John Wilkes Booth | Sic Semper Tyrannis

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Rock: Hard Rock Metal/Punk: Stoner Metal Moods: Mood: Angry
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Sic Semper Tyrannis

by John Wilkes Booth

Raw visceral dirt rock, played with brutal intensity and direct honesty.
Genre: Rock: Hard Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Eye Rack
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3:26 $0.99
2. Breathing For No Reason
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3:01 $0.99
3. Smack For Larry
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2:05 $0.99
4. Hey Girl
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3:43 $0.99
5. The Inner Workings
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3:29 $0.99
6. Rats In My Room
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2:34 $0.99
7. Number 7
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0:27 $0.99
8. Only The Facts
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3:44 $0.99
9. The Jesus Song
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3:06 $0.99
10. Albino Mechanic
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5:52 $0.99
11. Intro (The Harshest Return)
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2:02 $0.99
12. Loneliness Is Pure
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3:16 $0.99
13. Dense
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3:26 $0.99
14. Haze
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4:49 $0.99
15. Unknown Waiting
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4:12 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
John Wilkes Booth has just completed their first full length release Sic Semper Tyrannis. Booth fans, whose numbers are ever increasing, have eagerly been awaiting the fulfillment of promises for new tracks from the latest recording sessions. They will not be disappointed. Since the formation of the band in 2005, the band has consistently recorded and played live shows while continually escalating their fan base.

With a sound \"that draws largely from punk and stoner rock with just a small smattering of metal\" this eclectic quartet deems their brand of sinewy rhythms and bong fueled jams \"Dirt Rock.\" In 2006, John Wilkes Booth released a self titled EP. The tracks \"The Inner Workings\" & \"Only the Facts\" were featured on the Compilation \"Fumes from a Dead Scene\" in 2007. Both received praises from fans as well as critics.

John Wilkes Booth abides by a strict \"no-pay-to-play\" policy, refusing to financially compensate venues in order to be added to the bill. The band’s popularity has featured the foursome playing shows along the east coast with such national acts as The Hidden Hand, La Otracina, Zoroaster, Puny Human, Solace, Wooly Mammoth, and Wrecketh. The NY Speed Coalition reviewed the Booth show at Bar 131 and stated, \"The dirt rock assassins played an absolutely flawless set of bone shattering, ground shaking hard rock.\"

In May of 2008, Aural Fix, a Long Island magazine covering the local music scene, featured the band on the front cover. In 2007, John Wilkes Booth was chosen as a featured band on Fatcat Radio as well as selected as band of the week for Joe\'s Podhole. In June of that year, they were voted by listeners as band of the month on local radio station, Radiox. Podcasts and word of mouth have turned on audiences across America and the world.

Let Sic Semper Tyrannis assault your ears with the sound that so many fans have been waiting for. Let John Wilkes Booth assault your mind.

Included on the cd is the original self titled 4 song E.P. remastered


to write a review

Banesa Martinez (

Rockharder review
'Sic semper tyrannis' offers a bold sound experience when hardcore and grunge influences are crossed with punk and fuzz.

The New York band's debut album may seem difficult to listen to, to a certain extent. But the word challenging is actually a more equitable definition of the eclectic genre blend.

Both The Inner Workings and Albino Mechanic bring fresh and raw rock n roll. The hard rockers surprise uncompromisingly and repeatedly with alluring bombs throughout the fifteen tracks. Out of which four already appeared on the self-titled EP (2006) and becomes an extra fist of audio sprinkles to your ear meatuses.

The frontman shoulders a heavy responsibility when he, with unpolished singing-contributions, succeeds to embody the rest of the band's sound. JOHN WILKES BOOTH would simply not be the same without the character-driven vocals. Just as the band wouldn't hold on the same quality without the musics rock-solid attitude. A style they call 'Dirt Rock'.

The Long Island-boys set the right spirit when you're planning grand plans against greedy multinational corporations. Or why not in the fight against skinheads.

Allow yourself to be loaded full of power and stamina!

