Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sound Waves: Television Personalities

Time for me to start posting good music. Welcome to Sound Waves.

TELEVISION PERSONALITIES – And Don’t the Kids Just Love It (1981, Rough Trade)

The Television Personalities is an English group with a varying line-up. The only constant member is singer–songwriter Dan Treacy, who uses the band as a vehicle for his music. The band’s first release (January 1978) was the single “14th Floor / Oxford Street W1”. Its second release, the EP Where’s Bill Grundy Now? features one of its best-known songs, “Part Time Punks”.

The Television Personalities’ first album And Don’t the Kids Just Love It was released in 1981. It set the template for their subsequent career: neo-psychedelia, an obsession with youth culture of the 1960s, a fey, slightly camp lyrical attitude, and the occasional classic pop song.

(Wikipedia)


Chocolat Art (Live at Forum, Enger 20 September 1984)

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Enter Naomi: SST, L.A., and All That… by Joe Carducci

Enter Naomi: SST, L.A., and All That by Joe Carducci

I’d been meaning to read Carducci’s eulogy of Naomi Petersen for a while, and once I got my hands on a copy I stormed through it in no time. Right up my alley to say the least. Much has been written and reviewed about it so I’ll defer to others as, despite being a voracious reader, somehow I don’t have the same comfort in throwing out a book review as I do music. Go figure. Music is more visceral and immediate, and generally something hits me or it doesn’t, even if it can “only” grow on me I’ll generally know. Anyway, here’s what others have said, all credit goes to the associated authors, websites, etc.

This is stolen from the Blastitude blog (an outstanding site in it’s own right), and sums up my feelings accurately as I read through Enter Naomi:

I’ve now read Enter Naomi by Joe Carducci two or three times and I’m not sure if I’ve got what it takes to write about it yet, or ever. By now you might be familiar with the subject, Naomi Peterson, the truly gifted in-house band photographer during the glory years of SST Records. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 39 and her long-time friend and coworker Carducci wrote this book to not only eulogize her, beautifully and expansively, but to eulogize his entire experience at SST Records and how the label epitomized punk as “the nihilist phase of the hippie movement” (“what was left when Hippie found out it had been wrong”), all of which he does in a downright punk-Proustian fashion, fragmented, discursive, occasionally frustrating, and not everyone may want to hang, but there is so much insight here, especially regarding how Black Flag and SST developed, that I’ve been going over the pages again and again. For just one example, there’s the way the book deals with the city of Hermosa Beach as the petri dish where this culture incubated, laying out its history as a surf/beatnik/jazz/boho hamlet where misfits like Greg and Raymond Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, and Spot could really develop a sense of individuality, including such important details as a city highway and transportation system that made it somewhat inconvenient for tourists and daytrippers to ever end up there. The book even reproduces a two-page aerial photo of downtown Hermosa Beach, the Pacific Ocean sprawled out majestically right at the top, with all the key spots annotated. (The Church! The Würmhole! Media Arts! The vegetarian restaurant where Greg met Spot!) I’ve probably spent a full hour staring at this spread alone. Not to mention an extensive excerpt from Peterson’s portfolio, lovingly reproduced, along with lots of other photos, postcards, letters, invoices, and other ephemera that allows these fragments of memory to really take root and grow in the mind of the reader. One of many brief anecdotes that kind of sum everything up is the one about SST Records being in between office spaces and Chuck Dukowski temporarily running the label from a bank of pay phones on a sidewalk in L.A.’s Koreatown. Sez Dukowski, “Once I got started I just grooved and kinda enjoyed what was good about the situation: outside, stuff going on, ya know.” Sez Carducci, “Chuck’s and the others’ ability to roll with anything and enjoy it no matter how goofy, embarrassing, or dangerous was one of the fundamental building blocks of Black Flag and the SST approach.” Hell yeah, that ability is one of the fundamental building blocks of any kind of life with any guts, thanks again to Naomi, Joe, Chuck and everyone else for the examples.

