Category Archives: Reggae

Album Review: Shuffle and Bang – Island Bop

Full disclosure: My review I worked so hard on for this release last week seemingly was lost and never saved.

Usually when this happens, I become annoyed to no end, but in this case, I was not phased at all because that meant I had more reason to listen to Shuffle and Bang over and over again

This isn’t your typical Pirates Press Records release, but the moment my eyes caught the album art, I knew this was going to be something special. The second it hit my ears though, and I was in love. Jamaican jazz fused with two-tone is the best way I can explain these guys.

Shuffle and Bang is a father and son (Pops and Korey Horn) idea that combined their love for dub, reggae, and jazz. Eventually they joined forces with a slew of amazing musicians who have lent their talents to The Aggrolites, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Original Wailers, and some guy named Stevie Wonder. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the pianist plays organ for the San Diego Padres baseball team. Case and point, this band is full to the brim of talent.

In a span of two years over plenty of recording sessions, Pirates Press Records buddied up with band’s own Jetsetter Records to release this unique album titled Island Bop.

Starting off the album was “Don’t Go To Strangers”, a intro of sorts. A cappella and full of soul. It really just built up my anticipation of what was to come.

The ever-appropriate “Song for My Father” had things kicking into full gear. This track was not only an ode to “The Man”, but also just showcased the intense amount of talent brought forth.

“Daahoud Ska” immediately put me in the best mood upon heading it. I loved everything about this upbeat track from the horns, stand up bass, and piano playing. This song’s purpose is to entertain as much as possible.

“Blow Mr. Low” carried tons of swing jazz love. The horns on this song were not only the subject of the lyrics, but the glue that kept it all together.

“When I Take My Sugar to Tea” was a romantic romp as much as a brag to the boys about being in good company. This track was built on feelings and a certain boost in moral when feeling like you’re on top of the world. This track might be new, but sounded like it’s been around for decades.

One of my favorite cuts on this release was “Let The Good Times Roll.” I loved the personalized feeling that was inclusive to everyone and anyone. I couldn’t help but imagine I was in some speakeasy while listening to this. What a fun one this was.

Closing track “Drum Song” was more like a cosmic dub jam session amongst friends. Memorable lyrics taken from the Gorillaz just made it that much more entertaining for me. I enjoyed the slow departure to wind down the release.

With as shitty as this year has been, Island Bop seemingly is a beacon of light that just makes everything better once you begin to listen. A surprise release for me and I’m sure others, it’s certainly at the top of my best of list and will be in regular rotation for years to come.

Like a modern day Mongo Sanataria, Shuffle and Bang are guaranteed to supply the soundtrack for a good time. Fans of Hepcat, Coltrane, ska, two-tone, and just anyone who appreciates honest to god good musicianship are going to enjoy the everlasting hell out of this release. I know I did.

BHP Best of 2019

I swear to whatever you worship, time is just flying as of late and I just realized I probably should be posting this best of list already.

I feel like I repeat myself annually by saying “there were some really good releases during the current year” as I build said list, but honestly, it is true.  Bands new and old just keep me entertained and that is why I guess I keep doing this little blog here.

In the interest of time, I am keeping this year’s best of list extremely short and sweet.  No links or photos this time.  Just a quick list of the albums/EPs/whatever that impressed me to no end and were spun often.  If you are wondering who a particular someone is, Google the hell out of them and listen.

BEST ALBUMS

  • Big Nothing – Chris
  • MakeWar – Get it Together
  • Cave In – Final Transmission
  • Strange Magic – Unfortunately
  • Orville Peck – Pony
  • Aggrolites – Dirty Reggae
  • Ramona – Deals, Deals, Deals!
  • Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
  • Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
  • Pup – Morbid Stuff
  • Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood
  • Subhumans – Crisis Point
  • More Kicks – More Kicks
  • Good Riddance – Thoughts and Prayers
  • Lagwagon – Railer
  • Harvey Pekar – Paris Green
  • Moderator – The Mosaics
  • Off With Their Heads – Be Good
  • Warp Lines – Human Fresh
  • Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad!
  • Tool – Fear Inoculum 

BEST EPS / 7″s

  • Signals Midwest –  Pin
  • Charger – Charger
  • Twin Temple – Satan’s A Woman

BEST COMPS

  • Red Scare Industries – 15 Years of Tears and Beers

As always, thanks for checking out my site.  I do this for my love of music and anyone who has the slightest interest in what I have to say.

I hate that I was not able to review every release I listed.  I had every intention to, but life gets in the way more and more so I did what I could.  If one person checked out a band because of what I was able to talk about, then my job is done.

Bands and labels, thanks for always considering me.

 

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: Authority Zero – The Tipping Point

Hailing from Mesa, AZ, Authority Zero combines various levels of music and mashes them into their own style.  Punk rock, thrash, reggae, and even a hint of skate rock can be heard throughout their years of material.  The band really take pride in incorporating those styles to their catalog as well as carries a strong love for bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise.  Having been kicking ass and taking names for almost 20 years now, spite many challenges in their career, Authority Zero has not calmed down one bit.

This Tuesday, Authority Zero will be releasing an all new album titled The Tipping Point.  These West Coast punkers have dropped an impressive release full of energy and fast-paced fun.  With plans of touring Europe in a month to support their new release, Authority Zero really seem to be moving in the right direction.  Ask anyone in their infamous Zero Crew and I am sure they will agree.  Still, I am just as pleased as I am shocked this is only their fifth studio release.

The very fast-paced “No Other Place” started off the album with plenty of speed and aggression sure to entice a circle pit.  It was almost too easy to hear the gracious nod to Pennywise and Bad Religion in this track from Jason DeVore’s singing style.  Add some necessary group vocals aside with quick and heavy guitar riffs, you can hear the influential bands that helped build Authority Zero.

“Undivided” continued with more of a 90s punk feel with DeVore having a great flow from start to finish.  The chorus was catchy as hell, the drums were just non-stop, and the guitars carried well.  My only distraction was the Dicky Barrett sounding scream that ultimately stopped the song for a moment, but then jumped right back in.

“For the Kids” had a Good Riddance feel to it that I really enjoyed.  I really caught on to these lyrics because they really hit home to me as DeVore sang “this one’s for you” about more or less – me.  Well, at least young me.  Great song about yesteryear to any music fan who was surrounded by friends in any scene.  Age may be catching up with a lot of us, but those memories will last forever.  This track is worth a listen.

I really was beginning to wonder if Authority Zero dropped the reggae from their sound and then “Struggle” started.  It’s not terrible by any means, but the current me never really got into this version of Authority Zero.  “On The Brink” followed returning to their punk sound.

“Today We Heard The News” was another reggae track on the album, but this one I actually enjoyed.  The horns throughout kept the track interesting while I tried to figure out what DeVore was singing about.  From what I gathered, it was about a protest about something and not giving up fighting the cause. (EDIT: apparently it is about the passing of Tony Sly.  I am kind of kicking myself for not grasping that.  Thanks to a reader for that one.)

“Shakedown in Jaurez” also kind of hit home to me, but in a different matter seeing how I currently live 30 minutes away from that city and am more than aware of everything that goes on there.  The song itself, mixed punk and reggae for a sound I just could once again not get into.

Ending the album was “21st Century Breakout”, a sped up punk track that got stuck in my head.  I could not help but think about Bad Religion once again as DeVore sang just like Mr. Greg Graffin at times.  Setting that aside, this track was killer and pretty much was my choice cut on the entire album.

After all the changes Authority Zero has gone through in the last few years, it is almost admirable to see them continue on.  With a revolving door of members leaving and joining along with countless other setbacks during the band’s existence, the band seems to have finally found some well-deserved stability.  With all those drawbacks though, I am shocked they did not call it quits and start something new already.

Case and point, just 2 weeks ago, the band’s long-time bassist Jeremy Wood announced on his Facebook page he was leaving the band to spend more time with family and other personal reasons.  Luckily lead signer, and the last of the original lineup, Jason DeVore quickly announced the band had a touring bass player to join them on the road in support of their upcoming release The Tipping Point.  Somehow, I have the feeling this album was properly named by the band for more reasons than one.

There is no doubt in my mind if you are a fan of the punk rock genre that you have heard of this band or seen them live at a Warped Tour or heard them on a video game soundtrack.  They have been in the game for nearly 20 years and it can definitely be heard in The Tipping Point.  No matter how many changes this band goes through, it would appear that Jason DeVore has no intention giving up something he truly loves.

Interview: Chicken of Dead To Me

San Francisco punk rockers Dead To Me recently dropped a new album titled Moscow Penny Ante on Fat Wreck Chords.  The band, having been around since 2003, has had their fair share of changes with musicians coming and going, but never really lost their sound.  Their ability to mix up a bunch of genres like reggae and ska into their punk rock groove always stood out to me.  Having caught them twice this year, you could say I dig them a little.

Having toured the US in 2011, the band will be heading to Europe for a tour in 2012.  I seriously do not think these guys, between touring and recording, ever take a break.

Photo by Katie Hovland

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with bassist / vocalist Chicken.  He was more than kind in doing an interview with me.  Check it out:

BHP: So, how’d 2011 treat you guys?

Chicken:  This year has been great for us! We have toured pretty much non stop and we recorded a new album and released it. So needless to say we have been very, very busy. It’s a good thing.

I’ve been lucky enough to see DTM twice this year, once in SXSW.  Any comments about that magical evening in March?

That night was crazy. I learned how to play guitar listening to Screeching Weasel, so I was pretty bummed out about what happened. I just wish the whole thing never happened. It was a bummer too because the other bands that played (Dead To Me, Banner Pilot, The Flatliners) all worked really hard to get to Austin for SXSW and we all played great sets. Unfortunately, no one remembers because of the whole Ben Weasel fiasco.

DTM played CMJ in NYC recently.  How did it go for you guys?

CMJ in New York was so much fun. Fat Wreck did a great job of putting together an amazing evening of awesome bands. We had a blast! We played two shows in one day in NYC, and that is super hard to do. Just getting around NYC with all our gear is a nightmare, but we pulled it off. We played a free show in SoHo at the Chrome Bag store with kegs of beer and lots of drunk New York hipsters. Good times.

Your band’s style mixes up a plethora of punk rock goodness that spans from almost a street punk to a reggae-vibe.  Was this style how DTM always was since its inception or has the band experimented throughout the years?

We have always just wanted to write songs that we want to hear. If it has a little Reggae vibe to it, then so be it. We love bands from all different genres like Hip Hop, Reggae, Hardcore, World Music, etc… so we just want to be able incorporate all of our influences into the songwriting process.

Fat Wreck Chords has been there for you since your debut.  How does it feel to be on their roster?  You actually worked for them for a few years correct?  Being employed by Fat Mike on two different levels…nice.

Yeah, it is awesome being on FAT. I used to work in the mail room there and it was so much fun. It was like a family vibe for sure. We did tons of stuff together, not just work. We would play in bands together, go to shows together, go out to eat all the time and all that. Now being in a band on the label, I consider it an honor. When I call the label and have questions about this or that, I am talking to people that have known me personally for over ten years now, so I trust them completely. It’s a great feeling for sure.

DTM’s new album Moscow Penny Ante dropped a couple months back.  It is a great release by the way.  What can you tell me about this new release?

We are all really excited about our new record, Moscow Penny Ante. I love the job Matt Allison did producing it and am so excited to be playing new songs live, it rules. We have been touring so much over the last two years that this batch of songs is a very good reflection of the live spirit of DTM. It is much more cohesive than African Elephants and has a little more straight forward delivery I think.

Does the title have any reference to your country of origin?

No, I grew up in California. The title is taken from a term Malcolm X used to define his crew of small time thugs in Harlem, NY. I feel like a small timer in a sea of boys in bands that want to be big time and I could care less. I am happy with everything we have been able to do and I’m riding this thing until the wheels fall off. I never though in a million years that because of songs I wrote in my bedroom, it would take me to places as far away as Moscow.

What was done differently on this album that stands out over previous releases?

I feel like there as an overall confidence in song writing on this new record that wasn’t as apparent on previous releases. We got experimental on African Elephants and I love that record for that, but on Moscow Penny Ante I felt way more confident with what my melodies would end up sounding like and how I wanted the guitars to sound.

Will the band be taking a break anytime soon.  Seems like you boys have been touring all over the world this year?

What is a break? I’ve never heard of that before.

Aside from DTM, your drummer Ian does some amazing artwork on used vinyl.  I am kicking myself in the ass for not buying one when you played in Cleveland.  How long typically does it take him to turn a beat up vinyl into a work of art?

I am sure he will be bringing some with him on our European tour in Jan/Feb 2012 so come to a show and try to grab one before they sell out. His pieces can take anywhere from an hour to twenty minutes to three hours sometimes. It depends on what materials he has laying around and how much time he has available to work on something.

Would you agree that punk is not dead?

It never has been and never will be!!

Did you ever think that you would be where you are now 20 years ago?

I definitely used to dream about playing in a touring punk band all the time 20 years ago. I knew with all my heart that it was what I wanted to do. I feel so insanely fortunate that I am able to do it now. I have literally traveled much of the globe and met amazing people world wide. I feel very lucky to be on FAT and lucky to have been able to play with some of my all time favorite bands over the years. It’s like living in a dream, it rules.

Awesome.  Well that’s all I got…anything you care to add?

Thank you for the interview, we appreciate it! To anyone reading this, come hang out when we come t Europe in early 2012, it’s gonna be a blast!