Category Archives: Solo

Album Review: Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!

Jonathan RichmanI recall the very day when I was first introduced to Jonathan Richman.

Sometimes I wish I could say it was because I came across a Modern Lovers album at a young age, but the truth is, I learned of him in the mid-90s thanks to Repo Man on VHS.  As many of you know, there was a Modern Lovers song on the soundtrack and I fell in love with it instantly.

That was a long time ago and I have never stopped being a fan.  So I am sure you can imagine how stoked I am to have been given the opportunity to review Richman’s latest release titled Ishkode! Ishkode!.

I have to admit though, I have been sitting on this review for a few weeks now as I wanted to make sure I said the right words as this artist is so important to me.

So here I am pondering and making a big deal about an album by a guy who has inspired me to be myself.  After listening to this album probably for the 100th time, I felt today was the day to share.

Ishkode! Ishkode! dropped last month on Cleveland’s very own Blue Arrow Records.  This is Richman’s first release in over six years and was well worth the wait.  Assisting Richman on this release was Tommy Larkins, Lisa Marie, Kelly Brown, and a handful of other friends.

Starting off the album was “Woah! How Different We All Are!”, a more underground, beatnik sounding track that had Richman and crew taking a darker approach.  Not goofy by any means but certainly something Warhol would have been a fan of.

“Ishkode! Ishkode!” carried the style Richman has presented over and over I have grown to appreciate.  I loved when Richman, once warmed up, just went on a mini tangent with some amped up guitar playing.

I heard “Wait! Wait!” last year when Richman dropped a pair of 45s via Blue Arrow Records.  This track is so fun it is ridiculous.  I hate to repeat myself, so go check out what I said about it previously.  I also talk about “O’Sun!” too.

“‘a Nnammurata Mia” which translates to My Beloved, was easily my favorite track off the entire album.  I felt like I was on vacation listening to it as Richman swooned me away in Italian and English.  Seriously though, Richman displayed himself to me in a new level on this song while blending the two languages so perfectly.  It was beautiful.

The love fueled “Let Me Do This Right!” should be the soundtrack for all mantra.  Even though it was the quickest song on the album, it was gentle, repetitious, and honest.

“Outside Oduffy’s” just had me smirking the entire time the song played.  This was a comical track that just had me visualizing Richman talking to a girl outside of a pub, falling head over heels in 10 minutes.  This was Richman storytelling at it’s finest.  Having the ladies sing along made it that much better.

“Longtemps” returned back to that vacation feeling I had earlier with the versatile Richman showing his true talent in a different tongue – French to be exact.  Originally written by Charles Trenet in 1955, Richman covered it quite well.

Closing the album was “Mother I Give You My Soul Call”, a chant written by Paramahansa Yogananda.  It is beyond why Richman chose this song to cover, but it was absolutely captivating to listen to.  The sitar playing over the low toned instrument that escapes me at this time (please feel free to help me out here) was calm and relaxing to listen to while Richman recited the chant.  This was an incredibly unique listen.

For anyone who is a fan of Richman, listening to this album was an experience of its own.  At first, I could not place my finger on some of the tracks and felt Richman was just doing something different because he can, but as I listened more and more, it made sense to me.  This album was Richman continuing his legacy as a musician and merely enhanced his talents.  It’s a fantastic release.

Head over to Blue Arrow Records to order a copy of Richman’s new album.  If you are lucky enough to live in Cleveland, just take some time and visit their brick and mortar store.  You will not be disappointed.  I always enjoy my visits there and you can just pick up a copy of the LP yourself.

BHP Best of 2015

2015 is wrapping up quickly so I felt it was best I get this out of the way before I become too involved with the holiday festivities.

As much as I wish I was more active on this blog, I will admit I am still listening to as much music as possible whenever time admits.  I am not giving up just yet folks.

With that said, here are my choice releases for 2015:


BHP Best of 2015

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
-This album was one of my favorite releases of 2015 before it was even released.  I knew I was going to adore it before I heard it and I did.  This is one of those bands that has really reached back into the 90s with their style and I love everything about it.

Yotam
Yotam Ben-Horin – Distant Lover
-Yotam blew me away with his latest solo album.  This dude rules and is one of my favorite songwriters out there.

Lucero
Lucero – All A Man Should Do
-I love Lucero.  With that said, when I first listened to this album, I was not digging it much.  In fact, it was not until my third listen that I realized how solid the album is.  I can not stop listening to it.  Yeah, it is not like their older material but it still owns.

Baroness
Baroness – Purple
-This album was literally just released (12/18/2015 for those of you who are wondering).  Luckily there is that edit option on there here ol’ blog because this needs to be on my list.  This album is perfect, absolutely perfect.  After all this band has been through, it is nice to see them return with such force.

John Moreland
John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
-John Moreland is incredible.  Words can not express my appreciation for this album.  Seriously, I can not write anything about this, you will need to listen to it for yourself.

Frank Turner
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
-I do not think it is possible for Frank Turner to release an album that I do not like.  This guy is a modern-day musical hero to me.

NRNS
Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled
-This album was a blast to listen to.

TBR
Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming
-Spite losing Brandon recently, Teenage Bottlerocket gained a lot of attention with their power pop punk release.  This catchy as hell album guarantees for a good time.

Annabel
Annabel – Having It All
-This album seriously made me want to be a better person.  I find myself listening to this album on the days where I feel like I need a boost in the feelings department.

Sidekicks
The Sidekicks – Runners In The Nerved World
-I swear this band matures more and more with every release.

Joey Cape
Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
-This album was so beautiful yet gloomy.  Cape has proved himself to me once again that he is one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet.