James Parker (author of Turned On: A Biography f Henry Rollins) in the Boston Phoenix:

Joe Carducci (Naomi Petersen)

Naomi Petersen was not famous. Neither was she semi-famous, almost famous, post-famous, or notorious. Nonentity, indeed, seems to have been closer to the elements of her nature than celebrity. Success (conventionally measured) was of little interest to her; at times of stress she was a blackout drunk; and the love of her life was the no-hope clangor of the LA punk-rock underground. She died alone in a hotel room, in 2003, at the age of 38, and it would be years before some of her friends even knew she was gone.

And now there is a book about her: Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That . . . (Redoubt Press). Why? Because one of those friends was Joe Carducci, prose master and author of Rock & the Pop Narcotic. Carducci got to know Petersen at the start of the ’80s, when he was working for SST Records and she was a meek, damaged, but adventurous teenager, parlaying her skill with a camera and her intuitive relationship with the SST roster into an unofficial gig as the label’s house photographer. Black Flag, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Hüsker Dü, Saccharine Trust, Saint Vitus: the jutting, image-allergic strangeness of these bands entered the prism of her lens and came out somehow . . . viable, without being in the least palliated or diminished. Carducci watched Petersen grow as a photographer and as a woman, admired and pitied her for the shit she had to take in an uncompromisingly male, low-rent environment (“There was something of a toll that women or girls paid when they got next to Black Flag” ), and then — as the fires of punk rock shrank to the brooding embers of pre-Nirvana “alternative music” — lost touch. Hearing of her death two years after the fact, in 2005, he was horrified; in his subsequent attempt to rescue something from the oblivion that had overtaken their friendship can be found the germ of this remarkable book.

Carducci is crankily unapologetic in his conviction that the American musical rebellion of the early ’80s, particularly as manifested in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, was freakdom’s last stand. “Our closing frontier,” he writes in Enter Naomi, “was the sixties cultural revolution as it died out in the seventies and early eighties. In retrospect the Black Flag/SST story looks like a cultural analogue to the Manson-Weathermen-S.L.A.-Black Panther-Nixon White House-People’s Temple endgame — art just had more life in it than crime or politics or religion.”

Maybe all elegies are manifestos in a sense, and all manifestos elegies. At the heart of it all, of course, are Black Flag — a band, Carducci writes, “evolved to withstand failure on any scale.” Chaotic, imprisoned head music allied to huge discipline: the indeflectibility of Greg Ginn, Flag’s founder/guitar genius and SST boss, was as impressive as it was merciless, and it left plenty of people behind. Among other witnesses, Carducci is kind enough to cite, as fringe testimony, my own portion of the SST literature: an unauthorized biography of Henry Rollins that I wrote back in the Grunge Age. He needn’t have, but as a brief turner over of stones in that area I can vouch for his evocation of the SST world as a sort of Darwinian bohemia, where minds and bodies exposed themselves to constant hazard in pursuit of some quite unnamable satisfaction. These people lived under desks, with strips of floor carpeting for makeshift curtains, eating crackers and dogfood. And when they went out on the road, everybody wanted to beat them up! I exaggerate only slightly. They were, Carducci writes, “the best people money couldn’t buy,” in an age when involvement with good music “cost you something.”

Books that resist generic classification are condemned, by definition, to find their own audience: it takes as long as it takes. Enter Naomi, like Geoff Dyer’s non-biography of D.H. Lawrence Out of Sheer Rage, Joseph Mitchell’s tramp arcanum Joe Gould’s Secret, or J.R. Ackerley’s canine valentine My Dog Tulip, is a one-off, and its strangeness and formlessness more or less guarantee it an undetermined period of literary exile. But history will not, in the end, be able to resist it. The kids will be listening to Black Flag’s Damaged one day, or Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, and they’ll want to know: these nutters, how did they do it? What improbable victories were theirs? And at what cost? And Enter Naomi, as a document, a monument, a work of art, and — not least — a love letter, will come into the kingdom.

Steve Appleford in the LA Weekly:

Naomi Petersen (photo: Marco Mathieu)

This stuff is dangerous, and that was part of its charm, before punk became a fashion statement and major-label marketing plan, instead of what it first represented: a venue for unpredictable aggression and the avant-garde. SST in Hermosa Beach was about something else. And in 1990, Carducci wrote his own history lesson and 300-page manifesto, fueled by a desire for a return to the carnality of pure rock & roll, and fearing that the whole movement would be forgotten otherwise. His Rock and the Pop Narcotic was as startling and obsessive a statement on rock and its impostors as Richard Meltzer’s TheAesthetics of Rock had been for another generation of disagreeable rock thinkers.

Carducci’s now done the same for Naomi Petersen, the house photographer for SST, who died in 2003. His memoir, Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That, takes a hard look back at his time in L.A., at the music and contradictions of that scene, and what it meant to be a woman in the uncompromising world of Black Flag.

Carducci left SST back in 1986, amid growing tension at the label. He wanted to get back to writing. He kept in touch with Petersen for another decade by mail after returning to his former home of Chicago, then moving to Wyoming. She contributed some photographs to his Rock and the Pop Narcotic. But he lost touch with her until hearing of her death, after years of fading health and heavy drinking.

Carducci wrote Enter Naomi not simply because Petersen had died, but because it took two years for him to even hear about it. “It really was like a gut punch,” says Carducci, now 52. “And it goes back to that night when she was bleeding on the floor from her wrists. I was afraid of this in some way.”

Enter Naomi is lovingly researched and bluntly told in rich detail, sometimes lifting from Petersen’s journal entries (“Fucked day — someone shot my car”). It’s also an impressionistic view, at times requiring some awareness of the SST scene and certain events to fully grasp. But Carducci takes it deeper, as only one who knew the players could.

Needless to say, this is truly an important book for its insights into the subjects touched upon above. You can get your own copy via Night Heron Books.

Maryland Deathfest: Baltimore, May 26-30, 2011

Maryland Deathfest IX will be going off in Baltimore, May 26th-30th, 2011, and I have 1 extra 4 day pass. If I know you, I have the ticket and hotel taken care of, you just need a flight. If not, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to let you know how to buy the pass. I’m selling it for under face value, and as of this writing there are officially under 30 left on the MDF ticket page! Check out the bandlist, then tell me this ain’t a great fucking deal.

 

Inquisition “Upon the Fire Winged Demon”

 

Ghost “Ritual”

 

Marduk “The Black Tormentor of Satan”

 

Neurosis “To What End”

 

Orange Goblin “Scorpionica”

George Jones @ Rodeo Austin

The Ol’ Possum played the Rodeo Austin: Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo in place of the incomparable Loretta Lynn, and it was a night for a lifetime for a fan. There couldn’t have been more than a few thousand people there, and George still rocked it as best he could. He’s definitely getting old and his voice is having trouble hitting all of the old notes, but that didn’t stop him from rolling out versions of “Why Baby Why” and a great medley of “White Lightning/The Window Up Above/She Thinks I Still Care”. The older, faster tunes definitely needed to be slowed down so he could keep up, and he and the band have structured the set so that he has what I would call a co-singer that helps fill the gaps in the songs he has trouble and the band delivers several rockin’ fun instrumental bluegrass tunes to help give his voice a rest and fill out the set. They rest of the night was mostly down-tempo hits from the 70s and 80s like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and gospel tunes, and it was an all-around fun time to see George do his thing, have fun, and not miss a beat.

He promised they’d be back before it was all over , and I highly encourage you to see him if you get a chance. He seemed in great spirits, but there was a certain sadness that crept into the proceedings when he talked about how the world doesn’t care about “traditional country music” (i.e., the only real country music) and he seemed to feel largely forgotten about. That seemed to me an incredible tragedy. We’ve lost enough culture over the last 10 years, it’s a shame that real, good music is fading in favor of plastic, electronic voice tuning, sugar, money, and plastic.

