Category Archives: Hip Hop

Album Review: PowerFlo – PowerFlo

My best friend in high school was one year younger than I was.  I want to say I met him in my German class where I was more about messing with the teacher, Herr Van Halen or whatever his name was, rather than learning a second language.

I have tons of memories of us hanging out and just encompassing a true friendship as teens.

One of the things that we both had in common was our love of music.  We could talk about bands for hours and if there was one thing I was always jealous of, it was his musical talents that I seemingly lacked.

He and I once went on a ride with a homeless man who wore a Sea World hat the projects of Cleveland so he could “pick something up for a friend.”  In exchange he bought us a bunch of 40 oz. beers with our money and wound up keeping the change.

It’s a memory I’ll never forget, especially the part were my friend and I were laying down in the back of the pick-up truck’s bed through the crazy adventure because there was no room for us up front.  Ahh youth…

A couple of years after that memorable evening, my friend told me at a random afternoon driveway party that he was going to move to California to live with his father and look into the music world.  As shocked as I was, I understood he needed to do this and wished him all the luck in the world.

You know how things go.  You grow up.  You become distant, not on purpose of course, but because life gets in the way.  We did our best to keep in touch, but truth be told, I have not seen him in over 20 years now.  Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, we touched base here and there and i knew he was doing well and following his passion.

Where am I going with this?  There’s a point, I promise…

Just a few weeks ago, my pal reached out to me to tell me about something he has been working on for a while now and wanted me to check it out and let me know my thoughts on it.   He told me he has been heavily involved with PowerFlo, a band full of musicians from the 90s that we obsessed over as teenagers.

One could say I freaked out when I heard this.  Still, I needed to hear it for myself.  To say I was proud of his accomplishment is an understatement.  Of course I told him I would check it out and offer up a review of sorts.

So I guess here we go…

PowerFlo is a supergroup metal/rap outfit from LA.  Consisting of Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog, Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei, former Fear Factory bassist/guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, Downset’s Rogelio Lozano, and Fernando Schaefer, one could say this band is full of talent.

This group of seasoned musicians perfectly took their areas of expertise and infused metal and rock with hip-hop for an album that any fan of the “Judgement Night” soundtrack would approve of.

The album was produced by my pal Josh Lynch and also Graziadei.  It was mixed by Jay Baumgardner, and was mastered by Maor Applebaum at Maor Applebaum Mastering and released on New Damage Records.

Opening the album with a cocked gun (literally), “My M.O.” did not disappoint  More of a hardcore track over rap/metal, I loved the brutal drumming and heavy guitar riffs.  Sen Dog fits in perfectly with the rest of the gang and just goes berserk in the middle of the track with his unforgettable rap flow style.

“Resistance” followed with a slow start reminiscent of a funeral thanks to  a slow bell being rung, but just exploded out of no where.  Sen Dog shined on this track and pretty much proved he’s beyond a rap artist.

“Where I Stay” had this Fear Factory Remanufacture likeness with the electronics incorporated into the track.  Sen Dog has no problem taking his style and mixing it into the song.  This hard homage to LA threw me off with the “na na na” back vocals, but after a few listens it just worked.  I loved the thrash breakdown half way through.

The punk rock me absolutely adored “Crushing That.”  Yeah, it is mostly rap/rock, but think of what would happen if Public Enemy and Rise Against did a collaboration.

I found myself getting into “The Grind”, a full-on rager of a track.  Reminding me of Biohazard in a good way with plenty of group screaming, Sen Dog just flowed perfectly throughout.

“Victim of Circumstance” was just insane.  The band really killed it together on this one.

“Made It This Way” had Sen Dog singing / screaming more than rapping showing how diverse his talent is.  This track was just bad ass.

“Finish The Game” was a positive, forcefully charged song about getting things done without giving up.  I almost wondered if there was a hidden nod to Hatebreed on this track. Not complaining here at all.

Ending the album was the powerful “Start A War”.  This track was all about swinging fists and not asking questions at all.  I could not help of think of Chuck D and Anthrax on this one.

There really is no sleeper of a track on this album.  It started strong and ended full-force.  My only vice is that it clocked in at just over 30 minutes and I really wanted more.

I’ll say it – PowerFlo is what I expected Prophets of Rage to sound like.  Where the former Rage guys still have yet to impress me completely, PowerFlo has straight up delivered a solid album to my ears that has been worthy of multiple listens.

Perhaps not nearly as brutal as the new Body Count was, this album is still heavy, poignant, and should not be sat on.  I am really hoping these guys hit the road soon as I would love to see what they sound like live.

When you hear metal musicians from the 90s came together with a 90s hip-hop artist, it is easy to dismiss the whole idea but PowerFlo delivered an excellent release.  I look forward to seeing this band succeed.

BHP Best of 2016

It’s that time of the year again folks.  Time to sit here and type out a list of bands that have impressed me one way or another.  I am not keeping to a set number as it would take me forever to narrow it down.

A sincere thanks to everyone who’s ever visited this site – seriously.  I know I tend to say that around the time I do my best of lists, but I really mean it.  I almost called it quits  earlier this year and reconsidered at the last minute.

This blog is very personal to me and even if more people find it while Googling how to fix their headphones, it is still fun to do.  If I can turn someone on to a new band just by one post, then my job is done.

With that said, I plan on sticking around for a while.

I am sure I will add a few more as they come to me in the next couple of weeks (as I always do [up to 3 edits now]), but for now, here’s the list of the albums that really caught my attention in 2016:

[EDIT:  The year is not over yet and I needed to throw in just a couple more…]


Chandeli’ers – Breaker
-This was the album that hit me in the right way.  It was fun across the board and sounded like the Clash meets Elvis Costello.  What more could you ask for?


Run The Jewels – RTJ3
-This album was not supposed to drop until 3 weeks into the new year, but El-P and Killer Mike decided to drop it on Christmas day for all to enjoy.  I can not stop listening to it.  I know I am not the only one either.

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"
MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity
-Hands down one of my favorite surprise releases of the year.  This punk rock band has thrown together an album I will be listening to over and over for years to come.

joe-mcmahon
Joe McMahon – Another Life
-This is another one of my favorite albums this year.  McMahon shared with the world an outstanding collection of tunes that everyone needs to check out.  His solo material is a lot different from his Smoke or Fire days and that is not a bad thing at all.

Bob Mould
Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
-Mould recorded a masterpiece with Patch the Sky.  If you have not had the chance to listen to this album, you are missing out.  This album is perfect to listen to any day.

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!
-I am kicking myself for not putting this on my list initially.  Richman is one of the most prolific songwriters out there and put out quite the release.  I loved how song his songs were fun at times while others were just complex and reached across borders.  He really showcased his musical abilities on this release.  This guy has been writing music for longer than I have been alive and still is able to put out quality albums.

Dinosaur Jr.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
-I have been a fan of this band for over 25 years now, so it only makes sense that this release made my list.  Oh, it also kicks so much ass.  Lou Barlow singing on it made it that much better.

All Dinosaurs
All Dinosaurs – Total Dissatisfaction
-Where do I even start with this one?  It’s like listening to the Bronx, but better, and from Cleveland.  I love this album so much that I literally just bought the LP from their bandcamp page.  No lie.

Useless ID
Useless ID – State is Burning
-This band will always be one of my favorites and this release continued to keep me a fan.  With a much more harder approach, they really killed it on this one.  I also adored the nod to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket.

pulley
Pulley – No Change in the Weather 
This band was a huge favorite of mine in the late 90s and I thought they were done in the mid-2000s, but low and behold, they came back with an album that seemingly continued where they left off without missing a beat.  “Sometimes” is such a great track.

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
-James Alex (and former crew) have created a timeless album for music fans of all ages.  Catchy yet poignant, the album has been on a weekly rotation to my ears since the album dropped.  It may clock in at around 30 minutes, but it is a hell of a ride from start to finish.

Worship This! - Mint
Worship This! – Mint
-So what if these guys are my pals, their sophomore release blew me away.  I can not say enough good things about this album.  It is poppy, punky, and addictive.  More people need to check this album out as these Akron/Cleveland boys really know how to make sweet jams.  They are the next big thing in my mind and I love them all dearly.


Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate 
-Having one of my all time favorite bands release something new in 2016 was pretty rad.  Having one of my all time favorite bands stick to their sound from start to finish and have no indication of slowing down made it that much better.

Nothing
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
-I never thought I would like shoegazing.  To be honest, I really never knew what shoegaze was until I heard this album and I am still not quite sure.  Indie rock and neo-psychadelica mixed with plenty of distortion and emotion made for an album that I could not get out of my head for weeks.  That’s a good thing.

Mean Jeans
Mean Jeans – Tight New Dimension 
-Mean Jeans are probably one of the most underrated bands out there right now.  This album further proved that.  A modern-day Ramones-like banger.  I loved it.


Bouncing Souls – Simplicity 
-The Souls are like a fine cheese or wine to me.  With age, this band seems to just get better.  Their latest release was just full of punk rock fun.  When I started singing along to the first song during my first listen, I knew I was going to love this album and play it over and over.

Blink 182 - California
Blink 182 – California
-I can’t help it, I got sucked in to the new Blink and I know why…  Matt Skiba.  He was the perfect addition to reinvent this band.

The Avalanches
The Avalanches – Wildflower
-16 years after their debut, The Avalanches came back with an all new release that very well probably took all 16 years to create.  I know some of my pals were not digging this release fully, but I adored it.  It probably helps that the likes of Danny Brown and Biz Marke helped make this album what it is.

Arms Aloft
Arms Aloft – What a Time to be Barely Alive
This is the one album I really need to do a proper review on, but I keep getting sidetracked.  I listen to it all of the time and it is freaking amazing.  Punk rock from the 80s perfectly blended with punk rock from the mid 2000s is one way I can describe these fellows.  The music is infections, the lyrics are fun, and from what I hear the band is pretty cool too.  This kind of sounds like a review, but it is not.  This is just me telling y’all that this album was impressive.

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – At This Age
-This is their third release and probably their most tied together, mature material I have heard them create.  They have pushed their limits from a one time local band and are more or less prepping themselves for what’s next to come.  I am proud of these dudes.

Arilss Nancy
Arliss Nancy – Greater Divides
-This band really should be at Lucero levels by now.  They are exceptional at what they do and it can be heard throughout their latest release.

har-mar-superstar
Har Mar Superstar – Best Summer Ever
-Har Mar continues to put out incredible material with each release.  This man is so talented that he drops albums that cover various genres and avoids any and all gimmicky sounds.

NOFX
NOFX – First Ditch Effort
-After all this band has been though, it only makes sense that they dropped a more personal album.  It took me a couple of listens to truly appreciate.  Don’t worry, it’s still crass at times as well as hilarious, but man, that Tony Sly tribute song will put tears in your eyes.

Harvey Pekar
Harvey Pekar – The Astral We
-This Cleveland hardcore band is just that…  This album was insane yet intelligent, and I loved every moment of it.

the-falcon-gather-up-the-chaps
The Falcon – Gather Up the Chaps
-I love that Dave Hause was on this album.  I love that he had to play ska riffs knowing how much he hates ska because Brendan Kelly decided it was a good idea.  This album was far from serious and a good time all around.

NOTE: I promise you, Red Scare did not pay me for putting so many albums on this list.  They just had a hell of a year with releases…  Toby, I take plastic btw.

I wanted to throw a couple of EPs on here as well:

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins – That’s All We Need at Our Party
Blue Arrow Records and the creative vinyl masters Wax Merge teamed up to put out an insane variant of this 7″.  I was lucky enough to score #100 out of 100.  It’s a thing of beauty plus the tunes on it kick ass.  I love me some Jonathan Richman.  I am sure there are a few left, so snag one if you can.

Throw Shade
Throw Shade – Self-Titled
-I have talented friends who make beautiful music.  This EP is absolute proof.


Nine Inch Nails – Not the Actual Events
-I really did not know what to expect from Reznor and crew with this EP seeing how I just lost interest in their material for the last 10 years.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised.  This EP brought me back to 90s NIN and I can not wait for their full-length to drop in 2017.

bracket
Bracket – The Last Page
-At just over 70 minutes, this is one long-ass song and it’s amazing.  The track keeps it together for the listener and takes them on a punk rock voyage.  My first listed was distracted thanks to my paying gig, but my second listen with headphones on was incredible.

Finally, I know this is a best of list, but it would not be right if I did not make mention of this:

RIP Dag House…
Dag HouseIt goes without saying, sometimes you find yourself in the right situations by chance.  Thanks to an amazing batch of pals who kept Dag House going for years.  Not everyone gets to experience basement shows, and some of that could be by choice, but goddamn, if you are a music fan, basement shows are the best shows.  Dag House threw together a hell of a rager for their last show, and I was happy to be a part of it.  Thanks for the memories Dag.

2016 was a crazy year.  If you’ve made it this far in my post, thanks for sticking around and being so rad.  It is people like you and the bands above that keep me doing what I do.  Be well.

Check It Out: Zack de la Rocha – “Digging For Windows”

Former Rage Against The Machine front man Zack de la Rocha is back.  He just tweeted a link to a new track of his:

My day has not even really started yet and here I am just smiling ear to ear.  Produced by EL-P (Run The Jewels), it appears that all of those rumors I have been hearing about Zack doing a solo album are becoming a reality.

 

Check It Out: Maidenstone

MaidenstoneThis post goes out to everyone who thinks I only ever talk about punk rock.

You know folks, I do like other genres of music and one of them is hip hop.

So let’s talk about hip hop shall we?

One thing I have always liked about hip hop is the beats that fuel the lyrics.  I am sure many of you can agree with me that a rap song with terrible beats is nothing to talk about.

Akron, OH’s Maidenstone specialize in beats and unique instrumentals.  They are not a rap group, but rather a couple of pals who decided to borrow lyrics from various rappers and supply samples and beats taken from a wide span of musicians and composers.  The result is an outstanding mixtape and does not focus on just one genre.

Here, check it out:

Consisting of pals Cory Maiden and TJ Firestone, Maidenstone dropped their hip hop collaborative in December on BandCamp.  The best part?  It’s free for anyone who wants to hear what they threw together.

I think one thing about Maidenstone is that the samples are well-thought.  “Holy Shit Batman” caught my attention thanks to the eccentric samples of Pulp and The Jesus and Mary Chain while “We Are Groot” had some Pet Shop Boys.

“Dark Arts” was insane and I hope to hell Mos Def hears this.  Who knows, maybe he will be making a request for Maidenstone to create beats for his next release.  That Peer Raben sample was just dark but powerful.

Of course I loved “Son of a Gun”.  If anyone knows me, ODB is one of my favorite rappers out there.  Add some piano and horns playing track from Perez Prado, and you have yourself a crazy ass track.

Another track I have to make mention of is “Vertical Kryptonite” and not just because Big Boi is on it, but because Maidenstone sampled The Greatest Show on Earth and it fits perfectly.

Sometimes tracks can be recreated in a good way.  I am not talking about some shitty Genesis cover by Disturbed.  I am talking about taking great songs and putting a new twist.  It is kind of like a remix, but to me, this is a little more complex.  Seriously, just listen to this.  I guarantee you are going to dig some of it.

I also love their puck rock inspired covers to their mixes.  Dammit, I just can not stay away from punk references, can I?  Oh well.  Download this and enjoy.  I know I did.

BHP Best of 2015

2015 is wrapping up quickly so I felt it was best I get this out of the way before I become too involved with the holiday festivities.

As much as I wish I was more active on this blog, I will admit I am still listening to as much music as possible whenever time admits.  I am not giving up just yet folks.

With that said, here are my choice releases for 2015:


BHP Best of 2015

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
-This album was one of my favorite releases of 2015 before it was even released.  I knew I was going to adore it before I heard it and I did.  This is one of those bands that has really reached back into the 90s with their style and I love everything about it.

Yotam
Yotam Ben-Horin – Distant Lover
-Yotam blew me away with his latest solo album.  This dude rules and is one of my favorite songwriters out there.

Lucero
Lucero – All A Man Should Do
-I love Lucero.  With that said, when I first listened to this album, I was not digging it much.  In fact, it was not until my third listen that I realized how solid the album is.  I can not stop listening to it.  Yeah, it is not like their older material but it still owns.

Baroness
Baroness – Purple
-This album was literally just released (12/18/2015 for those of you who are wondering).  Luckily there is that edit option on there here ol’ blog because this needs to be on my list.  This album is perfect, absolutely perfect.  After all this band has been through, it is nice to see them return with such force.

John Moreland
John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
-John Moreland is incredible.  Words can not express my appreciation for this album.  Seriously, I can not write anything about this, you will need to listen to it for yourself.

Frank Turner
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
-I do not think it is possible for Frank Turner to release an album that I do not like.  This guy is a modern-day musical hero to me.

NRNS
Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled
-This album was a blast to listen to.

TBR
Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming
-Spite losing Brandon recently, Teenage Bottlerocket gained a lot of attention with their power pop punk release.  This catchy as hell album guarantees for a good time.

Annabel
Annabel – Having It All
-This album seriously made me want to be a better person.  I find myself listening to this album on the days where I feel like I need a boost in the feelings department.

Sidekicks
The Sidekicks – Runners In The Nerved World
-I swear this band matures more and more with every release.

Joey Cape
Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
-This album was so beautiful yet gloomy.  Cape has proved himself to me once again that he is one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet.

Purple
Purple – (409)
-Purple are fun and encompass rock n roll to the max.  I do not even know what that means.  This band is all about the fun and released an amazing album full of catchy tracks.

toyGuitar
toyGuitar – In This Mess
-If this album happened to fall under your radar, you are totally missing out.  Happy-go-lucky-punk-rock-beach-jams should sum up this album.

Success
Success – Radio Recovery
-Success dropped one of the most catchy punk albums of the year.  I love these dudes and think everyone needs to check them out.  I also love the fact that their album cover pays tribute in a sense to Fifteen.

Refused
Refused – Freedom
-The last time these guys released something, it was the late 90s.  I never thought they would put something out again, but they mostly regrouped after some touring and dropped this killer album.  A lot of people said it was over-produced and forced, but I still like it.

Sam Russo
Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams
-This was an excellent album that I am glad I was able to check out.  Sam Russo takes storytelling and songwriting to the best level.

Dr Dre
Dr. Dre – Compton
-This was the album I listened to the most this year easily.  For over two months, I listened to this album in full every single day.  I had a slight obsession with it.  The best part about about this is the first time I heard it, I thought to myself that it was not even that good.  By the time the album ended, I was hooked.  I even listened to it this morning.

Patrick Sweany
Patrick Sweany – Daytime Turned To Nighttime
-This album just makes me want to drink whisky on a porch at night with my close pals.  Nice to see Pat continue on with his passion.  I sure do miss the days whenI could hit up the Zephyr and see him play.

Johnathan Richman
Johnathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith” (7″ Releases)
-I had the privilege to review both of these singles thanks to Blue Arrow Records and all I have to say is that I can not wait for Richman to release his next full-length…


Well folks, that is all I have at this time.  I am sure I am missing something and will probably edit this post 7 more times.  For any of you paying attention, this blog has been updated just a few times…

Until then, happy holidays to you and yours.  I appreciate anyone who has ever taken a moment to check out what I have to share on this site.  If it was not for you, I would probably have thrown the towel in a long time ago.