Kyle’s Annual Review – 2014 Edition

I used to write an annual review on my (now extinct) Xanga, but they sadly didn’t survive the Great Xanga Content Migration of 2013. It’s probably for the best, they were mostly about Brand New anyway.

So here it is! Using the all of the finest technologies afforded by WordPress and HTML: Kyle’s Annual Review – 2014 Edition.

Or skip ahead to…

Best Shows

The Bug was, hands down, one of the most unique (and loudest) shows I’ve ever been to. Dubstep, ragga, and dancehall were mixed with skull-bending blasts of noise and creepy-as-hell air sirens. I didn’t know whether to dance or buy an underground bunker so I did both. (full write up)

  • Modest Mouse w/ Brand New @ Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, New York

Modest Mouse has been on my “must see” list ever since I fell in love with Building Nothing Out of Something in 10th grade. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until this year that I had the chance to make that happen. Their Boston Calling show was pretty good, but they really killed it in Queens. The energy, setlist, and banter all lived up to my adolescent dreams (I wish I could say the same for losing my virginity).

  • The Lawrence Arms @ The Sinclair, Cambridge

Usually when everyone at a show is hammered it’s terrible (see: The Gaslight Anthem at House of Blues this fall), but at The Lawrence Arms it’s like everyone is your long lost best friend. Plus I didn’t lose my wallet like I did when I saw them in Chicago (well, my wallet was returned, just not the cash…). Kids, put your wallet in your FRONT pocket if things are about to reach sardine status.

  • The Dismemberment Plan w/ Priests @ The First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia

The Dismemberment Plan had been broken up for five years when I started listening to them. The fact that I got to see them at all, let alone in one of my favorite venues, made this a super special night. The 300 mile drive with my friends that preceded it was the best possible foreplay too. Plus, Priests opened and they were fun as hell. Go see Priests, they sound like this:

  • Tigers Jaw, Pity Sex, Petal, and Loose Planes @ Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge

I don’t know the last time I went to a show and wanted to see every band, but this was one of those nights. It’s cool to see Tigers Jaw blowing up like they are (and PA bands in general getting so much attention). I promise I’ll make those “PA: Steel, Coal, Emo” t-shirts for next summer.

A short clip from the evening:


Best New Music

    • Single Mothers – Negative Qualities

Tightly coiled barbed wire riffs wrap snugly around singer Drew Thompson’s barked recollections of blackout nights (or mornings), detox dreams, and being a blue color townie in a college town. Women, alcohol, and Craig Finn comparisons abound. I don’t know if “hardcore bar band” is a style of music but that’s what they should be billed as.

    • Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

Philadelphia’s pop-punk/9th wave emo upstarts deliver on the promise of Sports with more focus, bigger choruses, and the same “aw shucks” charm that carried previous work. The verses were probably lifted from Tumblr posts, but the brightest stars from this galaxy always over-indexed on sincerity.

    • LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

Weezer, Yuck, and Silver Jews were rolling face and made a little indie-pop wunderkind. The lyrics are obtuse but those guitar tones do all the talking.

    • Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street EP

Somehow Beach Slang never lost that “holy shit, this is it” feeling after hearing that first good rock ‘n roll band. The EP plays like skinny dipping with a crush in July under the glow of fireworks and Ferris wheel lights as “Thunder Road” plays and the drugs start to kick in.

    • Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right

I had no idea who Protomartyr were when they opened up for Parquet Courts this summer at TT’s. But once those machine gun drum fills, jagged post-punk riffs, and deadpan diatribes enveloped the room I knew they were a band I needed to know. “Tarpeian Rocks” is a hilarious call for the swift death of:

  • greedy bastards
  • rank amateur professionals
  • emotional cripples
  • alt-weekly types
  • neon fans on laptops
  • recent memories
  • do-nothing know-alls
  • rich crusts
  • adults dressed as children
  • credit card users
  • envious cowards
  • what democracy looks like

    • Loefah – “Midnight / Woman”

This is a bit of a funny one, as these songs have been rinsed since at least 2005 (“Midnight” was included on the seminal Dubstep Allstars Vol. 2 mix). Both tracks helped move dubstep towards a simultaneously spacier and darker sound by switching the percussion patterns from two-step to half step, which is dubstep’s most recognizable rhythmic signature today.

Amongst all of the “lost dubs” that only the most highly regarded DJs had acetate pressings of, “Midnight” sat high on the list in terms of consumer demand. That exclusivity (sort of) ended when 300 copies were pressed and distributed to two London record stores a few weeks ago. They’re already going for several hundred bucks on trading sites.

Sadly, it feels more like a death knell than an important marker for the genre (Loefah’s been out of the dubstep game for years now anyway). Now that anyone can get a high quality vinyl rip and play it out at parties, the beauty of witnessing a song exclusively in a live setting has slipped. It’s like a magician revealing a trick (though plenty disagree).

Now all we need is for “DMZ vs. MZN” and “10 Dread Commandments VIP” to get released and everyone can pack up their bags and go home.


Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church Winds Down

A good venue is a point of pride in any city’s music scene. It’s one thing to see a great band, but it’s an entirely different beast to see a great band at a great venue. The First Unitarian Church was one of those special places. By blending DIY ethos with a professional booking group, going to The Church was like seeing your favorite band play at your best friend’s basement. Water was a dollar, security was self-enforced, and you brought your own booze.

