Tag Archives: New

Album Review: Anti-Flag – American Fall

You know an album is good when you spend 15 minutes trying to compose an opening sentence for a review.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about how to introduce Anti-Flag and their release, but chances are you’re very well aware of who they are already.  I was unsure how to express how surprised at how great this album was from the moment it hit my ears.  I finally decided to just write this and move on with talking about the album.

No disrespect to the band at all, but the last couple of albums did not do that much for me.  American Fall, however, has completely blown me away from start to finish.  Think of the Clash mixed with Rancid and Green Day with a huge spilling of political and social opinion based on current events and tragedies for that matter.  I know that was probably a tough sentence to take in, but trust me, it works.

Punk rock, pop punk, ska, and even a smidge of arena rock was all thrown together in American Fall, the band’s 11th studio release.  Co-produced by Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, this album has Anti-Flag taking an entirely new approach with their musical abilities all while keeping on with their values.

“American Attraction” started out full-forced with an intro comparable to Green Day’s “American Idiot” but not in an overplayed way at all.  Same style, higher energy, much more appealing to my ears.  This was not what I was expecting to hear honestly, but I love the sound.

“When the Wall Falls” started off as an acoustic track and quickly jumped ship into a ska track.  This track reminded me so much of Rancid at times especially with that organ playing – I almost with Tim Armstrong had guest vocals on this track.  The lyrics of the song were almost frightening when you sit back and think about it.

I could not help but think how close-knit the band sounded in”Trouble Follows Me”.  I loved the bass line and overall harmony with the group vocals.  Very memorable song that got stuck in my head.

“Finish What We Started” carried this huge Clash resemblance which was totally welcomed.  In fact, this was one of my favorite tracks on the album.

If you do not know who “Liar” is about, you just don’t get it.  There’s really nothing else to say about this track.  The same goes with “Throw It Away”.

“Digital Black Out” was just insane.  At times, I thought about a politically charged Joe Strummer leading a revolution.  I really felt that Anti-Flag leaped boundaries in this track.  As much as I hate to say it, a track like this has the potential to take them to Rise Against levels.

“Racists” was a highly prolific punk jam that once again impressed the hell out of me.  I loved the energy and the overall lesson to absorb within their lyrics.

It sucks to think the current state of affairs is what is fueling Anti-Flag, but for what it is worth, I am glad they have a way to release it for others to consume.

Overall, this album was amazing.  From start to finish I found myself getting sucked into the tracks and memorizing the lyrics.  I can not even tell you how many times I have listened to this album.  It has turned into a go to album when I just want to get my blood flowing.

My only complaint about American Fall was that it was only 30 minutes long and I was just so hyped up and ready for 30 more.  If Madden was the cause of the band turning a little poppier on this album, I am fully on board for him to co-product in the future.  This is the best I have heard Anti-Flag sound in years and I am stoked to hear what comes next.

 

 

Album Review: Two Hand Fools – Falling In / Falling Out

Cleveland’s Two Hand Fools are back and have dropped their most important album to date in my opinion.

I’m sure you’ve heard this statement about various bands over and over by people, but honestly, I am dead serious stating this.

The rust-belt punkers are on top of their game in Falling In / Falling Out, putting out a release that has quickly jumped to the top of my best of 2017 list.

Comprised of quality dudes including Ryan Johns (guitar / vocals), Adam Paduch (drums), Tyler Sickels (guitar) , and Nick Schmitt (bass), it’s been 4 years since the band has dropped something and this specific release has actually been 2 years in the making.

With Paduch and Sickels focusing on Heart Attack Man most of the year, Falling In / Falling Out was put on hold until everyone could come together to support it together once it dropped.  Smart move if you ask me.  Hopefully the album releases soon as the band was not able to tell me an exact release date just yet.

I absolutely should mention that the cover art for this release was created by Cleveland artist John G.This is the band’s second full release.

At less than 30 minutes, this album sucked me in and had me wanting so much more by the end.  “Falling Out” complete with some sexy saxophone really got me excited (not in that way you perv) for the rest of the album and then suddenly “Spinning” started and I was sold.  I knew i would adore the rest of this album just after that song.

“Young Again” I think was written about a 40 year old blogger from Cleveland.  I kid about that, but this track had me reminiscing while listening to the harmonic track full of emotion and realistic thoughts.

I loved the compelling “Geraniums”, a track about self-realization and moving on. It’s not a very long song, but carries a sweet set of riffs, spot-on drumming, and is just fun to jam along with.

Following was “(Transitions)”, an instrumental tune that easily could have been pulled from the 90s.  This is the track that had me thinking to myself how mature this band has become.

The saxophone made a return in “Falling In”, an interlude of sorts and it was equally as sexy-sounding as the beginning.  This track moved into “Raindrops”, another short and sweet track that left a bite mark.

“Cut You Up” once again had the band doing what they do best – play together.  This was so genuine sounding and probably my favorite on the album that was far from being over-produced.  Perhaps a little deranged lyrically, I share that sentiment so naturally I dug this.

“No Tip” wasn’t too technical and because of it, it was an entertaining listen even if the somber track reflected a miserable serving.  Add in the ever important group vocals, and you have a damn fine song.  This was one of those emotional tracks that was just infectious to hear out.

“RGB” had some, you guessed it, sexy saxophone playing.  I clearly am joking about the sexiness and should say effectiveness because this song was 400 times better because of that woodwind playing throughout.  This was a hell of a track to end the album with.

I need to admit, the first time I heard Two Hand Fools years back, I was not sold.  In fact, I remember telling myself that they need to rearrange.  Who the hell am I to judge a hard-working group though?  I kept those comments to myself and kept on checking them out when I could.

I am glad I never dismissed them completely because since then they have become one of my favorite Cleveland bands.  I have watched them grow up and embrace who they are as musicians and to me, that is pretty goddamn amazing.

Falling In / Falling Out should serve as a solid testament of accomplishment to some pals who have been in it for 10 years now.  They really impressed me with this one.



Two Hand Fools play Mahall’s on Friday, Oct. 27 in support of this new release.

Album Review: Tim Barry – High On 95

There is really not much more I can say about Tim Barry these days except that the man is exceptional.

The former Avail frontman has made aging as a punk rocker just so appealing.  Taking each day in stride and being the best father he can be, you might just find inspiration in him just as I have.

His solo material is more of a storytelling process with the soul purpose of letting people hear him out.  Still containing his punk rock roots as well as life-long experiences, Barry just dropped an all new release on Chunksaah Records titled High On 95.

High On 95 is a mixture of acoustic tracks and collective jams with Barry’s family and friends.  Just as he has always done in the past, Barry has no problem combining folk, rock, and punk and  with his own personal touch making for an incredible listen.

The album was recorded once again by Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage Studios in Richmond Virginia.  According to Barry, “it’s just one take” and continued with, “Lance knows the more I do it, the worse it’s gonna get. You lose something when you play it more and more. So get it right.”

One take is all it took to make one hell of an album.

The personal “Slow Down” had Barry and his guitar recollecting life in a busy city and his transition to a small town.  The backing violin playing was so fitting on this track that seemingly aged from the beginning to the end.

The detail in the lyrics on “High On 95” almost seemed like personal memories of my own.  This track was built up with some guitar playing and simple piano playing.  What made this track even better for me was the video that his 4-1/2 year old daughter filmed all on a VHS camcorder.  Life goal right there folks, especially since I have my own little versions of me these days.  Check out the video below.

“O & Dp” was more of a song a close knit of friends would sign around a campfire.  I especially related to this track with lyrics that were personable with life events and self-expectation.

“Riverbank” was a memorable jam that might be one of the more produced songs I have heard by Barry in a while and I loved every second of it.  Friendly and real thoughts put into song while letting dogs run around the river just doesn’t get much more sincere.

The toe-tapping “Gumshoe Andy” brought back train-hopping memories of Barry.  You almost wonder who this gumshoe was and what his intentions were or if it was just an inner-conscious voice taming someone’s wild tendencies.

The observations in “Porter St.” are all to familiar.  This industrialization realization of a small town track has immediately become one of my favorite Barry tracks.  Just listening to it had me thinking and agreeing with what day to day life has turned into.

“Chelsea” was almost a Dear John letter of a track with Barry showing pleasantries followed by dismissal for being deceitful.  Friendly-sounding but stern, this tune was quick to take out the trash.

It was great to hear Barry’s sister Caitlin play violin on “Running Never Tamed Me” along with Barry. Christina Marie Gleixner provided haunting backing vocals on this track about the highs and lows of life and love as told to what I would only assume was Barry’s daughters.  This was one bummer of a track, but beautiful.

At 30 minutes total, High On 95 was an amazing listen that seemed to just fly by.  I have actually listened to it a few times now and some of the tracks became even more poignant once the lyrics were absorbed in my mind.  It’s the kind of album you think with, relate to, and just absorb.

People, including myself, have asked Barry for years if he would ever reunite Avail.  He always responds that he is not interested in doing that.  For a while there, I could not understand, but as the years have progressed with the releases by Barry, I am glad he didn’t.  This man has his priorities set to align with his future on his own accord.  Godspeed sir.

Tour Dates:
9/23 Richmond, Virginia @ Carpenter Theatre
10/05 Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub
10/06 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
10/07 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/8 Detroit, MI @ Smalls
10/10 Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
10/11 St Louis, Mo @ Blueberry Hill
10/12 Chicago, Il @ Cobra Lounge
10/13 Indianapolis @ White Rabbit
10/14 Louisville, KY @ Haymarket
10/26 Ybor City, FL @ Pre-FEST
10/27 Gainesville, FL @ FEST
11/09 Garwood, NJ @ Crossroads
11/10 Philadelphia @ Underground Arts
11/11 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs.
11/12 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
12/07 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
12/08 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
12/09 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/10 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill.

Album Review: Heart & Lung – You Wanna Know the Truth?

When a great pal tells me to check out a band that one of his bandmates happens to be in, I stop what I am doing and look for my headphones.

Heart & Lung is the band I speak of and thanks to Jeremy (most call him Rozco), I can not stop listening to these guys.

