Saturday, October 20, 2007

John Henry West - s/t



Kirsch is a crucial, and alcoholic, ingredient in the making of the Black Forest Gateau dessert. It’s also the surname of one of the most prolific, wide-ranging and creative artists in American hardcore from the 1990s onwards. Mike Kirsch’s bands – later, ‘projects’ – span such household names as the Fugazi-ish yet authentically heartfelt Fuel, the chaotic, subversive aggression of Bread and Circuits, or the media-soaked, sample-heavy and cumbersomely named Please Inform The Captain This Is a Hijack. At the moment, Burning Down the Dreams of Forever are undertaking to posting from all of his (14 and counting) different bands. You can see the specific list here; there’s also been similar posts on ROAWR!. I’ve taken it upon myself to post this particular release; the self-titled John Henry West from 1993.

There are several reasons for liking this record. For a start, it’s a Gravity Records release. If you don’t know what that means, it is the label of Angel Hair, Clikatat Ikatowi, Heroin etc. Intense, noisy, emotional and abrasive hardcore punk mostly from the earlier part of the 90’s, based around San Diego. John Henry West is one of the more abrasive works of this genre that I know – Clikatat’s River of Souls would be an example of the sound stretched out a bit. This, however, is raw and direct.

It’s raw especially because of the inclusion on guitar of a certain Cory Linstrum. This is second reason for liking this record. Cory went on, one year after this record, to release the Han Shan 7” which kicked off this blog. On both he contributes a particularly dense guitar sound, part typical of the Gravity of discordancy but also of the Black Flag/Pissed Jeans sort of sludgy texture; the perfect kind of sonic anarchism to blend with Kirsch’s tortured vocals.

Finally, John Henry West is another one of those encapsulatory records which concisely sums up a moment in musical history; more generous than just a 7”, it still packs the brevity and potency of a typical Gravity release. Short, but not that sweet.


John Henry West - s/t

YouTube video of the song 'Avoiding' (thanks to sweetbabyjaysus)

15 comments:

Ricardo said...

Thanks!!!

Please post some record of BURY ME STANDING.

gabbagabbahey said...

sorry, don't have anything by them...

dcharles said...

thank you for this post.

sapila said...

i have a live set (50th jhw show) and its way better.. i prefer end of the line tho

rgratzer said...

Isn't it Cory, not Kirsch, singing? Same singer as End of the Line and Han Shan...

Ricardo, I have the Bury Me Standing/This Machine Kills split 7" (I played drums on the tmk side), so I may post that at some point. I used to have another BMS record (or CD, I think), but I dunno where it is.

gabbagabbahey said...

yeah, it is the same singer I think - but I think the guitar sound is similar too. The whole thing sounds quite like Han Shan, (which is why I like it so much!)

if someone could clarify what Cory Linstrum (possibly himself, as he was around here a while ago) does on this record, I'd be glad and I'll put in an edit accordingly.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Cory, not Kirsch, was definitely the singer for John Henry West as well as End of the Line and Han Shan

philip sherburne said...

man, you rule! this is one of my very favorite records...

gabbagabbahey said...

thanks. I try...

Machete said...

Great POST!! Thank you very much, can't wait to hear this. Mike kirsch is a genius.

check my blog btw: http://slo-punk-rock.blogspot.com/

Machete said...

Great POST!! Thank you very much, can't wait to hear this. Mike kirsch is a genius.

check my blog btw: http://slo-punk-rock.blogspot.com/

world's most civilized baboon said...

John Henry West consisted of cory linstrum on vocals (han shan, end of the line), mike kirsch on one guitar, mike martinez on the other guitar (reach out, sixteen bullets, cars get crushed), jon bower on bass (araby, scherzo), and dave batista on drums (late crownhate ruin).
they were from the bay area and existed in the early 90s, circa 1993.
Allegedly ebullition records is still going to release a discography LP/CD.
everyone should email Kent and bug the shit out of him until he releases it. It is pretty much done, I think that he is just sitting on it.

Anonymous said...

John Henry West lineup:

Cory - v

Mike k - g

jon - g

mike m - b (went on to play guitar later in Sixteen Bullets and later Cars Get Crushed)

dave - drums

They were seriously out of control.

Anonymous said...

Dude I am forever in mad hardcore passionate love for you forever for putting this up. Lost my 7inch years ago and have been trying to find this, thank you!

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