Category Archives: Folk

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.

BHP Best of 2015

2015 is wrapping up quickly so I felt it was best I get this out of the way before I become too involved with the holiday festivities.

As much as I wish I was more active on this blog, I will admit I am still listening to as much music as possible whenever time admits.  I am not giving up just yet folks.

With that said, here are my choice releases for 2015:


BHP Best of 2015

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
-This album was one of my favorite releases of 2015 before it was even released.  I knew I was going to adore it before I heard it and I did.  This is one of those bands that has really reached back into the 90s with their style and I love everything about it.

Yotam
Yotam Ben-Horin – Distant Lover
-Yotam blew me away with his latest solo album.  This dude rules and is one of my favorite songwriters out there.

Lucero
Lucero – All A Man Should Do
-I love Lucero.  With that said, when I first listened to this album, I was not digging it much.  In fact, it was not until my third listen that I realized how solid the album is.  I can not stop listening to it.  Yeah, it is not like their older material but it still owns.

Baroness
Baroness – Purple
-This album was literally just released (12/18/2015 for those of you who are wondering).  Luckily there is that edit option on there here ol’ blog because this needs to be on my list.  This album is perfect, absolutely perfect.  After all this band has been through, it is nice to see them return with such force.

John Moreland
John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
-John Moreland is incredible.  Words can not express my appreciation for this album.  Seriously, I can not write anything about this, you will need to listen to it for yourself.

Frank Turner
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
-I do not think it is possible for Frank Turner to release an album that I do not like.  This guy is a modern-day musical hero to me.

NRNS
Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled
-This album was a blast to listen to.

TBR
Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming
-Spite losing Brandon recently, Teenage Bottlerocket gained a lot of attention with their power pop punk release.  This catchy as hell album guarantees for a good time.

Annabel
Annabel – Having It All
-This album seriously made me want to be a better person.  I find myself listening to this album on the days where I feel like I need a boost in the feelings department.

Sidekicks
The Sidekicks – Runners In The Nerved World
-I swear this band matures more and more with every release.

Joey Cape
Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
-This album was so beautiful yet gloomy.  Cape has proved himself to me once again that he is one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet.

Purple
Purple – (409)
-Purple are fun and encompass rock n roll to the max.  I do not even know what that means.  This band is all about the fun and released an amazing album full of catchy tracks.

toyGuitar
toyGuitar – In This Mess
-If this album happened to fall under your radar, you are totally missing out.  Happy-go-lucky-punk-rock-beach-jams should sum up this album.

Success
Success – Radio Recovery
-Success dropped one of the most catchy punk albums of the year.  I love these dudes and think everyone needs to check them out.  I also love the fact that their album cover pays tribute in a sense to Fifteen.

Refused
Refused – Freedom
-The last time these guys released something, it was the late 90s.  I never thought they would put something out again, but they mostly regrouped after some touring and dropped this killer album.  A lot of people said it was over-produced and forced, but I still like it.

Sam Russo
Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams
-This was an excellent album that I am glad I was able to check out.  Sam Russo takes storytelling and songwriting to the best level.

Dr Dre
Dr. Dre – Compton
-This was the album I listened to the most this year easily.  For over two months, I listened to this album in full every single day.  I had a slight obsession with it.  The best part about about this is the first time I heard it, I thought to myself that it was not even that good.  By the time the album ended, I was hooked.  I even listened to it this morning.

Patrick Sweany
Patrick Sweany – Daytime Turned To Nighttime
-This album just makes me want to drink whisky on a porch at night with my close pals.  Nice to see Pat continue on with his passion.  I sure do miss the days whenI could hit up the Zephyr and see him play.

Johnathan Richman
Johnathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith” (7″ Releases)
-I had the privilege to review both of these singles thanks to Blue Arrow Records and all I have to say is that I can not wait for Richman to release his next full-length…


Well folks, that is all I have at this time.  I am sure I am missing something and will probably edit this post 7 more times.  For any of you paying attention, this blog has been updated just a few times…

Until then, happy holidays to you and yours.  I appreciate anyone who has ever taken a moment to check out what I have to share on this site.  If it was not for you, I would probably have thrown the towel in a long time ago.

Album Review: Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams

Sam Russo - Greyhound DreamsThere’s something to be said about storytelling and incorporating it into music.  Sam Russo does that without skipping a thought or a beat.

(Speaking of beat, I should be clear and note that I am talking about the musician Sam Russo, not the button pushing DJ.  I just wanted to make myself clear there.  Thanks.)

Hailing from Haverhill, England, Russo has been playing his own style of a punk-ish Americana folk-rock for years now.  Having released his debut over 3 years ago, Greyhound Dreams (Red Scare Industries) is an impressive follow up.

Russo is not just another punker with a guitar and some pent up anger.  When I listen to him, I think of a hybrid mix of Tim Barry, Dave Hause, and Frank Turner.  The beauty of Russo is that his music does not sound like a rip off of any of the previously mentioned and  is genuine and at times flooding with anguished, heartfelt memories.

Opening track “Sometimes”, a blatant blast at a harsh personal outcry, was simple yet whole, especially when others jumped in to sing along in the chorus.  The song was depressing as hell when you realize why Russo admits being unruly.

Sam Russo“Dream All You Want” contained so many visuals in the lyrics that I had to listen to it over a couple of times to my mind could settle down.  Russo singing “you either chase your dreams, or you chase your dreams away” made it clear to me, this was not a happy song.  This song wasn’t just about dreams, it also was the unspoken reality of those dreams never coming true.

“Crayfish Tales” was one of the better tracks on this album in my opinion.  I swear to god, this guy and I have lived in the same shoes at one point in our past.  I almost predicted that he was going to sing a couple of times.  “Runaways” was also a great tune and a little more upbeat and personable.

I loved that “Forever West” spoke on Russo’s journey that he experienced in the states.  While listening to it, I could not help but think of my own past experiences from the time I stayed in a ghetto Motel 6 in the hood of Baltimore to when, years later, my fiancé and I drove 2800 miles to New Mexico almost non-stop.  It really hit home, especially when he sung about the sun coming over the mountains as I experienced that and it was amazing.  It was like a musical observation, but different.

Russo sang his heart out on “Nobody’s Fool”.  I feel that this was a more important track for him as reminisced on his past pain caused from heartbreak.  “I would give you everything and just disappear” was sung towards the end making for a true statement of love.

“Western Union” closed the album down strong.  Things picked up in the middle with some extra help on vocals, but mostly Russo held this song down solo.  Not the happiest of stories, but incredibly impactful on those lonely memories.

Russo touched on something often on Greyhound Dreams that I think we all need to consider:  Life is short and full of difficulties.  We’ve all been through a personal hell at some point, but Russo really leads by example in his songs (and even song titles) by singing about moving on and never stopping.  No one ever said being a human being was an easy thing.

I will be honest and say I never gave Russo the chance I should have.  I missed out, that is a fact.  Hell, the dude even supported The Falcon overseas and I still was lame and did not buy everything he ever recorded.  (Disclosure:  I would have been privy to Russo years ago had I made it to that Tim Barry show at the Grog Shop…)

If you are a fan of early Frank Turner music, you will adore this album.  I am not sitting here trying to compare the two, I just know what I like, and Greyhound Dreams is pretty outstanding.  Russo has won himself a new fan and probably a whole lot more once they give him a well-deserved chance.

With the year coming to an end, I just found myself another album that needs to be penned onto my best of 2015 post.  Nicely done Russo.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

Darius Koski Solo Debut To Drop April 7th

Hey Swingin’ Utters fans,  Darius Koski is about to debut his solo album.  Before you start throwing down assumptions that the guy is going acoustic just to to make a quick buck, please see what he had to say about the whole solo route:

“I’ve been wanting to have an outlet for it for so long—for longer than I’ve been with the Swingin’ Utters, basically. And I just hadn’t done anything with it. I didn’t really know how I was going to release it, I hadn’t done much live, I have problems remembering lyrics… So I’ve been putting it off for so many years, but it’s finally coming together, and I’m thrilled about it. I’m totally going to go for it.”

Now that you’ve read that, how about you take a listen to one of this new songs:

You’re weren’t expecting that much twang were you?  I know I was not, but I will tell you this, I love it.

Dropping on April 7th, Sisu, is in a genre really of its own with a plethora (yes I said plethora) instrument playing including guitar, piano, banjo, accordion, violin, glockenspiel, vibraphone, melodica, ukulele, and percussion.  This is not just some solo album.  This is years of built up creativity by Koski finally being released property.

I know I am stoked to hear this.

Pre-orders are up at Fat Wreck as of today.  Hurry up and get you some.

Check It Out: Unsung Episode #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain

jmpress_2015aI owe my pal Kyle for turning me into a huge Jason Molina fan.

Yesterday, WXPN aired a hour-long special on the late and great Jason Molina.

 

The moment I learned of this, I stopped what I was doing to tell him.  Now I am sharing this with you.

Last night, WXPN in Philadelphia aired the first of Folkadelphia’s Unsung specials of which Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia were the focus. The hour-long feature centered around a watershed moment in Molina’s career, specifically the time leading up to Didn’t It Rain, it’s creation, and the transition to Magnolia Electric Co. Host Fred Kittel guides us through the time period and explores Molina’s impact on a larger scale. The episode includes conversations with important partners in the creation of Didn’t It Rain as well as a compilation of Songs: Ohia covers by local Philadelphia bands. Stream the full episode, covers, etc via the links below.

STREAM FULL SHOW VIA SOUNDCLOUD
https://soundcloud.com/secretlycanadian/folkadelphia-songs-ohia-xpn/

SONGS: OHIA WXPN FOLKADELPHIA COVERS
https://soundcloud.com/secretlycanadian/sets/folkadelphia-songs-ohia-covers/s-ThSEr

Listen to Unsung Episode #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain. Make sure you have some spare time on your hands as you are going to get sucked into this.  It is a very interesting look into Molina and his time in Philadelphia while recording and those influenced by it.

Now comes the cool part…  Some of those folk who were influenced by the late and great Molina have contributed to a very appropriate compilation.

Stream and download the entire Songs: Ohia Folkadelphia Covers Compilation, which features RestorationsPsalmships (ft. Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner), The Weaks (ft. Frances Quinlan from Hop Along), Teen MenLaura Baird, and Adeline Hotel performing Jason Molina’s music.

Enjoy.  I know I did.  Especially that Restorations cover…