UK pop punkers Beat Union previously released Disconnected at the beginning of the summer, unknown to me. The band first grabbed my attention when I caught their live set at the Vans Warped Tour 2008 and much to my surprise, they are a first-class act. Their take on punk rock mixed with elements of new wave really was fun to listen to, not to mention their stage presence was outstanding. Disconnected is the band’s debut CD and was released under Science Records.
CD opener “Disconnected” started with a very catchy style that easily could be the next hit song to hit the airwaves. The song reminded me of what the Proclaimers or XTC might sound like if they were punkers. “Pressure Zone” followed with typical lyrics, a great bass line, and added horns making for a great listen.The very Elvis Costello like “My Heart Starts Beating” was likable and seemed to focus on the pop and strayed from the punk. “Dancing In Our Sleep” seemed to follow the same trend but suddenly erupted with a nice little “whoa” sing-a-long ending.
“Stay On The Line” has lyrics along with great guitar sounds that potentially may get stuck in your head as it stands out as the most likable track on the CD for me. It’s just one of those songs you start thinking about later after listening to it and suddenly the chorus is repeating in your mind. “She Is The Bullet” followed and with a monotonous beginning to the song thankfully erupted with energy.
“Can’t Stop The Radio” was my personal favorite track on the album. It was very suggestive of UK punk and new wave artists from the past and just sounded excellent all the way though. “Don’t Have Love” was another track I got a kick out of. There is even a secret dub-style remix of “Can’t Stop The Radio” that in my opinion blew away all of the other tracks. I almost wish the entire CD was dub inspired, regardless though, it was a good listen from beginning to end.
For a debut release, it sounds like these guys have been recording albums for years. Perhaps the solid sounds were tweaked out by producer/front man of Goldfinger, John Feldmann. Regardless, Beat Union has won me over as a fan seeing them live and also thanks to Disconnected.
I am really happy the band decided to travel overseas and introduce themselves to the US by playing here over the summer or I might have overlooked them. I am even more excited to hear they are going to be touring with Flogging Molly later this year which means a longer live set.This band has plenty of potential and seems to have ignored those who think they are just a fashioned mainstream band that will soon disappear. Even if they do replicate the English Beat or the Clash in a sense, the band has a great upbeat sound and I am really looking seeing more of them very soon.
The Briggs are a punk rock act that had a hard time getting to me. I am not saying that I was forced to listen to them; rather I missed many occasions to sample them in the past. I either heard a song by them on a compilation and never researched it or simply showed up to a live show just as they left the stage. Missed opportunities did not discourage me though as I finally had the prospect of seeing the Irish punk rockers The Briggs live at the 2008 Van’s Warped Tour and I made damn sure I was in the audience before they took stage.
The Los Angeles punk rock act won me over with their punk rock energy and wholesome sound. I was excited at my decision of finally checking them out as they were one of the few true punk rock acts on the popular tour. Recently releasing their fourth full length album Come All You Madmen I finally got a taste of what I have been missing all these years and I must say it was scrumptious.
Formed in 2001 the foursome has continually toured the US with heavy hitting punk rock acts such as the Dropkick Murphys and Bad Religion. They work hard at what they do and take it to heart. Once quoted as saying that Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello are more punk than most of the punk bands out there today by taking chances and being serious about what they do, The Briggs continue the trend.
“Mad Man” started up the album with politically powerful lyrics and had plenty of sing-a-long opportunities. The Briggs’ ode to “LA” almost has an Oi feel to it but by no means sounds like a simple creation; this ode is heartfelt to their hometown.
“Bloody Minds” had a hint of Against Me! to it, but the song was really likable, especially the horns making for one of my choice cuts off this disc. Another track “Not Alone” really captured my attention too. The song was catchy with unity inspired lyrics layered on top of pleasant sounding punk rock.
“Oblivion” takes a change in the CD’s direction toning down the punk rock feel. The change is welcomed as it is a great song more rock and seemingly more personal to The Briggs. “Final Words” slows down a tad with a song I feel might have sounded a little better if it were sped up. At times I am reminded of something the Clash might have created but not enough for me to want to keep this song on repeat.
“Molly” crawled past me as the closer of the album. What a change in tempo from first to last song. The song is more of an Irish bawl that would be suitable for a drunken evening in a pub. I am not sure why the band started so strong and then ended it with almost a sleeper of a track. Perhaps it was a metaphor I completely missed.
If you are thinking that maybe punk is dead or over processed then maybe you should check out The Briggs. In my opinion they were one of the bands that helped make the 2008 Warped Tour more memorable and after seeing them live and even talking to them at their merch tent (friendliest band ever), I had to check out their newest release. What they have created was not thrown together in hopes of making a quick buck. They are very passionate about the music they display and prove it on Come All You Madmen. Check out their MySpace page if you need some proof.
