All posts by Brian

BHP Best Of 2018

It’s that time of the year again folks where I share with you the bands and albums that caught my attention throughout the year.

Sure, my reviewing is infrequent these days, may not make total sense or even be read by many for that matter, but I can tell you that I am listening to as much music as possible daily.

If my memory serves me correct, this will be my 10th Best Of post.  Sitting back and just thinking that this blog has been around for 10 years now completely floors me.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever stopped by to see what’s good.  Here’s to however many more years I decide to keep this going.

With that said, happy holidays and here is my list in no particular order:


Timeshares – Out There EP
-Easily one of my most played EPs of the year.  I was obsessed with it for weeks and was caught off guard in a good way by it.  I can not wait for their next full-length now.  Loving their rejuvenated sound.


Strung Out – Blackout the Sky EP
-Not going to lie.  I was not stoked at all to hear Strung Out was going to do an acoustic album.  I do not know why I even doubted that they would not have done something amazing.  This EP was amazing and showed a completely different side to one of the best bands out there.


Spells – Loose Change Vol. 1
-Ok so this is a collection of early out of print tunes by the Colorado punk party rockers, but this was my first taste of the band after somehow missing out of them for all these years.  I caught them touring with Off With Their Heads earlier this year and turned into an instant fan.


Curtail – All Your Luck
-This is probably one of the best releases that came out this year that you may have not heard about.  I could sit here and talk about it for hours, but I will leave it to you and check it out.  Just think 90s alt rock mixed with 00s emo/post-hardcore goodness.


Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers – Brought to Rot
-This was the most punk rock album to come out all year.  Laura Jane Grace is sincere as she talks about her current dwelling and overall situation without holding back.  I was overly impressed with this one.


Turnstile – Time & Space
-An amazing hardcore release that really is so much more once you get sucked into it.  It really is a genius album to listen to especially with some 80s punk and R&B moments tossed in for the hell of it (just listen to “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind”).  Certainly happy I stumbled on these guys.


Light Years – Afterlife
-Hands down, this is one of the best pop punk albums to come out this year.  I knew it was going to be good, but I did not realize it was going to be that good.


Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)
-This album has turned me into an even bigger Face To Face fan.  I feared hearing it because I really did not want to hear a punk band play acoustic renditions of their songs, but man, I was so wrong to doubt them.  They reinvented their songs in the best way possible.


The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight
-Two-toned, punk fueled, and amazing throughout.  There’s a reason why Tim Armstrong produced this album.


The Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue
-This album was like listening to The Gaslight Anthem team up with Roy Orbison to score a Wes Anderson flick.  I adore these guys and hope to hell I can see them live one day.  This was the album that complete caught me by surprise this year and fell in love with.


Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
-This album is like the energy of The Menzingers + the emotion of MakeWar.  The band clearly has matured into something incredible and this release proves it.  Do not sit on this one.


Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP
-This is the best thing this band has ever done.  There was just this certain amount of gallant confidence throughout.  The song “SkyTigers” proved that to me over and over.


Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes
-I was drunk in Vegas earlier this year and admitted Gold Codes was an album of the year for me.  La Rock is a hidden gem in Cleveland that the world really should get to know some.


Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo
-Working class and bad ass all in one album.  These guys rule.  It’s like Dropkick Murphys if they were a ska band.


Mad Caddies – Punk Rocksteady
-Taking punk rock songs and putting their own reggae style to it was just a brilliant idea.  This covers album was done right and received well by this listener.


Restorations – LP5000
-Yeah, this was one of my favorite releases this year.  This band can do no wrong and I appreciated their maturing lyrics more than ever.  Seeming them live finally this year was also an added bonus.


Four Fists – 6666
-This collaboration between P.O.S. and Astronautics completely slays.  This rap duo really dropped an impressive album complete with plenty of punk references and beats guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days.


Vessel of Light – Woodshed
-This album takes everything great about Danzig, White Zombie, and even old Alice in Chains and puts them all together for a solid listen.  Super impressed with this one.


Frank Turner – Be More Kind
-Everyone needs to listen to this album, especially “Be More Kind”.  I am fairly sure it will make your day if not a better person.  Frank Turner is one talented mo-fo.


Lucero – Among The Ghosts
-I love this album mostly for the band embracing where life has taken them over the years.  They have not lost their style one bit and for that I thank them.  This has turned into one of my favorite Lucero releases.

 

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Album Review: Ramoms / Dad Brains – Merry XMas Spilt 7″

Tis the season to be burnt out by Christmas music on indefinite rotation, right?  I know we only have like 2 weeks left of this, but every year seemingly becomes more challenging for me to stomach.  Hang in there folks.

Now if you happen to have kids as I do, repeating Christmas music intensifies to levels that can bring someone to the edge of insanity.   Seriously, I am at wit’s end with some of the tunes my son demands be played over and over especially when covered by off-key kids who probably were never compensated for their efforts in singing about a certain bullied reindeer.

Luckily, there are plenty of punk bands out there keeping me sane with their renditions and original songs about the holiday season that help ease the pain.  I do my best to sneak them in to daily rotation so my kids can appreciate what their old man is into.  Current favorites by my kids include Bad Religion and MXPX and I am totally ok with that.

It really seems especially this year there were quite a few releases by punk bands with holiday themed tunes, but one particular release caught my attention in a good, good way and has turned into my current holiday favorite.

The release I speak of is actually a split by Ramoms and Dad Brains called Merry  Xmas.  Put out recently by Pirates Press Records, this split encompasses everything a punk parent could appreciate during a stressful time of the year from more than one level.  Satire and spirit for all to embellish is the best distraction.

Ramoms, as you guessed, are an all Mom punk Ramones cover band from the Philadelphia area.  These ladies may not have full band credentials (I was totally mistaken and apologize – see comment below!) and are incredibly passionate about punk rock and more so with their kiddos.

Dad Brains is an all Dad hardcore band from California.  Featuring former members of No Motiv, The Missing 23rd, Creep Division,  and The F-ing Wrath, it’s safe to say this side project is not a total joke.

Ramoms took the classic “Chinese Rock” by the beloved Heartbreakers and turned it into “Lego Blocks”.  As a parent, Lego blocks can entertain kids for hours as well as cause some serious damage to feet in the evening, so I really appreciated this song.

Keeping true to their passion and reasoning to form a band, Ramoms also provided a great cover of the classic “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones.  Gritty and poppy, I am sure Joey would have approved.

“It’s Christmas Time” was a hilarious holiday spin-off of the classic Suicidal Tendencies track “Institutionalized” by Dad Brains.  You know you are in for something good when Cousin Eddie is quoted at the beginning of a track.  Substituting La Croix for Pepsi, it was spot on when it came to modern day holiday feelings and woes.  That last line though, “it doesn’t matter, I’ll probably go to Costco anyway” had me rolling.

“Grinch” was modernized by Dad Brains to have the hairy green Dr. Seuss character antagonizing at a local show.  I especially loved the nod to Ill Repute and Tony Cortez.

This EP seriously is great and had me chuckling a few times and easily could be the perfect gift for your punk parent of choice this holiday season.

Check out some of the tracks below and if you like what you hear, throw some cash their way and download it or better yet, head to Pirates Press Records and buy the wax before it sells out!

Album Review: Worlds Scariest Police Chases – Ablum 3

The thing I love most about Pittsburgh’s Worlds Scariest Police Chases is simply that they give no shits.

Fueled by cheap beers, working class aggression, and heavy doses of realness, they are like Propaghandi in a sense but only love themselves.  Jerks.

The punk rock outfit at one time was thought to have called it quits in 2014 only to change their mind or just screw with anyone they could.  For what it’s worth, I am glad they continued on because we need more bands like WSPC.

Recently dropping Ablum 3, the band aims to mess with fans, new and old, instantly.  Released on Say 10 Records, I have to confess, this is some good, harsh stuff and just seems to outsmart that “Oh let’s reference a bunch of 90s punk album titles into our album title” release.

“Modernbaseballiswar” started off with the band questioning “what if everyone hates us for this” followed by “I hope everyone hates us for this.”  The raw, don’t care attitude easily can relate to any young punker as well as us old punkers who can just sit back and laugh at when we cared what people thought about us.

“Mindtrap” easily was my favorite track on this album.  It’s probably all due to the xylophone playing, but honestly, it was just a killer track calling out everyone as possible in less than 2 minutes.  I laughed when I heard “punk is dead, no matter what Kevin says” might have been targeted at that guy who did that Warped Tour for a couple of years but who knows.  The video was entertaining as hell though.

“My Death” was a 90s punk rock track down to the core.  The band really offered some mature, hard moments on this one.  I adored this track for the punk ethos being blasted out.  I’ll be keeping this song handy for when I’m having one of those days.

Of course my old ass appreciated the rerecorded version of “Adolph Hipster”, a track that was released in 2015 and clearly was aimed at those who think punk is a fashion statement.  With the band admitting they are poking fun at anyone who thought the song was about them, the true genius of this song was the Kid Rock “get in the pit and try to love someone” tossed in.

Calling out douchebags was “Trigger Warning”, a track that dismissed anyone who takes advantage of others.  Clearly this track was aimed at a certain someone with “you violated trust, you are not one of us” being released at the end.  Whoever this is, even I think you suck.

I found entertainment in the song titles too which held reference to some classic punk rock acts.  Titles like “The Shape of Punk is Dumb” and “How To Glean Everything” just reminded me how clever these guys really are.  Both tracks were good too.

WSPC remain a true gem of a punk band and Ablum 3 clearly showcased that.  It’s nice to see these 6 hard-working dudes carry on their band with purpose to piss off, have fun, and just play for themselves (and their fans too of course).

WSPC is playing Cleveland on 12/28 with Boston’s Rebuilder at Now That’s Class.  You can bet your ass I will be there.

Album Review: Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds – Keep Walkin’ Pal

I am not going to blow smoke up Brendan Kelly‘s ass, so I’ll just say it: This guy is fascinating in a  weird as hell way.

He is more clever than you’ll ever aspire to be and he’s much more of a musician than I think he is credited for.

I feel like the smoke is blowing even though I said I wouldn’t.

I do not know him personally and he sure as hell does not know me, but I can tell you I admire him for his comedic approach to life as well as standing his ground for his beliefs.  Then there’s the countless Tweets from @Nihilist_Arbys that he finally fessed up to being behind.

Normally he fronts Chicago’s The Lawrence Arms as well as toys with The Falcon like once every 10 years.  He also has a solo project called Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds and let me tell you, it’s different in a good way kind of like putting A-1 sauce on over-easy eggs.

Recently Kelly dropped Keep Walkin’ Pal on the ever awesome Red Scare Records and it’s not really a solo album, but a collective release featuring Kelly and a bunch of his pals including Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant and Atlas Studio’s Dan Tinkler making for a sporadic listen with no agenda.

Album title track “Keep Walkin’ Pal” had Kelly and his signature raspy voice just spilling brutal truth with lines like “I blacked out 17 of my best years.”

“Shitty Margarita” was this poppy punk jam complete with synthesizer that was all about what extreme amounts of sugar and tequila can do to you good and bad.  Not going to lie, I dug this track a lot mostly due to the music.  It was fun even though the lyrics might have brought back 1 or 7 bad memories at Chi-Chi’s.

“Huggz” should be a theme song for Kelly.  The 80s-ish heavy track was all about simple affections, at least I think it was.  Kelly was pretty damn stern about getting them to function and how music he likes them – even from Sergio.  (Remember I said he was clever?)

“Black Cat Boy” was one of my favorite tracks on the album.  With Kelly’s signature singing over the electronic keyboard and beats, this song was just one that stuck in my head quickly.

Best track on the album by far was “The Ballad of Buffalo Bill”.  From singing about putting the lotion on the skin again to having a dog barking, this song was beyond entertaining.  Clearly you need to know what Kelly is referencing to fully appreciate.  I’m glad he tucked it in here.  (I’m clever too you know)

As much as I wished “I’m the Man” was an Anthrax cover, it was not.  This closing track was pretty much all the drunk and high thoughts packed into 3 minutes and 22 seconds.  It was a bizarre track with shoutouts to Mr. Clean and excellent backup vocals with a digital beat Daft Punk would be jealous of.  I’m not quite sure what the hell was going on there, but I like to think I enjoyed it.

Overall, Keep Walkin’ Pal was a solid listen.  Kelly and pals once again have managed to entertain and confuse me at the same time.  If that was the intent, awesome, but if not, maybe I am getting too old for this shit.  Anyways, check out the album, it was pretty great.

Album Review: Johnathan Richman – SA

Sometimes you forget about things because you’re  just so preoccupied with life.

That normal routine, if you’re like me, starts with coffee and ends with exhaustion.  What I’m basically trying to get at is that I forgot to do something.  It was an honest mistake though.

I forgot to take a few moments to myself and write about the latest release by Johnathan Richman titled SA.

SA is Richman’s 17th album as a solo singer/songwriter.  Once again on Blue Arrow Records, Richman has recorded an eccentric yet honest, poetic album where he sings about everything from love, dancing, and even a creative point of view from a dog.  It’s simply art put to music.

According to Blue Arrow Records on their Bandcamp site, “SA, the root note in Indian ragas, was what Ramakrishna,
the much beloved mystic, told his spiritual students to search for underneath all things of this world.”  Chances are if you are reading this, you know Richman and why he would reference such.

Album title track “SA” opened up with a relaxed, island-y feel and had Richman singing of focus and love without hesitation.  The sitar, at least that is what it sounded like to me, complimented Richman’s strumming.

Subtle quirks were heard in Richman’s pitch throughout “The Fading Of An Old World”.  This track really had a lot going on musically when you sit back and listen.  On top of it, Richman did what he does best in flowing ample and intense lyrics throughout.

“O Mind! Let Us Go Home” held as an eccentric tune that had some likable psychedelic qualities.  The jazzy drumming behind the tambura playing kept things beyond mysterious.

Richman sounded so youthful in “O Mind! Just Dance”, a track that seemingly was a continuation of the previous ‘O Mind’ track.  This experimental track became one of my favorites the moment Richman just started opening up and going on a positive tangent about not worrying.  I loved how he seemingly turned his attention and spoke to the audience halfway through asking everyone to forget and dance.

“¡Alegre Soy!” was just amazing as it was a peppy, cheerful song.  Sung mostly in Spanish, the song really just built up so well.  I instantly adored the track the moment Richman just started doing a spoken word about how happiness surrounded his life.  I could hear him smiling as he spoke about always being happy in his life for the most part.  Once the track ended, I was just left with such a good feeling in my heart.

“Yes, Take Me Home” was easily my favorite track off this release.  As someone who has rescued a dog more than once, I because almost a little emotional listening to Richman speak as a sheltered canine with an undisclosed past.  I loved the harmonium playing accompanying Richman’s guitar, but I just wish I knew if the dog was taken home.

“And Do No Other Thing” was an instant classic for me.  Songs like this one were what turned me into a Richman fan in the first place.  It was romantic yet blunt with completeness especially when everyone came together at the end.

This album, in my opinion, was far more entertaining and good-spirited than the last making for a great listen.  Richmond, at times, sounded as if he got lost in the moment more than once and did not once chance his approach at what he was born to do: Entertain.

I should note that Richman and Tommy Larkins currently are on tour in support of SA.  I was lucky enough to catch them a few weeks back at the Grog Shop in Cleveland  and I will tell you, it was probably one of my favorite intimate performances that I have ever seen.

I went to that show purely as a fan and not to review it and left with a happy vibe that lasted well past the car ride home and the next work day.  It was my first time seeing him live even though I have been a fan for longer than half my life.  He was everything I had hoped for.

With that said, if Johnathan and Tommy made it to your neck of the woods during this tour or even the next, just go.  You will not be disappointed.  Even if you are not terribly familiar with his material, I can honestly say you will be entertained by one of the best.

SA is available on CD and for download on Bandcamp.  Look for a cassette and LP release in early 2019.