Tag Archives: Red Scare

EP Review: Garrett Dale – Two T’s EP

Forget the filler in this review.  Garrett Dale is the lead singer of Red City Radio and just released three songs as a solo project.

You’d never know that Dale even fronted a punk rock band if you listened to any of these tracks.

Three songs of brutal honesty have been slammed into folkish alt-country music on Two T’s EP and I will tell ya, it’s fantastic.  This gem of an EP was released by the good folk at Red Scare.

“2016 Was…Horseshit” is like Tom Waits meets Slobberbone.  What more can I say about this track other than it is blunt as hell.  Check the video below and add the song to your next porch drinking mix already.

Then there was “House Full Of Dogs”, a track that clearly was fueled by a drunken recollection of personal exchanges.  The saxophone in the middle of the song made it that much more incredible.  This track is like the bastard child of a miserable Brendan Kelly and Bruce Springsteen fling.

“Down The Rabbit Hole” was the last track on this EP.  For someone like myself who is obsessed with Lucero and John Moreland, this song just fit in perfectly.  Not that I ever did not respect Dale, but this song alone has me looking at him and his talent forever differently.

Given this small taste of tunes, I really hope Dale has more of this up his sleeves because I seriously think people are going be just as floored as I was when they hear it.  This is music not to sit on.

Album Review: MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"I admit, I do not get to crank out reviews like I used to.  If I had it my way, I would quit my paying gig and do this full time, but the truth of the matter is that I do this for fun and not profit and I have bills to pay.  20-year-old me would kick my ass right now for even mentioning that.  I sound like grandpa punk again…

I’ve been trying to find some time to write about one of my favorite albums of 2016 for the past month now.  I am seriously stoked to have found some time tonight to do so.  With that said, here we go.

Developing a Theory of Integrity by Brooklyn’s MakeWar immediately jumped to the top of my favorite albums the moment I heard the first song.  I cannot get enough of this album and have been listening to it almost daily since it dropped on Red Scare Industries in September.

Side note: Not even two days after I heard the album, I learned that they were playing the final Dag House show in Cleveland (RIP DAG).  As luck would have it, I had a free night and I booked it over to that historical home to see MakeWar do their thing in the basement and got to act like a fanboy afterwards who was short $1 when trying to buy their debut self-titled LP out of their van while they were literally trying to back out of the driveway to make a long ass drive to Omaha.  Thanks Jose, I will pay you back that $1 next time you roll through town.

Originally an acoustic act called Sad and French, MakeWar took their songs to a new dynamic and turned themselves into a full fletched punk rock band that carries so many likable qualities from catchy hooks to relatable lyrical content.  Don’t get me wrong, Sad and French were absolutely amazing, but plugging in the guitars and turning up those amps have MakeWar way more exciting to listen to.

As previously mentioned, opening track “Matador Pool Party” blew me away.  There was so much going on with this track from the group singing to the Rancid/Face To Face reminiscing bass playing, brutal drumming, and lyrical content that just brought it all together perfectly.

“Ode” was just that, an ode to living life with booze in hand in NYC.  I loved the line “fuck not drinking for a week” as I’ve said that in my heyday when having a rough week of celebrating but refused to give it up.  I also loved the random thought process throughout the song that really could pertain to any city.  This is about as real as a song gets with spirits raised high.

“DTFH” was another standout track that begged to be sung along to.  Ironically this track reminded me in a sense of more upbeat Iron Chic who used to be on DTFH records.  “Don’t Panic” resembled Taking Back Sunday’s earlier years in a good way.

“On Feelings” might have been the most emotional track on the album but not in a cowering sense.  This track just make me happy for some reason and brought back some memories of great hangouts with great pals.  “Sallie” was another amazing song on this album.  I feel like I keep saying that, but it is true.  There were a lot of songs of this album that caught my attention including this one that referenced the paying back of those stupid ass student loans.

“Distractions” was more technical like Strung Out.  I really loved the change up of musical style on this track which clearly was the heaviest.  “Dust” ended the album in a completely different style full of dismay and sorrow, but damn it was beautiful.

I can not say enough good things about MakeWar.  If you are reading this, you need to at least check out the video for “Ode” below so you can see what got me so excited.  If you dig like I do, snag the album.  You will not be disappointed.

Visit MakeWar on Facebook and check them out live if you can.

Album Review: The Falcon – Gather Up The Chaps

the-falcon-gather-up-the-chapsIt’s been 10 years since The Falcon dropped one of my favorite albums, Unicornography, so for me sitting down to write about this release is pretty compelling.

Anyone who fancies themselves a punk rocker has had to have heard of The Falcon unless they were living in a gutter.  They are the enigma of punk rock supergroups and just dropped  Gather Up The Chaps on Red Scare.  I am sure most people who are reading this already have listened to it 100 times and pre-ordered 7 copies of the record.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this release at all.  Seriously, I just was not anticipating much of anything to get excited over, I mean it has been 10 years after all.  Maybe it’s also because I am old and snooty and thinking that by bringing on
Hause,  The Falcon’s dynamic might change.

hause
Dave and Me at the Gurley House in 2011 – Photo by Andee Wells

Boy was I wrong.  (Note:  I am a huge fan of Hause and even have a photo of me and him where I am smiling and he is not – I just needed to disclose that.)

The Chicago punk rock supergroup for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about features Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms), Neil Hennessy, Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio),  and the recently recruited Dave Hause (The Loved Ones).

“The Trash” started things off and immediately proved to me this album was going to be a good one.  Hearing three vocalists from three of my favorite bands all chime in at once was awesome.  Kelly’s rasp, Hause’s howl, and Andriano’s swooning mixed perfectly.

Hearing Andriano chuckle in “Sergio’s Here” made this satire of a track that much more entertaining to the point that I laughed each time I played the song.  Seriously though, this track was just a blast to listen to and you can tell the guys were just having fun throughout.  I loved the change up towards the end that just sent the song to bed.  This reminded me of older Falcon material so much.

I loved Kelly clearing his voice in the middle of “The Skeleton Dance”.  Maybe this was not scripted, but it sure did fit in.  This high-powered passion-seeking tune was super catchy but made me feel all so dirty and almost depressed by the end.

“Hasselhoff Cheeseburger” may sound like it would have been hilarious given the song title, but I think I need therapy after listening to this track.  I feel old AF right now.  Hearing Kelly strain off “I only became a man because this ugly body made me” pretty much had me reflecting past choices in life for a moment.

“If Dave Did It” was probably my favorite track on the album.  Obviously from the title, this song was almost all Hause making excuses and calling everyone out, but that did not stop the others from interjecting over him making it for one engrossing listen.

Andriano added his own touch with “You Dumb Dildos”, a song that spanned all over the place.  At times I felt I was listening to a Westernized AK3, but in the end, everyone just went berzerk and there I was standing wondering what the hell just happened.

Gather Up The Chaps is totally unbroken when it comes to mingling in the punk and the rock with loads of nonsense and hard knocks.  This album was quick and all over the place, but at no point was I ever bored listening to it.  I think it is safe to say this is one of the better albums I have heard this year.

Album Review: Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams

Sam Russo - Greyhound DreamsThere’s something to be said about storytelling and incorporating it into music.  Sam Russo does that without skipping a thought or a beat.

(Speaking of beat, I should be clear and note that I am talking about the musician Sam Russo, not the button pushing DJ.  I just wanted to make myself clear there.  Thanks.)

Hailing from Haverhill, England, Russo has been playing his own style of a punk-ish Americana folk-rock for years now.  Having released his debut over 3 years ago, Greyhound Dreams (Red Scare Industries) is an impressive follow up.

Russo is not just another punker with a guitar and some pent up anger.  When I listen to him, I think of a hybrid mix of Tim Barry, Dave Hause, and Frank Turner.  The beauty of Russo is that his music does not sound like a rip off of any of the previously mentioned and  is genuine and at times flooding with anguished, heartfelt memories.

Opening track “Sometimes”, a blatant blast at a harsh personal outcry, was simple yet whole, especially when others jumped in to sing along in the chorus.  The song was depressing as hell when you realize why Russo admits being unruly.

Sam Russo“Dream All You Want” contained so many visuals in the lyrics that I had to listen to it over a couple of times to my mind could settle down.  Russo singing “you either chase your dreams, or you chase your dreams away” made it clear to me, this was not a happy song.  This song wasn’t just about dreams, it also was the unspoken reality of those dreams never coming true.

“Crayfish Tales” was one of the better tracks on this album in my opinion.  I swear to god, this guy and I have lived in the same shoes at one point in our past.  I almost predicted that he was going to sing a couple of times.  “Runaways” was also a great tune and a little more upbeat and personable.

