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Reviews and interviews fro Blag’ard “Mach II”
Blag’ard heads into the studio, readies Capsize 7 archival release (Tonight at Nightlight)
Chris Parker · 24 Sep 2009, 3:20 PM
Blag’ard has delayed the release of its second LP, tentatively titled Mach II, to the beginning of next year. Guitarist Joe Taylor now plans to accompany its release by unshelving the long lost Capsize 7 album he recorded with the old alt-rock act in the mid ‘90s before they were dropped from Caroline Records. Fusing the jagged angular spirit of Polvo with Achers of Loaf’s hooks, Capsize 7 was one of the Triangle’s most underappreciated coulda-beens. He brings a similar bristling sound to his new outfit, fueled by drummer Adam Brinson’s sizzling kit work. We spoke to Taylor about the forthcoming releases.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: So what’s up with the new Blag’ard recording?
JOE TAYLOR: The Blag’ard record was pushed back to an unforeseen medical situation in my family, which basically meant I had to derail my life for about a half a year. I got back on track with getting my shit together. We are going to record the record starting in October. We’re going to record with Nick Peterson and start tracking on the 6th—coincidently, the day after my birthday. So it’s a nice birthday present for me, and then we’re doing it on one-inch reel-to-reel. I hadn’t recorded with audio tape in a long time, so I’m psyched to be working with Nick and going down on reel-to-reel. We’re going to do 10 songs, and because of the fact that Fall crept around and we hadn’t recorded the record in September or August, we said, “Putting a record out in November doesn’t make any sense, so let’s just wait.” So it’s going to come out in January.
How old will you be?
Where are you recording?
Nick’s tape machine is currently not operating, so we’re subcontracting through a buddy of his, and we’re going to record out of this guy’s place in Raleigh on his tape machine. Nick’s going to engineer it.
What’s the reason for putting it to tape?
I recorded with my old band, Capsize 7, in the ’90 on audio tape, and I like the way it sounds. It’s more performance-oriented from the musician’s standpoint. You have to do better when you’re tracking because it’s not as easy to edit with audiotape. With digital, you can pinpoint a micro-section down. Also, because with the loud amplifier, the way that goes down onto the tape it adds a nice a nice effect the way a loud sound will bounce onto audio tape and hit it hard and cause a little bit of distortion. It gives it a different feel.
We recorded with Nick for our last record, and that was all Pro-Tools. I’m happy with that record, but I wanted to try something different and see what would work the best to give it a different flavor. I was concerned because if we were using the same engineer and basically all the same equipment, we’d get a very similar sounding record. And there’s not a problem with that, it’s just that I wanted to put out something new and different.
We have been playing them out live for the past 7 to 8 months. Basically, we’ve just been writing the record and playing it live since February. There are one or two songs that predate Bobcat. They’re just reworked by me and Adam to have our take on it, versus what they were originally. The one difference between this record and the last record is me and Adam have matured as a songwriting team. An idea gets more analysis and evolves more during the writing process than it used to. An old idea run through that machine sounds different. So putting a couple old songs out, I’m cool with that.
Tell me about the Capsize 7 lost album.
Capsize 7 was together from 1991 to 1997, basically. We broke up like October ’96. We were on Caroline Records and released one full-length record with them, and they picked up the option to release our second album and give us the money for it. So we went out to California and recorded that album with Mark Trombino, who went on to record Blink-182. He was the drummer for Drive Like Jehu. We recorded that album on 2-inch audio tape in a great studio, and we had the record done. After the record was finished, Caroline dropped us. But they gave us the rights to the record when they dropped us.
I don’t know how it worked out that way, but [Local 506 owner] Glenn Boothe, who was our A&R guy, he somehow finagled that. So we had the rights, but because the band broke up and because of the fact that I basically lost my shit, I couldn’t get it together enough to find new members to do the band. It just sat in the can for like 13-14 years, and then it just seemed like now is the time to do it. I called the guy up and had him ship me the tapes, and they were just bounced down to Pro-Tools. Nick is going to help me mix down the songs that weren’t mixed down, and we’re going to finish it up and put it out. It’s a 13 song album, and I’m putting it out on a limited number of CDs because I don’t know what that format is good for besides press and radio. And it’s going to be available as a download from my music site,pigzenspace.com.
I’m not trying to recreate or jumpstart Capsize 7. I just wanted to get this record out because I think it’s a good record, it would be silly not to put it out and, selfishly, I want it to shine on my new project. The Capsize 7 album is going to be called Horsefly and the Blag’ard album is going to be called Mach II.
