Category Archives: New Release

Album Review: Kali Masi – Wind Instrument

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten this excited by a new band.

You know that feeling, music that once it hits your ears, it’s pure gold.  It catches you off guard in a good, good way and all you can do is just enjoy it over and over and be thankful you were introduced to them.

Kali Masi, hailing from Chicago, dropped an album on Take This To Heart Records that so good that I’ve been listening to it non-stop for about two weeks now.  I found myself instantly a fan of them and each time I listened to their release, I appreciated it more and more.  I hate that it took me this long to learn about them.

Wind Instrument is the foursome’s debut release, but from the sound of it, you’d think this band has been around forever.  Full of energy and hard-knocked feelings meshed with catchy as hell punk rock tunes is probably the best way to describe these guys.  Think Luther meets Smoke or Fire and Restorations.

“Some Friends” opened up the album not holding back one bit with  “you’ve got a funny way of coming clean” immediately targeting someone who needed to be called out for who they are.  This track blew me away and I immediately knew that I was going to love this album.

“Her Palms Were Read” continued with intense, honest recollections of relationship truth.  The chorus proved that with a stern “If I could count the ways I need you, am I just wasting all my time?”  Everything was likable on this track, especially the guitar playing at the end.  I always appreciate a good rock out.

“Powerline Days” ruled.  The music and lyrics were so damn catchy and perfect all revolving around love.  My favorite part was the harmonies added with the hooks in the middle followed by a simple guitar solo.  The video was top-notch too (check it out below).

“Love is unconditional but I’m in no condition to love” as heard on “Jejune” was such a brutally honest lyric on this self-destructing track.  Once I heard it, it just stuck with me and all I could think of was how I once identified with that statement.  Heartbreak of any type hurts and you can hear it in this track.

“Recurring (II)” was full of hooks and catchy singing that anyone would find themselves getting into.  “Ghost (The Pottery Scene)” carried the same likable qualities after but slowed things down some with a ton of reminiscing, slight regret, and brutal self-actualization.

Listening “Your Other Left” brought back a lot of buried memories from past relationships.  I have got to hand it to Kali Masi, these guys really know how put their lyrics together providing for explicit visualizations.  I can not say the memories were ones I wanted to recall, but I can tell you, I appreciated hearing them as told from someone else.  Musically, this track was amazing to listen to with a slight eruption towards the end.

Finishing up the album was “C.A.”, a punk rock balled of sorts.  The whole band really came together on this one making for an incredible listen.  Right when I thought it was over, the band dug deeper into their pocketful of feelings and belted out “what kid of fool would fall in love with someone who gave up on themselves?  What it takes to be happy, I don’t know.”  This was the moment I knew this band was destined for greatness.

Wind Instrument was the surprise release I have been looking to hear for a long time now.  Kali Masi pretty much has gotten me just as excited as when a young Menzingers released Chamberlain Waits.  Just by one album I knew they were striving for greatness and I hope to hell Kali Masi does the exact same, these dudes have serious potential.

I hate that I missed these guys last year when the album dropped as they would have shot to the top of my Best Of List, but honestly, these guys are going to be in my regular rotation for some time to come.  Do yourself a favor and check them out.  I hope you will appreciate them as much as I do.

Album Review: Mean Jeans – Jingles Collection

I don’t even know how to start out this review other than the creativity idea of Mean Jeans is off the charts with their recently released Jingles Collection.

Starting off as a joke, the punk rock band has released something unheard of – punk rock advertisement.

You’ve heard punk rock bands covering other artist’s songs for years, but when is the last time you heard a punk rock band writing a song, rather jingle, about a product?  Be it food, cigarettes, a store, or even shampoo, Mean Jeans have taken their novel idea to the extremes in hopes of grabbing the attention of multi-million dollar companies, or just getting a rise out of them.

The best part about this album is how catchy and fun the songs are.  From start to finish, there wasn’t one song on here that I did not like or pretty much memorize immediately.  Fat Wreck should really be proud of this one.

The good folk at Coors really should compensate Mean Jeans heavily for their song, “Coors Light”.  This catchy song about the light, refreshing beer is catchy as hell and all so honest.  I could really see this track being used in a commercial.  Make it happen Coors.

“Give me Totinos, a party pizza” started off the pizza and partying pairing track “Totinos”.  Stoners are going to love this song and probably run straight to the freezer upon hearing it.

Making cancer fun again was “Camel Lights”.  Should big tobacco ever be allowed to broadcast their product, this fun tune should be first in line to consider.  The kids are going to love it.

Mean Jeans singing about the caffeine citrus drink in “Mountain Dew” almost made me want to go get one and shake for the rest of my evening.

“The Footlong Song” paid tribute to the sandwich artist studios that slap meat and cheese on bread and call it a sub.

The honky-tonk, garage rocking “Skoal” was brilliant.  Loved the fact they referred to chew as a “tobacco treat” and  also declared “the heart of rock-n-roll is dipped in Skoal”.

The Misfits sound in “Polly-O String Cheese” was just amazing.  So amazing that I had to listed to it a couple of times over to fully appreciate it.

