Category Archives: Punk

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: Joystick! – I Can’t Take It Anymore

I do not even know how to contain my excitement with this one. An 8-piece New Orleans ska-core collective has won me over almost instantly and easily has dropped one of my favorite releases this year.

The band I speak of is Joystick! and the album is called I Can’t Take It Anymore, released on Bad Time Records.

Being someone who fell in love with punk as a teen in the mid-90s, this band spoke to me the moment the first track kicked in. It was like a blend of ska punk bands like Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish met with 90s heroes like Good Riddance and the Descendents. The energy was ridiculous to say the least and nothing let up at all.

I think the thing that beats me up the most is how I’ve missed out on Joystick! for so many years now. In fact, their last album dropped in 2017 so it’s not like these guys came from nowhere. From what I have gathered, the band has matured a lot since then with members overcoming addiction, taking vows, and even having children.

“Retcon” was just a fun, brutal jam. I cannot say I’ve ever heard a song with group vocals and ska-riffs quite like this. The song pumped me up immediately and honestly, that is rare these days for something like that to happen.

“Rinse and Repeat” clearly talks about self-battles of alcoholism and the outcome of it. A personal track that needs to be heard by all to ensure that life can get better with change in time. Hell, this song hit some personal nerves knowing how I used to be and where I stand now.

The upbeat-sounding, yet somber, “Parallelograms” easily could have been taken from a 90s comp handed out at a Warped Tour back when they were meaningful. This wasn’t the first Joystick song I’d heard, but certainly is one of the more memorable ones as it was about the demise of someone who just couldn’t give up that dangerous lifestyle.

“No Sleep After Brooklyn” easily was one of my favorites off the album. I appreciated the more of a jazzy, 2-Tone sound on this one making for a nice song to get into.

Then there was “Semicolon”, a old-timey saloon sounding track that morphed into a barroom jam was actually the introduction to “Past Tense”. I adored this song to no end. It was like a ska musical in a sense.

“Worm Food” got stuck in my head a lot. I find myself whistling the opening to this track often. I loved the tempo change halfway through this one as it make even it more entertaining.

I Can’t Take It Anymore is a powerful album full of tracks essentially admitting to change for good and realizing age is only a number. If I told you I listened to this album weekly, I am lying. I have listed to this daily for a week now. I cannot get enough of it.

Bad Time Records has a hell of an act on their roster. Seriously, I am not sure how a bigger label has not caught wind of these guys yet and snatched them up. This wasn’t something just tossed together, this is personal material that is meaningful and will stick to you for years to come. Trust me on this – unless you hate ska punk and in that case, I feel sorry for you as you are missing out on something special.

Album Review: Kali Masi – [laughs]

I hope I am not the only one who thinks of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I hear the name Kali Masi.

Yes, I realize the evil bald guy who ripped out the beating heart was Kali Ma, but honestly, I really do share the same excitement as seen above after hearing the band’s highly anticipated sophomore release [laughs].

Hailing from Chicago, Kali Masi impressed the hell out of me with their debut, Wind Instrument. They carried their own style and added personal elements making their songs more wholesome once you really dug into them. Add to that a non-repetitive melodic punk style, the band became an instant favorite of mine.

Featuring 10 new songs, [laughs] is a poetic journey that pokes at the truth, no matter how brutal, and self-realization that carries ability to just forget the troubles around you and get lost in one’s self-worth. From current events to aging and even failing friendships, the album, released on Take This To Heart Records, keeps your mind rolling.

“Still Life” was everything I have been waiting for in new Kali Masi material. This song was a straight up jam that pushed together emo and punk rock. The lyrical visuals at the start of this song were clever and held magnitude. Clearly the track was not in positive interest with somber lines like “I never said I love you, I guess I thought you knew” were sung reiterating confused communication so many of us have been through.

“Paint Me Jade” was like a lesson learned through too many trials and tribulations. In getting old, but not giving up when things don’t go to plan, this track was pretty much a series of reminders how quick and unexpected life really is. The best part about it is how those who really are true to you somehow stick around.

Music | KALI MASI

The darkened “Hurts To Laugh” wasn’t just a track to blow through. There was a ton going on here with personal battles with oneself. Where solitude seems favorable in this one, other challenges say differently. Just wait for the bass line in this one. It fit perfectly.

“Guilt Like A Gun” was an eulogy of sorts, parting ways with a meaningful someone. The spoken word of “it should be a moment of surreal peace and unity if it weren’t for the don’t-snap-at-me bickering and tension” solidified reason for the ending, welcomed or not. The video the band did for this one was very unique and captured the strain involved.

“Long Term” started with the sound of a flash being charged. From there, the tune just jumped in without letting up. I loved this one with the harmonic intermittent singing and guitar playing holding up high some brutal truth.

“Freer” was provoking but beautiful. I adored this track about essentially cutting ties. I found myself partial to the lyric, “stuck myself in a can, like a man” seeing how I used to live that life. This is a track I know in 10 years I am still going to adore.

“Recurring (I)” was good, like really good. This song seemed tougher, more confident over the rest. I loved the change in style throughout where I wasn’t sure which direction they were going. Things went insane with fury, which I got into, but what really sucked me in the most was when the horn playing started. This was like a Refused song in a sense and I appreciated every second of it.

Closing track, “The Stray” hit heavy on 00s Victory Records bands. I am not sure if this is what they were going for, but this song alone could give Taking Back Sunday a run for their money. I was almost sad that this song ended when it did because I wanted more.

This album is straight up outstanding. I wasn’t sure if they could top their debut, but I was so wrong. [laughs} is full of great material that you know the band put everything they had into. They continue to impress and I only see good things with them moving forward. Kali Masi are not a band to sit on.

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!