95
3. Hot Water Music- Light it Up
4. Charly Bliss- Guppy
5. Bully- Losing
6. Propagandhi- Victory Lap
7. Cayetana- New Kind Of Normal
8. The Smith Street Band- More Scared of You Than You are of Me
9. Tigers Jaw- Spin
10. Jessica Lea Mayfield- Sorry is Gone
11. Sincere Engineer- Rhombithian
12. Iron Chic- You Can't Stay Here
13. The Lillingtons- Stella Sapiente

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer

Phil Collins - January 2, 2018

Happy 2018 to everyone! If you missed our guest best of 2017 lists last week, go back and read through some rad picks from Mimi Vacancy (The Vacancy), Elise (Skinny Daisies) and Nikki Roberts (Locals Only). Today the guest lists roll on with one from Deanna Belos AKA Sincere Engineer. This has been a big 2017 for Sincere Engineer as her first full-length was released on Red Scare Industries and the band played a sold out record release show at Township. The record, Rhombithian, made the cut for Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. If you haven't seen our 32 favorite albums of the year, check out the list here. Look for the results of our bracket showdown soon. Before that, we will have a couple more guest lists and my picks for the top EPs and other releases of the year. Be sure to catch Sincere Engineer closing out the Saturday of Ian's Party this weekend at Chop Shop. More info on Ian's Party here. Deanna's list follows:

My five favorite albums from this year are:

The Menzingers- After The Party
Protomartyr- Relatives In Descent
Iron Chic- You Can't Stay Here
Oliver Houston- Whatever Works
Meat Wave- The Incessant

Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Nikki Roberts of Locals Only

Phil Collins - December 29, 2017

Today we continue our end of the year coverage with our third guest list. I know 2018 will already be upon us next week, but we are not quite ready to close the book on 2017. So, look for more guest lists, my list of my top EPs and other releases of 2017, as well as our 2017 album of the year bracket results. Today's guest list comes from Nikki Roberts of fellow local music blog Locals Only. If you are a reader of Change the Rotation, you should be a reader of Locals Only too. They cover a similar set of Chicago area punk bands as us with reviews, interviews and more. Check out Locals Only here and find them on Facebook here. Also, read her feature on Toastamania in the Chicago Reader this past October. It's a good read if you are curious about how thrash/punk and wrestling combine at these shows. Nikki's list follows:

In no particular order:


1. Through n Through / Black Mass / UGLYBoNES at Slob City
2. Cannibal Corpse / Power Trip / Gatecreeper at Thalia Hall
3. Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre tour kickoff at the Fallout
4. Eyehategod / Cro-Mags / Minimum Wage Assassins at Cobra Lounge
5. The Killers at Lollapalooza

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Elise of Skinny Daisies

Phil Collins - December 28, 2017

Today we have another guest list highlighting the best music and shows of the year. Look out for more guest lists this week and next week as our year-end coverage forges into the new year. Before we close the book on 2017, I'll also have a list of my favorite EPs and other releases from the year and we will have the results of Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. Today's guest list comes from Elise of Skinny Daisies. Find the Chicago acoustic songwriter on Facebook. See Skinny Daisies live this Friday night at Suplex City in Chicago with The Vacancy, Magnus Honey and Ashby and the Oceanns. More info on that show here. Elise's list follows:



Don’t Panic Pop Up Shop at CHI PRC for Record Store Day with Davey Dynamite, + (Plus Sign), and Danny Cozzi of All the Wine on April 22

Kikagaku Moyo/Mind Over Mirrors/Plastic Crimewave Syndicate at the Empty Bottle on May 12

Don’t Panic 5th Anniversary Bash with Davey Dynamite and the Salt Creek Duo, the Cheap Dates, Shots Fired Shots Fired and Pylons at the Burlington Bar on July 21

Acoustic Saturday with Danny Lamborghini, Davey Dynamite, Danny Cozzi of All the Wine and Jaclyn Heuser at the Pillowfort on Aug. 19

Kodakrome/Nude Model/Wvrship/Babykettle at Cobra Lounge on Aug. 22

AJJ ‘People Who Can Eat People’ 10 Year Anniversary at Subterranean on Sept. 11

Pile with Bad History Month and Longface at Beat Kitchen on Sept. 27

Beyond the Gate: Circuit de Yeux performing Nico’s Chelsea Girl plus Laraaji at the Behemian National Cemetery on Oct. 7

Friday the 13th: Evil Comes to Town at Auxiliary Arts Center with Bash Bang, Oops, So Pretty, The Messenger Birds and Peach Fuzz on Oct. 13

FEE LION/Replicant/Wingtips/Panic Priest at the Empty Bottle on Nov. 30

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2017

Mimi Vacancy

Phil Collins - December 26, 2017

Today we have the first of a bunch of guest best of the year lists for 2017. Keep your eyes open for more guest lists this week and in the near future, my list of the best EPs/other releases of the year and of course Change the Rotation's albums of the year bracket results. If you missed it, last week we announced this year's field of our 32 favorite albums. Check that out here. Today's guest list comes from Mimi Vacancy, lead vocalist and guitarist of The Vacancy. The band is a new one, also featuring Davey Dynamite on guitar and vocals. Find them on Facebook here. The Vacancy plays Avonbash at Suplex City in Chicago on December 29 with Magnus Honey, Ashby and the Oceanns and Skinny Daisies. More info on that show here. Mimi's list follows:

Records of the year ….in no order


The Menzingers - After the Party
Creeper - Eternity in Your Arms
Girlpool - Powerplant
The Regrettes- Feel Your Feelings Fool!
The Smith Street Band - More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
Sheer Mag - Need to Feel Your Love
White Reaper - The World's Best American Band
See Through Dresses - Horse of the Other World
Harry Styles - self titled
Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps
Downtown Boys - Cost of Living
Craig Finn - We All Want the Same Things
Hurray for the Riff Raff - The Navigator
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice
Dave Hause - Bury Me in Philly
Ryan Adams - Prisoner
Tigers Jaw - Spin

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Change the Rotation's Best Albums of 2017 Bracket preview

Phil Collins - December 22, 2017

bracket preview

It's the end of another year and that means it is time for us to name our favorite albums of 2017. Here at Change the Rotation, rather than making regular lists, we pit our collective 32 favorite albums against each other in a March Madness style bracket to determine the site's album of the year. Here is how it works. Four of us (Dave Anians, Danny Brawlins, Steve O and myself) submit lists of our favorite albums of the year. Any album which appears on at least two of our lists automatically makes the bracket. Any remaining spots are divided evenly between the four of us. Once we have our 32 albums, we put their names in a hat and randomly draw them into the bracket. We will vote on these matchups until a winner is determined at the end of the year. This is Change the Rotation's fifth albums of the year bracket.

Next week we will have plenty of end of the year features, including guest best of 2017 lists from people in the music scene and my list of the best EPs and other releases of 2017. Speaking of that, here are some eligibility notes for this year's bracket. As usual, only full-length albums are considered for the bracket. Bombflower's new record, which comes out digitally tomorrow and on vinyl next year, will be eligible in 2018. The same situation came up with Davey Dynamite's record last year, however, we declared that one ineligible because he is on the bracket committee.

