Mass Media Distro
“For all of you who have read or heard about Circle One: Do not judge people on what you hear or read, See it with your own eyes and then you be the judge”
-from the liner notes of Patterns Of Force
Even in 1983 when Patterns of Force was released, it seems that Circle One knew of their peculiar reputation and that this record would be judged with prejudice. Twenty-seven years later, upon the re-release of this album it seems that not much has changed. Whereas the history of early hardcore punk in Southern California has been endlessly chronicled in books like We’ve Got the Neutron Bomb and films like American Hardcore, the history and music of Circle One has remained obscure. Many people from the era agree that the band has been overshadowed by the mythology surrounding lead singer John Macias. Macias’ imposing physical presence, gang involvement, militant Christian beliefs, and mental illness followed him to his early death and continue to shape opinions about Circle One, a band that is very much more than one man.
Circle One was formed in 1980 by guitarist Michael Vallejo in Pico Rivera , CA. Named after the pseudo-fictional cult/gang formed by Germs vocalist Darby Crash, the four young men in the original Circle One (Macias, Vallejo, bassist Mike Ituarte , and drummer Bill Ituarte ) started as a simple fast punk band and by 1983 after lineup changes, small tours, and lots of local shows had developed into the band you here on this record. The bands’ sound was formed mainly by Vallejo who , besides being an extremely talented player, developed a unique guitar sound with the speed of GBH mixed with the dark melodies of Dead Kennedys that looms over every song on this disc. By the time Patterns of Force was released the band had gained drummer Jody Hill and bassist Danny Dorman, and obviously honed their chops as the songs on this record spill seamlessly into one another.
The relentless pacing of Dorman’s drums set the level of intensity high, and Macias’ delivers his lyrics much like a manic sermon. The greed of huge corporations and politicians, the hopelessness of violence and drug addiction, and senselessness of war are are touched on with lyrical tirades spanning several paragraphs each. The production on this album lends to the seriousness of Circle One. Everything on this record reverberates, which makes the band sound larger than life and Macias’ vocals downright prophetic.
Circle One has been dismissed by many as boneheads, bigots, and musically simple but it is apparent there was much more going on judging from this LP. They waste no time with rock n roll theatrics nor do they have songs about skateboarding, hating their parents or getting wasted like so many of their contemporaries. Also, while every hardcore band on the block has something to say about the ills of society, Circle One was a band that had a solution: Jesus Christ. As strange as it sounds given punk and hardcore’s largely atheistic history (Circle One shared space on vinyl with Bad Religion on the Public Service compilation weird enough), Circle One posits a punk Christianity as a way to rebel against excess and the depression that consumes over many young people.
Perhaps this is why Circle One has been such a hard band to understand. They do not fit neatly into the history of punk. The legacy of Patterns of Force and Circle One has been based mainly on rumor and not the music itself. This is the bands only album conceived during Macias’ life. It is rumored that only 1000 of the LPs were pressed by Upstart records before the label went bankrupt. The band also essentially broke up in 1984 which couldn’t help the fact that many people haven’t heard this record. It surfaced, in a largely altered state in 1998, on the Discography CD on Grand Theft Audio titled “Are You Afraid?” . What we present to you here is the original mixes, remastered from the original tapes. The artwork, inserts and sound have not been changed so that maybe, 27 years later, people can judge Circle One and the album Patterns Of Force with their own eyes and ears. -Cameron Cisneros
Mass Media Podcasts
I've been working my butt off lately so I had to slack off the podcasts for a while - got a short term job testing products for a major distributor of custodial supplies. Especially enjoyed testing the industrial dish soaps. My dad used to use consumer dish detergent plus glycerin to make a solution that made HUGE bubbles if you used a large hoop as the bubble blower. The industrial version actually works even better (you still need the glycerin) and we had a blast at the testing facility making bubbles bigger than us! Of course we also had to test the products on greasy dishes and fryers, but the bubbles really made my day. I can tell you that the consumer versions are wimpy compared to the commercial products - we could make much more impressive bubbles with the stronger stuff. But I digress...
So I actually got a few days off work for the holidays and was able to compile a list and podcast (2 actually) of all the great records of the decade and the best of 2009. RIGHT CLICK LINKS BELOW and “SAVE AS” to download the pod cast mp3s. Hope you enjoy them as I always enjoy a cold day inside, spinning records and eating chips.
