All posts by Brian

EP Review: Charger – Charger

Not trying to prove my age here folks, but I have been a fan of Operation Ivy and Rancid for a good 25 years now.

Needless to say when I heard that Matt Freeman had a new project on Pirates Press Records, I had to stop what I was doing to check it out.

Freeman has been in so many punk rock bands since the late 80s aside from Rancid including MDC, Dancehall Crashers, Auntie Christ, and of course Devil’s Brigade.  He even filled in for Social D for a bit. His bass playing is undeniably amazing and his deep, raspy singing style is unforgettable.

Having known his history, I figured Charger would follow suit, but I was so wrong and beyond blown away at what I heard.  Sure, there was a Hellcat feel, but smashed up against pure hard rock a la Mötorhead and Black Sabbath.

I shouldn’t just speak of Freeman as two other talented-ass musicians put their heart and sound into the self-titled Charger EP.  Andrew McGee plays guitar and then there’s Jason Willer on drums and vocals.  He’s from Jello Biafra’s Guantanamo School of Medicine and some other band called U.K. Subs.

“Crackdown” started with the bass playing I have grown so fond of along side some serious guitar playing.  The moment Freeman took the mic, I knew this album was gold.

The breakdown in “Victim” is tough and ever so authoritative.  The band clearly tossed massive nods to metal bands of the 80s/90s without losing grip of their punk roots.  You know the band had all the fun playing this one.

“Damage” ripped.  Riffs, slapping bass, insane drumming, and Freeman bellowing into the microphone.  There was a huge Hawkwind and Iron Maiden nod on this one.  This track right here is proof that this band has a ton to offer.

“All Kings Must Die” pretty much was what would happen if Rancid and Mötorhead had a baby.  There’s really no other way to put it, and it works just so well.  Beyond entertaining to listen to as it covers metal, thrash, and punk rock without skipping a beat.

“Dragged Down” again pushed back to 70s/80s metal giants like Maiden and Metallica.  The chorus on this one was perfect and evoked serious headbanging opportunities.

The EP might have flown by, but it was flawless and left me wanting far more.  Here’s hoping for a full-length soon.  Freeman, McGee, and Willer easily have proved their talent in this release will surpass the expectations of many.  I foresee a lot of music lovers getting into this one.  It’s topped my best of 2019 list easily and I have listened to the EP daily for a few weeks now and not grown tired at all of it.

Side note, if Charger was the music that Fraser, Buscemi, and Sander would have played in Airheads, it would have been the greatest movie of all time.  I am not sure why I kept thinking of that movie while listening, but I couldn’t help but share.  Plus if you recall, Lemmy was in that movie…

 

Album Review: Harvey Pekar – Paris Green

The fact that Cleveland’s hardcore homies Harvey Pekar titled their recent release Paris Green solidifies their genus and complexity.

Paris green is a highly toxic insecticide and also entertains the masses as it is an ingredient used in fireworks.  Was there hidden meaning in their selection of words for the album’s title?  I would like to think so.

I should disclose I have been a fan of Harvey Pekar since 2011 when they dropped the impressive Thirty Ghosts.  I remember seeing them at a hole-in-the-wall Akron bar and becoming instantly down with their tunes.

Fast forward 8 years with a couple of changeups, Elliott Frank, Ian Douglas, Nick Kratsas, and Nick Schmitt still kick severe ass.  They are also all some of the best dudes I have ever have the privilege of getting to know over the years

Enough of the chemistry lesson and personal memoir, it’s time to talk about Paris Green, Harvey Pekar’s third full-length release that recently was put out by Steadfast Records.

Produced and engineered by the one and only Ryan Foltz at Cleveland Audio (Dropkick Murphys, Rancid), Paris Green was everything I was hoping for in new Harvey Pekar material and a whole lot more.

The album started off with the ripper “Predation in Shadow Position” with Kratsas talking helm with his poetic lyricism while the rest of the band supported him in full-force.

“Drag Hesitations” was brutal as all hell and I loved everything about it.  That breakdown though is what did it for me.  I felt a little tougher than normal while listening to this one.

“Glow Aplomb” carried on a with little more melodic approach than I would have expected, but it worked so well.  It’s full of gruff and force, but was carried with a toned down sound at times that really just was proof how far this band has come along and how they do their own thing without worry.  In fact, this was one of the tracks I have gone back to a few times now.

I am fairly sure “Slash Centre Unison” has got to be insane live.  I can just envision everyone losing their shit while the band blasts this on stage.  I adored the shift midway that just involuntary asked for everyone’s participation to sing along.

“Forever the Follow” finished things up on this release with memorable bass playing and furious drumming.  Best part about the track was the ultimate buildup halfway in with Frank playing away that had me nodding my head in all sorts of approval only to have the band collectively lose it with Kratsas almost sounding like fired off ammunition screaming to his heart’s content.

I was left wanting so much more after this album ended.  My blood was boiling, heart was pounding, and thoughts were scattered all over the place.  It was a nice distraction, that is for certain.

After a few listens, I am convinced this is the best material they have put together to date.  In keeping with their hardcore/punk ethos, the band stretched things out some making for a likable change in style I personally saw as maturing and evolving.  Think about that Gallows sound right before Frank Carter jumped ship and went completely rock and roll or when Cave In slowed it down because they felt like it.  That is what stuck in my head the most but please do not see either as a direct comparison.

I can’t help to think what’s to come by these guys down the road based on what I heard.  All I know is that you really should make yourself privy to them so you can share the excitement I hold.

Album Review: Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood

There’s just something to be said about hearing an album that brings back great amounts of angst from 20+ years ago.

Sure, we really don’t care to remember when some of the jocks in high school threatened to kick your ass because you were different.  We sure as hell don’t want to think about how pissed off it made you and how you held your ground and prepared to fight back only for them to say they were just kidding.  That never happens to anyone right?

Fake Blood by Cleveland’s very own Heart Attack Man had no problem digging into my hippocampus and ripping out crippling episodes in life offering for a retrospect on how they shaped me.  That right there is exactly what Fake Blood encompassed from start to finish for this listener.

This sophomore album has been on my radar for months now ever since singer / guitarist Eric Egan and drummer extraordinaire Adam Paducah made mention of finishing up recording.  Add to the fact that one of the friendliest guys I know, Ty Sickels, is part of this incredible band and one might just called me jaded when it comes to talking about this act.  Pals or not, this bad rips and I know I am not the only who thinks that.

With riffs that reach all the way back to the 90s “Fake Blood” started off things off with a fierce, intense track that was catchy as hell.  You know you are in for something excellent when the first track immediately gets stuck in your head.

Not trying to sound cliché, but “Blood Blister” brought me back to some awkward teen years of mine when music was my crutch and most folk were my enemy.  Egan’s directness complimented my own thoughts when things just didn’t go my way and you bet your ass I never let it go.

“Out For Blood” is a vindictive jam that will instantly take over your good day and put you in a savage mood.  The kids are going to love this one, i know it.

“Moths in a Lampshade” strayed away from the others in a good way.    This was that kind of track you listen to at 3am when driving in the middle of nowhere trying to just grab ahold of yourself.

Hands down the best track was “Cut My Losses.”  It wasn’t a love song and it sure as hell wasn’t a song about moving on peacefully.  This track’s raw emotion succeeded most of the ill-will I have ever had for someone that’s ever threatened me.  Egan is a total bad ass on this track and when they are ready to do a music video for it, it best be him walking away from an explosion without looking back.

“Sugar Coated” wasn’t nice at all and that’s perfectly fine by me.  This track pretty much could have fueled my worst years as a teen all while begging to be sung along with.

Fake Blood easily is going to be one of my favorite releases in 2019.  This Cleveland band is beyond talented and I really see big things happening to them especially if they continue to just kick ass and forget names.  They have been doing things their way and honestly, I think it’ll work out just fine.

Do not sit on this band.  That’s my advice to you.  You’ve been warned.

Album Review: Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad!

Consider me a born-again Teenage Bottlerocket super-fan after obsessing Stay Rad!, the band’s latest release.

These Wyoming punkers just did it right in a whooping 33 minutes and the result was me playing this album over and over for a solid week desperately trying to memorize every lyric so I could sing along.

Once again, the band is on Fat Wreck Chords and have dropped what I feel is one of their best efforts in a long time.  The thing I liked the most about this one was that their songs were happy, sad, damaging, adorning, funny, and just real.  Add that to solid, catchy punk rock tunes throughout and it’s easy to understand why I can’t get enough of this album.

I’ll just get to the point with this review that pretty much had me in tears while listening to it.  “Everything To Me”, an ode to Ray Carlisle’s son Milo, punched me right in the heart over and over.  This track stopped me in my tracks the moment I heard it and of course had me gushing over my son while seemingly agreeing with everything Ray had to say about how amazing his kid was.  I’ll never stop listening to this total dad rock track.  I can’t wait to play it for my boy when he’s just a little bit older.

“Night of the Knuckleheads” was like a Misfits track, but pop-punk and fun.  “Creature From the Black Metal Lagoon” was like a Dio song, but not really.  It was however, kind of a solid track to listen to even if they did bash on Deafhaven.

More like something a reformed GG Allen might sing about in a diaper, “The First Time That I Did Acid Was the Last Time That I Did Acid” was a little raw and unordinary at the start but my god it was so true.  I could only imaging some of the people I used to watch have bad trips back in the 90s.  Do people even do acid anymore?

“Stupid Song” really was not that stupid at all.  It was pretty much a day in the life of anyone out there who utilizes music to block all the shit the real world dishes out.

“Little Kid” was a somber track Ray wrote about his brother who, as most of you reading this are well aware of, passed in 2015.  This track was tough to listen to but just so important and I am glad Ray did it.  I hope it gave him, and the band for that matter, some well needed closure.

Album closer “I Never Knew”, the only track written for a girl, was written by yogi extraordinaire and bassist Miguel Chen.  File this track under punk rock love songs to be added to future mixes.  This one was not cheesy at all and clearly an honest track.

As much as I hate to even say this, but these guys are the modern-day Ramones and Riverdales that everyone needs.  They do it on their own accord and have no problem jumping from seriousness to silly in two minutes flat.  They have been through hell after losing a brother/drummer and easily could have hung it all up.  Instead, they  refused to give it up in a blatant honor to their fallen bandmate by releasing Stay Rad!

Check It Out: Teenage Bottlerocket’s “Everything To Me” Video

There’s nothing quite like a song that catches you off guard and just has you getting all sorts of emotional.  That’s exactly what the new song “Everything To Me” by Teenage Bottlerocket did to me.

As a father of two, this song kicked me right in the feelings and pretty much had me tearing up something good.

Check it out and maybe you’ll feel the same:

Seriously, this Ramones-esque dad rock track was the best goddamn thing I have heard all year.  I can not wait until their new album Stay Rad drops later thing month.  By the sounds of this song though, they should have called it Stay Dad.