Category Archives: Review

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.

Album Review: MakeWar – Get It Together

I’ll never forget the first time I heard of Brooklyn residents MakeWar.  Toby from Red Scare told me to check them out about 3 years back, so naturally I did.  I was completed obsessed with what I heard instantly and moments later realized they were on the bill for the last Dag House show happening in just a couple hours.  I dropped everything I was doing that night and made it to the dark basement in Cleveland to see them play.

After their set, they announced they needed to hightail it out of there to drive to, if I am not mistaken, Nebraska.  I panicked and searched the house for one of the band members because I refused to leave without getting some form of merch from them.

I was able to find Jose Preito just before he finished his goodbyes and stupidly asked him if the merch was already packed up.  He stopped what he was doing and led me out to their tour van and with Edwin Santacruz’s help, dug out their 2015 self-titled amped up release and sold it to me.  He then gave me a big hug, thanked me, and jumped into the van they were about to call home for a few days.

It’s something I will not forget.  I knew then they would not be one of those bands that faded away and that bigger things were in store for them in due time.  It was no surprise to me when they announced they signed to Fat Wreck Chords.  It just made sense.

Get It Together is the band’s 3rd or 4th release pending how you take their self-titled releases into consideration.  In past times, the tracks were tough heart-tugging tracks best served with rounds of liquid courage.  This time around, the band really seemingly took a deep breath, said fuck it, and moved forward less reserved.

Kicking off the album was “Hopeless Dreamers”, a track that brought friendships close thanks to mindsetting lines like “the night is drunk and we are all young”.  This track carried me back to the days of heading to certain lounges that no longer have occupancy while surrounded by pals.

Kicking it up a notch was “No Excuses”, a track that really showed a different side to MakeWar I was not prepared for, but loved.  It was sped up and direct.   There was also the ending breakdown on the track.  Damn fine if you ask me.

“Squeeze” dipped back to the days of flannel shirts and Doc Martins in the best way possible.  Once again the band hit a different territory and nailed it.  Full of anxiety and anxiousness, the track was one of my favs on the album.

Then there was “No Más”.  As a middle-aged white boy, I have no clue what Edwin was screaming but it was awesome.  The same applied with “Inmunda Realized”, but in all honesty, that song kicked major ass,

The highly addictive “Sails” was one of the first singles I heard off the album and it was beautifully down.  This was one of those tracks where I couldn’t help but to think to myself how much these boys have matured as musicians.

“Oh, Brother” was another single I heard previous to the release and carried that MakeWar style I grew accustomed to years back.  The song hit me hard as someone who still struggles with growing up.  There was so much good intentions on this track that also reminded me that getting old isn’t the end of the world and even us old punks can still have fun.

Overall Get It Together was an impressive release. In fact, the second listen is when I really found myself getting lost in the music and lyrics.  I am not saying they redefined punk rock, but they certainly made their own footprint.

MakeWar comes from all over the place literally and this album really showcased that.  Jose was originally from Venezuela, Edwin came from Colombia, and Greg came from that state where that naked dude ate the face off of someone once aka Florida but left the band after album was recorded so Matty from The Moms took over.

All jokes aside, these guys are just getting to their prime as a band and it’s the perfect time to get into them.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you about MakeWar.

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: Harvey Pekar – Paris Green

The fact that Cleveland’s hardcore homies Harvey Pekar titled their recent release Paris Green solidifies their genus and complexity.

Paris green is a highly toxic insecticide and also entertains the masses as it is an ingredient used in fireworks.  Was there hidden meaning in their selection of words for the album’s title?  I would like to think so.

I should disclose I have been a fan of Harvey Pekar since 2011 when they dropped the impressive Thirty Ghosts.  I remember seeing them at a hole-in-the-wall Akron bar and becoming instantly down with their tunes.

Fast forward 8 years with a couple of changeups, Elliott Frank, Ian Douglas, Nick Kratsas, and Nick Schmitt still kick severe ass.  They are also all some of the best dudes I have ever have the privilege of getting to know over the years

Enough of the chemistry lesson and personal memoir, it’s time to talk about Paris Green, Harvey Pekar’s third full-length release that recently was put out by Steadfast Records.

Produced and engineered by the one and only Ryan Foltz at Cleveland Audio (Dropkick Murphys, Rancid), Paris Green was everything I was hoping for in new Harvey Pekar material and a whole lot more.

The album started off with the ripper “Predation in Shadow Position” with Kratsas talking helm with his poetic lyricism while the rest of the band supported him in full-force.

“Drag Hesitations” was brutal as all hell and I loved everything about it.  That breakdown though is what did it for me.  I felt a little tougher than normal while listening to this one.

“Glow Aplomb” carried on a with little more melodic approach than I would have expected, but it worked so well.  It’s full of gruff and force, but was carried with a toned down sound at times that really just was proof how far this band has come along and how they do their own thing without worry.  In fact, this was one of the tracks I have gone back to a few times now.

I am fairly sure “Slash Centre Unison” has got to be insane live.  I can just envision everyone losing their shit while the band blasts this on stage.  I adored the shift midway that just involuntary asked for everyone’s participation to sing along.

“Forever the Follow” finished things up on this release with memorable bass playing and furious drumming.  Best part about the track was the ultimate buildup halfway in with Frank playing away that had me nodding my head in all sorts of approval only to have the band collectively lose it with Kratsas almost sounding like fired off ammunition screaming to his heart’s content.

I was left wanting so much more after this album ended.  My blood was boiling, heart was pounding, and thoughts were scattered all over the place.  It was a nice distraction, that is for certain.

After a few listens, I am convinced this is the best material they have put together to date.  In keeping with their hardcore/punk ethos, the band stretched things out some making for a likable change in style I personally saw as maturing and evolving.  Think about that Gallows sound right before Frank Carter jumped ship and went completely rock and roll or when Cave In slowed it down because they felt like it.  That is what stuck in my head the most but please do not see either as a direct comparison.

I can’t help to think what’s to come by these guys down the road based on what I heard.  All I know is that you really should make yourself privy to them so you can share the excitement I hold.

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.