Here is this year's field of our 32 favorite albums:

88 Fingers Louie - Thank You For Being a Friend
All Pigs Must Die - Hostage Animal
Anti-Flag - American Fall
Bad Cop/Bad Cop - Warriors
The Bombpops - Fear of Missing Out
Converge - The Dusk in Us
Days N Daze - Crustfall
Dead Ending - Shoot the Messenger
Downtown Boys - Cost of Living
Escape From the Zoo - Killacopter
Full of Hell - Trumpeting Ecstasy
Hellmouth - Oblivion
The Homeless Gospel Choir - Presents: Normal
Iron Chic - You Can't Stay Here
Iron Reagan - Crossover Ministry
The Lillingtons - Stella Sapiente
Limp Wrist - Facades
Meat Wave - The Incessant
The Menzingers - After the Party
Mobina Galore - Feeling Disconnected
Oh My Snare - Murk Matinal
Open City - Open City
Pet Symmetry - Vision
Propagandhi - Victory Lap
Rancid - Trouble Maker
Sheer Mag - Need to Feel Your Love
Sincere Engineer - Rhombithian
The Smith Street Band - More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
So Pretty - Suck It Up
Voice of Addiction - The Lost Art of Empathy
Wasted Potential - Living Up to the Name
Worriers - Survival Pop

In Rotation: Bombflower - Bleed Me Out

Phil Collins - December 21, 2017

Bleed Me Out cover

Chicago ska punks Bombflower continue to grow and push their sound into new areas on their third full-length album in as many years. If their second album was Bombflower's recorded music catching up to the sound the band was polishing at live shows, Bleed Me Out is a jump ahead of what we have seen so far. "Born From Below" is the most stark example of this shift. The song retains some ska elements but takes on a jazzy, loungey complexion in the verses. It then dials up to a surprisingly heavy guitar section toward the end of the song, only to drop back to a lullaby-soft finish. The song feels like the moment in a horror movie when the established rules are finally broken. It's the most exciting thing on this album.

That song is immediately followed by the song "Bombflower," a song that is much more in line with what one would expect to hear when listening to the band, and fittingly so if this is going to be their theme song. Album opener "Bleed Me Out" and "Parasite" will also be crowd pleasers. Horns appear prominently on "Quit That Kind" and "Money Trained." The former is the most straightforward ska song on the album while the latter takes on a choppier rhythm.

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In Rotation: White Mystery - Fuck Your Mouth Shut

Phil Collins - December 18, 2017

album cover

White Mystery's newest album delivers what I have come to love about this Chicago garage rock duo: a mix of instant fuzzy anthems and their viscous, dreamy counterparts. The stomping, forceful anthems are in more abundant supply, making their pensive jams that much more impactful when they hit. The title track is as potent a swing as the band has ever put on wax. Guitar and drums from the redhead sibling duo punch under repeated shouts of "Fuck your mouth shut!" during each chorus. "Full of Light" and "Played My Hand" are catchy romps that will improve your walk around the city streets.

"Mars Death Pact" and "Dream Cum" are the aforementioned deliberately-paced thoughtful songs. The former features vocals from drummer Francis Scott Key (guitarist Miss Alex White takes lead vocals on the rest of the album). The lyrics read like a poem and the instrumental backing is more subdued than on the rest of the record. The latter is a five-plus minute song comprised of one line of lyrics repeated like a mantra. It's easy to get lost in the meditative repetition of this song.

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In Rotation: Criminal Kids - Outcast/Night

Phil Collins - December 4, 2017

Outcast/Night cover

Criminal Kids' first single, Outcast/Night, puts them firmly in the camp of Chicago punk bands more interested in an older style of rock and roll. Fans of Poison Boys and Black Bear Rodeo should keep their ears to the ground for more from Criminal Kids. Ripping guitar solos and vocals delivered with a deliberate swagger abound. Even the album cover (in a similar manner to Poison Boys' Headed for Disaster EP cover) calls to another era, with a photo of the band members that looks like it could have been taken decades ago.

The lyrics from "Outcast" call out the material things that separate people in society. Money, of course, is one of those things. In the parlance of this classic era of rock and roll, a switchblade is the great equalizer. The pinnacle of the song comes with the shout "I guess that makes me an outcast baby/I guess that makes me an outcast." It's a fun rumble of a jam and I'm looking forward to hearing more from this band. Check out the video for "Outcast" after the jump and stream the two-song single at their bandcamp page.

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Sandra/Inferno's October 2017 recap

Danny Brawlins - November 22, 2017


Photo courtesy of Marty Wilkerson

Sandra Malak has been running around the globe with a musical gang of anarchists known as The World/Inferno Friendship Society, for over ten years. The Brooklyn based band tends to get pretty busy toward the end of the year, which for them happens to fall on Halloween. This October has seen the band playing at bars, frat houses, cemeteries and even our All Hands on Deck festival here in Chicago. All this has been in preparation for the band’s 20th Hallowmas celebration for our gourd and savior, The Honorable Great Pumpkin. Ms. Malak, the band’s bassist, was nice enough to take a minute of her time to share with us a glimpse into what it’s like to be a part of this mischievous bunch during the busiest time of their year:

When was the last time you used a payphone? I asked myself this as I used a payphone in Newark Penn Station at 12:30am on October 20th of this year, and as I did this I wished I had been the person on the other end receiving the call. How honored I would feel if someone called me from a payphone! “You used your quarters for me instead of laundry? How sweet!” They’ve gone up to 50 cents, by the way. Additionally, on this particular phone there was a list of free calls one could make from it. Dial *12 for help finding a job. Dial *11 for the Social Security office. Dial *13 for the EBT office and the one that intrigued me most, dial *10 to get God’s Blessing and a Daily Prayer.  Though I would have much preferred if there was a * some number that would dial the person I actually was trying to call, but since there was not, I dialed *10. The line rang a couple times then stopped and was followed by silence. I listened and listened…nothing. Not even heavy breathing. What a rip off. Even though I was feeling pretty good at that moment having not missed the last train back to Middle Jersey where I’d been hiding out in between Inferno shows, a daily prayer might have been nice, especially if it was going to be a nice little affirmation that wasn’t muddled up in any religious denomination. Something like, “You’re doing great, kid. Keep it up.” Ah, well.

I’d spent several days moving through Newark Penn Station in the weeks preceding Halloween and must say I was very saddened to learn that they closed the Blue Comet Lounge, which was the only bar in the whole station. I spent many waiting hours of my life sitting in that dank holding tank between New York and New Jersey and was looking forward to ordering an overpriced, flat gin and tonic, glancing at an episode of Judge Judy on a fuzzy television screen, and watching potential patrons wander in and out of the bar asking if they can pay for a bud light with a handful of pennies and paper clips. But it was no longer to be. When I first noticed the bar had closed, I let out a teary eyed “What the fuck!?!” (I actually did cry a little) then I texted Bill Cashman, the band’s current undertaker, and asked him to please let Jack know the sad news. Mr. Terricloth (who for a yet unexplained reason had recently blocked my number making it therefore impossible to reach him directly) and I shared an affinity for this hole-in-the-wall-under-track-1 (“This is great! I had no idea this place was here! This is my new favorite bar,” he said the first time I brought him to The Blue Comet.) Cashman wrote back to let me know Jack was distraught by the loss of this great and legendary dive bar. It would be a long somber ride from Chicago to Brooklyn for those boys. (I flew back. Had to be somewhere.)

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Random Records with Steve O

The Lillingtons - Stella Sapiente

Steve O - November 13, 2017

Stella Sapiente album cover

October can be a great time for a record to come out. You’ve been waiting for a good chunk of the year from when it’s announced, so you’re stoked to finally hear it. It’s late in the year, so it’s fresh in our minds when it comes time to start thinking about the bracket. If it’s a grower, that sucks, cause it’s only got a couple of weeks to convince you. But if it’s one of those records that hits you immediately, you’re hooked when it’s time to start thinking about what goes on the bracket.

Such is the case with the Lillingtons first record since 2006, Stella Sapiente. I got into the Lillingtons through their classic – 1999’s Death by Television. We were hanging out in DeKalb somewhere when Henry Brawlins put it on—it had that sci-fi, somewhat spooky vibe, mixed with straight up fun Ramones-core and the distinct voice of Kody Templeman (of Teenage Bottlerocket). I was hooked, but I never really listened to any of their other records all that much. But when they released the first single off Stella Sapiente, “Insect Nightmares,” I knew this was gonna be a good one. There’s an ever more haunting vibe to this record—it just feels so dark, with its mystical lyrics focused on, as Templeman says “secret societies, astrology, and the occult.” But it was “Insect Nightmares,” which I immediately connected to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, that drew me in. “In the dead of night I’m hiding in my bed / That’s when the bugs come alive creeping through my head / They say it’s just a dream and simply nothing more / But now it’s 2 AM I’m crawling on the floor.” It’s kinda creepy, but it’s incredibly catchy. Fast paced with a little bit of melody, “Insect Nightmares” was the perfect way to tease the new record.