This four-piece pop-punk act hails from tropical Cleveland and has been doing their thing for a couple of years now.  Featuring current members of Throw Shade and former members of The Fucking Cops, Let em’ Run, and The Public, it is safe to say that this band has plenty of rustbelt punk rock talent.

You Wanna Know the Truth is the band’s debut release and I must say, it is pretty damn impressive.  Released independently, you’d think someone from an independent label would have scooped them up already (hint, hint to you label owners out there).

As far as the sound goes, think the energy of Direct Hit! mixed with the singing style of Say Anything, the memorable lyrics of Iron Chic, and glorious group harmonies of Masked Intruder.

As an avid Cleveland Indians fan, I certainly appreciated the opening sample with Hammy doing this thing on “Telecaster”.  This opening track just has the band jumping right in and giving it their all.

“Hey Man” was kind of like a fun blend of Max Bemis and Masked Intruder, hence my previous comparison.  This happy-go-lucky track is best played with friends.  Nice job incorporating the band name into the lyrics by the way…

I am not sure what “1954” is all about, but I do know that is the year the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series.  I also know that is the year the infamous Sam Sheppard  supposedly murdered his wife.   I appreciated the Cleveland pride and references throughout this jam.

“You Wanna Know the Truth?” was easily my favorite track off the album.  The steady yet furious drumming, the piano playing, and just the honest chorus “you wanna know the truth?  I’m fucking in love with all of you” pretty much did it in for me.  Hearing the band profess enjoyment while on tour as well as their admiration for the great state they all hail from was all too intoxicating.  The ending though…man, that was so perfect (you can check out the song below).

“Recession” was 50 seconds of the ups and downs of corporate America and the broke asses who live there.  “Don’t Need You” was as you guessed it, a song about tacos from someone who is trying to diet furiously.  I love tacos.

“The Sound” ended things in almost Weezer fashion sans the heavy repeating bass line.  Hearing this song build up, explode, and just exhale with piano playing at the end put this album to rest in a good way (no pun intended of course).  With lyrics about ending it all, carrying fear in doing so, and finally seeing someone looking back eliminating said fear, this wasn’t exactly a happy-go-lucky track.

My only complaint about this album?  It clocked in at a whopping 27 minutes.  11 great songs, but I would have gone for a few more.

This Cleveland pop punk act has what it takes to turn heads and snag the attention of many.  Don’t believe me?  Check out what the bassist John’s sixth-grade students had to say about it…

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I feel like I should have just started out the review with their quotes.

This band has been playing like crazy lately here in Cleveland as of late, most recently with Off With Their Heads, and I am excited to see what happens with them next.  If you are looking for something new and fun, check these dudes out.


https://heartandlung.bandcamp.com/album/you-wanna-know-the-truth
https://www.facebook.com/heartandlungcleveland/
https://www.instagram.com/heartandlung/

 

Album Review: Everymen – May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell

I could be quick to say Lake Worth, Florida’s Everymen is just a folk punk band and move on with life, but that would be incredibly lazy on my part.

This band may carry some of the punk and  folk qualities attributed to that genre, but they are so much more than that.

I cannot say I’d heard of this band before, but they just dropped a new release on Say-10 Records called May Your Ashes Have Stores To Tell, and I found myself really digging what they had to offer.

Everymen is like what a young Against Me! might have sounded like if a hyped Tim Barry took over some of the singing duties while the dudes from Gogol Bordello jumped onboard.  I could not help but also think of Tin Horn Prayer when listening to this album as well as Old Man Markley and even Larry and His Flask.

The more I listened to this album though, the more I kept thinking that lead singer of Everymen sounded like the lead singer of one of my favorite unheard of 90s bands, Stompbox.  Once I made that observation, I could not get it out of my head.

Sure that is a lot of comparisons to be throwing out there, but the band stands out with their own style and energy which made it much more interesting to get into.

The moment “Shake Your Bones” started off the album, I knew I was in for something good.  This toe-tapping jam really caught me off guard, especially with the horns and crazy guitar playing.

“Dead Friends”, an ode to lost pals, kept an upbeat feel while paying tribute to those who were taken too soon.  Sadly this was not the only track on the album to sing about loved ones who were no longer as “M.B.” paid tribute to Erik Petersen, the lead singer of Mischief Brew and great friend to the band, who took his own life.

“How To Live” was more of a basement sing along track over the rest.   Listening to this song brought back lots of memories of me being smashed in tiny, dark basements screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs along with some of my favorite bands.

The sing along opportunities continued with he fun “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, a track that easily could have fueled an all night rager in a small, remote bar.  Ironically, “Waking Up Hurts” seemed to be the morning after song compared to the previous jam.

“Don’t Stay” was dark as hell with a certain gypsy-polka sound that was all too inviting.  I loved the female vocals tossed into this track as well as the fiddle playing.

It’s nice to hear such a unique album that does not necessarily rip off anyone else’s sound.  I can only imagine what this band sounds like live.  I am sure it is a hell of a drunken good ol time.

If you are looking for something a little different from the norm, check out what Everymen has to offer.  This is one of those bands I am glad someone reached out to me asking to check out because now I can tell you to do the same.  Totally worth it.