Category Archives: Music Video

Album Review: Shitty Neighbors – People I Know

Shitty Neighbors is without a doubt one of my favorite band names. Admit it, you smirked when you heard the name the first time.

Luckily they are pretty damn talented too.

I first got into these guys years ago when a few of my pals told me to check out their EP Better Now. To say I was not disappointed back then is an understatement. That EP is still played to this day.

The four-piece hails from Toledo, OH and just released their first LP in 7 years titled People I Know on Little Elephant a few weeks back. If anyone knows about this label you’ll know it’s a big deal that they are pressing albums and not just sessions now.

Sure, it might have taken them a bit longer to drop it with all of the bullshit preventing a “normal” life, but they did things right, took their time, and released easily one of my favorite albums this year.

Album opener “Lost In Google Translation” really had the band just jumping all in. This track hit hard in terms of life alterations for one’s best self-interest. Shitty Neighbors impressed the shit out of me with this one. It was raw, emotional, and ever so personal.

With heavy nods towards a certain Gainesville punk warm liquid band, “The Creation Of Adam” wasn’t very long, but was poignant as all hell. Then there was “Lock #6” that followed. Man, this track was full of some pent up angst.

“Whole Life Policy” actually was released over a year ago when we were all hermits. This was the track that just got me so excited knowing that they were working on a full-length. The song itself was a total banger about coming to terms with demons. I loved the lyric “I’ve got a way with only concerning myself with the shit that don’t matter at all.”

“Barrel Of Monkeys” was another track that just seemingly spoke about my past. In times of trapped iteration around certain routines of self-denying love and despair, the song carried that questioning of change without missing a beat. I appreciated the line “maybe next time i’m around we can figure something else out.”

“Friend Ender” was just brutal, but probably one of my favorite tracks on the release. There’s something to be said about a punk rock track dedicated to a lying ex-whatever. Tracks like this are why I love the bands I surround myself in.

The breakdowns on “Tonight, My Name Is Trouble” was enough for me on this track to love. Upbeat and even precise to a point, this track proved these boys are not just screwing around.

“Her Name Is Marie” closed down the album with a punk rock grand finale of sorts. The band refused to let up on this one with everyone just giving it their all even if it was tugging at some imperfect heart strings.

The one thing about this album that was a bummer is that it didn’t even clock in at 30 minutes, but I will admit, listening to this album was the best half hour spent. Perhaps I am just being an old, greedy punk, but I wasn’t ready for People I Know to come to an end. Luckily I can just listen to it over and over.

If you are a cool kid who likes young Menzingers, Iron Chic, Lawrence Arms, AK3 (before someone got hair implants), Hot Water Music and so on, make sure you check this band out.

I can only hope to see Shitty Neighbors play some small bar or basement here soon in good ol’ Cleveland. Good, good things are going to happen to these dudes. I know it.

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: 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: Be Well – The Weight and The Cost

I’m sure we can all agree this year can just move on already.  As messed up as it has been for so many of us, there really have been some quality releases.

Where a bunch have caught my attention, not many have been nearly as raw and personal as the debut by Be Well.

Dropped in late August by Equal Vision Records, The Weight and The Cost is a melodic hardcore release filled with so much emotion and energy.  Featuring members of Battery, Bane, Darkest Hour, and Fairweather, it was a no-brainer that I was going to enjoy this.  After multiple listens though, I found myself relating with some of the struggle and mental anguish sung throughout while adoring the tunes that carried it along.

I think something worth mentioning is that the band is fronted by well-known record producer Brian McTernan who stepped away from his current gig to grab the mic and give it his all.  With so many years of experience fabricating other’s music, it really came as no surprise how profound this release was.

“Meaningless Measures” started off the album without holding back musically and mentally.  “I’ve lost track of the days, lost track of the ways that I fucked up everything. I’m not sure that I’ve learned anything I’m afraid” pulled hard on episodic memories of coming to terms with myself.  Solid track that was likable, but extremely intense.

I swear that “Magic” honed in on personal arguments with oneself until the verge of discomforting solace.  Grappling with defeat, I appreciated the slight suggestion of change at the end.  This is the type of track people hear, relate to, and tend to not forget about..

