Category Archives: Emo

Album Review: Sincere Engineer –Rhombithian

Sincere Engineer‘s  Rhombithian is the album I should not have sat on in 2017.

I cannot explain why I set the album aside when I was asked to check it out, but I will tell you that I regret not popping it in immediately.  To say this album is “sincere” is not just tongue-in-cheek, but absolutely accurate.

Deanna Belos may be a new name to me, but if you’re involved in the punk scene in Chicago, that is a completely different story.  I am sure you can Google her life story, but the highlights are when she picked up the guitar and began writing music as Sincere Engineer.

She mixes melodic punk rock with plenty of emotion and the result is a fantastic debut of an release on Red Scare.  This is the kind of album you can sing and scream do while holding back the tears.

“Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” started things off right with a jam about memories brought forth thanks to a post corn dog-induced nap.  This track was full of enough emotion to make anyone just stop and think about those tough days of being uncertain and solo.  Luckily, there were more corn dogs to get through the moment.

The descriptiveness in “Ceramic Tile” reminded me I need to buy some more Windex.  In all honestly, Belos really knows how to paint a picture with her lyrics.

“Screw Up” clearly related to those on their worst point in life.  Christ, I feel like some of the things she sung on were directly taken from my adolescent years when I was a nervous wreck.  Bonus points for the “ding” in the middle of the track.

“Here’s Your Two Dollars” was a great track.  I loved the music throughout that kept things moving as Belos battled on verbally with her direct inner ethos.

I loved the upward feeling in “1K Rats” because I have felt that all too often in life.  New interaction always brings out the most in anyone.  Clearly the levels shrink in time, but when the moment is here, all you can do is think and gloat.

“Let You Down” as depressing as hell as it was to listen to, it just so honest.  I was reminded of the thoughts that hit me when the wrong words come out causing me to lie awake for hours.

“Keep You Company” not only made me feel old due to the content of young feeling, but also made me thankful I’ve been there.

This album contains some of the most honest material I’ve heard ina  long time full of scattered inner thoughts from loneliness to failing relationships due to a lack of self confidence.  Belos’s subconscious conversations put to music is the most real shit I have heard in a long time.

Not all punk rock is supposed to be fun and goofy.  Sincere Engineer reminded me of that in a big way.  If you are reading this and have not listened to Rhombithian yet, make sure you change that .  This album is amazing and had my ass not sat on it for so long, it easily would have topped my best of 2017 list.

Album Review: Story of the Year – Wolves

It’s been a while since I last got into Story of the Year.

Nothing against the band at all, but I think the last album I listened by them was their 2005 release In the Wake of Determination.

Hell, I remember vividly shooting their set that year at the Cleveland Warped Tour.  I was a big fan of them then and honestly, have no idea why they fell off my radar.

The funny thing is, their first two albums pop up on my slowly-dying iPod classic in my car once in a while, so it is not exactly like I omitted them from my life, I just never go to checking out newer material.

Clearly that ended today after checking out their newest release Wolves.  The St. Louis post-hardcore/punk/rock band released the album just last month, but it took me a minute to check it out.

Wolves is Story of the Year’s fifth full-length album and was crowd-funded in just 3 days upon the announcement of their campaign.  It is their first release in 7 years too.  The result is more emo rock album over the punky post-hardcore I once adored, but this isn’t a bad thing.  Honestly, the dudes sound more collected and mature and given the time-span of when I last really got into them, it makes total sense.

After the intro track, “How Can We Go On” just pounded my ears.  This was how I remembered the band.  Tons of sing-along opportunities, and a energy that easily sucked me in.

“Bang Bang” followed and instantly had me thinking how this track when played live would result in the entire venue jumping up and down screaming and singing.  I hesitated at first with the electronic synthesizer in the song that made it more Family Force 5, but honestly, it worked.

Upon hearing “Youth”, I thought “I Swear I’m Okay” was going to be all guitars and heavy,but things turned down a few notches and suddenly I was sitting there listening to a balled of sorts.  I did not quite know what to think of this one.  I guess I just was amped up with that intro.

“Can Anybody Hear Me?” was a synth-rock balled of sorts that had an 80s physique but was not in a mocking fashion at all.  Not going to lie, I enjoyed the hell out of this song.

“A Part Of Me” came back with the heavier sound I grew accustomed to…or so I thought.  This was another track that just slammed on the brakes and let the feeling pour out.

Luckily, “The Eternal Battle for Mike Cronin’s Soul (To Be Alive Again)” popped up, or I might have just put the album down.  This track was more my speed.  At times it was like Nine Inch Nails jumped in and offered some industrial beats.

“Good Night My Love” was an honest track I feel I have related to over and over in my life when it comes to relationships.  The song did not sound overproduced at all and if anything showcased how far their have come as musicians.

Secretly I was hoping “Like Ghosts” was going to be some outlaw spaghetti western track, but alas it was not.  I did like this song and I hate to say it, but the music at times was very Peter Gabriel and I mean that in a positive mention.

“Praying For Rain” closed the album down with a 7-minute track that really took the listener all over the place.  I loved just a minuter or so in when the guitars just busted in.  My favorite part though was the spoken word in the middle of the track.

Considering it has been 13 years since I could tell you everything about this band (and 7 years since they released new material), clearly they went through changes and fine-tuned their sound to their likening.  This is not a commercially released album forced out by a record label, but more of an underground release.

Overall, solid release by a band who has been in it for almost half of my life.  I dug the variety in Wolves even if I might not have been in the mood for the slower tracks while listening the first time.  I know I will revisit this album again in time.

Don’t expected an “Until the Day I Die” hit song on this album.  This is the album after years of heartbreak and misery that everyone who’s grown up probably can relate to in one way or another.

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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
-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 – 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.

4-Way Split Review: Sundae Bloody Sundae

Sundae Bloody Sundae4 bands, 4 songs, all emo.  That is what Sundae Bloody Sundae is all about.

The 4-Way Split was put out by Skeletal Lightning last November and easily has the ability to make you take a break from life and check your feelings.

Don’t worry, it’s ok to do that – we are human after all and this split is not all that sad.

Featuring new and unreleased music by four talented acts, Sundae Bloody Sundae is a great comp to be listening to if you are looking for a little variety by some bands you may have overlooked at one time or have not even heard of.

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die‘s “Fat Heaven” will depress the shit out of you and make you hungry possibly for a donut.  Man, what a downer of track.  I seriously think listening to this with your head down, walking slowly in public and avoiding all eye contact is the only way to listen to this tune.  I loved it.  There is a reason so many people dig this band…

Rozwell Kid did an impressive cover of Spirit Night’s “The Weather”.   I can’t lie, I thought I liked the original more, but the more and more I listened to this track over and over,  Rozwell Kid’s own Weezer-esque twist on the original won me over.

Kittyhawk….oh Kittyhawk.  You make my heart bleed.  Listening to “Soft Serve” turned me into just a pile of mush.  The thing I loved the most about this track is the 90s feel I sensed throughout.  Dare I say, but the dual vocals remind me of The Cranberries a ton.

Two  Knights‘s “Benji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz” was a little technical, a little instrumental, and plenty interesting to listen to.  Starting off uppity, things soon slowed down with a self-reflection of sorts.

At a whopping $3 to download or $5 for a flexie, I think this would be well spent money to any music fan out there.  This will last a lot longer than a sundae, especially if you are me.

Tracklisting (Two-sided):
Side A:
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – “Fat Heaven”
Rozwell Kid – “The Weather (Spirit Night)”

Side B:
Kittyhawk – “Soft Serve”
Two Knights – “Benji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz”

Pressing information
1,000 copies –
– /250 White Flexi w/ screenprinted hand-numbered covers (Available exclusively at FEST 13)
– /750 Clear Flexi w/ full color cover.

Album Review: Xerxes – Collision Blonde

Xerxes - Collision BlondeI was waiting for an album to drop this year that would completely steal my undivided attention.  Xerxes has just done that to me.

If any of you know me, chances are you know my love for bands like the Refused, Murder City Devils, Gallows, Thursday and At The Drive-In.  The vocal styles of all those acts is one of the main reasons I have such an appreciation for them.

Xerxes’s new album Collision Blonde seemingly took queues from all those acts and more throwing them together into one killer release.

I love it.  I adore it.  Thank you Xerxes and thank you No Sleep Records for throwing their album on your label.

This young post-punk act from Louisville, KY mixes in so many different musical styles in their jams, I almost hate to classify them into one genre.  With elements of punk,  post-hardcore, goth rock and more, this avant-garde act blew me away the moment I heard their sophomore release Collision Blonde.  

This album overflows with plenty of mental anguish guaranteeing to satisfy any emotional train wreck out there.  Pain, love, and drugs seemingly fueled this release and I’m pretty sure anyone who hasn’t always been in a positive path through life will totally get into Collision Blonde.

Once “I Was Wrong” started I knew this was going to be one of those albums I listened to all the way through with no interruptions.  Calvin Philley just destroys his voice throughout with plenty of distortion that would make Trent Reznor proud.

“Criminal Animal” appealed to me with a garage rock start quickly morphing to something a little more hardcore.  I got a huge kick out of Philley switching to almost a furious spoken word only to start singing again.  “Knife”, toned things down for a moment and clearly was about some object being stuck into one’s back.

“A Toast” had this Cure-like melody and bass line hiding behind intermittent hard riffs and screaming vocals making for a great listen.  The transitions from the singing to the spoken word throughout this track made it even better to listen to.

“Collision Blonde” was beyond a daunting track with Philley just spilling his guts out on top of a melody that easily could be mistaken with The Jesus And Mary Chain or even Bauhaus.  Although dark and lonely, this track really was amazing in so many ways once you got past the emotion and pain.

“Nosedive” ended the album with Philley screaming “just make it stop” over and over.  It was almost like this entire album was a brutal nightmare and it needed to come to an end.

I am not sure if this album was a revelation of pain or a public cry for help.  Regardless, it is powerful lyrically and musically making  Collision Blonde easily one of my favorite releases of 2014 so far.

Perhaps I took in this album a little differently from others.  Having grown up listening to darker styles of music in the 80s and 90s like The Cure and Jesus and Mary Chain, I always wished it were heavier back then.  I loved the music but craved more vocals.  Xerxes seriously captured some of my favorite band styles and added their own harsh twist on it satisfying that younger request.  The result is just insane and I adore it.

Collision Blonde drops on Oct. 21st.  You can pre-order it now over at No Sleep Records.