Category Archives: Cleveland

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: Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes

I hate to break it to you, but summer is almost over.  Soon it’s going to be cold and miserable out.  

No need to get depressed just yet though as there is still plenty of time to get rad.  Luckily Johnny La Rock is here to add fuel to that fire with his debut, dance-your-pants-off release titled Gold Codes.

Cleveland native La Rock, aka Eddie Fleisher, once showcased his talent in hip-hop duo Johnny La Rock & Mushmouth as well as Presque Vu, but has taken an entirely new approach that surely will appeal to all those looking for a good time. 

Gold Codes is La Rock’s solo debut album that is more or less a “life can’t get any worse, let’s party like those people did in Independence Day on top of that skyscraper before the aliens blew that shit up” album.  Yeah, I just said that.  It’s pop, it’s soul, it’s electronic, and most importantly, it’s good.

“Dance to the Rhythm (Party Time)” started things off just right with a body-moving jam complete with a little 90s inspired hip hop enthusiasm.  This was a sincere as hell track that really will make you want to get down.

The inspirational “210 and Mustache” more or less punched negativity in the throat and walked away proud with your head up high.  If you do not know what 210 refers to, go ahead and just Google that along with Urban Dictionary.  

“Swipe Left” is a honest yet candid track about the norm that is called online dating.  I loved the line “you seem cool on the internet, in real life you’re insane.”  I loved the vintage video dating samples, it accompanied perfectly.

“Keep On Keepin’ On” was a fun instrumental jam as was the 80s thriller sounding “Phantasm”.  It was cool to have both songs just change things up for a moment without losing momentum.  Least I not forget about “Lumin8”, that was solid too.

“Blue Away” was an uplifting alternative to shake off any funk currently holding anyone back.  No lie, this song cheered me up.  I think a music video is in order for this one (hint, hint).

“Gold Codes” stuck on me for some reason.  I think it was more or less because I’ve felt what La Rock sung about on a few occasions over the past 20 years.  This was the fight jam I needed to remind me that retaliation happens in many forms as long as you don’t give up.

I’ve seen La Rock live a few times when he focused on rap and most recently with programmer Furface and I have to admit, I am a bigger fan of his solo stuff than I thought I would be.  At first I was set back because I was expecting the hip hop, but when the soul-pop dropped, I was an instant fan.

I have to note that this album fueled my recent trip to Vegas and if I had it my way, I would have played it for everyone around me at all hours.  The release has jumped up high as one of my favorites of 2018 and I’m not sure any music quite like this will be topping it.  I speak high praises because I thoroughly enjoyed almost this entire album from start to finish many times over.

La Rock is the Har Mar Superstar of Cleveland and even manages to keep his clothes on during live sets.  

Interpersonal ,humorous party vibes a al Electric Six, La Rock knows how to deliver a good time to all his fans.  

Check out what La Rock has to offer below and hopefully you’ll agree that it does not disappoint at all.

Album Review: Curtail – All Your Luck

I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.

I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.

Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on.  My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).

Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records.  A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen.  I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago.  Still, it needs to be noted.

“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure.  Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall.  “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to.  I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.

“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over.  Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This  is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band.  Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all.  This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.

I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life.  This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track  this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.

“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring.  Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically.  This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.

“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me.  You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song.  I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.

“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.

“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released.  This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.

For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some.  Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans.  Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.

Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck.  I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.

 

 

EP Review: The Stable – Difficult People

Hey Cleveland, how ya doing?

Lebron (more like L.A. Bron) is gone, but who cares?

Well if you do care, just know local punkers The Stable recently dropped an energetic, gritty album on BandCamp that’ll help you forget all about that sports nonsense in mere minutes.

Featuring members of Seafair (R. Kelly), RAM ONES ( J. Voland), Above This Fire (C. Wright), and Varsity Pinball (I. Bowers), it’s no surprise at all how impressive The Stable’s debut EP is.

4 songs, all quality, are contained in Difficult People. These may be quick bangers, but they certainly are impacting and leave a mark.

“Clothesline From Hell” is proof of my previous statement.  Full-force, no corners cut track full of insane drumming, vocal chord destroying singing, and of course some good ol’ group vocals.

“We Belong In Hell” might just be my favorite cut off the EP given how catchy it is.   There’s something to be said about a song that embeds in your mind as a track you won’t soon forget, this is one of them.

“Shyamalan Twist” seemed to carry this 90s punk/hardcore ethos in the background that I totally adored.  I loved the breakdown towards the end as it just made it that more enjoyable.

I warn you, this EP is quick, but if you are like me, you’ll jump back to the beginning for another round.

The Stable remind me of The Shaking Hands and The Holy Mess a ton in a good, good way.  Given the gents who are in this band, I expect big things to come in the near future.  I can not wait to check them out live soon.

Check them out:

 

Check It Out: Sweet Apple’s Music Video For “A Girl and a Gun”

As someone who grew up in the 90s, I have a strong appreciation for bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Guided By Voices.  It really should come to no surprise that I am a huge fan of Sweet Apple.

Sweet Apple features local heroes John Petkovic (Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde) and Tim Parnin (Sons of Elvis, Cobra Verde) along with J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr., Witch) and  Dave Sweetapple (Witch).

Sweet Apple’s 2017 release Sing the Night in Sorrow was one of my favorite albums of the year.  If you have not listened to it yet, you really should change that.

Today, the band dropped a crazy video for “A Girl and a Gun”.  You know the video is pure gold when you hear that Petkovic was actually arrested while making it.  I’d like to hear the details on that…

Check it out:

While you are at it, check out the video they released a few weeks back for “Everybody’s Leaving” starring Mark Boone Junior:

Check out Sweet Apple via the following links:
Facebook: facebook.com/sweetapplesongs
Twitter: twitter.com/sweetapplesongs
Website: sweetapplesongs.com