Album Review: Bars Of Gold – Of Gold

Bars Of Gold (BoG), a new project including former Bear vs. Shark (BvS) members Marc Paffi and Brandon Moss, recently released their debut album entitled Of Gold through Friction Records.  Moving from the post-hardcore sound the band carries a more punk rock / indie rock sound.  BoG may not necessary cater to many BvS fans out there on this release, but after just one listen, I am a fan.

A Nintendo-y opener, properly titled “Boss Level” started off the album with me scratching my head wondering what the rest of the album would entail.  Not that there is anything wrong with a little 8-bit-core, it was just unexpected.

“Heaven Has A Heater” focused more towards an indie sound with a punk singing style that really sounded amazing.  This is definitely a track that needs to be checked out.  While I am talking about tracks that needed to be checked out, listen to “Birds” as well.  The sound was like what might happen if Modest Mouse and Talking Heads decided to collaborate.  It was catchy and bizarre all at once.

“The Hustle” was unlike any other track on the album and by far the most entertaining to my ears.  The banjo almost hypnotized me throughout the wild folk-heavy track with Paffi’s vocals howling all over the place.  Dare I say Hot Water Music vocals meets Travis guitar playing?  Yes, I just said that.

The melodic “………….” was a nice, chill track to listen to at the start but soon had a little group vocals going on in the background leading up to Paffi taking over.  The song reminded me of Cursive track in a good way.

“Cannibals” was a great track to sit back to and just enjoy.  In the true spirit of indie rock, this song kicked ass and I loved how the beginning crept up around you and then just turned into a mad frenzy of insanity.

It’s nice to see musicians move on in differnet directions without sounding like they are trying too hard.  Bars Of Gold have a good sound going for them and I am loving what they have created.  I am sure there are BvS fanatics out there wondering what happened and it is expected, but I have the feeling that once a few of them make way through this album they will grow to appreciate all that it is.

2010 is coming to an end and I think I have found my favorite indie-ish rock album of the year.  Check it out for yourself:

Interview: Christian Martucci of Thousand Watt Stare

Punk rock is not dead.  I say that a lot recently because I know it’s true and there are still bands out there releasing honest, wholesome punk rock albums for the sake of just doing it.  They are not looking for money or fame, just a good time doing something they love.

Here is where I now introduce a punk rock band that I like right?  Well you are half right.

I am going to introduce a punk rocker that I like who has played in some pretty solid bands over the years including Black President, The Chelsea Smiles, and even played in the Dee Dee Ramone Band.  Recently he formed Thousand Watt Stare with a couple of musicians from Unwritten Law, a band I have been a fan of since I first saw them open for Bad Religion in ’96.

Recently I had the chance to talk it up with Christian Martucci about his new band as well as some of his amazing past.  If anyone has lived a punk rock dream, it’s Martucci.

Dylan Howard, Pat Kim, & and Chris Martucci
Dylan Howard, Pat Kim, & and Chris Martucci

BHP: Your new band, Thousand Watt Stare, has an EP dropping next month. What can you tell me about this new project you’ve created?

CM – We just love to play music and have a good time with it… I’m very happy to play with these guys. No ego’s, no pressure… It’s a breath of fresh air.

Why the change-up in sound from previous bands you have been in?

In Dee Dee’s band it was Ramones songs, Black President was all Charlie, and The Chelsea Smiles were more of a straight rock n’ roll band… I’ve had the Thousand Watt Stare stuff in my head for years now. It was just never anything that would work with the other bands. I’m glad they’re finally seeing the light of day.

So how did you hook up with Unwritten Law’s Pat Kim and Dylan Howard?

PK played with Black President early on when Hetson was still in the band. We had a great time hanging out back then and always kept in touch. When Black President ended and it was time to start something new, I called Pat and we started jamming. He brought Dylan on board and two weeks later, we started recording.

Why did Black President disband anyways?

