Category Archives: New Release

Album Review: Ramoms / Dad Brains – Merry XMas Spilt 7″

Tis the season to be burnt out by Christmas music on indefinite rotation, right?  I know we only have like 2 weeks left of this, but every year seemingly becomes more challenging for me to stomach.  Hang in there folks.

Now if you happen to have kids as I do, repeating Christmas music intensifies to levels that can bring someone to the edge of insanity.   Seriously, I am at wit’s end with some of the tunes my son demands be played over and over especially when covered by off-key kids who probably were never compensated for their efforts in singing about a certain bullied reindeer.

Luckily, there are plenty of punk bands out there keeping me sane with their renditions and original songs about the holiday season that help ease the pain.  I do my best to sneak them in to daily rotation so my kids can appreciate what their old man is into.  Current favorites by my kids include Bad Religion and MXPX and I am totally ok with that.

It really seems especially this year there were quite a few releases by punk bands with holiday themed tunes, but one particular release caught my attention in a good, good way and has turned into my current holiday favorite.

The release I speak of is actually a split by Ramoms and Dad Brains called Merry  Xmas.  Put out recently by Pirates Press Records, this split encompasses everything a punk parent could appreciate during a stressful time of the year from more than one level.  Satire and spirit for all to embellish is the best distraction.

Ramoms, as you guessed, are an all Mom punk Ramones cover band from the Philadelphia area.  These ladies may not have full band credentials (I was totally mistaken and apologize – see comment below!) and are incredibly passionate about punk rock and more so with their kiddos.

Dad Brains is an all Dad hardcore band from California.  Featuring former members of No Motiv, The Missing 23rd, Creep Division,  and The F-ing Wrath, it’s safe to say this side project is not a total joke.

Ramoms took the classic “Chinese Rock” by the beloved Heartbreakers and turned it into “Lego Blocks”.  As a parent, Lego blocks can entertain kids for hours as well as cause some serious damage to feet in the evening, so I really appreciated this song.

Keeping true to their passion and reasoning to form a band, Ramoms also provided a great cover of the classic “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones.  Gritty and poppy, I am sure Joey would have approved.

“It’s Christmas Time” was a hilarious holiday spin-off of the classic Suicidal Tendencies track “Institutionalized” by Dad Brains.  You know you are in for something good when Cousin Eddie is quoted at the beginning of a track.  Substituting La Croix for Pepsi, it was spot on when it came to modern day holiday feelings and woes.  That last line though, “it doesn’t matter, I’ll probably go to Costco anyway” had me rolling.

“Grinch” was modernized by Dad Brains to have the hairy green Dr. Seuss character antagonizing at a local show.  I especially loved the nod to Ill Repute and Tony Cortez.

This EP seriously is great and had me chuckling a few times and easily could be the perfect gift for your punk parent of choice this holiday season.

Check out some of the tracks below and if you like what you hear, throw some cash their way and download it or better yet, head to Pirates Press Records and buy the wax before it sells out!

Album Review: Worlds Scariest Police Chases – Ablum 3

The thing I love most about Pittsburgh’s Worlds Scariest Police Chases is simply that they give no shits.

Fueled by cheap beers, working class aggression, and heavy doses of realness, they are like Propaghandi in a sense but only love themselves.  Jerks.

The punk rock outfit at one time was thought to have called it quits in 2014 only to change their mind or just screw with anyone they could.  For what it’s worth, I am glad they continued on because we need more bands like WSPC.

Recently dropping Ablum 3, the band aims to mess with fans, new and old, instantly.  Released on Say 10 Records, I have to confess, this is some good, harsh stuff and just seems to outsmart that “Oh let’s reference a bunch of 90s punk album titles into our album title” release.

“Modernbaseballiswar” started off with the band questioning “what if everyone hates us for this” followed by “I hope everyone hates us for this.”  The raw, don’t care attitude easily can relate to any young punker as well as us old punkers who can just sit back and laugh at when we cared what people thought about us.

“Mindtrap” easily was my favorite track on this album.  It’s probably all due to the xylophone playing, but honestly, it was just a killer track calling out everyone as possible in less than 2 minutes.  I laughed when I heard “punk is dead, no matter what Kevin says” might have been targeted at that guy who did that Warped Tour for a couple of years but who knows.  The video was entertaining as hell though.

“My Death” was a 90s punk rock track down to the core.  The band really offered some mature, hard moments on this one.  I adored this track for the punk ethos being blasted out.  I’ll be keeping this song handy for when I’m having one of those days.

Of course my old ass appreciated the rerecorded version of “Adolph Hipster”, a track that was released in 2015 and clearly was aimed at those who think punk is a fashion statement.  With the band admitting they are poking fun at anyone who thought the song was about them, the true genius of this song was the Kid Rock “get in the pit and try to love someone” tossed in.

Calling out douchebags was “Trigger Warning”, a track that dismissed anyone who takes advantage of others.  Clearly this track was aimed at a certain someone with “you violated trust, you are not one of us” being released at the end.  Whoever this is, even I think you suck.

I found entertainment in the song titles too which held reference to some classic punk rock acts.  Titles like “The Shape of Punk is Dumb” and “How To Glean Everything” just reminded me how clever these guys really are.  Both tracks were good too.

WSPC remain a true gem of a punk band and Ablum 3 clearly showcased that.  It’s nice to see these 6 hard-working dudes carry on their band with purpose to piss off, have fun, and just play for themselves (and their fans too of course).

WSPC is playing Cleveland on 12/28 with Boston’s Rebuilder at Now That’s Class.  You can bet your ass I will be there.

Album Review: Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds – Keep Walkin’ Pal

I am not going to blow smoke up Brendan Kelly‘s ass, so I’ll just say it: This guy is fascinating in a  weird as hell way.

He is more clever than you’ll ever aspire to be and he’s much more of a musician than I think he is credited for.

I feel like the smoke is blowing even though I said I wouldn’t.

I do not know him personally and he sure as hell does not know me, but I can tell you I admire him for his comedic approach to life as well as standing his ground for his beliefs.  Then there’s the countless Tweets from @Nihilist_Arbys that he finally fessed up to being behind.

Normally he fronts Chicago’s The Lawrence Arms as well as toys with The Falcon like once every 10 years.  He also has a solo project called Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds and let me tell you, it’s different in a good way kind of like putting A-1 sauce on over-easy eggs.

Recently Kelly dropped Keep Walkin’ Pal on the ever awesome Red Scare Records and it’s not really a solo album, but a collective release featuring Kelly and a bunch of his pals including Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant and Atlas Studio’s Dan Tinkler making for a sporadic listen with no agenda.

Album title track “Keep Walkin’ Pal” had Kelly and his signature raspy voice just spilling brutal truth with lines like “I blacked out 17 of my best years.”

“Shitty Margarita” was this poppy punk jam complete with synthesizer that was all about what extreme amounts of sugar and tequila can do to you good and bad.  Not going to lie, I dug this track a lot mostly due to the music.  It was fun even though the lyrics might have brought back 1 or 7 bad memories at Chi-Chi’s.

“Huggz” should be a theme song for Kelly.  The 80s-ish heavy track was all about simple affections, at least I think it was.  Kelly was pretty damn stern about getting them to function and how music he likes them – even from Sergio.  (Remember I said he was clever?)

“Black Cat Boy” was one of my favorite tracks on the album.  With Kelly’s signature singing over the electronic keyboard and beats, this song was just one that stuck in my head quickly.

Best track on the album by far was “The Ballad of Buffalo Bill”.  From singing about putting the lotion on the skin again to having a dog barking, this song was beyond entertaining.  Clearly you need to know what Kelly is referencing to fully appreciate.  I’m glad he tucked it in here.  (I’m clever too you know)

As much as I wished “I’m the Man” was an Anthrax cover, it was not.  This closing track was pretty much all the drunk and high thoughts packed into 3 minutes and 22 seconds.  It was a bizarre track with shoutouts to Mr. Clean and excellent backup vocals with a digital beat Daft Punk would be jealous of.  I’m not quite sure what the hell was going on there, but I like to think I enjoyed it.

Overall, Keep Walkin’ Pal was a solid listen.  Kelly and pals once again have managed to entertain and confuse me at the same time.  If that was the intent, awesome, but if not, maybe I am getting too old for this shit.  Anyways, check out the album, it was pretty great.

Album Review: Johnathan Richman – SA

Sometimes you forget about things because you’re  just so preoccupied with life.

That normal routine, if you’re like me, starts with coffee and ends with exhaustion.  What I’m basically trying to get at is that I forgot to do something.  It was an honest mistake though.

I forgot to take a few moments to myself and write about the latest release by Johnathan Richman titled SA.

SA is Richman’s 17th album as a solo singer/songwriter.  Once again on Blue Arrow Records, Richman has recorded an eccentric yet honest, poetic album where he sings about everything from love, dancing, and even a creative point of view from a dog.  It’s simply art put to music.

According to Blue Arrow Records on their Bandcamp site, “SA, the root note in Indian ragas, was what Ramakrishna,
the much beloved mystic, told his spiritual students to search for underneath all things of this world.”  Chances are if you are reading this, you know Richman and why he would reference such.

Album title track “SA” opened up with a relaxed, island-y feel and had Richman singing of focus and love without hesitation.  The sitar, at least that is what it sounded like to me, complimented Richman’s strumming.

Subtle quirks were heard in Richman’s pitch throughout “The Fading Of An Old World”.  This track really had a lot going on musically when you sit back and listen.  On top of it, Richman did what he does best in flowing ample and intense lyrics throughout.

“O Mind! Let Us Go Home” held as an eccentric tune that had some likable psychedelic qualities.  The jazzy drumming behind the tambura playing kept things beyond mysterious.

Richman sounded so youthful in “O Mind! Just Dance”, a track that seemingly was a continuation of the previous ‘O Mind’ track.  This experimental track became one of my favorites the moment Richman just started opening up and going on a positive tangent about not worrying.  I loved how he seemingly turned his attention and spoke to the audience halfway through asking everyone to forget and dance.

“¡Alegre Soy!” was just amazing as it was a peppy, cheerful song.  Sung mostly in Spanish, the song really just built up so well.  I instantly adored the track the moment Richman just started doing a spoken word about how happiness surrounded his life.  I could hear him smiling as he spoke about always being happy in his life for the most part.  Once the track ended, I was just left with such a good feeling in my heart.

“Yes, Take Me Home” was easily my favorite track off this release.  As someone who has rescued a dog more than once, I because almost a little emotional listening to Richman speak as a sheltered canine with an undisclosed past.  I loved the harmonium playing accompanying Richman’s guitar, but I just wish I knew if the dog was taken home.

“And Do No Other Thing” was an instant classic for me.  Songs like this one were what turned me into a Richman fan in the first place.  It was romantic yet blunt with completeness especially when everyone came together at the end.

This album, in my opinion, was far more entertaining and good-spirited than the last making for a great listen.  Richmond, at times, sounded as if he got lost in the moment more than once and did not once chance his approach at what he was born to do: Entertain.

I should note that Richman and Tommy Larkins currently are on tour in support of SA.  I was lucky enough to catch them a few weeks back at the Grog Shop in Cleveland  and I will tell you, it was probably one of my favorite intimate performances that I have ever seen.

I went to that show purely as a fan and not to review it and left with a happy vibe that lasted well past the car ride home and the next work day.  It was my first time seeing him live even though I have been a fan for longer than half my life.  He was everything I had hoped for.

With that said, if Johnathan and Tommy made it to your neck of the woods during this tour or even the next, just go.  You will not be disappointed.  Even if you are not terribly familiar with his material, I can honestly say you will be entertained by one of the best.

SA is available on CD and for download on Bandcamp.  Look for a cassette and LP release in early 2019.

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.