JJ Koczan

NJ Aquarian review
The band that I’ve lovingly referred
to as “Long Island’s Kyuss” for a couple
years now finally present their first full-
length, a 15-track collection that
includes their debut EP as bonus
Having heard these songs live
at various shows throughout the New
York area, I can attest to the well-done
preservation of the band’s live sound
in the recordings, even if it’s not as
loud coming out my tiny computer
speakers as it is their Mesa Boogie
and Ampeg cabinets.
Singer Kerry’s voice comes directly
out of his stomach, Jason’s guitar
jumps from catchy and memorable
riffs like it’s wearing moonshoes, and
the rhythm section of Harry (bass) and
Christian (drums) drive tracks like
“Breathing For No Reason” and “Only
The Facts”—the latter a stop-and-start
number that has been in my head since
I got the record—offers solid rock chops
that add dynamics and heaviness to
what other players would gloss over
with more straightforward approaches.
Highlight cuts “Albino Mechanic,”
“The Inner Workings” and “Eye Rack”
display the essential foundation of what
JWB have to offer: Crisp, well-written
stoner-ish metal with a post-grunge
bent and pleasantly surprising amount
of individuality.
Next release will have
a label logo there if the band wants
Hit up myspace. com/jwilkesbooth
to get your copy of this in the meantime.

Jay Snyder

Hellride review
Finally a proper full-length outing from Long Island’s miscreant rock outfit, John Wilkes Booth sees the light of day. Last time we checked in on this oftentimes misguided reviewer, I had a poor track record with the band. I missed out on the live set in Pittsburgh and completely let a review of their demo fall by the wayside. Getting my ass in gear, I at least made sure to review their tunes on the Fumes from a Dead Scene compilation. Yeah, good job Jay. I gotta be hard on myself here because theirs is a sound I really want to keep up with.

They’ve got a strange amalgamation of sounds going on. Not quite punk, not quite stoner rock, not quite noise-rock and not quite metal. Instead there’s a bit of all four on display. The result is akin to throwing The Stooges, COC, Unsane, Motorhead and Independent Worm Saloon era Butthole Surfers into a seedy, NY barroom brawl then watching the personalities clash. Hell, a few tracks even have some atmospheric wrangling that brought a glimpse of Kyuss into view. Ripping guitar noise plunders the dark alley riffs, casting them in a truly frightening light. Don’t think its all blackness as this shit knows its way around a rock n’ roll hook and keeps a keen eye on the big grooves; rounded out by phenomenal bass work that grounds the sound, and even brings the blues front n’ center on several important occasions. Despite the power of the music, everything could fall apart without the proper nut job flexing his vocal pipes. Luckily, vocalist Kerry is nutty enough to fill the roll. Never really singing and never really screaming, his battery is a volley of unpolished Cajun-smoked howling. If you’re expecting pretty, power crooning…you better get the fuck out of Dodge. Those who like their singers with whiskey bottle in hand, you’ll be smiling ear to ear.

Full-throttle rock n’ roller “Eye Rack” kicks us off an unusual note; not your expected opener that’s for damn sure. The early going seems typical enough as ass-kicking stoner rock permeates the verses, turning into simple punk riffing during the chorus. Guitar licks maintain a high octane boogie, cemented down by an airtight rhythm rumpus. Around the 1:20 mark, things take a bleaker turn. Ebbing rhythms smolder beneath a stalk n’ slash melodic shuffle, allowing vocalist Kerry to half sing/half shout his vocals. It might not seem like a big change at first but repeated listening reveals stoner rock’s darker side of the moon. This subtle cascade of atmospherics eventually culminates with the return of rock n’ roll’s forked tongue visage, therefore completing the many changes of this serpentine roadburner.

JWB’s atypical shrug continues to ring loud n’ clear on the staccato brain-crush riffs that initiate “Breathing for No Reason”. Is it just me or is there both Helmet and 16 in a few of the juggernaut grooves that pop up throughout this one? These grooves are ever so slightly twisted by a stoner-tinge and further deformed by noisy soloing that will explode the eyeballs right out of your skull. Memorable vocal patterns breathe a turret of fire straight up your ass as the ironclad boogie is rendered unsinkable. Forget that flimsy Titanic, the SS Booth is the strongest ship to ever sail the seven seas.

