Category Archives: New Release

Album Review: Everymen – May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell

I could be quick to say Lake Worth, Florida’s Everymen is just a folk punk band and move on with life, but that would be incredibly lazy on my part.

This band may carry some of the punk and  folk qualities attributed to that genre, but they are so much more than that.

I cannot say I’d heard of this band before, but they just dropped a new release on Say-10 Records called May Your Ashes Have Stores To Tell, and I found myself really digging what they had to offer.

Everymen is like what a young Against Me! might have sounded like if a hyped Tim Barry took over some of the singing duties while the dudes from Gogol Bordello jumped onboard.  I could not help but also think of Tin Horn Prayer when listening to this album as well as Old Man Markley and even Larry and His Flask.

The more I listened to this album though, the more I kept thinking that lead singer of Everymen sounded like the lead singer of one of my favorite unheard of 90s bands, Stompbox.  Once I made that observation, I could not get it out of my head.

Sure that is a lot of comparisons to be throwing out there, but the band stands out with their own style and energy which made it much more interesting to get into.

The moment “Shake Your Bones” started off the album, I knew I was in for something good.  This toe-tapping jam really caught me off guard, especially with the horns and crazy guitar playing.

“Dead Friends”, an ode to lost pals, kept an upbeat feel while paying tribute to those who were taken too soon.  Sadly this was not the only track on the album to sing about loved ones who were no longer as “M.B.” paid tribute to Erik Petersen, the lead singer of Mischief Brew and great friend to the band, who took his own life.

“How To Live” was more of a basement sing along track over the rest.   Listening to this song brought back lots of memories of me being smashed in tiny, dark basements screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs along with some of my favorite bands.

The sing along opportunities continued with he fun “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, a track that easily could have fueled an all night rager in a small, remote bar.  Ironically, “Waking Up Hurts” seemed to be the morning after song compared to the previous jam.

“Don’t Stay” was dark as hell with a certain gypsy-polka sound that was all too inviting.  I loved the female vocals tossed into this track as well as the fiddle playing.

It’s nice to hear such a unique album that does not necessarily rip off anyone else’s sound.  I can only imagine what this band sounds like live.  I am sure it is a hell of a drunken good ol time.

If you are looking for something a little different from the norm, check out what Everymen has to offer.  This is one of those bands I am glad someone reached out to me asking to check out because now I can tell you to do the same.  Totally worth it.

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.

Book Review: Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost – Erin Osmon

For those who know the name Jason Molina, there is a certain unspoken agreement that his talents were plucked from his adoring fans far too soon.

As many know, he was a musical genius who succumbed to an addiction he could never overcome and in turn put down his guitar and great talent in order to hold on to a bottle.

I call myself a fan, but a Molina novice at best.  I openly admit that I am one of those late fans who never got to see him play live and grew to appreciate his entire catalog after his passing.  I can not say I have ever quite heard music like what Molina created.

I didn’t know the whole story of a man who got his start less than an hour from where I live.  I knew he was with Secretly Canadian and knew how he passed, but I knew nothing in between.

It only seems fitting to have someone collect all the memories, both good and bad, and put them into a book for all inquiring minds like mine.  This biography, to be released by Rowman & Littlefield on May 15th, was full of memories and folklore about a mysterious individual who took his music far past any boundaries ever set prior and in doing so did it his way.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, written by Erin Osmon, pretty much answered questions about Molnia’s life that some of me never wanted to know.  From tales of his youth in a trailer park Lorain, OH to memories in recording studios and overseas, this family-authorized book really covered it all.

Family, friends, bandmates, and even tourmates all provided insight to the life of Molina.  Where most of the book spoke on Molina’s journeys from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Company and even his solo work and impromptu sessions, the book also brought to light family tensions, failed relationships, depression, and of course the demise of greatness.

Molina’s college days and the years shortly after were probably my favorite recollections to read.  Obviously, the toughest parts to read were about his separation from his wife and an attempt at recovery through bandmates and the very label he helped get their start.

It was interesting to learn how Molina formulated his albums in homes and studios alone and with others.  I was also fascinated learning about his life outside of the music including living conditions and places of employment.

Reading how Molina got material released by Secretly Canadian seemed like something that would have happened in a comedy movie, but it was all true.  He was the stepping stone of a label that may not have gotten their start had they never connected.

Molina’s humor style as told by others made me laugh more than once.  His approach with his bands though seemed rather repressed at times, especially when he would up and leave without communicating properly to those involved.

The book obviously was not all fun and games.  Reading about uncomfortable obsessions and how they were put to song made me realize the inventiveness Molina’s mysterious mind carried.  The self-sabotaging of a musical career as told in detail, really opened my eyes and held my interest to the point I couldn’t put down the book.  The marriage that never ended in divorce was painful to absorb but the love that remained was inspiring.

The last few chapters were very difficult for me to read as I lost an uncle to alcoholism earlier this year.  The stories of the support Molina received by loved ones and all of the chances given to him that were eventually passed upon just reminded me of what addiction can do to someone.  Reading about the deterioration of a proud man who kept too many secrets just hit too close to home for me.

Overall, the book carried a life-spanning account of a musician from his young days on Lake Erie to his final days secluded in a room slowly drowning his life away.  The emotions were really felt through this book from those who were stunned at his approach to making music to finding out their friend was no more.

My only small distress with this book is at times it seemed the author had a synonym book handy that was used frequently.  Perhaps it was I, the reader, who needs to dip deeper in to a more prolific writing style, but in the first chapter alone, Molina’s father was referenced as a “patriarch” and the term “spinning platters” was used over playing records.

Eventually I was able to get in tune with Osmon’s style, but there were times I just felt some of the vocabulary used was just too much and interfered with the story-telling.  One thing Osmon did well was put all of the memories and stories together in a chronological order making it easy to set down the book and pick it up again without losing your spot.

The copy that I read was not the final copy but one provided to me early on my the publisher, so there is a chance things will be changed.  I will tell you this, the chapters at times were long, but they were read through quickly as the memories were so well put together.

Fans of Molina will appreciate this book due to all of the content Osmon was able to hunt down over the span of three years.  There were so many angles of Molina’s life put down in this book and I am sure it was not easy for Osmon to capture it all, yet she did it well.

As an added bonus to die-hard Molina fans, Secretly Canadian is releasing a limited-edition bundle of the book with a LP pressing of a 1994 Jason Molina WOBC radio session at Oberlin College.  Where I failed to pre-order my copy in time before it sold out, I did get to listen to the performance and I can tell you it is beautiful and will haunt you, but not in a scary way.  Molina even back in 1994 was so laid back and happy to be sharing his songs with others.  Personally speaking, I think had I heard that session live back then on the radio, I would have been a changed man.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost is available for pre-order through Rowman & Littlefield, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and other fine retailers.

Album Review: The Flatliners – Inviting Light

I consider myself a pretty big Flatliners fan and have been for most of their career.

The Toronto foursome caught my attention with their debut – even if it was just speedy, loud ska tunes.  It was their followup, The Great Awake, however, that blew me away.

The Flatliners have a punk rock style that is so addictive to me.  They have been playing for almost 15 years now without a single change up in members.  I have seen them live on multiple occasions, including in 2011 at SXSW just before the Ben Weasel blowout.  To this day, Cavalcade remains one of my top albums.

Last week, the band dropped their fifth full-length release on Rise Records.  Having heard a couple songs beforehand, I was pretty damn excited to get my hands on a copy.  Since then, I have listened to it dozens of times and each listen just gets better for me.

Inviting Light has Cresswell singing way more than screaming throughout, and it is extremely likable.  I was set back a little as I was expecting the band to unleash just like some of their older material, but the more I absorbed this release, the more I appreciated how much the band has matured.

Opening track “Mammals” slowly emerged into a pretty catchy track.  Cresswell and crew took it easy but had no problem creating a song that begged to be sung along with.  “Hang My Head” followed sounding more like a well-defined rock tune with a punk edge.  This song in particular got stuck in my head the moment I heard it and I was totally ok with that.

“Indoors” was another track that was more drawn-out without the band’s style jumping ship completely.  The Flatliners if anything, showcased their musical talent to the fullest on this track that seemed to revolve around insecurities and support.  I especially loved Ramirez’s drumming throughout.

I adored “Unconditional Love” as it was to me a spaghetti-western punk rock song.  It moseyed along, but was so impactful especially with Cresswell’s bellowing voice at times.

I found myself getting into “Infinite Wisdom” immediately with Cresswell’s singing style hitting lows and highs in a single breath.  The energy in this song alone had me nodding my head to the beat instantly.

“Chameleon Skin” had Cresswell singing and wailing about adapting to surroundings through others.  The song slowly built up into a great tune that clearly was far-fetched from a traditional Flatliners song, and honestly, I loved it.

Inviting Light is not quite like previous Flatliners albums, but that is not really anything that should be concerning at all given the talent that fills this tenured act.

A couple years back, Cresswell teamed up with Joey Cape for a One Week Records album and I seriously think he took to heart what he learned about himself playing with Cape and propelled that in the creation of Inviting Light.  If you call yourself a Flatliners fan and have not heard that One Week Records album, prepared to be pleasantly shocked, it is outstanding.

Back to this album – If you are sitting there questioning yourself whether or not to listen to Inviting Light, recall what happened to Rise Against over time.  I am not making any immediate comparisons between the two bands by the way, but styles change by decision and not force, and sometimes there is nothing at all wrong with that.

The Flatliners have not sold out, they found a new niche and are going with it.  Think about it, they could still be pushing out ska jams, right?