Category Archives: 00’s

Album Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits

A few weeks back, I found a photo of myself from when I was working in shipping and receiving at some internet company.

I was about 21 years old at the time and looked ever so thrilled in the picture.  The photo showed me working hard while I rocked a backwards hat as well as a Me First and the Gimme Gimmes shirt, a shirt that I basically wore in the late 90s until it fell apart.  That was almost 20 years ago.

Where am I going with this you ask?

Well, clearly I was a fan back then, and I still am today.  Ever since I heard the Gimmes play “Country Roads” on a Fat Wreck comp, I fell in love.  There was just something so appealing about hearing a song my parents listened to in the 70s altered to my standards.

For those of you who live under a rock, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes consist of Joey Cape, Chris Shiflett, Dave Raun, some guy who calls himself Fat Mike, and good ol’ Spike Slawson.  They have been taking overplayed and classic tunes and covering them the only way they know how to.  The result is catchy, likable, and just downright fun.  i should probably add that they have been doing this since 1995.

Over the years, they have tackled adult contemporary, Motown, show tunes, country, and even Japanese pop songs just to name off a few genres.  I guess you could say they are not the gimmicky type.  Hell, they have 7 studio albums under their belts released on Fat Wreck Chords.  Clearly they are pretty damn important in the punk cover band scene.

To showcase their accomplishments (and squeeze you out of your hard earned cheddar), they are about to drop a greatest hits album on April 7th full of renditions of songs cleverly titled Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits.

Featuring 17 memorable covers, the Gimmes threw together the best of the best for all to hear in one collective listen.  I am sure it was tough for the Gimmes to pick the right songs for this “greatestest” hits album, but I think they did a pretty good job.

Starting with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, the album spans the Gimme’s eclectic taste in covers.  It was great to hear “Straight Up” and “Jolene” and of course “I Believe I Can Fly”.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stoked to hear “Desperado” as well as “End of the Road”.  I adore the Gimme’s take on these two originally over-played-as-hell songs.

As an added bonus, a few non-album tracks that I have not heard in a long time appeared.  “City of New Orleans” off of Willie, a Fat Mail Order limited edition EP, was an excellent surprise to hear.  The Del Shannon classic “Hats Off to Larry”, originally on the Live Fat, Die Young: Fat Music Vol. V, was the other.

The one track missing that I felt should have been on this greatest hits was the Gimme’s version of “Rocket Man” by Sir Elton John.  Luckily, I have Have A Ball in my collection and can listen to it whenever I please, but for those out there that are just discovering this punk rock cover band, that is one song I know they would enjoy.

To be honest, I was really hoping for the band to have a new album full of covers, but I will take this “greatestest” hits release over nothing.  I hope one day they decide to cover 90s hip hop songs in the key of punk rock, I seriously think that would be amazing and I know they could pull it off.

What I’m trying to say is simple:  Long live the Gimmes.  They are the best cover band of my time.

In support of this release, Me First are touring and have been since February.  I can not even tell you the last time I have seen these guys tour, so make sure you go see them live.  It is going to be an all out blast.  Give them your money.  All of it.  Being in a cover band can’t pay that much, can it?

Tour Dates:

