Zum Anniversary Show with KIT, High Castle, Core of the Coalman, Dunes, and More
This beat-driven punk band - whose name was inspired by Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle" - came together in 2007. The plan was to be a pop band, but instead they churn out raw and rough stuff. All three members sing - or, more accurately, shout - together in a cacophonous harmony on top of scuzzy guitars and pounding drums.
The Oakland trio's EP, "You're on Your Own Way," was released by Zum records; Saturday's show is a 12th anniversary party for the label. The second-to-last track on the EP, "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" opens with confrontational drumming that melts into a sludgy rhythm topped with the band's three-way wails. The band's "Small Town Gay Bar" is a fuzzy mess of smashing tom-toms and fuzzed-up shrieks.
We're looking forward to High Castle's first full-length.
Lineup: Shaggy Denton, drums and vocals; Wilson Drozdowski, bass and vocals; Erin Allen, guitar and vocals.
Next gig: 7 p.m. Sat. $10. With Core of the Coalman, Kit, Dalton Bros, Huts, Mincemeat or Tenspeed and Dunes. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakland. (510) 444-7263, www.21grand.org.
- Michelle Broder Van Dyke, firstname.lastname@example.org
For: Black Eyes, Unwound, Early-Times New Viking
Byline: Like that Fleetwood Mac song.
Finally, the Tome is bringing some noise. While the Tome output has mostly centered around some pretty quiet, pretty pretty bands and musicians, with Crawf's last "Throne of Bone" post and the new High Castle EP, the Tome is about to be flooded with some long overdue ear canal destruction. Hailing from San Francisco, High Castle is a three-piece unit that has a sound equivalent to a giant shark destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in just one bite. High Castle play punk-rock in the way it was meant to be played, loud, short and with the energy of an ADHD 12 year old. Taking cues from a earlier-noisier Times New Viking, High Castles dual vocals are cloaked beneath a downright vicious wall of noise that does not leave an ounce of space for ponderous drum breakdowns or half time chord progressions. It is all go all the time. The drumming has the same kind of depth and in your face brutality that keep bands like Unwound and Lightning Bolt blowing young kids minds today. High Castle is punk rock stripped down to the bare essentials. The guitar provide a necessary underpinning of discordance and distortion while the true heroes of the band, the drum and the voice, go to town all over what used to be your nice new stereo. "Frentic", like Jimmy Stewart on crank is a take away point. Loud is another. But with all my talk about loud and frentic, High Castle makes it a point to wrap all of this within one killer pop hook after another. "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" gets my vote for song title of the year.
High Castle – Are Fixed Gear Tricksters The New Rollerbladers? [MP3]
For those interested in picking up You’re On Your Own Way, then just head on over to Zum to pick it up. Well worth it. Enjoy!
We surrender rapturously to the low frequency onslaught from High Castle, a vertebrae-injury friendly supergroup hailing from SF. ‘We Can’t Dance with Jesus’ has been pumped with so much fuzz that stepping inside its zone of nasty feels like being nailed to the front of a custom-made cholo dragster jacked by a bunch of cranked-up noise gremlins and deployed to ultimate effects in the busy arcades of a suburban shopping mall while Satan’s Cheerleaders do pirouettes on the sides. It’s kind of pop like that, you know.
Abe Vigoda, Lovvers, High Castle
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Bottom of the Hill
Better than: Sitting at home watching the Oscars.
Last night was a sleepy Sunday at Bottom of the Hill. Scrawny, hip kids shuffled around the venue, most of them looking like they were pushing 17 years of age. The vibe was very reminiscent of a house show, a laid back affair where these youngsters stood politely and stared attentively at the bands on stage, quietly bopping along to the fast-paced drum beats and snarling guitar riffs.
The first to take the stage was Oakland-based High Castle, a trio of screeching punks, wailings guitars, and pounding drums. (The girl on the skins could especially rage). There's been some hype surrounding High Castle, and it's safe to say the band lived up to it last night - cranking the volume, yelling over one another into the mics, and delivering some seriously noisy guitar shredding.
Lots of bands are out there giving the p-word a bad name, but High Castle's music preaches the chaotic faith with rabid devotion.
The boys smash their tom-toms and down-tuned strings into blunt, sludgy rhythms that sound like an Olympia-bred Mission of Burma, or a clumsier Sonic Youth. All three members sing -- well, shout -- in a cacophonous racket that's both abrasive and wry in the way Gang of Four was. "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters...?" opens with a punishing, pounding confrontation that bumps into a blown-out post-punk groove before stopping to slap you in the face. Trust us -- their grit will feel good after all that so-called Noise Pop.
at Bottom of the Hill 3/7
with Abe Vigoda and Lovvers
High Castle's debut EP is an exercise in brevity-- one side, seven songs, and 12 minutes worth of tribal, frantic post-punk. Keeping things short allows the California trio to pound away without risking tedium, more often than not leaving you wanting more. And despite the band's love of repetition, they pack a decent bit of variety into tiny spaces. "Filth" is literally crammed, with different lyrics howled by two overlapping vocalists, so the words actually take longer to read on paper than they do to sing. What exactly the group is singing about isn't clear, but it's something ugly-- dogs ruling the earth, trash piled to the sun, filth which "accumulates disease of squalor." The meaning may lie more in the sound than the sense, as the band's mash of Lightning Bolt speed, Boredoms dementia, and Black Eyes shout make it all seem like a pretty big emergency. Maybe that's why they're in such a hurry to get things over with, but "Filth"'s spilling energy also suggests High Castle have a lot more of these blasts in store.
MP3: High Castle: "Filth"
Full-forward agitpunk, circa the late ‘90s dream, is the agenda for San Francisco’s High Castle, a bright and spastic shove from behind into churning, machine-like, attenuated pummel. Drums pound on every beat, cemented in by buzzing blankets of guitar and bass, punctuated by defiant, sing-shouted vocals. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, it’s cool to hear a post-punk band giving this much thought to the whys, and not just the hows. Plus they ask the tough questions, like “Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?” The answer is YES. Sounds great on vinyl as well, short songs given the bolster of 45 RPMs. About 500 pressed, intricate two-color silkscreened sleeves wrap it all up. (http://www.zumonline.com)
I'm glad I finally got my mitts on the self-issued CD-R from San Francisco titans High Castle: I feel like I'm back in ear-bleeding country with the trio's Unwound-ishly, damaged style of noisy rock, nursing an insatiable appetite for more tinfoil-scorched guitar scuzz, blown-out low end, and full-tilt drum thwackage. As each song unloads, three howling voices punctuate the maelstrom. Try if you can to pass on this seven-song album after just one spin. If the punked-out oomph of "Soloman" and "No Mind" don't bite you hard in the ass, then the annihiutf8g whomp of "Small Town Gay Bar" will certainly dish out the finishing touches.
As surprising as it may sound, this shower of pandemonium comes from three individuals who had their hearts set on becoming a pop group when they first convened in the summer of 2007. I yapped it up with the threesome over bowls of fideo and garlicky steak fries in drummer-vocalist Shaggy Denton's SoMa apartment, while bassist-vocalist Wilson Drozdowski explained that High Castle aimed at becoming an actual band within the trio's large circle of noise-making friends.
"We were like, 'let's start a rock band,' because I felt I hadn't seen a drum-bass-guitar band with songs in a long time," he disclosed. "It seemed like it was either improv or noise, so we wanted to do the opposite of that to see what would happen."
"We actually wanted it to be a pop band," said guitarist-vocalist Erin Allen with a laugh.
"None of us knew how to write pop music, so what ended up coming out was the closest we could get to doing that," Drozdowski continued. "Even when we try to write something that we think is poppy, it's not poppy in the traditional sense. We always try and make the vocals very apparent by singing together."
"I guess that's the one pop element that surfaces," Allen added. "But it's not like the Mamas and the Papas."
Before HC, all three resided in Southern California, meeting through tours in bands such as Duchesses, Saviors, and Child Pornography. As Drozdowski, Denton, and Allen became jaded with the SoCal lifestyle, each separately trekked up to the Bay Area because, according to Denton, "the option was LA or here — and it was not going to be LA."
Reuniting in San Francisco with each member's respective group in limbo, the three formed HC, but not before putting the collaboration on hold because of an unfortunate encounter between Allen and a car.
"We had to take a break because this one got hit by a car," Denton joked, pointing to Allen. "He was supposed to come over to my house and have some fideo and play PlayStation. I was worried because I kept getting the answering machine, and then somebody from General Hospital calls me and is like, 'Um, do you know an Erin Allen? He told me to give you a message: he got hit by a car.'"
Aside from Allen's slight dinger, the combo has been very active during the past year and a half, playing in just about every performance space dotting the Bay Area underground music scene with the likes of K.I.T., Stripmall Seizures, and Death Sentence: Panda! HC is currently in the mixing stages of its 12-inch debut for the Zum imprint, and after embarking on its first national tour last summer, the group hopes to hit the road once again this year. Whatever avenue this threesome decides to explore in the future — be it noisesome or poppy — I know I'll be all ears.