I think Black President had to break up… When you consider some of the guys schedules, it doesn’t really allow them to go full steam a head with a side project. The thing with that band is that it wasn’t supposed to be anything more than a cover band to blow off steam. That was actually my favorite part of doing it… Looking back I’m actually really surprised we even made the record. It wasn’t meant to have a long shelf life. I think of it more as a psycho that everyone cheated on their bands with for a few years.

As you already mentioned, you;ve worked with some heavy hitters in the punk rock world  including Bad Religion’s Greg Hetson and Dee Dee Ramone. How did those opportunities come about?

Your guess is as good as mine… I wasn’t having good luck where I was, so I saved up $600, packed a suitcase, one guitar and just moved from Philly to LA in ’99. I only knew one person out here and was sleeping on his couch. He introduced me to Stefan Adika. Stefan was playing bass for Dee Dee at the time and asked if I’d like to come down and play. I ran home, went over like 30 something songs and showed up at the rehearsal room that night… Dee Dee had NO idea I was coming down and was a little freaked out… He looked at me and said “So, what are you gonna try to play guitar or something?” I didn’t know what to say.

He was one of my biggest hero’s. I just smiled like a nervous idiot, plugged in and we played “Rockaway Beach”. We got done, he looked at me and was like “OK you better sing the next song now… ‘Chinese Rocks’… 1-2-3-4!” “Alright I think we better go to ‘South America’ now…” The whole time I was standing there I couldn’t believe I was playing with Dee Dee Ramone. That feeling lasted the entire 3 years I was able to do it. Everything about him was for real.

The thing with Greg happened from when Black President was still a cover band called Shithead. We had Marc Diamond from The Dwarves playing with us and… I can’t remember what happened. I think The Dwarves had to go on tour, so Charlie told us Greg Hetson wanted to do it. I actually thought he was kidding at first. Next thing you know, he’s at rehearsal playing Dead Kennedy’s songs with us. I really like Greg a lot… Awesome guy and as down to earth as they come…

You started touring recently around California . Any chance of a nationwide tour any time soon?

No definite plans yet but we really hope so…

Your previous bands toured a lot over the years. Who were some of your favorite bands to tour with?

Bouncing Souls, TSOL, New York Dolls, Social D, Backyard Babies… There are so many but those are the ones that stick out the most for me. They are all very good people.

For the punk rock lovers out there, can you tell them why they should check out Thousand Watt Stare?

The punk rock I like is the kind where there aren’t any rules. In the 70’s punk didn’t have a defined sound yet, that’s why I think it was a great as it was. Television, Dead Boys, Ramones, The Clash, etc. None of those bands sound like they should be in the same genre. I think you should check out Thousand Watt Stare because we don’t worry about those things either… It’s just honest rock n’ roll.


Thousand Watt Stare‘s self-titled EP drops on November 16th on Hardline Entertainment.

Invasion of the Yuppie Punx (Part Deux) – A Screeching Weasel Concert Review

I am the type of person that wishes I could do everything every time – specifically I speak of concerts. I go to plenty, but not all of them. Sadly there are certain factors I need to look at when I go to a show:

When is the show?  Do I have work or class the next day?  Where is the show?  Can I afford to drive hours away to see said show and then drive home without staying at a hotel? 

Yeah, not the greatest criteria for figuring out if I can hit up a show or now, but it is the truth.  I can not jeopardize my job (even though I am writing this at work) or school by missing a day or being too tired to for that matter.  I am an adult now and even though I do not want to act like one – sometimes I have to.

Case in point:  Screeching Weasel recently made a couple stops near Ohio (but not IN Ohio…).  I could not afford the trip down to Covington or over to Detroit and I knew it well in advance.  A handful of my friends were however able to take in a show.

Jerks.

So being curious to hear how the show went I asked begged my best pals from Columbus, Pete and Mary Alice who went to the Covington show, to write up a little something something about their trip to see the one and only Screeching Weasel.

Take it away Pete (and thank you).


Salad Days
Salad Days

My beautiful wife and I ventured down to Cincinnati/Covington, KY’s Madison Theater for an evening with one of our favorite bands ever, the newly reformed (sans Jughead who had a falling out with you know who) Screeching Weasel.  Much like our recent trip to see NOFX with Brian and Kolb, we stayed at a hotel, choosing the Radisson for our accommodations.  That’s us up there, in our room, happy as clams.

No story of the Yuppie Punx would be complete without a full description of our fantabulous surroundings.  Well, you’re kind of not going to get it here, because the rotating restaurant at the top of the hotel left something to desired.  I mean, my salad was good and all, but the rest of it wasn’t that great.  Not a lot of vegetarian options. The worst part of the experience was that the restaurant employees acted like it was some amazing and luxurious place.  (“Special Occasion?”  You CAN’T be serious, dah-ling).

I got a picture of this family who were sitting behind Mary Alice.  They were hilarious.  Blond wife, blond kids, Dad with a sleazeball ponytail – bigger yuppies than us!
Look out behind you!
Look out behind you!

But anyway, the show.  This is the second time we’ve gotten to see Screeching Weasel, the first time being at last year’s Riot Fest in Chicago.  Now I do have some mixed feelings about seeing the band without Jughead, but Mary Alice couldn’t care less.  Ben Weasel could be standing alone flinging feces at the audience, and she would still pass out from the excitement of seeing “Ben”(Cue girly sighing noise).  But Juggy’s absence is not enough to keep me from seeing the band, disappointing as it is.

We got to the Madison about halfway through the second of three bands.  We still can’t get out of the local-show-starts-late mode of Columbus.  But whatevs, we were in plenty of time to see the Weas.

The venue wasn’t as packed as when we saw NOFX, but it was a good crowd.  For some reason, we were able to smoke inside this time(?).  We decided that perhaps Fat Mike insisted on non-smoking when his band played; I’d believe it.  As I mentioned before, we didn’t have to wait long for Weas to go on, so we got a couple of drinks and scurried to get a front stage spot on the second level behind the pit.  After the second band finished (Shot Baker from Chicago), we waited for about 25-30 minutes for the headliners.  They walked out on stage, made a few inaudible comments, then good ol’ Dan Vapid belted, “CINDY’S ON METHADONE, 1-2-3-4!!!!,” and the band proceeded to launch into the tune from their classic LP My Brain Hurts.

Ben Weasel flanked by Dan Vapid on guitar
Ben Weasel flanked by Dan Vapid on guitar

Now, I’m not one of those “write down the set list” guys, but this set list from Chicagofrom an earlier show this year is pretty darn close. Mary Alice enjoyed snapping many pics of her beloved Ben, and we shouted happily to all the songs we know from over 15 years of faithful listening.  We only didn’t know one song, entitled “Vacation” (the title being take off of the Ramones song “Endless Vacation”), which apparently will be on an upcoming new album.  Oh boy!

Ben seemed to be in his regular grumpy mood, as opposed to a reallygrumpy mood like he was in Chicago.  He paced back and forth on the stage, while the rest of the band happily plowed through an hour’s worth of music, including my personal favorite (“Teenage Freakshow”) and Mary Alice’s personal favorite (“Peter Brady”).  We got thrown a little curve when Ben walked off the stage while the band performed the instrumental “Talk to me Summer,” which was a better move than staying on stage to rock out with no instrument.  Ben didn’t talk to the crowd too much, shy Dan didn’t talk at all.  My favorite spoken moment was Ben’s intro to “Cool Kids,” in which he reassured the crowd that Screeching Weasel never had exclusive parties back stage, but instead would just hang around after the show being sweaty and tired.  It was cool, because they didn’t claim to be overly devoted to their fans, just normal guys who want to go home after the gig ends.
Ben surrounded by two guys we don't know
Ben Surrounded By 2 Random Guys

I wouldn’t say the crowd was insane, as so much were the bouncers.  They were pulling people from the crowd at an unbelievable rate, just to jettison them from the venue stage left.  While I couldn’t see all that was going on in the pit, I had a hard time believing that there could be that many people throwing punches.  Sometimes when I see a bouncer rough someone up, I wonder if they did anything to deserve it.  That’s totally punk of me to think that.

While Mary Alice and I both agree that Screeching Weasel is not the greatest live band in the world, we would gladly see one of the greatest bands in the world perform an average live show any time.  It was a great night with a great band. Pure and simple greatness personified.  Greatly.

A Great Band
A Great Band

After the show, we went back to hotel and drank liquor out of these minuscule glasses.  We also watched the Good Morning Miss Bliss! (later renamed Saved By the Bell) ORIGINAL Pilot on YouTube.  They had none of the classic SBTB characters, and they had an old weird guy playing Mr. Belding.  Then we topped off the night with the order from the new and improved Domino’s Pizza.  I don’t know what exactly Domino’s is claiming they do differently now, because the pizza still sucks.

The Yuppie Punx
The Yuppie Punx

Concert Review: Social Distortion / Lucero / Frank Turner – 10/24/2010 – House Of Blues – Cleveland, OH

Three different levels of rock took place last night in Cleveland thanks to Social Distortion and their hand-picked bill.  The punk rock icons made a stop at the House Of Blues Sunday night with special guests Frank Turner and Lucero.  The venue was packed from end to end with tickets selling out weeks ago leaving the last minute fans standing in the rain looking for extras – literally.

It’s been a little over four years since Social D took the stage in Cleveland, far too long of a hiatus.  It was no surprise at the amount of fans who lined up outside of the venue waiting for the doors to open.  Everyone in line looked excited and knew exactly what was going to be happening in just a short time except for a Cleveland police officer who pulled his motorcycle up on E. 9th asking if anyone had an iPod with Social Distortion on it so he could see what they sound like.

Opening act Frank Turner took the stage just after 8 p.m. to a very full and energetic crowd.  This was his second visit to Cleveland ever and this time was much better than before as he was not battling the flu and none of his bandmates slipped on the stage and fell on their ass during the set.

Playing “Try This At Home” it was clear that more people in the crowd this time knew who Turner was as they sang along to his folk rock songs.  Turner excitedly announced a new sing-along called “I Believe” and taught the crowd their parts.  Needless to say, the song was amazing and provided a nice hint of what his new material sounds like.  He continued with “Sons Of Liberty”, the ever catchy “The Road” and also played “Photosynthesis”.  The set was shorter than the crowd would have liked but was enjoyed by all.

Good ol’ boys Lucero took to the stage after a brief break and did their best to win over the crowd.  Sadly not as many people seemed as excited during their set but there was a nice chunk of true Lucero fans who sang from the beginning till the end as loudly as possible making sure all their surrounding neighbors realize they were missing out on something good.

The southern rock act played through their set including “I’ll Just Fall”, “Sixes & Sevens” as well as “Noon As Dark”.  They sounded amazing live and appeared so happy to be on the stage with lead singer Ben Nichols even saying “This is a dream tour for us.”  “Mom” was a highlight to many in the crowd who all knew the lyrics by heart as was the set ending “Tears Don’t Matter Much.”  Their set flew by entirely too fast and many were wishing that was not the case.

Social D made way to the stage with lead man Mike Ness donning an almost rockabilly / Swingers outfit with baggy khakis and a white button up shirt.  After absorbing the cheers from all over the venue Ness was handed a guitar and the band broke into three classics “The Creeps”, “Another State Of Mind”, and “Mommy’s Little Monster”.  Looking and sounding solid as ever, the band played with great energy and soaked in all the excitement from the crowd.

“Sick Boys” got the fans moving around as Ness and crew thrashed about the stage while everyone sang along – Rock N Roll never sounded so good.  With beers in hand and eyes focused on the stage, Social D continued with “I Was Wrong” as well as played a new song from their upcoming album entitled “Still Alive”.

Moving around their catalog, the band played older and newer tracks including “Ball & Chain”, “Bakersfield” (another song from their upcoming release) and “So Far Away”.  For having been around for 30+ years, the band showed no signs of being too tired to play or any hints that their musical career would be ending anytime soon.  By the sounds of the cheers it was certain that everyone was enjoying themselves at one of the better shows that has come to Cleveland.  Add in “Prison Bound” and Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” and many Social D fans were beyond satisfied with the set.

The only downfall of the show that could be seen were the folk who just didn’t know when to stop throwing back drinks – more so than other recent shows.  It was quite apparent that a lot of Sunday night concert goers would be calling off Monday morning.  A couple fights erupted, one during Lucero, and a select few fans were so piss drunk that they could not stand on their own two feet halfway through the main performance.  Nevertheless the surrounding crowd was unscathed by their actions and paid attention to the real reason they came to the House Of Blues: To take in a Rock N Roll show by one of the best acts out there.

January 18th, 2001, Social Distortion will be releasing Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, the band’s first release in over six years.  By the show that the band put on last night, it’s evident that excitement for their new album has reached higher levels.

Social Distortion Setlist:

The Creeps
Another State Of Mind
Mommy’s Little Monster
Sick Boys
Don’t Drag Me Down
I Was Wrong
Bye Bye Baby
Still Alive
Ball & Chain
Through These Eyes
Bakersfield
King Of Fools
When She Begins
Making Believe
So Far Away
Prison Bound
Down Here With The Rest Of Us
Cold Feelings
Ring Of Fire

The Baddest Bad Religion Release Ever

So I know you are sitting there wondering what to get the Bad Religion vinyl loving fan in your life for Jesus Day 2010.  Well wonder no more…

Behold, the mecca of all Bad Religion releases:

The Bad Religion 30th Anniversary Vinyl Box Set.  At a cool $199.99 this can be yours.  All albums specially pressed in red vinyl.  Can you say The Awesome???

From King’s Road Merch:

HOW ELSE DO YOU CELEBRATE 30 YEARS AS THE WORLD’S LONGEST RUNNING AND MOST PROLIFIC PUNK BAND? YOU CELEBRATE WITH A LIMITED EDITION BOX SET FEATURING EVERY STUDIO ALBUM EVER RELEASED BY THE BAND PRESSED ON RED VINYL.

THIS SET FEATURES THE FIRST OFFICIAL EPITAPH PRESSING OF INTO THE UNKNOWN IN 27 YEARS, THE FIRST PRESSING OF GENERATOR IN ALMOST 12 YEARS, THE BAND’S ATLANTIC ERA WHICH WAS EITHER NEVER PRESSED OR HARD TO FIND, AS WELL AS THE ENTIRE CHRONICLE OF BAD RELIGION’S STUDIO OUTPUT.

JUST IN CASE YOU NEEDED THE LIST OF WHAT’S INCLUDED, YOU GET ALL OF THESE RELEASES INDIVIDUALLY SEALED ON RED VINYL:

HOW COULD HELL BE ANY WORSE?
INTO THE UNKNOWN
SUFFER
NO CONTROL
AGAINST THE GRAIN
GENERATOR
RECIPE FOR HATE
STRANGER THAN FICTION
THE GRAY RACE
NO SUBSTANCE
THE NEW AMERICA
THE PROCESS OF BELIEF
THE EMPIRE STRIKES FIRST
NEW MAPS OF HELL
THE DISSENT OF MAN
***THE FIRST 500 ORDERS GET A FREE BAD RELIGION FLAG***

If anyone would like to pre-order one of these for me I will be your best friend forever…