By Stephen Carradini Thursday March 4, 2010
There’ s nothing “indie” aboutBlag’ard’s gritty, two-man garage rock other than the band’s unsigned (and therefore “independent”) status. These ten songs don’t spend time on atmospherics, mood or arrangements; they get straight to the rock’n’roll. This aesthetic gives the best songs on Mach II an urgency that is rare in any sort of rock’n’roll, much less the bare-bones two-man variety.
Indie-rock vet Joe Taylor (ex-Capsize 7) holds down the guitars and vocals, while newcomer Adam Brinson cranks out the drumming in this duo. The majority of the urgency comes from Taylor’s guitar work. Taylor rarely leaves a moment without guitar in it; while the lines can be angular at times, they never pause. By never letting up, Taylor covers the roles of bassist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist. His buzzing guitar sound is reminiscent of The White Stripes’ early guitar work, as the guitar work is definitely distorted but not so much so that you can’t hear what’s going on.
Brinson’s drumming fills out the sound in a very Meg White-esque way, contributing simple but appropriate drumming. Brinson does exercise more chops than White, but it’s a similar style. Brinson’s not showing off his drum skills, and it fits the sound well. He shows some syncopated work on “Snowball” and makes a solid drum line out of a repeated fill on “Harmony,” but most of the tunes use high hat, snare and kick drum in a consistent and insistent manner to match the propulsive qualities of Taylor’s songwriting.
When Taylor gets comfortably vocally in a song, it becomes a highlight. The lighter feel of “Snowball” allows Taylor to sing instead of snarling, and the melody one of the more memorable. Album standout is “RCO,” which scales back the intensity a bit to feature a sinister vibe, eerie backup vocals and a haunting chorus. “Life in Reverse” is the best of the straight-up rock tracks that they have here, as Taylor turns in a good vocal performance. The tight opening riff in “Ophelia” is also worth noting, as it steals the show from the rest of the song (even the whistling!).
The garage-rock of Mach II is messy, urgent, insistent, imperfect, and all rock. There’s no question as to what Blag’ard set out to do with this release, and they knock it out of the ballpark. If you like gritty, raw, untainted rock’n’roll straight outta the garage/Detroit, then Blag’ard is in your corner.
Mach II More Like Mach 10 – “Raleigh Music Dot Com”
Posted by shardee428 on 2010/3/2 11:52:55
Chapel Hill, NC–Chapel Hill’s Blag’ard is a two man show producing high-energy rock and roll. Their latest album, Mach II, is no different, and immediately pumps you up with fast paced guitar riffs and pounding drums. This one is sure to make you jump up and down or bang your head (or both).
I was amazed at the fullness of the sound since it was coming from just two people. Joe Taylor provides lead vocals and guitar, while Adam Brinson backs Joe up on vocals and provides body moving beats on drums. Authentic punk rock style vocals by both men are a delight to listen to and put a smile on your face. The men harmonize beautifully together.
The album provides ten tracks and provides a current yet unique punk sound. It opens with a track entitled “Get Some” and closes with R.C.O. A personal favorite of mine was “Harmony.”
Throughout the album, you’ll hear many hooks that will be impossible to get out of your head. It also makes for great road trip music as it would be impossible to NOT feel the energy and adrenaline that just pours out of this album. It will definitely keep you alert for a long drive. Roll down your windows, open your sunroof, and enjoy.
Mach II was produced by Chapel Hill label Pig Zen Space and recorded at Track and Field, also in Chapel Hill, by Nick Petersen in the fall of 2009. The album was mastered by Carl Saff and is available for download in its entirety at www.pigzenspace.com. The cost is $3.50.
If you’re looking for upbeat, authentic, punk rock, Blag’ard is where it’s at.
For more information about Blag’ard, feel free to check out the band’s website at http://www.blagard.com.
Relatively unknown though they may be, Blag’ard provide a valuable service of sorts. And when not running his window cleaning business, Adam drums and sings with Blag’ard along with guitarist and fellow vocalist Joe Taylor. Together this North Carolina duo offer the lean, macho alternative to Placebo’s popularised angst. ‘Mach II’ is the commendably taut and muscular follow-up to 2008’s debut long player ‘Bobcat’.
