Category Archives: Alt Rock

Album Review: Restorations – LP5000

I might as well disclose that Philadelphia’s Restorations are easily one of my favorite bands out there.  So if this review sounds biased, well…it is.

Keeping along the lines of a pre-famed Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers, I have always been attracted to what Restorations produce album after album.  I owe it all to the band’s former and current label Tiny Engines actually, as they were the ones to introduce me to them many years back by just tossing me an EP my way to review.  The rest is history for me as a fan.

LP5000 is the band’s 4th release and to be perfectly honest, this might be their best one yet.  It’s a quick one which sucks because you know, I wanted more, but it’s full of some memorable tracks with equal impacting lyrics and music.

“St.” started off the album with a powerful jam with Jon Loudon and his all too welcoming raspy vocals.  This was kind of a triumphant introduction with haste and honesty thrown hard.  This song’s best moments where when the band came together with force.  It was a perfect indication that this album was going to rule.

“Nonbeliever” followed with more of a political approach about personal current affairs and life in general.  With lines like, “if you burn all the fires, they’re going to make you the king” and the all too close to home “got a partner for starters and a kid on the way/can’t be doing this dumb shit no more.”  The song manages to hit the head on so many points as it progressed onward.

“Remains” was a rocker touching on past memories that probably would have best been buried rather than unearthed due to such disdainful change.  The track carried a great 90s alt-rock feel to it even if it make me want to hang my head low.

Loudon repeating ” no I don’t want to hear that name again” on “Melt” just added to an emo track of sorts clearly about someone once held in a higher regard.  This track was beautiful and dreary at the same time with electronic sounding beats layered behind simple guitar picking.

“The Red Door” was incredibly athematic and contained a guitar solo that easily could suck in some well-deserved attention.  Add to the catchy drumming and bass-line, and you have yourself a quality track that really showcased the talent this band carries.

“Eye” was more Postal Service sounding at first with the electronic noise but was not at all discouraging.  This song was not like the others and was well-received by this listener.  I loved the more experimental approach and word has it that there is a locked grove that permits this song to loop infinitely.  I can not wait for my copy to get here so I can see if there is truth to that.

I have listened to LP5000 over and over (easily 20+ times now) since it’s release and have not gotten tired of it once.  I will tell you it is a lot different from their earlier stuff and is just the cause of maturity and experimentation.  Personally, I adore this new sound.

Of course LP5000 is hitting my best of list for 2018.  Albums like this are the ones I hold onto for the rest of my life and sporadically will spin when I just can’t seem to find anything else to listen to.

I lucked out and caught them on tour a few weeks back when they played the Grog Shop in Cleveland with my pals Signals Midwest and let me tell you, they are even better live.

Anyways, I feel like I do that whole “do yourself a favor and check this band/album out” shtick of a closing sentence, but I am dead serious this time: This band is far more talented than I feel they are credited for and I’m fairly sure you will agree with me upon listening.

Album Review: Curtail – All Your Luck

I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.

I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.

Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on.  My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).

Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records.  A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen.  I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago.  Still, it needs to be noted.

“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure.  Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall.  “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to.  I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.

“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over.  Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This  is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band.  Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all.  This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.

I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life.  This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track  this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.

“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring.  Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically.  This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.

“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me.  You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song.  I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.

“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.

“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released.  This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.

For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some.  Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans.  Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.

Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck.  I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.

 

 

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.