Category Archives: Punk

Street Dogs – State Of Grace – CD Review

One of my favorite Irish infused, punk rock bands the Street Dogs dropped yet another release over the summer titled State of Grace.  Fronted by the one time lead vocalist of the infamous Dropkick Murphys, this CD delivers powerful punk rock anthems fueled with a traditional Irish feel to it.  This is the band’s fourth release and their first under Hellcat Records.

Street Dogs
Street Dogs

Lead singer Mike McColgan is one of the most American punk rockers you will ever meet.  Before fronting the Dropkick Murphys, he served time overseas during the Gulf War to help pay for school.  When he returned, he helped start the Dropkick Murphys in 1996 and released Do or Die; it was the only album he released with the band.  In 1998 he left the Dropkick Murphys to pursue his dream of becoming a fireman.  Fast forward a couple of years later to 2002 and McColgan got the music fever again and started the Street Dogs.

On their fourth full length release the five-some sounds stronger than ever.  Album opener “Mean Fist” is impressive with a full on punk rock approach start to finish.  “Into The Valley” sounded like an anti-war group marching song insuring escalating spirits for all soldiers involved in this senseless war.

Other stand out songs are “Rebel Song” with McColgan signing his heart out about standing up in a poor nation to rise above.  The song reassures the underprivileged that they should continue to do what they do and unite.  “The General’s Boombox” continued the high spirit lyrics about staying true to yourself.

“Elizabeth” reminds me of an Irish pub song that everyone in the house could sing-a-long to.  Another sing-a-long track “Two Angry Kids” would be best listened to away from the bar as the song makes you want to dance wildly around and pump your fists in the air.

“San Patricios” is by far my favorite track.  The Irish meets Mexican song is insane.  I loved the Spanish singing and guitar riffs layered with punk rock.  The Irish/Mexican unity track recalls back to the times when the Irish teamed with the Mexicans for their fight against the US to save Mexico.

If you are looking for a band that has similarities of the Dropkick Murphys keep in mind that even though McColgan was the original lead vocalist that the Street Dogs take a different approach at Irish punk rock with less bagpipe playing and alcohol inspired tracks.  From political views to the love of family and friends this CD was amazing especially the third time I listened to it.

The first listen was an introduction but by the third listen I was hooked.  This is one of the better punk rock albums that has been released in 2008.  Street Dogs exist because of the love of music for an Irish gent straight out of Boston.  If you are looking for punk rock at its finest go out and grab a copy of State of Grace.

Check out the Street Dogs live this fall.  For more info visit their website or check out their MySpace.

Bad Religion @ Cleveland Agora – 1996

Wow did I ever find a gem today on YouTube.

Bad Religion
Bad Religion

For almost 20 minutes this evening I flashed back to one of my favorite concerts ever 12 years ago.  I remember the line up vividly.  It was The Gray Race Tour featuring Bad Religion with special guests Unwritten Law and Dance Hall Crashers at the infamous Cleveland Agora.

I was fresh out of high school, reckless, and an avid punk rocker.  I went to the show with a big group of friends….we took our friend’s mom’s van that had the worst suspension ever.  In fact we had to turn around on route 422 and swap the van out with another friend’s mom’s van.

One thing I recall about that show was there there were cameras all over the place, professional cameras.  The cameras were on the balconies of the Agora as well as on the shoulders of cameramen.  My friends and I got excited because we were going to be filmed during the performance.  We hoped it would be released on VHS (that’s right kids, DVDs did not exist back then).

I owe that tour for introducing SoCal Surf/Skate punk rockers Unwritten Law to me.  I am still a fan of them today.  During their performance I noticed the cameras were not rolling so we all agreed that the camera were there only for Bad Religion.

When Bad Religion took stage we all went insane.  I remember moshing and dancing and just acting like a complete fool.  At times I was just falling on people and letting them push me around as I sang at the top of my lungs.  I was being a carefree 19 year old and was loving every moment of it.  For the record, I was sober too…I got carded when I tried to buy beers….haha.

As the years passed I slowly forgot about that show.  Since none of us could ever hunt down that footage of the show we all figured it was lost.  A few weeks ago one of my buddies who went to that show with me called me telling me he saw some footage of the show on YouTube.  I was in disbelief yet thrilled that it surfaced.  Well thanks to my busy like I completely forgot about that phone conversation until today when I logged onto YouTube and looked it up.

Sure enough, it’s Bad Religion at the Cleveland Agora 1996.  It was a sold out show.  My friends and I were front row slightly to the right of center stage.  I laughed when I saw the pit because I know I was a part of it.  I remember it so clearly and now you can see what I experienced…

Part I:

Part II:

Other footage:

Dead Kennedys Announce Indefinite Touring Hiatus

I really missed out on the 80’s punk rock movement.  I was just a kid.  I still wish I was a little bit older at the time so I could have attended some of the most memorable punk acts of that time.  One of the acts specifically would be the Dead Kennedys.  How I wish I could have seen them in their prime.

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

The hardcore punk act seemed to e a little too extreme for many therefore they never tasted success.  With their over the edge look on America and witty humor they were handed ridiculous lawsuits for various situations including distributing harmful matter to minors.  The band eventually split up, and not in good terms with one another.  For more info on their ups and downs check out their Wikipedia page.

By the time I started to appreciate the Dead Kennedys it was too late for me to see them live as they disbanded in 1986.  Regrouping in 2001 did not mean anything to be because Jello Biafra was not a part.  To me “regrouping” is when the entire band decides to get together and play out (unless of course in the case of a band like Alice In Chains where one member passed away).

Last March some of the members of Dead Kennedys announced that they would be touring in support of Milking The Sacred Cow, a greatest hits compilation originally released in October of 2007.  After touring overseas at select venues and starting in California the band had to call it quits.  Not because they felt bad going on without Jello Biafra but because of health.

Original bassist Klaus Flouride has been having health issues, unknown at this time, that has prevented him from touring as planned.  Announced in late August, the Dead Kennedys will no longer tour.  Klaus will still collaborate with other members of the band, but only locally.  It’s sad to hear when age prevents musicians from going forward with their talent.  I am glad to hear he has not completely hung up his bass.  I’ll be looking for side projects with him in the near future.  Looks as it this time Dead Kennedys is done…

The good thing though is that the band was finally recognized.

In May of 2008 Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death was certified gold in the US and UK.  In addition In God We Trust, Inc., was certified gold in the UK.

They may not be a band anymore but I still love putting on a classic Dead Kennedys albums and enjoying their left-wing satire and humor.

Hawthorne Heights – Fragile Future – CD Review

Hawthorne Heights
Hawthorne Heights

A lot has been going on for Ohio’s screamo act Hawthorne Heights since their last release.  Having said goodbye to a friend and band mate as well as dropping a lawsuit with Victory Records, the band continues to cope and mature throughout.  Not letting the past affect them in a downward way, the band proves they refuse to stop with Fragile Future, their third release on Victory Records.

On November 27, 2007 Hawthorne Heights guitarist/screamer Casey Calvert was found dead on the band’s tour bus just prior to their sound check at a Washington D.C. music club.  The cause of death was determined to be a possible drug interaction but according to the band’s drummer Eron Bucciarelli it was not a result of hardcore partying but an accident as Casey Calvert was taking other medicines from a recent root canal.

With the death of a loved one the band stated they would continue to go on and never add another guitarist/screamer to their band.  After taking some time to themselves and writing new material the band hopes to once again achieve success with Fragile Future even though this time they are one man down.

Of course, the first thing that stands out on this release is the omitted vicious screaming.  It would appear that Hawthorne Heights did not even wish to replicate their lost friend’s talent and that, to me, is respectable.  Also dropping the lawsuit with Victory Records and patching up past decisions proved the band is on the rise.

When “The Business Of Paper Stars” started I was waiting for the well known screaming backing up lead singer J.T. Woodruff but instead imagined it in my head.  There is plenty of opportunity in the song for screaming but the band strays away from that and is now more emo. 

Their healed sound continues in “Until The Judgment Day” with memorable lyrics of being “battered and broken” as well as “don’t look back, don’t you ever look back until the judgment day”.  Looks as if the band put down the boom box to win the girl attitude and started to see there are more things in life out there.

“Four Became One” was the track I was looking for on this CD, knowing how they lost Casey Calvert.  The song really is about the band’s closure with the difficult situation they were subject to.  It’s an ode to their friend for the entire world to hear.  Having lost friends in my past, I felt their pain in this song.

“321” is the closest song on the CD that shows aggression with a mild screaming dwelling behind the singing.  The guitar playing is likable and heavier than the other tracks making for one of my choice cuts.  “Come Back Home (Reprise)” was another track that held on to the the old style, especially with borrowed lyrics from “This Is Who We Are” off their sophomore album If Only You Were Lonely.

Fans of Hawthorne Heights will be happy the band continued on and with their change of style and I can see some new folk becoming fans.  It is a change, especially if you put this CD in hoping to hear the screamo. This is not their strongest album to date but the fact that they did not let the past hold them back makes them a tough band now.  Hawthorn Heights defines the emo genre now that they have experienced true sorrow.  Mature and structured, I expect much more from this band in years to come.

Check out their lastest video for the song “Rescue Me”:

Beat Union Almost Forced To Cancel Tour Thanks To Crackheads

UK’s Beat Union had the unexpected happen to them earlier this week while touring in Canada.  Their tour van and trailer, full of their equipment, were stolen from outside a hotel the band was staying at.  It looked as if the band was going to have to call it quits until they could get back on their feet.  Luckily for them (unlike Iggy Pop‘s incident at the beginning of August) the Edmonton police were able to recover the vehicle and badly damaged trailer.

Beat Union meeting with authorities after their trailer was stolen.  <br>(Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson/ Edmonton Journal)
Beat Union meeting with authorities after their trailer was stolen. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson/ Edmonton Journal)

The van sustained minimal damage but due to a high speed chase the trailer was not in the best of shape.  With the back wheels missing from the high pursuit and damage to the frame it needed serious attention before it would be used again.

It took all but moments for the van to be stolen.  One of the band members slept in the van as security while the others were in the hotel.  Lead singer David Warsop decided to leave the van for 20 minutes to take a shower.  While the van was unoccupied someone decided to steal it and the attached trailer.

At first the band did not think they would recover any of the $28,000 worth of equipment and personal belongings.  Upon recovery only minimal items were discovered taken such as a scooter, a white Gibson firebird guitar, a couple of cameras, clothing,  and passports.  Crack pipes and condom wrappers were found in the van and trailer as a replacement for the stolen items.  The band was more upset based upon the fact that some shows had to be canceled as they waited for repairs to be completed on the trailer.

Thanks to the Edmonton police crew and most notably their police dog Knight, who took down one of the suspects at the end of the chase, the band will play on.  Already involved in their nice sized North American tour and just having wrapped up their Warped Tour stint, this was the last thing the band needed.

Look for the band on the road once again touring in support of their debut release Disconnected with select dates along side Flogging Molly, The Loved Ones, and the Horrorpops.

For more information check out The Edmonton Sun or The Province.