Album Review: Harvey Pekar – The Astral We

Harvey PekarPoetic.  Poignant.  Hard.

Those three words are what keep reoccurring in my mind as I listen to The Astral We by Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar.

The lyrical content in this album is beyond deep.  It makes you think and react based on how you interpret it.  There is no tongue in cheek rhyming, stolen ideals, or laziness in these songs.

With that said, it’s nice to hear Harvey Pekar once again.  Spite a lineup change since the last album, OG members Elliot Frank (guitar), Nick Krastas (vocals), and Nick Schmitt (bass) joined forces with Nate Kelly (drums) and Tyler Sickels (guitar) to create a more solid band than ever.  Without worrying about reinventing their sound, Harvey Pekar continued full force where they left off on their debut release back in 2013.

“Huff Joules” started off the album strong with the band as a whole not holding back at all.  “The Heritable Self” was a true hardcore romper with plenty of group singalong opportunities as Krastas screamed his thoughts out.  Loved this track.

“Ferrous Kin” was one of the songs where I just felt like Krastas was delivering a spoken-word of sorts backed by heavy riffs and fast-paced drumming.  The lyrics, “frail is the life trivialized by that of artifacts” really stuck to me for some reason.

“Truisms of Infinite Regress” caught my attention in more ways than one.  The track, which seeming talked about conformity and a sense of false logic, sped up midway making for quite a powerful statement and throw down.  This track begged to be heard over and over by this listener.

I should also mention how much I found myself enjoying “Crystal Starlings”.  The breakdown about half way though and change up kept the track interesting, the group vocals towards the end make the song enjoyable.

Everyone has their own definition of hardcore music.  Harvey Pekar’s is more aligned with the genre I recall from the 90s and early 2000s, at least the hardcore I enjoyed the most mixed with a punk feel and beyond intelligent lyrics.  Perhaps a little more melodic than some might like, The Astral We impressed the hell out of me and has been fueling my ears daily since it’s release a few weeks back.

Harvey PekarLooking past the band’s sound, Harvey Pekar consists of some of the most down-to-earth guys I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years.  I’ve seen them play in bars, inside a warehouse, and even on a church stage on a Sunday morning over the years and they always put on the best show and always are down for a hang afterwards.

Here I am sounding biased now.  I am just calling it as I hear it.  Listen for yourself and make your own determination.

Snag a copy of The Astral We over at Little Heart Records.

Watch This: NOFX – “Six Years On Dope”

NOFX dropped a new track today and it is bad ass.  Check out the lyric video below:

“Six Years on Dope” is a new track off of First Ditch Effort which drops this October.  The song reflects years of substance abuse by the band and really is not meant to be taken in comical form.


To say I am excited about their new album is an understatement.

Watch This: Worship This! Live @ Bad Racket

Akron, OH’s prom kings Worship This! stopped out at Bad Racket earlier this summer and played one of my favorite OG songs, “Best Parts”.

Check it out:

Bad Racket is one of the coolest recording studios in Cleveland and have been doing their thing since 2009.  They specialize in welcoming bands into their studio to play a song and be filmed while doing so.  If you want to see more amazing acts do their things, click the below link:

Music Videos | Live From Bad Racket


Album Review: Blink 182 – California

Blink 182 - CaliforniaIt’s pretty crazy to me that Blink 182 still exists.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been a fan since the 90s when they were just some unknown pop-punkers.  After all they have been through, all of the fame, all of the drama, and most of all the departure of one Tom DeLonge, wouldn’t you think the band would just call it quits for good already?

Perhaps in a fit of spite, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker continued on and invited Alkaline Trio‘s Matt Skiba to take on vocal/guitar duties for a reunion show of sorts.  I remember thinking “how bad ass would that be if Skiba just joined them and they put out a new album?”  I know I was not the only one who thought that either.

Shortly after, it was confirmed Skiba had joined Blink and they were recording a new album.  Now here I am about to throw some words and whatnot into a review for it.  Perhaps a little delayed, but here it is.

Time for a story about me.  Feel free to skip over…

The lyrics “nobody likes you when you’re 23” will always have special meaning in my mind for the rest of my life.  Any Blink fan knows what song those lyrics come from.  The year that song came out, an immature me swore the song was about my own experiences in a sense as I worked hard to get through a tough year thanks to an ex-psycho girlfriend and my own bad decision-making.

