Category Archives: Alt Rock

Album Review: Heart Attack Man – The Manson Family

True story: I almost crashed my car this morning because the streets were a sheet of ice.

I was probably driving too fast, but that is not the point.

As I applied the brakes, my car just kept sliding right towards Brookpark Rd. with speed as oncoming traffic continued moving.  I lucked out at the last possible moment and was able to drift my car sideways to avoid crashing into anyone or anything.

So what the hell does this have to do with this album review you ask?

Well, as I sat there sideways at the edge of the intersection, I felt grateful that I was going to be able to get to work on time and listen to the new Heart Attack Man.  I’m quite serious about this – I planned on checking it out as soon as I got to my paying gig.

Cleveland’s Heart Attack Man originally was a solo project of guitarist/vocalist Eric Egan that soon turned into a band once Adam Paduch of Two Hand Fools took on drumming duties.  The duo specializes in creating catchy ass jams that carries equal amounts of alternative rock and indie rock.

Released on Triple Crown RecordsThe Manson Family is Heart Attack Man’s debut full-length.   Full of modern day struggles, the album refuses to hold back.

I knew I was in for something good the moment I heard opening track “Burn Down The Mall”.  Even though the tune was catchy like something Brand New might dish out, the song itself was just dark and melancholy.

“Sitting On the Fringe” was an anthem of just being fed up with everyone and everything while “Life Sucks” was an emo downward spiral, but damn it sounded so good.  “Cut Off At The Knees” also had this defeated sense of humbleness throughout.

“Surrounded By Morons” really reminded me of a long forgotten 90s band, King Missile, due to the singing style alone.  The song  was a literal opinion about living in over-populated cities.  The music that backed it was overly impressive with plenty of fuzz and riffs for all to enjoy.

“Taking Sides” easily was one of my favorite songs on the album.  A personable jam that I really can say I  could relate to over and over.  “Funhouse Mirrors” was another track I found myself getting into.

“Cool Kids Table” closed things down with a Weezer-like similarity, but far less sweet and innocent.  This song made me want to drown my sorrows in the cheapest beer possible.  The best part of this track was the sarcastic screams where you clearly can hear the frustration.  The more I think about it, this was probably my favorite cut off the album.

Heart Attack Man are one of the most exciting up and coming Cleveland bands out there right now in my opinion.  Sure, you’ve probably heard this statement so many times from everyone and their mother about every band out there, but have a listen of The Manson Family and I’m sure you’ll understand why I hold such high regard.

It’s not a happy album, but it is catchy and begs to be replayed over and over.

Song Premiere: Borders – Holiday

I’m very stoked to be able to premiere a track by a band called Borders for you all to enjoy.

Featuring Dustin Andrews, formerly of Of Us Giants, this alt rock band has put out one hell of a single and I was asked to showcase it on my site.  After I listened to it, I could not wait to share it.

Check it out:

Borders

Download Link: Borders – “Holiday”

Last year around this time, I was talking up Of Us Giants and was more or less shocked when the band called it quits before they even got to tour.  Things happen for a reason I suppose.

Borders pretty much carries the torch that was prematurely dropped by Of Us Giants.  I am looking forward to hearing their full-length titled Wandering Youth that should drop in May.

 

Album Review: Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield – Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

ES_Cover_loWhat can be said about Elliott Smith that most people have not said already?  You either loved him or did not care for him.

Smith left his legacy suddenly years back in the worst way possible and his music has remained for the world to sulk upon when in need.

In 2003, Smith ended his life after suffering from depression for years.  I have no words for his choice on how he bowed out to the world nor will I even go into detail.

The 90s punk me was introduced to Smith’s self-titled album by some of my indie-loving friends years before “Needle In The Hay” was heard in The Royal Tenenbaums.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I never appreciated him until after his passing.  I remember liking what I heard, but apparently was too much in love with the SoCal punk scene.

The twenty-something-year-old-me back then was not impacted as much as present day me would have been.  I hate to admit it, but at the time I was not deprived of Smith’s talent when I learned of his passing.  Twelve years later, I have a different way of looking at his loss.

Next week, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers and Kent, Ohio’s sweetheart Jessica Lea Mayfield will be dropping Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, a covers album full of, you guessed it, Elliott Smith songs.

The album, dropping on Ramseur Records, is not a reinvention of Smith’s work, but more of an appreciation for someone they both were fans of.

Produced by Avett and recorded over the last three years at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC as well as at Avett’s and Mayfield’s homes, the album features renditions of twelve Elliott Smith songs.

It was almost haunting to hear Mayfield start out “Between The Bars”.  This version sent chills throughout my body.  I loved how Avett joined Mayfield but did not dominate the song.

I really enjoyed the piano playing that built up throughout “Baby Britain” and feel Avett nailed it when trying to recreate.  It started off slower with acoustic playing but soon jumped into a more upbeat cover.  It kills me thaSeth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smitht this was a more popular song of Smith’s and was all about his addiction, but it really is a great song.  (Side note:  I enjoyed this cover way more than Bayside’s 2008 version)

“Ballad Of Big Nothing” was just as depressing as the original on Smith’s Either/Or.  Not that i was expecting anything different, but the impact that Mayfield’s voice with Avett provided a different dismal angle.

I would have loved to have heard Avett take lead on their version of “Roman Candle”.  The distorted guitars were awesome but I really wanted to hear a more close to the original version of the signing to this amazing track.  I was rather underwhelmed on this.

The original version of “Memory Lane” always reminded me of something the Beatles might have done.  Hearing Avett slow it down a bit with a stings section made me think of the Beatles even more.  This was a great version of the original.

The collaboration of Avett and Mayfield only made sense seeing how they have been pals for years now.   For them to cover Elliott Smith songs was nothing next to brilliant.  The best part is how they chose what material to cover and how they each took turns taking the lead.  They reached all over Smith’s catalog including some hits and more obscure tracks.

This is the part where I encourage those who never cared for Smith to take a listen and hear his brilliance in a different dynamic.  Love him or hate him, Smith was an incredible songwriter.  This covers album proved that so well.

The album drops on March 17th and you can preorder it now by heading over to The Avett Brothers merch site.

If you’re lucky, you can even catch them live throughout March:
March
10   McGlohon Theatre, Charlotte, NC
11   The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
12   Town Hall Theatre, New York, NY
14   Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Philadelphia)
17   James K. Polk Theatre/TPAC, Nashville, TN
18   Southern Theatre, Columbus, OH
20   Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago, IL
22   Fitzgerald Theatre, St. Paul, MN
24   Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO
26   Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
27   Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
29   Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
31   Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Side note:  This powerful scene with Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums is beyond horrifying even more so when you think about what happened just a couple years later…  I am glad Avett and Mayfield did not cover this track.

Album Review: Purple – (409)

Purple - (409)2015 has not even started yet and here I am listening to a band I’ve never heard of before thinking to myself how deserving they are to drop on my best of 2015 list.

I know, I know, maybe I need to chill out a bit.  In all honesty though, I am dead serious about how much I enjoyed this act.

What would happen if you took Brodie Dalle (Distillers) and asked her to join the White Stripes with the soul purpose of mimicking 90s Sub Pop acts prior to the turn of the century?

Purple.

I speak not of the color, but of the boy-girl-boy Texas trio that literally has caught me off guard in a good good way.  They call their sound party rock and I could not agree more.

In January, Purple drops their debut (409) on Pias Recordings.  It is tough for me to even think that this is their first album given how well put together it sounds.

“Wallflower” started things off with a Detroit rock sound.  It was tough to gauge this band until about the halfway mark and suddenly I was loving what I heard.

“Leche Loco” carried an amazing similarity to 90s acts like Dinosaur Jr. and Bikini Kill as well as even good ol’ Jane’s Addiction.

“Beach Buddy” was a catchy track that was like a morph between Used Kids, The Strokes, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  This fun beach jam was amazing.  I loved the back and forth singing between Hanna Brewer and Taylor Busby only for them to join together.

“Thirteen” was like Joan Jett met a hardcore version of The Faint.  Damn, this song was nuts.  I loved it.  The quick breakdowns and the heavy guitars with distorted vocal notes.  The video for it was even more insane.

“Target” had Brewer singing like a young Gwen Stefani and Juliana Hatfield but not without adding her own force in.  “Head On The Floor” continued with I am hoping the next song to be plastered all over the radio.  This track reeked of 90s alt-rock and was extremely enjoyable thanks to that Weezer bass riff.

With more of a blues rock feel, “Newborn” slowed things down a bit.  I felt this track proved how much talent this band holds.  Dan Auerbach, maybe you need to hit these kids up over Danger Mouse next time.  Seriously though, this tune was impressive.

“I like to party and ear a bikini” started off the final song “DMT”, a gritty punk jam that was heavy on the distortion and reverb.  Not sure how this will come off but, it is so nice to hear new music take queue from classic punk and alt-rock sounds from my younger years.

This album was full of wholesome pop-garage-punk-rock goodness with some  psychedelic flavor and even a little riot grrl-ish making for a truly refreshing listen.   If anything though, most of all, it was freaking fun.

This band is going places.  I know it.

The best part about this release?  It drops on my birthday.

Best Of / Worst Of / Whatever Of… 2014

Well folks, it’s that time of the year.  We are wrapping up 2014.

This means I get to share my top albums of the year (with anyone who has any interest in what I have to say).

There were tons of great releases this year and honestly, I know I passed up a few.  In fact I’ve even added a few names to the below list numerous times while pondering what all caught my attention in 2014.  (NOTE:  I have even added a few more to my list that I overlooked and feel need to be included – perks of running your own blog I suppose.)

I am not putting any limits on my best of list this year as no artist should be left out.  I’m am just sharing the albums that really impressed me this past year and maybe even reasons why.

I’m not sorry for how long this post has become.  I’m actually quite pleased with what I have come up with.  It really proves that 2014 was a great year for music.  I’ve also decided to add a list of albums that just did not do it for me.


Best Albums Of 2014:

Tim Barry
Tim Barry – Lost & Rootless
-I just listened to this album in full this morning and instantly had to add it to my list.  This is the best thing he has ever done in my opinion.  Music writing doesn’t get more real than this.

Mastodon
Mastodon – One More Time Round The Sun
-This album blew me away and continued to do so over the course of the year.  I really was not sure what to expect after hearing The Hunter, but they managed to keep their style and improve it resulting in one of my favorite albums of 2014.

Cheap Girls
Cheap Girls – Famous Graves
-I love everything about this band.  I think the best part is that they are just all quality dudes who are extra loaded on talent.  I really need to snag a copy of this album on vinyl.  If you have not heard of this band, you need to change that.  This album was perfect.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams – S/T
-This album was thoroughly enjoyed by this music lover many times.  I can’t say I’ve been into all of his past material, but as of late I am finding myself becoming a bigger fan.

United_Nations_-_The_Next_Four_Years
United Nations – The Next Four Years
-It was only a matter of time before U.N. released new material.  This super-group of musicians really outdid themselves with their sophomore release.  In fact, I favor this release more and more with each listen.

Murder-City-Devils
Murder City Devils – The White Ghost Has Blood On Its Hands Again
-I never thought the day would come when MCD came out with new material.  After seeing them in 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Fest, I knew it was only time before they recorded new material.  The result was yet another classic album full of plenty of jams that I’ve listened to over and over without growing tired of one bit.  I just wish it were a little longer.

Xerxes
Xerxes – Collision Blonde
-This band slays.  So much.  I was not ready initially when I checked this album out and was literally just taken by surprise.  Best feeling ever.

Chris Stowe
Chris Stowe – Hollow
-This heartfelt album tops my list when it comes to one man and his guitar.  When I say heartfelt I mean sad but with true emotion.  He is the emo of emo and a class act dude as well.  This album really impressed me.

Chuck Ragan
Chuck Ragan – Till Midnight
-This album was intensified so much more thanks to his special pals he recruited to play with him throughout the album.  As big of a fan of Hot Water Music as I am, I can honestly say I am a bigger fan of his solo material.

Banner Pilot
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
-It’s Banner Pilot.  Enough said.  This band never disappoints.

Cory Branan
Cory Branan – The No Hit Wonder
-If you have not heard this album yet, stop reading right now and find it.  This was one of my favorite releases of the year.  Amazing songwriter.

Chris Cresswell
Chris Cresswell – One Week
-Intense album by a guy who usually is known to scream loud in the Flatliners.  Subtle tracks with Joey Cape helping along made for such a beautiful release.  I love that this was recorded at Cape’s house in just one week.

