Category Archives: Indie

Interview: Superchunk’s Jon Wurster on Here’s To Shutting Up’s 20th Anniversary Reissue

20th Anniversary Reissue of Here’s to Shutting Up now available at mergerecords.com/store

Growing up in Canton, Ohio in the pre-internet 1990’s wasn’t exactly a bustling hub of counter-culture for a young kid.  Sure, I had cool parents and an older brother who passed down the foundations of my musical interests- The Ramones, The Replacements, Dead Milkmen, and so on- but I had yet to find “my thing”.  

Then, I found Beavis and Butthead.  Suddenly the world opened up in front of me. Archers of Loaf, Seaweed, and Sonic Youth all hit me like a ton of bricks.  All of these bands were rooted in the world that I knew, but they were decidedly original and a bit more unpredictable.  I was hooked.  Superchunk’s song and video for Package Thief was what rattled me, though.  It was my lightbulb moment for what I wanted out of music- frantic energy, bright fuzzy chords, catchy melodies, and weird lyrics.  I knew instantly that they were my band.  

They became a frequent presence on my annual Christmas lists, but I don’t think their records were the easiest to find where I lived.  I wouldn’t really find “my band” until 2004 or so, when I walked into what was then known as The Record Exchange in Canton and bought almost their entire discography in one go- minus Here’s Where the Strings Come In and Indoor Living.  

It wasn’t an entirely joyous outing, though- even though I loved every album I picked up.  On The Mouth was everything I hoped for after being hooked by Package Thief.  Foolish was a classic that laid a blueprint that younger bands had followed for the last decade.  Come Pick Me Up was off-the-wall and intoxicating.  And then there was Here’s to Shutting Up– slower, somber, and ominously titled.  Based on its name, I assumed the worst about the band’s fate- and their lack of internet presence in that era all but confirmed it for me.  Scattershot shows would pop up in major markets once or twice a year, and front man Mac McCaughan would pop in on the now-defunct Superchunk/Merge message boards from time to time but it seemed like the title of their 2001 full-length said it all.  I missed the window of my favorite band’s full-time existence.  

Fast-forward just a few years after that and the band would thankfully reemerge, comfortably settled into their classic sound, more frequently releasing music and heading back out for brief clusters of shows.  But the interim time would also reveal that even though the title of the record was unintentional, or subconscious at worst, the writing was on the wall for Superchunk as they were in 2001.  It was a tough time for the band in 2001- the indie rock scene favored up-and-coming bands rather than those who had been at it for a decade-plus.  Superchunk was caught in the middle of a fanbase that didn’t particularly want them to change their formula and critics who would drag them for staying the same.  On top of that- thanks to inner turmoil and exhaustive tours with a steep decline in attendance post-9/11, the band did ultimately shut up for nine years or so.  (To hear it from the band in their own words, check out the book Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, and the Peyton Reed-directed documentary DVD Crowding Up Your Visual Field)

Twenty years later, Here’s to Shutting Up has been rereleased along with a CD of acoustic demos from the writing sessions.  It’s a record that went largely unheard at the time of it’s release due to unavoidable bad timing- the album came out on September 18th, 2001- along with a refrain in the pedal-steel guitar-led acoustic ballad Phone Sex that includes the lyrics “Plane crash footage on TV- I know that could be me.”  Unfortunate timing and coincidences aside, it’s a beautiful, haunting record that finds Superchunk engaging in some of their most ambitous songwriting- from the eerie, meandering What Do You Look Forward To, to the more-upbeat entries such as Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama) and Rainy Streets– the album is more than worth a look back or an introduction if you missed it the first time around.  

Last week, I caught up with drummer Jon Wurster via email to see how he feels looking back at the album:

JU: Here’s to Shutting Up caps off a trio of Superchunk’s most experimental records.  Do you recall any discussions the band was having leading up to the writing of this record?  Any interesting stories worth sharing from the writing/demo sessions at your house?

JW: This whole conversation is tough because this is the Superchunk album I have the most difficult relationship with. I honestly can’t recall the names of most of the songs on the album and we only play one of them live at this point (“Art Class”). We worked very diligently for months on “HTSU” in Jim’s garage. I still have the snare drum head I used for the rehearsals/writing and it’s got about 30 funny working titles for the songs, like, “There’s Something About Marvin” and “New Asics” (I’d just bought a pair) scrawled on it.  Just speaking for myself, I didn’t really love the direction we were going for this record. 