04/11/17 Pittsburgh, PA at The Rex *
04/12/17 Cleveland, OH at House of Blues *
04/13/17 Chicago, IL at Concord *
04/14/17 Detroit, MI at Majestic *
04/15/17 Toronto, ON Canada at Phoenix Theatre *
04/16/17 Montreal, QC Canada at Club Soda *
04/19/17 Boston, MA at Royale *
04/20/17 Philadelphia, PA at Union Transfer *
04/21/17 Baltimore, MD at Baltimore Soundstage *
04/22/17 Asbury Park, NJ at Stone Pony *
04/23/17 New York City, NY at Webster Hall *
05/02/17 Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom ^
05/03/17 Vancouver, BC Canada at Commodore ^
05/04/17 Seattle, WA at Showbox ^
05/05/17 Boise, ID at The Olympic ^
05/06/17 Salt Lake City, UT at The Depot ^
05/07/17 Denver, CO at Summit Music Hall ^
05/10/17 Scottsdale, AZ at Pub Rock ^
05/11/17 San Diego, CA at House of Blues ^
05/12/17 Santa Ana, CA at The Observatory ^
05/13/17 Los Angeles, CA at The Fonda ^
05/14/17 Berkeley, CA at The UC Theatre ^
05/27/17 Las Vegas, NV at Punk Rock Bowling
06/09/17 Interlaken, Switzerland at Greenfield Festival
06/11/17 Milano, Italy at Carroponte w/ Descendents *
06/14/17 Attnang-Puchheim, Austria at EQUALITY Festival
06/15/17 Nickelsdorf , Austria at Nova Rock Festival
06/16/17 Bischofsmais, Germany at Rock The Hill
06/17/17 Bischofsmais, Germany at Rock The Hill
06/23/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
06/23/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/24/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
06/24/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/25/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/25/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
07/01/17 Würzburg/Giebelstadt , Germany at Flugplatz Mission Ready Festival

* = w/ PEARS & MASKED INTRUDER
^ = w/ Together Pangea

Album Review: Blink 182 – California

Blink 182 - CaliforniaIt’s pretty crazy to me that Blink 182 still exists.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been a fan since the 90s when they were just some unknown pop-punkers.  After all they have been through, all of the fame, all of the drama, and most of all the departure of one Tom DeLonge, wouldn’t you think the band would just call it quits for good already?

Perhaps in a fit of spite, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker continued on and invited Alkaline Trio‘s Matt Skiba to take on vocal/guitar duties for a reunion show of sorts.  I remember thinking “how bad ass would that be if Skiba just joined them and they put out a new album?”  I know I was not the only one who thought that either.

Shortly after, it was confirmed Skiba had joined Blink and they were recording a new album.  Now here I am about to throw some words and whatnot into a review for it.  Perhaps a little delayed, but here it is.

Time for a story about me.  Feel free to skip over…

The lyrics “nobody likes you when you’re 23” will always have special meaning in my mind for the rest of my life.  Any Blink fan knows what song those lyrics come from.  The year that song came out, an immature me swore the song was about my own experiences in a sense as I worked hard to get through a tough year thanks to an ex-psycho girlfriend and my own bad decision-making.

What I am trying to get at is simple, I was a Blink fan back then.  “Dammit” was one of my go to songs, I loved Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat.  I remember even seeing Blink live at Blossom with Bad Religion opening for the Enema of the State tour.  That was the show Barker missed as he broke his hand punching some a-hole at the Taco Bell my cousin was working at in Akron.  Good times.

A few years later thanks to an old friend, I scored a front row ticket to see them again at Blossom with No Doubt.  Both shows were amazing.

As the years passed, more Blink albums came out, Angels & Airwaves, Boxcar Racer, Transplants, and other side projects emerged, and Blink slowly moved out of my continual rotation of daily tunes.  It happens folks, you know exactly what I am talking about.  I got bored with them.

Blink-182A certain Blink flame was re-ignited inside of me the day I heard Skiba was going to be on their new album.  I remember hearing the first single off the new album, I was stoked.  I still am stoked.  So pardon my fandom and honestly on this post, these are my favorite reviews to do, the ones that I am legit excited to write on.

California is Blink 182’s seventh full-length release.  Currently consisting of Hoppus, Barker, and the recent addition of Skiba (Alkaline Trio), who replaced Tom DeLonge.  Blink 182 has been around since the early 90s and moved from a silly pop-punk band on underground labels, to a heavy-hitting act selling out stages all over the world.

When I listened to California the first time, my initial thought was that there was a lot of filler songs on the album.  Long gone are the days of bands putting out albums with 16 tracks.  After listening to the album over and over, that thought went away.

Opening track “Cynical” reminded me of past Blink material, at least the start did.  Barker’s over the top drumming helped speed up the song and Skiba’s introductory backup singing proved this was not going to be the same Blink at all and not in a bad way.

“Bored To Death” has already taken over the radio stations.  The beginning had an “Adam’s Song” similarity to it, but not enough to discourage.  When the band jumps in together at the chorus, it pretty much blew me away.  I know in time I am going to get sick of this song in time as it will be played over and over, but until that happens, I am going to enjoy the hell out of it.  The video for the song cracked me up too, but only because I have reached old man status and remember feeling invincible once.

“She’s Out of Her Mind” will probably take responsibility for the younger generation to have a sudden interest in Bauhaus.  Aside from that, this catchy song really planted a positive reminder that you should be yourself and not care about what others think.

“Los Angeles” was more of a rock masterpiece than a pop-punk track.  I would not be shocked if this track alone brings in new fans of all ages.  Hoppus and Skiba trading vocals and howls throughout was just perfect.

A more realistic “Sober” sang a story about substance-abused-rough-times in relationships and carried a level of honesty throughout.  It was easy to compare my own bad decisions from my past in this track and also recall the apologetic resolutions.  This song grew on me the more and more I listened to it.  I loved the lyric “I’m a dandelion, you’re a four-leafed clover.”

The quick “Built This Pool” was about as crass as the band got on this album.  Seeing how raw they used to be, I am glad they have not completely thrown away their comical ideals.  Personally speaking, I really was hoping for a lot more of their humor throughout.

Skiba just killed it on “No Future”.  This track was the song that had me smiling ear to ear knowing that Skiba was the perfect fit for the redesigned Blink.  Hoppus and Skiba compliment the hell out of one another on this track.  This dreary track which seemingly sounded like a humble departure, was one of the more catchier ones on the entire album for me.

“Kings of the Weekend” was one of the tracks I felt was more of a filler track at first, but the more I listened to it, the more I enjoyed it.  This is everything a Blink fan could want in a Blink song.  Not to mention the different singing styles keep things interesting.

I feel like I can say there is a lot I can say about”San Diego” as it really reminded me of the good times, but I won’t.  I will just say it has grown on me a lot and I know the younger generation is going to eat this song up.

“Brohemian Rhapsody” was lame until I saw this:

Then it was hilarious…

All in all, California is an exceptional release.  I can admit that I have not been a fan of Blink’s last few releases, but this one hits all the high marks in my mind.  Initially I told myself and others that I only liked about 70% of the album, but the more and more I listen to it, the more I am digging it.

Perhaps my liking of California is because Skiba is on board now and I’ve been a AK3 fan for as long as I can remember, but I wish nothing but the best for Blink 182 and love seeing them at the top of the music world again.  I seriously hope they continue and can not wait to see what they come up with next.

7-Inch Reviews: Jonathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith”

Sometimes a review is tough to start.  I find myself sitting here trying to think of how I am going to select the right words to create an introduction to the musician or band that I would like to share with the world.

I find this blog entry particularly a little more difficult to start out with not only because I am a huge fan of the musician of the EPs I am about to talk about, but I am equally a huge fan of the label that has put them out.

Blue Arrow Records is not only a brick and mortar staple in Cleveland thanks to their amazing selection of vinyl, music memorabilia, and other vintage goodies, but they are now a record label.

Makes complete sense to me.

I have been a fan of Blue Arrow since they first set up shop in 2009 and think the world of owners Pete and Debbie.  Not only do they run one of my favorite stores in my neck of the woods, but they are also quality humans.  I am lucky to know them and was floored when they told me they were going to start their own record label and first on the roster was none other than Jonathan Richman.

Jonathan Richman

I adore all things Richman.  Chances are if you are reading this, you might too.  If you do not, I highly encourage you to check out anything Modern Lovers or just jump into Richman’s solo material.  His style is unforgettable and almost always is in the most upbeat approach.  Richman always has seemed to put me in a good mood.

This month, Blue Arrow Records is releasing two 7-inch singles by Jonathan Richman including four songs: “O Sun”, Wait Wait”, “Keith” and “They Showed Me the Door to Bohemia”.  These are the first releases by Richman in five years.

