Sandra/Inferno's October 2017 recap

Danny Brawlins - November 22, 2017

Sandra/Inferno

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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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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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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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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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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Guest Lists: The Best of 2016

Ian Tomele

Phil Collins - January 1, 2017

We have one more guest best of 2016 list before we reveal the results of Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. That, in all likelihood, will happen tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled! Today we have a best of 2016 list from Ian Tomele, vocalist and bassist for Voice Of Addiction and main man at Wrecking Ball Productions. Voice Of Addiction has a full-length in the works for 2017. Stream five tracks they recorded live in Canada this year here. Ian's list follows (this list originally appeared on Rock in Chicago).

I was asked once again to list my favorite local and non-local releases of 2016. In no particular order here ya go:

LOCAL:
*Sass Dragons - True Adventure
*Boilerman - Feel Ways About Stuff
*Brick Assassin - Bite the Hand That Feeds
*Squared Off - Call of the Road
*Beat the Smart Kids - Broke Again
*Top Shelf Lickers - Heartbreak City
*The Mizzerables - As I Am
*The Kreutzer Sonata - Fight Songs
*Butchered - Whatever, I Guess...
*Ribbonhead - Racing to the Bottom
*Welfare Beer League - Day Off!

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2016

Connor McNerney

Phil Collins - December 31, 2016

We continue the countdown to the release of our best of 2016 bracket with another guest list. This one comes from Connor McNerney, guitarist for Seasonal Men's Wear and mastermind behind IM Cunj. Stream Seasonal Men's Wear's 9xTOx5xCORE EP here. Stream IM Cunj's latest song, "Sickmas," here. Connor's best of 2016 list follows (this list originally appeared on Facebook.)

         Connor's best of 2016

It's only the beginning of December, and I am probably not even fit to be judging music (nor any sort of art in general), but this is what I enjoyed musically from this year of our lord, 2016. The first list is just an 11 Top Pop, followed by my Top 22 Local Albums & EPs. Neither list is in any kind of ranking, because, well, who am I to have priorities? A lot of good stuff, I encourage you to check out the links provided for the local list. Cheers!

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2016

Adam Kreutzer

Phil Collins - December 30, 2016

Our best of the year posts continue today with another guest list. This one comes from Adam Kreutzer, vocalist of local hardcore punk band The Kreutzer Sonata. Their latest release is a 7-inch split with Boston's The Union Boys. Stream it here. I selected The Kreutzer Sonata's Fight Songs 7-inch as one of my favorite EPs/other releases of 2016. Read about that and stream it here. Here is Adam's best of 2016 list:

1. Shitizen- S/T Cassette
https://shitizen.bandcamp.com/album/shitizen
-Feral sounding Chicago hardcore punk with an attitude and a message. Best played at loud volumes while wasted. Pick up the cassette and catch one of their notorious live sets.

2. The DUI'S- Nightcap (SBS Records)
https://theduis.bandcamp.com/album/nightcap
-Milwaukee's drunkest street punks are also some of the tightest musicians out there. Anthemic songs to start a bar fight to. Melodic and powerful, and great dudes too!

3. On the Cinder- The Fight Against Ourselves (Between the Days Records)
https://onthecinder.bandcamp.com/album/the-fight-against-ourselves
-New full length from Buffalo, NY road dogs. Socially/politically conscious without any pretension and FAST AS FUCK! Pick up this LP. Guaranteed they will be in Chicago again soon, so catch them live!

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2016

Nick Cvijovic

Phil Collins - December 29, 2016

We here at Change the Rotation recently voted on our favorite albums of 2016 in a suspenseful, drama-filled battle of the fittest. Soon we will reveal the results of our annual best albums of the year bracket. First, we have some guest year end lists from people involved in the local music scene. Today, take in a best of the year list from Nick Cvijovic, vocalist and guitarist for Chicago punk/ska band Butchered. Listen to their latest EP, Whatever, I Guess..., here. Butchered plays at Brauerhouse in Lombard on Friday with Johnny Automatic, The Mizzerables and 80 Proof Preacher. More information on that show here. Here is Nick's list of the top music and what not of 2016.