We were really good at the punky, catchy, slightly weird music we’d been doing for over ten years and it was only natural that we branch out and try new things. I just didn’t feel like we were particularly suited for the Yo La Tengo-inspired music we were coming up with for HTSU. I WILL say that it’s one of our best-sounding records. I’d finally gotten a snare drum I liked (a Ludwig Black Beauty) and used it on that and just about everything I’ve played on since. So, sonically, I think it’s really good. 

JU: Was there ever any talk or possibility of working with Jim O’Rourke again after Come Pick Me Up?  I’ve always been a big fan of the string and horn arrangements he brought to that record.  I could be wrong, but I feel like the production on that record isn’t given its due.  

JW: CPMU is difficult too. I thought the songs were really good but we lost it in the mix. The drums are too buried for my tastes on “Indoor Living” and CPMU in particular. Jim was so much fun to work with, but I don’t think he was really a drum guy. We had to overdub cymbals on a few songs because they weren’t really mic’d for some of the basic tracks.  He wrote the horn arrangements and did a fantastic job all around. The problem was he was running on fumes and going home each night to finish work on another record he was producing. He was really burning the candle at both ends, not with substances, just work and lack of sleep. But Jim was really great to work with. 

JU: It’s pretty well documented that 2000-2002 was a stressful time for the band- and many touring bands in the wake of 9/11.  Did any of those circumstances alter your opinion of the album at the time? 

JW: That was such a difficult time.  I’m really painting an uplifting picture of the band in the late-’90s and early 2000s, aren’t I? The record was released on September 18th and we immediately hit the road, going to Japan, Europe and then doing a full US tour. Attendances were down, I didn’t feel like the new songs were connecting with people, I didn’t really enjoy playing them, and it felt like other bands were passing us by. Like, we’d hit the glass ceiling. I just wasn’t excited about Superchunk anymore. The final show of the HTSU tour was at the Black Cat in D.C. and I remember thinking that was the end of the line for me. 

JU: How do you feel looking back on it now?  

JW: I honestly never think about HTSU. That said, I was in a coffee shop in NYC about four years after it came out and one of the songs from it came on the in-house playlist. I knew it was us but I didn’t recognize the song. I thought, “wow, this sounds really good, surprisingly tight for us.” Then I realized it was the last song we recorded for the album and the only one where we played to a click track: “Out On The Wing.”  

JU: Brian Paulson co-produced Here’s to Shutting Up with the band.  This is the first (maybe only, as far as I can tell?) time you used the same producer for a full-length record since 1994’s Foolish.  What went into that decision?  

JW: I honestly don’t recall. We were still very friendly with Brian and we’d see him all the time because he also lived in Chapel Hill. I think it just felt right. 

JU: Art Class has remained a steady presence in live sets ever since the album’s release.  Revisiting it now, and barring any logistical/additional personnel challenges, are there any songs from HTSU you think would be fun to bring back into live rotation?  

JW: One song we recorded for HTSU that I really liked, but didn’t make it on the album is “Becoming a Speck.” I think that song would have given the album a little more of what we were really good at, but someone must’ve decided it didn’t fit. It’s on the “Cup of Sand” comp. That would be a fun one to play, as would “Rainy Streets.” I’m now looking at the track listing and remembering that we ended the shows with “What Do You Look Forward To” and “Drool Collection.” Let’s just say I didn’t look forward to playing those songs every night. 

JU: Here’s to Shutting Up holds the distinction of having some of Superchunk’s longest songs- namely with What Do You Look Forward To? coming in at 7:42.  Was it strange to play outside of (generally speaking) standard pop-rock parameters Superchunk had typically held to or did it feel like a natural progression for everyone? 

JW: To me it felt a little false. Maybe not false, because we WANTED to play this new music well, but to my ears it sounds like us trying to be another band, specifically Yo La Tengo. I don’t want to hear a seven-minute song by anyone, so, as I said above, that particular tune was not a favorite to play. 

JU: Since the band got back into semi-regular output in the 2010’s, the sound has returned to what some would say is Superchunk’s more traditional hyper-energetic output (What a Time to Be Alive is arguably the band’s hardest-hitting record at times), give or take a few slower numbers.  Are there ever any band discussions about revisiting any of the more experimental, long-form ideas from this era, or do you think those concepts are mostly content to live on in the bands’ various other projects?  

JW: I think we got the “writing as a band” thing out of our system. Sometimes that yields some great results, but often you end up with music that’s a little unfocused. The first four or five albums were pretty much written by Mac. We’d all throw our two cents in but he pretty much wrote the songs. He was incredibly generous to make the publishing a four-way split. “Indoor Living,” “Come Pick Me Up” and “HTSU” were all written, musically, by committee and Mac would go off and write the lyrics. There’s a lot of good stuff on those records, for sure, but since we regrouped, it’s gone back to Mac writing and doing rough demos of the songs and then presenting them to us. I really like it this way because the songs just sound more focused and concise. He’s written so many great songs for these last few albums. 

JU I recently saw an interview with Mac where he discussed the band working on an album during quarantine, written and recorded remotely.  Are you able to give any details on the process behind that or any upcoming plans?

JW: Not yet 😉  

JU: Finally- followers of your Instagram account are treated to regular doses of Rock ‘n Roll Weirdness.  Outside of the band supposedly surviving largely off of Long John Silver’s, do you have any tales of Rock ‘n Roll Weirdness to share as relates to the writing/recording/release of Here’s to Shutting Up?

JW: The only thing that comes to mind is that there was nowhere to sit in the studio! I don’t know why that was. There WAS a row of very uncomfortable wooden seats from a classroom or something, but nobody wanted to sit on them. Maybe we should’ve called it “Here’s to Standing Up.” 

Superchunk, from left to right: Jon Wurster, Mac McCaughan, Jim Wilbur, and Laura Ballance

Here’s to Shutting Up is now available in multiple formats and bundles at www.mergerecords.com/store

BHP Best of 2020 List

If there’s anything to say about 2020, it is this: I miss live shows. I miss seeing local bands play small bars and I miss cramming into over-priced corporately owned venues to see sold out shows.

I know I am not the only one who says this to themselves daily. This year has not the the greatest by any means given the current situation.

I’ve tried hard to do things on this blog when I had some free time and want to once again thank everyone who has offered up something for review or checked out any of the posts I tossed together usually afterhours while everyone in my household was fast asleep.

I cannot end this year without pushing out a Best Of List. I know I am cutting it close this time. I feel this was the year I really tried to listen to more artists I never heard of before and honestly, I was impressed with tons of releases. I started with 10 and said screw that as all these bands that dropped impressive releases need to be shared. As usual, I will probably add to it after this goes live.

Thanks for keeping me going y’all. I do appreciate it.

BEST OF 2020

(in no particular order)

The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You Album Review | Pitchfork

The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You

I have loved this band since they started 20 years back. They have a way with mixing samples appropriately. I especially grew fond of this one because it was more of a journey than a collaboration of sound.

Get Dead - Dancing with the Curse

Get Dead – Dancing with the Curse

This release is raw, unhinged, and perfect in every way possible. I can only imagine what these dudes sound like on stage… This was probably the most listened to album of the year by yours truly. I cannot get enough of it.

Shuffle and Bang - Island Bop

Shuffle and Bang – Island Pop

Island Pop was the surprise drop of 2020 that I needed to distract me from all the bad. This is a soulful delight that I’ve gotten lost in many times and literally found myself in a better mood because of it. If there was one band I would love to see play live currently, Shuffle and Bang are my top choice.

Run the Jewels - RTJ4

Run The Jewels – RTJ4

This duo does no bad. I am not shocked that this was one of my fav releases this year. They always entertain. I am bummed I missed seeing them play with Rage this past summer and only can hope the rescheduled date stands.

Broadway Calls - Sad in the City

Broadway Calls – Sad in the City

This pop-punk release is going to be something I probably listen to for the rest of my life. No joke, this album started off as strong as it ended and became an instant favorite of mine.

