Friday, June 7, 2019

Cirith Ungol, friendship and Northwest Terror Fest

Headbanging to Cirith Ungol at Northwest Terror Fest (Andy photo)

By Andy

One afternoon in the days of yore — 1985 — while browsing through the record racks at a predominantly heavy metal store in a Torrance, CA shopping center near Fuddruckers, my hands froze on a test pressing that read, Cirith Ungol.

I’d read Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” at nearby Bishop Montgomery High School and recalled the moniker of the mountain pass in that novel. I was intrigued. I didn’t know a lick about the band, but slapped it onto my stack, which also featured Metallica’s “Jump in the Fire” 12-inch and the Replacements’ “Sorry, Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash” album.

Whilst I continued shopping, a teen named Eric strolled up next to me and began asking me questions about my record finds and what bands I was into. He said I'd dig Cirith Ungol's power metal, was stoked on my Metallica pick but hadn't heard any Replacements. That's what spawned our tape-trading days: Since he was mainly a metal guy, he made me some tapes of his favorites; and with me more in the punk realm, he got an earful of my top bands.

We met at the shop on a weekly basis and soon I had an unreleased version of the Exodus "Bonded By Blood" LP and raucous tunes from Warfare, Hellhammer, Bathory, Loudness and others. His hands were full of tapes by Minor Threat, Stiff Little Fingers, Negative Approach, Toxic Reasons, Squirrel Bait and more.

With my Walkman in tow, I usually grabbed a fabulous burger at Fuddruckers and blasted myriad songs before heading home to further inspect these bands sans headphones and at full volume in my room.

We attended a few gigs as well, with the Venom/Slayer/Exodus extravaganza at the Hollywood Palladium as the biggie. This gig was not only raging, but it also resulted in me finding perhaps the most apropos item ever on the dance floor afterward: a metal pentagram. We were actually searching for Eric's glasses, which were knocked off while we watched the bands up front.

With no luck on the glasses front, we trudged back to the car past the Cathay de Grande and heard that Raw Power would soon be playing inside. The Italian band smoked through its 23-song set to a tiny crowd. It's a pity that Eric couldn't see the action, but I did my best to describe what was happening.

Flyer and pentagram! (TSHIT collection)
Raw Power setlist. (TSHIT collection)

Another rad show was 7 Seconds and Verbal Assault at Fenders Ballroom. The VA guitarist was on fire and I remember us leaving the show and praising his chops.

So where does this story take me to recent times?

Well, friends Ben and Diana rolled into town to stay with Cat and I in Seattle and, lo and behold, Cirith Ungol was headlining the Northwest Terror Fest at Neumos. Fucking brilliant!

Following sets by Spirit Adrift and Acid Witch, I planted myself near the front to take in the sounds of Cirith Ungol, my first time seeing them and it brought back memories of cranking those tunes all those years ago.

I lost touch with Eric long ago, but cheers for the tunes.

The Derelicts bash out new album, 'Life of Strife'

By Andy

Who let these guys back in the studio?

Apparently a 25-year moratorium is satisfactory, and along with producer Jack Endino, The Derelicts entered the Soundhouse in Seattle last year. They return to the punk-rock fray with a new 15-song platter, "Life of Strife," which hand-grenaded into stores today courtesy of Digital Warfare Records.

The album features five new songs and 10 Derelicts oldies to rip your face off. First-aid kits should be within arm's reach of all listeners.

When the band reunited to play the Highline in 2014, someone chucked an empty beer can on stage before the first chord rang out. Singer Duane Bodenheimer glanced at the Rainier tall-boy as it skipped by him and rattled against the bass drum. He smiled, shook his head and stared into the crowd before the band let loose.

"It was surreal, very surreal... awesome, though," Bodenheimer said of the set in a post-gig interview for this blog. "Just being on stage with those guys and we're all fucking still alive, cuz we've all been through a lot of hard stuff -- and we're still alive. I'm real grateful for that."

He added: "One of the first bands I ever saw was GBH, and I was like, 'I wanna be in a fucking band'... just started doing it. (There's) a lot of anger and hate, angst and childhood bullshit coming out. Most of my lyrics are just about real personal things."

Cat Rose photos from 2014 and 2018 of Duane Bodenheimer and Neil Rogers.

Guitarist Neil Rogers said he felt like he'd been waiting his whole life to return to the stage with The Derelicts at that Highline gig.

The axeman discussed the band's sound: "Basically, where we come from is real American old-school punk rock. A little bit of faster hardcore, but I like to play a blues-based, punk-rock guitar."

The band is rounded out by Jason Freeman on bass and backing vocals and Donny Paycheck on drums.

Here's a link to the release:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Lemonheads and Tommy Stinson bash out the rock in Seattle

Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Cat and Andy; photos by Cat

Slacker rock is alive and well.

Not much movement on stage this night, but the lyrics hit just as hard as they ever have once The Lemonheads and opener Tommy Stinson strapped on their guitars at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood on May 17.

We hadn't seen Evan Dando perform since The Lemonheads shared a stage with Soul Asylum at the Warfield in San Francisco in the early '90s. He was wearing a down jacket while playing that night, but only a hoodie this time 'round. The shoulder-length scraggly hair and hunched stance remain alongside his distinct vocals that meld the entire package together.

"My So-Called Life" popped into our heads and we kept scouring the room to see if Jordan Catalano was wedged within the crowd. Someone we met said that Juliana Hatfield's voice was missed on "Drug Buddy," so the MSCL connection was somewhat on target, since she appeared in one episode.

The crowd -- along with photographer Cat Rose -- was fully on board as they sang along to "Rudderless" and "Turnpike Down," along with copious other gems.

At one point, three middle-agers were seemingly reliving their college dorm-room days by pogoging in unison and smiling at each other during one of the songs. Count that as the guys' exercise for the day, they really worked it hard.

Hearing "Stove" brought Andy back to the day he purchased "Lovey" on cassette at Tower Records -- along with Goo Goo Dolls "Hold Me Up" -- in 1990 and was soon blasting those gems in his room.

As for Stinson, he belted out songs from his non-Replacements catalogue and was sarcasm supreme during and in between his tunes. At one point, he wondered why the fuck someone tossed a paper plate at him, and joked with Cat, asking her what she was doing while shooting a close-up of him during a song. It became part of the lyrics in a way and Stinson and people in the crowd enjoyed the moment. Our own Cat became part of the show. Later, he strolled over toward Cat and flashed her a goofy smile.



Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stiff Little Fingers set to fire up US tour for 40th anniversary of debut album

SLF's Jake Burns in Seattle a few years ago. (Andy photo)

By Andy

"Inflammable material, planted in my head...."

Come Oct. 1 through Nov. 6, 2019, Stiff Little Fingers' "Suspect Device" and heaps of the band's other raucous tunes will once again be blaring out of PAs in the United States. From Phoenix to Orlando, the Northern Ireland juggernaut will hit the road for 26 dates to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first album, "Inflammable Material."

"As part of a longer set, we shall be playing that record in its entirety (apart from "Closed Groove" which we don't like much!) ;-)" the band wrote on its Facebook page today.

As a bonus, the Avengers will join SLF for the entire tour.

To me, SLF is all about raw passion, emotion and solid songs that can both fuel your anger and leave you with a smile on your face. You will find yourself wanting to punch walls or even dance around the room. It's about being human. It's life.

For tickets, visit

SLF's Ali McMordie. (Andy photo)

The Avengers. (Andy photo)