Album Review: NOFX – First Ditch Effort

NOFX - First Ditch EffortI can sit here and blow a bunch of smoke up all the buttholes of NOFX, but for the sake of time and whatnot, I will skip a few paragraphs of introduction and get to the point.

Chances are if you are reading this, you already know of NOFX and do not need to read any type of introduction, but just in case you have no idea who I am speaking of, I will put in a small, small intro.

So here’s my review:

NOFX have a new album.  It’s called First Ditch Effort.  It’s freaking good.  After 4 long years, the foursome is back and have taken their 13th release and made it a personal triumph of sorts.  I should mention that the band has been around for 30 years now too.

Impressive.

This album was not like the others.  Where I was used to drug fueled witty pokes at anything and everything, this album was serious and seemingly was written from torn pages of the band’s personal journals.

“Six Years On Dope” started with Fat Mike and Melvin arguing who should scream / sing the song.  This romper of a track was a confessional tale of sorts with both Melvin and Fat Mike disclosing their lower times of hardcore partying.  Not surprising, the track was catchy as hell, but destructive in hearing all these two have been through.

“Happy Father’s Day” continued with heavy riffs and had Fat Mike more or less vanquish his father figure.

“Sid and Nancy” is a punk rock conspirator’s dream track in that Fat Mike and crew suggested Nancy Reagan killed Sid Vicious.  Providing an insight to what happened by the hands of Nancy proved to be quite interesting to listen to and very well could become the start to what would be a killer cult movie.

“California Drought” referenced Fat Mike’s current cleanse he been experiencing after years of recreational drug use.  The positives were null in this track as Fat Mike sung about the struggle on wanting to use when he knows he can’t.  It was cool to hear El Hefe supply a horn solo in the middle of this track.

“Oxy Moronic” was brilliant.  Pointing the fingers at the big pharmaceuticals with plenty of tongue-and-cheek references to the thousands of stupid drug names, this track was all about exposing the doctors who prescribe for profit.  See below for the Funny or Die created music video.

Listening to “I Don’t Like Me Anymore” was like listening to Fat Mike have an intervention with himself.  The content of this song was nothing positive, but man, this song ripped.  If this track is what makes Fat Mike feel better about his actions and future, then I would say this is a win.

Maybe it was because of the NOFX autobiography released earlier this year exposing the truth of the band, or maybe it was just for the hell of it, but “I’m a Transvest-Lite” was all about Fat Mike and his cross-dressing tendencies.  As he is open to his dressing preferences these days, the song talked about his secret over the years and how he’s ok with not going full forced cross-dressing as he is too lazy to apply makeup.  He ended the track perfectly with: “You gotta know it’s not just girls who wanna have fun.”

Listening to “I’m So Sorry Tony” was tough for me and really had me bumming after listening to it for like four times in a row.  For years now, I have been waiting for this song.  Ever since Sly left this world, there have been songs and tributes, but I’ve always wanted to hear Fat Mike’s take.  This song was all heart and took it past band mates to a family level.  Forget that Sly was an amazing musician, Sly was also a voice of reason and an inspiration and Fat Mike really emphasized that in this song.  Listen to this track and you’ll get chills, especially the ending…

“Generation Z” could be the last song Fat Mike and crew ever write and I would be ok with it.  This track was about the foreseen sad future according NOFX as seen by the youth with them being the last.  Not holding back, Fat Mike wished his daughters nothing but the best in this messed up world.  Being a father myself, it was kind of rough to hear the lie: “so we tell our daughters and our sons that they’re not the  final ones to see this planet as a decent place to live.”  As if that did not hit me hard enough, hearing Fat Mike’s kids perform a spoken word, just left this record ending in a whole mess of emotions.

It’s been a couple of weeks since this album dropped and I admit I held off on finishing this review as I just kept telling myself to listen to the album one more time.  With each listen, I am becoming a bigger fan of it.  It’s intense to hear an album full of realizations from a band that used be known for partying their asses off.

Having seen this band at least 15 times live in my life and have called myself a fan of them since I was about 17, I can see that these Peter Pan punk rockers are finally growing up a bit and cherishing all they have accomplished.

NOFX is touring with Pears and Useless ID and I am hoping I can check them all out:

10/22/16 Waterfront Park – San Diego, CA
11/02/16 Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
11/03/16 Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA
11/04/16 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC Canada
11/05/16 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC Canada
11/07/16 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB Canada
11/08/16 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB Canada
11/09/16 MacEwan Hall – Calgary, AB Canada
11/11/16 Burton Cummings Theatre – Winnipeg, MB Canada
11/12/16 Cabooze on the West Bank – Minneapolis, MN
11/13/16 The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
11/14/16 House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
11/16/16 Sokol Auditorium – Omaha, NE
11/17/16 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS
11/18/16 Gas Monkey Live! – Dallas, TX
03/10/17 On A Cruise Ship – Miami, FL
03/18/17 Pot of Gold Music Festival – Chandler, AZ

 

Album Review: Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

Beach SlangJames Alex as been through a lot of shit in a short amount of time with his band Beach Slang, both good and bad.

The pressure of being 1/4 of Beach Slang (now 1/3) almost had him call it quits earlier this year, but thanks to a fan who caught him after a show that night before he disappeared, he reconsidered.

Let’s face it, being in your 40s and having your band blow up the way Beach Slang did in such a short amount of time can not be easy.  For what it is worth, I am glad Alex did not throw the towel in yet.

With that said, Beach Slang just released their followup to 2015’s The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us.  The band actually wrote most of this sophomore release while touring.  That right there is dedication if you ask me.

A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, on Polyvinyl Records, is incredible.  It’s an encompass of Jawbreaker and The Replacements with plentyof held back angst and passion to produce an album worthy of multiple listens.

“Play it loud, play it fast.  Play me something that will always last” starts off on “Future Mixtape for the Arts Kids.”  This track is a perpetual anthem for anyone who uses music as a crutch to get through life.

“Atom Bomb” followed with plenty of fuzz and rock to keep anyone who listens entertained.  This fast-paced track may have clocked in at less than 2 minutes long, but its effects lasted much longer.  “Spin the Dial” was full of hooks and solos with Alex laying out some lyrics that sounded more personal.

“Punks In a Disco Bar” was perfectly contained in that the band sounded so together yet not overly produced.  This was one of the first singles off the new release and it’s no wonder why they chose it, the song rules.

“You’re my favorite weirdo” is sang during “Wasted Daze of Youth”, a love track of sorts that seemingly repeated many phrases I have said out loud when I felt smitten.  The hopeless swooning and the confessions combined lyrically was the best thing about this song.

The complementing “The Perfect High” focused on the best correlation between two individuals while carrying a 90s musical feel.  I really enjoyed this track a lot, especially the bass line throughout.  I almost felt like a teen again listening to this track.

Album closer “Warpaint” was an inciting jam that slowly built up a credence with Alex ending the track “don’t be afraid to want to be alive.”  These are the kinds of songs I clung on to as a lost juvenile – songs that made me feel better about my situation  Hell, there are some days I can still use the encouragement.

I’ve heard some banter recently from folk based on the album’s title alone that maybe Alex has been writing music that he is a little too old for, but I have to disagree.  He is writing for the all-ages fan who is looking for a release with a comparable ideal.  Alex is the voice for many and Beach Slang certainly carries the talent to do so.  The band has proven this on A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings and I’m positive the fans will confirm this.

My only complaint with this album is that it is only 29 minutes long and the selfish me wanted to hear double that.  I won’t lie, this is the best album I have listened to so far this year.

Beach Slang is playing the Grog Shop next month in Cleveland with Bleached.  This is a show to NOT miss.

Bleached Slang Tour 2016

Check It Out: Akron’s WhiskerTin Lighting

“Hand Made Crafted Light”

That is what Akron’s WhiskerTin Lighting is all about.

WhiskerTin Lighting

So what is WhiskerTin you ask?  Well, two friends from Akron, OH had an idea of making lamps from leftover sheetmetal parts.  Each lamp is hand-made by the duo.  As each lamp was created, their passion for their creations grew and ideas were formulated.  They were reinventing the way people looked at lights.

At first, it was just the hand-made lamps.  Don’t get me wrong, these lamps are amazing.  I have seen them in person.

WhiskerTin Lamp

Soon they were taking requests and creating one-of-a-kind floor and desk lamps for their customers.  Heck, they have even made commercial lights out of Great Lakes Brewing Company keg halves.  No seriously, next time you are at GLBC restaurant in Cleveland, head down to the basement and check them out.

They have had booths at many of the craft and vendor shows in the Cleveland / Akron / Canton area this past summer.  Novak even sets up a display at the Worship This! merch table, his punk rock band, just for people to see.

WhiskerTin Shirts

With new ideas, the duo decided to up their game and take their brand to a new level.  They created t-shirts of their logo and artist renditions that people are buying up left and right and even started making custom lamps for businesses like Melt Bar & Grilled in Akron as well bands like Beach Slang.