HARDCORE PUNK BEST OF 2000s/2009 PODCAST:
This is the noisier raw shit! Track listing is as follows:
- Tragedy -No End in Sight
- Fucked Up -Litany
- La Piovra -Risacca
- Social Circkle -Static Eyes
- Ecoli -?
- Sex Vid -Always Home
- Totalitar -?
- Skit Kids -?
- Bog People -Bog People
- Invasion – La Caza
- Dry Rot -Trench Diggers
- Double Negative -?
- Needles -Codes
- Vaaska -?
- Homostupids -The Glow
- Drunk Driver -Fire Sale
- Cult Ritual -Holidays
- Career Suicide -Turnaround
- Life’s Halt -We won’t Take it
- Peligro Social -20 anos
- Criminal Damage -Anesthesia
- Violators -Summer of 81
Somewhere in there I also played FRANCIS HAROLD AND THE HOLOGRAMS “MIRROR OF FEAR” but I forgot….
Download this shit:
Mass Media Records Podcast BEST OF 2000s pt 1
PUNK ROCK BEST OF 200s/2009 PODCAST:
Are you into catchy? Then this podcast is for you. My favorite POWER POP, GARAGE, KBD style, PUNK from the decade, 2009, and beyond. The tracklist is as follows:
- Tranzmitors -Plastic Genocide
- Tyrades -Out of Touch
- Sneaky Pinks -Loner with a Boner
- Contaminators -Non Existent Love
- Daylight Robbery -Vamp
- Impediments- Pig Out
- Coconut Coolouts -Nerd Holocaust
- Blank Its -Divorce
- Silla Electrica- Ninos
- Vulpess- Me Gusta Ser Una Zohrra
- Henry Fiats Open Sore- Penetration Camp
- Black Time -Girls in the Garage
- Marvelous Darlings -I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party
- Shivvers -Teen Line
- Test Patterns -Crazy Over You
- Hunx -You Don’t Like Rock N Roll
- Jay Reatard -Death is Forming
- Davila 666-Me va muy mal
- Hex Dispensers – Brain inside a Jar
- Estranged -Nothing to say
- Autistic Youth -Landmine Beach
- No Hope for the Kids -Koylma
- Cocksparrer – Too Late
- Shitty Limits -I’m a square
- Nasa Space Universe -?
- Shoot It Up -?
- ABKK -Morker
- Gorilla Angreb -Jeg Gar Ikke I Sort
- Le Face -No Scene
- Gestapo Khazi -Open House
Mass Media’s Best of the Decade
In no particular order…
Gentlemen Jesse And His Men “I don’t wanna know (where you been tonight) b/w Going Out of My Mind Douchemaster
One of the most significant shifts in punk music from the 1990s to the 2000s was the evolution of poppy punk music. When we had pop punk in the 90s now bands with an affinity to bubblegum and garage music lean toward what people call Power Pop. A very dubious tag I know, but you get the idea. Jesse hit it right on the head with this EP (and the LP is no slouch either), bringing a crisp guitar tone and undeniably great voice together and making a perfect EP. Ever wonder what Elvis Costello could have sounded like if he was actually a punk?
Jay Reatard “I Know A Place” Goner 2007
I can’t figure out if the songs on this disc are covers or not (not that I have done any research…) they are that good. They definitely have Jay’s signature style albeit with an acoustic guitar and much more of a girl group aesthetic than the Blood Visions Lp. For mainstream audiences that think Blood Visions is too punk, this EP is the link to his Matador singles which tumbled downhill in my opinion. Catchy while retaining the darkness we all loved so much from the LP.
Tragedy “Do They Call This A Life?” Tragedy Records 2002 tie with Tragedy/Dropdead split Armageddon 2003
Holy shit! Tragedy! The most powerful hardcore band of the 00s by far. Both completely educated by their influences and original and influential in their own right, these Eps are the best records they ever released in my opinion although their first two lps are amazing as well. My favorite song they ever did is on the Dropdead split, “No End in Sight” is the perfect combination of the by then trademark Tragedy sound and it bares the UK82/Oi influence that lies beneath the surface of both Tragedy and the classic Scandi/Japanese bands that influenced them.
Fucked Up “Litany” Test Pattern Records 2004/ Havoc 2006
Generations is a great Ep, but nothing can top the mid paced mania of “Litany” in my opinion. I’ll be honest in admitting that I don’t pay all that much attention to lyrics anymore. Fucked Up were a band that had such a raging yet decipherable sound that made me take notice. “Litany” is lyrically a genius hardcore song, detailing the greatest struggle we all (punks and the uninitiated) find ourselves in throughout our lives . Repetition and monotony the slow murderer of the soul.
Marvelous Darlings “I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party” Deranged 2007
The A side on this is by far the catchiest song I heard all decade. Although people will always equate power pop with music in the late 70s, this could very well be the genre’s definition. This song totally summed up the latter half of the decade for me personally which found me diving deeper in to my love for rock n roll and punk rather than going to the party. Fuck it, with an EP like this it sounds like a party every time I listen to it!
La Piovra “Risacca b/w Dani Collaterali” Punks Before Profits 2006
La Piovra were one of those bands I didn’t get into until after they broke up. I just had my head in my ass or something. Completely annihilating hardcore punk rock! They took the positive energy of say HIT ME BACK and took it up a notch in intensity. When this record came out I started to take notice and realize that there was hope for hardcore!
Le Face “s/t” Rich Bitch Records 2008
Le Face had a classic EP before this one was even recorded. Such an amazing band that would play show after show seeming like such a mess until you realized that there was a very memorable sound to it all. The songs on this EP were being sung by audience members before this was released, and although I know Myspace probably had these tunes out there I’d like to equate it to Le Face’s unmistakable chops. Strange surf guitar noodling and monotone disaffected vocals that no doubt bring the idea of “Killed By Death” as a type of music to mind. This is very much beyond (or before) trendiness. I don’t know how bands like this are formed, is it a combination of record nerds or could this be the REAL DEAL? Isolation indeed.
Ecoli “rape” Stress Domain
I know with all the collector mania behind 80s hardcore its hard to believe that one day maybe some nerds will want to collect 2000s’ hardcore records. While FUCKED UP may be the notable powerhouse equivalent to NEGATIVE APPROACH or CRO MAGS (you know amazing bands that were popular during their time) ECOLI is more like NECROS or VOID in that their legend grows as time passes. The riffage brings to mind a similar reference point as were early FUCKED UP singles took off from, but ECOLI is the sooooooo much more intense and unkempt. Messy and questionable artwork with some of the most unrelenting, feedback ridden guitars and a rabid drummer, this EP is unstoppable. Its an amazing testament to hardcore punk music (the best music ever invented!) that such young bands could make a more intense statement on such a small record and all other kinds of stupid rock band spend a million dollars and hours refining their sound into fucking car commercials.
Gorilla Angreb/Lokum split Armageddon
Gorilla Angreb is no doubt one of my favorite bands of the 00s, and they had a bunch of great records out during their existence. I would pick this split over anything they ever did because it is the perfect pairing of bands. I even have my doubts that they are two distinct bands! But what do I know? GA of course had the Swiss punk formula down, bringing to mind GLUEAMS, TNT among others but giving it a modern spin. One of those records so catchy you didn’t need to speak their language to sing along this EP has a haunting song by GA with such furious hi hat drumming that I am a sucker for. Pure genius! And then you flip it around and you have LOKUM with a their dark psychedelic punk nightmare ripped right from the pages of KBD or BLOODSTAINS comps. The inspiration of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is more apparent on this track with its spine tingling lo fi casiotone.
Sex Vid “Nests” Dom America
This band made a lot of waves for a reason…they are INTENSE! You and I both know that there is no such thing as hipster hardcore, but maybe people wanted to believe that SEX VID was a part of something like that. Beyond all scene shit, SEX VID are are an assault of heavy riffs and blurred lyrical ferocity. I saw this band live and it was very much like listening to their records (except that I was circle pitting) in that it doesn’t really matter about the musicians making this unholy racket but rather the sounds they fill the area with are so full and furious that they conjure up all the darkness all the while expelling it. EXCORSIM!
Shoot It Up “s/t” Proud to Be an Idiot Records
Jon from Weekend Warrior put well when referencing the GERMS when describing SHOOT IT UP. They totally have that wild rock n roll originality to them. Don Bolles was a motherfucking anomaly and listening to SHOOT IT UP I can’t help thinking of a band were Don was playing every instrument and Darby as hyped on meth and singing shit off the top of his head (or GG ALLIN wrote the lyrics). Really annoying and rude, this EP is hardcore without trying to be. We played with this band a bunch of times this decade and I never saw such a GREAT band clear the room!