Top Punk Albums:
1. PUP The Dream is Over
2. White Lung Paradise
3. Arms Aloft What a Time to be Barely Alive

Top Metal/Hardcore Albums:
1. Oathbreaker Rheia
2. The Dillinger Escape Plan Dissociation
3. G.L.O.S.S. Trans Day of Revenge

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Oh My Snare! tour dispatch

Jorel of Oh My Snare! - August 29, 2016

[Our friends in Oh My Snare! are currently on a West Coast tour through September 1st . We asked them to keep a tour journal so we can all find out what these French Canadians are up to as they traverse the wild, wild west. They enthusiastically obliged. Keep checking in for more stories as they circle around out west. If you live on that side of the country, go see them and tell them how great they are. Tour dates are more info here: facebook.com/ohmysnare. – Steve O]

Day 1 - Best Friends!!!

“What do you mean, you lost my luggage?” said Dan between two farts. As Canadians, flatulences are one of our preferred ways to deal with frustration, along with apologies and maple syrup binge drinking. Oh, after such a long flight, Dan could easily have lost his temper and yelled at the baggage claim guy, or sarcastically praised the stupendous efficiency of the airline he works for; but then again, that wouldn’t have been very Canadian of him, so he simply farted in disapproval, and Seb and I echoed his rear whisper to show our support. I tried to go for the seventh harmony, to which the attendant’s eyes immediately betrayed a blend of disgust and fascination. And off we went. Better things were waiting for us at the Denver terminal. Friends.

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CTR picks our top 22 PIX releases from 22 years of Plan-It-X Records

Steve O - July 20, 2016

Earlier this year the news broke that, after twenty-two years, Plan-It-X Records was calling it a day. Label co-founder Chris Clavin sites the difficulties in running a physical label in these digital times and the financial struggles involved, while also stating that “Plan-it-X is no longer needed.” Now I’m sure that last claim could be debated, but what is unanimous is that it is indeed a sad fact that Plan-It-X is throwing in the towel. Over those twenty-two years, Plan-It-X released over a hundred great records, played a large role in introducing folk punk to the world, had its own festival that raised money for charity, and perhaps most importantly, served as a communal network and aid to innumerable punks and bands. And so here, in the twenty-second and last year of Plan-It-X, and about a month before Plan-It-X Fest (as of this writing), we gather to recollect on those twenty-two years. Much like the passing of Gordie Howe brought beautiful recollections and tales of his hockey prowess and high character; we have chosen here to celebrate the achievements of Plan-It-X Records instead of mourning its retirement. We collectively determined our twenty-two favorite Plan-It-X releases, in honor of twenty-two years of the label, using a pretty legit and mathematical process. In what follows below, we tell you why these twenty-two records stand out and why Plan-It-X Records means so much to us. We all have fond memories of these bands; discovering them, telling our friends about them, seeing them play live. It’s purely speculative fiction to say this still would have happened without Plan-It-X. The fact is that Plan-It-X had a knack for being involved with sincere musicians, who were dedicated to the DIY ethic and made music with a positive and important message. So without further ado (and any more inane rambling), here it is. Change the Rotation’s twenty-two favorite releases, from twenty-two years of Plan-It-X Records!

Here, Not There

22) Heathers – Here, Not There
PIX071
2008

I can’t help but say that this one seems perfect to me. The pace and intensity is amazing. Even when things are soft, even when things are slow, it is impossible to not be swept into the rhythms and intensity of everything happening. On top of that, we have amazing rhythm guitar work. On top of that, we have the part that most people notice right away: Duo vocals! And beautiful/catchy melodies! And harmonies! And wise/relatable lyricism! Heathers represents so much of what folk music can be while not shying away from the pop elements that keep their songs in your head. Also: What else sounds like this!? God damn!! How is this only two people and one guitar?? — Dave Anians

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Don’t Panic, It’s a Distro’s Top 10 Black Metal Albums of the Year 2015

Danny Brawlins and Steve O - January 14, 2016

Usually when we do anything with Don’t Panic, It’s a Distro, we like to focus on underground DIY punk bands, mostly from the Chicago area (what up DeKalb?). However, there’s a few other genres out there that we are really fucking crazy about that we never cover. One of those genres is black metal. It’s raw, emotional, lo-fi, underground and largely DIY; most of the things we love about punk… that and we couldn’t agree on a 2015 klezmer or avant-garde jazz best of list. These albums were handpicked by both Steve O))) and myself in a very precise, quasi-logical manner. If you feel someone got robbed, or think we missed a good album, or if you just wanna talk black metal find us on Facebook or drop us a line at itsadistro@gmail.com.

10) (tie) Striborg – This Suffocating Existence

I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard much of what Striborg has been putting out as of recently which is why I was a little surprised when I first heard This Suffocating Existence. Instead of the harsh terrifying noise and pained shrieks I expect from a Striborg album, there are melodies and song structures. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fucking harsh and terrifying album but it kinda strikes me as Striborg’s version of a pop album. Take that as you will. I don’t know about you but I love this album. If you’re new to Striborg, I’d recommend Foreboding Silence over this. If you’re new to black metal, I’d recommend a different band altogether. – Danny (Razed Soul Productions)

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Change the Rotation's Best Albums of 2015 Bracket

Phil Collins - January 6, 2016

For the third year running, we here at Change the Rotation have pitted our 32 favorite albums of the year against each other in a bracket. The agony, the ecstasy. We love all these albums. There are many albums we loved that did not make the cut. Steve O, Dave Anians and I all submitted our nominations for the best albums of 2015. We then narrowed the field down to 32 full-length albums. Those albums were drawn randomly into the bracket. The three of us voted on each matchup until we came up with a champion, to be named Change the Rotation's album of the year.

Bracket region 1

Full Communism by Downtown Boys defeated Mischief Brew's This Is Not For Children to take region 1. Screaming Females put out a great album this year but fell in the first round Don Giovanni matchup with Downtown Boys. Tel Aviv's Not On Tour got a vote but couldn't overcome Mischief Brew.

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Guest lists: The Best of 2015

Jason Jerde

Phil Collins - January 4, 2016

Today's guest year-end list comes from Jason Jerde of Manglor Records and Lester and The Finks. Here is his list of 10 records you should buy:

1) Black Panties - Future 7” (Windian) - Black Panties had three 7”s released this year. This one on Windian, another on Lumpy Records and one on Total Punk. They are all fucking must haves, but I think the Windian release takes the lead by a hair. Look for a Black Panties 7” on Manglor Records in 2015.

2) C.C.T.V. - 7” (Lumpy Records) - This record is absolutely amazing. It features members of The Coneheads (Also on this list), but with female vocals. If you like Suburban Lawns and Devo, you will love this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

3) Golden Pelicans - Oldest Ride, Longest Line 12” (Total Punk) - Golden Pelicans made the list, big surprise there. These guys unleash the most bad ass shit. Their second 12” record came this year on Total Punk and is not one to pass up. More importantly, if you get a chance to see them live, GO. Doesn’t get much better.

4) Cal and the Calories - Bastard in a Yellow Suit 7” (Total Punk) - Snotty as fuck. Lumpy’s (and the Dumpers) alter ego. Title track will be stuck in your head for days.

5) Gino and the Goons - Push Your Luck 7” (Pelican Pow Wow) Gino also came out with a 7” on Black Gladiator this year. I guess really it’s a toss up, so snatch them both up.

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2015

Sean Rafferty, Henry Brawlins, Jake Joyce

Phil Collins - January 1, 2016

Today we have another set of guests sharing their picks for the best of 2015. This time we hear from Sean Rafferty, Henry Brawlins and Jake Joyce.

Sean Rafferty

Sean is the guitarist and vocalist for The Cheap Dates and handles vocals, guitar and bass for Firing Squad. Here are Sean's picks from 2015:

Favorite Friend Jams of 2015, Y’all

Initially, when I started thinking about my favorite releases of 2015, new records by bands like Radioactivity, Vexx, Canadian Rifle, Blank Pages, and Royal Headache, among others, came to mind. Killer stuff. However, I felt like I didn’t have anything new to say about these releases that hadn’t already been said in MRR, Razorcake, or any other solid fanzine being cranked out by a menagerie of unkempt weirdos. So, instead, I decided to make a list of my favorite releases by friends’ bands. However, this isn’t just masturbatory, vacuous glad-handing. Yes, knowing the people who created this music probably endears it to the ol’ earholes that much more, but I have a genuine, abiding affection for these recordings and these songs. It seemed like every few weeks this year friends of mine were releasing something that blew my dick off. It’s hard to have your dick blown off that many times and not find it remarkable enough to surrender to myopia and give these recordings their due. So, in no particular order, here’s a list of some of my favorite friend jams of 2015.

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Guest Lists: The Best of 2015

Plus Sign, Danny Brawlins

Phil Collins - December 30, 2015

We will soon reveal Change the Rotation's best of 2015 bracket selections. First, we have some guest best of the year lists from people involved in the local music scene. Today, feast your eyes on picks from Plus Sign and Danny Brawlins.

Plus Sign

+ has released 17 albums and puts on fun, unique live performances. Check out + at tenderdiscovery.com. Catch + live with Calvin Johnson and the films of Molly Hewitt on January 23 at Pinky Swear in Humboldt Park. Read Plus Sign's best of 2015 list after the jump.

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All Time Awesome Record: Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose

Steve O - December 1, 2015

Show of hands, how many of you have ever read the metal magazine, Decibel? Oh, right, this is the internet. Anyways, they do this great thing called the Hall of Fame, which essentially tells the whole story of a classic metal record, from writing to recording to touring and what-have you. It’s one of my favorite parts of each issue, whether I agree with the record of choice or not. And it’s such an interesting topic to think about too. Is this a classic record, worthy of a Hall of Fame designation, or just pretty damn good?

Since I started contributing to Change the Rotation, I thought it would be fun to try something like Decibel’s Hall of Fame. Obviously, we can’t do the same thing. For one, they talk with everyone who played on the record, and a little blog like this doesn’t have the clout to do something like that. After much pondering the issue, I thought of something we could do: We can talk about some of our favorite records. Not just records one of us likes, or that we think are pretty good, or that we’ve been listening to a lot lately, but records that have stood the test of time and have had a meaningful impact on each of us. An All Time Awesome Record.

All Time Awesome Record

After more deliberation about how to do this and worthy records for induction, I am proud to introduce the new, hopefully somewhat regular, feature to Change the Rotation. A record that is at least five years old and has received unanimous support for induction from all three of us. A record that has had some meaningful, lasting impact on us. A record that is so good we recruited a friend to talk about it with us. A record that is so good it deserves the title: All Time Awesome Record.

Our first test subject, I mean guest, is our good friend Danny Brawlins. He’s the founder of Don’t Panic, It’s A Distro, an organization we work closely with. He’s the one who brings you all sorts of awesome shows and records in a shoebox. He’s also a Cheap Date. As in, a member of the band the Cheap Dates. You can, and should, check them out here: facebook.com/thecheapdateschicago / thecheapdates.bandcamp.com. And if you don’t already, keep up with everything Don’t Panic, It’s A Distro does over here: facebook.com/dontpanicdistro.

Just about a year ago we named Against Me!’s newest record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, as the best record of 2014. We all loved it, and it defeated some great records in its march to glory. It’s another tally mark on their great career, chock-full of great songs that join a catalog of great songs stretching back 15-plus years. And so with our initial All Time Awesome Record, we take a look at Against Me!’s seminal, 2002, full length debut, Reinventing Axl Rose.

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Change the Rotation's best albums of 2014 bracket

Phil Collins - January 4, 2015

Another year has come to a close and it has been another great year for music. Change the Rotation's three writers (Dave Anians, Steve O and myself) spent the month of December narrowing our favorite albums of the year down to the 32 that competed in this bracket. Those 32 choices were drawn randomly into the bracket. We then spent the better part of four hours hashing out our emotions about each record. Some of these matchups were a 3-0 sweep, while others were grueling 2-1 ordeals. Ultimately I think the right album prevailed, although that final vote was not unanimous. One note: nominations for the bracket were restricted to full-length albums. Check here for some other releases Dave found worthy of checking out this year, here for Steve O's championing of Wasted Potetial's EP as one of his favorite releases of the year and here for some of my top EPs and 7-inches of 2014. Without further delay, Change the Rotation's selections for the best albums of 2014:

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Staff picks: CTR writers choose our 17 favorite albums

Phil Collins - October 12, 2014

How can a lifetime filled with music at every opportunity be boiled down to just 17 top albums? It was not easy, but targeting a number forces the writer to cut it off somewhere. Why 17? 17 is not really any more random than a nice round number like 10 or 20. For this list, I chose the albums that had a big influence on me that I still listen to today. In no particular order, here are my 17 picks:

1. Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb (2003)

Ska is not typically known for its complexity. Streetlight Manifesto's debut album embraces the energy of third wave ska while lacing it with sophistication in the music and lyrics. I played this album into the ground during 2007, to the point that I couldn't listen to it for a while after that. Now I can listen to it without it becoming a full on relapse. Everything Goes Numb remains my favorite album by one of my favorite bands.

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Staff picks: CTR writers choose our 17 favorite albums

Steve O - October 10, 2014

So I believe that this is something that’s been going around on Facebook. Not being very Facebook active, it made no sense for me to post this list on there. It made perfect sense, however, for it to be a special feature for Change the Rotation. Instead of just having a list of favorite records (which honestly probably changes every day), this is a combination list of favorites and some of the most influential records. Also, what’s up with limiting this to 17? Anyways, the list:

1) AFI – The Art of Drowning (2000)

The Art of Drowning

So back when I was first getting into punk in 7th grade, it was 3 “A” bands: AFI, Alkaline Trio, and Anti-Flag. AFI are the representative of that era to make it onto this list. I love the way they mix a hardcore vibe into these melodic songs, all marked by Davey Havok’s distinctive voice. There’s a dark overtone to the whole record, but it’s still insanely catchy. 13 years after hearing it for the first time I still know every word.

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Staff picks: CTR writers choose our 17 favorite albums

Dave Anians - October 8, 2014

So for my list, I tried my best to stay away from bands with more than one competing album in my mind. This means I left out some of my favorite bands, which was pretty fun to try. It’s also in autobiographical order, in case that kind of thing is cool to you. These mean a bunch to me, so thanks for reading what I think about ‘em!

Also, this list deserves a shout out to Ryan and Corey B, who got me into punk rock in the first place. Whether or not that’s a good thing is still to be decided.

1. The Clash- The Clash

I think this is the first CD I ever bought. The Clash is my favorite band, and while I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I used to, they will probably remain in that spot indefinitely. The self-titled is their first album, and while it’s hard to say I love it more than some of their others, I can’t deny (“Deny!!”) the way that the attitude and hooks of this album molded my pre-teen brain.

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Tales of a Riot Fest Dropout

D. Brawlins of Don't Panic, It's a Distro - September 27, 2014

I’d like to say I didn’t go to Riot Fest this year for some profound reason like my concerns over the gentrification of Humboldt Park, or because corporate sponsored events don’t belong in punk rock or that I didn’t go because it’s been a threat to the DIY community in years past. Although these are all pretty big concerns of mine, I was really just too underwhelmed with the line up to justify shelling out the cash. Instead, I decided to see what else Chicago had to offer.

Friday night, I did not see NOFX, Offspring or Slayer; I went to someone’s basement… although I’m not sure if anyone actually lived there… and saw the vegan power violence band, Punch. First off, I asked the wrong punk for the address and ended up in Little Village, leaving me to walk a mile in the rain to the right house. When I arrived, there was a dude in a studded denim vest smoking a cigarette on the stoop; I gave him a nod and he motioned for me to come in. I went down to the dark and musky basement, looked around and noticed people were drinking, “cool,” I thought to myself. I went back out in the rain and picked up a six pack, tall boys of course. Got back to the show to catch the openers which was a similar experience to being repeatedly hit in the head with a brick, only with more positive results. The opener that really stood out to me was a poppy hardcore band called The Wrong, who had a fierce trans front woman with the loudest and most beautiful scream I ever heard. She was very aggressive and brought a ridiculous amount of energy to the crowd.

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Point/Counterpoint on Andrew Jackson Jihad as a full band

Phil Collins and Steve O - July 28, 2014

Steve O and I have both seen Andrew Jackson Jihad several times during the last handful of years. During this span of time, the band has transformed from a two person acoustic live show to a full band electric live show. Their recorded music, in turn, has followed a trajectory moving away from pure folk punk and toward indie rock territory. In this point/counterpoint, I detail the merits of this change and Steve O discusses the reasons why AJJ is better as a two-man enterprise.

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Change the Rotation's 2013 albums of the year bracket beatdown

Phil Collins - January 12, 2014

During the last month of 2013 and the first couple weeks of 2014, the Change the Rotation staff put our heads together to come up with our favorite albums of 2013. Steve O, Dave Anians and I each submitted our top picks. We narrowed that list down to 32 and bracketized it to see who would come out on top in a March Madness style throwdown. OK, the real inspiration for this came from that episode of "How I Met Your Mother" when Barney puts the names of all the women he has wronged into a bracket to figure out who is sabotaging him. We drew the 32 albums completely at random, resulting in some painful first round matchups. Some albums may have made it farther than they did with a different draw, while others benefitted and made it farther than they otherwise would have. In any case, I think we ended up with a winner that would have been hard to beat however the matchups came out.

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