Album Review: No Use For A Name – Rarities Vol. 2 – The Originals

He was an epitome of punk rock music, so it’s no news to this day people still miss Tony Sly. Next year will be 10 years since the frontman of No Use For A Name sadly left this world.

Every NUFAN fan has their memories and stories. Personally, Sly was a huge part of my teenage years thanks to his music and I consider myself lucky to have seen him perform solo as well as with the band.

I remember the Warped Tours sets, packed small club shows, and even the time when Sly opened for NOFX in Covington, KY where some of the crowd hadn’t a clue who he was. Needless to say, I was pretty deviated the day he passed.

I like the fact his memory continues with the band divulging tunes for their fans that really should be heard. Rarities Vol 1. – The Covers did just that compiling covers by the band making for a great listen. To continue on with this tribute, the band and Fat Wreck Chords have just released Rarities Vol. 2 – The Originals.

According to the good peeps at Fat Wreck Chords, it took them about 3 years to look for every possible NUFAN recording out there to toss on this release and clearly with time comes change or some shit like that… Honestly, I am just stoked they dropped this.

Featuring 15 tracks, comprised of rarities and previously unreleased demos, this album is for all NUFAN fans no matter how dedicated. If anything, it was a nice reminder of how many great tunes

A demo of “Sidewalk”, off Making Friends, started off the collection. I liked this raw cut of a great song.

I actually remember the hidden gem, “No Way To Live”, that originally appeared on the Kung Fu Records sampler Punk Rock Is Your Friend. If you have not heard this one before, it is an absolute must listen.

The unrefined cut of “Justified Black Eye” may very well have just been a demo, but it was still as impactful as ever. I personally liked how it was not produced and almost hazy sounding.

“History Defeats” appeared as an unreleased song on All The Best Songs, a NUFAN comp album that dropped in 2007. This killer track was recorded for their 2005 release of Keep Them Confused and i am not quite sure why did not make it initially. If you missed hearing it previously, do yourself a favor and make sure you check it out now.

From the same album I just spoke of came “Stunt Double”, perhaps one of my favorite NUFAN songs. As much as I adore the acoustic version Joey Cape performed, the original just captures me even more.

The quick, obscure “Sara Fisher”, originally part of the 100+ song Short Music For Short People comp reminds you that even a song under 30 seconds can be catchy as all hell.

I really could not hear a defined difference with “Coming Too Close” on this album as it was noted a earlier version, but I am not complaining too much as this is another choice song of mine from the band. For all you older punks, this one was on the 4th Fat Wreck comp Life In The Fat Lane.

The version of “International You Day” put on this release was sped up at points and for some reason the rawness just stuck to me. I adored this demo to no end to the point I listened to it over and over before moving on.

Rarities Vol 2. – The Originals may not hold any unreleased material, but the versions and takes presented kept me satisfied. I’ll definitely be snagging a copy of this on wax for my collection. Fans of NUFAN will appreciate this to no end and honestly, people who may check this out not knowing much about the catalog will get a nice introduction to some of the finest punk rock music out there.

We miss ya Tony!

Album Review: Juice Newson – Suburban Soul

I know I have been talking this one up a lot on the social medias for a couple of weeks now, so excuse the excitement. I’m a big fan of Juice Newson already as a human, but truth be told, I enjoy his work tremendously.

Today Juice Newson dropped his sophomore release Suburban Soul on various streaming services. (SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify) With his self-created beats through chopped samples from a slew of concealed material, the 13-track album features personal journal-like lyrics and was produced by Newson himself all throughout this pandemic we are all so familiar with.

Newson may have been making an imprint into the Cleveland hip hop scene for a couple of years now, but previously he was the drummer for punk locals Old Souls for nearly a decade. To say he has roots in Cleveland is an understatement and Suburban Soul showcases that.

“SSINTRO” started things off with an understanding that this wasn’t just a quick drop and something far more intricate. “BottaDip” had such a smooth flow throughout. The samples backed up the refrain flawlessly.

