All posts by Brian

Album Review: Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes

I hate to break it to you, but summer is almost over.  Soon it’s going to be cold and miserable out.  

No need to get depressed just yet though as there is still plenty of time to get rad.  Luckily Johnny La Rock is here to add fuel to that fire with his debut, dance-your-pants-off release titled Gold Codes.

Cleveland native La Rock, aka Eddie Fleisher, once showcased his talent in hip-hop duo Johnny La Rock & Mushmouth as well as Presque Vu, but has taken an entirely new approach that surely will appeal to all those looking for a good time. 

Gold Codes is La Rock’s solo debut album that is more or less a “life can’t get any worse, let’s party like those people did in Independence Day on top of that skyscraper before the aliens blew that shit up” album.  Yeah, I just said that.  It’s pop, it’s soul, it’s electronic, and most importantly, it’s good.

“Dance to the Rhythm (Party Time)” started things off just right with a body-moving jam complete with a little 90s inspired hip hop enthusiasm.  This was a sincere as hell track that really will make you want to get down.

The inspirational “210 and Mustache” more or less punched negativity in the throat and walked away proud with your head up high.  If you do not know what 210 refers to, go ahead and just Google that along with Urban Dictionary.  

“Swipe Left” is a honest yet candid track about the norm that is called online dating.  I loved the line “you seem cool on the internet, in real life you’re insane.”  I loved the vintage video dating samples, it accompanied perfectly.

“Keep On Keepin’ On” was a fun instrumental jam as was the 80s thriller sounding “Phantasm”.  It was cool to have both songs just change things up for a moment without losing momentum.  Least I not forget about “Lumin8”, that was solid too.

“Blue Away” was an uplifting alternative to shake off any funk currently holding anyone back.  No lie, this song cheered me up.  I think a music video is in order for this one (hint, hint).

“Gold Codes” stuck on me for some reason.  I think it was more or less because I’ve felt what La Rock sung about on a few occasions over the past 20 years.  This was the fight jam I needed to remind me that retaliation happens in many forms as long as you don’t give up.

I’ve seen La Rock live a few times when he focused on rap and most recently with programmer Furface and I have to admit, I am a bigger fan of his solo stuff than I thought I would be.  At first I was set back because I was expecting the hip hop, but when the soul-pop dropped, I was an instant fan.

I have to note that this album fueled my recent trip to Vegas and if I had it my way, I would have played it for everyone around me at all hours.  The release has jumped up high as one of my favorites of 2018 and I’m not sure any music quite like this will be topping it.  I speak high praises because I thoroughly enjoyed almost this entire album from start to finish many times over.

La Rock is the Har Mar Superstar of Cleveland and even manages to keep his clothes on during live sets.  

Interpersonal ,humorous party vibes a al Electric Six, La Rock knows how to deliver a good time to all his fans.  

Check out what La Rock has to offer below and hopefully you’ll agree that it does not disappoint at all.

Album Review: Curtail – All Your Luck

I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.

I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.

Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on.  My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).

Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records.  A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen.  I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago.  Still, it needs to be noted.

“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure.  Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall.  “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to.  I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.

“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over.  Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This  is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band.  Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all.  This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.

I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life.  This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track  this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.

“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring.  Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically.  This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.

“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me.  You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song.  I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.

“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.

“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released.  This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.

For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some.  Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans.  Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.

Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck.  I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.

 

 

EP Review: The Stable – Difficult People

Hey Cleveland, how ya doing?

Lebron (more like L.A. Bron) is gone, but who cares?

Well if you do care, just know local punkers The Stable recently dropped an energetic, gritty album on BandCamp that’ll help you forget all about that sports nonsense in mere minutes.

Featuring members of Seafair (R. Kelly), RAM ONES ( J. Voland), Above This Fire (C. Wright), and Varsity Pinball (I. Bowers), it’s no surprise at all how impressive The Stable’s debut EP is.

4 songs, all quality, are contained in Difficult People. These may be quick bangers, but they certainly are impacting and leave a mark.

“Clothesline From Hell” is proof of my previous statement.  Full-force, no corners cut track full of insane drumming, vocal chord destroying singing, and of course some good ol’ group vocals.

“We Belong In Hell” might just be my favorite cut off the EP given how catchy it is.   There’s something to be said about a song that embeds in your mind as a track you won’t soon forget, this is one of them.

“Shyamalan Twist” seemed to carry this 90s punk/hardcore ethos in the background that I totally adored.  I loved the breakdown towards the end as it just made it that more enjoyable.

I warn you, this EP is quick, but if you are like me, you’ll jump back to the beginning for another round.

The Stable remind me of The Shaking Hands and The Holy Mess a ton in a good, good way.  Given the gents who are in this band, I expect big things to come in the near future.  I can not wait to check them out live soon.

Check them out:

 

Book Review: I Wanna Be Well: How a Punk Found Peace and You Can Too by Miguel Chen

It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life.  You wake up daily, live your day on repeat, and eventually go back to sleep.

It’s a routine so many of us are caught up in that sometimes we forget about one very important thing: ourselves.

My life is busier than ever thanks to having my wonderful family.  I carry my own routine that more or less has me in a solid state of mind worrying about everyone else and not myself.  I fail to give myself personal time frequently and in turn become stressed out and know I am just not myself.

When I heard that Miguel Chen, bassist for famed Teenage Bottlerocket, wrote a book about being well, I was instantly intrigued.  When I heard the title of his book was a Ramones song, I knew I had to check out I Wanna Be Well: How a Punk Found Peace and You Can Too.

Never mind the fact that I adore Teenage Bottlerocket, my curiosity came purely from the subject of the book as I agreed with it knowing that I needed to better myself for myself and not the sake of others.  For the record, I feel a do a pretty good job daily being the best I can be for others, but when it comes to myself, I always find excuses.

Focusing on internal thought and meditation, I Wanna Be Well is a a quick read that anyone can get into.  Along with meditation practices and an intro to yoga poses, the reader also gets insight into Chen’s life and how this punk rocker found inner peace among quite a few tragedies in life including the loss of band mate Brandon Carlisle.

Just by changing his ways and seeing the world differently, Chen found the happiness he never knew existed.  His story, explanations, and novice practices were all well received by this reader and I took them all to heart and promised myself to try and practice them daily.

The one thing I loved the most about this book is how candid Chen was throughout.  It was as if Chen was just sitting there in a room chatting with me and telling me his insights with no filter.  He also was just so honest and did not set expectations knowing that not everyone is the same.

Of course I loved the punk references throughout including the chapter titles and hidden banter, but I also appreciated the recap at the end of each chapter that serve as a refresh of a meditation or practice Chen spoke on.

I hate that even though this book could be read in a short amount of time, it took me a couple of months to finish (two small kids = not a lot of personal alone time).  I did like that each time I did open up to a chapter, I wasn’t lost, everything stayed on point, and Chen did not repeat himself sans a couple of reminders of meditations to help set up new ones.

The one part of the book that really stuck on me had to do with forgiveness of myself and of course others.  I can think about my actions and work on how to change them should a situation occur again.  I can be mindful more than ever just by starting my day off right.  There were so many hints and tips in this book that seriously can have a positive effect on anyone if they just attempt them.

Did this book save me?  No, but  I am going to be more mindful than ever with what Chen spoke on.  I’m even putting some deep thought into giving yoga a shot now that I realize it is not all about bending yourself into a pretzel in some hipster studio with nice finished floors.  When Chen said in the book that I was doing yoga while just performing a simple stretch, I realized there is no reason for me to not try.

Wellness is defined by my own terms according to Chen and I really should not worry about others when it comes to myself.  If I want to listen to some Murder City Devils while having some alone time, I can and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so.

You do not need to be a punk rocker to enjoy this book.  Granted a lot of the content revolves around someone who is in a punk rock band, the book is for anyone looking for new ways to find inner peace.  Trust me, take in a few chapters, and you are going to find something that is going to change you.

Released by Wisdom Publications, the book is available in paperback or digital both at a very reasonable price.

 

Album Review: Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP

Y’all want to hear something amazing?

Check out the new EP by Oklahoma City’s Red City Radio.  My god, this is the best thing to hit my ears so far this year.

In case you have no idea who I am even talking about, Red City Radio is a punk rock foursome that seemingly can do no wrong with their music style.  They’ve been around since 2007 and have a whole slew of releases full of catchy punk rock tunes for all to adore.

Recently, they dropped SkyTigers with help from Red Scare Industries.  This 21 minute EP is from start to finish is outstanding.  There really is no other way for me to tell you all how impressed I was with this EP.  I can not stop listening to it as of late.

“If You Want Blood (Be My Guest)” exploded into a memorable sing along jam.  The second the drums fully kick in, the energy went through the roof.  Talking about hometown values and not giving up, the band showed major signs of maturing with not only their great lyrics but also their collective sound.

“I’ll Still Be Around” started off very Tim Barry but not in a bad way at all.  Things soon picked up for a pretty great track that one could only wonder is about the band and not as told by the lyrics, “not every pretty girl can sing, not ever ugly guy is funny”.

Garrett Dale’s bellowing voice goes outlaw on “In the Shadows”, a track complete with horns and a healthy 80s-ish guitar solo sans any cheese at all.  This is a powerful punk spaghetti-western track when you actually jump into it and listen for what it’s worth.  The more and more I listened to it, the more I appreciated it, especially that subtle sigh at the end.

“Rebels” was a foot-stomping jam that seemingly defended actions based on other’s behaviors and apologetically called them out on it.

“SkyTigers” was a fantastic song and turned into something so memorable the moment the sample from The Dictator began.  Perhaps more meaningful and truer than ever, Chaplin’s infamous closing speech from classic film was extremely relevant on this song hearing it today based on today’s current affairs.

For an EP, I feel slightly cheated as I wanted more of what Red City Radio was offering.  This is by far some of the best material I have ever heard these guys do, and this comes from a fan of theirs since almost day one.  I love how they have slowed down a little but haven’t given up on their edge one bit.  Fans are going to love the shit out of this.

Don’t skip out on this EP if you can help yourself.  Chances are you are going to be just as blown away as I was upon hearing it.  Red City Radio continues to dominate and SkyTigers is 21 minutes of proof.

Pre-order the EP if you dare: http://redscare.storenvy.com/