Category Archives: Punk

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.

Concert Review: Bjork @ KeySpan Park, Brooklyn, NY, 08/23/03

It’s always a good feeling when you see someone you think you know from your past, walk up to them, introduce yourself, and immediately start reminiscing about something you did five years ago.

This happened to me the other night while I was outside a little café restaurant in Little Italy with my wife, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend. I was sitting there chatting when I noticed the name of the café and immediately thought about the time I saw Bjork live with a group of newly found friends mainly because the one guy I went with to the show worked at the very restaurant I was sitting at called La Dolce Vita.

I thought for a second about the insane spur of the moment trip that four of us went on in 2003 to see Bjork play in Coney Island at KeySpan Park. I kept trying to think of the one guy’s name that worked at La Dolce Vita and finally figured it out…Gordo. A short while later I randomly glanced around the area just gathering in the beautiful scenery of Little Italy and a gentleman walked from the restaurant entryway and sat at the table next to us.

This guy looked very familiar to me but I started thinking that there was no way that this guy I went to the show with would still be working at this café 5 years later. I continued in our conversation and could see him looking at me with the same puzzled thought in his head telling him that he knew me from somewhere.

Finally I had enough and walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked “Is your name Gordo? I think once upon a time ago you and I went on a crazy trip to see Bjork.” His response was a giant smile and he stood up and gave me a hug. We started talking about the crazy trip we took and how much fun it was. After our brief conversation we finished by saying we would meet up again sometime soon now that I knew were he worked still.

Driving home I started thinking about that trip we took. I never really reviewed shows back then and the more I got thinking about it I wanted to write a little something about my experience. Past entries here already subjected my love for the Icelandic wonder Bjork and I am happy to say that I saw her once live.

Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003
Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003

It was summer of 2003 and I was working for the coffee shop in a Borders Books & Music. During that summer I had made a new friend who also dug Bjork. One day I found out that Bjork and Sigur Ros were playing for two nights at Coney Island and that was about the closest she was coming to Cleveland.

Jokingly one day I told my new friend we should travel to Brooklyn, NY to see Bjork live since she was not coming to us and my friend agreed. I knew my friend was serious, so we discussed plans to make this really happen.  Neither of just ever traveled afar to see a concert and the more we spoke about it, the more it became something we really wanted to do.

Bjork was playing two shows at KeySpan Park in Coney Island, one on Friday and one on Saturday. I was only able to make it to the Saturday show as I had tickets at the Radiohead show the Thursday before we were headed to Brooklyn. I also had to be back at Borders on Sunday night for inventory, no exceptions. This trip was going to be short lived and quick. We planned to leave Friday night and arriving to Coney Island sometime Saturday and opted to drive back home after the show. Based upon everything else that was going on, this was the only way it would work.

Within one week a car was rented, tickets were purchased, and myself, two girls, and the guy named Gordo packed into a Ford Taurus and drove though the night with just a printed out map to Coney Island. The drive was tedious through the late night, not to mention my first long road trip. We arrived luckily to Coney Island without getting lost but had a half of day to kill. Having never been to NYC we just stayed close to the venue, checked out the amusement park nearby, had lunch in the Brighton Beach area, and even took a nap in a nearby park.

With a couple more hours to kill we sat next to the rental car in the parking lot of the venue watching all of the people lining up to the sold out event. Some random guy asked us if he could pay to us to store his bag in our trunk as he had taken the subway to the venue and his hotel plans fell though. I told him as long as he met us immediately after the show I had no problem. My nice gesture paid off as he stated he was waiting in line right by the entrance way to the venue and took us there. We avoided the hour plus wait to get inside the baseball field turned concert venue.

Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003
Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003

Opening for Bjork and Sigur Ros was Bonnie Prince Billy. I had never heard of Bonnie Prince Billy and can not say after the performance I wanted to. It was a little too folksy for me and maybe it was I was just exhausted from the long day, but I just did not care for him.

Sigur Ros was amazing. Having heard some of their material before I was really psyched to see how they would pull off a live performance. Their music sounded on point and the band played on and the crowed listened in silence. Perhaps I was just to eager to see Bjork after waiting so long because s’ towards the end of Sigur Ros’ set I can remember me feeling like they would never leave the stage.

It was around 9:30pm when Bjork finally took stage. This long day finally paid off finally.  The cute unique artist took stage wearing an interesting outfit as expected.  

I was lucky enough to obtain floor tickets that were general admission so I was free to roam the grounds. I found a place that I could see the stage and hung out with Gordo as the girls squeezed their way up front. Gordo and I had the perfect view of the beautiful Bjork and had no reason to move.

Cheers erupted as Bjork and crew began their set with “Hunter”. Some people were singing along, some danced, and others like myself just stared with a happy smile on their face. Other tracks I enjoyed live was “Joga” and “All Is Full Of Love” and they seemed to sound even better live. I kept looking around telling myself that this was not a dream and that I actually drove all the way to NYC to see her.  It was one heck of a feeling I had at that moment.

In between songs a soft spoken Bjork would give a simple “thank you” to the crowd.  Many laughed at the cuteness of her voice.  There were hardly any pauses in the set and when Bjork was not singing she was hopping around the stage dancing and having her own fun.

Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003
Bjork Live in Coney Island 08/23/2003

I experienced one of the greatest shows I have ever seen in my life. Adding to the perfect weathered outdoor feel were mild pyrotechnics during a couple of the tracks. At one time fireworks were being set off on the beach behind the field. It was just perfect. I loved every minute of it especially the part where I experienced Bjork live. As much as I wanted to attend both shows I feel grateful I was able to witness one of them. It was an experience I knew I would never forget.

Before I knew it she was exiting the stage after her encore closer of “Human Behaviour” and we filed out of the venue to our car. The guy who helped us cut in line was waiting at the car. We all spoke of the show and the girls ran up to us with tears of joy in their eyes. It was a great feeling we all had at that moment. We said goodbye to the man with the bag and hopped in the car.

Everyone was exhausted including me who already had driven all the way to Brooklyn earlier that day. I felt awake enough to drive the first leg of the trip. At first we all joyfully spoke of Bjork and the girls stated they made it to the front row. The excitement simmered down quick though and before I knew it everyone was asleep. Still feeling the show, I popped in a Bjork CD and continued to drive home. The two of us drove though the long night and finally we returned back to Ohio. It might have been the longest day of my life but I enjoyed every second of it.

Bjork’s Set:

01. Hunter
02. Unravel
03. I’ve Seen It All
04. Jóga
05. Aurora
06. Cocoon
07. All is full of love
08. Desired constellation
09. Generous Palm-Stroke
10. An Echo, A Stain
11. 5 Years
12. Pagan poetry
13. Bachelorette
14. Hyper-ballad
15. It’s In Our Hands
16. Pluto

Encore:
17. Flirting
18. Isobel
19. Human Behaviour

Recently I discovered some of the concert footage I attended was included in a DVD called Screaming Masterpiece.  The following was found on YouTube and will give you just a little taste of that show I attended…

I researched the set for Sigur Ros just in case anyone was interested:

Sigur Ros’ Set:

01. New Intro/ Milano
02. Gong
03. Olsen Olsen
04. Viðrar Vel til Loftárása
05. Hafssól
06. Popplagið
07. Smáskífa

Pictures courtesy of Bjork.Com: gigOgraphy

Beat Union – Disconnected – CD Review

Beat Union
Beat Union

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 – Come All You Madmen – CD Review

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.

The Briggs - Live @ Cleveland Warped Tour 2008
The Briggs - Live @ Cleveland Warped Tour 2008