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In Rotation: Sincere Engineer - Rhombithian

Phil Collins - November 7, 2017

Rhombithian album cover

The debut album from Chicago punks Sincere Engineer hit with a bang, coming out on the local punk mainstay Red Scare Industries, home of bands from the Falcon to the Brokedowns to Direct Hit! to Masked Intruder to Teenage Bottlerocket to the Menzingers and more. These are household names in punk and if Rhombithian is any indication, Sincere Engineer is going to be right there too. The catchy songs, gruff vocals and wry sense of humor are a good match for the pop punk label. The line early in the album about jumping into Lake Michigan and swimming in it certainly doesn't hurt on the Chicago connection front. What really makes this record exceptional, and fast, is adept lyricism.

Exhibit A: "Overbite," the third track on the album, deftly trades two lines that balance the album's main themes - anxiety on the one hand and a self-deprecating sense of humor invoking the minutiae of everyday life on the other. "I don't care about anything as much as I used to" is repeated a few times within the first minute of the song. Then, after another round in the second chorus, the line changes to "I still feel just about as dumb as I used to." The music speeds up in the last 30 seconds and the two lines trade off at the end of the track.

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In Rotation: Won't Stay Dead - The Devil Was With Us

Phil Collins - October 27, 2017

The Devil Was With Us

If you are looking for some new spooky tunes this Halloween, check out the new 7 song horror punk EP from Chicago's Won't Stay Dead. The songs on The Devil Was With Us combine a love of horror movies (take another look at that Night of the Living Dead poster) and conventions of the horror punk and rockabilly genres. "Withered, Tempting" is my favorite track here - it starts with a meandering bassline before jumping up to the punchy verse. The song goes through another round of this and ends ahead of the two minute mark, leaving on a high note. "Withered, Tempting" has all the elements that make this EP so fun, from the rockabilly influence to the lyrics that sound like they're describing the plot of a horror movie. Still, if this release has a theme song, it has to be "The Devil of Bedford Street." The lyrics and song title sound like they come from a horror movie, the title of the EP is in the lyrics, and the first line of the chorus "Somebody put a cross on my head and it burned" lands right on point.

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All Hands On Deck preview

Phil Collins - October 12, 2017

     All Hands On Deck Friday     All Hands On Deck Saturday

All Hands On Deck is only a day away! Join us at Cobra Lounge Friday and Saturday for a bunch of great bands to support an important cause. All proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood. Get your Friday tickets ($10), Saturday tickets ($20) or weekend passes ($25).

Many of the bands playing this weekend are bands we have covered in one way or another over the years at Change the Rotation. What follows is a roundup of that coverage with links to go read the full interviews and reviews.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society

The World/Inferno Friendship Society plays on Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

Jack Terricloth with his suitcase

Danny (of Don't Panic Records and Distro) and I interviewed lead singer Jack Terricloth over Skype in July 2016, ahead of their show at Chop Shop. Here is an excerpt:

Phil: So I have to ask, I know you guys always dress up really nicely on tour and everything, which is great, and it’s fun when the fans dress up too, does that present any challenges touring, like, packing up the van with your suits and everything, is it a lot to lug around?

Jack: Would you like to see my suitcase? This is going to be a written interview, not a video, but I think you’ll enjoy this. Gentlemen, this is my suitcase. It’s ancient, I think it’s from 1930, it’s broken already, it’s held together with a bungie cord because it’s ancient, and now, dig this, it’s an actual “suit-case,” things actually hang in here. And I never load the van, so the rest of the band hates my guts.

Phil: You’ve got it figured out.

Jack: Now dig this, the suits actually hang, and if you go like this, they come out. However, yes, the rest of the band hates my guts. Oh I’m sorry, did we chase Alex out of here, that’s too bad. Yeah, we stink all the time like other punk bands, we just have more things that stink, so really, I guess we actually stink more. We occasionally have to stop for dry cleaning, but, are you guys musicians, have you ever toured?

Danny: Yeah, a little bit.

Jack: So you know, there’s never any time to stop for anything.

Danny: I have two very smelly T-shirts.

Jack: Yeah, well I have four very smelly suits. And there’s eight of us, nine of us, I can’t even keep track, so eight very smelly people in a lot more clothes than you guys wear.

Phil: Are we talking one van, two vans, eight or nine people, that could fit in one van, actually…

Jack: Sometimes we tour with two vans, but we somehow decided we wanted to make money, so now we’re all packed in one van. There was a point where we had two vans, and I was like, this is totally cool, but now it’s all of us packed shoulder to shoulder.

Read the full interview here.

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Where to start with The World/Inferno Friendship Society

Phil Collins - October 2, 2017

The True Story of the Bridgewater Astral League album cover     Live at North Six album cover     Red Eyed Soul album cover     This Packed Funeral album cover

Sometimes you hear about a band and say "Hey, I should check them out." Sometimes you remember to go check them out. Sometimes you remember to add them to a mental list of bands to check out. Sometimes you forget what music is and what planet you are on. In fact, sometimes you wake up realizing that 20 years and half a dozen albums have gone by and you're still watching the clouds pass. It has happened to the best of us. So, without any judgment today I will tell you where I think you should start with The World/Inferno Friendship Society if you are late to the party. You can catch the Brooklyn-based cabaret punks at All Hands On Deck on October 14 at Cobra Lounge. See the full lineup and links to get your tickets here. All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Read an interview we did last year with ringleader/vocalist Jack Terricloth here.

Start with Hallowmas Live at Northsix

I wouldn't often recommend beginning with a band's live album but hear me out. This is not just an introduction to World/Inferno's music but their whole vibe. Recorded at their annual Hallowmas show (their "Super Bowl" as Jack says on the album), Hallowmas Live at Northsix is as much a mission statement for the band as a glimpse at their live show. You'll hear the witty banter, song introductions and social commentary that mark World/Inferno shows; you'll hear some of the deep cuts that are only likely to come out at Hallowmas ("Pumpkin Time," "One For the Witches") and you'll hear a lot of the hits (perennial opener "Tattoos Fade" and many of the songs from Just the Best Party.) The album was recorded while Franz Nicolay was a member of the band. If Wikipedia is to be believed in these matters, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady was working A&R for DCN records at the time and arranged for World/Inferno to record the live album. Nicolay began recording with The Hold Steady shortly after this.

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Random Records with Steve O

Wasted Potential - Living Up to the Name

Steve O - September 14, 2017

Living Up to the Name album cover

Back in 2014 Wasted Potential released their self-titled EP. It was awesome. It was arguably the best twelve and a half minutes of music in 2014. But Phil wouldn’t let it on the bracket because it’s an EP, and you know, rules and stuff. Whatever, I still made sure to tell you how awesome it was (you can read that review here if you so please). After a couple years, another EP, a pair of splits, and some other random recordings, we now get their debut full length, the cheekily titled, Living Up to the Name. (Wasted Potential. Get it?) Rejoice! It’s time to celebrate, as Living Up to the Name gives us…, uh, almost 19 minutes of music. Well, they’re calling it a full-length, so it’s bracket worthy now.

And Living Up to the Name fucking rips. “Crusades” opens the record up with a bang, has a heavier feel than some of Wasted Potential’s other material, and has a fun woah section as things slow down, before a little bit of shred time. Since their debut EP Wasted Potential has learned that you don’t have to blaze through everything all the time—indeed, none of these songs go under the minute mark. The more mid-paced “Never Asked” totally has a sing-along vibe, and is pretty damn catchy. “East Enders” and especially “Turbo 90s” also hum along at a slower pace. They give the record the chance to breathe, and the transition from the blazers to these more relaxed numbers feels totally natural. None of these songs are longer than three minutes though, so this definitely isn’t going to be mistaken for a drone record. “Jazz Age” feels like one of the most spastic pieces in their catalog, while “Palm Mutes” maintains the breakneck pace from that debut EP. After a slow, heavy riffed build up, “Curt Murder Face Rip” absolutely, uh, rips. Some of these rapid-fire tracks feel heavier than their earlier material, like they’ve figured out the appropriate amount of crunch to put into these songs. Or they’re letting that metal influence creep in a little more. Danny Kidd’s vocals sound harsher and more aggressive here too, spitting a little more hot sauce on their pentagram pizzas. Closer “Weekend at Bernice’s” is one of the catchiest songs they’ve written. In the space of 19 minutes, we get spastic, heavy, and catchy as hell. In short, spinning Living Up to the Name is one of the best ways you can spend 19 minutes. Bravo dudes, looking forward to you getting down to the States one of these days.

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All Time Awesome Record: Andrew Jackson Jihad - People That Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World

Phil Collins - September 11, 2017

We all have records that mean a lot to us individually, records that forever changed the course of our own personal music-listening experiences. There are those records, and then there is a small subset of those records which three people can sit down and agree upon, without reservation, that these records fall into this Earth-shattering category. This category is the All Time Awesome Record. In the spirit of Decibel magazine's Hall of Fame feature, Change the Rotation occasionally spotlights one record that isn't just good, isn't just a record that one of us thinks is important, but is a record we can all agree had a huge impact on us personally and on the music scene at large.

Andrew Jackson Jihad's People That Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World is the second record we have honored with this distinction. We named Against Me!'s Reinventing Axl Rose an All Time Awesome Record in 2015. We don't take these things lightly, so we don't do them terribly often. We wanted to get this one done in time to coincide with the album's 10th anniversary. AJJ play an early and late anniversary show at Subterranean tonight, both with Ogikubo Station. AJJ will play the record in full, as an acoustic two-piece, which is the way they toured for a long time before going full band electric. We talked about this transition at length back in 2014. However you feel about new school AJJ, I think we can all agree it is pretty awesome that they are celebrating this All Time Awesome Record with an acoustic tour.

All Time Awesome Record

Talking about the record today we have regular contributor Steve O. Check out Random Records With Steve O, where he reviews new records, old records and whatever strikes his fancy. We also have Danny Brawlins on hand from Don't Panic Records & Distro. Don't Panic put out an excellent 7-inch from local punks Fitness recently, as well as Holy Shit, the new Davey Dynamite record. Look for some exciting stuff from them later this year! We here at Change the Rotation are working together with Don't Panic and Friskie Morris & Friends to put on All Hands on Deck, a micro music festival at Cobra Lounge on October 13 and 14. The World/Inferno Friendship Society, Davey Dynamite & The Salt Creek Duo, Fitness, The Bigger Empty, The Cell Phones and more are playing the fest. Both days are all ages and all proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. See the full lineup and links to get your tickets here. Without further ado, let's talk about People That Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World.

Why does this record deserve to be an All Time Awesome Record (ATAR)?

Steve O: Along with Ghost Mice, Andrew Jackson Jihad are probably one of the most influential and important folk punk bands for a ton of people. And while Candy Cigarettes & Cap Guns was technically their first record, it’s the epically titled (and Vonnegut inspired) People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World that is most widely known. I remember seeing so many people cover songs from this record, which is a great sign of how universal an impact it had. If there were bands doing the ‘sad songs sung happily’ before, none of them did it as well as Andrew Jackson Jihad.

Danny: This album, along with Reinventing Axl Rose, which we reviewed last time, is another perfect example of folk punk. It’s a weird genre and sometimes it’s hard to explain to people. So when you have genre-defining albums like People Who Can Eat People, it makes it a little easier to talk about.

Phil: I’m really interested in what this record ultimately says about people. It is so dark in places but finishes on an incredibly positive note. This record also harkens back to the acoustic era of this band, a time I think we all have some nostalgia for, even those of us who are into their more recent full band material. Yet, there are so many instruments fleshing out People Who Can Eat People. I think we all agree that this is the band’s best work and a cornerstone of the folk punk genre.

Steve O: That People Who Can Eat People… turns 10 this year and every song on here I still consider incredible just proves how timeless these songs are. “No more racism / no more discrimination / no more fat dumb fucks keeping people out of our nation” from “No More Tears” is just as relevant now, if not more so, than it was 10 years ago. Which is a good segue to say that Sean Bonnette is a fantastic lyricist. Unbelievably creative, every song is packed with memorable lines and brilliant metaphors, revolving around topics such as dealing with anxiety and being kind to humanity. The alliterations at the beginning of “A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit” is unmatched; I can’t recall ever hearing anything else like that.

Phil: This album harnesses the power of concise, powerful lyricism. It’s short on time but deep on meaning. Each song paints a picture and you might notice something different about it each time you take it in.

Danny: This is also an exemplary lo-fi and folk album. I think when you write an album that can be considered a classic in multiple genres ten years later, it deserves to be an All Time Awesome Record!

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Announcing All Hands On Deck, a micro music festival benefitting Planned Parenthood of Illinois

Featuring World/Inferno, Davey Dynamite, Bombflower, The Cell Phones and more

Phil Collins - August 28, 2017

All Hands On Deck

I am thrilled to announce All Hands On Deck, a micro music festival taking place at Cobra Lounge on October 13 and 14. All proceeds from the shows will go to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Change the Rotation is working together with our good friends at Don't Panic Records & Distro and the Friskie Morris Sessions podcast to put on this festival. It is important to all of us to have our punk community's diversity represented in our lineup. Each year we will make a conscious effort to book bands with members of all races, genders and orientations. Each year, proceeds will be donated to a non-profit organization. Our aim is to encourage positive change from the ground up by bringing people together to support our community. Keeping that in mind, we also want everyone to be able to attend, so both shows are all ages. Here is the Facebook event page. Without further ado, here is this year's lineup:

Friday, October 13th (doors at 6, show at 7)

Davey Dynamite and the Salt Creek Duo (Punk/Folk Punk) Bandcamp

Fitness (Rock N Roll/Punk Rock) Bandcamp

The Breathing Light (Romantic Punk/Hardcore) Bandcamp

Won't Stay Dead (Rock N Roll/Horror Punk) Bandcamp

+1 TBA

Saturday, October 14th (doors at 2, show at 3)

The World/Inferno Friendship Society (Wild Punk Rock Cabaret) Bandcamp

Bombflower (Skacore) Bandcamp

The Bigger Empty (Rock/Indie) Bandcamp

The Cell Phones (Girl Pop Grindcore) Bandcamp

The Kreutzer Sonata (Chicago Hardcore) Bandcamp

+3 TBA

Tickets are available now! All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Both shows are all ages.

10/13 - $10

10/14 - $20

Weekend Pass - $25

Interview with Celia C. Pérez, author of The First Rule of Punk

Phil Collins - August 16, 2017

The First Rule of Punk

Chicago librarian Celia C. Pérez releases her first book, The First Rule of Punk, August 22 on Viking Books for Young Readers. The story follows middle school student Malú as she struggles to find herself in a new school. From afar, her father advises her to abide by the first rule of punk: be yourself. Malú finds joy in punk music, zines and skateboarding. Zine pages are included in the book as part of the story. Being a Chicago librarian with a dedicated space to talk about punk, I wanted to ask the author a few questions and chat about the punk librarian life. We talked through email about getting published, punk as part of one's identity, zine collecting, and more.

Women & Children First Bookstore in Andersonville hosts the book launch party for The First Rule of Punk on August 24 at 7:30 p.m. More information on that here.

Phil Collins: First off I want to say congratulations on the book. When did you start writing it and about how long did it take to get to the final product?