Purple
Purple – (409)
-Purple are fun and encompass rock n roll to the max.  I do not even know what that means.  This band is all about the fun and released an amazing album full of catchy tracks.

toyGuitar
toyGuitar – In This Mess
-If this album happened to fall under your radar, you are totally missing out.  Happy-go-lucky-punk-rock-beach-jams should sum up this album.

Success
Success – Radio Recovery
-Success dropped one of the most catchy punk albums of the year.  I love these dudes and think everyone needs to check them out.  I also love the fact that their album cover pays tribute in a sense to Fifteen.

Refused
Refused – Freedom
-The last time these guys released something, it was the late 90s.  I never thought they would put something out again, but they mostly regrouped after some touring and dropped this killer album.  A lot of people said it was over-produced and forced, but I still like it.

Sam Russo
Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams
-This was an excellent album that I am glad I was able to check out.  Sam Russo takes storytelling and songwriting to the best level.

Dr Dre
Dr. Dre – Compton
-This was the album I listened to the most this year easily.  For over two months, I listened to this album in full every single day.  I had a slight obsession with it.  The best part about about this is the first time I heard it, I thought to myself that it was not even that good.  By the time the album ended, I was hooked.  I even listened to it this morning.

Patrick Sweany
Patrick Sweany – Daytime Turned To Nighttime
-This album just makes me want to drink whisky on a porch at night with my close pals.  Nice to see Pat continue on with his passion.  I sure do miss the days whenI could hit up the Zephyr and see him play.

Johnathan Richman
Johnathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith” (7″ Releases)
-I had the privilege to review both of these singles thanks to Blue Arrow Records and all I have to say is that I can not wait for Richman to release his next full-length…


Well folks, that is all I have at this time.  I am sure I am missing something and will probably edit this post 7 more times.  For any of you paying attention, this blog has been updated just a few times…

Until then, happy holidays to you and yours.  I appreciate anyone who has ever taken a moment to check out what I have to share on this site.  If it was not for you, I would probably have thrown the towel in a long time ago.

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.

Album Review: Chris Cresswell – One Week

Chris CresswellFor those of you who checked out the interview I did with Joey Cape months back, you may have learned about One Week Records.  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I suggest you take a moment and read that awesome interview.

Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners was one of the first artists to hole up in Cape’s abode and record an album.  In one week, the two recorded 10 amazing songs and skipped out on any type of over-producing.  The result was just an amazing release that I was not expecting.

Cresswell is typically known for his gruff vocals in The Flatliners but he’s completely cleared his throat for his One Week Record.  In fact, I was set back for a moment on how different and appealing his singing style was.  Having known he’s stripped down his style before, I suppose I just did not know what to expect prior to checking out this release.

Listening to “Meet Me in the Shade” was just so heavy on the heart.  I could almost relate in my past to the feelings Cresswell transformed into song.  Full of lyrics of dismay and solitude, Cresswell seemingly dumped heavy emotion into this track.  I really fond myself enjoying the song even more so when the piano playing snuck in.

Picking things up was “Little Bones”, a track what sounds like some serious swooning until the moment you realize that the lyrics on this track were pretty much Cresswell tearing a certain someone apart for being a cold, heartless human being.  The lyrics were amazing on this album.

“Stitches” really collaborated Cresswell and Cape’s talent in a great way in a song about healing and moving on.  Perhaps the best part of this track is when Cresswell belted out “I fall in love again with the silence in this song” over and over at the end.  Hands down, this was best track on this album.

Hearing the cover of Dead To Me’s “Arrhythmic Palpitations” was a nice bonus on this album.  Cresswell recorded a damn fine version that I may seriously now prefer over the original.  Everyone needs to hear this track.

“On the Day That You Died” was beyond somber and yet so beautiful.  This is the kind of song that brings tears to eyes while saying goodbye to a loved one.  Seriously, this track should be in the next Zach Braff movie he releases.  So sad…

Overall, this album far exceeded my expectations and I am going to be pre-ordering the vinyl release soon as I know this will be an album I will listen to quite frequently.

I think the thing I like best about this album is knowing that Cresswell and Cape recorded all of the songs in 7 days in Cape’s home.  I also love knowing that at the end, Cape handed Cresswell a Sharpie marker and told him to draw up the album cover.

The album is available digitally now on One Week Records for just 5 bucks.  The album is also going to be pressed on vinyl (as previously mentioned) thanks to Fat Wreck Chords and will be dropping soon.

Chris Cresswell

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Lineup Announced!

Since 2006, Fun Fun Fun Fest has been nothing short of fun x 3.  Every year, the music/art/food festival seems to turn it up a notch, so much, that last year I actually decided enough is enough and headed to Austin, TX, to check it out.  The result, minus Danzig acting like a little bitch, was a killer weekend with friends fueled by amazing bands.  In other words, I had fun.  A ton of fun.

The festival was well organized, and all three days of music was well worth the $200 or so bucks I dropped on a wristband.  By the want of the fest last year, I told myself and my friends I wanted to return the following year.

This year, the good people at FFF Fest have outdone themselves.  Not only did they get RUN-DMC to reform, but they also had put together almost a dream lineup for this music lover.  Refused, De La Soul, Seaweed, The Promise Ring, Bob Mould, Lucero, Lagwagon, Braid, OFF!, Against Me!, F’d Up, Superchunk, Minus The Bear…I can keep going…P.I.L., Explosions In The Sky, X, Turbonegro…

Seriously, check out all who will be playing this year:

This does not even include the FFFEST Nites, the nightly free (with wristband) concerts around the city.

I am planning on returning to Auditorium Shores in November to take in this festival.  Since I have moved, I have not seen one live band due to a lack of venues, but this festival will make up for it.  Not to mention Austin is one of my favorite cities and I am now only a 6 hour drive away…

For more info, visit FUNFUNFUNFEST.COM