Category Archives: Alt Rock

Album Review: Story of the Year – Wolves

It’s been a while since I last got into Story of the Year.

Nothing against the band at all, but I think the last album I listened by them was their 2005 release In the Wake of Determination.

Hell, I remember vividly shooting their set that year at the Cleveland Warped Tour.  I was a big fan of them then and honestly, have no idea why they fell off my radar.

The funny thing is, their first two albums pop up on my slowly-dying iPod classic in my car once in a while, so it is not exactly like I omitted them from my life, I just never go to checking out newer material.

Clearly that ended today after checking out their newest release Wolves.  The St. Louis post-hardcore/punk/rock band released the album just last month, but it took me a minute to check it out.

Wolves is Story of the Year’s fifth full-length album and was crowd-funded in just 3 days upon the announcement of their campaign.  It is their first release in 7 years too.  The result is more emo rock album over the punky post-hardcore I once adored, but this isn’t a bad thing.  Honestly, the dudes sound more collected and mature and given the time-span of when I last really got into them, it makes total sense.

After the intro track, “How Can We Go On” just pounded my ears.  This was how I remembered the band.  Tons of sing-along opportunities, and a energy that easily sucked me in.

“Bang Bang” followed and instantly had me thinking how this track when played live would result in the entire venue jumping up and down screaming and singing.  I hesitated at first with the electronic synthesizer in the song that made it more Family Force 5, but honestly, it worked.

Upon hearing “Youth”, I thought “I Swear I’m Okay” was going to be all guitars and heavy,but things turned down a few notches and suddenly I was sitting there listening to a balled of sorts.  I did not quite know what to think of this one.  I guess I just was amped up with that intro.

“Can Anybody Hear Me?” was a synth-rock balled of sorts that had an 80s physique but was not in a mocking fashion at all.  Not going to lie, I enjoyed the hell out of this song.

“A Part Of Me” came back with the heavier sound I grew accustomed to…or so I thought.  This was another track that just slammed on the brakes and let the feeling pour out.

Luckily, “The Eternal Battle for Mike Cronin’s Soul (To Be Alive Again)” popped up, or I might have just put the album down.  This track was more my speed.  At times it was like Nine Inch Nails jumped in and offered some industrial beats.

“Good Night My Love” was an honest track I feel I have related to over and over in my life when it comes to relationships.  The song did not sound overproduced at all and if anything showcased how far their have come as musicians.

Secretly I was hoping “Like Ghosts” was going to be some outlaw spaghetti western track, but alas it was not.  I did like this song and I hate to say it, but the music at times was very Peter Gabriel and I mean that in a positive mention.

“Praying For Rain” closed the album down with a 7-minute track that really took the listener all over the place.  I loved just a minuter or so in when the guitars just busted in.  My favorite part though was the spoken word in the middle of the track.

Considering it has been 13 years since I could tell you everything about this band (and 7 years since they released new material), clearly they went through changes and fine-tuned their sound to their likening.  This is not a commercially released album forced out by a record label, but more of an underground release.

Overall, solid release by a band who has been in it for almost half of my life.  I dug the variety in Wolves even if I might not have been in the mood for the slower tracks while listening the first time.  I know I will revisit this album again in time.

Don’t expected an “Until the Day I Die” hit song on this album.  This is the album after years of heartbreak and misery that everyone who’s grown up probably can relate to in one way or another.

EP Review: Garrett Dale – Two T’s EP

Forget the filler in this review.  Garrett Dale is the lead singer of Red City Radio and just released three songs as a solo project.

You’d never know that Dale even fronted a punk rock band if you listened to any of these tracks.

Three songs of brutal honesty have been slammed into folkish alt-country music on Two T’s EP and I will tell ya, it’s fantastic.  This gem of an EP was released by the good folk at Red Scare.

“2016 Was…Horseshit” is like Tom Waits meets Slobberbone.  What more can I say about this track other than it is blunt as hell.  Check the video below and add the song to your next porch drinking mix already.

Then there was “House Full Of Dogs”, a track that clearly was fueled by a drunken recollection of personal exchanges.  The saxophone in the middle of the song made it that much more incredible.  This track is like the bastard child of a miserable Brendan Kelly and Bruce Springsteen fling.

“Down The Rabbit Hole” was the last track on this EP.  For someone like myself who is obsessed with Lucero and John Moreland, this song just fit in perfectly.  Not that I ever did not respect Dale, but this song alone has me looking at him and his talent forever differently.

Given this small taste of tunes, I really hope Dale has more of this up his sleeves because I seriously think people are going be just as floored as I was when they hear it.  This is music not to sit on.

Album Review: Needles//Pins – Good Night, Tomorrow

Family life has gotten the very best of me in a good way, and I have not been able to dedicate a lot of time to the blog as I would like to, but here I am for now while I have a few moments.

Maybe rather than giving excuses, I should just talk about this new Needles//Pins release that Chris at Dirt Cult Records threw my way to check out.

Before digging in deep here I need to admit how much I am eating up this album with each listen.  It is a start to finish jam that caught me by complete surprise.

Hailing from Vancouver, Needles//Pins is a three-piece punk band who have been around since 2009.  Perhaps not a well-known band here in the states, they caught a good chunk of my attention with their last release Shamebirds.  Needless to say, I was already excited to hear their new material. 

Good Night, Tomorrow is Needle//Pins’s third release (Dirt Cult Records / Mint Records) and clearly their best to date if you ask me.  The band showcases a much more mature sound with most of their tracks but without losing their edge resulting in a great listen.

Songs like “Violet”  and “Back to the Bright” begged to be memorized upon first listen for sing along opportunities.  Both of these songs impressed the hell out of me.

The mature sounding “Sleep” carried some great, catchy guitar playing, but it was the lyrics that won me over.  Personal, poignant , and to the point.

“All the Same” really reminded of the Replacements at times.  I am thinking due to the guitar playing and quick drumming mostly, but I am not complaining here at all.  This song ruled.

As someone who is obsessed with 80s punk/alternative rock, “Pressure Points”, “Untitled (You’re Fine)”, and “Something New” all turned into my favorite tracks on this album once I heard them.  Just check them out if you can, no explanation needed.

My appreciation for this band went out the roof after I heard “Tomorrow”.  Sick riffs, great hooks, group vocals, and a certain organ playing further proved my earlier statement on how Needle//Pins matured.  Folky, punky, and freaking amazing, this was the grand finale I was looking for.

For those of you who like the gritty sing along punk rock that has extreme replay opportunities,  y’all need to check out what Needles//Pins have put together.  Good Night, Tomorrow is one hell of a release that I plan on playing over and over again.  Think Iron Chic, Lawrence Arms, and Leatherface all mixed up in perfect proportions.  Trust me, you do not want to sit on this album.

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.