Social Circkle “ Static Eyes” No Way Records
In a decade were there was a lot of worship of 80s hardcore bands going on, Social Circkle managed to put an EP out that was both heavily influenced and original. These guys were like Career Suicide in that they went for mostly clean guitar work with a big garage rock punk influence, but something about this EP surpasses that much more popular band. This EP goes to show you that the 7” record format is the hardcore ALBUM. They went on to release an LP this year which is amazing, but this combination of songs is unbeatable.
Henry Fiats Open Sore “Makes Your Cock Look Big” Rock N’ Roll Blitzkrieg 2001
This band is like the culmination of the creepy grease ball garage bands that were so great in the 90s but were a lot of those bands decided to remain bar friendly, these guys said fuck it and cranked it up to mega blown out and insane tempos “garage” punk has never seen. Some of their songs almost sound like they are going into blast beats! So gnarly! Makes Turbonegro seem so take in comparison, and maybe that was the greatest difference in 00s music and the 90s. It was like its cool if your old but all old man lazy bar punk bands were rendered useless in the 00s especially when you listen to this monster!!!
Hunx and His Punx “You Don’t Like Rock N’ Roll” Robs House
Total lo fi bedroom punk with a Ramones influence without being a clone. This is just simple and rocking with annoying vocals that will both kill you and render you helpless with their catchiness.
Contaminators “ No Friends” Going Underground
Like Le Face, Contaminators were a band that unearthed a classic punk sound but took it to new twisted antisocial places. I love the vibe this band conjures with this EP. Blown out and scary, much like their home of Bakersfield CA this EP is a rough and ready Johnny Thunders by way of the Saints and a peaked out TASCAM…a rock n roll classic. Who needs friends? They don’t understand you anyways.
Double Negative “Raw Energy”
The title says it all. This is hardcore for the hardcore! No metal or other stupid shit, just raw noisy oblivion with vocals that sound like they are being choked out of the singers throat. A bunch of old dudes play in this band and are more ferocious than a million sorry ass pizza thrash bands run by skating teenagers. Much more pit worthy than CULT RITUAL but I’d definitely put them in the same cave with endless feedback. Stoner rock for people who hate weed.
Criminal Damage -”s/t” Feral Ward 2006
The BLITZ comparison is obvious but when nobody has been doing it right for ages this LP is a breath of fresh air. My wife finds this record to be inspiring and I agree. Every musician on this record compliments the other. The drumming is simple but with just the right intensity, the bass is dark and played with static rage, the guitars lay the foundation and leads chime only at the perfect moments, and the vocals place a gruff but melodic cap on the whole sound. Reminds you that there is nothing wrong with all the bands you grew up on (or discovered whenever), in fact maybe you should break out the BLOOD EP or whatever and get back into it again!
The Estranged “Static Thoughts”
I know people bring up the WIPERS a lot when referencing this band but they are not simply a WIPERS clone (not that there is anything wrong with that!). This is the kind of band that when I first heard them I thought would be insanely popular because it is so accessible (in both sound and release) but then when I went to their show there was like 5 people there. The label “dark punk” is best suited for this band who play what is like fast death rock. One of those bands people will discover years from now.
Invasion “La Caza” La Vida Es Un Mus 2008
Side A starts blown out guitars feeding back amidst the crackling of lightning and whispering voices. Sounds like like something from the BATHORY LP but NO! When INVASION kicks in there is no mistaking them, this is a top notch Spanish hardcore band that takes all the lessons of great bands like NEGAZIONE, GISM, and TRAGEDY (even some LIP CREAM!) and put there own demented spin on it. Mind bending reverb and synths (I think) set the mood and INVASION manages to pack all the negativity of the entire world onto 12 inches of vinyl. Get this record or go do some fucking yoga or something.
Cocksparrer “Here We Stand” Pirates Press 2009
The return of the greatest living band on Earth. Not only did they put a new album out this decade but they put one of their best albums EVER out this decade. The production is clean and powerful perfectly accentuating the tighter than ever rhythm section. I read somewhere that Cocksparrer started out playing STONES covers back in the mid 70s and hearing this album it is clear that Cocksparrer are the STONES of punk (of course the RAMONES are the BEATLES). Years and imitators come and go and then all of a sudden the masters drop an album.
