Category Archives: Rock

Album Review: The Electric Grandmother – Cancelled.

There’s great comfort in knowing how in this crazy ass world, two amazing people met from different timezones back in the mid-90s, fell in love, got married, and eventually had kids …a band.

The history behind The Electric Grandmother pretty much revolves around Pete and Mary Alice’s love for 80s and 90s sitcoms as well as absolute love for one another.  It is pretty inspiring where I sit here and think about it.

They are band-mates for life and two of the most genuine people I have gotten to know for over the past twenty-five years.  One grew up in Ohio, the other in Hawaii, it is like a living sitcom when you think about it.

Pete and Mary Alice were actually with me the night the Menzingers had to cancel their Kentucky show due to food poisoning and I miraculously got them in touch with Kent, NOFX’s manager.  I only mention that as they both thought I was the man that night for getting things right.  What can I say?  I’m a legend in my spare time.

In the past, I’ve failed to make mention of their releases as I had this moronic thought process where I would not review material from friend’s bands.  Clearly that has changed within the past couple of years.

I am not sure why I chose that route, but I can say that I almost would prefer to share the talent of those I know and love rather than keep it all to myself.  I am surrounded by some amazing people and it would be unfair not to share what I hear.

Enough about me, let’s talk about The Electric Grandmother some more.

Originally starting in Columbus back in 1999, the duo moved to D.C. and kept on a truckin’.  Their live shows are not to the norm and usually come with a slideshow and bubble machine.  I’ve never met a person who has not gotten a kick out of their shows.  Even the metalheads in Canton at some bizarre house-venue adored them.

The Electric Grandmother is not really for those who carry boundaries on their music genres or lack a humorous imagination.  To be a fan means you need to carry appreciation for experimental approaches and a love for sitcoms.  After all, this is the band that dubbed themselves “sitcom-core”.

Cancelled is a concept album of sorts about a man whose sanity is compromised by the cancellation of his favorite cop TV drama program by a new one.  The album digs far deeper with emotion than previous albums have as duo Pete and Mary Alice take a new approach at their appreciation for television by speaking of a man whose life is affected by change.

In fact, I will just let Pete and Mary Alice explain it a little more:

“Cancelled is this story of a man’s descent into madness following the cancellation of his favorite cop-drama. This is the unfortunate feedback the man received at his office, the mindless reaction to the shallow “Cop Force,” the show that caused “Police Department” to be pushed aside.”

With that said, I’m hoping you can understand the originality of this band and can appreciate the story that surrounds this album.  I know I did.

“TV” was the first track on the album with Pete singing and Mary Alice providing background vocals.  This track was pretty intense to listen to all due to distorted ambient sounds that supplied the introduction to the story of a lonely man and his beloved TV show.

I actually heard “Police Department Theme Song” a few weeks back on and adored it.  This track shed light on how someone could be so obsessed with a show.  It was the intro music for the show that the man more or less worshipped.

“Radial Sunrise” was a happy-go-lucky song showcasing the man in positive spirits thanks to said TV show.  Pete’s quick singing on this track was just great.  Pay attention though, or you might miss something.

“Feedback Lives” is the absolute change in the story where things start going south.  Even the music sounded concerning as well as the signing about two new dudes who change everything.

This change continued with the downward spiral of “Cancelled”.  This track had Pete and Mary Alice taking turns telling the story from the man’s angle as well as the network’s.  I really loved the music on this one too, it was all over the place.

I am not going to sit here and tell the entire story, you will have to hear it for yourself.  I will say though by the time “The End?” came on,  I could gauge a level of uncomfortable restlessness by a man who could not adapt to change.

This songs on album are so much more in-depth than from what I recall their previous albums containing.  It’s like Beck, Cibo Mato, Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, Postal Service, Mike Patton, and Bran Van 3000 all got in a huge ass fistfight.  That’s probably a complete crap shoot there, but at least I got to say crap shoot here on this good ol’ blog.

Seriously though, I was super intrigued throughout the album and loved the variety as well as the overall story.  I was impressed with the music Pete and Mary Alice created as well as their vocals.  They both really have matured into some pretty amazing musicians.

On top of a great idea of an album, there are also music videos for a couple of the songs to give you even more of a visual.  Check them out below and enjoy.

If you have the slightest curiosity about this album, just click play below already.  The Electric Grandmother have hopped boundaries and borders this time.  It only makes sense considering the adventure they have been on from the day they caught each other’s attention.

Album Review: Tim Barry – High On 95

There is really not much more I can say about Tim Barry these days except that the man is exceptional.

The former Avail frontman has made aging as a punk rocker just so appealing.  Taking each day in stride and being the best father he can be, you might just find inspiration in him just as I have.

His solo material is more of a storytelling process with the soul purpose of letting people hear him out.  Still containing his punk rock roots as well as life-long experiences, Barry just dropped an all new release on Chunksaah Records titled High On 95.

High On 95 is a mixture of acoustic tracks and collective jams with Barry’s family and friends.  Just as he has always done in the past, Barry has no problem combining folk, rock, and punk and  with his own personal touch making for an incredible listen.

The album was recorded once again by Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage Studios in Richmond Virginia.  According to Barry, “it’s just one take” and continued with, “Lance knows the more I do it, the worse it’s gonna get. You lose something when you play it more and more. So get it right.”

One take is all it took to make one hell of an album.

The personal “Slow Down” had Barry and his guitar recollecting life in a busy city and his transition to a small town.  The backing violin playing was so fitting on this track that seemingly aged from the beginning to the end.

The detail in the lyrics on “High On 95” almost seemed like personal memories of my own.  This track was built up with some guitar playing and simple piano playing.  What made this track even better for me was the video that his 4-1/2 year old daughter filmed all on a VHS camcorder.  Life goal right there folks, especially since I have my own little versions of me these days.  Check out the video below.

“O & Dp” was more of a song a close knit of friends would sign around a campfire.  I especially related to this track with lyrics that were personable with life events and self-expectation.

“Riverbank” was a memorable jam that might be one of the more produced songs I have heard by Barry in a while and I loved every second of it.  Friendly and real thoughts put into song while letting dogs run around the river just doesn’t get much more sincere.

The toe-tapping “Gumshoe Andy” brought back train-hopping memories of Barry.  You almost wonder who this gumshoe was and what his intentions were or if it was just an inner-conscious voice taming someone’s wild tendencies.

The observations in “Porter St.” are all to familiar.  This industrialization realization of a small town track has immediately become one of my favorite Barry tracks.  Just listening to it had me thinking and agreeing with what day to day life has turned into.

“Chelsea” was almost a Dear John letter of a track with Barry showing pleasantries followed by dismissal for being deceitful.  Friendly-sounding but stern, this tune was quick to take out the trash.

It was great to hear Barry’s sister Caitlin play violin on “Running Never Tamed Me” along with Barry. Christina Marie Gleixner provided haunting backing vocals on this track about the highs and lows of life and love as told to what I would only assume was Barry’s daughters.  This was one bummer of a track, but beautiful.

At 30 minutes total, High On 95 was an amazing listen that seemed to just fly by.  I have actually listened to it a few times now and some of the tracks became even more poignant once the lyrics were absorbed in my mind.  It’s the kind of album you think with, relate to, and just absorb.

People, including myself, have asked Barry for years if he would ever reunite Avail.  He always responds that he is not interested in doing that.  For a while there, I could not understand, but as the years have progressed with the releases by Barry, I am glad he didn’t.  This man has his priorities set to align with his future on his own accord.  Godspeed sir.

Tour Dates:
9/23 Richmond, Virginia @ Carpenter Theatre
10/05 Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub
10/06 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
10/07 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/8 Detroit, MI @ Smalls
10/10 Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
10/11 St Louis, Mo @ Blueberry Hill
10/12 Chicago, Il @ Cobra Lounge
10/13 Indianapolis @ White Rabbit
10/14 Louisville, KY @ Haymarket
10/26 Ybor City, FL @ Pre-FEST
10/27 Gainesville, FL @ FEST
11/09 Garwood, NJ @ Crossroads
11/10 Philadelphia @ Underground Arts
11/11 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs.
11/12 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
12/07 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
12/08 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
12/09 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/10 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill.

Album Review: PowerFlo – PowerFlo

My best friend in high school was one year younger than I was.  I want to say I met him in my German class where I was more about messing with the teacher, Herr Van Halen or whatever his name was, rather than learning a second language.

I have tons of memories of us hanging out and just encompassing a true friendship as teens.

One of the things that we both had in common was our love of music.  We could talk about bands for hours and if there was one thing I was always jealous of, it was his musical talents that I seemingly lacked.

He and I once went on a ride with a homeless man who wore a Sea World hat the projects of Cleveland so he could “pick something up for a friend.”  In exchange he bought us a bunch of 40 oz. beers with our money and wound up keeping the change.

It’s a memory I’ll never forget, especially the part were my friend and I were laying down in the back of the pick-up truck’s bed through the crazy adventure because there was no room for us up front.  Ahh youth…

A couple of years after that memorable evening, my friend told me at a random afternoon driveway party that he was going to move to California to live with his father and look into the music world.  As shocked as I was, I understood he needed to do this and wished him all the luck in the world.

You know how things go.  You grow up.  You become distant, not on purpose of course, but because life gets in the way.  We did our best to keep in touch, but truth be told, I have not seen him in over 20 years now.  Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, we touched base here and there and i knew he was doing well and following his passion.

Where am I going with this?  There’s a point, I promise…

Just a few weeks ago, my pal reached out to me to tell me about something he has been working on for a while now and wanted me to check it out and let me know my thoughts on it.   He told me he has been heavily involved with PowerFlo, a band full of musicians from the 90s that we obsessed over as teenagers.

One could say I freaked out when I heard this.  Still, I needed to hear it for myself.  To say I was proud of his accomplishment is an understatement.  Of course I told him I would check it out and offer up a review of sorts.

So I guess here we go…

PowerFlo is a supergroup metal/rap outfit from LA.  Consisting of Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog, Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei, former Fear Factory bassist/guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, Downset’s Rogelio Lozano, and Fernando Schaefer, one could say this band is full of talent.

This group of seasoned musicians perfectly took their areas of expertise and infused metal and rock with hip-hop for an album that any fan of the “Judgement Night” soundtrack would approve of.

The album was produced by my pal Josh Lynch and also Graziadei.  It was mixed by Jay Baumgardner, and was mastered by Maor Applebaum at Maor Applebaum Mastering and released on New Damage Records.

Opening the album with a cocked gun (literally), “My M.O.” did not disappoint  More of a hardcore track over rap/metal, I loved the brutal drumming and heavy guitar riffs.  Sen Dog fits in perfectly with the rest of the gang and just goes berserk in the middle of the track with his unforgettable rap flow style.

“Resistance” followed with a slow start reminiscent of a funeral thanks to  a slow bell being rung, but just exploded out of no where.  Sen Dog shined on this track and pretty much proved he’s beyond a rap artist.

“Where I Stay” had this Fear Factory Remanufacture likeness with the electronics incorporated into the track.  Sen Dog has no problem taking his style and mixing it into the song.  This hard homage to LA threw me off with the “na na na” back vocals, but after a few listens it just worked.  I loved the thrash breakdown half way through.

The punk rock me absolutely adored “Crushing That.”  Yeah, it is mostly rap/rock, but think of what would happen if Public Enemy and Rise Against did a collaboration.

I found myself getting into “The Grind”, a full-on rager of a track.  Reminding me of Biohazard in a good way with plenty of group screaming, Sen Dog just flowed perfectly throughout.

“Victim of Circumstance” was just insane.  The band really killed it together on this one.

“Made It This Way” had Sen Dog singing / screaming more than rapping showing how diverse his talent is.  This track was just bad ass.

“Finish The Game” was a positive, forcefully charged song about getting things done without giving up.  I almost wondered if there was a hidden nod to Hatebreed on this track. Not complaining here at all.

Ending the album was the powerful “Start A War”.  This track was all about swinging fists and not asking questions at all.  I could not help of think of Chuck D and Anthrax on this one.

There really is no sleeper of a track on this album.  It started strong and ended full-force.  My only vice is that it clocked in at just over 30 minutes and I really wanted more.

I’ll say it – PowerFlo is what I expected Prophets of Rage to sound like.  Where the former Rage guys still have yet to impress me completely, PowerFlo has straight up delivered a solid album to my ears that has been worthy of multiple listens.

Perhaps not nearly as brutal as the new Body Count was, this album is still heavy, poignant, and should not be sat on.  I am really hoping these guys hit the road soon as I would love to see what they sound like live.

When you hear metal musicians from the 90s came together with a 90s hip-hop artist, it is easy to dismiss the whole idea but PowerFlo delivered an excellent release.  I look forward to seeing this band succeed.

Album Review: Heart & Lung – You Wanna Know the Truth?

When a great pal tells me to check out a band that one of his bandmates happens to be in, I stop what I am doing and look for my headphones.

Heart & Lung is the band I speak of and thanks to Jeremy (most call him Rozco), I can not stop listening to these guys.

This four-piece pop-punk act hails from tropical Cleveland and has been doing their thing for a couple of years now.  Featuring current members of Throw Shade and former members of The Fucking Cops, Let em’ Run, and The Public, it is safe to say that this band has plenty of rustbelt punk rock talent.

You Wanna Know the Truth is the band’s debut release and I must say, it is pretty damn impressive.  Released independently, you’d think someone from an independent label would have scooped them up already (hint, hint to you label owners out there).

As far as the sound goes, think the energy of Direct Hit! mixed with the singing style of Say Anything, the memorable lyrics of Iron Chic, and glorious group harmonies of Masked Intruder.