Sadly, they’re keeping shows to a “weekends only” policy in 2015 and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that policy extending and for Church shows to be cancelled altogether. It’s crazy the whole thing lasted as long as it did.

Goodbye to Bassic

Although dubstep was born in dark, smoke filled rooms in London, it outgrew those humble beginnings and eventually was popular enough for arenas and festival main stages, completely losing the intimate but isolated vibe of its early parties. As someone that didn’t learn of the sound until Burial got his second wave of critical acclaim for Untrue, I felt like I’d “missed out” on the early days.

Lo and behold, one American dance night that kept true to that original UK setting was Bassic, which was run monthly-ish out of Good Life in Boston. They knew all you needed for a good dubstep night was a massive soundsystem, a dark room, and a good DJ.

Youngsta beat juggling “Midnight Request Line,” Mala bringing the dance to a complete standstill before playing “Alicia” from the edge and wheeling “It Ain’t Got a Name” three times, Joe Nice playing “DMZ vs. MZN” and a load of other Mala dubs… there are too many memories to recount.

Sadly, this October they threw their last party and tossed in the towel. Often overshadowed by New York, Bassic was a world class night that Boston could call its own and it’ll be sorely missed by the dubstep scene.

I (Finally) Left the USA!

After a lifetime of traipsing around A+ Freedom Land, I forfeited my go-to Never Have I Ever power move and flew across the Atlantic for a week in the UK.

Here’s a thing I saw in Edinburgh:


I didn’t stay long, but got to visit some record shops in London (including the wonderfully eclectic Soul and Dance Exchange by Notting Hill Gate), talk to a lovely woman from Essex on the train from London to Edinburgh (her favorite car is the Ford Fiesta), dance under the “largest rotating disco ball in Europe,” and eat a Scooby Snack as I watched some private school cunt bag verbally accost anyone that tried to provide water to his (passed out, drunk) friend. Pretty much everything in the Fodor’s guide.

I also got to see some shows that were part of the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, including Tim Clare, who writes some nice poetry. Here’s some of his spoken word:

10/10 would do again. Shout to Grace and Dom for being gracious hosts.

disco ball abc glasgow
Glamorous, innit?

I Quit Drinking

I try not to talk too much about this for a lot of reasons, but mostly because my grandmother once told me “There’s nothing worse than a reformed alcoholic.” Pittsburgh’s a funny place.

On the flip side, I’ve benefited immensely from reading the stories of other people that have struggled with alcohol and decided to remove it from their story, so I want to pay it forward as appropriately as I can. Plus, I’ve noticed friends of mine either publicly or privately seeking advice on alcohol and I figure I might have a few other friends that haven’t felt comfortable enough to ask for help.

The short version is that after a year and half of heavy drinking and a string of increasingly poor decisions, not to mention being a pretty terrible person to folks that didn’t deserve it, I decided I needed to quit before I could get better.

I think there’s a big misconception about “rock bottom” and what that means and some false idea that you need to reach that point before you need to change your decision making process.  That’s not true at all. My life could have gotten much, much worse. I could have drank a lot more than I did. I still owned things that I’d never pissed on; my finest years were ahead of me! There’s no magical fuck up required to quit drinking, you just need to want to stop.

Getting wasted and trying out Alcotox was still a lot of fun though so no regrets there.

After School Special PSA: If you’ve thought about quitting or moderating, /r/stopdrinking was an indispensable resource for me. Or contact me if you want to chat. Or just have one for me.

I Made Hot Sauce

“Hey Kyle, I’m not using these Earth Boxes. Want to grow something?” – my friend (and roommate) Mike.

“Yeah, sure. I like habanero peppers so I’ll grow habanero peppers.” – Kyle the dumb ass.

Several months later…

red habanero peppers

Not pictured: 100 other habaneros.

If you’re wondering what a guy does with 100 habanero peppers, he has no choice but to make hot sauce. I’ve had some questions about how to make hot sauce, so here’s the abbreviated version:

Kyle’s “I Don’t Know, Just Google [Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe]” Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

  1. Grow yourself some motherfucking habanero peppers.
  2. Gather up these things:
    1.  carrots (1 cup, chopped)
    2. garlic (4 cloves, minced or just mash that shit up – no one really cares)
    3. onions (1/2 cup, chopped)
    4. white vinegar (1/4 cup, Heinz Brand (shout to my Pittsburgh massive))
    5. lime juice (1/4 cup, whatever brand, but tell your girl it’s fresh squeezed. Girls love that.)
    6. water (1/4 cup, but add more water if your “sauce” is more like a “paste” after step 7)habanero-hot-sauce-ingredients
  3. Throw some olive oil in the biggest, baddest pan you have in your kitchen. Yeah, that nice one your mom told you to be careful with.olive-oil-in-pan
  4. Throw the carrots, garlic, and onions in that pan. Stir ’em around for 5-8 minutes until soft.
  5. Throw everything from step 4 into a blender.
  6. Throw the peppers (about 6), vinegar, and 1/4 cup of a water into that very same blender.
  7. Blend
  8. Put it back in that nice pan you had there to soften it
  9. Blend it again, Sam.
  10. Bottle it! (I used these bottles and caps with great success)habanero-sauce-bottled
  11. Still have questions? You ask a lot of questions, not very charismatic.

That’s all, folks.

Happy New Year


  • RobbieVogel

    That hot sauce is delicious and currently being utilized in my kitchen. Good stuff

    • Kyle Risley

      Thanks dude! There’s more on the way – just need to blend up the peppers I dried.