Tag Archives: Rap

BHP Best of 2016

It’s that time of the year again folks.  Time to sit here and type out a list of bands that have impressed me one way or another.  I am not keeping to a set number as it would take me forever to narrow it down.

A sincere thanks to everyone who’s ever visited this site – seriously.  I know I tend to say that around the time I do my best of lists, but I really mean it.  I almost called it quits  earlier this year and reconsidered at the last minute.

This blog is very personal to me and even if more people find it while Googling how to fix their headphones, it is still fun to do.  If I can turn someone on to a new band just by one post, then my job is done.

With that said, I plan on sticking around for a while.

I am sure I will add a few more as they come to me in the next couple of weeks (as I always do [up to 3 edits now]), but for now, here’s the list of the albums that really caught my attention in 2016:

[EDIT:  The year is not over yet and I needed to throw in just a couple more…]


Chandeli’ers – Breaker
-This was the album that hit me in the right way.  It was fun across the board and sounded like the Clash meets Elvis Costello.  What more could you ask for?


Run The Jewels – RTJ3
-This album was not supposed to drop until 3 weeks into the new year, but El-P and Killer Mike decided to drop it on Christmas day for all to enjoy.  I can not stop listening to it.  I know I am not the only one either.

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"
MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity
-Hands down one of my favorite surprise releases of the year.  This punk rock band has thrown together an album I will be listening to over and over for years to come.

joe-mcmahon
Joe McMahon – Another Life
-This is another one of my favorite albums this year.  McMahon shared with the world an outstanding collection of tunes that everyone needs to check out.  His solo material is a lot different from his Smoke or Fire days and that is not a bad thing at all.

Bob Mould
Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
-Mould recorded a masterpiece with Patch the Sky.  If you have not had the chance to listen to this album, you are missing out.  This album is perfect to listen to any day.

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!
-I am kicking myself for not putting this on my list initially.  Richman is one of the most prolific songwriters out there and put out quite the release.  I loved how song his songs were fun at times while others were just complex and reached across borders.  He really showcased his musical abilities on this release.  This guy has been writing music for longer than I have been alive and still is able to put out quality albums.

Dinosaur Jr.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
-I have been a fan of this band for over 25 years now, so it only makes sense that this release made my list.  Oh, it also kicks so much ass.  Lou Barlow singing on it made it that much better.

All Dinosaurs
All Dinosaurs – Total Dissatisfaction
-Where do I even start with this one?  It’s like listening to the Bronx, but better, and from Cleveland.  I love this album so much that I literally just bought the LP from their bandcamp page.  No lie.

Useless ID
Useless ID – State is Burning
-This band will always be one of my favorites and this release continued to keep me a fan.  With a much more harder approach, they really killed it on this one.  I also adored the nod to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket.

pulley
Pulley – No Change in the Weather 
This band was a huge favorite of mine in the late 90s and I thought they were done in the mid-2000s, but low and behold, they came back with an album that seemingly continued where they left off without missing a beat.  “Sometimes” is such a great track.

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
-James Alex (and former crew) have created a timeless album for music fans of all ages.  Catchy yet poignant, the album has been on a weekly rotation to my ears since the album dropped.  It may clock in at around 30 minutes, but it is a hell of a ride from start to finish.

Worship This! - Mint
Worship This! – Mint
-So what if these guys are my pals, their sophomore release blew me away.  I can not say enough good things about this album.  It is poppy, punky, and addictive.  More people need to check this album out as these Akron/Cleveland boys really know how to make sweet jams.  They are the next big thing in my mind and I love them all dearly.


Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate 
-Having one of my all time favorite bands release something new in 2016 was pretty rad.  Having one of my all time favorite bands stick to their sound from start to finish and have no indication of slowing down made it that much better.

Nothing
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
-I never thought I would like shoegazing.  To be honest, I really never knew what shoegaze was until I heard this album and I am still not quite sure.  Indie rock and neo-psychadelica mixed with plenty of distortion and emotion made for an album that I could not get out of my head for weeks.  That’s a good thing.

Mean Jeans
Mean Jeans – Tight New Dimension 
-Mean Jeans are probably one of the most underrated bands out there right now.  This album further proved that.  A modern-day Ramones-like banger.  I loved it.


Bouncing Souls – Simplicity 
-The Souls are like a fine cheese or wine to me.  With age, this band seems to just get better.  Their latest release was just full of punk rock fun.  When I started singing along to the first song during my first listen, I knew I was going to love this album and play it over and over.

Blink 182 - California
Blink 182 – California
-I can’t help it, I got sucked in to the new Blink and I know why…  Matt Skiba.  He was the perfect addition to reinvent this band.