I loved that “Forever West” spoke on Russo’s journey that he experienced in the states.  While listening to it, I could not help but think of my own past experiences from the time I stayed in a ghetto Motel 6 in the hood of Baltimore to when, years later, my fiancé and I drove 2800 miles to New Mexico almost non-stop.  It really hit home, especially when he sung about the sun coming over the mountains as I experienced that and it was amazing.  It was like a musical observation, but different.

Russo sang his heart out on “Nobody’s Fool”.  I feel that this was a more important track for him as reminisced on his past pain caused from heartbreak.  “I would give you everything and just disappear” was sung towards the end making for a true statement of love.

“Western Union” closed the album down strong.  Things picked up in the middle with some extra help on vocals, but mostly Russo held this song down solo.  Not the happiest of stories, but incredibly impactful on those lonely memories.

Russo touched on something often on Greyhound Dreams that I think we all need to consider:  Life is short and full of difficulties.  We’ve all been through a personal hell at some point, but Russo really leads by example in his songs (and even song titles) by singing about moving on and never stopping.  No one ever said being a human being was an easy thing.

I will be honest and say I never gave Russo the chance I should have.  I missed out, that is a fact.  Hell, the dude even supported The Falcon overseas and I still was lame and did not buy everything he ever recorded.  (Disclosure:  I would have been privy to Russo years ago had I made it to that Tim Barry show at the Grog Shop…)

If you are a fan of early Frank Turner music, you will adore this album.  I am not sitting here trying to compare the two, I just know what I like, and Greyhound Dreams is pretty outstanding.  Russo has won himself a new fan and probably a whole lot more once they give him a well-deserved chance.

With the year coming to an end, I just found myself another album that needs to be penned onto my best of 2015 post.  Nicely done Russo.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

Album Review: Success – Radio Recovery

Success - Radio RecoverySeattle’s Success does not suck.  I repeat, Seattle’s Success does not suck.

In fact, this band has completely won me over almost instantaneously and I am still trying to figure out how the hell they snuck under my radar for so long.

Success are a hybrid of 90s SoCal pop punk and current DIY punk rock.  I have no clue how they met or how many albums they have put out or any of the typical default bio stuff.  I am sure I could find out, but right now I am focused on telling everyone how I am feeling. Deal.

I do know they covered a Spin Doctors song that I found while stalking them online the other night and I’ll be happy to post it at the bottom of this post as a reward for making it through my review.

It’s seriously being a while since I’ve gotten sucked into an album so quickly.  Radio Recovery, dropping March 24th on Red Scare Records, did that in just about 30 minutes.  I can not tell you how many times I have listened to this album over and over since the release was thrown my way (thanks Toby!).

Success“Believe In” opened strong with a pop-punk jam full of sing-alongable qualities.  This track was produced well and impressed the hell out of me.  I loved the bass playing and the guitar solos, but it was the dual singing style that did it for me.  It reminded me of everything I loved about late-90s punk rock music.

“Revolution Schmevolution” continued to keep my attention with this powerhouse of a sing-along.  I especially got a kick out of the lyrics, “what’s the problem with this world today is that every Batman thinks he’s a Bruce Wayne.”

Another track that caught my attention was “Lives That We Deserve”.  Perhaps it was the piano playing that hid behind everything or just the fact that it was a quality tune.  This track was motivational in a sense with the working man’s life being sung upon.  This easily was one of my favorite tracks on the album.

“Flowers” was one of the tracks that that had a huge effect on me.  It was not too personal by any means, but it was just real.  This song was like the polite and caring Rancid that no one ever had the chance to meet.  In fact, I would allow Success to steal my sediment and made a cartoon video of clean-cut versions of Tim and Lars picking bouquets of flowers for their special sweethearts.  Beyond my puke of creativity, this song was incredible and perhaps did not sound anything like Rancid.

The acoustic “Impossible Truth” was a nice chance but was move Revival Tour material and did not necessarily go with the rest of the album.  The organ playing was great throughout and I was really reminded of Frank Turner due to the style.

Closing the album up was “Resignation”, a harmonic punk rock track that pretty much solidifies why I love punk rock music so much.  This track just built up so well and just exploded.  Perfect way to end a great album.

If you like catchy punk rock jams, this band is for you.  Success have won me over and Radio Recovery has earned a well-deserved spot in my Best Of 2015 list.

Hands down, this album rules and while produced well, it still is nothing too clean sounding and has plenty of reasons for multiple listens.

If only more newer bands could sound like Success.  Then we could say stupid things like these guys sound like the sweet, sweet sounds of Success.

OK I’m done.

Enjoy.