Afghan Whigs
The Afghan Whigs – Do To The Beast
-No lie, I was nervous about this album when I heard it was going to be released.  I am not sure why.  Lucky for me, it was solid from start to finish.

Black Keys
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
-This album was a little more Broken Bells sounding than I was hoping for thanks to Danger Mouse’s touch, but overall it still ruled.  I have found myself listening to it a lot again after taking a few months off.  It is still catchy as hell and those guitar jams are still amazing.

Mariachi El Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx – III
-How can you not like this album?  It is so good.  I loved how it just was not even so much a concept anymore as much as just a new direction for a talented group of dudes.

Swingin Utters
Swingin Utters – Fistfull Of Hollow
-This band refuses to slow it down.  This is their 3rd release in 3 years and is the best stuff I have heard by them in a long long time.

Needles Pins
Needles//Pins – Shamebirds
-DIY punk garage rock excellence is the best way I can describe this album.  I can not even tell you how many times I have listened to this release over and over.  If you dig the Ramones, I guarantee Needles//Pins are right up your alley.

J Mascis
J Mascis – Several Shades Of Why
-I have few heroes in my life.  Mascis is one of them.  This may be the most amazing thing I have ever heard him do aside from that Mazzy Star cover he recently performed.

Baby Ghosts
Baby Ghosts – Maybe Ghosts
-Pop-indie-garage-rock-fun-fueled-goodness.  I may be falling out of the scene these days and miss out on a lot of the DIY music that completely rules, but I can honestly say I am glad I did not miss out on this album.

Menzingers
The Menzingers – Rented World
Chamberlain Waits will always be my favorite release by The Menzingers, but this album is a very close second.  Very close…

Against Me
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
-I know this album got a lot of attention due to Tom exiting and Laura entering, but aside from that, this album is just sick.  I hated to see such a revolving door of members in the band over the years, but they still have managed to keep it together and produced an intense album.

7 Seconds
7 Seconds- Leave A Light On
-I am a huge fan of 7 Seconds and am ok with that.  To see them regroup and drop an all new release made this aging punk rocker very happy.  This album was tougher and harder than some of their past releases and did not sound forced one bit.   This album was probably the best punk record I listened to all year.  Suddenly getting old doesn’t seem so bad.

Sage Francis
Sage Francis – Copper Gold
-Sage returned and delivered.  I can still recall the day this album dropped and how excited I got.  I was live tweeting my feelings for all to read, including Sage himself.  I was having a fanboy moment.

Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels II
-EL-P and Killer Mike dropped the surprise album of the year and pretty much gave it away for free.  This should be at the very top of my list as I can not stop listening to it.  I was lucky enough, thanks to a good pal, to obtain a physical copy that I know I will spin over and over.

Tilts
Tilts – Cuatro Hombres
-This band is the definition of rock music or at least what I think it should sound like.  Remember when Queens of the Stone age were cool?  Tilts are better.

Pup
Pup – Pup
-This is the one album I sat on for too long in 2014.  I am glad for whatever reason I decided to check it out.  This is one notable debut.

Restorations
Restorations – LP3
-Take all of the music I was into in the 90s, and I guarantee you this album would have fit in perfectly.  This is one of the best bands out there.  I know they have a good fan base already, but I seriously think that not enough people are aware of how talented this band really is.

Best of EPs of 2014:

Beach Slang 1
Beach Slang – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?
-Without a doubt, this is the greatest band out there right now and they have yet to release a full length.  They are not young kids and are perfectly ok with that.  They are just here for the tunes and these tunes are exceptional.

Beach Slang 2
Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street
-So gooooooooooooood.  Yes.  I adore them.  Deal.

Low Culture / Iron Chic Split
Low Culture / Iron Chic – Split
-2 of my favorite bands on one EP.  Nothing tops that, except maybe pizza or tacos.

Needles Pins Low Culture
Low Culture & Needles//Pins – Split
-Garage rock maximus.  Both bands are incredible and it only made sense for them to release a split together.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams – 1984
-Surprise release of the year.  I loved what he did on this EP and wished it were a full length.  Adams really is a man of many talents when it comes to music and I have a fonder appreciation for him now. 1984 carried quality similarities to so many SST and Discord bands.

