Tag Archives: Red Scare

Album Review: Broadway Calls – Sad in the City

It’s refreshing as hell to find something to distract you when the world seems like it is on the verge of caving in.  2020 can suck all the butts as far as I am concerned, but then again if this crap year were to somehow disappear, we would all miss out on Broadway Calls dropping the greatest pop punk album I’ve heard this year.

Released on July 10th on Red Scare, I opted to listen to this a few times throughout before tossing my thoughts on this here ol’ blog.  Sometimes you just need to take in something this good to appreciate it even more.  The album made me think, pulled on the old heartstrings, and even invoked a childhood fear of mine.

“If my country collapses, can I crash on your couch” started the album off on “Never Take Us Alive.”  This plaintive reality of a track basically was a full-forced promise of not giving up fighting what’s right.

“You Gotta Know” is easily one of my favorite songs currently.  I adored this track for all it was worth.  Might have to borrow this one to prove to the wife she still drives me crazy in a good way.  I seriously can not get this song out of my head.

Album title track “Sad in the City” was just so likable as it tore into the blatant imbalance causing pain and sorrow.  With talking about bombs and death in the street, this was not intended to be tongue-in-cheek but more so a nod at hope for change.

“Radiophobia” was an 80s nightmare regarding nuclear meltdowns (check out the video below).  Turns out, the track was based on actual events from Ty Vaughn’s childhood as he grew up around reactors.  I actually grew up fearing the Perry Nuclear Powerplant in Ohio, so I get it and sided with this track a ton.  Those smokestacks still freak me the hell out.

“Meet Me on the Moon” was an amorous tune eluding to not wanting to give up the night with a special someone.  Looking deeper into this one, it’s possible no one wants to be alone during a time like this.

Album closer “Went Dyin'” catered to my old punk rock self so much.  I appreciated the suffering in this one as it reminded me where I came from, what I’v been through, and where it has taken me.  My mentality was molded and healed from tunes like this because, as cliche as it might sound, punk rock saved my life.  True story.

It’s been 7 years since these Oregon punkers have dropped something and as far as I’m concerned, Broadway Calls saved this year.  Sad in the City is just perfect from start to finish, full of catchy jams, and just begs to be heard.  That’s not to say this is a happy, joyful collection of anthems.  This album hits at the bullshit reality thats been draining our collective mentality.

Missing out on this album would not be in your best interest, especially if you fancy punk tunes.  Trust me on this.

Album Review: Sam Russo – Back to the Party

Being cooped up because of some asinine virus has not been my favorite thing as of late.  I really shouldn’t complain though, as I know many pals of mine are hurting severely because of this pandemic.  If I could help everyone, I would.  Trust me on that.

I offer a distraction to anyone who needs it right now via music.  It’s the least I can do.

My pal Toby from that punk label out there called Red Hair Bimbo Trees or something sent me a message today reminding me that the great Sam Russo has new material that just dropped and encouraged me to stop sitting there and do something.

Who is Sam Russo you ask?  He’s a UK punk rocker who honestly could put his back up these days to a young Frank Turner when it comes to musical style and craftsmanship, but that’s being a little lazy for comparison.  Said differently, if you love when punk lead singers do their solo thing and get all Revival Tour on your ass, you’ll love this dude.  I guarantee it based on his storytelling ability.

Russo has actually been around for a while now and Back to the Party is his third release on Red Scare Records.  I was lucky enough to get a good taste of him thanks to 2015’s Greyhound Dreams and have really been waiting for the day he dropped some new tunes.

“I took a lot of risks on this record and I’m so glad I did because it came out sounding really original and totally true to what I was trying to say for so many years.” – Sam Russo

“Purple Snow” started off the album a little personal and a tad incoherent in terms of the story within the song.  I adored this track upon first listen.  Russo honestly has never sounded better.  Perhaps a personal memoir, this track carried enough emotion to have me thinking of some of my past history.  I am curious though, was the snow purple from Mad Dog 20/20?  One can hope…one can hope.

“Good and Gone” I think was taken from my own personal memory of most of 2009.  This song hit the heart hard, as it sung of hurt and triumph.  These are the tunes that make me happy exist because the show me where I’ve been, where I can from, and what I’ve become.

“Darkness” followed and continued to tug on forced-in feelings with an apologetic excuse on interpersonal communication, or the lack thereof.  Wholesome and pure, this track probably will be relating to a lot of folk.

There’s so much that can be said about “Young Heroes” based on how the listener took it in.  Given the current situation, this track speaks volumes to those who are working harder than ever based on some stupid pandemic.  Not trying to sound cliché at all, but there’s a lot of heroes in my book right now.

I can not really talk about a certain track on here in great detail, but if you know me, you know it totally kicked my ass by the title alone.  The past will always sting back when you least expect it.  Maybe I need to appreciate it more than I give myself credit for seeing how it shaped me, but still, that shit hurts.  Nice job Russo, you jerk – I might have had a tear or two let loose…

Just when you think there’d be a slight let up of sorrow on the album, “Tears” kicked in.  This really was a beautiful track overall, but not to be reckoned with if you’re trying to lift them spirits high.  I mean, that chorus alone gave me chills.  Add lap-steel guitar playing that sparked a slight country feel made for my favorite track of the record.