The Avalanches
The Avalanches – Wildflower
-16 years after their debut, The Avalanches came back with an all new release that very well probably took all 16 years to create.  I know some of my pals were not digging this release fully, but I adored it.  It probably helps that the likes of Danny Brown and Biz Marke helped make this album what it is.

Arms Aloft
Arms Aloft – What a Time to be Barely Alive
This is the one album I really need to do a proper review on, but I keep getting sidetracked.  I listen to it all of the time and it is freaking amazing.  Punk rock from the 80s perfectly blended with punk rock from the mid 2000s is one way I can describe these fellows.  The music is infections, the lyrics are fun, and from what I hear the band is pretty cool too.  This kind of sounds like a review, but it is not.  This is just me telling y’all that this album was impressive.

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – At This Age
-This is their third release and probably their most tied together, mature material I have heard them create.  They have pushed their limits from a one time local band and are more or less prepping themselves for what’s next to come.  I am proud of these dudes.

Arilss Nancy
Arliss Nancy – Greater Divides
-This band really should be at Lucero levels by now.  They are exceptional at what they do and it can be heard throughout their latest release.

har-mar-superstar
Har Mar Superstar – Best Summer Ever
-Har Mar continues to put out incredible material with each release.  This man is so talented that he drops albums that cover various genres and avoids any and all gimmicky sounds.

NOFX
NOFX – First Ditch Effort
-After all this band has been though, it only makes sense that they dropped a more personal album.  It took me a couple of listens to truly appreciate.  Don’t worry, it’s still crass at times as well as hilarious, but man, that Tony Sly tribute song will put tears in your eyes.

Harvey Pekar
Harvey Pekar – The Astral We
-This Cleveland hardcore band is just that…  This album was insane yet intelligent, and I loved every moment of it.

the-falcon-gather-up-the-chaps
The Falcon – Gather Up the Chaps
-I love that Dave Hause was on this album.  I love that he had to play ska riffs knowing how much he hates ska because Brendan Kelly decided it was a good idea.  This album was far from serious and a good time all around.

NOTE: I promise you, Red Scare did not pay me for putting so many albums on this list.  They just had a hell of a year with releases…  Toby, I take plastic btw.

I wanted to throw a couple of EPs on here as well:

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins – That’s All We Need at Our Party
Blue Arrow Records and the creative vinyl masters Wax Merge teamed up to put out an insane variant of this 7″.  I was lucky enough to score #100 out of 100.  It’s a thing of beauty plus the tunes on it kick ass.  I love me some Jonathan Richman.  I am sure there are a few left, so snag one if you can.

Throw Shade
Throw Shade – Self-Titled
-I have talented friends who make beautiful music.  This EP is absolute proof.


Nine Inch Nails – Not the Actual Events
-I really did not know what to expect from Reznor and crew with this EP seeing how I just lost interest in their material for the last 10 years.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised.  This EP brought me back to 90s NIN and I can not wait for their full-length to drop in 2017.

bracket
Bracket – The Last Page
-At just over 70 minutes, this is one long-ass song and it’s amazing.  The track keeps it together for the listener and takes them on a punk rock voyage.  My first listed was distracted thanks to my paying gig, but my second listen with headphones on was incredible.

Finally, I know this is a best of list, but it would not be right if I did not make mention of this:

RIP Dag House…
Dag HouseIt goes without saying, sometimes you find yourself in the right situations by chance.  Thanks to an amazing batch of pals who kept Dag House going for years.  Not everyone gets to experience basement shows, and some of that could be by choice, but goddamn, if you are a music fan, basement shows are the best shows.  Dag House threw together a hell of a rager for their last show, and I was happy to be a part of it.  Thanks for the memories Dag.

2016 was a crazy year.  If you’ve made it this far in my post, thanks for sticking around and being so rad.  It is people like you and the bands above that keep me doing what I do.  Be well.

Album Review: Doomtree – All Hands

Doomtree - All HandsIt takes a lot for me to admit I like a modern day hip hop act.

I’m not trying to sound like a jaded hipster supreme or anything, but I just can’t get into a lot of these hip hop acts out there let alone understand what the hell they are talking about.

Maybe it is because I am getting old.  Or maybe it is because I prefer 90s hip hop over anything else (Bone Thugs and Wu Tang will always remain my favs).

I can always make exceptions of course.

Doomtree is easily one of those exceptions.
(Note: Run The Jewels is another – but we are not going to talk about them in this post.)

Hailing from Minneapolis, Doomtree is a hip hop collective full of artists who bring different talents together to create a complex and intricate style of hip hop.

I can’t lie, P.O.S. is how I learned of Doomtree.  I was introduced to him years ago and even got to shoot some up clone and personal photos him him during a memorable set at a Warped Tour as he performed literally in the middle of the crowd standing upon an equipment case.  Anyone who sings Fugazi in the middle of a rap track is ok with me.  Not to mention, he was in Wharf Rats too.

Should I even mention that another member in Doomtree, Cecil Otter, was 1/2 behind Wugazi?  Do you see why I dig these guys so much?  Perhaps I need to calm down.  Nah…

Doomtree

I was introduced to Doomtree’s second release No Kings shortly after and was completely blown away.  To be honest, I still listen to that album.  It is a timeless collection of awesome with plenty of memorable tracks that have not gotten stale by any means not to mention the “Bangarang” video still rules thanks to Har Mar Superstar.

Doomtree recently dropped an all new album in January called All Hands.  This will be their third official album and was actually recorded far away from civilization and cellphone signals.  The result is not surprising, an eyebrow lifting album that easily will gather tons of attention.

“Final Boss” started off things so strong with a incredibly likable track that was full of 8-bit beats.  Each of the 5 MCs took a turns rifling off lyrics praising their hometown, recognizing  talent, talking video games, and just life.  The repeating  “get up like I never f*cking got up before and I get it like I never f*cking got it before” seemingly pumped this listener up each time it repeated.  I thought it was great that the track just ended with Jake Hanson playing a simple riff on his guitar.

You know, I thought I was impressed with the first track, and suddenly I was treated to “My Own Nation”.  Wow.  I am not even certain I can describe how much I dug this track.  I think you will just need to hear it for yourself (see below).  The climax of this track is where things got insane.

“.38 Airweight” brought light of Bernie Goetz, a NYC so-called vigilante douchebag who shot and killed 4 young men almost 30 years ago because he thought he was going to get mugged.  This track to me was a callout to all of the senseless violence from yesteryear and today.

“Mini Brute” was a mess of sounds that almost seemed to encompass my entire attention, pulling me away from the lyrics, but I just kept fighting to just absorb the poetry.  This track was insane.  I wish those jackasses in Akron, OH never broke into my Cavalier and stole my mediocre stereo system in 2004.  I really would have loved to have the opportunity to blast this track.

Of course “Cabin Killer” had me hoping for Evil Dead references, but instead I was treated to plenty of head-nodding smooth flows.  I wish Cecil and P.O.S. both could have kept going for a tad longer, but I am grateful for the Stay Puft reference.

“Generator” may have been speaking about speeding up, but this song just fell short.  I appreciated the Atari Teenage Riot electronic-sounding heavy beats, but overall I was kind of bored.

Thankfully “Off in the Deep” jumped out of that rut and returned to awesomeness.  P.O.S. Sims, and Dessa all took turns doing what they do best on this track.  I am still trying to figure out if they sampled a song behind the scenes on this track as it sounded so familiar.  If not, kudos to Doomtree for creating such a likable sound.

“Marathon” closed things with a punk edge thanks to the repeating hook “when it all boils down there’s nothing but bones left”.  Maybe this track was not as heavy as the others, but it was certainly the most well-written, especially the final “hashtag No Kings, crash y’alls server.”  What a way to end an album.

I can not tell you the number of times that I have gotten myself so worked up over an album only to hear it with pure disappointment.  This is so not the case as All Hands does not disappoint at all.

I think the thing I love most about Doomtree is that nothing seems generic or forced.  From the lyricism to the beats in each track, you can hear how genuine the pride is.  It is not commercial hop hop by any means and  really needs to trump some of that quick-beat, lazy written crap that seems to always grab all the attention.

This act has continued to impress me.  I would not be shocked if All Hands took them a step or two closer to the spotlight that they so much deserve.

Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”

The Beastie Boys still have it. Have what you ask?

Talent. 

“Make Some Noise”  stars a whole slew of Hollywood making for a entertaining as hell video.  I am sure you have already seen it, but it is too hilarious not to share. 

Wondering what is going to happen next? Me too. There is a 30-minute full version of this video that is probably going to be released right around the time that Hot Sauce Committee Part II drops on May 3rd.

I can’t wait.

Let’s Talk About 311

So last night thanks to Cleveland.com I got to attend the 311 show at the Time Warner Amphitheater VIP style.  I was not planning on going at all but last week I “re-tweeted” a Twitter post that Cleveland.com put up for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Unity Tour 2010 and I thought to myself “why not?”

A day later I got a message saying I won the tickets.  I was stoked.  I mean why wouldn’t I be?  Free is good these days plus I got to rendezvous with an old musical friend of mine.

311 and I go way back.  I am not trying to sound like one of those music trendy scraps out there who just say random things to impress others.  311 and I have been down (no pun intended) since I was in high school.  I have seen them many times live, owned countless overpriced bootlegs, was a member of their fan club before the internet existed, and even was knocked out at once of their shows at the Cleveland Agora.

I vaguely remember what happened but will always remember the incident.  I know I was in the pit of that show when a size 12 combat boot slammed into my head knocking me the hell out.  The next thing I remembered was my pal Philippe asking me if I was ok.  I think I said yes but I was more confused over anything trying to figure out why I was not in the pit anymore.  Apparently Philippe dragged the knocked out me from the pit and into an alley through some emergency doors.  He told me that I looked at him, smiled, and ran back into the pit.  And I wonder why my body hurts so much these days… (Additional note: I bought a 311 work shirt at that show and I still wear it to this day)

High school ragers were not only fueled by cheaply processed beer but also Grassroots and Music.  I remember when their self titled album came out in 95 my friends and I freaked out and basically listened to the album on repeat until the cassette wore out.  Yes, cassette.

We wore 311 apparel, did our best to emulate Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez (sounds terrible when thinking about it these days), and might have stolen room number signs from various secret locations that said, you guessed it, 311.

In 96 Enlarged To Show Detail was released on VHS and we had competitions on who could watch it the most in a three month period.  I made it to 278 if I am not mistaken and my pal Brent surpassed 301 times.  We were addicted.

By 1999 though most of us friends were growing up, attending college, or maybe even raising babies.  311’s music style was growing up too and to be perfectly honest I lost interest in them.  I stopped wearing the shirts, the CDs collected dust, and I moved on to other things. I never stopped liking what they had done in the past but I just could not get into their material after Transistor (minus the cover of The Cure song of course).  311 kept putting out albums and touring obviously but I just did not care, that is, until those tickets I won reached my hands.

***Time Out – As I am typing this I can not help but grab my copy of 311’s self-titled record (yes, record) and throw it on the turntable…

It was a unseasonably chill night in Cleveland as I arrived to the venue.  Parking the car and walking the lot all I saw was kids who were either in college or never lost the college mentality pre-game it with beer pong games and jello shots.  Not into that anymore I walked past them and aimed towards the VIP entrance.

For the record, VIP is not that much better.  There is a little bar to the side that still charges you $42 for a beer as well as a private bathroom that some other VIP drunk ass will most likely vomit all over in (it happened later in the night).

After making it through a terrible set from a shirtless, shoeless, surfer boy band called Pepper I found out that the Offspring were not even playing the Cleveland stop of the 2010 Unity Tour.  I was bummed out as they were another band I used to really like in the 90’s but that is a whole other story.

While waiting for the headliner to take the stage I glanced at my ticket stub and realized I had box sets.  VIP and box seats?  That was a pretty good prize if you ask me…  I took my place in the box sets, which are not that good at all if you ask me, and took in a 311 show.

The boys, who are all almost 40 with the exception of P-Nut (36), took the stage just as the sun was saying goodbye to the day.  They all looked very youthful as they did 15 years ago and almost the same except this time there was no bleach blond hair.  More importantly they sounded amazing and I am not just saying that as well as were genuinely excited to be on stage.  They were on point for all of their songs regardless if I knew them or not and were all about the crowd.

It was not until 5 songs in when the band dished out “Taiyed” that I started feeling like I actually belonged there.  Immediately after they dropped into “Plain” followed by their first chart breaking hit “Down”.  During those songs I started having non-drug induced flashbacks of the times I previously mentioned.

Shortly after all the members of the band minus Chad Sexton left the stage so he could beat on the skins for a while.  He put on an amazing drum solo that lasted at least 15 minutes and to make the little segment cause for more applaud, the rest of the band came back out and joined in on a synchronized drum circle of sorts.  Kind of jam band if you ask me, but it sounded great and all the fans loved it.

The remainder of the night again consisted of a good blend of older and newer material.  I do not think at any time did I not see movement in the huge crowd.  Song after song people were jumping around having a good old time just enjoying themselves.  The band really pushed forth a solid set and delivered just as good of a show as when I saw them almost 15 years ago live.

This was a shirt at the merch booth and I am kicking myself in the ass for not buying one...

During that show all these juvenile memories of my friends and our love for 311 hit me.  I could not help but shoot a few texts to a couple of the guys who I remain in touch with letting them know where I was that night.  It was a good night indeed thanks to a one time unknown Omaha act that has been rocking out since 1988.

311 Setlist:
Jackpot
Sick Tight
Mix It Up
Freeze Time
Taiyed
Plain
Down
Hostile Apostle
Brodels
Applied Science
All Mixed Up
Livin’ & Rockin’
Come Original
Eons
Hey You
Never Ending Summer
Nix Hex
(bass solo)
Off Beat Bare Ass
Amber
Creatures (For a While)
Encore:
Beautiful Disaster
F*ck the Bullshit