Celia C. Pérez:Thank you! I started writing a version of this character's story around 2012. At that time the protagonist, Malú, was a little bit younger than she is in the final book. I scrapped that and decided to rewrite her a little bit older. But it wasn't until late summer 2014 that I settled on the character as a twelve-year-old and wrote what became The First Rule of Punk. I signed with my literary agent in the summer of 2015, and the book sold to Viking last summer. In between summer 2014 and May 2017 there was a lot of revision and editing happening. So, in all, it took about three years from when I began writing this specific story to its publication date of August 2017.

PC: Were you working at your current library throughout the writing process? Was it hard to find time to write while having a day job?

CCP: Yes, I work full time as a librarian. I'm fortunate that I work at an institution where librarians are faculty. We have the same nine-month schedule as other faculty which leaves me with summers off, as well as student breaks like spring break and winter break. A lot of work got done during those breaks. It was still tough to write and work full time, especially once my manuscript was acquired and I was working with deadlines. A lot of work was done in the evenings after my son had gone to bed, especially zine work because unlike a manuscript that I can carry around and work on whenever I have a free moment, zine making for me requires space to spread out and a bunch of supplies all over the place.

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In Rotation: The Decayed - The Decayed EP

Phil Collins - August 7, 2017

The Decayed

The eponymous debut EP from Chicago hardcore band The Decayed is a fiery introduction. Everyone involved here is or has been in other punk/hardcore bands (Last False Hope, Failed Resistance, Break the Silence, Vile Display of Humanity) and it shows. This is a tight six song set that manages to cover more ground than its running time might suggest. We start off with the most straightforward, shortest song. People will quickly learn to sing back the title "Beaten and Battered". Lead vocalist Jahshie P, also of Last False Hope and Failed Resistance, delivers on point shouts throughout. The guitar riffage and shout along portions make this a good opener. "The Dream is Dead" plays out similarly until a little less than halfway through when we get a bass-driven interlude, hinting at some of the variety to come.

"Not This Time" really breaks the mold with a full out excursion into thrash metal crossover territory. Things continue to change up with crusty vocals from guitarist Jake Younberg on the EP's final two tracks. The Decayed EP does as well in its slower sections as in the more prevalent punched up parts. Overall this is a solid debut and I'm looking forward to hearing what's next for the band. Get out there and see them play live because they put on a fun show. Stream The Decayed EP after the jump.

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In Rotation: Blystex - Nasty Licks

Phil Collins - July 25, 2017

Nasty Licks

Blystex offer shouty vocals with Spanish lyrics over fuzzy guitar riffs on their new EP Nasty Licks. The Chicago band run through six songs in concise fashion. This release is to the point in length and from what I can tell as someone who doesn't speak much Spanish, it seems to be to the point lyrically as well. "Peligroso" opens up the EP with the refrain "No me toques," or "Don't touch me." I like hearing lyrics in other languages because it does put forward a different sound than what we are used to hearing with so many bands singing in English. Other languages have different sentence structures and different ways of pronouncing letters, so there is an inherently distinct sound versus what you would get with English lyrics. It is also important to have bands singing in Spanish right now given the political rhetoric being thrown around on a constant basis these days.

I recently talked about this EP, along with many other recent local punk releases, on an Album Review Roundtable episode of the Friskie Morris Sessions podcast. Adam Kreutzer of The Kreutzer Sonata and Nic Campa of Oscar Bait and Otto Mann were also guests on the episode. Listen to that here. I mentioned during the Blystex segment that this band would be perfect to see in a basement doing a 20 minute set, to which Adam reminded me that we had seen them do just that earlier in the summer. The old memory just isn't what it used to be. In any case, check out this EP. Foreign Legion Records did a limited cassette run for Nasty Licks, which is already sold out.

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In Rotation: Voice Of Addiction - The Lost Art of Empathy

Phil Collins - July 12, 2017

The Lost Art of Empathy

Chicago punk rockers Voice Of Addiction will release their second full-length album this Sunday. This band's name is always out there on show bills, local and on tour. According to their Soundcloud page, the band has done 1,200 shows in the U.S. and Canada during the last decade plus. So their first full-length record release since 2011 is an occassion to be marked (they have put out an EP and two live releases in the intervening years).

The Lost Art of Empathy is a solid set of 12 new songs. The band's sound bears some resemblance to Propagandhi, in terms of the gruff vocals, political lyrics, and quick guitar work. "Rustbelt" kicks the album off with a good idea of what the listener will get from the album - gripping punk jams with plenty of changes in them. "Unity" opens with the cathartic scream "I'm not your fucking pawn." "Corporate Pariah" features a surprise ska beat in the verses. "Eviction Notice" offers gruff vocal delivery and pointed lyrics laced with effective guitar. "Are We Even Human Anymore?" closes the album with acoustic storytelling.

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Random Records with Steve O

Whelmed - Whelmed

Steve O - July 6, 2017


Bloomington is famous for folk punk, thanks to the Ghost Mice/Plan It X history. But with Plan It X calling it quits, it’s about time to recognize some of the other fantastic new music coming out of here. Whelmed’s debut, self-titled EP is a good starting point. Though, to be honest, this isn’t exactly “new” in a sense; 2/3 of Whelmed also play in CTR faves High Dive. But Whelmed is full of 2-3 minute fun, catchy pop punk songs. Nothing groundbreaking, but here are four solid songs that remind you why you listen to this music and why punk is so important.

“Empty Vessel” is a great opening track—simple with a super catchy chorus. It’s the kind of self-reflective punk song that we all need to sing along to when we’re having a rough day or a reminder that we’re all in this together. And goddamn, that chorus just begs you to sing along at the top of your lungs. “Slow Jam” is perfectly named as it is exactly that; a chill, slow-tempo reflective song featuring the brilliant line of “Shut your shit-storm of a mouth / Some silence helps you think.” The last minute picks up the pace, with the hopeful refrain of “Maybe we'll do better next time,” really adding to the reflective nature of the song. “Leech” closes the record out with the shortest song here with another self-reflective pop punk song, reminding us that it’s okay to ask for help when we need it. These are songs that are super easy to connect with; they’re all of the ‘we’re all in this together’ mindset of pop punk. It’s awesome and it’s supportive and it’s uplifting in its own way, especially when you’re afraid to read the news every day (dear god I don’t want to know what Trump did today).

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Liner Notes: Chicago Versus Amsterdam

Phil Collins - July 3, 2017

Chicago cover    Amsterdam cover    Chicago record label    Amsterdam record label

Welcome to the fifth edition of Liner Notes, a feature in which I will talk about the production design, packaging, and process of buying a particular record. I am building a collection of vinyl. The look and feel of the record is important to me, otherwise I would be satisfied to have all my music solely in a digital format. People do not buy records because it is convenient. They take up a lot of space, they are fragile and they get dusty. Record collectors do not mind these drawbacks so much because of what we get in return: big artwork, full liner notes and the tangibility of vinyl.

Chicago Versus Amsterdam is a four way split between two bands from each city. Interestingly enough, this was put out by a record label in Van Nuys, California - Hopeless Records. They certainly picked their Chicago bands well - 88 Fingers Louie continue to be revered here and have a new album coming out this year. The Bollweevils have been popping up on shows a lot more lately. If you see them live, you won't forget it. This split came out in 1996, right in the primetime for both bands' recorded output. Most of both bands' discographies came out in the mid to late nineties. Their Dutch comrades Funeral Oration and NRA both seem to have folded, the former in the late nineties, the latter a little more recently although it is not clear when. They are fitting matches sonically for fans of the two stateside punk bands. The 7-inch includes one previously unreleased track from each band.

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In Rotation: SHOTS FIRED SHOTS FIRED - Calles Sangriento

Phil Collins - June 22, 2017

Calles Sangriento

The debut EP from Chicago hardcore band SHOTS FIRED SHOTS FIRED grapples with the tensions of the reality that we live in today in 2017. They start right off on Trump with the opening track "El Emparador Es Naranja," deriding his lack of respect for women and his constant self-aggrandizement. Lyrics switch between Spanish and English often on this release, in this case translating the song's title: "El emparador es naranja/The emperor is orange." Title track "Calles Sangriento" discusses the everyday violence that continues to grip Chicago. On "Be More Like Sean (RIP Sean McKeough,)" vocalist Paulie Think tells the story of the Riot Fest co-founder helping him get off heroin.

These seven songs gallop along, only pausing for sound clips from the orange one and the news. SHOTS FIRED SHOTS FIRED should not be missed live. I caught their first show at Quenchers earlier this year and they tore it up. You wouldn't guess it from the music, but vocalist Paulie Think just put out a hip-hop album called Dunny's Tamales. Check that out at the No Trend Records bandcamp page. Stream Calles Sangriento after the jump.

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In Rotation: Fitness - Puppet Show

Phil Collins - June 8, 2017

Puppet Show

Chicago punks Fitness use dual lead guitars and crusty vocal hooks effectively on their new 7-inch, Puppet Show. They can channel the amped up party sound of FIDLAR, the soaring guitar leads of a bygone era and a crusty vocal delivery all in the same song. Basically, most of Puppet Show sounds like it would be well-accompanied by Old Style cans spraying all over the place. You will probably get some of the guitar hooks stuck in your head before you learn the words, most likely the guitar lead at the beginning of "Sin Bad." Whatever else stands out about this release, it fittingly begins and ends with those blasting guitar licks.

This is the second release from Fitness, following 2015's self-titled cassette. Puppet Show is out on vinyl via our brother organization, Don't Panic Records & Distro. It's out on a run of 300 copies with 100 on violet vinyl and 200 on black. Pick it up at the Don't Panic bandcamp page.

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Random Records with Steve O

Torturess - Kiss the Whip

Steve O - June 5, 2017

Kiss the Whip

Finding out you work with someone who listens to the same music as you is awesome, especially when it comes to punk or metal. I mean, basically everyone listens to the Beatles, and these days it’s probably easy for people who listen to, let’s say Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, to find each other within their working environment. But it is so much cooler when it’s something like, “you know Propagandhi?! Hell yeah!” It’s like that Slayer fan, you know. But maybe a little more subtle, like being a part of a secret group. You know about bands/records that are classics, which no one else in the office has ever heard of before.

And that’s how Torturess’ Kiss the Whip came to my attention. I work with bassist/vocalist James, guitarist of hardcore/noise punks Racebannon, who brought a bag of goodies to work one day. As opposed to the spastic hardcore of Racebannon, Torturess is a fuzzed out, sludgy, straight-up rollicking doom band, in the vein of 16, High on Fire, or that Georgia scene that brought out bands like Black Tusk or Kylesa. But with an extra emphasis on the low end. Because while all of those bands have some guitar work, and some pretty damn good stuff, Torturess eschews that classic instrument of rock and roll for another bass. That’s right, Kiss the Whip brings a wallop with a double bass attack. But you don’t miss the guitar; the basses hold down the rhythm and bring some pretty good leads as well, as in opener “Ravenous.” They basically use the bass in the way that most bands would use a guitar, so the songs have that deep, dark sound, without having to tune a guitar way the hell down to B or drop D or whatever.

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In Rotation: Headspins - Burn That Bridge

Phil Collins - May 31, 2017

Burn That Bridge

Headspins' second full-length album is full of punchy vocals, hooks and harmonies. Highlights "KGB" and "What Is Wrong With You" capitalize on Ramones-influenced staccato shouts. They embrace a 80s punk sound, which goes well with a song like opener "KGB," which calls back to cold war times. Headspins get a lot of mileage out of traded male/female vocals and alternating quick and slow deliveries. They also have a palpable sense of humor. When "What Is Wrong With You" sounds like it has wound to a close, the band continues with a slow jam of the chorus followed by a last full-speed run-through. "Love Yourself," maybe the catchiest song on the album, has that 80s X-influenced sound. "I Told You So" is a fast punk banger that would surely be great live.

Burn That Bridge is the first release from Chicago's Headspins since 2013's Spinster. Catch Headspins at the Mutiny this Saturday with The Stay Alives, Deal Breakers and Evil Engine. More information on that show here. Stream Burn That Bridge after the jump.

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Recap: Hinds at the Empty Bottle

Phil Collins - May 27, 2017


Hinds at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night

Hinds, a four-piece garage pop group from Madrid, came through town, playing a packed show at the Empty Bottle Thursday night. By all appearances, Hinds have always come off to me as four friends who decided to kick around some tunes together and wound up touring the world before anyone knew what had happened. The band has one catchy, critically acclaimed album: 2016's Leave Me Alone. There is always more to the "overnight" success story and indeed, Hinds has existed in some form since 2011. They blew up last year with Leave Me Alone and its opening song "Garden." Their reach was apparent Thursday night. If memory serves, the last time Hinds came through Chicago, they played Thalia Hall in Pilsen. So when they played the Empty Bottle as part of the Red Bull Sound Select series, a venue roughly 10 times smaller than Thalia Hall, it was packed from front to back. The show sold out and there were plenty of hopeful RSVP-ers lined up outside the venue after the start of the show.

The band - Carlotta Cosials, Ana García Perrote, Ade Martín and Amber Grimbergen - appear just as energetic and loose on stage as they sound on the recordings. Hinds' set naturally drew heavily from their sole album, but they did break out a couple new songs. They are recording a new album that should come out later this year. The band warned the audience that one of the new songs had just been written in the studio a couple weeks earlier and had not been properly rehearsed. The crowd soaked in the new songs with vigor.

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Interview with Jahshie P of MoonRunners Music Festival

Phil Collins - April 17, 2017

                 MoonRunners Music Festival 5

MoonRunners Music Festival brings together country, roots and punk for the fifth year running, May 5-6 at Reggies. This year's lineup includes country and roots mainstays Shooter Jennings, Scott H. Biram, Pearls Mahone, Jesse Dayton, The Hooten Hallers and punk bands Escape From the Zoo, Evil Empire, Still Alive, Won't Stay Dead and more. I talked with Jahshie P, founder of the festival, recently on Skype. He also plays in the local punk bands Last False Hope and The Decayed, both of which play this year's fest. We talked about the origins of the fest, MoonRunner's fifth year and how roots/country fans respond to punk and hardcore.

Phil Collins: Congrats on year five of MoonRunners Music Fest.

Jahshie P: Thank you.

PC: Yeah, absolutely. How, can you just take us through how this whole thing got started and have you been at Reggies all five years?

JP: Yeah, it’s been at Reggies all five years. It actually started, me and my friend Shooter Jennings had a website called It was a news website, reviews, show reviews, just random posts, stuff like that. That ended up going under, it got hacked by somebody, something went wrong and the site crashed. I started a music festival right around that same year so I decided to take the name from the website and move it along to the festival so there’s still the MoonRunners name going on.

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In Rotation: Death of Self/Bad Timing - Bomb the Burbs

Phil Collins - April 4, 2017

Bad Timing Death of Self split

Two Chicago area punk bands match up on the Bomb the Burbs split. The release features two new songs from Death of Self and Bad Timing, along with each band covering one of the other band's songs. Death of Self kicks it off with fast hardcore tracks laced with furious guitar solos. The vocals on Death of Self's songs here remind me of the singer from the Worcester, Massachusetts folk punk collective Speaker for the Dead. Their voices have something in common, but here that sound runs over guitar driven hardcore instead of brassy folk punk.

Bad Timing's opening track, "Rant," is exactly what it sounds like. The song is a tirade against the system, starting over deliberate, funky bass and careening off into hardcore punches before swinging back to the slower pace. "Kill Your TV" occupies the ska punk territory that is more typical of Bad Timing songs. These songs fit well together with Death of Self's half of the split to make this well worth listening to for fans of ska, punk and hardcore.