The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast

The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast

This album is damn near perfect and I know I am not the only who who thinks this. Why go on about these guys when everyone knows how much they rule.

Hum - Inlet

HUM – Inlet

I have waited over 20 years for Hum to release new material and this did not disappoint one bit. After each listen I find a stronger appreciation for what they have created.

Maxwell Stern - Impossible Sum

Maxwell Stern – Impossible Sum

An outstanding effort by someone who I’m lucky to call a pal. I have watched him mature over the past 10 years and expect things to get even better as he continues onward. Now hurry up and drop Signals Midwest LP4 already!

Be Well - The Weight And The Cost

Be Well – The Weight and the Cost

Catchy as hell, melodic hardcore fun. With the roster in this lineup, it was not shocking how killer the entire album was and how things built up all the way to the end. This was one that made the blood flow as well as the feelings emerge.

SkyTigers - Eulorgy

SkyTigers – Eulorgy

A release by some Boston punks who’ve been at it for 10 years now. This debut clearly needed to drop during this shit year. It’s powerful, angry, and just insane. The opening track alone proves that.

Slug Fest - Animal

Slug Fest – Animal

Cleveland surf punk rock may not be something you knew existed, but I assure you it rules. This album is full of jams and guarantees a good time. This is one band I can not wait to see in-person.

the House of Wills - "true crime"

The House of Wills – “true crime’

This lo-fi release by Cleveland’s JV is everything to me. I fell in love with it upon first listen and love how they put their heart and soul into it. This is the one release that deserves all the attention. This falls somewhere between Fred Thomas and Daniel Johnston if I am being totally honest. Was JV going for that? Not sure, but it’s more real than most stuff that dropped this year.

Stolen Wheelchairs - The America

Stolen Wheelchairs – The America

These guys are about as punk as they get. If their band name is shocking to you, wait until you listen to this straight up punk rock disaster. I loved every moment of it.

Bob Mould - Blue Hearts

Bob Mould – Blue Hearts

This may very well be the best thing Mould has done in quite some time. I find comfort through Mould as he doesn’t back down as the years progress. Do not sit on this one.

Brain Cave - Stuck in the Mud

Brain Cave – Stuck in the Mud

Brain Cave’s debut rules on so many levels. I have spoken highly about this release to many folk since it dropped because it’s that damn good. This was my go to when I just could not decide with to listen to at any given moment.

I Am The Avalanche - DIVE

I Am The Avalanche – Dive

I’ve been a fan of these guys for a while now, but this album is probably my favorite to date. Punk rock at its finest.

Somerset Thrower - Paint My Memory

Somerset Thrower – Paint My Memory

This release brought back the best 90s punk rock vibes. I honestly never got into these guys prior, but clearly that changed. Excellent throughout.

Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone

Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone

This band can bum me out so much and I love them for it. Easily one of my fav acts out there and this release certainly showcases why.

The Dead Krazukies - Icarus

The Dead Krazukies – Icarus

I do not expect a ton of folk to know who this act is yet, but I have a feeling they will in time. All I could say to myself the first time I heard them was, “holy shit.” This is power punk rock without over-exaggerating it. You can tell the band loves playing and there wasn’t a single lull in the release. I can not recommend them enough.

Don Yoder - Everything is Nothing

Don Yoder – Everything is Nothing

This release came out of nowhere from a guy from another Cleveland band who wanted to make a country album. The result is an incredible, non-gimmicky grouping of songs that, unless you knew who wrote them, you’d think a seasoned alt-country musician wrote them.

Rope - Crimson Youth

Rope – Crimson Youth

Tossing the Tiny God Inc. released cassette cover here as they are the reason I even got into these guys. This is the post-grunge, hardcore album I needed this year. Talk about a brutal release…

Red City Radio - Paradise

Red City Radio – Paradise

This band continues to get better with each release. This one in particular was a solid listen that I’m currently obsessed with.

20/20 Vision (Anti-Flag album) - Wikipedia

Anti-Flag – 20/20 Vision

Totally forgot to add this one to the list initially. This political, punk rock stand against the government is as impactful as it is catchy. This band might be getting up there in age, but my god, they have no intention of slowing down or steering away from their cause.

TRVSS – New Distances

Grungy, noisy post-punk rage- rippers are what this release is all about. This Pittsburgh act deserves some serious attention.

Guilty Pleasure of the Year:

Machine Gun Kelly - Tickets to My Downfall

Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

I won’t lie, I played the ever-lasting hell out of this. It is a pop-punk, catchy release and I am probably too old to enjoy it as much as I have. I never was a MGK fan before he collaborated with Travis Barker, but stranger things have happened.

Best Covers Album of the Year:

NOFX / Frank Turner - West Coast vs. Wessex – Fat Wreck Chords

NOFX & Frank Turner – West Coast vs. Wessex

I can not tell you how stoked I was when I learned of this concept coming to life. Two of my favorite acts covering each other’s tunes in their own style. The finished product was far from some speedy effort. Both parties did an excellent job with their own renditions.

Just check out the video below for proof:

Like I said, I am sure I will be adding a few more here and there. 2020 really was full of good music by great artists. I think I am most impressed with the fact that even though everything had to shut down because of a global pandemic, musicians did everything possible to continue creating.

With that said, artists and bands are still struggling financially because of not being able to tour. I know they are not the only ones, but if you have the means to, support musicians by buying their physical or digital release and skip the popular streaming services. You know damn well they don’t make shit from streaming.

Hell, one up yourself and get some sweet swag while you are at it. If one of the bands I spoke about sounds interesting, check them out, and if you love it, buy it. Anything helps right now.

Thanks for reading and I sincerely hope that I enlightened you to 1 or 2 new bands that you will adore just like I did. Happy New Year y’all!

Album Review: The Electric Grandmother – Relaunch

80s synth-pop smashed with experimental sci-fi indie rock is about the best I can explain The Electric Grandmother these days to anyone who asks.

Taking their duo to a conceptional level higher than their last release, Cancelled that literally surrounded a man losing his mind over an axed sitcom, Relaunch is the most unique release I’ve heard these two drop to date.

Residing in Washington DC, and originally staking claim to fame in Columbus, OH, the high-level 411 on The Electric Grandmother is a husband/wife duo who have taken their love for each other and televised entertainment and put their own twist into it musically.  Sitcom Core pretty much was their lovechild, but with time comes maturity and they really are beyond what they once created.

I could sit here and tell you how much Pete and Mary Alice mean to me, but I’ll save that.  Instead, I would like to remind them the time I showed up at their wedding reception first if I am not mistaken and they both ran to me, excited to see someone on their level that wasn’t a family member asking over and over when they were going to start a family and talk about their lost cat or bridge mix.

What am I getting at you ask?

I was there for them then, and I still am today.

I write this review not because they asked me to check it out, but as a fan of a band that really has seemingly taken gimmicks to levels that almost carry on hidden meaning.

Case and point, Relaunch, is about Ronald Regan getting kidnapped, but surrounds the crew that came together to find and hopefully  bring him back to safety.  It’s a silly, serious escapade into another dimension with room for one more to enjoy the trip.

“The Kidnapping of Ronald Reagan” set up the story with Mary Alice’s ever so sweet singing followed up with her main squeeze’s melodica infused singing.  Not going to lie, I just sat here and marveled at how great this track sounded while hanging on for the ride.

Classic, crass sounding “Nancy Reagan” followed with plenty of poo and butt jokes including Mr. T’s lap.  I’d expect nothing less seeing how much these two shouldn’t always be taken seriously.

“Relaunch” could have been mistaken for Chemical Brothers at the start with the instrumentals.  Seriously, this track ruled so much that i had to listen to it a second time once it ended.  Clearly this track fueled the journey to space to find the president.

Even rescue astronauts need a distraction as proved in “Shuttle Dance Night”.  The samples were great, but the singing as provided by Pete and Mary Alice was far more intriguing.  Plenty of 80s references reside on this track all sampled perfectly.

“Stand For The Air Demon” carried beats like none other.  The end dropped with an almost Orson Welles monolog that drifted into silence only to be picked up and amplified in “Nine Miles To The Water”.

The only problem with “Two Mummies” is that someone missed the opportunity to toss a freestyle over it.  I suppose there’s always a chance of the Relaunch Remix.  

This is where I stop talking about the album because really do not want to ruin it for anyone.  If you’ve found yourself interested in this crazy tale, then it is up to you to check out the album to find out the conclusion.

As for The Electric Grandmother, they’ve once again wowed me with originality, but impressed me with how much further they have taken their talents music-wise.  They have not lost their charm, but at the same time are showcasing their true worth.  Never quit you two.

Available on Bandcamp, the band is taking proceeds from this album and donating to their favorite DC hangout spot, Slash Run.

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BHP Best Of 2018

It’s that time of the year again folks where I share with you the bands and albums that caught my attention throughout the year.

Sure, my reviewing is infrequent these days, may not make total sense or even be read by many for that matter, but I can tell you that I am listening to as much music as possible daily.

If my memory serves me correct, this will be my 10th Best Of post.  Sitting back and just thinking that this blog has been around for 10 years now completely floors me.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever stopped by to see what’s good.  Here’s to however many more years I decide to keep this going.

With that said, happy holidays and here is my list in no particular order:


Timeshares – Out There EP
-Easily one of my most played EPs of the year.  I was obsessed with it for weeks and was caught off guard in a good way by it.  I can not wait for their next full-length now.  Loving their rejuvenated sound.


Strung Out – Blackout the Sky EP
-Not going to lie.  I was not stoked at all to hear Strung Out was going to do an acoustic album.  I do not know why I even doubted that they would not have done something amazing.  This EP was amazing and showed a completely different side to one of the best bands out there.


Spells – Loose Change Vol. 1
-Ok so this is a collection of early out of print tunes by the Colorado punk party rockers, but this was my first taste of the band after somehow missing out of them for all these years.  I caught them touring with Off With Their Heads earlier this year and turned into an instant fan.


Curtail – All Your Luck
-This is probably one of the best releases that came out this year that you may have not heard about.  I could sit here and talk about it for hours, but I will leave it to you and check it out.  Just think 90s alt rock mixed with 00s emo/post-hardcore goodness.


Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers – Brought to Rot
-This was the most punk rock album to come out all year.  Laura Jane Grace is sincere as she talks about her current dwelling and overall situation without holding back.  I was overly impressed with this one.


Turnstile – Time & Space
-An amazing hardcore release that really is so much more once you get sucked into it.  It really is a genius album to listen to especially with some 80s punk and R&B moments tossed in for the hell of it (just listen to “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind”).  Certainly happy I stumbled on these guys.


Light Years – Afterlife
-Hands down, this is one of the best pop punk albums to come out this year.  I knew it was going to be good, but I did not realize it was going to be that good.


Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)
-This album has turned me into an even bigger Face To Face fan.  I feared hearing it because I really did not want to hear a punk band play acoustic renditions of their songs, but man, I was so wrong to doubt them.  They reinvented their songs in the best way possible.


The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight
-Two-toned, punk fueled, and amazing throughout.  There’s a reason why Tim Armstrong produced this album.


The Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue
-This album was like listening to The Gaslight Anthem team up with Roy Orbison to score a Wes Anderson flick.  I adore these guys and hope to hell I can see them live one day.  This was the album that complete caught me by surprise this year and fell in love with.


Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
-This album is like the energy of The Menzingers + the emotion of MakeWar.  The band clearly has matured into something incredible and this release proves it.  Do not sit on this one.


Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP
-This is the best thing this band has ever done.  There was just this certain amount of gallant confidence throughout.  The song “SkyTigers” proved that to me over and over.


Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes
-I was drunk in Vegas earlier this year and admitted Gold Codes was an album of the year for me.  La Rock is a hidden gem in Cleveland that the world really should get to know some.


Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo
-Working class and bad ass all in one album.  These guys rule.  It’s like Dropkick Murphys if they were a ska band.


Mad Caddies – Punk Rocksteady
-Taking punk rock songs and putting their own reggae style to it was just a brilliant idea.  This covers album was done right and received well by this listener.


Restorations – LP5000
-Yeah, this was one of my favorite releases this year.  This band can do no wrong and I appreciated their maturing lyrics more than ever.  Seeming them live finally this year was also an added bonus.


Four Fists – 6666
-This collaboration between P.O.S. and Astronautics completely slays.  This rap duo really dropped an impressive album complete with plenty of punk references and beats guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days.


Vessel of Light – Woodshed
-This album takes everything great about Danzig, White Zombie, and even old Alice in Chains and puts them all together for a solid listen.  Super impressed with this one.


Frank Turner – Be More Kind
-Everyone needs to listen to this album, especially “Be More Kind”.  I am fairly sure it will make your day if not a better person.  Frank Turner is one talented mo-fo.


Lucero – Among The Ghosts
-I love this album mostly for the band embracing where life has taken them over the years.  They have not lost their style one bit and for that I thank them.  This has turned into one of my favorite Lucero releases.

 

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Album Review: Johnathan Richman – SA

Sometimes you forget about things because you’re  just so preoccupied with life.

That normal routine, if you’re like me, starts with coffee and ends with exhaustion.  What I’m basically trying to get at is that I forgot to do something.  It was an honest mistake though.

I forgot to take a few moments to myself and write about the latest release by Johnathan Richman titled SA.

SA is Richman’s 17th album as a solo singer/songwriter.  Once again on Blue Arrow Records, Richman has recorded an eccentric yet honest, poetic album where he sings about everything from love, dancing, and even a creative point of view from a dog.  It’s simply art put to music.

According to Blue Arrow Records on their Bandcamp site, “SA, the root note in Indian ragas, was what Ramakrishna,
the much beloved mystic, told his spiritual students to search for underneath all things of this world.”  Chances are if you are reading this, you know Richman and why he would reference such.

Album title track “SA” opened up with a relaxed, island-y feel and had Richman singing of focus and love without hesitation.  The sitar, at least that is what it sounded like to me, complimented Richman’s strumming.

Subtle quirks were heard in Richman’s pitch throughout “The Fading Of An Old World”.  This track really had a lot going on musically when you sit back and listen.  On top of it, Richman did what he does best in flowing ample and intense lyrics throughout.

“O Mind! Let Us Go Home” held as an eccentric tune that had some likable psychedelic qualities.  The jazzy drumming behind the tambura playing kept things beyond mysterious.

Richman sounded so youthful in “O Mind! Just Dance”, a track that seemingly was a continuation of the previous ‘O Mind’ track.  This experimental track became one of my favorites the moment Richman just started opening up and going on a positive tangent about not worrying.  I loved how he seemingly turned his attention and spoke to the audience halfway through asking everyone to forget and dance.

“¡Alegre Soy!” was just amazing as it was a peppy, cheerful song.  Sung mostly in Spanish, the song really just built up so well.  I instantly adored the track the moment Richman just started doing a spoken word about how happiness surrounded his life.  I could hear him smiling as he spoke about always being happy in his life for the most part.  Once the track ended, I was just left with such a good feeling in my heart.

“Yes, Take Me Home” was easily my favorite track off this release.  As someone who has rescued a dog more than once, I because almost a little emotional listening to Richman speak as a sheltered canine with an undisclosed past.  I loved the harmonium playing accompanying Richman’s guitar, but I just wish I knew if the dog was taken home.

“And Do No Other Thing” was an instant classic for me.  Songs like this one were what turned me into a Richman fan in the first place.  It was romantic yet blunt with completeness especially when everyone came together at the end.

This album, in my opinion, was far more entertaining and good-spirited than the last making for a great listen.  Richmond, at times, sounded as if he got lost in the moment more than once and did not once chance his approach at what he was born to do: Entertain.

I should note that Richman and Tommy Larkins currently are on tour in support of SA.  I was lucky enough to catch them a few weeks back at the Grog Shop in Cleveland  and I will tell you, it was probably one of my favorite intimate performances that I have ever seen.

I went to that show purely as a fan and not to review it and left with a happy vibe that lasted well past the car ride home and the next work day.  It was my first time seeing him live even though I have been a fan for longer than half my life.  He was everything I had hoped for.

With that said, if Johnathan and Tommy made it to your neck of the woods during this tour or even the next, just go.  You will not be disappointed.  Even if you are not terribly familiar with his material, I can honestly say you will be entertained by one of the best.

SA is available on CD and for download on Bandcamp.  Look for a cassette and LP release in early 2019.