My favorite track, “Cruise Lines,” is beyond likeable. The beat was on-point and complimented Newson’s chill rapping style. I adored the pro-Cleveland line: “I need some late nights on the lake right next to a city that you think is shitty but really it’s your own bad attitude that made you change your latitude.” If this does not get him the attention he deserves, I do not know what will.

“BothSides” reminded me of the days RJD2 and Blueprint did their thing. “MyLife” may have had the production turned down a little, but I would be lying if I said this did not fit right in with 90s hip hop.

“Never Was A Drake Fan” was another solid effort. This was actually dropped on a comp release last year, but definitely needed to be included on this release.

Missing companionship was what “Nest” was all about. Pristine rhymes with barely a break for air supplied the remix sample from The Association’s “The Nest”. The more I listened to this one, the more I found myself loving it.

“RainDogs” was proof that Newson put all the heart and all the soul into his work. With help from Cleveland’s Anthony Jones, this track was nothing but amazing.

My only real complaint about this release is some of the songs could have lasted longer purely because the beats were fantastic. The lyricism was heavy and ever so personable to this fellow Cleveland native.

This album may not change your life, but damn at times will it make your day a little bit better. That’s not to say this is all happiness and rainbows… Recording in isolation sometimes can really bring out all the feelings. Regardless, it is a release that certainly needs to be heard by all and I can not wait to see what this great talent does next.

Check it already.

RIP: SYLVAiN SYLVAiN – New York Dolls Guitarist

Sylvain Sylvain, guitarist for glam punk rockers New York Dolls has lost his battle with cancer according to his personal Facebook page:

“As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years. Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease. While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain. Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way,”

BHP Best of 2020 List

If there’s anything to say about 2020, it is this: I miss live shows. I miss seeing local bands play small bars and I miss cramming into over-priced corporately owned venues to see sold out shows.

I know I am not the only one who says this to themselves daily. This year has not the the greatest by any means given the current situation.

I’ve tried hard to do things on this blog when I had some free time and want to once again thank everyone who has offered up something for review or checked out any of the posts I tossed together usually afterhours while everyone in my household was fast asleep.

I cannot end this year without pushing out a Best Of List. I know I am cutting it close this time. I feel this was the year I really tried to listen to more artists I never heard of before and honestly, I was impressed with tons of releases. I started with 10 and said screw that as all these bands that dropped impressive releases need to be shared. As usual, I will probably add to it after this goes live.

Thanks for keeping me going y’all. I do appreciate it.

BEST OF 2020

(in no particular order)

The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You Album Review | Pitchfork

The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You

I have loved this band since they started 20 years back. They have a way with mixing samples appropriately. I especially grew fond of this one because it was more of a journey than a collaboration of sound.

Get Dead - Dancing with the Curse

Get Dead – Dancing with the Curse

This release is raw, unhinged, and perfect in every way possible. I can only imagine what these dudes sound like on stage… This was probably the most listened to album of the year by yours truly. I cannot get enough of it.

Shuffle and Bang - Island Bop

Shuffle and Bang – Island Pop

Island Pop was the surprise drop of 2020 that I needed to distract me from all the bad. This is a soulful delight that I’ve gotten lost in many times and literally found myself in a better mood because of it. If there was one band I would love to see play live currently, Shuffle and Bang are my top choice.

Run the Jewels - RTJ4

Run The Jewels – RTJ4

This duo does no bad. I am not shocked that this was one of my fav releases this year. They always entertain. I am bummed I missed seeing them play with Rage this past summer and only can hope the rescheduled date stands.

Broadway Calls - Sad in the City

Broadway Calls – Sad in the City

This pop-punk release is going to be something I probably listen to for the rest of my life. No joke, this album started off as strong as it ended and became an instant favorite of mine.

The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast

The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast

This album is damn near perfect and I know I am not the only who who thinks this. Why go on about these guys when everyone knows how much they rule.

Hum - Inlet

HUM – Inlet

I have waited over 20 years for Hum to release new material and this did not disappoint one bit. After each listen I find a stronger appreciation for what they have created.

Maxwell Stern - Impossible Sum

Maxwell Stern – Impossible Sum

An outstanding effort by someone who I’m lucky to call a pal. I have watched him mature over the past 10 years and expect things to get even better as he continues onward. Now hurry up and drop Signals Midwest LP4 already!

Be Well - The Weight And The Cost

Be Well – The Weight and the Cost

Catchy as hell, melodic hardcore fun. With the roster in this lineup, it was not shocking how killer the entire album was and how things built up all the way to the end. This was one that made the blood flow as well as the feelings emerge.

SkyTigers - Eulorgy

SkyTigers – Eulorgy

A release by some Boston punks who’ve been at it for 10 years now. This debut clearly needed to drop during this shit year. It’s powerful, angry, and just insane. The opening track alone proves that.

Slug Fest - Animal

Slug Fest – Animal

Cleveland surf punk rock may not be something you knew existed, but I assure you it rules. This album is full of jams and guarantees a good time. This is one band I can not wait to see in-person.

the House of Wills - "true crime"

The House of Wills – “true crime’

This lo-fi release by Cleveland’s JV is everything to me. I fell in love with it upon first listen and love how they put their heart and soul into it. This is the one release that deserves all the attention. This falls somewhere between Fred Thomas and Daniel Johnston if I am being totally honest. Was JV going for that? Not sure, but it’s more real than most stuff that dropped this year.

Stolen Wheelchairs - The America

Stolen Wheelchairs – The America

These guys are about as punk as they get. If their band name is shocking to you, wait until you listen to this straight up punk rock disaster. I loved every moment of it.

Bob Mould - Blue Hearts

Bob Mould – Blue Hearts

This may very well be the best thing Mould has done in quite some time. I find comfort through Mould as he doesn’t back down as the years progress. Do not sit on this one.

Brain Cave - Stuck in the Mud

Brain Cave – Stuck in the Mud

Brain Cave’s debut rules on so many levels. I have spoken highly about this release to many folk since it dropped because it’s that damn good. This was my go to when I just could not decide with to listen to at any given moment.

I Am The Avalanche - DIVE

I Am The Avalanche – Dive

I’ve been a fan of these guys for a while now, but this album is probably my favorite to date. Punk rock at its finest.

Somerset Thrower - Paint My Memory

Somerset Thrower – Paint My Memory

This release brought back the best 90s punk rock vibes. I honestly never got into these guys prior, but clearly that changed. Excellent throughout.

Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone

Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone

This band can bum me out so much and I love them for it. Easily one of my fav acts out there and this release certainly showcases why.

The Dead Krazukies - Icarus

The Dead Krazukies – Icarus

I do not expect a ton of folk to know who this act is yet, but I have a feeling they will in time. All I could say to myself the first time I heard them was, “holy shit.” This is power punk rock without over-exaggerating it. You can tell the band loves playing and there wasn’t a single lull in the release. I can not recommend them enough.

Don Yoder - Everything is Nothing

Don Yoder – Everything is Nothing

This release came out of nowhere from a guy from another Cleveland band who wanted to make a country album. The result is an incredible, non-gimmicky grouping of songs that, unless you knew who wrote them, you’d think a seasoned alt-country musician wrote them.

Rope - Crimson Youth

Rope – Crimson Youth

Tossing the Tiny God Inc. released cassette cover here as they are the reason I even got into these guys. This is the post-grunge, hardcore album I needed this year. Talk about a brutal release…

Red City Radio - Paradise

Red City Radio – Paradise

This band continues to get better with each release. This one in particular was a solid listen that I’m currently obsessed with.

20/20 Vision (Anti-Flag album) - Wikipedia

Anti-Flag – 20/20 Vision

Totally forgot to add this one to the list initially. This political, punk rock stand against the government is as impactful as it is catchy. This band might be getting up there in age, but my god, they have no intention of slowing down or steering away from their cause.

TRVSS – New Distances

Grungy, noisy post-punk rage- rippers are what this release is all about. This Pittsburgh act deserves some serious attention.

Guilty Pleasure of the Year:

Machine Gun Kelly - Tickets to My Downfall

Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

I won’t lie, I played the ever-lasting hell out of this. It is a pop-punk, catchy release and I am probably too old to enjoy it as much as I have. I never was a MGK fan before he collaborated with Travis Barker, but stranger things have happened.

Best Covers Album of the Year:

NOFX / Frank Turner - West Coast vs. Wessex – Fat Wreck Chords

NOFX & Frank Turner – West Coast vs. Wessex

I can not tell you how stoked I was when I learned of this concept coming to life. Two of my favorite acts covering each other’s tunes in their own style. The finished product was far from some speedy effort. Both parties did an excellent job with their own renditions.

Just check out the video below for proof:

Like I said, I am sure I will be adding a few more here and there. 2020 really was full of good music by great artists. I think I am most impressed with the fact that even though everything had to shut down because of a global pandemic, musicians did everything possible to continue creating.

With that said, artists and bands are still struggling financially because of not being able to tour. I know they are not the only ones, but if you have the means to, support musicians by buying their physical or digital release and skip the popular streaming services. You know damn well they don’t make shit from streaming.

Hell, one up yourself and get some sweet swag while you are at it. If one of the bands I spoke about sounds interesting, check them out, and if you love it, buy it. Anything helps right now.

Thanks for reading and I sincerely hope that I enlightened you to 1 or 2 new bands that you will adore just like I did. Happy New Year y’all!

Album Review: Slug Fest – Animal

Cleveland surf punkers Slug Fest have dropped a gritty, goodtime as hell release titled Animal that we all deserve.

Wait, did I just say “Cleveland” and “surf punk” in the same sentence? You bet your grits I did. By now you are probably asking yourself how is surf punk even possible in the rust belt, but I assure you it is, it works, and it’s outstanding.

Hailing from the shallow waters of Lake Erie, Deirdre McCafferty, Michael Luciano, and Michael Stanis share a love for proto punk, garage rock, and psychedelic noise that in turn helped shape their sound. The surf riffs were just an added enhancement that made Animal even better.

Starting off was “Never Be Your Baby”, a banger of a song that was just bad ass to listen to. I loved when things slowed down only to explode again. One song in and I was completely digging it.

When “On The Run” started it just gave me energy and captured my attention in the best way. The change up in the middle had me smiling while nodding my head in approval.

Title track “Animal” was equal parts 80s punk as it was garage rock. The bass riff combined with the non-stop guitar playing just made for a hell of a tune to listen to. Not much singing, but plenty of riffs and jams. I have the feeling this song live would be amazing.

Noise-heavy, “Surf Demon” was an adventurous journey with plenty of fuzz and fun. Loved the breakdown towards the end where you can clearly hear the trio having a blast doing what they love to do.

“Moonlight Power” was to me the track on the album that showed the true dynamic of this band. At times I was reminded of Ween as it was all over the place, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it was one of my favorite songs on the release. The best part of this track was the horror-laced theme throughout.

“Luce Potentia” was surf noise at its finest. I loved the mysteriousness on this track that seemingly could fuel an angry ride around the city. The drums were chaotic, the guitars never held back, and the singing was enchanting.

This threesome seemingly came out swinging with their impressive style and Animal is the proof. Imagine the fun of Japandroids mixed with the fuzz noise of bands like Muhammadali but with surf riffs galore and you’ll have a slight inclination of what this infectious sound is all about.

The band actually said that “Animal was intended to be a collection of big, standalone bangers that capture how we sound and play live. Our shows are usually exceedingly loud and hectic/high energy and we wanted to make recordings that express/capture that.” I can honestly say they achieved that.

My only suggestion to this trio is to press this release on wax so I can spin it daily. I’ve listening to this album a ton over the last month with no intentions of taking a break. Certainly well received by this listener.

The band was supposed to play an exclusive show at the Grog Shop this month, but that stupid virus got in the way and cancelled it. Look for this talented, young threesome to smash some heads in 2021. They will not go unnoticed.

Check out more on the band’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Also, if you think you can’t surf in Cleveland, you are clearly mistaken as seen here: