Category Archives: Rock

Album Review: Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BHP Best Of 2018

It’s that time of the year again folks where I share with you the bands and albums that caught my attention throughout the year.

Sure, my reviewing is infrequent these days, may not make total sense or even be read by many for that matter, but I can tell you that I am listening to as much music as possible daily.

If my memory serves me correct, this will be my 10th Best Of post.  Sitting back and just thinking that this blog has been around for 10 years now completely floors me.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever stopped by to see what’s good.  Here’s to however many more years I decide to keep this going.

With that said, happy holidays and here is my list in no particular order:


Timeshares – Out There EP
-Easily one of my most played EPs of the year.  I was obsessed with it for weeks and was caught off guard in a good way by it.  I can not wait for their next full-length now.  Loving their rejuvenated sound.


Strung Out – Blackout the Sky EP
-Not going to lie.  I was not stoked at all to hear Strung Out was going to do an acoustic album.  I do not know why I even doubted that they would not have done something amazing.  This EP was amazing and showed a completely different side to one of the best bands out there.


Spells – Loose Change Vol. 1
-Ok so this is a collection of early out of print tunes by the Colorado punk party rockers, but this was my first taste of the band after somehow missing out of them for all these years.  I caught them touring with Off With Their Heads earlier this year and turned into an instant fan.


Curtail – All Your Luck
-This is probably one of the best releases that came out this year that you may have not heard about.  I could sit here and talk about it for hours, but I will leave it to you and check it out.  Just think 90s alt rock mixed with 00s emo/post-hardcore goodness.


Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers – Brought to Rot
-This was the most punk rock album to come out all year.  Laura Jane Grace is sincere as she talks about her current dwelling and overall situation without holding back.  I was overly impressed with this one.


Turnstile – Time & Space
-An amazing hardcore release that really is so much more once you get sucked into it.  It really is a genius album to listen to especially with some 80s punk and R&B moments tossed in for the hell of it (just listen to “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind”).  Certainly happy I stumbled on these guys.


Light Years – Afterlife
-Hands down, this is one of the best pop punk albums to come out this year.  I knew it was going to be good, but I did not realize it was going to be that good.


Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)
-This album has turned me into an even bigger Face To Face fan.  I feared hearing it because I really did not want to hear a punk band play acoustic renditions of their songs, but man, I was so wrong to doubt them.  They reinvented their songs in the best way possible.


The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight
-Two-toned, punk fueled, and amazing throughout.  There’s a reason why Tim Armstrong produced this album.


The Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue
-This album was like listening to The Gaslight Anthem team up with Roy Orbison to score a Wes Anderson flick.  I adore these guys and hope to hell I can see them live one day.  This was the album that complete caught me by surprise this year and fell in love with.


Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
-This album is like the energy of The Menzingers + the emotion of MakeWar.  The band clearly has matured into something incredible and this release proves it.  Do not sit on this one.


Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP
-This is the best thing this band has ever done.  There was just this certain amount of gallant confidence throughout.  The song “SkyTigers” proved that to me over and over.


Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes
-I was drunk in Vegas earlier this year and admitted Gold Codes was an album of the year for me.  La Rock is a hidden gem in Cleveland that the world really should get to know some.


Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo
-Working class and bad ass all in one album.  These guys rule.  It’s like Dropkick Murphys if they were a ska band.


Mad Caddies – Punk Rocksteady
-Taking punk rock songs and putting their own reggae style to it was just a brilliant idea.  This covers album was done right and received well by this listener.


Restorations – LP5000
-Yeah, this was one of my favorite releases this year.  This band can do no wrong and I appreciated their maturing lyrics more than ever.  Seeming them live finally this year was also an added bonus.


Four Fists – 6666
-This collaboration between P.O.S. and Astronautics completely slays.  This rap duo really dropped an impressive album complete with plenty of punk references and beats guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days.


Vessel of Light – Woodshed
-This album takes everything great about Danzig, White Zombie, and even old Alice in Chains and puts them all together for a solid listen.  Super impressed with this one.


Frank Turner – Be More Kind
-Everyone needs to listen to this album, especially “Be More Kind”.  I am fairly sure it will make your day if not a better person.  Frank Turner is one talented mo-fo.


Lucero – Among The Ghosts
-I love this album mostly for the band embracing where life has taken them over the years.  They have not lost their style one bit and for that I thank them.  This has turned into one of my favorite Lucero releases.

 

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Album Review: Worlds Scariest Police Chases – Ablum 3

The thing I love most about Pittsburgh’s Worlds Scariest Police Chases is simply that they give no shits.

Fueled by cheap beers, working class aggression, and heavy doses of realness, they are like Propaghandi in a sense but only love themselves.  Jerks.

The punk rock outfit at one time was thought to have called it quits in 2014 only to change their mind or just screw with anyone they could.  For what it’s worth, I am glad they continued on because we need more bands like WSPC.

Recently dropping Ablum 3, the band aims to mess with fans, new and old, instantly.  Released on Say 10 Records, I have to confess, this is some good, harsh stuff and just seems to outsmart that “Oh let’s reference a bunch of 90s punk album titles into our album title” release.

“Modernbaseballiswar” started off with the band questioning “what if everyone hates us for this” followed by “I hope everyone hates us for this.”  The raw, don’t care attitude easily can relate to any young punker as well as us old punkers who can just sit back and laugh at when we cared what people thought about us.

“Mindtrap” easily was my favorite track on this album.  It’s probably all due to the xylophone playing, but honestly, it was just a killer track calling out everyone as possible in less than 2 minutes.  I laughed when I heard “punk is dead, no matter what Kevin says” might have been targeted at that guy who did that Warped Tour for a couple of years but who knows.  The video was entertaining as hell though.

“My Death” was a 90s punk rock track down to the core.  The band really offered some mature, hard moments on this one.  I adored this track for the punk ethos being blasted out.  I’ll be keeping this song handy for when I’m having one of those days.

Of course my old ass appreciated the rerecorded version of “Adolph Hipster”, a track that was released in 2015 and clearly was aimed at those who think punk is a fashion statement.  With the band admitting they are poking fun at anyone who thought the song was about them, the true genius of this song was the Kid Rock “get in the pit and try to love someone” tossed in.

Calling out douchebags was “Trigger Warning”, a track that dismissed anyone who takes advantage of others.  Clearly this track was aimed at a certain someone with “you violated trust, you are not one of us” being released at the end.  Whoever this is, even I think you suck.

I found entertainment in the song titles too which held reference to some classic punk rock acts.  Titles like “The Shape of Punk is Dumb” and “How To Glean Everything” just reminded me how clever these guys really are.  Both tracks were good too.

WSPC remain a true gem of a punk band and Ablum 3 clearly showcased that.  It’s nice to see these 6 hard-working dudes carry on their band with purpose to piss off, have fun, and just play for themselves (and their fans too of course).

WSPC is playing Cleveland on 12/28 with Boston’s Rebuilder at Now That’s Class.  You can bet your ass I will be there.

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.

Album Review: Curtail – All Your Luck

I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.

I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.

Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on.  My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).

Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records.  A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen.  I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago.  Still, it needs to be noted.

“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure.  Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall.  “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to.  I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.

“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over.  Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This  is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band.  Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all.  This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.

I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life.  This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track  this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.

“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring.  Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically.  This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.

“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me.  You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song.  I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.

“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.

“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released.  This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.

For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some.  Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans.  Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.

Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck.  I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.