Taking a brief moment to tug at the heartstrings with the “tender” (yeah right) instrumentalisms of “Smack for Larry”, the band bastes a mild layer of distortion over the hollerin’, smart aleck vocals and somber acoustic guitars. Guess they were hoping for their spot on MTV’s Unplugged. Too bad “Hey Girl” comes lumbering in like a highly boozed up, grungy version of Motorhead; assassinating their shot at the big time. Imagine Lemmy enlisting Cobain on second guitar and you’ve got an idea of the slightly alt-rock damaged psychosis you’re about to experience. Noised-out guitar squeals shake off the malaise of a bad amphetamine binge while shifty beats, steadfast bottom-end and a double barrel blast of sludge-y riffs make sure you stay hung-over.

“The Inner Workings” returns from the band’s heralded portion of the Fumes from a Dead Scene comp. This is where the Kyussian drone I spoke of earlier, comes wafting into the room. Again JWB toys with a greyer palette of atmospherics. The opening riffs wander in tandem with Kerry’s drawn out yowls, painting us a perfect picture of the desert’s ominous nighttime skies. The sun shines again as the sunny side of stoner rock emerges, gloriously catching the groove of the elder gods. With eyes darting back and forth, JWB switches effortlessly between the song’s Jekyll and Hyde personas in more than one instance. I’ll bet it comes as a shock when the smooth flow of this tune is obliterated by the noise-punk, fuck you attitude of “Rats in my Room”. There are not just rats in this room as I’m sure there’s also a stack of GG Allin, Helmet and Unsane vinyls. The song is a fucking audio ruckus of grand proportions with enough dirt n’ grime under the fingernails to please all of the older punk rockers out there. While a far cry from the preceding tune, it is just as good.

A red hot drum solo is the lone occupant of track #7, showcasing the bravado and balls of Christian’s tense skin-pounding, clearing the road for the slow motion slam of “Only the Facts”. Again the jagged dissonance of noise-rock creates a thick fog of distortion as it floats across a collapsing floor of broken nails and molasses thick sludge. Picking up the pace, JWB brings touches of boogie rock to the sandpaper grooves and dynamite fills.

The final trifecta of “The Jesus Song”, “Albino Mechanic” and “Intro (The Harshest Return)” bring Southern rock, slightly sludged-out Kyuss flavored groove and instrumental, feedback battered doom respectively; rounding out the band’s new material. Probably three of the album’s best tracks to boot but that’s not all! You get JWB’s 4 track EP as an added bonus. The songwriting is a bit more rugged here but there’s definitely some high flying moments. “Haze” and “Unknown Waiting” have grooves and licks strong enough to stand toe to toe with any of the tracks intended for Sic Semper Tyrannis. Damn nice to have these tracks compiled onto the album to give newcomers a complete JWB listening experience.

At heart, Sic Semper Tyrannis is a rock album. It doesn’t cater to any particular type of rock, opting to take several kinds and fuck ‘em all up on drugs and booze. The overall sound equates to something fresh and exciting. Stoners will love them for their adherence to a powerful groove motif but all the bad dudes into dirty punk and even noise-rock will have a definite shot at digging on this. All I know is that I’m goddamn glad I finally got with the program. My apologies to the whole of JWB, I had no idea what I was missing out on and I certainly won’t be missing out on the live show in March. Highly recommended for stoner rock fans looking for a uniquely noisy and altogether different take on the sound.


Sugarbuzz Magazine
Long Island, NY, is the 17th most populated island in the world- even more than Ireland and Jamaica. And amongst it’s roughly 5,470 people per sq mile, are 4 dudes named Kerry, Jason, Harry, and Christian. And together, they form the band John Wilkes Booth… you know, named after that guy who offed Honest Abe. And speaking of offing, that’s what this band will do to your socks… if you like that dirty, gritty, garage rock sound.

