Tag Archives: Review

Album Review: NOFX – Single Album

NOFX have been around for almost 40 years now. Why even bother talking about their accomplishments anymore?

If you know them, you know where they are from and what they’ve been through. Hell, if you read their bibliography, you probably know far too much now.

With that said, they probably don’t really care how their wit or charisma rubs off on others. You pretty much either love them or hate them and that’s just how it is.

Today, the band dropped their 14th full-length simply titled Single Album. Why was it called this? Well, the band had every intention of releasing a double album, but that goddamn nightmare of a pandemic got in the way and the bad decided it was best just to release a single album. Get it?

The post-hardcore opener, “The Big Drag”, seemed to be caught in a stupor at first, but after a few listens of it, I still didn’t love it, but appreciated it for all it was worth.

“I Love You More Than I Hate Me” clearly was all about Fat Mike. A personal ode to an unsteady interconnection of love and lust. “Fuck Euphemism” followed suit, although catchier, but more guided toward a certain frontman’s identity labels.

Although not a new track, “Fish In A Gun Barrel” ruffled about as many feathers as the comments made by the band against a certain shooting in a desert city that caused a lot of hell and consquences. Personally, I adored this ska punk track due to the catchiness as well as the hard truth presented.

“Linewleum” was a tongue-in-cheek cover and shoutout to all of the bands out there that ever covered the track that started off Punk In Drublic. I still prefer the original, but appreciated this modern day take.

“Grieve Soto” clearly was dedicated to Steve Soto, the founding member of Agent Orange and The Adolescents. There was plenty of eulogy to other punk rockers over the years that the band was surrounded by. There was even a part where Eric Melvin shouted “Mike Burkett!” to which the music stopped for a moment with Fat Mike responded: “Don’t put me in this song, I’m not dead yet.”

The country twang within “Doors and Fours” really carried a new style I was digging. It did not overtake the song by any means, but I enjoyed it tremendously as it supplied the soundtrack to nostalgic, haunting memories of a young band caught up in early LA punk scene. As sad as some of this was, this was probably the best NOFX track I have heard in years.

The piano was a nice touch to the closing track “Your Last Resort.” Fat Mike slurred though the beginning of this almost Dear John letter of a song. Shit picked up quickly though making for the fasted track on the album. There was a lot of pent up anger in this one where limits were finally broken.

If I can be honest, Fat Mike just sounded bored at times, however the band held up well with their talents. The album is far from being full of bangers and anthems for all to adore. In other words, NOFX fans will appreciate, but this is not the first album I would tell someone who has never heard of them to listen to.

This time around things got darker and, after being goofy bastards for 40 years, I can not blame them for doing what they felt worked. This time it was in Fat Mike’s best interest.

Album Review: No Use For A Name – Rarities Vol. 2 – The Originals

He was an epitome of punk rock music, so it’s no news to this day people still miss Tony Sly. Next year will be 10 years since the frontman of No Use For A Name sadly left this world.

Every NUFAN fan has their memories and stories. Personally, Sly was a huge part of my teenage years thanks to his music and I consider myself lucky to have seen him perform solo as well as with the band.

I remember the Warped Tours sets, packed small club shows, and even the time when Sly opened for NOFX in Covington, KY where some of the crowd hadn’t a clue who he was. Needless to say, I was pretty deviated the day he passed.

I like the fact his memory continues with the band divulging tunes for their fans that really should be heard. Rarities Vol 1. – The Covers did just that compiling covers by the band making for a great listen. To continue on with this tribute, the band and Fat Wreck Chords have just released Rarities Vol. 2 – The Originals.

According to the good peeps at Fat Wreck Chords, it took them about 3 years to look for every possible NUFAN recording out there to toss on this release and clearly with time comes change or some shit like that… Honestly, I am just stoked they dropped this.

Featuring 15 tracks, comprised of rarities and previously unreleased demos, this album is for all NUFAN fans no matter how dedicated. If anything, it was a nice reminder of how many great tunes

A demo of “Sidewalk”, off Making Friends, started off the collection. I liked this raw cut of a great song.

I actually remember the hidden gem, “No Way To Live”, that originally appeared on the Kung Fu Records sampler Punk Rock Is Your Friend. If you have not heard this one before, it is an absolute must listen.

The unrefined cut of “Justified Black Eye” may very well have just been a demo, but it was still as impactful as ever. I personally liked how it was not produced and almost hazy sounding.

“History Defeats” appeared as an unreleased song on All The Best Songs, a NUFAN comp album that dropped in 2007. This killer track was recorded for their 2005 release of Keep Them Confused and i am not quite sure why did not make it initially. If you missed hearing it previously, do yourself a favor and make sure you check it out now.

From the same album I just spoke of came “Stunt Double”, perhaps one of my favorite NUFAN songs. As much as I adore the acoustic version Joey Cape performed, the original just captures me even more.

The quick, obscure “Sara Fisher”, originally part of the 100+ song Short Music For Short People comp reminds you that even a song under 30 seconds can be catchy as all hell.

I really could not hear a defined difference with “Coming Too Close” on this album as it was noted a earlier version, but I am not complaining too much as this is another choice song of mine from the band. For all you older punks, this one was on the 4th Fat Wreck comp Life In The Fat Lane.

The version of “International You Day” put on this release was sped up at points and for some reason the rawness just stuck to me. I adored this demo to no end to the point I listened to it over and over before moving on.

Rarities Vol 2. – The Originals may not hold any unreleased material, but the versions and takes presented kept me satisfied. I’ll definitely be snagging a copy of this on wax for my collection. Fans of NUFAN will appreciate this to no end and honestly, people who may check this out not knowing much about the catalog will get a nice introduction to some of the finest punk rock music out there.

We miss ya Tony!

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:

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.