What I am trying to get at is simple, I was a Blink fan back then.  “Dammit” was one of my go to songs, I loved Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat.  I remember even seeing Blink live at Blossom with Bad Religion opening for the Enema of the State tour.  That was the show Barker missed as he broke his hand punching some a-hole at the Taco Bell my cousin was working at in Akron.  Good times.

A few years later thanks to an old friend, I scored a front row ticket to see them again at Blossom with No Doubt.  Both shows were amazing.

As the years passed, more Blink albums came out, Angels & Airwaves, Boxcar Racer, Transplants, and other side projects emerged, and Blink slowly moved out of my continual rotation of daily tunes.  It happens folks, you know exactly what I am talking about.  I got bored with them.

Blink-182A certain Blink flame was re-ignited inside of me the day I heard Skiba was going to be on their new album.  I remember hearing the first single off the new album, I was stoked.  I still am stoked.  So pardon my fandom and honestly on this post, these are my favorite reviews to do, the ones that I am legit excited to write on.

California is Blink 182’s seventh full-length release.  Currently consisting of Hoppus, Barker, and the recent addition of Skiba (Alkaline Trio), who replaced Tom DeLonge.  Blink 182 has been around since the early 90s and moved from a silly pop-punk band on underground labels, to a heavy-hitting act selling out stages all over the world.

When I listened to California the first time, my initial thought was that there was a lot of filler songs on the album.  Long gone are the days of bands putting out albums with 16 tracks.  After listening to the album over and over, that thought went away.

Opening track “Cynical” reminded me of past Blink material, at least the start did.  Barker’s over the top drumming helped speed up the song and Skiba’s introductory backup singing proved this was not going to be the same Blink at all and not in a bad way.

“Bored To Death” has already taken over the radio stations.  The beginning had an “Adam’s Song” similarity to it, but not enough to discourage.  When the band jumps in together at the chorus, it pretty much blew me away.  I know in time I am going to get sick of this song in time as it will be played over and over, but until that happens, I am going to enjoy the hell out of it.  The video for the song cracked me up too, but only because I have reached old man status and remember feeling invincible once.

“She’s Out of Her Mind” will probably take responsibility for the younger generation to have a sudden interest in Bauhaus.  Aside from that, this catchy song really planted a positive reminder that you should be yourself and not care about what others think.

“Los Angeles” was more of a rock masterpiece than a pop-punk track.  I would not be shocked if this track alone brings in new fans of all ages.  Hoppus and Skiba trading vocals and howls throughout was just perfect.

A more realistic “Sober” sang a story about substance-abused-rough-times in relationships and carried a level of honesty throughout.  It was easy to compare my own bad decisions from my past in this track and also recall the apologetic resolutions.  This song grew on me the more and more I listened to it.  I loved the lyric “I’m a dandelion, you’re a four-leafed clover.”

The quick “Built This Pool” was about as crass as the band got on this album.  Seeing how raw they used to be, I am glad they have not completely thrown away their comical ideals.  Personally speaking, I really was hoping for a lot more of their humor throughout.

Skiba just killed it on “No Future”.  This track was the song that had me smiling ear to ear knowing that Skiba was the perfect fit for the redesigned Blink.  Hoppus and Skiba compliment the hell out of one another on this track.  This dreary track which seemingly sounded like a humble departure, was one of the more catchier ones on the entire album for me.

“Kings of the Weekend” was one of the tracks I felt was more of a filler track at first, but the more I listened to it, the more I enjoyed it.  This is everything a Blink fan could want in a Blink song.  Not to mention the different singing styles keep things interesting.

I feel like I can say there is a lot I can say about”San Diego” as it really reminded me of the good times, but I won’t.  I will just say it has grown on me a lot and I know the younger generation is going to eat this song up.

“Brohemian Rhapsody” was lame until I saw this:

Then it was hilarious…

All in all, California is an exceptional release.  I can admit that I have not been a fan of Blink’s last few releases, but this one hits all the high marks in my mind.  Initially I told myself and others that I only liked about 70% of the album, but the more and more I listen to it, the more I am digging it.

Perhaps my liking of California is because Skiba is on board now and I’ve been a AK3 fan for as long as I can remember, but I wish nothing but the best for Blink 182 and love seeing them at the top of the music world again.  I seriously hope they continue and can not wait to see what they come up with next.