Blag’ard build their songs on the foundations of mighty riffs and punk vocals. ‘Major’, a fine case in point, benefits from a mighty hook-filled chorus and ‘Babushka’ my not be a brave cover of Kate Bush but it’s a cracking song in its own right. There’s no let up in pace or intensity and even at their quietest ‘Jenny G’ sounds pretty bone chilling. In fact, these aren’t just men churning out hooks for a cult following. There’s a dark heart to this record too. So much so, when you hear the title to ‘Ophelia’ being screamed it sounds more like “Oh failure” whereas, on a less subtle level, Taylor claims on ‘Life In Reverse’ that “There are people who would like me to shoot myself in the head”.
As with the first album, ‘Mach II’ uses a refreshingly no-frills approach to production and songwriting. However, don’t be too deceived by the simplicity of the arrangements, as many of the tracks feature complex chord changes and the end result is a punk record full of melody.
Pig Zen Space
By: Ginger Coyote
Blag’ard are two piece band from Chapel Hill North Carolina with a big rock sound… Comparable to a 5 piece band.. The music is big and full.. The band Features Joe Taylor who was in the 90’s indie band Capsize 7 who were signed to Caroline Records. Joe Taylor is best known for his ability to play crunchy, and very catchy guitar riffs.. He only excels what he does best on this CD.. Drummer Adam Brinson holds down his end with much skill.. The songs are infectious and leave you wanting more… I really enjoyed every song on this CD. Stand outs are “Get Some” , “Harmony” and “Life In Reverse”. . Pig Zen is Joe Taylor’s label and he has also recently re released the Capsize 7 CD on Pig Zen Space …
Palabra Y Sonido/Word And Sound
Blag’ard “Mach II”
Buena sorpresa el poder oir esta banda,acabo de recibir el disco hace un par de dias y no lo paro de oir.10 temas interpretados por solo dos personas,guitarrista/vocal,baterista/vocal.Su musica se podria definir como Collage Rock,con algunas influencias de bandas alternativas de finales de los 80`s.Su sonido es crudo pero a la vez melodioso con construcciones sonoras claras y definidas.Las letras son metaforicas acerca de la vida.Da gusto oir bandas que toman diferentes influencias para crear un sonido propio.Totalmente recomendable este lanzamiento.
Was a nice surprise to get this release,i just recived this cd few days ago and since then im listen non stop the music.10 track playing by only two persons,guitar/voice,drums/voice.You can say their music have something of Collage Rock but also of alternative 80`s sound.Their sound is crude but at the same time very melodic with music structures that are very well played.The lyrics are about life.Is always cool to listen a band that having different influences do their own sound.Higly recomended.
BLAG’ARD – MACH II (2010 PIG ZEN SPACE)
This and one other album (CAPSIZE 7) were, at the time of printing this issue, sent to me in an email from Joe, who plays in both bands and runs Pig Zen Space (a cool idea for a download site, where every album goes for $3.50 with $2.75 of that going to the artist, and comes with a PDF of the artwork). Blag’ard plays some really rockin’ tunes, with minimalist instrumentation (just guitar anddrums here, folks). I was hesitant to say so based on the first track on my first listen, but everything after that is awesome. After getting more of a feel for what they’re going for, I can even enjoy that first track now. Can’t compare them to any bands I’m familiar with, maybe 0 Pioneers!! but even that would be a stretch because Joe’s vocals are very clean in comparison. Favourite song: Ophelia (the whistling part gets me every time). In the end, this album is only gonna cost ya $3.50 from Pig Zen Space, so if you’re in the market for some new music give it a shot. (www.pigzenspace.com)
MISH MASH MUSIC REVIEWS
Capsize 7 – Horsefly
Blag’ard – Mach II
Pig Zen Space
This duo of releases features guitarist Joe Taylor, formerly of Capsize 7 and now with the duet Blag’ard. Capsize 7 was a Chapel Hill-based quartet in the early 90s who was briefly signed with Caroline Records. They recorded an album in 1996, Horsefly, which was never released by Caroline, and has now finally resurfaced and found new life. The group had a flirtation with indie-rock fame, sharing the stage with likes of Archers Of Loaf and Superdrag, before their disappointing drop off the radar in the mid-to-late 90s. The music here has that distinctive mid-90s indie edge, reactionary to the rise and fall of grunge rock which had been dominating the scene up until then. It’s a smart sound that is wound around tight, noisy dual-guitar lines, driving beats, and unassuming vocals. Good stuff, and a shame that it had to sit idle for so long.
