Tag Archives: Ska

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 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: The Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo

It’s been a long time since a ska punk band has impressed me quite like The Bar Stool Preachers have.

I’m sure there are plenty of great releases out there I just haven’t gotten into, but nothing really has stuck out to me for years.  That ended the moment I popped in Grazie Governo, released though Pirates Press Records.

The UK ska punk act already cut their teeth with their debut release Blatant Propaganda and has been around since 2014, but sadly this music fan missed that album in the sea of releases over the years.  Trust me, I will be checking that out very soon after obsessing over their new one.  I also need to note how pissed I am at myself for missing these guys play Cleveland in June with the Street Dogs.

If you are in the same boat as I am and are not familiar with The Bar Stool Preachers then you’ll probably be instantly intrigued to know that frontman Tom McFaull’s father, Colin McFaull, comes from son little UK band called Cock Sparrer.  Needless to say, this band might just have learned a thing or two over the years just based on the bloodline alone.

Album title track “Grazie Governo” started strong with working class appeal that more or less thanked the government with plenty of rebellious intention.  I adored everything about this track from the horns to the organs that seemingly works with the current reality TV politics we are dealing with here in the states.

“8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)” was a love song that held more honest and true than most I have heard in my time.  I enjoyed the blatant honesty in the lyrics on this one and enjoyed the ride of emotion fueled with pop punk riffs and backup vocals, especially at the end when everyone just came together.

“Choose My Friends” featuring Aimee Interrupter is the song everyone needs to check out because it’s just that damn good.  This song has been stuck in my head for days and I am sure it will be for a long time as it made an impression on me as it just brought so many styles of music together.  Without ruining it, just listen to it yourself already.  I even added the music video for the song below.

One of my favorite tracks was “DLTDHYOTHO” most likely because of that Oi attitude layered with the horns and that ever-catchy organ playing.  A fight song indeed and not something you want to be faced up against in a dark alley because you’d surely get your teeth kicked in.  This song just ruled and reminded me of when a young me first heard Operation Ivy and the feeling that quickly infected my innocent mind changing me forever.

“Drive” was great in that McFaull took the listener on a hell of an adventure singing of a heist to pay off debts and escaping like the infamous Steve McQueen.  Sometimes fictitious songs like this seem corny when in the middle of a serious album, but this was done right and just enjoyable.

That piano playing on “Since You” may have sucked me in, but the bass line is what kept me.  A gruff Mad Caddies-like tune with plenty of singable qualities even if about the hard knocks of relationships.  The best was towards the end when things picked up during the moment of clarity.

I’m convinced his band is going to be getting a ton of attention this year based their hybrid of ska and punk rock.  This is the music fans who were told ska was dead once are going to eat up and lace their boots up proudly to.  Did that even make sense?  Well it did to me.  Skank away guys, skank away.

Think along the lines of Rancid, Propagandhi, The Specials, and even The Aggrolites with a more pop punk punch.  It’s like what The Dropkick Murphys might have sounded like if they were from the UK instead of Boston and lost that Irish shtick.  Working collar ska punk anthems galore for everyone to get into.  Do not sit on these guys at all.

Bar Stool Preachers Drop New Release Today!

I can not wait to get some free time this weekend to crank out a review of an amazing band that was recently sent my way.

The band I speak of is The Bar Stool Preachers.  Let’s just say this band has restored my faith in new ska punk music.  I will leave it at that for now.

New Noise Magazine did a great interview and is streaming the album in its entirety.  Check it out!

From the band’s press release:

From the eclectic scene of punk and ska bands in the UK, The Bar Stool Preachers are a band for EVERYONE – a group of blue-collar musicians who can instantly connect with anyone they play for. Exhibiting a tireless DIY work ethic that is unparalleled by its peers, the band has traveled the world gaining fans with engaging performances on the back of its critically acclaimed debut Blatant Propaganda.

Frontman Tom McFaull has a storied musical lineage running through his veins. The son of Colin McFaull, singer of the legendary Cock Sparrer, he’s learned a lesson or two from his father. With this pedigree, the younger McFaull leads the charge for a new generation of punk bands with incomparable charisma and anger that cannot fail to impress.

But their family is more than blood. Having Aimee Interrupter (The Interrupters) lending her voice on “Choose My Friends” and Pirates Press Records’ extended family (including Rancid, The Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys and many others) in their corner, The Preachers are fortunate to have a wealth of experience and support to help lift them to their inevitable heights. They are also already famed for turning every show attendee, writer, photographer, interviewer and other band’s members into fast friends within minutes of meeting. Yes, they are that special.

After an exceptionally successful showing at Punk Rock Bowling 2018 and a West Coast run, a follow up East Coast tour supporting Street Dogs, and more touring planned at the end of 2018 and thought 2019, The Bar Stool Preachers are ready to provide the soundtrack to your summer, and beyond, as they take over North America in support of Grazie Governo!”

Review soon on this album.  Trust me.  I have a lot of good things to say about these UK ska punkers.

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!