“The Basement” ended the album with symbolism at its finest.  Russo came to terms with life due to rummaging around and only could sit back and reflect on where things went wrong.  Putting a lid to the album with this track just made so much sense.

Russo is a storyteller as much as he is a musician.  Personal tales might make you want to hug your drink a little harder when you listen to this album, but let’s be real – sometimes it is nice to remember you’re human.

Back to the Party is a must listen for any music fan.  Although some songs were full of ache, there really was a  silver lining in terms of hope.  I feel like I am trying to be motivational here, but let’s face it, times are weird as hell right now.  We can all use a distraction.

Hang in there folks.

Album Review: Various Artists – Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers

***Punk rock grandpa rant moment warning***

I remember back in my day when the internet was not readily available at your fingertips.  Streaming music was unheard of.  Kids were not sucked into their so-called smart phones looking like a bunch of goddamn zombies.  People actually talked to one another.  Hell, you had to actually leave your house and go to a record store to buy music.

I remember I could buy punk compilations left and right on cassette by tons of labels  for the cheap.  Like 8 bucks cheap.  I had a plethora of said cassettes to play in my ’86 Dodge Shadow.  Because of that, I have always had a soft spot for comp releases most likely because I relied on them to learn about new bands and just have a nice mix of tunes to get lost in.

Why I am I sitting here telling these tales of yesteryear you ask?  I guess my question is why are you still reading this?

Truth is, it’s been a long time since a comp album hooked me in to the point I found myself listening to it on repeat.  That’s exactly what Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers, a 15 track compilation celebrating the iconic label’s 15 year anniversary, did.

To reach such a milestone as an independent label is just outstanding especially in this day and age.  Most labels however are not credited with dropping so many amazing releases.  Seriously, this label is responsible for so many of my favorite releases over the years.

It is almost as if Toby has a special gift for finding the best talent in the punk world knowing he one day may need to say goodbye in the nicest way possible with limited middle fingers.  Some of the roster I speak of include no-name talent like The Menzingers, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Sidekicks, my fav dudes MakeWar, and even those dicks Masked Intruder.  I could go on, but this is a review about a comp album, right?

The Copyrights, a band who released an excellent album with Kepi Ghoulie earlier this year (check it out!), started the comp off with the fast-paced “Maine or Oregon”.

Ol’ (rather, young) Sincere Engineer held back nothing with “Dragged Across the Finish Line”, a track clearly about putting up with other’s shit in a good way.  Deanna Belos and crew really have a good thing going for them and, to me, are years ahead of their time musically.

Broadway Calls covering “Sunday Morning” by The Menzingers was actually a great idea.  It’s probably the last cover I would have expected on this comp, but here is was and I admired their take.

Punk rock sweethearts The BombPops kept my attention with “East and West”.  I hate to say it, but it won’t be much longer until this band is a mainstream wonder.  They have been getting so much attention as of late and it is well deserved.

“Dead Body” was the track on this comp that totally won me over.  In fact, for the last few days I have been sining this song to myself.  Creepy, I know.  Garrett Dale (Red City Radio) went all Stand By Me with this incredible track that even tossed out a sax-solo that just brought the whole song together.  The best part was Garrett being out “this is the dumbest song” in the middle of it.  Perhaps he is right, but it ruled.

Leave it to Brendan Kelly to do something completely out of the norm – actually no – these days I expect him to.  He took a perfectly good Lillington’s song, “All I Hear Is Static”, and turned in into a synth-heavy cover that just totally worked.  You can not hate this cover because it’s just brilliant.

“TJ” by MakeWar begged to be played over and over.  This band is one of my favorites and seemingly has a way to make songs so catchy and likable but when you actually really listen to the words, the mood shifts to a more somber approach.

I was thrilled to see The Lippies on here.  “Acid Head” was a killer song and a reminder on how much I love this band.  I hope this means there is a new album to follow.  I know they have been touring as of late.

I really could sit here and say something about every single song on the comp, but honestly I would rather you check it out for yourself.  Personally, this is the best comp I have heard since the days of Survival of the Fattest Vol. 2 and Vagrant Records: 5 Years on the Streets.  For those of you who grew up around me, you’ll now how bold of a statement that is.

I don’t know if Toby blackmailed the bands on this comp by threatening to exploit them with their collective photos of them at Staind meet-and-greets, but whatever he did worked.

Hats off to Sir Toby and the Red Scare Industries crew for 15 years of excellent releases.  This comp is a celebration of an impressive accomplishment and deserves to be heard and purchased by all.

Album Review: Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds – Keep Walkin’ Pal

I am not going to blow smoke up Brendan Kelly‘s ass, so I’ll just say it: This guy is fascinating in a  weird as hell way.

He is more clever than you’ll ever aspire to be and he’s much more of a musician than I think he is credited for.

I feel like the smoke is blowing even though I said I wouldn’t.

I do not know him personally and he sure as hell does not know me, but I can tell you I admire him for his comedic approach to life as well as standing his ground for his beliefs.  Then there’s the countless Tweets from @Nihilist_Arbys that he finally fessed up to being behind.

Normally he fronts Chicago’s The Lawrence Arms as well as toys with The Falcon like once every 10 years.  He also has a solo project called Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds and let me tell you, it’s different in a good way kind of like putting A-1 sauce on over-easy eggs.

Recently Kelly dropped Keep Walkin’ Pal on the ever awesome Red Scare Records and it’s not really a solo album, but a collective release featuring Kelly and a bunch of his pals including Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant and Atlas Studio’s Dan Tinkler making for a sporadic listen with no agenda.

Album title track “Keep Walkin’ Pal” had Kelly and his signature raspy voice just spilling brutal truth with lines like “I blacked out 17 of my best years.”

“Shitty Margarita” was this poppy punk jam complete with synthesizer that was all about what extreme amounts of sugar and tequila can do to you good and bad.  Not going to lie, I dug this track a lot mostly due to the music.  It was fun even though the lyrics might have brought back 1 or 7 bad memories at Chi-Chi’s.

“Huggz” should be a theme song for Kelly.  The 80s-ish heavy track was all about simple affections, at least I think it was.  Kelly was pretty damn stern about getting them to function and how music he likes them – even from Sergio.  (Remember I said he was clever?)

“Black Cat Boy” was one of my favorite tracks on the album.  With Kelly’s signature singing over the electronic keyboard and beats, this song was just one that stuck in my head quickly.

Best track on the album by far was “The Ballad of Buffalo Bill”.  From singing about putting the lotion on the skin again to having a dog barking, this song was beyond entertaining.  Clearly you need to know what Kelly is referencing to fully appreciate.  I’m glad he tucked it in here.  (I’m clever too you know)

As much as I wished “I’m the Man” was an Anthrax cover, it was not.  This closing track was pretty much all the drunk and high thoughts packed into 3 minutes and 22 seconds.  It was a bizarre track with shoutouts to Mr. Clean and excellent backup vocals with a digital beat Daft Punk would be jealous of.  I’m not quite sure what the hell was going on there, but I like to think I enjoyed it.

Overall, Keep Walkin’ Pal was a solid listen.  Kelly and pals once again have managed to entertain and confuse me at the same time.  If that was the intent, awesome, but if not, maybe I am getting too old for this shit.  Anyways, check out the album, it was pretty great.

Album Review: Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP

Y’all want to hear something amazing?

Check out the new EP by Oklahoma City’s Red City Radio.  My god, this is the best thing to hit my ears so far this year.

In case you have no idea who I am even talking about, Red City Radio is a punk rock foursome that seemingly can do no wrong with their music style.  They’ve been around since 2007 and have a whole slew of releases full of catchy punk rock tunes for all to adore.

Recently, they dropped SkyTigers with help from Red Scare Industries.  This 21 minute EP is from start to finish is outstanding.  There really is no other way for me to tell you all how impressed I was with this EP.  I can not stop listening to it as of late.

“If You Want Blood (Be My Guest)” exploded into a memorable sing along jam.  The second the drums fully kick in, the energy went through the roof.  Talking about hometown values and not giving up, the band showed major signs of maturing with not only their great lyrics but also their collective sound.

“I’ll Still Be Around” started off very Tim Barry but not in a bad way at all.  Things soon picked up for a pretty great track that one could only wonder is about the band and not as told by the lyrics, “not every pretty girl can sing, not ever ugly guy is funny”.

Garrett Dale’s bellowing voice goes outlaw on “In the Shadows”, a track complete with horns and a healthy 80s-ish guitar solo sans any cheese at all.  This is a powerful punk spaghetti-western track when you actually jump into it and listen for what it’s worth.  The more and more I listened to it, the more I appreciated it, especially that subtle sigh at the end.

“Rebels” was a foot-stomping jam that seemingly defended actions based on other’s behaviors and apologetically called them out on it.

“SkyTigers” was a fantastic song and turned into something so memorable the moment the sample from The Dictator began.  Perhaps more meaningful and truer than ever, Chaplin’s infamous closing speech from classic film was extremely relevant on this song hearing it today based on today’s current affairs.

For an EP, I feel slightly cheated as I wanted more of what Red City Radio was offering.  This is by far some of the best material I have ever heard these guys do, and this comes from a fan of theirs since almost day one.  I love how they have slowed down a little but haven’t given up on their edge one bit.  Fans are going to love the shit out of this.

Don’t skip out on this EP if you can help yourself.  Chances are you are going to be just as blown away as I was upon hearing it.  Red City Radio continues to dominate and SkyTigers is 21 minutes of proof.

Pre-order the EP if you dare: http://redscare.storenvy.com/