Slept-On Records from Classic Labels: Thirty-Two Frames (Revelation Records)

Photo: Douglas Roark

This is the debut post in a new series from site contributor Adam Yoe where he takes a look at slept-on records from some of the most respected hardcore labels to ever do it. -Carlos Ramirez


Admittedly, I have a spotty record collection. There’s a litany of CDs, tapes, and vinyl bought in a frenzied rush based solely on the naive intuition of “this looks punk.” Naturally, I ended up with an uneven catalog, but certain labels ultimately rose to the top and became lights to aid me in navigating the hardcore scene’s rich legacy. The unmistakable Revelation Revords logo became a Northern Star of sorts and I confidently began  at the beginning of their discography. Moving chronologically through the list, I pulled from the rarified air of the label's classic run as quickly as my shit pay from stocking shelves after school would readily allow. I won’t embarrass myself trying to wax poetic about the salad days of hardcore or the obvious importance of Revelation Records. I’m here to defend an album that, to me, is as important as it is forgotten.

I bought it then and I’d buy it again. 

As the turn of the century approached, seemingly every label was scrambling to redefine themselves in an era in which music was suddenly more mobile but not yet online. Though not entirely, Rev seemed to pivot into an era that found them wading in waters that, at the time, felt altogether unfamiliar. As an adult, it's easier to find the through line from say Right Brigade to, uhhh, Elliott; but the twentysomething version of me was far less pressed about Garrison, Gameface, or The Movielife. Ultimately, these years proved to be crucial for the label as the scene was about to change drastically. It was only a few short years later we'd see the pendulum swing over to Since By Man, Curl Up and Die, and Twilight Transmission. 

There's a damn-near un-Google-able release from 2002 that's been relegated to the dustbins of history, a record that's become little more than a footnote, as maligned as it is misunderstood. I'm not here to trash it.

I'm here to tell you that the world slept on Revelation Records #105: the self-tiltled EP from Thirty-Two Frames. Though certainly not my favorite Rev release, I feel it’s the last gasp of the old guard as it shifts into the new. 

The original bio posits that the band, though once just a side-project for Elliott's Jay Palumbo, was now, wait for it,  a "full-fledged rocking machine." Cringe-inducing promos aside, the sonics tell a different tale... the tale of a record that seemlessly bridged the past, present, and future of the label. 

Through no fault of its own, the EP failed to find its footing with a scene or, honestly, anyone in particular. Revisiting it a dozen or so times this week, myriad reference points jumped from my tiny car speakers. Varied influences abound on this one. At times, it recalls the hyper-melodicism of Dag Nasty, Strike Anywhere, and Avail, the empassioned albeit vague politics of Revolution Summer, and the PBR/flannel vibes of a pre-Fest Gainesville. I'd be remiss not to mention the Boys Bukowski: Hot Water Music. Frontloaded with frenetic yet tasteful bass playing reminiscent of one Jason Black, Palumbo's timbre even recalls Chris Wollard circa No Division. I hear touches of Damien Moyal during his underappreciated run with As Friends Rust, and even the deliberatesloppiness of the East Bay's salad days.

Photo: Revelation Records

Had this album been released on No Idea Records, I'm thoroughly convinced we'd have seen more than six songs from Thirty-Two Frames. Sonically, they’d have fit readily with the gruff melodies of Gunmoll or the gravel-throated armies of bands worshipping at the altar of Leatherface. Despite it's myriad touchstones, this plays as far more than a side-project. 

We were destined to only get six songs from the Thirty-Two Frames. I acknowledge that I’m failing to mention the secret tracks (remember those?), including a regrettable Tom Petty cover because, let’s be real, nobody needs that. They seemed to fall victim to right place, wrong time. It’s the right time to revisit. As a curiosity, I’ve included a link to Amazon. The disparity between the two reviews is telling and, strangely, tells the tale better than I can. 

Tagged: slept-on records from classic labels, thirty-two frames