Category Archives: Cleveland

I’m Still Around

Hey all, I will be the first to admit I have neglected the hell out of this site.

I am going through some life changes currently and have every intention of rebooting this blog very soon. I promise y’all, I am ok. Been a rough start to the year, but the future is looking to be just fine.

Aiming to cover this summer’s Punk in Drublic festival at Nautica (it will always be Nautica). I also have a handful of albums I need to review so stick around and see if I hold myself to this.

Thanks for caring!

Album Review: Heart & Lung – Twistin’ The Knife Away

Heart & Lung were one of Cleveland’s best kept punk rock secrets until that Toby guy over at Red Scare had to sign them and promote the ever-living hell out of them for all to adore.

Rightfully so though, this upbeat band rips on so many levels, is fun, and absolutely deserves the attention.

The foursome has been doing their thing for over 5 years now and just have this ability to put you in a great freaking mood. They are hilarious, but will strike your ass with their snark and style – so try not to make any eye-contact at a show (just kidding, they are super friendly folk).

Unlike any typical non-serious review I have ever done, I think it is important to share my latest dumb idea for a t-shirt for these guys to lean into what I want to say next about them:

HEART, LUNGS, & HARMONY
(This of course is done in the style of the Bone, Thugs, and Harmony logo …)

The balance these dudes carry is unreal. This is not some NOFX-bellyaching where they talk over tunes, Heart & Lung just carry an ability to combine and lead from each other’s verses without disrupting.

Anyways stupid, but rad idea – hint, hint.

The boys dropped their sophomore release titled Twistin’ The Knife Away in mid-October on Red Scare records, and it was an instant classic to my ears. Hell, Brenden Kelly said himself, “What do you kids say these days? It fucks? It slaps? It does all that stuff.” He ain’t wrong.

The album is a quick listen, but is full of tracks that are going to get stuck in your head and played over and over.

“Watch You Suffer” started off the release with a fast-paced banger for all to adore. The band has no problem holding back on this track surrounded by the best intentions for someone who clearly sucks. As much as I adore the breakdown on this one, the guitar licks are where it’s at.

“I’m Fine” is a day-to-day reminder of the things we do living in this repetitious life. Loved that they tossed in their debut album name on this, but the punky bluegrass build up was what won me over on this track. The harmonies kick in hard here to the point I have been singing this one to myself a lot lately when the day is challenging.

“Headache” was slightly toned down with good reason. I loved the emotion in this track while sitting back and realizing how aligned I am with the subject.

Loved the Blazing Saddles quote on “Shit Together”, a song the pretty much defined many of our entry to adulthood lives while stuck trying to figure things out. Damn song almost made me sad listening to it as I recalled too many parts of it in a personal aspect.

Probably one of my favorite tracks was “Never Come Home”. This song did not let up once and carried almost hidden powerful encouragement in regards to moving on when life comes down in the worst way. Maybe skip this one if you just broke up with someone recently.

“Control” was another good one that had some hints of bluegrass masked over clearly by the good stuff. This track was harmonic, yet quick and totally captured my total attention.

With 3 singers who connect on the best level, this band is incredible and entertaining to listen to. Taking queues from their previous bluegrass talent, these boys know how to steal your attention with some of the catchiest music I have heard all year. Do not take my word for it, check out Twistin’ The Knife Away and thank me later after your 20th listen.

Heart & Lung have been touring to the best of their ability lately and are opening for some band called Lagwagon in early December at the Grog Shop. Should be a good time had by all!

Heart & Lung “Watch You Suffer”

Twistin’ The Knife Away is on those streaming services, but if you really want to supposed a rad act, head over to the Red Scare Industries store and pick up a copy or 2. Tis the season to rack up credit!

Interview: Brenden Kelly (The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon)

It’s been a hot minute since I have been to a show, so when I learned that Brenden Kelly‘s Here Goes Nothing Tour was making a stop in Cleveland, I knew I had to be there.

The fact the “venue” was a mere 1.3 miles away from BHP HQ sealed the deal for me. The quotes, by the way, were purposely put there as he played at a BBQ joint called Hatfield’s Goode Grub in a strip mall in the Cleveland suburb West Park.