I need to pause for a second and let you all know that I have been holding off on reviewing these 7-inches until I could literally just down and spin them endlessly next to me.  With luck on my side this past Friday, I was able to set up a listening station of sorts by my desktop with the full intention of listening to these releases and reviewing them.

Moving along…

The 7-inches are both beautifully pressed with “Keith”/”They Showed me the Road to Bohemia” in white (33rpm) and “O Sun”/”Wait Wait” in turquoise with light hints of red (45rpm).

“Keith” paid tribute to the one and only Keith Richards.  I loved the line Richman said regarding Keith’s style was “not exactly the blues cause it’s sorta European too.”  “The Showed me the Road to Bohemia” was a spoken word jam by Richman that was relaxed yet joyless.  Richmond can’t always be a ray of sunshine folks.  He is human after all.

“O Sun” carried a more vintage beachfront island sound that I really was not expecting but completely loved.  It was nothing too technical and quite repetitive, but mysterious like something you would hear in an old school James Bond movie soundtrack.  “Wait Wait” really reminded me of the young Richman post-Modern Lovers I had adored for so many years.  Plenty of clapping and good times were thrown in this jam with thanks to Juanramon Jimenez, a poet who Richman claimed “helped me express a feeling.”

I know I tend to tell everyone what I like and honestly, that is the whole premise of this little blog I have been holding onto for a while. If  can find just one person out there who has not heard of Richman yet and they turn into a fan, then my job is done.  I do this because I want to and there is no other reason.

Both 7-inches only have me excited even more for the full length that Blue Arrow Records aims to release this fall.  Until then, you can stop in the shop and pick up both copies or click on the album covers below to place your order today at Blue Arrow Records ($10 each + shipping):

O Sun 7-Inch Single  Keith 7-Inch Single


I find my posting of this appropriate with the statement that Pete released about Blue Arrow Records and their involvement with Record Store Day.  If you have not read it yet, please do.  It is a highly well-written discussion about his somber decision to not partake in perhaps the most popular retail event for independently owned record stores.

My thoughts about RSD are not as strong as they once were and I blame the greedy (the labels and the flippers).  Where I love to see people standing in line to buy limited pressed releases, I feel it has gone too far and has turned into just another way for big business to make their money as well as shady flippers who throw them up on eBay and make a killing (sometimes even before RSD).

There are too many releases to even count this year and honestly, there were only maybe two that I might have raised an eyebrow about.  What I am trying to get at was that I wasn’t excited about this year’s RSD offerings.  Hopefully not everyone agrees with me and still will be lining up at their favorite local shop next week.

There may not be new pressings coming out that I give a crap about, but there are stores like Blue Arrow Records with tons of old and previously loved releases that I will happily flip through with hopes of finding a gem.

Don’t dismiss RSD.  Remember it is about records, not just the new re-re-re-repressings on an 138 gram glitter-gold pressing with hologram download cards.  Go out and support your local record store and find something that you can call your own.

The Ataris Announce So Long, Astoria Reunion Tour

The Ataris

The Ataris made a huge announcement yesterday.  They have decided to get the old band back together to play live So Long, Astoria.

Old man moment.  So Long Astoria was released 10 years ago.  And to think, I thought I was old then… yikes.

Spite me feeling sorry for myself, I am absolutely THRILLED to hear that The Ataris are getting the original lineup together to perform So Long, Astoria in its entirety. This will be a show not to be missed.

The Ataris - So Long, Astoria

For one tour only, Kristopher Roe, Mike Davenport, Chris Knapp and John Collura will hit the road and play So Long, Astoria.  Supporting acts include: Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World and Gasoline Heart.  Tickets for the upcoming tour will go on sale to the public on December 20th.

And yes, there is a Cleveland show.  March 24th at the Agora.

I don’t remember the last time they played Cleveland.  No seriously, I do not remember a single thing.  Someone apparently snuck up on me that night and got me drunk.  I think his name was PBR.  Lucky for me, I have some good friends who put up with me for the night and made sure I make it home safely.

Additionally, rumor has it that there may be a re-press of So Long, Astoria  thanks to Kung-Fu Records

As if that was not enough, The Ataris also released on their BandCamp page 50 demos and unreleased tracks from So Long, Astoria for “pay what you want”.

Check it out:

The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria Reunion Tour Dates:
Feb 28 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock (w/Versus The World)
March 1 – Las Vegas, NV – Backstage Bar (w/Versus The World)
March 2 – Fresno, CA – Strummer’s (w/Versus The World)
March 3 – San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brewing Company (w/Versus The World)
March 5 – Los Angeles, CA – House of Blues (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 6 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 7 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 8 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 11 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 12 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox at the Market (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 13 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 14 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue (Club Sound) (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 15 – Denver, CO – The Summit Music Hall (w/Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 16 – Kansas City, MO – Riot Room (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 18 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Versus The World)
March 20 – Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 21 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 22 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 23 – Detroit, MI – The Shelter (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 24 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 25 – Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 27 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 28 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 29 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)
March 30 – New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre (w/Authority Zero, Drag The River, Gasoline Heart)

Album Review: The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

About three years ago, LA’s The Jealous Sound posted “there is hope for us….” on their MySpace page.  It was a subtle hint to their fans that they would be still working as a band after constant rumors of  the band breaking up and with no real material being released in years.  Later that summer, The Jealous Sound kept their word  to the fans and announced that the indie rock band would be touring with Sunny Day Real Estate on their reunion tour.  A couple more years would pass before anyone heard if The Jealous Sound would be dropping new material and finally in October of 2011, the band announced an all new album would be dropping in 2012.  A Gentle Reminder would be the bands first full length release in almost 9 years.

The album was well overdue, but is absolutely incredible to listen to and was made possible by the band being refueled after touring with Sunny Day Real Estate back in 2009.  Once that tour wrapped up, The Jealous Sound kept putting ideas together that would mold into A Gentle Reminder.   With the addition of a new bassist, the band still grasped onto their 90s post-rock sound influences that really helped define their sound.

What’s more impressive about this release is that it does not sound much askew from their 2003 release Kill Them With Kindness.  The emo-y pop rock sounds that this band put out turned heads back then and easily will now.

“Beautiful Morning” opened the album off with no hints of a 9 year break between albums.  Blair Shehan’s vocals are the same emo-y / indie sound I was expecting and it was more than welcome to my years.  This was a strong opening track with choice vocals that almost seem as Shahen was hiding personal thoughts in them “We all get by when we have to.  We all can change when it’s time to change and I think I know what they’re after” clearly was directed to the fans.

The following track, “Change You”, just continued to impress.  This chill yet slightly haunting track sounded almost as if it were too good to be a Jealous Sound song, but then again the band did have a few years worth of time on their hands to write it.  “Your Eyes Were Shining” easily was my favorite cut off the album with catchy guitar playing behind Shehan flowing smoothly.

“Here Comes The Ride” was a slow, emo-y track that seemed to put the breaks on things until “Equilibrium” rejuvenated things instantly.  The energy in this track was worth the earlier lull.  I love how the band just seems to completely let loose on this track.  It was a fun surprise to listen to.  “Perfect Timing” really needs some radio play.  I have the feeling people will really get a kick out of that song.  The title track “A Gentle Reminder” took a couple steps back for a moment but soon Shehan was quick to jump back towards the microphone and belt out some great singing.

I will admit, I thought that The Jealous Sound was done for years back and I was ok with it.  I will say though that I am beyond stoked that they decided to give it a shot again as a band and dropped A Gentle Reminder. Not trying to compare them to a Neutral Milk Hotel thinking style, but I am kind of glad this band took its time releasing an album and more so am thrilled they recorded it because they wanted to and not because they had to.  The hiatus may have not been what many fans were hoping for, but the return should be all that more rewarding for anyone who calls themselves a band and the payout, this album, was something far worth waiting for.

The Jealous Sound is currently touring in support of A Gentle Reminder and will be making a stop in Cleveland on February 17th.  You would have to be a damned fool to miss out on this show.  It is going to be that show that everyone talks about for the rest of this year.