Tag Archives: Review

Album Review: The Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo

It’s been a long time since a ska punk band has impressed me quite like The Bar Stool Preachers have.

I’m sure there are plenty of great releases out there I just haven’t gotten into, but nothing really has stuck out to me for years.  That ended the moment I popped in Grazie Governo, released though Pirates Press Records.

The UK ska punk act already cut their teeth with their debut release Blatant Propaganda and has been around since 2014, but sadly this music fan missed that album in the sea of releases over the years.  Trust me, I will be checking that out very soon after obsessing over their new one.  I also need to note how pissed I am at myself for missing these guys play Cleveland in June with the Street Dogs.

If you are in the same boat as I am and are not familiar with The Bar Stool Preachers then you’ll probably be instantly intrigued to know that frontman Tom McFaull’s father, Colin McFaull, comes from son little UK band called Cock Sparrer.  Needless to say, this band might just have learned a thing or two over the years just based on the bloodline alone.

Album title track “Grazie Governo” started strong with working class appeal that more or less thanked the government with plenty of rebellious intention.  I adored everything about this track from the horns to the organs that seemingly works with the current reality TV politics we are dealing with here in the states.

“8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)” was a love song that held more honest and true than most I have heard in my time.  I enjoyed the blatant honesty in the lyrics on this one and enjoyed the ride of emotion fueled with pop punk riffs and backup vocals, especially at the end when everyone just came together.

“Choose My Friends” featuring Aimee Interrupter is the song everyone needs to check out because it’s just that damn good.  This song has been stuck in my head for days and I am sure it will be for a long time as it made an impression on me as it just brought so many styles of music together.  Without ruining it, just listen to it yourself already.  I even added the music video for the song below.

One of my favorite tracks was “DLTDHYOTHO” most likely because of that Oi attitude layered with the horns and that ever-catchy organ playing.  A fight song indeed and not something you want to be faced up against in a dark alley because you’d surely get your teeth kicked in.  This song just ruled and reminded me of when a young me first heard Operation Ivy and the feeling that quickly infected my innocent mind changing me forever.

“Drive” was great in that McFaull took the listener on a hell of an adventure singing of a heist to pay off debts and escaping like the infamous Steve McQueen.  Sometimes fictitious songs like this seem corny when in the middle of a serious album, but this was done right and just enjoyable.

That piano playing on “Since You” may have sucked me in, but the bass line is what kept me.  A gruff Mad Caddies-like tune with plenty of singable qualities even if about the hard knocks of relationships.  The best was towards the end when things picked up during the moment of clarity.

I’m convinced his band is going to be getting a ton of attention this year based their hybrid of ska and punk rock.  This is the music fans who were told ska was dead once are going to eat up and lace their boots up proudly to.  Did that even make sense?  Well it did to me.  Skank away guys, skank away.

Think along the lines of Rancid, Propagandhi, The Specials, and even The Aggrolites with a more pop punk punch.  It’s like what The Dropkick Murphys might have sounded like if they were from the UK instead of Boston and lost that Irish shtick.  Working collar ska punk anthems galore for everyone to get into.  Do not sit on these guys at all.

EP Review: Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)

It seems like every punk band out there is dropping acoustic albums as of late.  This facade may come off as lazy or desperate to some, but when stripped down right, it makes so much sense.  Still, it is easy to just dismiss them because of how many are out there.

I have to give it to Unwritten Law though who first captured my fascination with the whole punk rock bands doing acoustic renditions of their songs years back.  I remember hearing Music in High Places and becoming obsessed instantly.  Then Rancid busted out an acoustic set in front of me live once at one of their shows and I adored it.  Perhaps this aging punker just enjoys slowing down things a little bit.

When I heard Face To Face was releasing an EP of acoustic versions of their songs over the years, I was nervous.  Mind you Face To Face is easily one of my all time favorite bands from my 90s, I was worried that it would not go well, but I couldn’t have been so wrong.

Hold Fast simply is songs from Face To Face’s 30+ years (with a slight hiatus) career put into an acoustic style.  Perhaps sparked from their “Econo-Live Tour”, the band decided it was their turn to try.  Actually, Face To Face did acoustic sets years back as I remember a friend’s band opening for them and quickly having to learn how to relearn their songs so they could stay on the bill with them – Back to this EP though.

Hold Fast is listed as an EP, but at 33 minutes, it could easily be an album.  I was impressed to see 10 songs tracked on the Fat Wreck Chords release and was more impressed with where they call came from on their discography.

“All For Nothing” started off the EP with an alt-country twangy version of the catchy Laugh Now, Laugh Later track that I am sure Lucero fans would totally appreciate.  I quickly realized after this song alone the amount of time put in by Face To Face to transformed them into a completely different style.

“Disconnected” was the song I was most worried to hear.  This radio-friendly track that caught the most attention on Big Choice was part of the soundtrack to my life in the late 90s and I’m still quite fond of it to this day.  I held off listening to this song at first and waited until the album came out to take it in.  I had nothing to worry about.  This song was perfected transformed from a pop punk jam to an acoustic masterpiece.  I loved everything about this song from Keith’s slowed down singing to the backing vocals and even the guitar playing.

I was kind of shocked to hear “Keep Your Chin Up” the EP as it was a new song, but as soon as the chorus started I immediately understood.  It fit perfectly.

“Don’t Turn Away” was completely dissected and put together as one hell of a track.  The lyrics remain the same, but everything else about it screams alt-country with even some rockabilly qualities to it.  This was such an enjoyable track to rediscover though a different genre.  Just wait for that guitar solo.

“Aok” was another version I just absorbed and adored instantly.  This is one of those other songs that was part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing it on a different caliber was just so appreciated.

I can not say every track on the EP blew me away as some were at status quo like “Ordinary” and even “Velocity”, but I did not skip past a single song.  Nothing was completely unbearable which led me to believe the band truly gave it their all.

I truly feel Face To Face did this for the sake of trying something new and not looking for a quick paycheck (leave that to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes).  These So. Cal. punks have matured so much since back in the day and clearly have moved past their punk rock roots musically.  I really think people who never were into Face To Face are going to hear this and become fans of these renderings.  I am also hoping they just decided to make new music in this style.  I have the feeling it would be amazing.

Don’t dismiss this EP at all folks.  Face To Face is far more talented than you think, especially if you just assume they are just some aging punk rock band looking for a quick payday.

Album Review: Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes

I hate to break it to you, but summer is almost over.  Soon it’s going to be cold and miserable out.  

No need to get depressed just yet though as there is still plenty of time to get rad.  Luckily Johnny La Rock is here to add fuel to that fire with his debut, dance-your-pants-off release titled Gold Codes.

Cleveland native La Rock, aka Eddie Fleisher, once showcased his talent in hip-hop duo Johnny La Rock & Mushmouth as well as Presque Vu, but has taken an entirely new approach that surely will appeal to all those looking for a good time. 

Gold Codes is La Rock’s solo debut album that is more or less a “life can’t get any worse, let’s party like those people did in Independence Day on top of that skyscraper before the aliens blew that shit up” album.  Yeah, I just said that.  It’s pop, it’s soul, it’s electronic, and most importantly, it’s good.

“Dance to the Rhythm (Party Time)” started things off just right with a body-moving jam complete with a little 90s inspired hip hop enthusiasm.  This was a sincere as hell track that really will make you want to get down.

The inspirational “210 and Mustache” more or less punched negativity in the throat and walked away proud with your head up high.  If you do not know what 210 refers to, go ahead and just Google that along with Urban Dictionary.  

“Swipe Left” is a honest yet candid track about the norm that is called online dating.  I loved the line “you seem cool on the internet, in real life you’re insane.”  I loved the vintage video dating samples, it accompanied perfectly.

“Keep On Keepin’ On” was a fun instrumental jam as was the 80s thriller sounding “Phantasm”.  It was cool to have both songs just change things up for a moment without losing momentum.  Least I not forget about “Lumin8”, that was solid too.

“Blue Away” was an uplifting alternative to shake off any funk currently holding anyone back.  No lie, this song cheered me up.  I think a music video is in order for this one (hint, hint).

“Gold Codes” stuck on me for some reason.  I think it was more or less because I’ve felt what La Rock sung about on a few occasions over the past 20 years.  This was the fight jam I needed to remind me that retaliation happens in many forms as long as you don’t give up.

I’ve seen La Rock live a few times when he focused on rap and most recently with programmer Furface and I have to admit, I am a bigger fan of his solo stuff than I thought I would be.  At first I was set back because I was expecting the hip hop, but when the soul-pop dropped, I was an instant fan.

I have to note that this album fueled my recent trip to Vegas and if I had it my way, I would have played it for everyone around me at all hours.  The release has jumped up high as one of my favorites of 2018 and I’m not sure any music quite like this will be topping it.  I speak high praises because I thoroughly enjoyed almost this entire album from start to finish many times over.

La Rock is the Har Mar Superstar of Cleveland and even manages to keep his clothes on during live sets.  

Interpersonal ,humorous party vibes a al Electric Six, La Rock knows how to deliver a good time to all his fans.  

Check out what La Rock has to offer below and hopefully you’ll agree that it does not disappoint at all.

Album Review: Curtail – All Your Luck

I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.

I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.

Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on.  My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).

Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records.  A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen.  I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago.  Still, it needs to be noted.

“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure.  Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall.  “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to.  I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.

“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over.  Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This  is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band.  Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all.  This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.

I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life.  This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track  this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.

“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring.  Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically.  This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.

“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me.  You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song.  I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.

“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.

“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released.  This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.

For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some.  Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans.  Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.

Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck.  I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.

 

 

EP Review: The Stable – Difficult People

Hey Cleveland, how ya doing?

Lebron (more like L.A. Bron) is gone, but who cares?

Well if you do care, just know local punkers The Stable recently dropped an energetic, gritty album on BandCamp that’ll help you forget all about that sports nonsense in mere minutes.

Featuring members of Seafair (R. Kelly), RAM ONES ( J. Voland), Above This Fire (C. Wright), and Varsity Pinball (I. Bowers), it’s no surprise at all how impressive The Stable’s debut EP is.

4 songs, all quality, are contained in Difficult People. These may be quick bangers, but they certainly are impacting and leave a mark.

“Clothesline From Hell” is proof of my previous statement.  Full-force, no corners cut track full of insane drumming, vocal chord destroying singing, and of course some good ol’ group vocals.

“We Belong In Hell” might just be my favorite cut off the EP given how catchy it is.   There’s something to be said about a song that embeds in your mind as a track you won’t soon forget, this is one of them.

“Shyamalan Twist” seemed to carry this 90s punk/hardcore ethos in the background that I totally adored.  I loved the breakdown towards the end as it just made it that more enjoyable.

I warn you, this EP is quick, but if you are like me, you’ll jump back to the beginning for another round.

The Stable remind me of The Shaking Hands and The Holy Mess a ton in a good, good way.  Given the gents who are in this band, I expect big things to come in the near future.  I can not wait to check them out live soon.

Check them out: