West Virginia, Country Mama…

Many of you may remember that time I went to a cabin in West Virgina around the last week of June.  I said I was going to write daily journals about my experiences there but I never did.  It was not because I wanted to keep secrets from you or because I did not feel like writing about it.  It was because I experienced that which is called relaxation and I just decided it was best to enjoy myself and forget the rest.

I have a few pictures posted on some of those social networking sites and will share a couple here just so you can see what absolute peace looks like…

Why am I suddenly bringing up WV again?  Well I am headed back.  I am leaving here in just a bit with a few friends for sort of a last hurrah of sorts.  One being for me as I am going back to school and one for my pal Kyle as he is tying the knot with a special someone.  Needless to say I will be off the grid once again.  No cell phone, no internet, no problem.

What do I plan on doing there you ask?  Great question.

I plan on:

  • Doing nothing
  • Sitting by the camp fire
  • Drinking beer
  • Eating veggie hot dogs
  • Hiking
  • Taking photos

I really should get cracking here as I am supposed to be leaving shortly so I will leave you with a few photos I took last time I was there and I will see you all on Sunday.

Gaslight Anthem / Tim Barry review in the works by the way…  Best show I have seen this year hands down…

Quick Reviews: Sh*t Robot, The Chemical Brothers, J. Tillman

I have been getting tons of material lately for review consideration so I thought I would try something new and shrink down my usually lengthy reviews.  Nothing fancy, just trying to get the word out on some amazing bands and releases.  Enjoy.

Sh*t Robot – From The Cradle To The Rave

Marcus Lambkin, aka Sh*t Robot, has taken his time releasing his debut album – literally it has been 20 years in the making.  The Irish born punk rocker turned DJ has made a name for himself in the NYC club scene and even though has never recorded an album before has made a huge name for himself by just doing his thing.  I should also mention that Lambkin helped build that which is now DFA Records from the ground up.

From The Cradle To The Rave reflects Lambkin’s life as a DJ and more.  Opening track, co-written by LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy, “Tuff Enough?” is an electronic anthem of sorts with simple beats and synthesizer that was actually written about an upcoming expectancy.  “Losing My Patience” featuring Hot Chip‘s Alexia Taylor was a fun track that I think many of the dance clubs will have no problem spinning. “Simple Things (Work It Out)” was an entertaining experimental dance track of sorts with almost a spoken word feel to it.

My personal favorite cut on the album was “Take ‘Em Up” featuring another musician from LCD Soundsystem, Nancy Whang.  This song not only screamed retro 80’s but also heavily reminded me of what would happen if Daft Punk decided to sample a Sonic The Hedgehog soundtrack.  Whang’s vocals are perfect for this track more suitable to be played at a roller rink.

From The Cradle To The Rave is proof that sometimes taking your time is a good thing.  This release is for all the folk out there that still enjoy the clubs.  Full of electronic goodness that reaches back to the days when techno was all the hype in the 90’s as well as hints at some Kraftwerk.  The album is solid front to back without over doing it.  Where I don’t frequent those types of clubs anymore I still got a kick out of that which is Sh*t Robot.

The Chemical Brothers – Further

Seeing a band like The Chemical Brothers come out with new material makes this guy right here happy.  As a longtime fan of the British duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons), I was thrilled when Further was released and even more intrigued when I heard that alongside the album would be visuals to accompany each of the songs. While I still have yet to obtain the videos I can tell you that they are available on DVD and iTunes for download.

Further is different from previous releases as it is mostly instrumental with Rowlands taking it upon himself to sing on a couple tracks as well as features Stephanie Dosen (Massive Attack) who lends her vocals as well.  I honestly prefer when they collaborate with other musicians on their previous releases but still enjoyed listening to tracks like “Escape Velocity” and “Another World”. “Swoon” was a trip in itself that I could not help but tag along with.

Heavy on the synthesizers and easing back on the drum machines throughout make for a very chill album to listen to.  This is one of those types of albums I can see myself not growing tired of anytime soon.  For those of you out there that still has a soft spot for the duo who hit the charts with “Block Rocking Beats” back in the day don’t hesitate to pick up Further.  The duo still has it and has dropped one great album to dance the night away to or even just sit back and get lost in.

J. Tillman – Singing Ax

Beautiful is just one of the many words that can be used to describe J. Tillman‘s latest release Singing Ax. Not just a member of Fleet Foxes, the folk artist has been very involved in recording material with others as well as himself since around 2004.  His latest offering is a vinyl only release that was recorded by Tillman almost entirely by himself in just three days.  The result is a calm yet captivating collection of songs that couple compliment any campfire gathering or just a quiet afternoon of solitude.

Opening track “Three Sisters” pretty much set the bar up high for the entire album for me.  While listening to TIllman’s singing I could only anticipate on what he was going to sing next and patiently waited the story, backed by acoustic guitar playing and drum machine, to unfold.  “Diamondback” continued with a calm retreat of a pleasant tale that had me closing my eyes and absorbing the intimate song.  In fact I found myself doing that a lot while listening to Singing Ax.  Later on I was treated to the album ending “A Seat At The Table” a song, to me, that almost was a musical rendition of a storm rolling in complete with thundering drumming towards the end of the track.

Tillman dropped an amazing album that barely carried any further supplement aside from his singing and acoustic guitar.  Honestly nothing more was needed as the folk chill release was presented perfectly.  I can only imagine what a live performance would entail.  Luckily for me he is touring with Phosphorescent and is making a stop in Cleveland in just a short couple of weeks.  Fans of Nick Drake and even a younger Neil Young I think will really enjoy this album as well as anyone out there that is just looking for a musical form of relaxation.

Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele

Wait.  What???

Yeah you just read and saw correctly…  Amanda Palmer most known from The Dresden Dolls has released an EP of Radiohead covers done her way with her ukulele.  The EP includes tracks such as “Creep”, “Idioteque”, “FakePlasticTrees”, “No Surprises”, “High and Dry” and a special live string-quartet version of “Exit Music (For a Film)”. Needless to say it is amazing, well at least it is to me.

The EP is now available digitally for a minimum donation of 84 centsYes, $0.84!

Palmer, a very vocal supporter of direct fan-to-artist support, has made the album available online through Bandcamp for a donation of 84¢ or more, 54¢ of which going directly back into Radiohead’s pockets for the legal use of their songs (with the remaining 30¢ going to PayPal to cover the transaction fee).  Of course you can donate more if you wish…

It will also be available available in extremely unique physical permutations starting Tuesday, July 20th at 3pm EST.

Sundowner – We Chase The Waves – CD Review

A sundowner can be a lot of things (a car, drink, plane, type of wind), but in this case the Sundowner I am referring to is an amazing solo project by Chris McCaughan, the guitarist and vocalist of punk act The Lawrence Arms.  

We Chase The Waves is Sundowner’s second album and like the first, it is far from punk rock and more of a brush with folk music that brings forth good moods and instant sing alongs.  Recently dropping on Asian Man Records, We Chase The Waves might just be the album that gets me through the rest of the summer.

Starting as a side project, McCaughan wrote a few songs in his free time and played intimate shows around the Chicago area taking the moniker Sundowner.  With help from fellow band mates and friends the project turned into a band of sorts with Sundowner’s debut being released in the spring of 2007 on Red Scare Records.  Just three years later McCaughan and friends decided for a follow-up and recorded We Chase The Wave in their homes, literally, in just eight months.

Passionate and compelling are the two words that describe McCaughan’s wiring styles on the CD.  The guy is a natural storyteller and just has a way with words. From the moment “In The Flicker” started off the album I was beyond mesmerized.  The song was nothing more than an acoustic jam amongst friends but I was addicted, I wanted more, and before I knew it the ten track album was wrapping up.

Tracks like “As The Crow Flies” impressed the hell out of me even though the song was nothing over the ordinary.  The way the song presented itself to the listener, told the story, and ended it on a positive note not only begged for another listen but might have very well inspired a certain someone typing out this review…

“Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” took words from the 1910 poem of the same title by Franklin Pierce Adams telling the tale of the Cubs succeeding over the Giants thanks to a game winning double play (the only way I ever would have known this was by reading the CD insert and Google).  As an ode to McCaughan’s beloved Chicago Cubs he did a great job rendition of the classic poem.

“Mouth Of A Tiger” was a stern and ever so low opinionated track with lyrics like “I’m as lucky as a funeral” and “I’m not looking at the glass half full”.  I adored the singing style on the song match up with the acoustic and lap steel guitar playing.  Full of everyday truth and plain old honest opinions, the song begged to be played on repeat.

We Chase The Waves was an amazing start to finish album with no lulls in between.  McCaughan nails it dead on with his catchy melodies and fine storytelling that will grow on you regardless if you are a fan of him, The Lawrence Arms, or not.  Don’t look at Sundowner as a side project by a punk rock guy, look at it as a talented musician who has created something that more people need to know about.

Details On New Devils Brigade Album!

Matt Freeman (sporting the hat in the pic to the left) is releasing a full length Devils Brigade album!!!!!!  As a long time Rancid/Hellcat fan I am just thrilled to have heard this.  The album will drop at the end of August and a tour will follow.  With any luck he will be playing a show in Cleveland.  One can only hope!

Matt Freeman is without a doubt one of my favorite bassists out there.  Having played with Op Ivy as well as Auntie Christ his most known material is of course with Rancid. He and Tim Armstrong have actually been friends since they were little kids so it is no wonder that their musical careers have revolved around one another.

Devils Brigade was just a side project with a song released here and there but until now Matt Freemon never took the time to record his own album.    See below on the following Epitaph press release about this exciting news!

RANCID’S MATT FREEMAN GOES UPRIGHT FOR
NEW DEVILS BRIGADE ALBUM

Celebrated Bay Area punk legend Matt Freeman of Rancid and Operation Ivy fame will release the long awaited, self-titled debut album for his side project Devils Brigade on August 31 via Hellcat Records.  The bass player has assimilated a touring band to join him this fall when they hit the road with labelmates Street Dogs on a US tour.

Devils Brigade was conceived in 2000, when bassist Matt Freeman began writing songs with Tim Armstrong between Rancid tours.  This led to a few EPs and some songs on Hellcat’s Give Em The Boot compilation, but the project was put on the back burner when Rancid began touring and recording again.  Years went by and after Rancid took a break from touring on the Let The Dominoes Fall record, Matt got the itch to reactivate the project with a new studio album.

“The original concept for this record was going to be a musical,” says Freeman.  “Tim had been kicking around an idea of doing a musical about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.  He had the title “Half Way To Hell Club.”  This was based on the name for the bridge workers who fell off the bridge while it was being built and fell into the safety net that was between them and the ocean.  We grew up in the East Bay looking at that bridge and it has always been a part of our lives.  Six of those songs ended up on the Devils Brigade record.  The other songs were all original Devils Brigade songs from the first demo.  We thought they were still good and we should record them again.”

In early 2010, Matt and Tim entered the studio with DJ Bonebrake from the influential punk group X and recorded twelve quick tempered songs featuring Matt’s signature, snarling vocals along with his snap, thumping upright bass, which shine through on roots driven punk tracks like  “I’m Moving Through,” “Who’s Gonna Save Your Now” and “My Own Man Now.”

“It was a great vibe in the studio,” Matt adds.  “The record has a real live and loose vibe.  Loose in a good way.  Tim’s guitar style blended really well with DJ and everything clicked very quickly.  We had a lot of fun making this record.  I am going to take it out on the road whenever I can when Rancid is not doing anything.”

Stay tuned to www.hellcat.com and www.myspace.com/devilsbrigadeofficial for updates and news regarding Devils Brigade.