As an avid Cleveland Indians fan, I certainly appreciated the opening sample with Hammy doing this thing on “Telecaster”.  This opening track just has the band jumping right in and giving it their all.

“Hey Man” was kind of like a fun blend of Max Bemis and Masked Intruder, hence my previous comparison.  This happy-go-lucky track is best played with friends.  Nice job incorporating the band name into the lyrics by the way…

I am not sure what “1954” is all about, but I do know that is the year the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series.  I also know that is the year the infamous Sam Sheppard  supposedly murdered his wife.   I appreciated the Cleveland pride and references throughout this jam.

“You Wanna Know the Truth?” was easily my favorite track off the album.  The steady yet furious drumming, the piano playing, and just the honest chorus “you wanna know the truth?  I’m fucking in love with all of you” pretty much did it in for me.  Hearing the band profess enjoyment while on tour as well as their admiration for the great state they all hail from was all too intoxicating.  The ending though…man, that was so perfect (you can check out the song below).

“Recession” was 50 seconds of the ups and downs of corporate America and the broke asses who live there.  “Don’t Need You” was as you guessed it, a song about tacos from someone who is trying to diet furiously.  I love tacos.

“The Sound” ended things in almost Weezer fashion sans the heavy repeating bass line.  Hearing this song build up, explode, and just exhale with piano playing at the end put this album to rest in a good way (no pun intended of course).  With lyrics about ending it all, carrying fear in doing so, and finally seeing someone looking back eliminating said fear, this wasn’t exactly a happy-go-lucky track.

My only complaint about this album?  It clocked in at a whopping 27 minutes.  11 great songs, but I would have gone for a few more.

This Cleveland pop punk act has what it takes to turn heads and snag the attention of many.  Don’t believe me?  Check out what the bassist John’s sixth-grade students had to say about it…

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I feel like I should have just started out the review with their quotes.

This band has been playing like crazy lately here in Cleveland as of late, most recently with Off With Their Heads, and I am excited to see what happens with them next.  If you are looking for something new and fun, check these dudes out.


https://heartandlung.bandcamp.com/album/you-wanna-know-the-truth
https://www.facebook.com/heartandlungcleveland/
https://www.instagram.com/heartandlung/

 

Album Review: Everymen – May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell

I could be quick to say Lake Worth, Florida’s Everymen is just a folk punk band and move on with life, but that would be incredibly lazy on my part.

This band may carry some of the punk and  folk qualities attributed to that genre, but they are so much more than that.

I cannot say I’d heard of this band before, but they just dropped a new release on Say-10 Records called May Your Ashes Have Stores To Tell, and I found myself really digging what they had to offer.

Everymen is like what a young Against Me! might have sounded like if a hyped Tim Barry took over some of the singing duties while the dudes from Gogol Bordello jumped onboard.  I could not help but also think of Tin Horn Prayer when listening to this album as well as Old Man Markley and even Larry and His Flask.

The more I listened to this album though, the more I kept thinking that lead singer of Everymen sounded like the lead singer of one of my favorite unheard of 90s bands, Stompbox.  Once I made that observation, I could not get it out of my head.

Sure that is a lot of comparisons to be throwing out there, but the band stands out with their own style and energy which made it much more interesting to get into.

The moment “Shake Your Bones” started off the album, I knew I was in for something good.  This toe-tapping jam really caught me off guard, especially with the horns and crazy guitar playing.

“Dead Friends”, an ode to lost pals, kept an upbeat feel while paying tribute to those who were taken too soon.  Sadly this was not the only track on the album to sing about loved ones who were no longer as “M.B.” paid tribute to Erik Petersen, the lead singer of Mischief Brew and great friend to the band, who took his own life.

“How To Live” was more of a basement sing along track over the rest.   Listening to this song brought back lots of memories of me being smashed in tiny, dark basements screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs along with some of my favorite bands.

The sing along opportunities continued with he fun “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, a track that easily could have fueled an all night rager in a small, remote bar.  Ironically, “Waking Up Hurts” seemed to be the morning after song compared to the previous jam.

“Don’t Stay” was dark as hell with a certain gypsy-polka sound that was all too inviting.  I loved the female vocals tossed into this track as well as the fiddle playing.

It’s nice to hear such a unique album that does not necessarily rip off anyone else’s sound.  I can only imagine what this band sounds like live.  I am sure it is a hell of a drunken good ol time.

If you are looking for something a little different from the norm, check out what Everymen has to offer.  This is one of those bands I am glad someone reached out to me asking to check out because now I can tell you to do the same.  Totally worth it.