Taco Bell is stupid if they do not use “Taco Bell” in their next commercial.  That is all I have to say about that.  The same goes to the mad scientist laboratory behind the dandruff shampoo as “Selsen Blue” actually made the product sound more marketable.

Should the kangaroo cookies and chocolate dip ever make a comeback, “Dunkaroos” could really be aimed at the adults who used to munch on those snacks hardcore in the 90s.

I chuckled often while listening to the  Jingles Collection today, but also was kind of impressed at the songs.  They clearly were done in the key of humor, but some of these unsolicited songs really could be used in commercials.  Mean Jeans have single-handedly delivered the most unique album of 2018.

Here’s to hoping they release a VHS full of videos like the following:

Check out the whole album if you want.  It’s probably going to be the best 30 minutes you wasted all day:

Album Review: Sincere Engineer –Rhombithian

Sincere Engineer‘s  Rhombithian is the album I should not have sat on in 2017.

I cannot explain why I set the album aside when I was asked to check it out, but I will tell you that I regret not popping it in immediately.  To say this album is “sincere” is not just tongue-in-cheek, but absolutely accurate.

Deanna Belos may be a new name to me, but if you’re involved in the punk scene in Chicago, that is a completely different story.  I am sure you can Google her life story, but the highlights are when she picked up the guitar and began writing music as Sincere Engineer.

She mixes melodic punk rock with plenty of emotion and the result is a fantastic debut of an release on Red Scare.  This is the kind of album you can sing and scream do while holding back the tears.

“Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” started things off right with a jam about memories brought forth thanks to a post corn dog-induced nap.  This track was full of enough emotion to make anyone just stop and think about those tough days of being uncertain and solo.  Luckily, there were more corn dogs to get through the moment.

The descriptiveness in “Ceramic Tile” reminded me I need to buy some more Windex.  In all honestly, Belos really knows how to paint a picture with her lyrics.

“Screw Up” clearly related to those on their worst point in life.  Christ, I feel like some of the things she sung on were directly taken from my adolescent years when I was a nervous wreck.  Bonus points for the “ding” in the middle of the track.

“Here’s Your Two Dollars” was a great track.  I loved the music throughout that kept things moving as Belos battled on verbally with her direct inner ethos.

I loved the upward feeling in “1K Rats” because I have felt that all too often in life.  New interaction always brings out the most in anyone.  Clearly the levels shrink in time, but when the moment is here, all you can do is think and gloat.

“Let You Down” as depressing as hell as it was to listen to, it just so honest.  I was reminded of the thoughts that hit me when the wrong words come out causing me to lie awake for hours.

“Keep You Company” not only made me feel old due to the content of young feeling, but also made me thankful I’ve been there.

This album contains some of the most honest material I’ve heard ina  long time full of scattered inner thoughts from loneliness to failing relationships due to a lack of self confidence.  Belos’s subconscious conversations put to music is the most real shit I have heard in a long time.

Not all punk rock is supposed to be fun and goofy.  Sincere Engineer reminded me of that in a big way.  If you are reading this and have not listened to Rhombithian yet, make sure you change that .  This album is amazing and had my ass not sat on it for so long, it easily would have topped my best of 2017 list.

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.

Check It Out: Alkaline Trio Announce Past Live Box Set Pre-Order

New year, new reason to spend money you should be paying your heating bill with.

Alkaline Trio has announced they are dropped the mother of all boxsets in 2018 to celebrate their band turning old enough to buy a 6-pack of Black Label legally in the state of Ohio.

Past Live is the bands full catalog but live versions that were recorded in Chicago over the past couple years in audio and video versions.

The bundles include:

Past Live Box Set 8xLP (Colored Vinyl):

  • All 8 LPs collected together in a box that is exclusive to the Past Live Deluxe Bundles. All LPs pressed on limited edition colored vinyl.

A 4 disc Blu-ray set features the band performing all 8 albums live in superior 5.1 audio for your listening and viewing pleasure:

  • Disc 1 – My Shame Is True – Goddamnit
  • Disc 2 – This Addiction – Maybe I’ll Catch Fire
  • Disc 3 – Agony & Irony – From Here To Infirmary
  • Disc 4 – Crimson – Good Mourning

The albums will be sold separately as will the blu-ray set.  The boxset however is only available though a bundle.  I have this feeling this will sell out fast.

Here is what the band had to say about this awesome collection:

We are proud to unveil a project we’ve been working on for a while now: Past Live. We recorded all eight studio albums live at our show at the Metro in Chicago, and now we bring it to you ONLY for limited time preorder (order by Feb 9). Each album will be a different colored neon vinyl to match the album cover. Additionally, we have a four-disc Blu-Ray (2 albums on each disc) that was recorded in HD and mixed in 5.1 surround sound. For our Super Deluxe bundle we’ve taken our old backdrops from over the years and crafted them in to large tote bags with a zip top and side pocket. Plus you will receive a custom sleeve for all eight vinyl, a band signed 12″x12″ screened and numbered art poster and a Past Live T-shirt.

These limited quantity super deluxe bundles will sell for $315. We will also offer the Deluxe (everything but the backdrop bag), for $275. Individual albums on vinyl and the Blu-ray are available to purchase ala carte.

Preorder yours now.  You have until February 9th to do so.  You can skip rent for a month, your landlord would understand.