Jay Reatard “Blood Visions” In the Red 2006
Beginning to end a hectic garage punk masterpiece. So much more tuneful than the REATARDS and more muscular than LOST SOUNDS, “Blood Visions” is the result of Jay’s endlessly honed chops and constant evolution. One of those guys who could make an album ready for college radio airplay that is undeniably punk rock this album makes me think about a time and place I was not at. Namely the UK in the late 70s when dark intense punk music like EATER, ADVERTS, and CRISIS were charting. Punk rock is timeless rock n roll music and maybe it takes a “hipster” like Reatard to remind us that rock n roll is for everyone not just basement dwelling punx.
Limp Wrist “s/t”
Limp Wrist was a very important band in the 00s. Not just because of the Gay Agenda or whatever, but also because Martin was a 90s hardcore front man that sustained his interest and relevance in punk into the 00s. Los Crudos being will always be admired as a critical band to modern punk, but musically Limp Wrist is a cut above. LIMP WRIST didn’t go the SPAZZ route and release a million records but over the decade they put out a few each one better than the last. Their last LP makes it on this list for this very reason. I am not sure if the lineup changed (I am a fan, but I don’t keep up on those things) or if as the bar for hardcore was raised in the mid to late 00s they took on an altered sound, but LIMP WRIST went from a more light-hearted version of CRUDOS on the 1st LP and split with KNIFED to the frenzied hardcore punk band on this LP. I don’t know how he does it but the barked vocals have gotten higher pitched over the ears and with crazy original rhythms.
Tranzmitors s/t LP Deranged 2007
Great singles, but this LP is one of those records that you listen to from beginning to end because every song is a hit. Yes, its Power Pop but I think Tranzmitors is the band that updates the sound without ruining it or so successfully recreating the sound that they are as hit and miss as the original power pop bands. This band could have been huge in the 80s, they sound almost exactly like that “Turning Japanese” band. Great thing about this record is that its high energy from start to finish, there is no whining, and its so well harmonized that your teeth will fall out instantly. Great live band too, the only new power pop and I’ve seen that is not fucking boring as hell on stage.
Tragedy s/t and Vengeance
The glories of TRAGEDY were already detailed in the Eps but you and I both know these LPs are all killer and no filler. These guys are the IRON MAIDEN of hardcore punk. So dramatic and epic that 10 years later (not to mention 1 million shitty and a few good imitators) it seems comical to see them live these days. The music is still great but their impact has been so widespread that the poseurs come out of the woodwork.
Gorilla Angreb Discography
The X influence is obvious but Gorilla Angreb seem more influenced by the Swiss bands that took the original punk sound and spun it in dark directions. This band never put out anything shitty, so their Discography get the place on the list. I hope they keep this in print forever because this is a truly classic band.
Totalitar “Ni Maste Bort” Prank 2000
This is just barely in the 00s but I’ll let it slide. Totalitar had an amazing LP come out after this but for some stupid reason I never got it on vinyl. I got a CDR bootleg on tour in Mexico and listened to it until the unlabeled CD disappeared. So that being said, I didn’t have the attachment to that album as much as this one because I didn’t get it on vinyl. Totalitar is not a band at this point, but a force of nature. Get ready or get the fuck away! This is a band from the 80s that got stronger as time went on. D beat without the hang ups of the genre, this is fucking party time music to me.
Autistic Youth “Land Mine Beach” Jonny Cat Records
The riffs on this record loom like a storm ready to take over the city, just totally rocking doom and gloom m melodic punk. Weird but there is a 7 SECONDS feel to the vocals but this is not hc or positive in any way. They sound like an hc band that decided to slow it down a bit and concentrate on writing god damn anthems and that they did!
No Hope For the Kids “s/t” Kick N Punch /Feral Ward 2004
A punk record for the ages! I got this during what I thought at the time was a slump in punk hardcore. There were still tons of shows, and I was involved more than ever in setting them up but there weren’t many bands that sparked my interest. When I heard the Eps and then this LP that all changed. These guys have the classic sound like if the Adolescents were from Denmark. When they played LA people liked them but didn’t seem to be familiar with them. This is one of those bands that if they were to play in 2020 they’d have a thousand punks old and new singing along every desperate word.