I may have questioned the choice, but honestly, it was perfect for an acoustic set as well as a ton of hangs with some great folk.

For a Sunday night show, it was pretty packed and I have zero complaints. I got to see Brenden play a slightly extended set and even hung out with Sir Toby of Red Scare as well as some of the Heart & Lung crew.

Where I could have done a full review of the show and probably taken much better photos, I honestly went as a fan. I slammed some beers, sang along, and didn’t worry about taking notes or building a set list.

Honestly, I really needed that night. I missed live music and the interaction so much. I had fun and I know I was not the only one. That is what mattered most.

Still, when I got home that night, I couldn’t help but tell myself how I should at least do something where I could talk about the show or maybe do more.

I decided maybe an interview was in order.

I caught up with Brenden exactly one day after the tour ended just to mostly talk about the month-long series of shows and whatnot. I guess the timing was right.

Check it out:

BHP: You just finished up your Here Goes Nothing Tour with your homeboy Toby from Red Scare.  For those who may have missed out on seeing you play, can you tell me about some of the highlights other than the Four Seasons Total Landscaping show everyone is still talking about?

BK: Well, the big highlights for me mostly involved seeing friends and just getting to be out there with everyone doing what I’ve (for better or for worse) dedicated my life to doing, ya know? 

A real highlight was at a brewery in Green Bay where Jack from Arms Aloft and I were just sitting there listening to the sounds of the brewery but we thought we were listening to a super ambient Godspeed! track.  After about a minute and a half (an embarrassingly long time) I was like, “Did you put that record on?” to the promoter who was just hanging out and he said “No, couldn’t get it to work.”  We had a good chuckle at that shit. 

We got a bag full of Krystal, Southern White Castle, but they also serve chili cheese “pups”…fifty bucks worth in Georgia, and Tane called his girlfriend and said, “I just got fifty bucks worth of Krystal!” and she replied, “Tane, I thought you weren’t into hard drugs?” and we had a chuckle at that shit too. 

The shows were all fun.  Some were sold out and some were barely attended at all and some were private backyard situations.  In every instance it was really just great to be back out there again.

I was lucky enough to hit the final show in Cleveland and it was packed and even a couple of alcoholic Browns fans who were looking to keep damaging their liver some more after a pre-season win showed up. 

Was the turnout about the same at all the other places you hit up?

If you looked at the routing, you could almost certainly guess within 10 people how many people were there just based on location and whether it was a private party or not. 

There was one that was weird because I got the distinct feeling that the guy who booked the show (this was a private party) didn’t like my music.  He left while I was on stage.  He was perfectly nice and accommodating, but it seemed like a weird move to pay to have me come to your house and not watch.  Right?  But the shows in places where I tend to do well, big cities in the north (also Tampa) were jammed for sure.  It was great.

Your initial special guest did not quite pan out as planned.  I saw there were a handful of openers who took that slot including Tane Graves who played about half of the shows.  Who were some of your favs?

Well at first we had Seth from Arms Aloft, then Tane, who rode with us and did most of the tour, and at the end we had Steveo from the Crippling Addiction, formerly of The Holy Mess, so there were only 3 guests.  I would say those three were probably my faves.

You forgot to mention Heart & Lung playing as Munford & Lungs!  Seriously I hope you’re as excited for this Cleveland band’s Red Scare debut as I am.  I love those dudes.

Oh yeah.  They’re awesome and the ability those three have to not only be a great punk band but also an amazing bluegrass band is pretty astounding.  I have heard the record and can confirm it’s radical.  What do you kids say these days?  It fucks?  It slaps?  It does all that stuff.

I have to admit, I was curious about how you playing at Hatfield’s Goode Grub was going to pan out, but it worked out well.  What did you think?

That dude is a trip and the place is awesome and the food is amazing.  I had a great time and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Was it a little odd?  Sure.  All shows right now are a little odd but that place was probably the coolest BBQ bar in a strip mall run by a real live member of a blood feud family that I’ve ever been to.