3OH!3 (pronounced 3-OH!-3) is far from your ordinary band. For instance, when I downloaded the CD to my iPod it was listed as an unclassifiable genre and that is an understatement. Debuting with WANT, the twosome white-boy rap/rock duo certainly have released material worth talking about as they have mixed up elements of crunk, punk, electronica, and even emo, making for an energy overload album.
Hailing from the streets of… umm… Boulder, the duo have discarded their college educations in favor of creating some of the best crunk rock dance party tracks I have ever heard. Already debuting on the Top 10 on the iTunes album chart, the band has also gained attention from Alternative Press Magazine naming them one of AP’s one hundred bands you need to know.
3OH!3 stands for the area code that front men Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte represent. Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, the duo met while studying physics in college and discovered one another’s love for underground hip hop. The mutual fixation for a genre of music that is rarely handled in the capitol of hippies brought the two united to create 3OH!3 and before they knew it they were selling out local clubs with their high strung dancing layered on top of their truly unique genre-bashing music.
“Punk Bitch” was the first track I heard from these guys and I must admit I thought they were a Lil John wannabe project. Not until halfway through the song did I realized this was not really a rap act but something much more entertaining. The opening to the song imitated lots of crunk music I have heard before, but as you go through the song you start to hear a blend of crunk and emo, something I did not think was possible until now. The result is an infectious track that I have listened to over and over. This gangster emo track will be getting the clubs moving for sure this year.
The third track “Don’t Trust Me” has the greatest refrain ever: “Shush girl, shut your lips. Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips.” Dance like Helen Keller? Who the hell writes something like this? How offensive… I loved it. I can only see it now, a forbidden dance called the Helen Keller created from this track. Aside from the crude lyrics talking of a no-name groupie, this track is full of danceable music that is far from annoying.
Sounding almost like what Electric Six would sound like if they collaborated with Lil John & The Eastside Boyz is “I’m Not Your Boyfriend Baby”. The electronic beats alone surpass a lot of crap I have heard in the clubs or on the radio, and once the interesting, whiny, emo cry solo was slammed with their tough ass rap lyrics I was addicted.
“Star Struck” has more of a R&B feel a la Kenna mixed with hard electronics and a beat that pretty much has been stuck in my head since I first heard the sexually suggestive song. Then there are the full on rap tracks “Choke Chain” that you will be singing along with and “Photofinnish” that reminded me of the Faint but excessively crunked out.
Just when I thought things were insane enough, “Still Around” started up. This slow sensitive track regarding the love of a special something really proves to me these guys are not just out there to jump around and get the party rioting. The lyrics at times were predictable but the music and the idea of the song is sweet and almost depressing, especially if you have been in the situation of which they sing.
No need to be too depressed though, because “Holler ’til You Pass Out” brings back all that energy that was paused for a moment with a full blown anthem all about representing the city of Boulder. This track is tough, addictive, and fun and I wanted more once it was over.
Want might very well be the most fun CD I have heard all year and at this moment I am addicted to 3OH!3 and their crazy ass music. These guys have something a little gangster, a lot insane, and damn well genus. If you are looking for something a tad different from the norm yet catchy at the same time then 3OH!3 is where it’s at.
Already stealing the show at the 2008 Warped Tour with their high vigor, including their hilarious onstage presence, this is one band you need to experience especially if you are in need some new pickup lines to rifle off to the ladies.
Just in case you wanted to hear what they sound like or what the hype is all about:
(Warning, as with many crunk infused tracks, there is a lot of cussing on this video. Like truck driver cussing…. Play accordingly)
It is not often you hear about couple who happen to both be musicians/artist create a book together. I Went For A Walk is a children’s story book full of great illustrations by one of the cutest couples ever, Shanti Wintergate and Bouncing Souls lead singer Gregory Attonito. The book digs deep into your imagination and takes you on a wild journey for both kids and adults of all ages.
Recently I was able to interview the punk rock couple about the book via email and they were more than happy to reply to me. I asked a few questions pertaining to the book as well as personal life inquiries.
Musicians have done a lot of projects on the side but writing children’s books is not something you hear about a lot. Did you two ever think that you would be creating a children’s book?
Greg: I don’t think we talked about it at all before Shanti wrote the story but we always enjoy exploring creative things together. It was just a matter of what might take off for us. We make short films, have comedy skit ideas and write songs together all the time.
I am curious as Google only allows me to find so much — do you guys have children of your own? How long have the two of you been married?
Greg: We have been married for six years and we have no children.
I Went For A Walk is a great story that intrigues the imagination. Is this story about anyone in particular?
Greg: That’s a good question! In my perception the story is about all of us and it’s for all of us. You, the reader, are on the journey as you turn the pages of the book.
Do you guys have certain parts of the book that you like the most?
Greg: The part where the character is picked up in a cloud of dust and ends up shrinking down to the size of a tiny little atom. From this vantage point we see another amazing universe to explore just inside the space of a tiny little atom. I love the way that part shifts my perception and the way I see the world. It helps me remember there is so much that makes up the tiniest little thing.
Shanti: I love so many parts of the book but I think my favorite is waking up from what might be a dream and pancakes are waiting for you! Maybe it’s just because I’m really hungry right now.
Shanti, when you wrote the first bit of this story did you anticipate it turning into a children’s book? Did it take very long for the entire story to be written?
Shanti: As soon as the first few lines were written, some part of me knew it was going to turn into something more. Thinking back now, after those first few lines were written I remember looking at them and thinking, “This would be a fun children’s book!” It only took a few more weeks for the story to be “mostly” completed. I say “mostly” because I continued making slight adjustments throughout and up until the project was sent to press.
Greg, can you tell me how you came up with some of the illustrations for the book? I heard you like to draw a lot on the road. What did you use to draw them? Were the illustrations created before the novel or after Shanti told you she was writing the book?
Greg: Shanti wrote the story first and I brought it with me on tour, along with a sketchpad and a bag full of paint pens. I used paint pens and markers but mostly paint pens because I love the bright colors and the convenience of them. Some visual pictures came into my mind and translated to the page very easily and some did not. There are a lot of pages of art that did not make the book. Developing a look and a style to the book took a lot of trial and error for me. I’ve learned so much.
Your slogan is “Creating Something From Nothing Since 1997.” Can you tell me why you came up with this slogan?
Greg: Shanti and I have known each other since ’97 so you could say that was the start of our creative collaboration together. We came up with the slogan to go with our company name “Hollywood Jersey.” It can be pretty fun to see one of your ideas come to life and bring some positive energy into the world. We are celebrating and exercising our ability to manifest love and all the rad stuff that comes with it. We created this book by using our love and our minds, two things that aren’t necessarily tangible — essentially “nothing”
Making something from nothing is definitely our favorite pastime.
On average how much time do the two of you get to spend together during the year?
Greg: In the past six years the Bouncing Souls have been on tour for six to ten months out of every year, give or take. There has been some pretty long stretches of time apart. Last year I was away from home for 250 days. Long time.
You have been touring together a lot in support of the book. How are the readings going? To my understanding Shanti reads while Greg plays acoustic music. Is that correct?
Greg: The readings have been a blast. The kindergarten kids are so much fun because they have no social filters. They just say what they are thinking and share their feelings. We have had some amazing off the wall comments during our readings. For example: Shanti asked a class if they understood what the future is. One of the responses was, “It’s where cars fly.” I love that. Shanti and I have been trading off with the reading but she ends up reading most of the story. We both stop to talk to the kids and ask them questions during the reading. The music comes after the reading and we both play acoustic guitars and sing new children’s songs that we’ve written.
When was the last time the two of you toured together? I imagine that this tour is a lot less stressful than that of a punk rock tour.
Greg: Shanti was on the Warped tour for a month in 2006. I was on with the Souls so it was great to be together for that time. I even had the opportunity to play guitar in her band. Yes it is less stressful than a punk rock tour. It’s a lot simpler.
Have you two ever thought of putting out an album together? How about a children’s album?
Greg: Yes! We have loads of ideas for all kinds of music! We have a handful of children’s songs that we will probably start recording in the next few months. Everybody who heard the songs on our tour wanted to know where to get the CD, so we better get busy. We have a great numbers song!
What plans do the two of you have once you are finished touring? Can we expect to see another adventure by the both of you?
Greg: Yes. We a have a few more book ideas already and we want to start printing up bilingual versions of I Went For A Walk. There is always another adventure around the corner.
You two seem to have a lot of love and happiness in your relationship. Any tips for the rest of us?
Greg: Well you have to like being together. It sounds kind of silly but I don’t know if some couples do sometimes. Honest communication about everything! We always have to look into ourselves and be honest about what we really want out of a situation and go from there. Without that real honesty issues will arise. Through love and honest communication we can all achieve things that seem really difficult and maybe even have a good time with each other along the way.
Shanti: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh and of course… I’m always right! Wait, I will add one more thing — don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is hard no matter how you slice it, so appreciate what’s good about living, loving and laughing.
I Went For A Walk is available for purchase on their Myspace page. You can also check it out now via a narrated video of the book: