Tag Archives: Review

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: 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.

Album Review: The Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo

It’s been a long time since a ska punk band has impressed me quite like The Bar Stool Preachers have.

I’m sure there are plenty of great releases out there I just haven’t gotten into, but nothing really has stuck out to me for years.  That ended the moment I popped in Grazie Governo, released though Pirates Press Records.

The UK ska punk act already cut their teeth with their debut release Blatant Propaganda and has been around since 2014, but sadly this music fan missed that album in the sea of releases over the years.  Trust me, I will be checking that out very soon after obsessing over their new one.  I also need to note how pissed I am at myself for missing these guys play Cleveland in June with the Street Dogs.

If you are in the same boat as I am and are not familiar with The Bar Stool Preachers then you’ll probably be instantly intrigued to know that frontman Tom McFaull’s father, Colin McFaull, comes from son little UK band called Cock Sparrer.  Needless to say, this band might just have learned a thing or two over the years just based on the bloodline alone.

Album title track “Grazie Governo” started strong with working class appeal that more or less thanked the government with plenty of rebellious intention.  I adored everything about this track from the horns to the organs that seemingly works with the current reality TV politics we are dealing with here in the states.

“8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)” was a love song that held more honest and true than most I have heard in my time.  I enjoyed the blatant honesty in the lyrics on this one and enjoyed the ride of emotion fueled with pop punk riffs and backup vocals, especially at the end when everyone just came together.

“Choose My Friends” featuring Aimee Interrupter is the song everyone needs to check out because it’s just that damn good.  This song has been stuck in my head for days and I am sure it will be for a long time as it made an impression on me as it just brought so many styles of music together.  Without ruining it, just listen to it yourself already.  I even added the music video for the song below.

One of my favorite tracks was “DLTDHYOTHO” most likely because of that Oi attitude layered with the horns and that ever-catchy organ playing.  A fight song indeed and not something you want to be faced up against in a dark alley because you’d surely get your teeth kicked in.  This song just ruled and reminded me of when a young me first heard Operation Ivy and the feeling that quickly infected my innocent mind changing me forever.

“Drive” was great in that McFaull took the listener on a hell of an adventure singing of a heist to pay off debts and escaping like the infamous Steve McQueen.  Sometimes fictitious songs like this seem corny when in the middle of a serious album, but this was done right and just enjoyable.

That piano playing on “Since You” may have sucked me in, but the bass line is what kept me.  A gruff Mad Caddies-like tune with plenty of singable qualities even if about the hard knocks of relationships.  The best was towards the end when things picked up during the moment of clarity.

I’m convinced his band is going to be getting a ton of attention this year based their hybrid of ska and punk rock.  This is the music fans who were told ska was dead once are going to eat up and lace their boots up proudly to.  Did that even make sense?  Well it did to me.  Skank away guys, skank away.

Think along the lines of Rancid, Propagandhi, The Specials, and even The Aggrolites with a more pop punk punch.  It’s like what The Dropkick Murphys might have sounded like if they were from the UK instead of Boston and lost that Irish shtick.  Working collar ska punk anthems galore for everyone to get into.  Do not sit on these guys at all.

EP Review: Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)

It seems like every punk band out there is dropping acoustic albums as of late.  This facade may come off as lazy or desperate to some, but when stripped down right, it makes so much sense.  Still, it is easy to just dismiss them because of how many are out there.

I have to give it to Unwritten Law though who first captured my fascination with the whole punk rock bands doing acoustic renditions of their songs years back.  I remember hearing Music in High Places and becoming obsessed instantly.  Then Rancid busted out an acoustic set in front of me live once at one of their shows and I adored it.  Perhaps this aging punker just enjoys slowing down things a little bit.

When I heard Face To Face was releasing an EP of acoustic versions of their songs over the years, I was nervous.  Mind you Face To Face is easily one of my all time favorite bands from my 90s, I was worried that it would not go well, but I couldn’t have been so wrong.

Hold Fast simply is songs from Face To Face’s 30+ years (with a slight hiatus) career put into an acoustic style.  Perhaps sparked from their “Econo-Live Tour”, the band decided it was their turn to try.  Actually, Face To Face did acoustic sets years back as I remember a friend’s band opening for them and quickly having to learn how to relearn their songs so they could stay on the bill with them – Back to this EP though.

Hold Fast is listed as an EP, but at 33 minutes, it could easily be an album.  I was impressed to see 10 songs tracked on the Fat Wreck Chords release and was more impressed with where they call came from on their discography.

“All For Nothing” started off the EP with an alt-country twangy version of the catchy Laugh Now, Laugh Later track that I am sure Lucero fans would totally appreciate.  I quickly realized after this song alone the amount of time put in by Face To Face to transformed them into a completely different style.

“Disconnected” was the song I was most worried to hear.  This radio-friendly track that caught the most attention on Big Choice was part of the soundtrack to my life in the late 90s and I’m still quite fond of it to this day.  I held off listening to this song at first and waited until the album came out to take it in.  I had nothing to worry about.  This song was perfected transformed from a pop punk jam to an acoustic masterpiece.  I loved everything about this song from Keith’s slowed down singing to the backing vocals and even the guitar playing.

I was kind of shocked to hear “Keep Your Chin Up” the EP as it was a new song, but as soon as the chorus started I immediately understood.  It fit perfectly.

“Don’t Turn Away” was completely dissected and put together as one hell of a track.  The lyrics remain the same, but everything else about it screams alt-country with even some rockabilly qualities to it.  This was such an enjoyable track to rediscover though a different genre.  Just wait for that guitar solo.

“Aok” was another version I just absorbed and adored instantly.  This is one of those other songs that was part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing it on a different caliber was just so appreciated.

I can not say every track on the EP blew me away as some were at status quo like “Ordinary” and even “Velocity”, but I did not skip past a single song.  Nothing was completely unbearable which led me to believe the band truly gave it their all.

I truly feel Face To Face did this for the sake of trying something new and not looking for a quick paycheck (leave that to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes).  These So. Cal. punks have matured so much since back in the day and clearly have moved past their punk rock roots musically.  I really think people who never were into Face To Face are going to hear this and become fans of these renderings.  I am also hoping they just decided to make new music in this style.  I have the feeling it would be amazing.

Don’t dismiss this EP at all folks.  Face To Face is far more talented than you think, especially if you just assume they are just some aging punk rock band looking for a quick payday.