MONKEYKNUCkLER was to NFH as Spock was to his evil, bearded doppelganger in that one Star Trek episode.

When this self described “flower duo” weren’t writing thrash songs, Benji and Rob were peering into the inviting glow of Cool Edit 96, gleaming through a CRT monitor at Rob’s parent’s house; feverishly handcrafting beats to accompany a flurry of ring-modded synthesizer and the occasional, misplaced guitar melody.

From here you see the birth of their solo projects Pink Panzer, Kitty Kadoogal, and Bornpilot. What these two could do with antiquated, single-track recording software and some junk samples they found around the internet was truly awe inspiring. In fact, they inspired me to pursue Welcome Wizard (or Welcome Fetus, as it was known at the time).

The majority of the songs were constructed by cutting and pasting together WAV files before passing them through whatever rudimentary effects Cool Edit offered. It was painstaking, sometimes terrible, but always impressive.

Rob was an excellent noise musician. I have frequently found myself turning off his albums mid way due to some emotional reaction generated by the sound. The emotion was usually fear, induced either through a wall of Merzbow-esque speaker destruction, or by a lonely, minimalist repetition of foreign sounds that went on so long my mind began to wander a plane of a far away planet, alone in the cold darkness.

In contrast, Benji always had pop sensibility and brought a bit of IDM to the table. The beats were usually constructed in a drum machine and (seriously) deconstructed by hand, producing an almost humorous rhythm to what I always interpreted as a malicious intent to harm. The seamless conjunction of these two distinct approaches have always kept MONKEYKNUCkLER near to my heart, and the shoulder where I have tattooed the cover of their first album.

To sum it up, I don’t feel safe listening to MONKEYKNUCkLER.

This anthology was never officially released. The first three songs were released on cassette. The rest were recovered from some hard drive by Benji, years later. None of it is normalized so you might notice your ears bleeding after listening to it on headphones.

Nuclear Family Holocaust – NFH I + II

I met Rob and Benji of Nuclear Family Holocaust the North Penn VFW in Glenside, PA, 16 years ago. My friend Joe Marlin was going to a show that night and I thought I’d tag along. Turned out that I was younger than pretty much everyone and felt a bit out of place. I was in full punk regalia but none-the-less stuck out like a sore thumb.

Joe immediately disappeared and I was left all alone. I decided to sit down next to a lanky, dark haired guy sitting behind a merch table. He seemed nice as I walked up. I struck up a conversation with him and he turned out to be anything but. Though standoffish and initially rude, he continued to talk to me while the bands set up. We talked about a lot of strange things. Cars powered by bagpipes. Record players in cars instead of CD players. Come to think about it, we talked a lot about cars. He told me he had a Chevy Nova. I honestly didn’t know what it was.

Soon a moon-faced, full-browed, sideburned acquaintance of his came up and told him it was time to play. “Oh, you’re playing the show?” I said to him. He kind of scoffed at the question and promptly followed his friend.

Then they started. They were perfect. They were the first thrash band I had ever seen. They were screaming about robots and Sci-Fi novels. My mind was blown.

Thankfully I was able to unearth a beautiful time capsule to help you experience it all the way I did.


Note: I just realized/remembered that the tracks are all crazy on NFH II. When I have a minute I’ll edit these down from the WAVs.

Note 2: I have never had a complete copy of this album. Powerhouse was sent to me in 128kbps MP3. If anyone has a better copy, I’m all for ripping that one.

Fat History Month – I Finally Understand What People Mean When They Say “Drifting”

I met Sean and Mark of Fat History Month in 2007 (probably) at The New Hawaii in Southington, CT, home of Florida = Death. They had hauled ass down from Boston to play with us.

As soon as Sean set up his Twin Reverb and slapped the strings on his Kramer I was in love. I remember the first time I saw them I was floored, partially because of the crowd in the small living room, but mostly because they sounded nothing like anything I had ever heard before.

Mark played like a disinterested child. Sean acted like he was going to win something if he could just play that guitar a bit harder. There was something so intensely nonchalant about them. Like they weren’t even trying to play together, yet somehow they played perfectly in sync. Sean sang along with literally everyone in the room. It was glorious.

The disorganization and simultaneous intensity of it all really left an impression on me. Since that day every time we played The New Hawaii Fat History month would be there too. It was the perfect meeting place between Philadelphia and Boston. It became a kind of vacation home.

This was the beginning of the Ugh God / Fat History Month love affair which only ended after a 6 week national tour we went on together. Mark and Sean decided to part ways afterwards and Sean went on to “re-brand” as Bad History Month. Their relationship was becoming fairly unhealthy and the break was the right choice, even if it did mean we wouldn’t have the chance to play with them both again.

Though last I heard Mark has started recording with Sean again, which means that the universe is slowly starting to realign. I’d give almost anything to see them play together again.

I Finally Understand What People Mean When They Say “Drifting” isn’t my favorite Fat History Month album. This is because I have no favorite Fat History Month album. They are all my favorites. I’ve sung along to every song Sean has sung live. Each song reminds me of some great time I had with both of them. I’ve enjoyed every slop soaked show. Even the saddest show I’ve ever seen them play was perfect.

They’re perfect. Incredible perfection.

Sean is still going at it. Head on over to his bandcamp to buy whatever you might want. Everything is reasonably priced and he definitely deserves your delicious money.

Brandon Can’t Dance – Vol. 4

Though I’ll be uploading these in no particular order I’d like to start with Brandon. He was, after all, the catalyst for this project.

He’s on tour now with Alex G and getting quite a lot of press. He’s been talking a lot about Faux Fetus, which has gotten my gears grinding on this whole project.

Brandon Ayres has been a long time friend of mine. We got to know each other when our bands would play nearly every weekend at The Spazz House in Overbrook, PA, just off the Saint Joseph’s University campus.

He was in Rasputin’s Secret Police and I was in Chamomile, two two-piece bands that were similar in many ways. From our perspective, Mike and I always felt bested by those guys. They ended up driving us more than they probably realized.

When Josh Phillips was behind the drums you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. He would just showboat pretty much the entire set, which might have been a turnoff to some, but if you knew Josh you knew his performance was just an extension of his personality. Goofy. Goofed to the core. In contrast, Brandon seemed spooky and intimidating, with his damn-near-practice-amp cranked to 11, distorted beyond belief, looming over you with his hair in his eyes.

I would always say that they sounded how I always wanted Bush to sound. There was this superimposed 90’s grunge element to what they were doing, but deep down they were some demented pop band that couldn’t stop putting out records.

Anyway, this is about Brandon Can’t Dance. I’ll be honest. I don’t remember when Brandon gave me this CD. I remember listening to this CD once or twice before it made it’s way into The Crate. It reminded me a bit of Brian Reichert‘s music. A bit sing-songy with a dark, artificial drum driven beat – filthy with noise – heavy on the 80’s Joy Division vibe, but with a silly insincerity, while at the same time making sure you understood that the composition was solid.

It’s no wonder why he’s gaining popularity now. I’m happy to hear that he’s doing well.

Now, without further ado, feel free to listen to: Brandon Can’t Dance, Vol. 4:

If you’ve liked what you’ve heard here you can head on over to his bandcamp to hear more. Buy something to make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside!