Category Archives: Post-Hardcore

Album Review: Story of the Year – Wolves

It’s been a while since I last got into Story of the Year.

Nothing against the band at all, but I think the last album I listened by them was their 2005 release In the Wake of Determination.

Hell, I remember vividly shooting their set that year at the Cleveland Warped Tour.  I was a big fan of them then and honestly, have no idea why they fell off my radar.

The funny thing is, their first two albums pop up on my slowly-dying iPod classic in my car once in a while, so it is not exactly like I omitted them from my life, I just never go to checking out newer material.

Clearly that ended today after checking out their newest release Wolves.  The St. Louis post-hardcore/punk/rock band released the album just last month, but it took me a minute to check it out.

Wolves is Story of the Year’s fifth full-length album and was crowd-funded in just 3 days upon the announcement of their campaign.  It is their first release in 7 years too.  The result is more emo rock album over the punky post-hardcore I once adored, but this isn’t a bad thing.  Honestly, the dudes sound more collected and mature and given the time-span of when I last really got into them, it makes total sense.

After the intro track, “How Can We Go On” just pounded my ears.  This was how I remembered the band.  Tons of sing-along opportunities, and a energy that easily sucked me in.

“Bang Bang” followed and instantly had me thinking how this track when played live would result in the entire venue jumping up and down screaming and singing.  I hesitated at first with the electronic synthesizer in the song that made it more Family Force 5, but honestly, it worked.

Upon hearing “Youth”, I thought “I Swear I’m Okay” was going to be all guitars and heavy,but things turned down a few notches and suddenly I was sitting there listening to a balled of sorts.  I did not quite know what to think of this one.  I guess I just was amped up with that intro.

“Can Anybody Hear Me?” was a synth-rock balled of sorts that had an 80s physique but was not in a mocking fashion at all.  Not going to lie, I enjoyed the hell out of this song.

“A Part Of Me” came back with the heavier sound I grew accustomed to…or so I thought.  This was another track that just slammed on the brakes and let the feeling pour out.

Luckily, “The Eternal Battle for Mike Cronin’s Soul (To Be Alive Again)” popped up, or I might have just put the album down.  This track was more my speed.  At times it was like Nine Inch Nails jumped in and offered some industrial beats.

“Good Night My Love” was an honest track I feel I have related to over and over in my life when it comes to relationships.  The song did not sound overproduced at all and if anything showcased how far their have come as musicians.

Secretly I was hoping “Like Ghosts” was going to be some outlaw spaghetti western track, but alas it was not.  I did like this song and I hate to say it, but the music at times was very Peter Gabriel and I mean that in a positive mention.

“Praying For Rain” closed the album down with a 7-minute track that really took the listener all over the place.  I loved just a minuter or so in when the guitars just busted in.  My favorite part though was the spoken word in the middle of the track.

Considering it has been 13 years since I could tell you everything about this band (and 7 years since they released new material), clearly they went through changes and fine-tuned their sound to their likening.  This is not a commercially released album forced out by a record label, but more of an underground release.

Overall, solid release by a band who has been in it for almost half of my life.  I dug the variety in Wolves even if I might not have been in the mood for the slower tracks while listening the first time.  I know I will revisit this album again in time.

Don’t expected an “Until the Day I Die” hit song on this album.  This is the album after years of heartbreak and misery that everyone who’s grown up probably can relate to in one way or another.

BHP Best of 2017

It’s crazy that 2017 is coming to an end already.  I feel like I always seem to say that around this time of the year, but it’s true.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I turned into a 40 year old.  Let me tell you, that was kind of a big change for me and I might have sulked about it for 7-8 months.

More importantly, my wife and I welcomed our amazing, chill little daughter to the world in July.  She is the coolest, but don’t tell my son I said that.

Clearly dadage life takes up most of my time these days and this blog is not what it used to be, but I still try to crank out reviews and whatnot when I can because I love it.

I may be busy with life, but I am always listening to music and have checked out tons of albums by amazing bands and artists.  Where I wish I could review everything that I have come across, I simply have to pick and choose when I can.

It’s been a tradition of sorts for me to do a Best Of post, and there is nothing I would rather do that share with you some of my favorite releases of 2017.  So, without further delay…[well maybe some as I am trying to narrow this down to just 20, but who am I kidding???  Edit: I might have added to this best of list a few times now…]

I ‘m super proud to say that four of my favorite releases in 2017 are all Cleveland bands so they obviously need to be mentioned first:


Heart & Lung – You Wanna Know the Truth?
This is the album that caught me by complete surprise.  My pal told me to check them out and I did and I loved this entire pop punk jam of an album to the point that I still listen to it almost daily.  If I was able to sign them and put out a record, I would have already.  This band has so much potential to be huge.


Heart Attack Man – The Manson Family

Words can really not express how great this album is.  It’s punk, it’s grunge, it’s good, and it’s comprised of great folk.  Do not sleep on this one.


Two Hand Fools – Falling In / Falling Out
I was lucky enough to hear this album over the summer and was beyond blown away by how amazing it was.  It is seriously the best thing the band has done so far and I adore it from start to finish.  This is one of Cleveland’s best bands if you ask me.


Warbrides – Regrets

Oh man this album rips…

Of course there were others too…


Iron Chic – You Can’t Stay Here

Do I really need to even say anything?  This album is damn near perfect.


Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
These Aussies have put out one of my favorite albums of the year.  I loved how catchy, fun, and overly personal it was.  I still have intentions on getting one of the lyrics off this album tattooed on me. I also need to buy the damn record already for my collection.


Propagandhi – Victory Lap 
It should say a lot how politically charged this album was from a Canadian band about the US mess we are in.  I really adore this album from start to finish.  It’s damn perfect.


Hot Water Music – Never Going Back
The more I listened to this album, the more I appreciated it.  It is a wiser, more mature release by this iconic punk band.


Scorpios – Scorpios Vol. 2

When Joey Cape told me in an interview that Scorpios might just return and someone with the initials C.C. would take over where Sly left off, I was beyond stoked and instantly knew it was Chris Cresswell.  This is one of the albums this year that everyone needs to just give a chance.


Demons – Embrace Wolf
I just found out about these guys from a good friend recently and I have listened to their debut release almost daily since.  This band packs a severe punch with their post-hardcore greatness.


Ho99o9 – United States of Horror
Hardcore punk mixed with hip hop?  Yes please.  This album was beyond insane.  Death Grips ain’t got nothing on these dudes.


Frank Carter and the Rattle Snakes – Modern Ruin
I miss Gallows so much, but what Frank Carter and crew released has me happy that he still puts himself out there for everyone to hear.  This is more of a rock album but it’s so rad.


Sweet Apple – Sing the Night in Sorrow
I was not sold on my first listen, but after a few more I realized I should have paid more attention the first time.  Remarkable release by some amazing musicians.


Anti-Flag – American Fall
I do not really care with anyone thinks here, Anti-Flag released a political, poignant album that everyone who has a clue needs to check out.  They have perfected their sound so much on this album.


The Flatliners – Inviting Light
Upon first listen I was not totally sold on the band tapping their brakes compared to previous releases, but the more and more listened to it, the more and more I appreciated what they had to offer.  This really is a hell of an album.


Fred Thomas – Changer
This man can do no wrong.  I love his style and uniqueness and the fact he gets excited about my Instagram posts every once in a while.  His latest release just hit me as it encompassed change.


Body Count – Bloodlust
Back in ’93, I was a huge Body Count fan.  I am sure I can still recite most of the lyrics off their debut.  After that first album, I just never got into them the same.  Then Bloodlust came out and once again they have grabbed my attention.  Ice T, Ernie C, and crew really delivered a heavy ass album with plenty of special guests.


Menzingers – After the Party
I feel like every album they release I am putting it on my best of list, but hey, it rules and deserves to be noted.


Ride – Weather Diaries
This album is incredible from start to finish.  I honestly was not expecting this seeing how the band hadn’t released material in over 20 years.  Clearly I am dumb for thinking that.


A Giant Dog – Toy
This band is straight up insane and I love the hell out of them for that.


Lil Peep – Come Over When You’re Sober (Part One)

I was strangely fascinated with this kid and his emo rap to the point that I was listening to this album almost daily.  I could not stand some of the topics he was singing about and just felt like I was too old to even admit I was listening, but I loved the music and his overall singing style.  Sadly he OD’d last month so the world will never know how big he could have gotten.  I really felt this kid had so much talent.


Tim Barry – High On 95

Once again this man has taken his honest music and beat up all the emotions inside of me.  Working class hero musician with storytelling abilities like none other.


Quicksand – Interiors
I honestly was not anticipating this release to be as good as it is.  I hate to be that guy, but I was not impressed with the couple of tracks the band released prior to the album.  Little did I know they were just puzzle pieces to a killer album.


Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
So much thrash goodness here.  Also, best album cover too.


Needles // Pins – Good Night, Tomorrow
I am thinking that a lot of people might not have hear of these guys here in the states, but you can change that.  This punk rock group released a great album.  Note to self:  Buy the LP already!


The Electric Grandmother – Cancelled.
There is no way I was going to overlook this concept album by two very close friends of mine.  Even if they are too good to play a Cleveland show, I love them dearly and am amazed with Cancelled.  It’s the best thing they have done to date in my opinion.

Honorary Mentions:

  • Choke Up – Stormy Blue
  • Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Warriors
  • Shedders – Dangerous Jumps
  • Rancid – Trouble Maker
  • Gorillaz – Humanz
  • The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
  • Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Rake It In:  The Greatestest Hits
  • Ethan Danial Davidson – Crows
  • No Use For A Name – Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers
  • Stutter Steps – Floored
  • Western Addiction – Tremulous
  • Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
  • Japandroids – Near To the Wild Heart of Life
  • Swingin’ Utters – Drowning in the Sea, Rising with the Sun: Best of Swingin’ Utters
  • TSOL – The Trigger Complex
  • Greg Graffin – Millport
  • Powerflo – Powerflo
  • Quicksand – Interiors
  • Beck – Colors

As always, this was fun to take some time and think about all the great releases that came out over the past year.  I probably could have put even more up here, but the ones listed (along with the honorable mentions) are the ones that impacted me the most.

I’m glad I did not sunset this site as I actually thought about over the summer.  I’m going on 10 years now and after careful thought have no intentions of closing shop anytime soon.

A big you to all the bands and the great PRs who have even thought of asking me to check something new out.  I am sorry I can not always get the review out, but I promise you, I listen to just about everything that is sent my way.

Thank you to you if you are reading this for checking out my site.  Whether you are new or visit often, I appreciate you for checking me out.  Without you, this site would be meaningless.

Happy Holidays to you and yours and all that jazz.

 

BHP Best of 2016

It’s that time of the year again folks.  Time to sit here and type out a list of bands that have impressed me one way or another.  I am not keeping to a set number as it would take me forever to narrow it down.

A sincere thanks to everyone who’s ever visited this site – seriously.  I know I tend to say that around the time I do my best of lists, but I really mean it.  I almost called it quits  earlier this year and reconsidered at the last minute.

This blog is very personal to me and even if more people find it while Googling how to fix their headphones, it is still fun to do.  If I can turn someone on to a new band just by one post, then my job is done.

With that said, I plan on sticking around for a while.

I am sure I will add a few more as they come to me in the next couple of weeks (as I always do [up to 3 edits now]), but for now, here’s the list of the albums that really caught my attention in 2016:

[EDIT:  The year is not over yet and I needed to throw in just a couple more…]


Chandeli’ers – Breaker
-This was the album that hit me in the right way.  It was fun across the board and sounded like the Clash meets Elvis Costello.  What more could you ask for?


Run The Jewels – RTJ3
-This album was not supposed to drop until 3 weeks into the new year, but El-P and Killer Mike decided to drop it on Christmas day for all to enjoy.  I can not stop listening to it.  I know I am not the only one either.

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"
MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity
-Hands down one of my favorite surprise releases of the year.  This punk rock band has thrown together an album I will be listening to over and over for years to come.

joe-mcmahon
Joe McMahon – Another Life
-This is another one of my favorite albums this year.  McMahon shared with the world an outstanding collection of tunes that everyone needs to check out.  His solo material is a lot different from his Smoke or Fire days and that is not a bad thing at all.

Bob Mould
Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
-Mould recorded a masterpiece with Patch the Sky.  If you have not had the chance to listen to this album, you are missing out.  This album is perfect to listen to any day.

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!
-I am kicking myself for not putting this on my list initially.  Richman is one of the most prolific songwriters out there and put out quite the release.  I loved how song his songs were fun at times while others were just complex and reached across borders.  He really showcased his musical abilities on this release.  This guy has been writing music for longer than I have been alive and still is able to put out quality albums.

Dinosaur Jr.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
-I have been a fan of this band for over 25 years now, so it only makes sense that this release made my list.  Oh, it also kicks so much ass.  Lou Barlow singing on it made it that much better.

All Dinosaurs
All Dinosaurs – Total Dissatisfaction
-Where do I even start with this one?  It’s like listening to the Bronx, but better, and from Cleveland.  I love this album so much that I literally just bought the LP from their bandcamp page.  No lie.

Useless ID
Useless ID – State is Burning
-This band will always be one of my favorites and this release continued to keep me a fan.  With a much more harder approach, they really killed it on this one.  I also adored the nod to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket.

pulley
Pulley – No Change in the Weather 
This band was a huge favorite of mine in the late 90s and I thought they were done in the mid-2000s, but low and behold, they came back with an album that seemingly continued where they left off without missing a beat.  “Sometimes” is such a great track.

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
-James Alex (and former crew) have created a timeless album for music fans of all ages.  Catchy yet poignant, the album has been on a weekly rotation to my ears since the album dropped.  It may clock in at around 30 minutes, but it is a hell of a ride from start to finish.

Worship This! - Mint
Worship This! – Mint
-So what if these guys are my pals, their sophomore release blew me away.  I can not say enough good things about this album.  It is poppy, punky, and addictive.  More people need to check this album out as these Akron/Cleveland boys really know how to make sweet jams.  They are the next big thing in my mind and I love them all dearly.


Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate 
-Having one of my all time favorite bands release something new in 2016 was pretty rad.  Having one of my all time favorite bands stick to their sound from start to finish and have no indication of slowing down made it that much better.

Nothing
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
-I never thought I would like shoegazing.  To be honest, I really never knew what shoegaze was until I heard this album and I am still not quite sure.  Indie rock and neo-psychadelica mixed with plenty of distortion and emotion made for an album that I could not get out of my head for weeks.  That’s a good thing.

Mean Jeans
Mean Jeans – Tight New Dimension 
-Mean Jeans are probably one of the most underrated bands out there right now.  This album further proved that.  A modern-day Ramones-like banger.  I loved it.


Bouncing Souls – Simplicity 
-The Souls are like a fine cheese or wine to me.  With age, this band seems to just get better.  Their latest release was just full of punk rock fun.  When I started singing along to the first song during my first listen, I knew I was going to love this album and play it over and over.

Blink 182 - California
Blink 182 – California
-I can’t help it, I got sucked in to the new Blink and I know why…  Matt Skiba.  He was the perfect addition to reinvent this band.

The Avalanches
The Avalanches – Wildflower
-16 years after their debut, The Avalanches came back with an all new release that very well probably took all 16 years to create.  I know some of my pals were not digging this release fully, but I adored it.  It probably helps that the likes of Danny Brown and Biz Marke helped make this album what it is.

Arms Aloft
Arms Aloft – What a Time to be Barely Alive
This is the one album I really need to do a proper review on, but I keep getting sidetracked.  I listen to it all of the time and it is freaking amazing.  Punk rock from the 80s perfectly blended with punk rock from the mid 2000s is one way I can describe these fellows.  The music is infections, the lyrics are fun, and from what I hear the band is pretty cool too.  This kind of sounds like a review, but it is not.  This is just me telling y’all that this album was impressive.

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – At This Age
-This is their third release and probably their most tied together, mature material I have heard them create.  They have pushed their limits from a one time local band and are more or less prepping themselves for what’s next to come.  I am proud of these dudes.

Arilss Nancy
Arliss Nancy – Greater Divides
-This band really should be at Lucero levels by now.  They are exceptional at what they do and it can be heard throughout their latest release.

har-mar-superstar
Har Mar Superstar – Best Summer Ever
-Har Mar continues to put out incredible material with each release.  This man is so talented that he drops albums that cover various genres and avoids any and all gimmicky sounds.

NOFX
NOFX – First Ditch Effort
-After all this band has been though, it only makes sense that they dropped a more personal album.  It took me a couple of listens to truly appreciate.  Don’t worry, it’s still crass at times as well as hilarious, but man, that Tony Sly tribute song will put tears in your eyes.

Harvey Pekar
Harvey Pekar – The Astral We
-This Cleveland hardcore band is just that…  This album was insane yet intelligent, and I loved every moment of it.

the-falcon-gather-up-the-chaps
The Falcon – Gather Up the Chaps
-I love that Dave Hause was on this album.  I love that he had to play ska riffs knowing how much he hates ska because Brendan Kelly decided it was a good idea.  This album was far from serious and a good time all around.

NOTE: I promise you, Red Scare did not pay me for putting so many albums on this list.  They just had a hell of a year with releases…  Toby, I take plastic btw.

I wanted to throw a couple of EPs on here as well:

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins – That’s All We Need at Our Party
Blue Arrow Records and the creative vinyl masters Wax Merge teamed up to put out an insane variant of this 7″.  I was lucky enough to score #100 out of 100.  It’s a thing of beauty plus the tunes on it kick ass.  I love me some Jonathan Richman.  I am sure there are a few left, so snag one if you can.

Throw Shade
Throw Shade – Self-Titled
-I have talented friends who make beautiful music.  This EP is absolute proof.


Nine Inch Nails – Not the Actual Events
-I really did not know what to expect from Reznor and crew with this EP seeing how I just lost interest in their material for the last 10 years.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised.  This EP brought me back to 90s NIN and I can not wait for their full-length to drop in 2017.

bracket
Bracket – The Last Page
-At just over 70 minutes, this is one long-ass song and it’s amazing.  The track keeps it together for the listener and takes them on a punk rock voyage.  My first listed was distracted thanks to my paying gig, but my second listen with headphones on was incredible.

Finally, I know this is a best of list, but it would not be right if I did not make mention of this:

RIP Dag House…
Dag HouseIt goes without saying, sometimes you find yourself in the right situations by chance.  Thanks to an amazing batch of pals who kept Dag House going for years.  Not everyone gets to experience basement shows, and some of that could be by choice, but goddamn, if you are a music fan, basement shows are the best shows.  Dag House threw together a hell of a rager for their last show, and I was happy to be a part of it.  Thanks for the memories Dag.

2016 was a crazy year.  If you’ve made it this far in my post, thanks for sticking around and being so rad.  It is people like you and the bands above that keep me doing what I do.  Be well.

Best Of / Worst Of / Whatever Of… 2014

Well folks, it’s that time of the year.  We are wrapping up 2014.

This means I get to share my top albums of the year (with anyone who has any interest in what I have to say).

There were tons of great releases this year and honestly, I know I passed up a few.  In fact I’ve even added a few names to the below list numerous times while pondering what all caught my attention in 2014.  (NOTE:  I have even added a few more to my list that I overlooked and feel need to be included – perks of running your own blog I suppose.)

I am not putting any limits on my best of list this year as no artist should be left out.  I’m am just sharing the albums that really impressed me this past year and maybe even reasons why.

I’m not sorry for how long this post has become.  I’m actually quite pleased with what I have come up with.  It really proves that 2014 was a great year for music.  I’ve also decided to add a list of albums that just did not do it for me.


Best Albums Of 2014:

Tim Barry
Tim Barry – Lost & Rootless
-I just listened to this album in full this morning and instantly had to add it to my list.  This is the best thing he has ever done in my opinion.  Music writing doesn’t get more real than this.

Mastodon
Mastodon – One More Time Round The Sun
-This album blew me away and continued to do so over the course of the year.  I really was not sure what to expect after hearing The Hunter, but they managed to keep their style and improve it resulting in one of my favorite albums of 2014.

Cheap Girls
Cheap Girls – Famous Graves
-I love everything about this band.  I think the best part is that they are just all quality dudes who are extra loaded on talent.  I really need to snag a copy of this album on vinyl.  If you have not heard of this band, you need to change that.  This album was perfect.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams – S/T
-This album was thoroughly enjoyed by this music lover many times.  I can’t say I’ve been into all of his past material, but as of late I am finding myself becoming a bigger fan.

United_Nations_-_The_Next_Four_Years
United Nations – The Next Four Years
-It was only a matter of time before U.N. released new material.  This super-group of musicians really outdid themselves with their sophomore release.  In fact, I favor this release more and more with each listen.

