Category Archives: Music Video

Album Review: Be Well – The Weight and The Cost

I’m sure we can all agree this year can just move on already.  As messed up as it has been for so many of us, there really have been some quality releases.

Where a bunch have caught my attention, not many have been nearly as raw and personal as the debut by Be Well.

Dropped in late August by Equal Vision Records, The Weight and The Cost is a melodic hardcore release filled with so much emotion and energy.  Featuring members of Battery, Bane, Darkest Hour, and Fairweather, it was a no-brainer that I was going to enjoy this.  After multiple listens though, I found myself relating with some of the struggle and mental anguish sung throughout while adoring the tunes that carried it along.

I think something worth mentioning is that the band is fronted by well-known record producer Brian McTernan who stepped away from his current gig to grab the mic and give it his all.  With so many years of experience fabricating other’s music, it really came as no surprise how profound this release was.

“Meaningless Measures” started off the album without holding back musically and mentally.  “I’ve lost track of the days, lost track of the ways that I fucked up everything. I’m not sure that I’ve learned anything I’m afraid” pulled hard on episodic memories of coming to terms with myself.  Solid track that was likable, but extremely intense.

I swear that “Magic” honed in on personal arguments with oneself until the verge of discomforting solace.  Grappling with defeat, I appreciated the slight suggestion of change at the end.  This is the type of track people hear, relate to, and tend to not forget about..

“I hope there’s a chance for me to learn to love myself a way that I don’t” was a tough plea in “Tiny Little Pieces” that once again jolted back some memories of my own past.  As if the music behind the lyrics were not already impressive enough, McTernan tossed in a personal battle seemingly thinned by attention from someone else.  I knew this fight all too well once.

I’m a better person because of heartbreak.  I say this after listening to “The Weight and The Cost” which brought back painful memories, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve let go of some of that hell I was encompassed in over the years.  This track brought me back to some tough times to the verge I found myself cringing.

“Confessional” was so likable yet just brutal.  Easily one of my favorite tracks on the album, it was not happiness at all.  A departure, an apology, and well, the ending lyrics summed it up best with “there’s a storyline that is only in my head.  I’ve spent half of my life wishing I was dead.  If there is part of this that I shouldn’t have said, I’m sorry.  To fix it I have to get back to the place it first started.”

At just over 35 minutes, this album was an impassioned masterpiece.  It’s once you dig into those lyrics that you get hit hard with a once unavoidable reality for so many of us.  I appreciated the hell out of that.

Be Well at first reminded me of a more polished Strike Anywhere, but with plenty of personal, emotional defects and small doses of PMA ultimately fueled with hardcore values.  The more I listened to it though, it was clear how and why these artists came together and dropped this release.  I have to admit, this album beat me up but I was impressed with it once I fought back some of those memories.

Album Review: NOFX / Frank Turner – West Coast vs. Wessex

It’s not the first time a couple of artists decided to drop a split release for shits and giggles, but it’s probably the first time one to this character was done.

When I learned NOFX and Frank Turner were working on a split, I have to admit I was excited as hell because I knew both sides would try their best to emulate each other.

It’s been a long time since NOFX did a split with another band.  I am sure you older punks recall the last NOFX / Rancid split that dropped some 18 years ago.  This time though, it was not really a punk band covering a punk band but rather a punk band covering a punk-turned-folk-singer band.

West Coast vs. Wessex is a 10 song split released by Fat Wreck Chords featuring two of the most important acts out there.  I was not sure how this was going to play out seeing how their styles are a little far-fetched, but I’m a fool for even dismissing the idea of greatness this album could be.

Leave it to Fat Mike to change up the lyrics to become a tad more personable on “Substitute”.  Less proper and more pervy, the track honestly could pass as a classic NOFX song had Turner not penned it so many years back.

“Thatcher Fucked The Kids” was a two-town-jam cover that I could not imagine was even possible until I heard it.  This was a great take on a killer Turner track.  Full of guest vocals, the only way this could have gotten better was if El Hefe busted out some of his impersonations at the end for the hell of it.

“Glory Hallelujah” was an intense, serious cover that probably will continue to upset those who engage in worship and magic bearded man in the sky.  At first I thought it was just exorbitant, but after a few listens I couldn’t agree more with how it was carried out.

Turner covering “Scavenger Type” was just brilliant.  I have to admit it did not fully carry how I was anticipating it, but it worked so well.  I was expecting a more folk take, but not on this track and that was fine by me.

The take on “Bob” was a perfect jaunt complete with some harmonica and just chill vibes.  The rendition did not require an upbeat undertaking, but when Turner belted out at the end, I was singing along just as I did when I first heard the original in the 90s.  The music video for this is pretty freaking hilarious too.

“Falling In Love” stole the split if you ask me.  As far as I am concerned, NOFX traveled to the future to steal this song from Turner and tossed it on an album when Turner was just a kid.  It has been a long time since I have heard an interpretation sound better than the original.

The cool thing about West Coast vs. Wessex was how well each band took an idea of covers and put absolute thought into it. Both sides took it seriously, well as much as they could, and took their time perfecting their versions of a handful of each band’s earlier material.

Some of me was hoping for more classic NOFX humor at times, perhaps even a continuation where a hilarious Minor Threat cover left off.  Still, plenty of innuendos were tossed in by Fat Mike as well as a huge Fat entourage of guests.

Frank Turner fans need to hear this even if they do not take NOFX serious at all.  NOFX fans will appreciate the continued creativity in taking other work’s and tossing their own style around it.  This idea just worked well and it had nothing to do with luck.  Fat Mike has had a few good ideas you know…

Visit the Fat Wreck Chords site to snag a copy for yourself.

Album Review: Broadway Calls – Sad in the City

It’s refreshing as hell to find something to distract you when the world seems like it is on the verge of caving in.  2020 can suck all the butts as far as I am concerned, but then again if this crap year were to somehow disappear, we would all miss out on Broadway Calls dropping the greatest pop punk album I’ve heard this year.

Released on July 10th on Red Scare, I opted to listen to this a few times throughout before tossing my thoughts on this here ol’ blog.  Sometimes you just need to take in something this good to appreciate it even more.  The album made me think, pulled on the old heartstrings, and even invoked a childhood fear of mine.

“If my country collapses, can I crash on your couch” started the album off on “Never Take Us Alive.”  This plaintive reality of a track basically was a full-forced promise of not giving up fighting what’s right.

“You Gotta Know” is easily one of my favorite songs currently.  I adored this track for all it was worth.  Might have to borrow this one to prove to the wife she still drives me crazy in a good way.  I seriously can not get this song out of my head.

Album title track “Sad in the City” was just so likable as it tore into the blatant imbalance causing pain and sorrow.  With talking about bombs and death in the street, this was not intended to be tongue-in-cheek but more so a nod at hope for change.

“Radiophobia” was an 80s nightmare regarding nuclear meltdowns (check out the video below).  Turns out, the track was based on actual events from Ty Vaughn’s childhood as he grew up around reactors.  I actually grew up fearing the Perry Nuclear Powerplant in Ohio, so I get it and sided with this track a ton.  Those smokestacks still freak me the hell out.

“Meet Me on the Moon” was an amorous tune eluding to not wanting to give up the night with a special someone.  Looking deeper into this one, it’s possible no one wants to be alone during a time like this.

Album closer “Went Dyin'” catered to my old punk rock self so much.  I appreciated the suffering in this one as it reminded me where I came from, what I’v been through, and where it has taken me.  My mentality was molded and healed from tunes like this because, as cliche as it might sound, punk rock saved my life.  True story.

It’s been 7 years since these Oregon punkers have dropped something and as far as I’m concerned, Broadway Calls saved this year.  Sad in the City is just perfect from start to finish, full of catchy jams, and just begs to be heard.  That’s not to say this is a happy, joyful collection of anthems.  This album hits at the bullshit reality thats been draining our collective mentality.

Missing out on this album would not be in your best interest, especially if you fancy punk tunes.  Trust me on this.

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.

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.