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In Rotation: So Pretty - Suck it Up

Phil Collins - March 24, 2017

Suck it Up

The first track off So Pretty's new album features many of the characteristics that make Suck it Up such a fun, surprising release. Dual vocals that lie in stark contrast to each other from Rachel Manter and Ashley Holman, a straight-faced commitment to every joke and a grunge punk backing that will reverberate in your mind for a while after listening. An ostensibly rich person callously orders around staff on "Comfort Service" in a mocking way that could only be pulled off with that firm commitment and timing. The slow, melodic vocals and ukulele that immediately follow this on the opening of "Think Again" then sound just as surprising when listened to in sequence. It doesn't take long for a scream and distorted guitar to cut in. These playful changes in tone and texture make the album vibrant throughout.

"Blueberry Blues" and "Manhandler" offer more straightforward shouted punk blasts, the latter landing on a telling off of a lame dude who won't shut up. Everyone in the band adds vocals somewhere on the album, building on the variety already present with two lead vocalists.

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Random Records with Steve O

Mobina Galore - Feeling Disconnected

Steve O - March 16, 2017

Feeling Disconnected

Time’s a weird thing. Like how I can cross an imaginary line and all of the sudden, it’s 2 o’clock instead of 3? Or how we just “spring ahead” an hour which has me getting home at 4 in the morning instead of 3. What the hell? Sometimes though, time works out so absolutely perfectly.

It was a Friday when I was talking to Joe Vickers of Audio/Rocketry and he mentioned he was going on a European tour to open for Mobina Galore. The name was familiar, because I remember seeing that they were opening for Against Me! in Palatine. Unfortunately, that show practically down the street from my parents’ house sold out before I could get tickets. The next Monday at work, I check out Mobina Galore’s new record, Feeling Disconnected. Then I spent a good portion of the week listening to both that record, and their 2014 full length debut, Cities Away, unable to shake the impression that they were totally fucking awesome. That weekend I was going to be back in Illinois, and, coincidentally Mobina Galore were playing in Milwaukee on Saturday. In the span of less than a week, I discovered an awesome new band and got to see them live. Making all of this even more perfectly coincidental is that they’re from Winnipeg. What are the odds? Now that’s good timing!

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Don't Panic Records Interview with John Olivier of Ghost Bath

Danny Brawlins - March 8, 2017

Ghost Bath

After releasing their critically acclaimed second album, Moonlover, Ghost Bath has been nothing but busy. In 2016 alone, the band signed with Nuclear Blast, started touring, and recorded a new album. 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for the band as well. Just last week they released “Thrones,” the first single from their upcoming album, Starmourner, which the band will be touring on in the coming months. I managed to track down guitarist, John Olivier, for a brief email interview ahead of their DeKalb show at the House Café this Friday because 1) we love the House Café and 2) Moonlover came in third place on Don’t Panic Records & Distro’s list of top ten Black Metal albums of 2015.

How has touring been? What do you like most about it, what do you like least? Any towns stand out as your favorites so far?

This tour has been incredible so far. We all just really enjoy being on the road, away from the normal "comforts" of life at home. Some of the drives on this run have been pretty long, but all in all this tour has been nothing but good things. It’s hard to pick a favorite city, every place is so different, but I think my favorite venue so far was in Madison, WI.

Have you developed any tour rituals over the past few months? I for one like to find a good dive bar and record store in every city I visit.

We all typically do our own thing, but me personally, I like to drink some whiskey and smoke weed before we play. Not a copious amount by any means, just enough to clear my mind.

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Random Records with Steve O

Crusades - This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End

Steve O - March 6, 2017

This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End

The third Crusades full length is a little different beast from the ones that preceded it. While previous releases had strong trappings of satanic, atheistic, and anti-deistic imagery, they’ve brought a slightly different vibe on This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End. It is, however, just as dark and foreboding as everything the Ottawa quartet has done up to now. The record revolves around the death of loved ones, a trend we’ve been seeing more of lately (recent releases by Touché Amore and After the Fall come to mind). It’s a topic that is a lot easier to find a relationship with, than say, the life and death of Giordano Bruno, the man who was burned at the stake for vocally and publicly supporting Copernicus’ heliocentric theory and the subject of 2013’s fantastic Perhaps You Deliver this Judgment with Greater Fear than I Receive It.

But it’s not just a lyrical shift that makes This is a Sickness… stand out. There’s a metal influence found in all of Crusades’ music. Previously that’s been rooted in the Mercyful Fate/In Solitude realm, sans the falsetto, but it had that upbeat pace and satanic imagery. There’s some of that here, see opener “1590 (Sickness Never Ceasing),” or “1866 (Porch and Portal),” but you get the feeling they’ve been listening to stuff like Neurosis, post-metal, and maybe a little funeral doom slightly more than the King (Diamond, not Elvis…come on) when composing these songs. “1828 (Father of Waves)” and “1940 (Whirr and Chime)” are both slower paced ballad-eqsue haunts, clocking in over five minutes, while the latter and “1846 (Once Drinking Deep)” feature some haunting keyboards and strings, while songs like “1713 (The Scorching Fevers),” and majestic closer “1657 (Black Curtains Draw)” blend both worlds.

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In Rotation: Dead Split Egos - Ecdysis

Phil Collins - March 3, 2017


The new EP from Chicago's Dead Split Egos is comprised of eight songs of heavy, dark punk. They take advantage of mid-song tempo changes, more often going from faster to slower and only getting heavier as the pace decreases. Throw in an effective use of multiple vocalists and the band has something that really stands out. "Guilt" has quickly become one of my top songs of the new year so far, due to its tag team vocals on the repeated last lines of the song as the tempo slows down. A different vocalist tackles these lines one after the other as the song spirals to a finish: "Hungry for publicity, reputation, and fraud/Bolstering corruption dodging exposure for who you are/I don't subscribe to your bullshit/So please stop acting like you're not a fucking hypocrite." It's a moment that grabs attention on the first listen and only gets better when you get to know it.

Opening track "Dead Skin" kicks off on a deliberate pace, then slows things down further a couple minutes in, while simultaneously getting crunchier and heavier. A minute later a second vocalist comes in to sing along with the screamed lyrics. This kind of variety paired with strong lyrics decrying the patriarchy and the status quo make Ecdysis a must listen.

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Random Records with Steve O

Petrol Girls - Talk of Violence

Steve O - February 25, 2017

Talk of Violence

So here’s a record that probably should’ve ended up on our end of the year bracket. It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m sitting on the couch in my parents' living room. We’re meeting up to vote on the bracket later that day, so I should be finalizing my list. Instead, I randomly remember this band that I’d been hearing about were supposed to have a record coming out that I wanted to listen to. And so, I play Petrol Girls’ “Restless,” with its bombastic opening line of, “I’ll give you motherfuckers restless.” There’s no turning back now. I’m listening to the whole record in the living room. Sorry, Mom. Bad timing?

Petrol Girls’ Talk of Violence is largely a full-frontal, blazing hardcore attack, with enough melodic noodling and breaks in the pace to make that post- prefix feel appropriate (still don’t get why/how that’s a thing). Lyrically, it’s basically all radical gender politics and feminism. No matter how deep your head is in the ground, you can’t miss it. And it’s fucking awesome. Album opener “False Peace” proudly proclaims that: “We will disturb the false peace / Expose the violence that they / Teach in the way that they designate gender / Code our expression and sexual behavior / We're not a binary.” Along with the aforementioned “Restless” and the explosive “Touch Me Again,” these three songs not only bring the hammer down musically, they are blatant in their feminism. “Touch Me Again" is particularly brilliant. A line like “My liberty my body as the base of my autonomy,” just seems like such a definitive statement. And listen to the end of the song where all the music drops out, the intensity and emotion are simply harrowing. “Treading Water” has all sorts of fun dynamics, with some clean vocals. “Deflate” also has a similar vibe, while “Fang” has more of a rock and roll vibe at times.

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In Rotation: Black Bear Rodeo - Bunk

Phil Collins - February 20, 2017


The three songs on local garage/grunge band Black Bear Rodeo's new EP have enough hooks to latch onto memory after one listen. Of course you're not going to remember all the words after a single stream, but you might be able to recall the shouted "Hey, you better get away" on "Girl X" or the taunting "Here piggy piggy piggy piggy piggy" on "Piggy Piggy." That shouted line on opener "Girl X," undercut by some woos, has the ring of a big summer jam. A searing guitar solo seems like it will ride the song out until it drops for one more chorus. "California" and "Piggy Piggy" bring keys into the equation for some more breadth.

Bunk was recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio and Barrett Guzaldo at Treehouse Records. It is Black Bear Rodeo's second release, following their debut album Garble. Fans of Archie Powell & The Exports or even the Black Keys should find plenty to enjoy here.

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New track roundup: Dead Split Egos, Welfare Beer League, IM Cunj, The Tossers

Phil Collins - February 13, 2017


There are a handful of new local punk tracks to talk about so let's get right into it. Dead Split Egos have two songs up from their upcoming release, Ecdysis. "Guilt" and "Solace" are streaming on Bandcamp now. Dead Split Egos play dark hardcore in the vein of Refused. "Guilt" features tag team split vocals from members of the band and Rob Tomasek of local hardcore/metal band LUCA. "Solace" is a quicker track that can be summed up with the line "self acceptance is not self love." I saw Dead Split Egos play at the Other Side Tattoo shop on Saturday night and they put on a memorable show. Definitely check them out live if you get a chance and look for the release of Ecdysis this Friday. Dead Split Egos play a release show on March 4 at Royal Skate & Apparel in Lansing with LUCA, Grieve, Backbone, Ghost of a Dead Hummingbird, As We Once Were and Will Apgar. More information on that show here. Stream "Guilt" and "Solace" after the jump.

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Interview with Christina Michelle of Gouge Away

Phil Collins - February 6, 2017

Gouge Away

Florida hardcore punk band Gouge Away was the surprise winner of Change the Rotation's 2016 best albums of the year bracket. , Dies is their debut album and admittedly, we don't know a whole lot about them aside from the fact that we all held that record in high esteem last year. If at the beginning of 2016 you looked at what albums on the horizon would probably do pretty well on our end of the year bracket, surely you would think of the Falcon, Against Me! and PEARS. Well, Gouge Away took down all those bands on their way to the championship. Now that the dust has settled, we thought it would be a good idea to see if we could find out a little bit more about this band and their future plans. Lead vocalist Christina Michelle talked with me via email to fill us in on what is happening in the world of Gouge Away. If you haven't heard , Dies yet, stream it at the end of the interview. You can also read Steve O's original review of the album here.

Phil Collins: I remember when we first announced the 32 records on our best albums of the year bracket a month or two ago, you commented that you didn't really understand what that meant. Now you've won the whole thing. Do you get it?

Christina Michelle: Yes it makes more sense now.

PC: Did you get hooked on any albums in 2016?

CM: Yea! 2016 was the year for music. There were a lot of awesome releases but the ones that stuck for me are Lemonade by Beyonce, Stage Four by Touché Amoré, Peach by Culture Abuse, and I'm lucky that A Seat at the Table by Solange snuck in there last minute.

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In Rotation: Assassination Squad - Busted

Phil Collins - January 29, 2017


Assassination Squad packs an impressive amount of variety onto a six song EP - rockabilly on "Evil Eye," surf on "Busted" and gruff orgcore on "Welcome To Atlanta." The strong vocal melody over rollicking lead guitar on "Ass Cherry" reminds me of something I can't quite put my finger on. While Assasination Squad tackles various styles of punk on this EP, they have their own distinct approach. This band started in Seoul, South Korea but has been local to Chicago since 2015. This is the last set of songs from the band's Seoul lineup, according to the release's bandcamp description.

The title track closes this EP out with a surfy guitar led instrumental. This is a surprising, fun end to the EP, especially the (SPOILER ALERT) saxophone solo in the second half of the song. It's the kind of thing that smacks you on the side of the head if you haven't been paying attention.

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Don’t Panic Records & Distro’s Top 10 Black Metal Albums of 2016

Danny Brawlins and Steve O - January 23, 2017

Black metal is an interesting genre. On one hand, it gets a rep for being extremely traditional, for having to stick to established parameters. The trve kvlt doctrine if you will, where if it deviates in any way, then it ceases to be black metal. On the other hand, the one we clearly favor, black metal is potentially the most variable metal genre out there. You can take some basic elements, such as the blast beats, the tremolo picking, or the raspy, shrieked vocals, and apply them just about anywhere. It’s like your ear bones. If you’re like me, you’re a human and those bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes) form a part of your ear. But if you’re a bird or reptile, those bones are a part of your jaw. If you’re a fish, you’re looking at an element of your gills. Too abstract? Maybe, but since a bunch of these records don’t sound like each other, yet we can still categorize them alike, maybe there’s something to it. Regardless, there’s a bunch of records here that cover the whole spectrum that we call black metal. Dig in and enjoy.

10) Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom [Prosthetic]

The responses to this new era of Skeletonwitch have been divided, as The Apothic Gloom marks the debut of new vocalist Adam Clemans, whom you may (should) know as the vocalist of Wolvhammer. Clemans brings a different feel, but honestly, these four songs bring a bit of a different feel, and this should be taken as a whole package, not just a judgement on the new vocalist, as many that have been wont to do. So what do these nearly 21 minutes bring us? A Skeletonwitch on a more epic and grandeur scale – album opener “The Apothic Gloom” would stand as the longest Skeletonwitch song if it weren’t for the epic closer “Red Death, White Light.” Ending with the grand chant, “ignite / the flame / born anew,” which combined with the escalating sense of urgency in the music and the perfect delivery by Clemans (which they also pull off live to an incredible effect), reinforces the idea. This is a new era of Skeletonwitch, darker and grimier, and they’ve gone charging into it masterfully. Can’t wait for the follow up. -SteveO)))

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Albums to look forward to in 2017

Phil Collins - January 13, 2017

We are mostly done looking back at all the great music that came out in 2016. You can see our best albums of the year bracket here, my list of the best EPs and other releases of the year here and guest best of the year lists from Nick Cvijovic, Adam Kreutzer, Connor McNerney and Ian Tomele. Now it is time to look to the year ahead. Here are some albums on the horizon to get excited about.

Nervous Passenger debut album

Local punks Nervous Passenger announced their first full-length will come out in 2017. They have released a handful of EPs and splits during the last six years or so. Last year's split with the Normal Years made it onto my list of the year's best EPs and other releases. I'm definitely looking forward to a full album from these guys. Nervous Passenger plays at Quenchers on January 21 with Archie Powell & The Exports, Boss Fight, Snort, TurboVamps, Otto Man and Eradicator. Stream their acoustic EP, released a few weeks ago, after the jump.

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Change the Rotation's Best Albums of 2016 Bracket

Phil Collins - January 2, 2017

Here we are with the fourth and possibly most dramatic installment of Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. Every year we choose our 32 favorite albums and throw them into a March Madness style bracket to determine our site's album of the year. Steve O, Dave Anians and I were joined by Danny Brawlins to make this a four-person bracket committee for the first time. This meant matchups could result in a tie, and a fair number of them did. Thus the extra drama. We had an iron-clad tie-breaking procedure in place. We all individually assigned points to each album (32 points for our favorite, 1 for our least favorite.) In the event of a tie, the four scores for each album were summed up to determine the winner. This couldn't possibly still produce a tie. Could it? Read on and you will see just how close that came to happening at the bracket's decisive moment.

region 1

The bracket started off with a heated matchup between PUP, who are on the rise in a big way right now, and punk stalwarts the Descendents. This one went to a tie and PUP came out ahead, to the utter shock of half the bracket committee. PUP went on to the quarterfinals, where they lost in a tiebreaker to the winner of region one, Against Me! Bombflower v. Iggy Pop and NOFX v. Against Me! also needed tiebreaking votes in this region.

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