Category Archives: Rock

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…

 

Album Review: Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood

There’s just something to be said about hearing an album that brings back great amounts of angst from 20+ years ago.

Sure, we really don’t care to remember when some of the jocks in high school threatened to kick your ass because you were different.  We sure as hell don’t want to think about how pissed off it made you and how you held your ground and prepared to fight back only for them to say they were just kidding.  That never happens to anyone right?

Fake Blood by Cleveland’s very own Heart Attack Man had no problem digging into my hippocampus and ripping out crippling episodes in life offering for a retrospect on how they shaped me.  That right there is exactly what Fake Blood encompassed from start to finish for this listener.

This sophomore album has been on my radar for months now ever since singer / guitarist Eric Egan and drummer extraordinaire Adam Paducah made mention of finishing up recording.  Add to the fact that one of the friendliest guys I know, Ty Sickels, is part of this incredible band and one might just called me jaded when it comes to talking about this act.  Pals or not, this bad rips and I know I am not the only who thinks that.

With riffs that reach all the way back to the 90s “Fake Blood” started off things off with a fierce, intense track that was catchy as hell.  You know you are in for something excellent when the first track immediately gets stuck in your head.

Not trying to sound cliché, but “Blood Blister” brought me back to some awkward teen years of mine when music was my crutch and most folk were my enemy.  Egan’s directness complimented my own thoughts when things just didn’t go my way and you bet your ass I never let it go.

“Out For Blood” is a vindictive jam that will instantly take over your good day and put you in a savage mood.  The kids are going to love this one, i know it.

“Moths in a Lampshade” strayed away from the others in a good way.    This was that kind of track you listen to at 3am when driving in the middle of nowhere trying to just grab ahold of yourself.

Hands down the best track was “Cut My Losses.”  It wasn’t a love song and it sure as hell wasn’t a song about moving on peacefully.  This track’s raw emotion succeeded most of the ill-will I have ever had for someone that’s ever threatened me.  Egan is a total bad ass on this track and when they are ready to do a music video for it, it best be him walking away from an explosion without looking back.

“Sugar Coated” wasn’t nice at all and that’s perfectly fine by me.  This track pretty much could have fueled my worst years as a teen all while begging to be sung along with.

Fake Blood easily is going to be one of my favorite releases in 2019.  This Cleveland band is beyond talented and I really see big things happening to them especially if they continue to just kick ass and forget names.  They have been doing things their way and honestly, I think it’ll work out just fine.

Do not sit on this band.  That’s my advice to you.  You’ve been warned.

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.