Imagine a toned down Rage Against the Machine, if you will. They’re not as angry, political, or “metallic”, but they have that grinding guitar chords, smacking bass, and thick drum sound. They could easily be an early SubPop band, but they aren’t.

John Wilkes Booth reminds me of the 1990s Minneapolis “metal” scene- the likes of Janitor Joe, Hammerhead, Arcwelder. I can hear the Melvins and Sebadoh influence. And strangely enough, I hear The Who at times as well- especially in “Smack for Larry”.

Their debut full-length release titled “Sic Semper Tyrannis” is stoner rock/punk/grunge/garage/metal for the masses. The fact that they have opened for bands like Atlanta’s own “experimental/psychedelic metal” bands Zoroaster and Doomsayer- well, I know a shit ton of doomy redneck stoner rockers who will automatically give these guys the thumbs up. They are raw, yet they are tight.

Sadly, I can only handle so much of this kind of stuff in one sitting. I prefer to listen to “Sic Semper Tyrranis” in two sets- listening to the newer material first, and the last 4 songs that are from their original EP at a different time. Nonetheless, John Wilkes Booth has a subtle hint from the past mixed with the underground sound of now that is a welcomed change from the cookie-cutter radio crap of today.

Swede (FatCat Radio)

A review from the Land of Lincoln
Wow, there sure are some long winded reviewer who've posted prior to me!! I'll keep mine short and sweet. JWB rocks. 'Sic Semper Tryannis' is one of my Top CDs of 2008. Great songs, great production and plenty of attitude to spare.
Standout tracks include: Eye Rack, Hey Girl, and all of the 'bonus' tracks included from an earlier EP.

-Swede, Founder of the FatCat Radio Network (, December 2008.

Dennis Scanland

Music Emissions review
The onesheet that came with the brand spanking new John Wilkes Booth album Sic Semper Tyrannis was bang on. It stated that this Long Island based foursome mixed punk and stoner rock with a small smattering of metal. I couldn't have said it better. I've heard rumblings of this album for quite sometime (not as long as Chinese Democracy) but it is only now that this thick album surfaces. John Wilkes Booth has been around since 2005, releasing a self-titled EP in 2006 that got fans salivating for their full-length.

This album is awesome for a self-made effort. It starts off very strong with "Eye Rack", showing more of the punk roots of the band. They get pretty bottom heavy on tracks such as "Breathing For No Reason". It has more of the stoner rock feel but you can still hear a definite hardcore punk influence at play. More punk is present on "Rats In My Room". Then the true stoner rock comes out in "The Jesus Song". You can almost call it sludgy. They could have saved me an earache by eliminating the first minute off of "Haze" with the feedback. That song has a fun gentle groove to it.

So the difference between these Long Islander's as opposed to other stoner rock classicists such as Fu Manchu is JWB tend to relying on being heavier as opposed to groovier. I would suggest that the band work just a bit more on polishing the final product. The songs are so solid but they would have seen slight improvement had they had that perfect polish that you tend to get from a Brant Bjork release. All in all Sic Semper Tyrannis is an stellar debut album.
- Dennis Scanland

Mike SOS (

Gears of Rock
Long Island unit John Wilkes Booth create a mountainous yet delectable wall of sonic overload on their latest 15-track affair, the viscous SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS. Heavy and crushing yet never remiss to keep their excessive slabs of doom-laden boogie rock memorable (”The Inner Workings”), tracks like “Eye Rack” and “Hey Girl” simultaneously stomp you in the gut and stick in your head for days thanks to the infectious guitar hooks and unique vocal delivery over the dastardly rhythm section’s voluminous exhibitions. This is an album chock full of desert rock dynamic shifts, stoner rock subtleties, and hard rock harangue with an attention to detail and a keen sense of musicianship steering the ship, as these titans of tinnitus take their self-professed s t y l e known as dirt rock for an unbridled journey through the timelines of underground metal’s elite noise mongering squads. If you dig the likes of bands that still set the benchmark for left of center metal excellence such as Clutch, Kyuss, and Jesus Lizard, John Wilkes Booth will be your new favorite band.