I, for one, will never forget…

 

Here’s to hoping that Loretta will stop back in to make up for canceling too, it doesn’t get any better than this…

Rotting Christ @ Emo’s

Well, what the fuck?! I’m at the Rotting Christ show at Emo’s, there’s less than 100 people here. Utterly bizarre. Obviously one of the best metal bands of the last 20 years will have no incentive for returning. They’re about to go on…

Rotting Christ “King of Stellar War” – Fuzz Club, Athens – January 8, 2011

 
What a show! They destroyed in a tiny room to a tiny crowd. Seems that they cut the set short a bit, but they played their asses off anyway. Let that be a lesson to you. They played about half new songs from AEALO and half songs from Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, Non-Servium, Passage to Arcturo, etc. I lost my shit during “King of a Stellar War” as I’ve been waiting since 1996 to hear it live. Fuckin’ incredible.

You motherfuckers are pathetic. One of your favorite bands comes to town and NOBODY shows up?! Amazing. There were probably 60 or 70 people there total, and they had to be 90% from San Antonio and surrounding areas. If there we’re more than 10 people from Austin, I’d be shocked. The band kept saying, “Thanks, Austin!”…little did they know. You people are a goddamned embarrassment.

As was said, “thanks, Austin”. You missed an amazing show, and didn’t give any band any reason to ever come to this town again. I hope you had fun sitting on your asses at home just like you’ll keep resting on your non-existent musical laurels. Maybe if you saw how a real band does it you’d make something of your own fading musical aspirations. Here’s to all of you never having your shows attended again and having the paying customers rightfully laugh you off the stage. As a friend said at the show, “they’re all sitting around at home playing Woody Guthrie songs”. Nothing wrong with that if that’s your new thing and you’ve outgrown metal or whatever your sad excuse is, but I didn’t see you at George Jones either. Come to think of it, most of you don’t do shit. Consider this a big fuck off for ever supporting your bands again. Very few of you know what the hell you’re doing anyway, it’s just that nobody but me has the balls to tell you.

You lazy, delusional, burnout rehashers of the previous season’s styles. You’ll never get it.

Thanks, Austin.

The Message

This is taken from the “The Message” page on the Chuck Dukowski Sextet website. Check out their great records and if you get a chance to see ’em, do it!

The Message

Punk rock is dead. Maybe we can stand on its corpse and reach a higher ground. Maybe not. Perhaps the flimsy imitators and the cleansing maggots of tomorrow’s fresh style have weakened punk’s bony skeleton too much. It might take us nowhere. Crumble on punk rock! We give you props.

But feel it! The wind of change is coming with all that is new and beautifully unnamed. Beware changing wind; when your name comes it will carry a burden. The happy burden of community, of recognition, and most ideally of change, will com with the dark side of rules, of cheesy merchandising, of co-op and distortion. So many things will rush under the banner of this name we can only hope this new wind can bear the weight.

Something new is coming, it always does. In music, the new has most often come with a fiery rejection of the past, like a phoenix from the flames. Actually, the fiery rejection is a pose; everything is born from something else or someone, and all musicians are influenced by what came before. It’s liberating to claim to come from nothing. You shake off the doctrinaire. You reject the false concept of progress, because music is not a line, it’s an expanding universe.

Musical revolution comes with a name, but it starts with iconoclastic vision. When someone creates something they want and haven’t seen before. Others realize they want it too. More are inspired. The direction of the musical discourse is altered. A need is filled. People want to show they are part of this new direction. They create a style, so everyone who sees them will know that they set themselves apart from the mainstream. That’s great but watch out ’cause it’s also a product to sell. The iconoclast just wants to create; the revolutionary wants to make the new rules. He wants to sit on the old throne and say his is the only way.

The CD6 has no rules for you. We just throw in our DNA and hope to build a lovely new corpse.

Record Labels and Vinyl Philosophy

I’ve begun reaching out to friends and various record labels to enquire about their philosophy with regard to vinyl releases. I’m fucking sick of limited editions and special colored vinyl, and it’s time to get some answers from people. Unfortunately, the consensus from friends, record store proprietors, et. al. has been that collector vinyl is just that, for collectors at the expense of those of us interested in simple and expansive vinyl releases of albums. Let’s hope there’s some intelligent and respectful conversation, and that ruffled feathers can be learned from. Here’s the letter I sent to Profound Lore this evening:

Howdy PL!

You folks are putting out some great records these days, but I’m having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it. Why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 1000-2000 (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time. What’s your philosophy on the matter? Was the Man’s Gin record ever pressed on vinyl? Either way, any idea if it’ll be pressed/re-pressed? I’ll never (ever) pay for a CD or download again in this lifetime so I’m hoping the answer is “yes”.

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

I’ll be sending a similar version to Southern Lord in a few minutes, but with a more specific critique of their particular habit of releasing 500 records for the collector community only.

Here’s the Southern Lord letter:

Howdy Southern Lord,

You folks are releasing some great records these days, but I having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it – why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 2000+ (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time. I find you folks to be one of the worst when it comes to limited vinyl editions of albums that seem to be directly marketed to a relatively small group of record collectors, not the majority of listeners/fans that simply want to listen to releases on vinyl. If a record is going for more than it’s initial price (on eBay, for example) then you didn’t press enough. From an outsider’s perspective this seems obviously calculated as opposed to a series of innocent miscalculations. What’s your philosophy on the matter?

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

UPDATE: 4/7/2011

I still haven’t heard from any label. Perhaps they don’t like being called out on their bullshit, perhaps their too busy at the moment. To keep the ball rolling I sent the following note to Rise Above, a fucking great record label out of London that is horrible about printing extremely limited runs of very desirable records.

Howdy Rise Above,

You folks have been releasing great records for years, but I having a hell of a time finding some of them on vinyl. I find the metal community is especially egregiously guilty when it comes to releasing extremely limited vinyl editions of albums and I simply don’t get it – why put out 500-1000 colored vinyl records when you could press 2000+ (or more) on black so they get into the hands of more listeners? Unfortunately, it seems like the days of SST pressing 20000 Black Flag records are over. Remember, it’s easy to say how important and famous they are now, but they couldn’t give them away at the time.

I find you folks to be one of the worst when it comes to limited vinyl editions of albums that seem to be directly marketed to a relatively small group of record collectors as opposed to the majority of listeners/fans that simply want to listen to releases on vinyl. I saw the first Witchcraft album on evilBay today for $400! If a record is going for more than it’s initial price (on eBay, for example) then you didn’t press enough. What’s the point? What do you get out of collector editions? More importantly, what does the band get out of it? From an outsider’s perspective this seems obviously calculated as opposed to a series of innocent miscalculations. Would you even know about half the music you loved and listened to growing up if there weren’t a decent number of records pressed? What if Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus pressed 500 copies of all of their records, that would be a dirty shame, huh? Perhaps most telling is that the new Blood Ceremony LP came out just recently and it’s already sold out.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on the matter – what’s your philosophy?

Thanks for your time and continued effort to release great music. Please know there are those of us listening and appreciating the work.

Best,

Marmon Hammer
Austin, TX

The SXSW Economy

The SXSW economy [infographic].

SXSW Saturday Reviews

Flatstock 2011
Always great shit here. If you’re not familiar with it, Flatstock is the music-centric poster/art show in the Auston Convention every year. Great stuff and nice people, as usual. I’ll post pics of the prints I bought somewhere down the road.

Free show @ Lovejoy’s

Wolvhammer
Heard they were incredible. Thirty minutes from seeing them at Valhalla. Seemed like nice people too. Always cool when that’s the case.

Batillus
Layered, textures, creeping doom. Will be good on record. Fun band and worth checking out/buying the record.

Deafheaven
Missed ’em for Flatstock. Have heard both good and bad things.

The Body
Lots of people there to see them. Wasn’t my thing. Heavy 90’s-style hardcore. Lot of this around. Lame.

Grayceon
Missed ’em. Have also heard good and bad things.

Dark Castle
Badass, as always. Love the new songs.

Bruce Lamont
Ambient soundscapes, yet still organic. I’d actually listen to this at home, not sure what you’ll think. Kind of like Master Musicians of Bukkake.

Wolvhammer (redux)
Sheesh. Is everybody copying 90’s hardcore and turning it into metal? Enough of my friends are in unoriginal bands like this. What the fuck?! We need more musicians who aren’t record collectors. Think about that, seriously. Fuckin’ hell.

Scoot Inn Showcase

Primitive Weapons
Only caught the end, but didn’t sound like anything special.

Ancient VVisdom
Sounds interesting. We’ll see … Holy shit! Awful…

NAAM
Badass, bluesy-based heavy rockin’ shit. The way it’s s’posed to be. Yes, there’s still rock ‘n roll, you pussies. Fuck your cookie-cutter metal shit.

EYEHATEGOD
Good as hell, although I don’t trust their popularity.

Pentagram
Wicked heavy rock, not metal. You heard me.

SXSW Friday Reviews

Got out late again today so started at Lovejoy’s at 5pm due to Scoot Inn being too full with Green and Wood and Pentagram playing free. Hoped to see Eagle Twin at ND, but missed that too. Shit.

Lovejoy’s Free Show
I was told Cough was good, and I’ll catch their showcase at Scoot Inn on Saturday.

Gaza
Nothing is heavy after seeing YOB and these guys are proof. Not only that, they’re pretty much bringing 90’s metallified hardcore to the table, and if you’re not breaking new ground in this kind of genre what are you playing for? 90’s hardcore already happened, guys, and it mostly sucked then (with notable exceptions) – please leave it dead and buried. It only got worse with the singer proselytizing about the state of the world between songs. I can read, dude, keep your opinions to yourself. That said, the crowd seemed mostly into it – not that people have taste.

Wormrot
Pile-driving and taut pounding hardcore from Singapore. Kind of fun and interesting, but this show is turning into a typical hardcore show from 1992 – it bored me then and it bores me now. A friend said it best, “that was kind of fun, but I’d never listen to the record if I had it”. Tells you all you need to know.

Ringworm
I thought I’d heard of these guys and, sure enough, they’re a hardcore band from Cleveland that started in 1991. They’re on Victory records, need I say more? Decent to listen to, not awful, just, again, 90’s hardcore shit. To be fair, some of the thrashier elements are decent and interesting, but beyond that it’s not worth my time. The crowd full of fat, tattooed hardcore hippity-hoppity meatheads reliving their childhoods was pathetic and hilarious. Their silly “hardcore” disco dancing only made it worse. Most of these fuckers were pushing maximum density and making it hard to breathe from the laughing…and lack of oxygen. They’ll be gone in a few days, thankfully.

Heading to the showcase at Dirty Dog (a shitty, shitty frat bar) tonight. Highlights include Red Fang, Weedeater, and Saint Vitus. I hate Kylesa and Witchburn sound cheesy so we’ll see what transpires. Stay tuned!

Dirty Dog Showcase

Red Fang
Dirty, driving, heavy rock ‘n roll. Pretty fun stuff that’s easy to listen to, Red Fang are good musicians that write quality tunes. Strangely, this kind of music isn’t as prevalent as you would think or hope. Red Fang are carrying the rock torch – worth getting the record, for sure.

Weedeater
Drugs and destruction. They’re fucking great. Weird that they played almost all old tunes when the new LP came out two days ago, but it was fun if you’ve been a fan for a while. Great dudes, great shit.

Kylesa
On now. They’re incredibly fucking contrived. And everybody loves them – never trust that. It’s like emo-metal. Awful, as usual … Kylesa’s set almost over, they’re an overamped emo band. How can you not see this? Wake it the fuck up.

Crowbar
They’re tolerable. That’s it.

Helmet
If you like this band I have a gas chamber in my basement. All you need to know about the world is that everybody left after they played and before Saint Vitus. Saint Vitus! This world is inexorably fucked. Ugh.

Saint Vitus
Once-in-a-lifetime, they were amazing. Sounds like they may be recording a new record too!

On to Saturday! Great show at Lovejoy’s during the day then on to Scoot Inn for Cough, NAAM, EYEHATEGOD, and Pentagram.