Album Review: Everymen – May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell

I could be quick to say Lake Worth, Florida’s Everymen is just a folk punk band and move on with life, but that would be incredibly lazy on my part.

This band may carry some of the punk and  folk qualities attributed to that genre, but they are so much more than that.

I cannot say I’d heard of this band before, but they just dropped a new release on Say-10 Records called May Your Ashes Have Stores To Tell, and I found myself really digging what they had to offer.

Everymen is like what a young Against Me! might have sounded like if a hyped Tim Barry took over some of the singing duties while the dudes from Gogol Bordello jumped onboard.  I could not help but also think of Tin Horn Prayer when listening to this album as well as Old Man Markley and even Larry and His Flask.

The more I listened to this album though, the more I kept thinking that lead singer of Everymen sounded like the lead singer of one of my favorite unheard of 90s bands, Stompbox.  Once I made that observation, I could not get it out of my head.

Sure that is a lot of comparisons to be throwing out there, but the band stands out with their own style and energy which made it much more interesting to get into.

The moment “Shake Your Bones” started off the album, I knew I was in for something good.  This toe-tapping jam really caught me off guard, especially with the horns and crazy guitar playing.

“Dead Friends”, an ode to lost pals, kept an upbeat feel while paying tribute to those who were taken too soon.  Sadly this was not the only track on the album to sing about loved ones who were no longer as “M.B.” paid tribute to Erik Petersen, the lead singer of Mischief Brew and great friend to the band, who took his own life.

“How To Live” was more of a basement sing along track over the rest.   Listening to this song brought back lots of memories of me being smashed in tiny, dark basements screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs along with some of my favorite bands.

The sing along opportunities continued with he fun “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, a track that easily could have fueled an all night rager in a small, remote bar.  Ironically, “Waking Up Hurts” seemed to be the morning after song compared to the previous jam.

“Don’t Stay” was dark as hell with a certain gypsy-polka sound that was all too inviting.  I loved the female vocals tossed into this track as well as the fiddle playing.

It’s nice to hear such a unique album that does not necessarily rip off anyone else’s sound.  I can only imagine what this band sounds like live.  I am sure it is a hell of a drunken good ol time.

If you are looking for something a little different from the norm, check out what Everymen has to offer.  This is one of those bands I am glad someone reached out to me asking to check out because now I can tell you to do the same.  Totally worth it.

EP Review: Garrett Dale – Two T’s EP

Forget the filler in this review.  Garrett Dale is the lead singer of Red City Radio and just released three songs as a solo project.

You’d never know that Dale even fronted a punk rock band if you listened to any of these tracks.

Three songs of brutal honesty have been slammed into folkish alt-country music on Two T’s EP and I will tell ya, it’s fantastic.  This gem of an EP was released by the good folk at Red Scare.

“2016 Was…Horseshit” is like Tom Waits meets Slobberbone.  What more can I say about this track other than it is blunt as hell.  Check the video below and add the song to your next porch drinking mix already.

Then there was “House Full Of Dogs”, a track that clearly was fueled by a drunken recollection of personal exchanges.  The saxophone in the middle of the song made it that much more incredible.  This track is like the bastard child of a miserable Brendan Kelly and Bruce Springsteen fling.

“Down The Rabbit Hole” was the last track on this EP.  For someone like myself who is obsessed with Lucero and John Moreland, this song just fit in perfectly.  Not that I ever did not respect Dale, but this song alone has me looking at him and his talent forever differently.

Given this small taste of tunes, I really hope Dale has more of this up his sleeves because I seriously think people are going be just as floored as I was when they hear it.  This is music not to sit on.

Album Review: Needles//Pins – Good Night, Tomorrow

Family life has gotten the very best of me in a good way, and I have not been able to dedicate a lot of time to the blog as I would like to, but here I am for now while I have a few moments.

Maybe rather than giving excuses, I should just talk about this new Needles//Pins release that Chris at Dirt Cult Records threw my way to check out.

Before digging in deep here I need to admit how much I am eating up this album with each listen.  It is a start to finish jam that caught me by complete surprise.

Hailing from Vancouver, Needles//Pins is a three-piece punk band who have been around since 2009.  Perhaps not a well-known band here in the states, they caught a good chunk of my attention with their last release Shamebirds.  Needless to say, I was already excited to hear their new material. 