The Public
The Public – Shibuya Crossing
-These guys could be the next big thing to come from Cleveland if they keep it up.  Dead serious.

Remainders
Remainders – Fine Exits
-These guys could be the next big thing to come from Pittsburgh if they keep it up.  Dead serious. (yes, I did that on purpose)

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – Wherever I Might Land
-Hearing these dudes cover Iron Chic’s “Time Keeps Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future” pretty much made my year.  This was a download only release, but I hope that I can find a bag of money so that this can be pressed on vinyl.  I would need to title it SGNLS MDWST though as all the cool bands lose the vowels.

The One That Got Away In 2014:

Of Us Giants
Of Us Giants – Nova Scotia
-Seriously, what the hell was up with this band?  They started 2014 off in a good good way with their debut and disbanded before even hitting the road to tour.  It seemed almost as if they worked harder selling their merch to their adoring fans making up for lost product over keeping it together as a band.  I am sure they had their reasons, but Novia Scotia was a solid release and I really thought Of Us Giants was going to make it big.

Whatever Of 2014…

Death Grips
Death Grips – The Powers That B
-I liked this album.  A lot.  I did not like how this band went out.  Kind of pompous if you ask me.  Luckily, most folk moved on with their lives.

Rancid
Rancid – Honor Is All We Know
-I honestly hate that I am admitting this, but I only liked about 45% of Rancid’s latest offering.  I even listened to it again today and felt the same.  I just was not been overly impressed with the entire album and I really wanted to be.  There were a couple instant classics in there but some of the tracks just didn’t hit me well.  Rancid will always be one of my Top 5 bands.  Don’t you worry boys.  I still love ya.

Gaslight Anthem
Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
-I tried, I really did, to enjoy this album but just could not get into it at all.  At first I thought I appreciated the lyrics and just needed to get into the music, but in reality I think the Gaslight fanboy in me was just in shock on what I was hearing.  It was just too chilled out for me.  I will give it a chance again soon.

Weezer
Weezer – Everything Will Be Ok In The End
-No it won’t.  Two songs in on this album and I turned it off.  Sorry guys, I’ll stick to your older albums.  I could not get into this at all.

Damon Albarn
Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
-I love Blur and the Gorillaz.  I can not say the same for this album.  It is different and just not what I was expecting.  I appreciate anyone who does their own thing, I just can’t say I will like it.

Pixies

Pixies – Indie Cindy
-I did not have the highest expectations for this release.  Maybe it was due to Frank Black saying that “there’s been a shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo…as far as we’re concerned it ain’t that big of a deal.”  Yes it is Frank.  It sure was a big deal.  It was a Kim Deal.  You should have quit when she did and stated something else.

Wu Tang
Wu Tang Clan –A Better Tomorrow
-I hate to have anything negative about Wu Tang Clan, but after hearing “Ruckus In B Minor”, I thought this album was going to be the greatest thing in 2014.  Sadly the single was the strongest track on the album with a couple of other tracks that came close.  Do not get me wrong, this was a good album but I was hoping for way more hip-hop and less R&B.

Masked Intruder
Masked Intruder – M.I.
-Sorry dudes…your first album was so much better than your follow-up.  I dug it for maybe a week and just lost interest.  It is not terrible by any means.  My review was sincere and I initially liked it but not for long.  I know not everyone will agree with me on this.  The band has major talent.  Perhaps I am old and just don’t get it.  Get off my yard!

Worst Albums Of 2014:

U2
U2 – Songs Of Innocence
-Jerks.  Rolling Stone was paid off.  Apple was paid off.  This album was not that good and I am still pissed that the Apple sponsored commercial had so many punk rock heroes in it.  I am entitled to my opinion.  Nothing like jumping on Google to learn how to remove an album from my iTunes that I never wanted.

Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends
-No.  Just….no.  Maybe if I was on a lot of drugs and was just an eccentric individual I might get it.  My ears were bleeding with this.  Quit trying so hard and bring back Yoshimi.  I know some people adored it.  I did not.  These Beatles covers were terrible.


I hope you all enjoyed this list/rant/babble.  I know I had a good time putting it all together.  Seeing how awesome 2014 was with music, I can not wait for 2015 to start.

Happy holidays suckers!