“I hope there’s a chance for me to learn to love myself a way that I don’t” was a tough plea in “Tiny Little Pieces” that once again jolted back some memories of my own past.  As if the music behind the lyrics were not already impressive enough, McTernan tossed in a personal battle seemingly thinned by attention from someone else.  I knew this fight all too well once.

I’m a better person because of heartbreak.  I say this after listening to “The Weight and The Cost” which brought back painful memories, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve let go of some of that hell I was encompassed in over the years.  This track brought me back to some tough times to the verge I found myself cringing.

“Confessional” was so likable yet just brutal.  Easily one of my favorite tracks on the album, it was not happiness at all.  A departure, an apology, and well, the ending lyrics summed it up best with “there’s a storyline that is only in my head.  I’ve spent half of my life wishing I was dead.  If there is part of this that I shouldn’t have said, I’m sorry.  To fix it I have to get back to the place it first started.”

At just over 35 minutes, this album was an impassioned masterpiece.  It’s once you dig into those lyrics that you get hit hard with a once unavoidable reality for so many of us.  I appreciated the hell out of that.

Be Well at first reminded me of a more polished Strike Anywhere, but with plenty of personal, emotional defects and small doses of PMA ultimately fueled with hardcore values.  The more I listened to it though, it was clear how and why these artists came together and dropped this release.  I have to admit, this album beat me up but I was impressed with it once I fought back some of those memories.

Album Review: NOFX / Frank Turner – West Coast vs. Wessex

It’s not the first time a couple of artists decided to drop a split release for shits and giggles, but it’s probably the first time one to this character was done.

When I learned NOFX and Frank Turner were working on a split, I have to admit I was excited as hell because I knew both sides would try their best to emulate each other.

It’s been a long time since NOFX did a split with another band.  I am sure you older punks recall the last NOFX / Rancid split that dropped some 18 years ago.  This time though, it was not really a punk band covering a punk band but rather a punk band covering a punk-turned-folk-singer band.

West Coast vs. Wessex is a 10 song split released by Fat Wreck Chords featuring two of the most important acts out there.  I was not sure how this was going to play out seeing how their styles are a little far-fetched, but I’m a fool for even dismissing the idea of greatness this album could be.

Leave it to Fat Mike to change up the lyrics to become a tad more personable on “Substitute”.  Less proper and more pervy, the track honestly could pass as a classic NOFX song had Turner not penned it so many years back.

“Thatcher Fucked The Kids” was a two-town-jam cover that I could not imagine was even possible until I heard it.  This was a great take on a killer Turner track.  Full of guest vocals, the only way this could have gotten better was if El Hefe busted out some of his impersonations at the end for the hell of it.

“Glory Hallelujah” was an intense, serious cover that probably will continue to upset those who engage in worship and magic bearded man in the sky.  At first I thought it was just exorbitant, but after a few listens I couldn’t agree more with how it was carried out.

Turner covering “Scavenger Type” was just brilliant.  I have to admit it did not fully carry how I was anticipating it, but it worked so well.  I was expecting a more folk take, but not on this track and that was fine by me.

The take on “Bob” was a perfect jaunt complete with some harmonica and just chill vibes.  The rendition did not require an upbeat undertaking, but when Turner belted out at the end, I was singing along just as I did when I first heard the original in the 90s.  The music video for this is pretty freaking hilarious too.

“Falling In Love” stole the split if you ask me.  As far as I am concerned, NOFX traveled to the future to steal this song from Turner and tossed it on an album when Turner was just a kid.  It has been a long time since I have heard an interpretation sound better than the original.

The cool thing about West Coast vs. Wessex was how well each band took an idea of covers and put absolute thought into it. Both sides took it seriously, well as much as they could, and took their time perfecting their versions of a handful of each band’s earlier material.

Some of me was hoping for more classic NOFX humor at times, perhaps even a continuation where a hilarious Minor Threat cover left off.  Still, plenty of innuendos were tossed in by Fat Mike as well as a huge Fat entourage of guests.

Frank Turner fans need to hear this even if they do not take NOFX serious at all.  NOFX fans will appreciate the continued creativity in taking other work’s and tossing their own style around it.  This idea just worked well and it had nothing to do with luck.  Fat Mike has had a few good ideas you know…

Visit the Fat Wreck Chords site to snag a copy for yourself.