Fast forward to 2010 and Taylor’s new group Blag’ard, where the aforementioned indie rock group sound is stripped down to the primer. It’s just guitar, vocals, and drums, but don’t try to make any comparisons to the likes of the White Stripes et al, because this is certainly a different ball of wax. Taylor and drummer Adam Brinson both sing, sharing the vocal load while trading off harmony lines, filling in the gaps left by a lack of bass and other instrumentation. The setup is basic and simple, but the rhythms and melody lines are progressively complex and weaving. When you add the dueling vocal patterns to the mix, the sum is much greater than the parts. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s hard to believe there’s only two guys with two instruments making all this ruckus.
MISH MASH Mandate: Time Warp
There’s a treacherous drive—alternating clay and gravel, and passing over a shallow creek—that turns off of a certain Chapel Hill road and leads into the trees. After several hundred yards, the red clay driveway opens, revealing a little house that’s more of a hermitage.
It’s the warmest it’s been in several weeks today, and I’m sitting in the sun with Adam Brinson and Joe Taylor—together, Blag’ard. They’ve recently finished their second album, Mach II. It’s a solid unit, a catchy if menacing rock record that squeals off the lot like a muscle car and handles like Luke Skywalker’s X-wing.
Being at Joe’s house is like looking through a window into his mind: There’s a kind of sacred disarray here that contrasts the piercing clarity of his thought process. It’s organized, sure, but it’s organized the same way a forest floor is organized. His black Gibson, the guitar from his Capsize 7 days, leans against a wall like a fallen branch. Fliers on the walls tell tales of shows and bands long gone. Looking out the windows of the little room where this loud, loud band practices, I again see the trees and a gentle slope that falls toward the creek. This could be anywhere. Joe’s pretty intense, and Adam’s one of those gleeful dudes who makes himself laugh on a regular basis.
They have agreed to take a verbal Rorschach test, of sorts.
ADAM BRINSON: It makes me think about water because I’ve always been fascinated with how water distorts light. It just makes me think about water for some reason.
JOE TAYLOR: That’s cool, because water slows light down, gives it a different look. It’s pretty fucked up that the denser something it is, it actually slows light down. Light is so fucking fast, you’d think it would just go right through water and be like… [Laughs.] That’s the wild card to pull out in the paper-rock-scissors game. Paper, rock, scissors, water.
Distortion, to me, is… I definitely prefer clarity. I think distortion is just a loss of information. I think that, as far as music goes, music is an attempt to communicate things that aren’t easily communicated. So distortion is just backsliding.
AB: [Laughs.] All my answers are just going to be like, “Distortion makes me think about swimming, and harmony makes me thing about singing.” [Laughs.] I think harmony is a lot like family too and doing something together and collaboration and accord.
JT: “Harmony” is one of our best songs. To give you a background for that song, I had a really tiring day one time last summer. I had gone swimming and worked out and I was really burnt—just like dumb tired. I went to a coffee shop, and the girl who was working there, her name was Harmony. She was, like, really beautiful, like, “Oh my fucking god. I’m a retard now. You just crushed my monkey brain.” So I tried to talk to her, and it just sounded stupid. I don’t think I’ve felt that dumb in a decade. So I wrote the song when I got home to make myself feel better.
AB: We are getting on it a lot these days.
JT: I’m just glad there’s not another thing a band has to do besides the Internet, radio and press. Can you come up with one more useless thing for musicians to do, please? Why don’t we all have to go and, like, I can’t even come up with a good metaphor. Competitive gardens? How else can we spend our time without playing music? I think it’s energy put towards competing to see who can do the best nothing and that doesn’t necessarily translate into making yourself successful. I don’t think that there is a way to become successful. I think there are great bands that are never going to get big, just because. I think that there are shitty bands, obviously, that get big just because. There is no “how.” There is no way to do it. You either do or you don’t.
AB: And you’ve gotta be at the right place at the right time.
JT: I went a whole year when I wasn’t awake in the morning, when I was in Capsize 7. We had a record contract, and I didn’t have to work. I went a year without waking up in the AM hour.
AB: It’s unnatural, not coming up with the sun.
JT: Probably because we stayed up until 4:00 every morning.
JT: “RCO” brings in the idea of the enigma and mystery in music—an element which has been cheaply whored out with the Internet, where everyone is racing to expose themselves as quickly as possible to anyone who might possibly become a fan. I think “RCO” should remain a mystery. It’s a secret, and if you don’t know, I’m not gonna tell you.
AB: I never really thought about what it meant, at all. I never really listened to the lyrics that much.
JT: It was a fun song to put together. In practice, it came together really quickly. I think Adam said something like, “It was like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Done.”