MeltBeach Slang

These guys are always making lamps.  Not even a year into their venture, Aaron Novak and Glenn Miller have taken lamp making to the extreme.

Just when I thought they were already on top of their game, they made an announcement that I could not help but share.  Earlier this week, WhiskerTin announced a collaboration with Say-10 Records.

Wait…a lamp company and a record label?  What exactly could these two possibly have in common?

This:
WhiskerTin Say-10 LampWhiskerTin Say-10 Lamp

How cool is that?  Seriously, my jaw dropped when I saw this for the first time.

Say-10 Records also happen to sling skateboards featuring tons of punk rock bands.  Novak and Miller have taken custom lamp-making to a new dynamic and turned a skate deck into a ceiling light.

They also shared this photo today of a wall lamp:
WhiskerTin Say-10 Iron Chic Lamp

They are taking orders now.  Hit them up on their website or on Facebook page for more information.

I can not wait to see what these guys come up with next.

 

Melt Tattoo Family Reunion 2016

melt-10-yearsIf you asked me six years ago if I thought I would be sitting in a Melt Bar & Grilled with hundreds of people who share the same love and passion for carbs and cheese to the point they dedicated a part of their skin to showcase it, I probably would have believed you.

Back in 2009, Melt’s founder and creator, Matt Fish, announced a fun promotion of sorts:  Get a Melt tattoo and receive 25% off of your Melt purchase for life.

My question to myself immediately was, “am I bold enough to get a permanent coupon?”  The answer was a quick “yes.”

Being the type of guy who acts now and asks later, I set up an appointment as soon as I could with my favorite tattoo artist, Mr. Ronnie Castro, and got a hand-sized Melt-inspired tattoo right on my forearm for the world to see.

Initially, I wanted to take the NOFX Never Trust a Hippie album cover and alter Jesus to be holding a grilled cheese, but my tattoo artist was thinking of something a little bit more traditional.  Sometimes I wish would have gone with what I initially wanted, but I do love what he came up with:

Melt Tattoo

I waited for my tattoo to heal fully before making it up to the Lakewood location to sign up for the tattoo club causing my membership number to increase some.  For anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo, I am sure you can understand why I waited.  No one wanted to see a scabby mess, especially when it is going to be showcased on the restaurant’s Melt Tattoo Family website page.

I was presented with tattoo member #47.  At least I made it into the top 50, right?

Hell, this tattoo is what got me my in to the Cleveland Man vs. Food episode:

Man vs Food

As of today, there are over 500 members.  Talk about dedication folks.  With locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and most recently in Akron, it only makes sense that this one time promotion has turned into a following of sorts.

Last night, Fish and crew wanted to show their appreciation and love to all of the Melt Tattoo Family members by hosting the first ever Melt Tattoo Family Reunion.

Open to the first 200 members (plus 1 guest) to RSVP, the private event had a free appetizer buffet, photo booth, opportunity to be filmed for an upcoming Melt documentary, and best of all, a one-of-a-kind Derek Hess print.  They also offered a healthy discount on drinks and food too.

Arriving just after the event’s start, I waited in a decent sized line to get checked in and secure my Hess poster (photo to follow once I take one, it is a sweet print).

From there, I snagged some free eats and found a spot up at the bar to camp out at.  The free eats I speak of were beyond generous-sized offerings and consisted of most of the appetizer menu items including fried pickles, mac and cheese bites, and even s’mores bread pudding.

As I waited for my Dude Abides sandwich, I sipped on a couple of Melt City Lights and just looked at all of the people in there.  Everyone was happy, having a good time, and all had something in common with me.  They all felt inspired enough to put something permanent on their skin not only to achieve a discount, but to show support to a man and the company he created.

I started up a conversation with a couple sitting by me just to hear their story.  They were married for 25 years, loved Melt, and the husband got a tattoo and the wife plans on one soon.  They found Melt when they were looking for a restaurant in Cleveland with a good beer list.  They found the beer list that intrigued them and then they found the food.  Hailing from Canton, the couple drives to the Independence location frequently to enjoy a meal before having a night out and prefer it over the new Melt in Akron.

Before heading out, I decided to get my ugly mug on camera for the documentary they were filming.  It was kind of cool to be able to stand there and just explain why I got the tattoo and what it means to be in a family like this.

Fish and I chatted a few times throughout the night and he just looked so happy.  Can you blame him?  His comfort food idea has turned into a cheesy empire with thousands of adorning fans.

Tattooed or not, people love what Fish has built up over the last 10 years.  Here’s to 10 more years of cheesy goodness.