Category Archives: Punk

Album Review: The Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo

It’s been a long time since a ska punk band has impressed me quite like The Bar Stool Preachers have.

I’m sure there are plenty of great releases out there I just haven’t gotten into, but nothing really has stuck out to me for years.  That ended the moment I popped in Grazie Governo, released though Pirates Press Records.

The UK ska punk act already cut their teeth with their debut release Blatant Propaganda and has been around since 2014, but sadly this music fan missed that album in the sea of releases over the years.  Trust me, I will be checking that out very soon after obsessing over their new one.  I also need to note how pissed I am at myself for missing these guys play Cleveland in June with the Street Dogs.

If you are in the same boat as I am and are not familiar with The Bar Stool Preachers then you’ll probably be instantly intrigued to know that frontman Tom McFaull’s father, Colin McFaull, comes from son little UK band called Cock Sparrer.  Needless to say, this band might just have learned a thing or two over the years just based on the bloodline alone.

Album title track “Grazie Governo” started strong with working class appeal that more or less thanked the government with plenty of rebellious intention.  I adored everything about this track from the horns to the organs that seemingly works with the current reality TV politics we are dealing with here in the states.

“8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)” was a love song that held more honest and true than most I have heard in my time.  I enjoyed the blatant honesty in the lyrics on this one and enjoyed the ride of emotion fueled with pop punk riffs and backup vocals, especially at the end when everyone just came together.

“Choose My Friends” featuring Aimee Interrupter is the song everyone needs to check out because it’s just that damn good.  This song has been stuck in my head for days and I am sure it will be for a long time as it made an impression on me as it just brought so many styles of music together.  Without ruining it, just listen to it yourself already.  I even added the music video for the song below.

One of my favorite tracks was “DLTDHYOTHO” most likely because of that Oi attitude layered with the horns and that ever-catchy organ playing.  A fight song indeed and not something you want to be faced up against in a dark alley because you’d surely get your teeth kicked in.  This song just ruled and reminded me of when a young me first heard Operation Ivy and the feeling that quickly infected my innocent mind changing me forever.

“Drive” was great in that McFaull took the listener on a hell of an adventure singing of a heist to pay off debts and escaping like the infamous Steve McQueen.  Sometimes fictitious songs like this seem corny when in the middle of a serious album, but this was done right and just enjoyable.

That piano playing on “Since You” may have sucked me in, but the bass line is what kept me.  A gruff Mad Caddies-like tune with plenty of singable qualities even if about the hard knocks of relationships.  The best was towards the end when things picked up during the moment of clarity.

I’m convinced his band is going to be getting a ton of attention this year based their hybrid of ska and punk rock.  This is the music fans who were told ska was dead once are going to eat up and lace their boots up proudly to.  Did that even make sense?  Well it did to me.  Skank away guys, skank away.

Think along the lines of Rancid, Propagandhi, The Specials, and even The Aggrolites with a more pop punk punch.  It’s like what The Dropkick Murphys might have sounded like if they were from the UK instead of Boston and lost that Irish shtick.  Working collar ska punk anthems galore for everyone to get into.  Do not sit on these guys at all.

Bar Stool Preachers Drop New Release Today!

I can not wait to get some free time this weekend to crank out a review of an amazing band that was recently sent my way.

The band I speak of is The Bar Stool Preachers.  Let’s just say this band has restored my faith in new ska punk music.  I will leave it at that for now.

New Noise Magazine did a great interview and is streaming the album in its entirety.  Check it out!

From the band’s press release:

From the eclectic scene of punk and ska bands in the UK, The Bar Stool Preachers are a band for EVERYONE – a group of blue-collar musicians who can instantly connect with anyone they play for. Exhibiting a tireless DIY work ethic that is unparalleled by its peers, the band has traveled the world gaining fans with engaging performances on the back of its critically acclaimed debut Blatant Propaganda.

Frontman Tom McFaull has a storied musical lineage running through his veins. The son of Colin McFaull, singer of the legendary Cock Sparrer, he’s learned a lesson or two from his father. With this pedigree, the younger McFaull leads the charge for a new generation of punk bands with incomparable charisma and anger that cannot fail to impress.

But their family is more than blood. Having Aimee Interrupter (The Interrupters) lending her voice on “Choose My Friends” and Pirates Press Records’ extended family (including Rancid, The Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys and many others) in their corner, The Preachers are fortunate to have a wealth of experience and support to help lift them to their inevitable heights. They are also already famed for turning every show attendee, writer, photographer, interviewer and other band’s members into fast friends within minutes of meeting. Yes, they are that special.

After an exceptionally successful showing at Punk Rock Bowling 2018 and a West Coast run, a follow up East Coast tour supporting Street Dogs, and more touring planned at the end of 2018 and thought 2019, The Bar Stool Preachers are ready to provide the soundtrack to your summer, and beyond, as they take over North America in support of Grazie Governo!”

Review soon on this album.  Trust me.  I have a lot of good things to say about these UK ska punkers.

EP Review: Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)

It seems like every punk band out there is dropping acoustic albums as of late.  This facade may come off as lazy or desperate to some, but when stripped down right, it makes so much sense.  Still, it is easy to just dismiss them because of how many are out there.

I have to give it to Unwritten Law though who first captured my fascination with the whole punk rock bands doing acoustic renditions of their songs years back.  I remember hearing Music in High Places and becoming obsessed instantly.  Then Rancid busted out an acoustic set in front of me live once at one of their shows and I adored it.  Perhaps this aging punker just enjoys slowing down things a little bit.

When I heard Face To Face was releasing an EP of acoustic versions of their songs over the years, I was nervous.  Mind you Face To Face is easily one of my all time favorite bands from my 90s, I was worried that it would not go well, but I couldn’t have been so wrong.

Hold Fast simply is songs from Face To Face’s 30+ years (with a slight hiatus) career put into an acoustic style.  Perhaps sparked from their “Econo-Live Tour”, the band decided it was their turn to try.  Actually, Face To Face did acoustic sets years back as I remember a friend’s band opening for them and quickly having to learn how to relearn their songs so they could stay on the bill with them – Back to this EP though.

Hold Fast is listed as an EP, but at 33 minutes, it could easily be an album.  I was impressed to see 10 songs tracked on the Fat Wreck Chords release and was more impressed with where they call came from on their discography.

“All For Nothing” started off the EP with an alt-country twangy version of the catchy Laugh Now, Laugh Later track that I am sure Lucero fans would totally appreciate.  I quickly realized after this song alone the amount of time put in by Face To Face to transformed them into a completely different style.

“Disconnected” was the song I was most worried to hear.  This radio-friendly track that caught the most attention on Big Choice was part of the soundtrack to my life in the late 90s and I’m still quite fond of it to this day.  I held off listening to this song at first and waited until the album came out to take it in.  I had nothing to worry about.  This song was perfected transformed from a pop punk jam to an acoustic masterpiece.  I loved everything about this song from Keith’s slowed down singing to the backing vocals and even the guitar playing.

I was kind of shocked to hear “Keep Your Chin Up” the EP as it was a new song, but as soon as the chorus started I immediately understood.  It fit perfectly.

“Don’t Turn Away” was completely dissected and put together as one hell of a track.  The lyrics remain the same, but everything else about it screams alt-country with even some rockabilly qualities to it.  This was such an enjoyable track to rediscover though a different genre.  Just wait for that guitar solo.

“Aok” was another version I just absorbed and adored instantly.  This is one of those other songs that was part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing it on a different caliber was just so appreciated.

I can not say every track on the EP blew me away as some were at status quo like “Ordinary” and even “Velocity”, but I did not skip past a single song.  Nothing was completely unbearable which led me to believe the band truly gave it their all.

I truly feel Face To Face did this for the sake of trying something new and not looking for a quick paycheck (leave that to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes).  These So. Cal. punks have matured so much since back in the day and clearly have moved past their punk rock roots musically.  I really think people who never were into Face To Face are going to hear this and become fans of these renderings.  I am also hoping they just decided to make new music in this style.  I have the feeling it would be amazing.

Don’t dismiss this EP at all folks.  Face To Face is far more talented than you think, especially if you just assume they are just some aging punk rock band looking for a quick payday.

EP Review: The Stable – Difficult People

Hey Cleveland, how ya doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check them out:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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