Murder-City-Devils
Murder City Devils – The White Ghost Has Blood On Its Hands Again
-I never thought the day would come when MCD came out with new material.  After seeing them in 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Fest, I knew it was only time before they recorded new material.  The result was yet another classic album full of plenty of jams that I’ve listened to over and over without growing tired of one bit.  I just wish it were a little longer.

Xerxes
Xerxes – Collision Blonde
-This band slays.  So much.  I was not ready initially when I checked this album out and was literally just taken by surprise.  Best feeling ever.

Chris Stowe
Chris Stowe – Hollow
-This heartfelt album tops my list when it comes to one man and his guitar.  When I say heartfelt I mean sad but with true emotion.  He is the emo of emo and a class act dude as well.  This album really impressed me.

Chuck Ragan
Chuck Ragan – Till Midnight
-This album was intensified so much more thanks to his special pals he recruited to play with him throughout the album.  As big of a fan of Hot Water Music as I am, I can honestly say I am a bigger fan of his solo material.

Banner Pilot
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
-It’s Banner Pilot.  Enough said.  This band never disappoints.

Cory Branan
Cory Branan – The No Hit Wonder
-If you have not heard this album yet, stop reading right now and find it.  This was one of my favorite releases of the year.  Amazing songwriter.

Chris Cresswell
Chris Cresswell – One Week
-Intense album by a guy who usually is known to scream loud in the Flatliners.  Subtle tracks with Joey Cape helping along made for such a beautiful release.  I love that this was recorded at Cape’s house in just one week.

Afghan Whigs
The Afghan Whigs – Do To The Beast
-No lie, I was nervous about this album when I heard it was going to be released.  I am not sure why.  Lucky for me, it was solid from start to finish.

Black Keys
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
-This album was a little more Broken Bells sounding than I was hoping for thanks to Danger Mouse’s touch, but overall it still ruled.  I have found myself listening to it a lot again after taking a few months off.  It is still catchy as hell and those guitar jams are still amazing.

Mariachi El Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx – III
-How can you not like this album?  It is so good.  I loved how it just was not even so much a concept anymore as much as just a new direction for a talented group of dudes.

Swingin Utters
Swingin Utters – Fistfull Of Hollow
-This band refuses to slow it down.  This is their 3rd release in 3 years and is the best stuff I have heard by them in a long long time.

Needles Pins
Needles//Pins – Shamebirds
-DIY punk garage rock excellence is the best way I can describe this album.  I can not even tell you how many times I have listened to this release over and over.  If you dig the Ramones, I guarantee Needles//Pins are right up your alley.

J Mascis
J Mascis – Several Shades Of Why
-I have few heroes in my life.  Mascis is one of them.  This may be the most amazing thing I have ever heard him do aside from that Mazzy Star cover he recently performed.

Baby Ghosts
Baby Ghosts – Maybe Ghosts
-Pop-indie-garage-rock-fun-fueled-goodness.  I may be falling out of the scene these days and miss out on a lot of the DIY music that completely rules, but I can honestly say I am glad I did not miss out on this album.

Menzingers
The Menzingers – Rented World
Chamberlain Waits will always be my favorite release by The Menzingers, but this album is a very close second.  Very close…

Against Me
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
-I know this album got a lot of attention due to Tom exiting and Laura entering, but aside from that, this album is just sick.  I hated to see such a revolving door of members in the band over the years, but they still have managed to keep it together and produced an intense album.

7 Seconds
7 Seconds- Leave A Light On
-I am a huge fan of 7 Seconds and am ok with that.  To see them regroup and drop an all new release made this aging punk rocker very happy.  This album was tougher and harder than some of their past releases and did not sound forced one bit.   This album was probably the best punk record I listened to all year.  Suddenly getting old doesn’t seem so bad.

Sage Francis
Sage Francis – Copper Gold
-Sage returned and delivered.  I can still recall the day this album dropped and how excited I got.  I was live tweeting my feelings for all to read, including Sage himself.  I was having a fanboy moment.

Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels II
-EL-P and Killer Mike dropped the surprise album of the year and pretty much gave it away for free.  This should be at the very top of my list as I can not stop listening to it.  I was lucky enough, thanks to a good pal, to obtain a physical copy that I know I will spin over and over.

Tilts
Tilts – Cuatro Hombres
-This band is the definition of rock music or at least what I think it should sound like.  Remember when Queens of the Stone age were cool?  Tilts are better.

Pup
Pup – Pup
-This is the one album I sat on for too long in 2014.  I am glad for whatever reason I decided to check it out.  This is one notable debut.

Restorations
Restorations – LP3
-Take all of the music I was into in the 90s, and I guarantee you this album would have fit in perfectly.  This is one of the best bands out there.  I know they have a good fan base already, but I seriously think that not enough people are aware of how talented this band really is.

Best of EPs of 2014:

Beach Slang 1
Beach Slang – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?
-Without a doubt, this is the greatest band out there right now and they have yet to release a full length.  They are not young kids and are perfectly ok with that.  They are just here for the tunes and these tunes are exceptional.

Beach Slang 2
Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street
-So gooooooooooooood.  Yes.  I adore them.  Deal.

Low Culture / Iron Chic Split
Low Culture / Iron Chic – Split
-2 of my favorite bands on one EP.  Nothing tops that, except maybe pizza or tacos.

Needles Pins Low Culture
Low Culture & Needles//Pins – Split
-Garage rock maximus.  Both bands are incredible and it only made sense for them to release a split together.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams – 1984
-Surprise release of the year.  I loved what he did on this EP and wished it were a full length.  Adams really is a man of many talents when it comes to music and I have a fonder appreciation for him now. 1984 carried quality similarities to so many SST and Discord bands.

The Public
The Public – Shibuya Crossing
-These guys could be the next big thing to come from Cleveland if they keep it up.  Dead serious.

Remainders
Remainders – Fine Exits
-These guys could be the next big thing to come from Pittsburgh if they keep it up.  Dead serious. (yes, I did that on purpose)

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – Wherever I Might Land
-Hearing these dudes cover Iron Chic’s “Time Keeps Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future” pretty much made my year.  This was a download only release, but I hope that I can find a bag of money so that this can be pressed on vinyl.  I would need to title it SGNLS MDWST though as all the cool bands lose the vowels.

The One That Got Away In 2014:

Of Us Giants
Of Us Giants – Nova Scotia
-Seriously, what the hell was up with this band?  They started 2014 off in a good good way with their debut and disbanded before even hitting the road to tour.  It seemed almost as if they worked harder selling their merch to their adoring fans making up for lost product over keeping it together as a band.  I am sure they had their reasons, but Novia Scotia was a solid release and I really thought Of Us Giants was going to make it big.

Whatever Of 2014…

Death Grips
Death Grips – The Powers That B
-I liked this album.  A lot.  I did not like how this band went out.  Kind of pompous if you ask me.  Luckily, most folk moved on with their lives.

Rancid
Rancid – Honor Is All We Know
-I honestly hate that I am admitting this, but I only liked about 45% of Rancid’s latest offering.  I even listened to it again today and felt the same.  I just was not been overly impressed with the entire album and I really wanted to be.  There were a couple instant classics in there but some of the tracks just didn’t hit me well.  Rancid will always be one of my Top 5 bands.  Don’t you worry boys.  I still love ya.

Gaslight Anthem
Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
-I tried, I really did, to enjoy this album but just could not get into it at all.  At first I thought I appreciated the lyrics and just needed to get into the music, but in reality I think the Gaslight fanboy in me was just in shock on what I was hearing.  It was just too chilled out for me.  I will give it a chance again soon.

Weezer
Weezer – Everything Will Be Ok In The End
-No it won’t.  Two songs in on this album and I turned it off.  Sorry guys, I’ll stick to your older albums.  I could not get into this at all.

Damon Albarn
Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
-I love Blur and the Gorillaz.  I can not say the same for this album.  It is different and just not what I was expecting.  I appreciate anyone who does their own thing, I just can’t say I will like it.

Pixies

Pixies – Indie Cindy
-I did not have the highest expectations for this release.  Maybe it was due to Frank Black saying that “there’s been a shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo…as far as we’re concerned it ain’t that big of a deal.”  Yes it is Frank.  It sure was a big deal.  It was a Kim Deal.  You should have quit when she did and stated something else.

Wu Tang
Wu Tang Clan –A Better Tomorrow
-I hate to have anything negative about Wu Tang Clan, but after hearing “Ruckus In B Minor”, I thought this album was going to be the greatest thing in 2014.  Sadly the single was the strongest track on the album with a couple of other tracks that came close.  Do not get me wrong, this was a good album but I was hoping for way more hip-hop and less R&B.

Masked Intruder
Masked Intruder – M.I.
-Sorry dudes…your first album was so much better than your follow-up.  I dug it for maybe a week and just lost interest.  It is not terrible by any means.  My review was sincere and I initially liked it but not for long.  I know not everyone will agree with me on this.  The band has major talent.  Perhaps I am old and just don’t get it.  Get off my yard!

Worst Albums Of 2014:

U2
U2 – Songs Of Innocence
-Jerks.  Rolling Stone was paid off.  Apple was paid off.  This album was not that good and I am still pissed that the Apple sponsored commercial had so many punk rock heroes in it.  I am entitled to my opinion.  Nothing like jumping on Google to learn how to remove an album from my iTunes that I never wanted.

Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends
-No.  Just….no.  Maybe if I was on a lot of drugs and was just an eccentric individual I might get it.  My ears were bleeding with this.  Quit trying so hard and bring back Yoshimi.  I know some people adored it.  I did not.  These Beatles covers were terrible.


I hope you all enjoyed this list/rant/babble.  I know I had a good time putting it all together.  Seeing how awesome 2014 was with music, I can not wait for 2015 to start.

Happy holidays suckers!

Album Review: Xerxes – Collision Blonde

Xerxes - Collision BlondeI was waiting for an album to drop this year that would completely steal my undivided attention.  Xerxes has just done that to me.

If any of you know me, chances are you know my love for bands like the Refused, Murder City Devils, Gallows, Thursday and At The Drive-In.  The vocal styles of all those acts is one of the main reasons I have such an appreciation for them.

Xerxes’s new album Collision Blonde seemingly took queues from all those acts and more throwing them together into one killer release.

I love it.  I adore it.  Thank you Xerxes and thank you No Sleep Records for throwing their album on your label.

This young post-punk act from Louisville, KY mixes in so many different musical styles in their jams, I almost hate to classify them into one genre.  With elements of punk,  post-hardcore, goth rock and more, this avant-garde act blew me away the moment I heard their sophomore release Collision Blonde.  

This album overflows with plenty of mental anguish guaranteeing to satisfy any emotional train wreck out there.  Pain, love, and drugs seemingly fueled this release and I’m pretty sure anyone who hasn’t always been in a positive path through life will totally get into Collision Blonde.

Once “I Was Wrong” started I knew this was going to be one of those albums I listened to all the way through with no interruptions.  Calvin Philley just destroys his voice throughout with plenty of distortion that would make Trent Reznor proud.

“Criminal Animal” appealed to me with a garage rock start quickly morphing to something a little more hardcore.  I got a huge kick out of Philley switching to almost a furious spoken word only to start singing again.  “Knife”, toned things down for a moment and clearly was about some object being stuck into one’s back.

“A Toast” had this Cure-like melody and bass line hiding behind intermittent hard riffs and screaming vocals making for a great listen.  The transitions from the singing to the spoken word throughout this track made it even better to listen to.

“Collision Blonde” was beyond a daunting track with Philley just spilling his guts out on top of a melody that easily could be mistaken with The Jesus And Mary Chain or even Bauhaus.  Although dark and lonely, this track really was amazing in so many ways once you got past the emotion and pain.

“Nosedive” ended the album with Philley screaming “just make it stop” over and over.  It was almost like this entire album was a brutal nightmare and it needed to come to an end.

I am not sure if this album was a revelation of pain or a public cry for help.  Regardless, it is powerful lyrically and musically making  Collision Blonde easily one of my favorite releases of 2014 so far.

Perhaps I took in this album a little differently from others.  Having grown up listening to darker styles of music in the 80s and 90s like The Cure and Jesus and Mary Chain, I always wished it were heavier back then.  I loved the music but craved more vocals.  Xerxes seriously captured some of my favorite band styles and added their own harsh twist on it satisfying that younger request.  The result is just insane and I adore it.

Collision Blonde drops on Oct. 21st.  You can pre-order it now over at No Sleep Records.