Good Night, Tomorrow is Needle//Pins’s third release (Dirt Cult Records / Mint Records) and clearly their best to date if you ask me.  The band showcases a much more mature sound with most of their tracks but without losing their edge resulting in a great listen.

Songs like “Violet”  and “Back to the Bright” begged to be memorized upon first listen for sing along opportunities.  Both of these songs impressed the hell out of me.

The mature sounding “Sleep” carried some great, catchy guitar playing, but it was the lyrics that won me over.  Personal, poignant , and to the point.

“All the Same” really reminded of the Replacements at times.  I am thinking due to the guitar playing and quick drumming mostly, but I am not complaining here at all.  This song ruled.

As someone who is obsessed with 80s punk/alternative rock, “Pressure Points”, “Untitled (You’re Fine)”, and “Something New” all turned into my favorite tracks on this album once I heard them.  Just check them out if you can, no explanation needed.

My appreciation for this band went out the roof after I heard “Tomorrow”.  Sick riffs, great hooks, group vocals, and a certain organ playing further proved my earlier statement on how Needle//Pins matured.  Folky, punky, and freaking amazing, this was the grand finale I was looking for.

For those of you who like the gritty sing along punk rock that has extreme replay opportunities,  y’all need to check out what Needles//Pins have put together.  Good Night, Tomorrow is one hell of a release that I plan on playing over and over again.  Think Iron Chic, Lawrence Arms, and Leatherface all mixed up in perfect proportions.  Trust me, you do not want to sit on this album.

Book Review: Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost – Erin Osmon

For those who know the name Jason Molina, there is a certain unspoken agreement that his talents were plucked from his adoring fans far too soon.

As many know, he was a musical genius who succumbed to an addiction he could never overcome and in turn put down his guitar and great talent in order to hold on to a bottle.

I call myself a fan, but a Molina novice at best.  I openly admit that I am one of those late fans who never got to see him play live and grew to appreciate his entire catalog after his passing.  I can not say I have ever quite heard music like what Molina created.

I didn’t know the whole story of a man who got his start less than an hour from where I live.  I knew he was with Secretly Canadian and knew how he passed, but I knew nothing in between.

It only seems fitting to have someone collect all the memories, both good and bad, and put them into a book for all inquiring minds like mine.  This biography, to be released by Rowman & Littlefield on May 15th, was full of memories and folklore about a mysterious individual who took his music far past any boundaries ever set prior and in doing so did it his way.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, written by Erin Osmon, pretty much answered questions about Molnia’s life that some of me never wanted to know.  From tales of his youth in a trailer park Lorain, OH to memories in recording studios and overseas, this family-authorized book really covered it all.

Family, friends, bandmates, and even tourmates all provided insight to the life of Molina.  Where most of the book spoke on Molina’s journeys from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Company and even his solo work and impromptu sessions, the book also brought to light family tensions, failed relationships, depression, and of course the demise of greatness.

Molina’s college days and the years shortly after were probably my favorite recollections to read.  Obviously, the toughest parts to read were about his separation from his wife and an attempt at recovery through bandmates and the very label he helped get their start.

It was interesting to learn how Molina formulated his albums in homes and studios alone and with others.  I was also fascinated learning about his life outside of the music including living conditions and places of employment.

Reading how Molina got material released by Secretly Canadian seemed like something that would have happened in a comedy movie, but it was all true.  He was the stepping stone of a label that may not have gotten their start had they never connected.

Molina’s humor style as told by others made me laugh more than once.  His approach with his bands though seemed rather repressed at times, especially when he would up and leave without communicating properly to those involved.

The book obviously was not all fun and games.  Reading about uncomfortable obsessions and how they were put to song made me realize the inventiveness Molina’s mysterious mind carried.  The self-sabotaging of a musical career as told in detail, really opened my eyes and held my interest to the point I couldn’t put down the book.  The marriage that never ended in divorce was painful to absorb but the love that remained was inspiring.

The last few chapters were very difficult for me to read as I lost an uncle to alcoholism earlier this year.  The stories of the support Molina received by loved ones and all of the chances given to him that were eventually passed upon just reminded me of what addiction can do to someone.  Reading about the deterioration of a proud man who kept too many secrets just hit too close to home for me.

Overall, the book carried a life-spanning account of a musician from his young days on Lake Erie to his final days secluded in a room slowly drowning his life away.  The emotions were really felt through this book from those who were stunned at his approach to making music to finding out their friend was no more.

My only small distress with this book is at times it seemed the author had a synonym book handy that was used frequently.  Perhaps it was I, the reader, who needs to dip deeper in to a more prolific writing style, but in the first chapter alone, Molina’s father was referenced as a “patriarch” and the term “spinning platters” was used over playing records.

Eventually I was able to get in tune with Osmon’s style, but there were times I just felt some of the vocabulary used was just too much and interfered with the story-telling.  One thing Osmon did well was put all of the memories and stories together in a chronological order making it easy to set down the book and pick it up again without losing your spot.

The copy that I read was not the final copy but one provided to me early on my the publisher, so there is a chance things will be changed.  I will tell you this, the chapters at times were long, but they were read through quickly as the memories were so well put together.

Fans of Molina will appreciate this book due to all of the content Osmon was able to hunt down over the span of three years.  There were so many angles of Molina’s life put down in this book and I am sure it was not easy for Osmon to capture it all, yet she did it well.

As an added bonus to die-hard Molina fans, Secretly Canadian is releasing a limited-edition bundle of the book with a LP pressing of a 1994 Jason Molina WOBC radio session at Oberlin College.  Where I failed to pre-order my copy in time before it sold out, I did get to listen to the performance and I can tell you it is beautiful and will haunt you, but not in a scary way.  Molina even back in 1994 was so laid back and happy to be sharing his songs with others.  Personally speaking, I think had I heard that session live back then on the radio, I would have been a changed man.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost is available for pre-order through Rowman & Littlefield, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and other fine retailers.

Concert Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes / Masked Intruder / Pears – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH – 04/12/2017

It’s not every day that you hear a cover band sold out a venue on a Wednesday, but that is exactly what happened last night at the House of Blues in Cleveland.

This honestly wasn’t a fluke though seeing how said covers band was none other than punk rock supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

If I am not mistaken, the last time the Gimmes even played Cleveland was back in 2003 at the Warped Tour, so this was a pretty big deal to all of the Gimmes fans out there.  Needless to say, I was pretty stoked myself to see they were coming back to my hometown with special guests Pears and Masked Intruder.

The Gimmes roster consists of Spike Slawson (Uke Hunt / Swingin Utters), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), Fat Mike (NOFX), Chris Shiflett (No Use For A Name / Foo Fighters), and Dave Raun (Lagwagon).  They have been covering various tunes for over 20 years now and do not take themselves very seriously at all.  The result is an overdose of fun covers of songs with a punk edge that in incredibly addicting  They have 8 covers albums out now featuring all sorts of genres of music and were bold enough to just release a “Greatestest Hits” album.

The one ever so slight downfall with this leg of the tour was that Fat Mike was not playing due to scheduling conflicts, but Jay Bentley from Bad Religion was filling in on bass duties, so there were no complaints from me.  Chris Shiflett also was not playing this stretch of shows, but his brother and Face To Face guitarist, Scott Shiflett was filling in.  If you notice the photo of the flier above, you’ll see that they even took the liberty of photoshopping Jay and Scott in appropriately.

The House of Blues slowly filled up before the show started with big thanks to the Cavs and Indians games both going on at the same time making for parking to be a pricey nightmare.  People of all ages even including some kids with their punk rock folks were hanging about.  I really liked seeing such a variety of fans.

New Orleans hardcore punkers Pears started the night off with a pretty insane set.  Sadly, I think less than 10 people were really into them and the rest were just trying to get their place in the pit for the other bands on the bill.  Those Pears fans did sing along to every single song and had a hell of a time.  Vocalist Zach Quinn noticed this and at one time jumped out into the crowd to hang out with his fans.

I am not sure the crowd really was digging what Pears were playing as many seemed to just observe and take in their set, but when the band played a cover of “Judy is a Punk”, the place erupted.  Playing a few songs off last year’s Green Star as well as some from their debut Go To Prison, I really dug what I heard and was reminded that I really need to listen to them more.

Masked Intruder took stage with Officer Bradford, but there was a noticeable inconsistency.  Red was missing.  Apparently Red was serving time for picking pockets, but  Big Luke Ferguson from Lipstick Homicide was filling in on drumming duties.  Jarret Nathen from Pears actually filled in for one song too.

Blowing through songs like “I Fought the Law”, “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight”, and “Saturday Night Alone”, the crowd was robbed of all of their attention by the masked musicians and were perfectly ok with it.

Blue at one point instructed the crowd put their hands up in the air and then the band proceeded to played “Stick Em Up”.  There is nothing quite like a sing along with plenty of profanity.

Officer Bradford did his thing throughout the set and at the end pulled a Har Mar Superstar and shed his uniform to reveal a singlet that showed off all of his manly curves.  His stage charisma is like Ben Carr from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in a sense,  but far crazier.

Between the dance party going on in the pit with fans and Green,  Officer Bradford dancing with the kids who were lucky enough to stand on the backside of the crowd barriers, and even a “literal” gracious mention by Blue to some “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches” place, the band kept the Cleveland crowd wanting much, much more once they finished off their final song of the night, “I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye to You Tonight”.

As this was my first time seeing Masked Intruder after missing countless opportunities before, I was impressed.  The Daft Punk of pop punk were hilarious throughout and sounded pretty great live.

The Gimmes took the stage just around 10pm to a packed house and started playing “Summertime” with Spike running onto the stage dressed to impress.  From there, it was an all out party with the band dipping into their huge catalog of covers.

I was so stoked to hear “Jolene” and “Rocket Man” as well as “End of the Road” all in one night.  The band looked comfortable playing on stage and were just having as much fun as possible.

The Gimmies rocked out their version of the Beach Boy’s “Sloop John B” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” with the crowd singing along loudly.  They also gave Barry Manilow props for announcing to the world the truth before playing “Mandy”.

Cape and Shiflett basically manned the sides of the stage throughout the show.  Cape at times would just vanish leaving Spike to ask if anyone had seen him while Shiflett was just rocking out and having a good ol’ time with Bentley.

At one point during the set, Spike started rambling off a story about another venue in Cleveland he played at with another one of his bands where a awfully friendly man offered to pleasure him out front.  He was quick to admit it was Now That’s Class.

Bentley had me cracking up tons during the set.  When it was not his turn to play, he would pretend to start playing, hesitate, make faces, and then jump into action.  You could tell he really was enjoying the night.  At one point when Spike was shamelessly putting in a plug for Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits album that just came out, a fan in the front row held up the LP and Bentley took it from him.  The fan thought he was just going to hold it up for all to see, which he did, but then put it on the drum stage and left it there until after the set.  He eventually gave it back, but not before Bentley told the fan he would have to buy another copy.

As a special treat, Spike performed a couple of times with a plugged-in ukulele including a song from his other band Uke-Hunt as well as an amazing, intimate cover of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” and also “I Believe I can Fly” with Shiflett playing a Hawaiian riff with eventually the rest of the band kicking in.

With plenty of comedic banter between the bunch, they interacted with the crowd frequently, cracked jokes, and bashed current events just making for just a fun set.  It was like NOFX, but far less wasted.

After leaving the stage only to come back for a four song encore, the band called it a night, but not before thanking the crowd and handing off picks, drumsticks, and setlists to a few lucky fans.

I have to admit, I was kind of worried before the show after hearing that their Pittsburgh show had a shorter set the night before, but the Gimmes played for almost 2 hours.  The full setlist is listed below.

It was a  solid night for punk rock tunes with friends and fans alike thanks to a trio of Fat Wreck Chords bands.  It was my first time seeing all three bands, and I was thoroughly entertained.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Set List:
“Summertime”
“Jet Plane”
“Julio”
“Who Put the Bomp”
“Science Fiction”
“Ghost Riders”
“Sloop John B”
“Danny’s Song”
“Country Roads”
“Jolene”
“Crazy For You”
“I Believe I Can Fly”
“Mandy”
“Isn’t She Lovely”
“Over the Rainbow”
“Rocket Man”
“Straight Up”
“Different Drum”
Spike playing the Uke
“All My Lovin'”
“I Will Survive”
“Sweet Caroline”
“End of the Road”

Click on a photo below to open the slideshow: