Tag Archives: Reggae

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: 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.

 

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.

Left Alone – Left Alone – CD Review

Street punk shows it has a nicer side thanks to Left Alone, a Wilmington, CA act on their latest self-titled album Left Alone released through Hellcat Records.  On the band’s third release they continue to play street punk material but incorporate elements of pop punk, reggae, and ska making for a real fun listen.

Opening track “Spiked With Pain” was a full punk rock track with sing along abilities and guitar and bass riffs suggestive of Rancid.  There is a reason why this band was signed to Hellcat and perhaps Tim Armstrong enjoyed the similarities of Left Alone and the band he fronts.

“Branded” follows with the same energy as the first track with front man Elvis Cortez’s raspy voice just appealing to my ears.  As if that was not good enough, the bass lines were sick throughout and overall the song is just screaming to be released as a single.

Almost sounding like the Madness meets Operation Ivy was the brisk “Sad Story” with a more ska approach that is easily likable and surly makes you want to skank away.  The song was easily one of my favorites on the entire CD.  See below for the music video of the song.  Good stuff.

The catchy “3 Bottles Of Wine” and “Porcelain” both seem more pop punk tracks. They seem to escape the street punk image held by the band but still are enjoyable for what they are worth.

“Bombs Away” sounding a lot like The Clash’s “Police And Thieves” carries on just fine as the song is not a direct rip off but more so a compliment to the UK grandfathers of punk.  “Brindle” starts off with a strong bass line that strays right into a fast paced track sure to be a hit at one of their live shows as it makes you want to swing your arms and dance around carelessly.

I loved “Self Made” with the more so 90s punk feel and an organ playing in the background.  “Wishing Well” continued that feeling with a simple yet catchy punk track with some group vocals.  These are the kinds of songs that turned me into a punk rock fan in the first place.

It’s nice to see a band like Left Alone not label themselves as one specific genre of music and experiment with their talent.  This album is full of tracks with sing along qualities that span back to their previous releases but add a more fine tuned effort making for a good listen if you find yourself a fan of punk rock.

Left Alone is far from a commercial pop punk act and thanks to their recent release they should be grabbing some attention.  Perhaps it is a good thing they stay away from the mainstream though as they have too much talent to be considered just another pop-punk act out there.  Having already been fans of their previous releases Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts and Dead American Radio I can honestly say this CD is just as good of a listen if not better.

Download This! – Left Alone – “Sad Story”
Download This! – Left Alone – “3 Bottles Of Wine

(I would totally let the girls in this video kick my ass)