The RIpple Effect (

The Ripple Effect
Veteran scuzz/fuzz rockers, John Wilkes Booth blow the fucking dust off your bong with this adrenalinized blast of what the boys affectionately call "dirt rock." In truth, there's no arguing that tag, this is dirty, ballsy, scuzzy and sleazy, hard biting, punked-up rock and roll. What the boys don't tell you however, are the masses of nasty little critters living in their dirt. "Eye Rack," the lead-off track and by far one of my favorite stoner metal songs of this short new year, jumps off the CD spincoat like a rattlesnake shooting right at your scrotum. Blessed with a freaking awesome, grove-infested riff, this rattlesnake's not content hanging onto your ball sack, but quickly starts taking poisonous stabs at your privates. Not a song you'll forget. The rest of the CD follows suit, just one explosive exploration through the dirt pits of JWB's music. "Breathing For No Reason," barks in gangrenous stoner metal territory, again riding a groove that can drag your ass all the way through the desert. "Smack for Larry," brims with a grungy/alt-rock moodiness with vocals as expressive as Violent Femmes. "Hey Girl," belches in waves of of putrid punk popping up in the dirt, along with huge swathes of metal stoner weeds. A dirty, nasty trip and one you'll thank your lucky stars you took.

Ray Van Horn, Jr.
John Wilkes Booth - Sic Semper Tyrannis
2008 Bukkake Orange
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Persistence gets my attention eventually and suffice it to say after being contacted a few times by vocalist Kerry Merkle of the grime punk band John Wilkes Booth, The Metal Minute happily accepted a copy of his band\'s remarkably solid full-length debut Sic Semper Tyrannis.

What do I like most about John Wilkes Booth? I\'m referring to the band, of course, because the actual living Booth was a crybaby fop who couldn\'t accept the fact his homeland army (brillianly led as the Confederacy was) was doomed from the start. Wherever your sympathies lie, the South lost due to an inept quasi-president and moreover, the lack of a sustainable economy, particularly one unable to keep its otherwise formidable infantry properly clothed and fed. Of course, a hedonistic total warfare executioner like Sherman planted the premature headstone with his first order to set fire to Southern cities. Interesting to think if the South won the war or at least forced a stalemate, because the future would\'ve been more explosive than it already was (nobody would\'ve wanted to set foot past the Virginia border in the sixties, trust me). Assuredly one John Wilkes Booth would\'ve had no reason to drill a bullet into Abraham Lincoln out of spiteful vengeance for a lost cause. What then, on the plotline of history?

Would we then have had John Wilkes Booth the band? Maybe, but they probably would\'ve been known as John Hinckley, as in the would-be snuffer of Ronald Reagan. As a punk rock band at their core, John Wilkes Booth under said alter ego would\'ve thus swiped the standard from the Dead Kennedys for most uncomfortably amusing political potshot ever. Funny to think that no band named John Hinckley cropped up during the eighties since Reagan (along with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher) had punk rock\'s biggest heat seeking bullseye taped to his back. Guess we\'ll settle for a later-year punk act that has enough tact to dismiss our current president who\'s already digging forked tongues out of his hopeless keister and dip back more than a century to derive a brazen namesake. To boot, John Wilkes Booth throws a party on the tab of their figurehead, participating in \"punk rock pillowfight\" shows and coralling a slew of ridiculously funny caricatures.

Not that John Wilkes Booth is bluntly political in their business. In fact, there\'s almost no proselitizing or soapboxing to John Wilkes Booth\'s snub-nosed \"dirt rock,\" as they call it. In essence, this Long Island quartet possesses the inherent attitude and snide chicanery of punk and garage rock culminated from an eighties versus nineties hodgepodge: Mudhoney to Nirvana to JFA to Black Flag to Kyuss to the Melvins.

As Sic Semper Tyrannis opens with the instantly gratifying stomper \"Eye Rack,\" John Wilkes Booth establishes out the gate they\'re a smart bunch of musicians and not gimmicky cellar dwellers clad in faux politburo pants. These guys can play quite well on punchy songs like the Helmet-dashed \"Breathing for No Reason\" and the jam whirlwind that unravels coolly and hazily for six minutes on \"Albino Mechanic.\" There\'s even some smuggled funk sludge ala Clutch (\"The Inner Workings\" for example) and an almost hilarious merge between Black Flag and Monster Magnet on \"Rats In My Room.\"

Frequently clever, John Wilkes Booth utilizes a jazz-type of drum solo from Christian Horstmann to lead into the anxiety-laden \"Only the Facts,\" which employs a similar razor-dragging-across-the-proverbial-vein effect that Steve Austin does as a speciality in Today is the Day. \"Only the Facts\" is sharply-written and it pays off in dividends with scraping riffs from Jason Beickert, clobbering beats and dosed wailing from Kerry Merkle. Ditto for the subsequent snarling ditty \"The Jesus Song,\" which needles out strains of Clutch, Skrape and The Melvins.

Included on Sic Semper Tyrannis is John Wilkes Booth\'s four song EP, which has only maybe a difference in fidelity, but is an equally exciting announcement of a rapidly-developing band you\'re likely missing out on. For these guys to sound this hot on their own duckets only means one of two things: a record contract is going to make them legendary or it\'s going to turn a potentially great band into a smoldering ash of its former self (the once-vibrant Quicksand comes to mind in that respect).

Still, you get the feeling that John Wilkes Booth will take their sweet time getting along whatever road they seek to travel. These guys watchdog the scene as much as they cheekily rip apart Lincoln and his mustachioed assassin. Pay-to-play venues beware; this John Wilkes Booth is equally sniper-minded.

Rating: ****

Michael Gasper

We Have The Technology \'Zine
I don\'t remember details of my MySpace surfing, but a few months ago I landed on the Long Island band John Wilkes Booth\'s site and became transfixed by the brutal music the band calls \"dirt rock\" and I was hooked. I\'ve been waiting for them to come out with their 1st full-length CD and they finally have. This new release is something to buy by a band to watch. They are one of our best finds of \'08. The band formed in 2005 and released a self-titled EP the following year that also rocks. This stuff is not punk, not metal. Dirt rock they say. Fortunately for late comers like myself, the 4-song EP included at the end of the new \"Sic Semper Tyrannis\" CD. So what exactly is this \"dirt rock\" they keep playing and talking about. I asked vocalist Kerry (Merkle) if it rises from the metal era of Black Flag (think the \"My War\" album) and Iggy and the Stooges\'s \"Fun House\" album, especially that record\'s \"Dirt\" (Oooh, I\'ve been hurt/And I don\'t care/ Ooh, I\'ve been dirt/And I don\'t care...). Kerry said I was getting a bit warm. The brutal, but roughly beautiful assault begins with \"Eye Rack\", a rocking plea for the safety of an apparent friend being sent to Iraq. It hints darkly at the mistaken US policies gone awry and the deadly personal situation this Iraq-bound buddy must now face head-on. Sounds like a college radio fave with the tougher left-of-the-dial radio show formats. Even at their most accoustic, like \"Smack For Larry\", the band is as intense and spooky as Iggy on his accoustic-driven classic \"Gimme Danger\", yet the Booth boys are still quite original. There seem to be many influences here, and some are not too obvious. Regardless, JWB will strike you like a bullet to the head. The only recent hard, hard rock find I\'ve come up with to rival these guys is Athens, OH\'s We March. Both are tough as hell. JWB have already opened for national acts such as The Hidden Hand, Zoroster, Puny Human, Wooly Mammoth and Wrecketh. These guys have also been known to spice things up with unusual studio production on tracks like \"Hey Girl\" and especially the EP\'s \"Haze\" with it\'s bizarro feedback and generally noisy long intro. This is one band to hang with. They will not be forced into a box anytime soon. Get ready for 15 tracks that will assassinate your ears. And once you order their CD don\'t forget to check out the truly inspired blogging by bassist Harry (Vrooman). Harry is murderously funny and fun.
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