Your retort to the “fan” who screamed “Free Bird” when you were asking for requests was classic.  Were there any other folk throughout the tour that made comments where you just took a moment to educate?

Oh, I dunno.  I kind of have stage brain, which is to say that no matter what is going on in my life, if I’m sad or angry or whatever, I can get up there and think with an entirely different part of my mind and do the show the way it’s supposed to be done. 

The other side of this is that I don’t tend to remember the shows particularly well.  I know what you’re all thinking but NO, mother, it’s not from boozing.  Even when I’m stone sober this happens.  Also, even when I’m stone sober everyone thinks I’m wasted so whatever.  Throw your stones.

The fact you proved to the crowd playing “Shitty Margarita” was not a good idea by playing some of it was probably one of my favorite moments of the night.  Did you get any other requests throughout tour that you just had to skip the idea on?

That one came up a lot.  So did some of the faster or just generally screamier TLA songs, like “Cut it Up”, for example.  Some things just aren’t that good acoustic.  People think they don’t care, but then they have to sit through it and it really sucks for everyone, especially me.  So I try to take requests but I know what works and what doesn’t and I try to be a good steward in that regard for everyone involved.

Toby told me to ask you about the new Guardians logo and how you loved it.  I love the team name, but if I am thinking of the same logo as you are, it is rough.  What do you like about it so much?  I can tell you the ‘G’ that obstructs the baseball just looks off.

Oh, I was referring to the Guardians fastball (I think that’s what it’s called) and I think it’s just dope looking. It’s totally got being a tattoo first and foremost in its design and I just think they nailed it.  The G evokes a super classic rust belt factory industry logo which is very, very cool to me.

That’s what I was talking about!  I’m not really sure why it bugs me.  Maybe I’ll tattoo it on me and replace the “G” with “Beex” and while I’m at it change the baseball into a garbage pail lid.  Cool?

I think this is an excellent idea.

Tour’s over, now what?  We were lucky to have you play an extended set of sorts on the last night of tour, thanks for that.  I could tell you were not really looking forward to it to end.

Yeah.  I don’t know what to do now.  My family has passed down this uh…I guess it’s our family motto (even though that sounds weird to say) which is you need 3 things: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.  Right now I am 1 for 3, so maybe I’ll just get a beer and see how that works out.  For real though, I just wrote a page of lyrics I don’t hate.  This tour reignited my love for everything from my family to playing to exercising and on and on so I’m optimistic.  Also, Toby is talking about doing more runs, and I’d be into that for sure.  But for now I’m gonna call the insurance company and then go get my car washed.  The dizzying highs of rock and roll, am I right?

Hate to hear about the 33% family motto standing, but I’m stoked to see what those lyrics pan out into.  Was most of the writing done when traveling from place to place or just when it hit ya?

No, I just wrote one page this morning when I woke up in my bed for the first time in a month.  It’s time to dust off my dick and start working again, as the old maxim goes.

Thanks for giving me some of your time today, enjoy that phoner with the insurance company!

Now check out a video I found on my phone from that night:

Tweet from @RedScareToby

Album Review: Juice Newson – Suburban Soul

I know I have been talking this one up a lot on the social medias for a couple of weeks now, so excuse the excitement. I’m a big fan of Juice Newson already as a human, but truth be told, I enjoy his work tremendously.

Today Juice Newson dropped his sophomore release Suburban Soul on various streaming services. (SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify) With his self-created beats through chopped samples from a slew of concealed material, the 13-track album features personal journal-like lyrics and was produced by Newson himself all throughout this pandemic we are all so familiar with.

Newson may have been making an imprint into the Cleveland hip hop scene for a couple of years now, but previously he was the drummer for punk locals Old Souls for nearly a decade. To say he has roots in Cleveland is an understatement and Suburban Soul showcases that.

“SSINTRO” started things off with an understanding that this wasn’t just a quick drop and something far more intricate. “BottaDip” had such a smooth flow throughout. The samples backed up the refrain flawlessly.

My favorite track, “Cruise Lines,” is beyond likeable. The beat was on-point and complimented Newson’s chill rapping style. I adored the pro-Cleveland line: “I need some late nights on the lake right next to a city that you think is shitty but really it’s your own bad attitude that made you change your latitude.” If this does not get him the attention he deserves, I do not know what will.

“BothSides” reminded me of the days RJD2 and Blueprint did their thing. “MyLife” may have had the production turned down a little, but I would be lying if I said this did not fit right in with 90s hip hop.

“Never Was A Drake Fan” was another solid effort. This was actually dropped on a comp release last year, but definitely needed to be included on this release.

Missing companionship was what “Nest” was all about. Pristine rhymes with barely a break for air supplied the remix sample from The Association’s “The Nest”. The more I listened to this one, the more I found myself loving it.

“RainDogs” was proof that Newson put all the heart and all the soul into his work. With help from Cleveland’s Anthony Jones, this track was nothing but amazing.

My only real complaint about this release is some of the songs could have lasted longer purely because the beats were fantastic. The lyricism was heavy and ever so personable to this fellow Cleveland native.

This album may not change your life, but damn at times will it make your day a little bit better. That’s not to say this is all happiness and rainbows… Recording in isolation sometimes can really bring out all the feelings. Regardless, it is a release that certainly needs to be heard by all and I can not wait to see what this great talent does next.

Check it already.

Album Review: Slug Fest – Animal

Cleveland surf punkers Slug Fest have dropped a gritty, goodtime as hell release titled Animal that we all deserve.

Wait, did I just say “Cleveland” and “surf punk” in the same sentence? You bet your grits I did. By now you are probably asking yourself how is surf punk even possible in the rust belt, but I assure you it is, it works, and it’s outstanding.

Hailing from the shallow waters of Lake Erie, Deirdre McCafferty, Michael Luciano, and Michael Stanis share a love for proto punk, garage rock, and psychedelic noise that in turn helped shape their sound. The surf riffs were just an added enhancement that made Animal even better.

Starting off was “Never Be Your Baby”, a banger of a song that was just bad ass to listen to. I loved when things slowed down only to explode again. One song in and I was completely digging it.

When “On The Run” started it just gave me energy and captured my attention in the best way. The change up in the middle had me smiling while nodding my head in approval.

Title track “Animal” was equal parts 80s punk as it was garage rock. The bass riff combined with the non-stop guitar playing just made for a hell of a tune to listen to. Not much singing, but plenty of riffs and jams. I have the feeling this song live would be amazing.

Noise-heavy, “Surf Demon” was an adventurous journey with plenty of fuzz and fun. Loved the breakdown towards the end where you can clearly hear the trio having a blast doing what they love to do.

“Moonlight Power” was to me the track on the album that showed the true dynamic of this band. At times I was reminded of Ween as it was all over the place, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it was one of my favorite songs on the release. The best part of this track was the horror-laced theme throughout.

“Luce Potentia” was surf noise at its finest. I loved the mysteriousness on this track that seemingly could fuel an angry ride around the city. The drums were chaotic, the guitars never held back, and the singing was enchanting.

This threesome seemingly came out swinging with their impressive style and Animal is the proof. Imagine the fun of Japandroids mixed with the fuzz noise of bands like Muhammadali but with surf riffs galore and you’ll have a slight inclination of what this infectious sound is all about.

The band actually said that “Animal was intended to be a collection of big, standalone bangers that capture how we sound and play live. Our shows are usually exceedingly loud and hectic/high energy and we wanted to make recordings that express/capture that.” I can honestly say they achieved that.

My only suggestion to this trio is to press this release on wax so I can spin it daily. I’ve listening to this album a ton over the last month with no intentions of taking a break. Certainly well received by this listener.

The band was supposed to play an exclusive show at the Grog Shop this month, but that stupid virus got in the way and cancelled it. Look for this talented, young threesome to smash some heads in 2021. They will not go unnoticed.

Check out more on the band’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Also, if you think you can’t surf in Cleveland, you are clearly mistaken as seen here: