Category Archives: Rock

Album Review: Sam Russo – Back to the Party

Being cooped up because of some asinine virus has not been my favorite thing as of late.  I really shouldn’t complain though, as I know many pals of mine are hurting severely because of this pandemic.  If I could help everyone, I would.  Trust me on that.

I offer a distraction to anyone who needs it right now via music.  It’s the least I can do.

My pal Toby from that punk label out there called Red Hair Bimbo Trees or something sent me a message today reminding me that the great Sam Russo has new material that just dropped and encouraged me to stop sitting there and do something.

Who is Sam Russo you ask?  He’s a UK punk rocker who honestly could put his back up these days to a young Frank Turner when it comes to musical style and craftsmanship, but that’s being a little lazy for comparison.  Said differently, if you love when punk lead singers do their solo thing and get all Revival Tour on your ass, you’ll love this dude.  I guarantee it based on his storytelling ability.

Russo has actually been around for a while now and Back to the Party is his third release on Red Scare Records.  I was lucky enough to get a good taste of him thanks to 2015’s Greyhound Dreams and have really been waiting for the day he dropped some new tunes.

“I took a lot of risks on this record and I’m so glad I did because it came out sounding really original and totally true to what I was trying to say for so many years.” – Sam Russo

“Purple Snow” started off the album a little personal and a tad incoherent in terms of the story within the song.  I adored this track upon first listen.  Russo honestly has never sounded better.  Perhaps a personal memoir, this track carried enough emotion to have me thinking of some of my past history.  I am curious though, was the snow purple from Mad Dog 20/20?  One can hope…one can hope.

“Good and Gone” I think was taken from my own personal memory of most of 2009.  This song hit the heart hard, as it sung of hurt and triumph.  These are the tunes that make me happy exist because the show me where I’ve been, where I can from, and what I’ve become.

“Darkness” followed and continued to tug on forced-in feelings with an apologetic excuse on interpersonal communication, or the lack thereof.  Wholesome and pure, this track probably will be relating to a lot of folk.

There’s so much that can be said about “Young Heroes” based on how the listener took it in.  Given the current situation, this track speaks volumes to those who are working harder than ever based on some stupid pandemic.  Not trying to sound cliché at all, but there’s a lot of heroes in my book right now.

I can not really talk about a certain track on here in great detail, but if you know me, you know it totally kicked my ass by the title alone.  The past will always sting back when you least expect it.  Maybe I need to appreciate it more than I give myself credit for seeing how it shaped me, but still, that shit hurts.  Nice job Russo, you jerk – I might have had a tear or two let loose…

Just when you think there’d be a slight let up of sorrow on the album, “Tears” kicked in.  This really was a beautiful track overall, but not to be reckoned with if you’re trying to lift them spirits high.  I mean, that chorus alone gave me chills.  Add lap-steel guitar playing that sparked a slight country feel made for my favorite track of the record.

“The Basement” ended the album with symbolism at its finest.  Russo came to terms with life due to rummaging around and only could sit back and reflect on where things went wrong.  Putting a lid to the album with this track just made so much sense.

Russo is a storyteller as much as he is a musician.  Personal tales might make you want to hug your drink a little harder when you listen to this album, but let’s be real – sometimes it is nice to remember you’re human.

Back to the Party is a must listen for any music fan.  Although some songs were full of ache, there really was a  silver lining in terms of hope.  I feel like I am trying to be motivational here, but let’s face it, times are weird as hell right now.  We can all use a distraction.

Hang in there folks.

Album Review: Notches – New Kinda Love

I’ve told myself over and over that I need to try and hammer out more reviews.  I have a million excuses why I choose bed over blog as of late and two of said excuses are the most important things in my life – my kids.  Clearly nothing is more important than them and of course my wife, so please excuse me for not paying attention to this here ol’ blog this year.

Time to change that of course.

With recent events going on to which I need not point out, I can tell you I have been thinking about a lot of things and one of them was how much I enjoy listening to tunes, discovering new bands, and especially sharing the love.  I have been wanting to talk about one particular release by a New Hampshire punk/emo/rad/DIY 3 piece band.  So here we go…

After listening to New Kinda Love by Notches back in early January, I literally stopped what I was doing and ordered the LP off of their Bandcamp page.

This was an album I fell in love with instantly and deemed one of my favorites that I’ve heard of in quite some time.  The album dropped in December 2019 from what I learned, but did not make it onto Bandcamp until this year.

Released by Dead Broke Rekerds/Salina Records, this is the band’s third proper release and sadly the fist time I really got into them.  They’ve been around since 2013 and have made an impact on the New England punk scene, but honestly once you hear them you’d think they have been around for far longer.

Starting off the album was “Room Upstairs”, a catchy track that really carried through different equal moments of catchiness and relaxed.  I really loved how much energy this band held in just on the first track.

It’s hard to believe “Museum of More Dumb Art” hasn’t been around for years and years.  This track just was so tenured sounding that I had to make sure I was still listening to the same band.  In other words, I was impressed as hell with this one.

“Crystall Ball” was emo Dinosaur Jr. on speed thanks to excessive fuzz throughout a memorable riff of a song.  This track just brought me back 25+ years to when all that mattered to me was alternative rock.  I adored it.  Had a music video been made for this one, it would have been all over MTV back when they were tolerable.

I won’t lie, the best part of “Keep My Name” was the brutal aggressiveness layered with memorable bass and guitar playing.  Quick track, but clearly full of angst that never sounded so good.

“Twist The Knife” won me over with the pop-punk edge that snuck into what otherwise could have been a track that amounted to an 80s SST Records artist song.

“Sober Souls” to me was a modern day Hüsker Dü track.  This track was just beautiful.  I really can’t explain why other than I’m over 40 and was brought years just from absorbing myself in this.  Weird, right?

The number of times I told myself how great this band was while listening was almost annoying to me.  Luckily I know i am not the only one who thinks this.  In fact, my soon to be 5-year-old loves these guys.

Need proof?

Once this bullmess of a virus pandemic goes the hell away, Notches should be touring and it looks like they may be making a stop in Cleveland so who knows, maybe I’ll be taking my son to see his first show a littler earlier than I first intended.  If he’s not quite ready, perhaps I’ll bribe the band for a quick high-five and an apple juice or something.

Don’t sleep on these guys.  Notches have dropped an album you aging punks and young ones too will truly appreciate.

BHP Best of 2019

I swear to whatever you worship, time is just flying as of late and I just realized I probably should be posting this best of list already.

I feel like I repeat myself annually by saying “there were some really good releases during the current year” as I build said list, but honestly, it is true.  Bands new and old just keep me entertained and that is why I guess I keep doing this little blog here.

In the interest of time, I am keeping this year’s best of list extremely short and sweet.  No links or photos this time.  Just a quick list of the albums/EPs/whatever that impressed me to no end and were spun often.  If you are wondering who a particular someone is, Google the hell out of them and listen.

BEST ALBUMS

  • Big Nothing – Chris
  • MakeWar – Get it Together
  • Cave In – Final Transmission
  • Strange Magic – Unfortunately
  • Orville Peck – Pony
  • Aggrolites – Dirty Reggae
  • Ramona – Deals, Deals, Deals!
  • Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
  • Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
  • Pup – Morbid Stuff
  • Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood
  • Subhumans – Crisis Point
  • More Kicks – More Kicks
  • Good Riddance – Thoughts and Prayers
  • Lagwagon – Railer
  • Harvey Pekar – Paris Green
  • Moderator – The Mosaics
  • Off With Their Heads – Be Good
  • Warp Lines – Human Fresh
  • Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad!
  • Tool – Fear Inoculum 

BEST EPS / 7″s

  • Signals Midwest –  Pin
  • Charger – Charger
  • Twin Temple – Satan’s A Woman

BEST COMPS

  • Red Scare Industries – 15 Years of Tears and Beers

As always, thanks for checking out my site.  I do this for my love of music and anyone who has the slightest interest in what I have to say.

I hate that I was not able to review every release I listed.  I had every intention to, but life gets in the way more and more so I did what I could.  If one person checked out a band because of what I was able to talk about, then my job is done.

Bands and labels, thanks for always considering me.

 

Album Review: Subhumans – Crisis Point

I have to hand it to the legendary Subhumans for dropping an absolutely amazing release this year titled Crisis Point.

It’s been over 10 years since the band even dropped a studio release and since the mid-eighties before that.

Was I concerned about this?  Not really, but I would be lying if I told you I thought I would be enjoying it nearly as much as I do.

Honestly, had one of these new songs dropped on a playlist somewhere, I might have took it in and moved on thinking it was just something from their past, but luckily I was made privy to the album thanks to Pirates Press Records and have been listening to it on repeat for months now.

Dick Lucas sounds the same when “Terrorist In Waiting” started, which is a good thing in my book, as honestly did the band.  Sometimes things are best left unchanged and the Subhumans proved this to me just one song in.  It was fast, angry, and exactly what I needed.

Tracks like “Follow The Leader” kept on with the band’s ethos I’ve appreciated for easily 30 years now and seemingly fit so well with today’s clamored current events.

“Strange Land” wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before by the band and was a nice reminder why I even became a fan in the first place.  It reminded me of something that should have been on the Repo Man soundtrack.  This track was just great as was the following track “99%”.

“Poison” wasn’t catchy, calling for attention, or anything of that nature.  It was an anthem of sorts for those who want to listen and take the ideology and make their own judgements.  This is what I have always loved the most about this band.

“Thought Is Free” closed out the album and is honestly about as classic sounding as something that came off of their debut release.  I was amazed listening to this track knowing it’s 2019 and this band that has been around almost all of my life sounds almost exactly same and carries that same energy.  This song alone blew me away.  I loved everything about it.

It’s not a rubber stamped statement toward a seasoned band. There really are not many acts out there that I can say have been able to do this.  What is “this” you ask?  Keep their roots, stick to their sound, and haven’t a care about results.

My hope is that the younger generation will pick up this album and it opens up doors musically enticing them to sit back and get lost in this band’s impressive catalog.

This isn’t meant to say you hanging punkers out there won’t appreciate this.

If you once listened to The Day Country Died and have the slightest hesitation to hear new music by them, don’t be a fool.  Get on it now.  Thank me later.

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…