Category Archives: Cleveland

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: Throw Shade

I say it a million times, I know it…I have some talented ass friends here in Cleveland.  Some of them are in bands and some of them form bands from other friends in other bands to make killer cool bands.

Throw Shade is one of those bands.

Throw Shade

My god their EP is fantastic.  Just stop now and listen:

That first track though…wow.  Loving the poppy punk sounds with harmony and emo for all to sulk to.  Featuring a dude from Worship This! and a dude who used to kill it in Annabel, I already knew it was going to be awesome.

I expect exciting things to come from these guys soon.

Until then, check out their EP release party next week at The Grog Shop.  It’s going to be a good time for sure!

Throw Shade EP Release Show

Check It Out: Akron’s WhiskerTin Lighting

“Hand Made Crafted Light”

That is what Akron’s WhiskerTin Lighting is all about.

WhiskerTin Lighting

So what is WhiskerTin you ask?  Well, two friends from Akron, OH had an idea of making lamps from leftover sheetmetal parts.  Each lamp is hand-made by the duo.  As each lamp was created, their passion for their creations grew and ideas were formulated.  They were reinventing the way people looked at lights.

At first, it was just the hand-made lamps.  Don’t get me wrong, these lamps are amazing.  I have seen them in person.

WhiskerTin Lamp

Soon they were taking requests and creating one-of-a-kind floor and desk lamps for their customers.  Heck, they have even made commercial lights out of Great Lakes Brewing Company keg halves.  No seriously, next time you are at GLBC restaurant in Cleveland, head down to the basement and check them out.

They have had booths at many of the craft and vendor shows in the Cleveland / Akron / Canton area this past summer.  Novak even sets up a display at the Worship This! merch table, his punk rock band, just for people to see.

WhiskerTin Shirts

With new ideas, the duo decided to up their game and take their brand to a new level.  They created t-shirts of their logo and artist renditions that people are buying up left and right and even started making custom lamps for businesses like Melt Bar & Grilled in Akron as well bands like Beach Slang.

MeltBeach Slang

These guys are always making lamps.  Not even a year into their venture, Aaron Novak and Glenn Miller have taken lamp making to the extreme.

Just when I thought they were already on top of their game, they made an announcement that I could not help but share.  Earlier this week, WhiskerTin announced a collaboration with Say-10 Records.

Wait…a lamp company and a record label?  What exactly could these two possibly have in common?

This:
WhiskerTin Say-10 LampWhiskerTin Say-10 Lamp

How cool is that?  Seriously, my jaw dropped when I saw this for the first time.

Say-10 Records also happen to sling skateboards featuring tons of punk rock bands.  Novak and Miller have taken custom lamp-making to a new dynamic and turned a skate deck into a ceiling light.

They also shared this photo today of a wall lamp:
WhiskerTin Say-10 Iron Chic Lamp

They are taking orders now.  Hit them up on their website or on Facebook page for more information.

I can not wait to see what these guys come up with next.

 

Melt Tattoo Family Reunion 2016

melt-10-yearsIf you asked me six years ago if I thought I would be sitting in a Melt Bar & Grilled with hundreds of people who share the same love and passion for carbs and cheese to the point they dedicated a part of their skin to showcase it, I probably would have believed you.

Back in 2009, Melt’s founder and creator, Matt Fish, announced a fun promotion of sorts:  Get a Melt tattoo and receive 25% off of your Melt purchase for life.

My question to myself immediately was, “am I bold enough to get a permanent coupon?”  The answer was a quick “yes.”

Being the type of guy who acts now and asks later, I set up an appointment as soon as I could with my favorite tattoo artist, Mr. Ronnie Castro, and got a hand-sized Melt-inspired tattoo right on my forearm for the world to see.

Initially, I wanted to take the NOFX Never Trust a Hippie album cover and alter Jesus to be holding a grilled cheese, but my tattoo artist was thinking of something a little bit more traditional.  Sometimes I wish would have gone with what I initially wanted, but I do love what he came up with:

Melt Tattoo

I waited for my tattoo to heal fully before making it up to the Lakewood location to sign up for the tattoo club causing my membership number to increase some.  For anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo, I am sure you can understand why I waited.  No one wanted to see a scabby mess, especially when it is going to be showcased on the restaurant’s Melt Tattoo Family website page.

I was presented with tattoo member #47.  At least I made it into the top 50, right?

Hell, this tattoo is what got me my in to the Cleveland Man vs. Food episode:

Man vs Food

As of today, there are over 500 members.  Talk about dedication folks.  With locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and most recently in Akron, it only makes sense that this one time promotion has turned into a following of sorts.

Last night, Fish and crew wanted to show their appreciation and love to all of the Melt Tattoo Family members by hosting the first ever Melt Tattoo Family Reunion.

Open to the first 200 members (plus 1 guest) to RSVP, the private event had a free appetizer buffet, photo booth, opportunity to be filmed for an upcoming Melt documentary, and best of all, a one-of-a-kind Derek Hess print.  They also offered a healthy discount on drinks and food too.

Arriving just after the event’s start, I waited in a decent sized line to get checked in and secure my Hess poster (photo to follow once I take one, it is a sweet print).

From there, I snagged some free eats and found a spot up at the bar to camp out at.  The free eats I speak of were beyond generous-sized offerings and consisted of most of the appetizer menu items including fried pickles, mac and cheese bites, and even s’mores bread pudding.

As I waited for my Dude Abides sandwich, I sipped on a couple of Melt City Lights and just looked at all of the people in there.  Everyone was happy, having a good time, and all had something in common with me.  They all felt inspired enough to put something permanent on their skin not only to achieve a discount, but to show support to a man and the company he created.

I started up a conversation with a couple sitting by me just to hear their story.  They were married for 25 years, loved Melt, and the husband got a tattoo and the wife plans on one soon.  They found Melt when they were looking for a restaurant in Cleveland with a good beer list.  They found the beer list that intrigued them and then they found the food.  Hailing from Canton, the couple drives to the Independence location frequently to enjoy a meal before having a night out and prefer it over the new Melt in Akron.

Before heading out, I decided to get my ugly mug on camera for the documentary they were filming.  It was kind of cool to be able to stand there and just explain why I got the tattoo and what it means to be in a family like this.

Fish and I chatted a few times throughout the night and he just looked so happy.  Can you blame him?  His comfort food idea has turned into a cheesy empire with thousands of adorning fans.

Tattooed or not, people love what Fish has built up over the last 10 years.  Here’s to 10 more years of cheesy goodness.

Album Review: Harvey Pekar – The Astral We

Harvey PekarPoetic.  Poignant.  Hard.

Those three words are what keep reoccurring in my mind as I listen to The Astral We by Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar.

The lyrical content in this album is beyond deep.  It makes you think and react based on how you interpret it.  There is no tongue in cheek rhyming, stolen ideals, or laziness in these songs.

With that said, it’s nice to hear Harvey Pekar once again.  Spite a lineup change since the last album, OG members Elliot Frank (guitar), Nick Krastas (vocals), and Nick Schmitt (bass) joined forces with Nate Kelly (drums) and Tyler Sickels (guitar) to create a more solid band than ever.  Without worrying about reinventing their sound, Harvey Pekar continued full force where they left off on their debut release back in 2013.

“Huff Joules” started off the album strong with the band as a whole not holding back at all.  “The Heritable Self” was a true hardcore romper with plenty of group singalong opportunities as Krastas screamed his thoughts out.  Loved this track.

“Ferrous Kin” was one of the songs where I just felt like Krastas was delivering a spoken-word of sorts backed by heavy riffs and fast-paced drumming.  The lyrics, “frail is the life trivialized by that of artifacts” really stuck to me for some reason.

“Truisms of Infinite Regress” caught my attention in more ways than one.  The track, which seeming talked about conformity and a sense of false logic, sped up midway making for quite a powerful statement and throw down.  This track begged to be heard over and over by this listener.

I should also mention how much I found myself enjoying “Crystal Starlings”.  The breakdown about half way though and change up kept the track interesting, the group vocals towards the end make the song enjoyable.

Everyone has their own definition of hardcore music.  Harvey Pekar’s is more aligned with the genre I recall from the 90s and early 2000s, at least the hardcore I enjoyed the most mixed with a punk feel and beyond intelligent lyrics.  Perhaps a little more melodic than some might like, The Astral We impressed the hell out of me and has been fueling my ears daily since it’s release a few weeks back.

Harvey PekarLooking past the band’s sound, Harvey Pekar consists of some of the most down-to-earth guys I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years.  I’ve seen them play in bars, inside a warehouse, and even on a church stage on a Sunday morning over the years and they always put on the best show and always are down for a hang afterwards.

Here I am sounding biased now.  I am just calling it as I hear it.  Listen for yourself and make your own determination.

Snag a copy of The Astral We over at Little Heart Records.