Category Archives: Review

Album Review: The Electric Grandmother – Relaunch

80s synth-pop smashed with experimental sci-fi indie rock is about the best I can explain The Electric Grandmother these days to anyone who asks.

Taking their duo to a conceptional level higher than their last release, Cancelled that literally surrounded a man losing his mind over an axed sitcom, Relaunch is the most unique release I’ve heard these two drop to date.

Residing in Washington DC, and originally staking claim to fame in Columbus, OH, the high-level 411 on The Electric Grandmother is a husband/wife duo who have taken their love for each other and televised entertainment and put their own twist into it musically.  Sitcom Core pretty much was their lovechild, but with time comes maturity and they really are beyond what they once created.

I could sit here and tell you how much Pete and Mary Alice mean to me, but I’ll save that.  Instead, I would like to remind them the time I showed up at their wedding reception first if I am not mistaken and they both ran to me, excited to see someone on their level that wasn’t a family member asking over and over when they were going to start a family and talk about their lost cat or bridge mix.

What am I getting at you ask?

I was there for them then, and I still am today.

I write this review not because they asked me to check it out, but as a fan of a band that really has seemingly taken gimmicks to levels that almost carry on hidden meaning.

Case and point, Relaunch, is about Ronald Regan getting kidnapped, but surrounds the crew that came together to find and hopefully  bring him back to safety.  It’s a silly, serious escapade into another dimension with room for one more to enjoy the trip.

“The Kidnapping of Ronald Reagan” set up the story with Mary Alice’s ever so sweet singing followed up with her main squeeze’s melodica infused singing.  Not going to lie, I just sat here and marveled at how great this track sounded while hanging on for the ride.

Classic, crass sounding “Nancy Reagan” followed with plenty of poo and butt jokes including Mr. T’s lap.  I’d expect nothing less seeing how much these two shouldn’t always be taken seriously.

“Relaunch” could have been mistaken for Chemical Brothers at the start with the instrumentals.  Seriously, this track ruled so much that i had to listen to it a second time once it ended.  Clearly this track fueled the journey to space to find the president.

Even rescue astronauts need a distraction as proved in “Shuttle Dance Night”.  The samples were great, but the singing as provided by Pete and Mary Alice was far more intriguing.  Plenty of 80s references reside on this track all sampled perfectly.

“Stand For The Air Demon” carried beats like none other.  The end dropped with an almost Orson Welles monolog that drifted into silence only to be picked up and amplified in “Nine Miles To The Water”.

The only problem with “Two Mummies” is that someone missed the opportunity to toss a freestyle over it.  I suppose there’s always a chance of the Relaunch Remix.  

This is where I stop talking about the album because really do not want to ruin it for anyone.  If you’ve found yourself interested in this crazy tale, then it is up to you to check out the album to find out the conclusion.

As for The Electric Grandmother, they’ve once again wowed me with originality, but impressed me with how much further they have taken their talents music-wise.  They have not lost their charm, but at the same time are showcasing their true worth.  Never quit you two.

Available on Bandcamp, the band is taking proceeds from this album and donating to their favorite DC hangout spot, Slash Run.

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Album Review: Western Addiction – Frail Bray

Perhaps the hardest sounding band on the Fat Wreck Chords roster -sorry Me First and the Gimme Gimmes-  Western Addiction is back with an all new album and it freaking shreds.  I think the best thing about this is that we only had to wait 3 years for them to pump out more tunes.

Featuring veteran punks, some of who were perviously Fat staff, Western Addiction are not your ordinary punk band.  It’s their sounds of punk, melodic hardcore, and even doses of metal that make this band so unique and just badass.

Hailing from San Francisco, this is the band’s third release and was produced by Jack Shirley who, if you know the name, has helped with more than a few amazing releases.

Starting off the album was “The Leopard and the Juniper”, a precise, methodical hard track that clearly wasn’t just thrown together overnight.  The lyrics are out of this world, or at least dimension, and carry well with the brutal guitar playing.

“They Burned Our Paintings’ was just insane.  Based off true events, this track recalled the demise of masterpieces without stepping away from the canvas.  I loved the lyrics: “You can burn our paintings. We’ll dream a thousand more. Each one more coercive than before”.  I just could sense the passion and willingness to fight for creation on this track.

There was something about “Lurchers” that had me thinking about Dave Mustaine often.  This track honestly could have passed for a Megadeth track and I do not mean that in a bad way at all.  Of course at the end of the track Jason Hall makes a grunt that solidified my notion.

“Rose’s Hammer I” and “Rose’s Hammer II” clearly were about the perils of motherhood.  I have to credit Hall and crew for taking a personal approach on their beliefs and putting it to music.  Once I learned that Hall’s wife is a doula, it made even more sense.  Both tracks are a clear tribute to bringing in life and she who is responsible for it.

“Wildflowers of Italy” was probably my favorite track on the album with a more of a 80s/90s metal feel.  Far from cheesy, this track just spoke to me for some reason.  I loved the shift of the track when the piano just busted in making for a great listen most likely because it reminded me of some classic TSOL.

“Deranged By Grief” closed the album down with an almost haunting start that just shifted into an all out assault.  Tracks like this are why I adore this band.

I’ve listened to Frail Bray a few times now, and my god, it just keeps getting better with each listen.  I’m sure I have said that about other albums in the past, but this really hold true.  They seemingly touch on so many decades of punk/metal/hardcore without intention and I think that’s what makes them so unique.

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.

Album Review: Various Artists – Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers

***Punk rock grandpa rant moment warning***

I remember back in my day when the internet was not readily available at your fingertips.  Streaming music was unheard of.  Kids were not sucked into their so-called smart phones looking like a bunch of goddamn zombies.  People actually talked to one another.  Hell, you had to actually leave your house and go to a record store to buy music.

I remember I could buy punk compilations left and right on cassette by tons of labels  for the cheap.  Like 8 bucks cheap.  I had a plethora of said cassettes to play in my ’86 Dodge Shadow.  Because of that, I have always had a soft spot for comp releases most likely because I relied on them to learn about new bands and just have a nice mix of tunes to get lost in.

Why I am I sitting here telling these tales of yesteryear you ask?  I guess my question is why are you still reading this?

Truth is, it’s been a long time since a comp album hooked me in to the point I found myself listening to it on repeat.  That’s exactly what Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers, a 15 track compilation celebrating the iconic label’s 15 year anniversary, did.

To reach such a milestone as an independent label is just outstanding especially in this day and age.  Most labels however are not credited with dropping so many amazing releases.  Seriously, this label is responsible for so many of my favorite releases over the years.

It is almost as if Toby has a special gift for finding the best talent in the punk world knowing he one day may need to say goodbye in the nicest way possible with limited middle fingers.  Some of the roster I speak of include no-name talent like The Menzingers, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Sidekicks, my fav dudes MakeWar, and even those dicks Masked Intruder.  I could go on, but this is a review about a comp album, right?

The Copyrights, a band who released an excellent album with Kepi Ghoulie earlier this year (check it out!), started the comp off with the fast-paced “Maine or Oregon”.

Ol’ (rather, young) Sincere Engineer held back nothing with “Dragged Across the Finish Line”, a track clearly about putting up with other’s shit in a good way.  Deanna Belos and crew really have a good thing going for them and, to me, are years ahead of their time musically.

Broadway Calls covering “Sunday Morning” by The Menzingers was actually a great idea.  It’s probably the last cover I would have expected on this comp, but here is was and I admired their take.

Punk rock sweethearts The BombPops kept my attention with “East and West”.  I hate to say it, but it won’t be much longer until this band is a mainstream wonder.  They have been getting so much attention as of late and it is well deserved.

“Dead Body” was the track on this comp that totally won me over.  In fact, for the last few days I have been sining this song to myself.  Creepy, I know.  Garrett Dale (Red City Radio) went all Stand By Me with this incredible track that even tossed out a sax-solo that just brought the whole song together.  The best part was Garrett being out “this is the dumbest song” in the middle of it.  Perhaps he is right, but it ruled.

Leave it to Brendan Kelly to do something completely out of the norm – actually no – these days I expect him to.  He took a perfectly good Lillington’s song, “All I Hear Is Static”, and turned in into a synth-heavy cover that just totally worked.  You can not hate this cover because it’s just brilliant.

“TJ” by MakeWar begged to be played over and over.  This band is one of my favorites and seemingly has a way to make songs so catchy and likable but when you actually really listen to the words, the mood shifts to a more somber approach.

I was thrilled to see The Lippies on here.  “Acid Head” was a killer song and a reminder on how much I love this band.  I hope this means there is a new album to follow.  I know they have been touring as of late.

I really could sit here and say something about every single song on the comp, but honestly I would rather you check it out for yourself.  Personally, this is the best comp I have heard since the days of Survival of the Fattest Vol. 2 and Vagrant Records: 5 Years on the Streets.  For those of you who grew up around me, you’ll now how bold of a statement that is.

I don’t know if Toby blackmailed the bands on this comp by threatening to exploit them with their collective photos of them at Staind meet-and-greets, but whatever he did worked.

Hats off to Sir Toby and the Red Scare Industries crew for 15 years of excellent releases.  This comp is a celebration of an impressive accomplishment and deserves to be heard and purchased by all.