Category Archives: Ska

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.

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: 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.

BHP Best of 2016

It’s that time of the year again folks.  Time to sit here and type out a list of bands that have impressed me one way or another.  I am not keeping to a set number as it would take me forever to narrow it down.

A sincere thanks to everyone who’s ever visited this site – seriously.  I know I tend to say that around the time I do my best of lists, but I really mean it.  I almost called it quits  earlier this year and reconsidered at the last minute.

This blog is very personal to me and even if more people find it while Googling how to fix their headphones, it is still fun to do.  If I can turn someone on to a new band just by one post, then my job is done.

With that said, I plan on sticking around for a while.

I am sure I will add a few more as they come to me in the next couple of weeks (as I always do [up to 3 edits now]), but for now, here’s the list of the albums that really caught my attention in 2016:

[EDIT:  The year is not over yet and I needed to throw in just a couple more…]


Chandeli’ers – Breaker
-This was the album that hit me in the right way.  It was fun across the board and sounded like the Clash meets Elvis Costello.  What more could you ask for?


Run The Jewels – RTJ3
-This album was not supposed to drop until 3 weeks into the new year, but El-P and Killer Mike decided to drop it on Christmas day for all to enjoy.  I can not stop listening to it.  I know I am not the only one either.

MakeWar "Developing A Theory Of Integrity"
MakeWar – Developing a Theory of Integrity
-Hands down one of my favorite surprise releases of the year.  This punk rock band has thrown together an album I will be listening to over and over for years to come.

joe-mcmahon
Joe McMahon – Another Life
-This is another one of my favorite albums this year.  McMahon shared with the world an outstanding collection of tunes that everyone needs to check out.  His solo material is a lot different from his Smoke or Fire days and that is not a bad thing at all.

Bob Mould
Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
-Mould recorded a masterpiece with Patch the Sky.  If you have not had the chance to listen to this album, you are missing out.  This album is perfect to listen to any day.

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!
-I am kicking myself for not putting this on my list initially.  Richman is one of the most prolific songwriters out there and put out quite the release.  I loved how song his songs were fun at times while others were just complex and reached across borders.  He really showcased his musical abilities on this release.  This guy has been writing music for longer than I have been alive and still is able to put out quality albums.

Dinosaur Jr.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
-I have been a fan of this band for over 25 years now, so it only makes sense that this release made my list.  Oh, it also kicks so much ass.  Lou Barlow singing on it made it that much better.

All Dinosaurs
All Dinosaurs – Total Dissatisfaction
-Where do I even start with this one?  It’s like listening to the Bronx, but better, and from Cleveland.  I love this album so much that I literally just bought the LP from their bandcamp page.  No lie.

Useless ID
Useless ID – State is Burning
-This band will always be one of my favorites and this release continued to keep me a fan.  With a much more harder approach, they really killed it on this one.  I also adored the nod to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket.

pulley
Pulley – No Change in the Weather 
This band was a huge favorite of mine in the late 90s and I thought they were done in the mid-2000s, but low and behold, they came back with an album that seemingly continued where they left off without missing a beat.  “Sometimes” is such a great track.

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
-James Alex (and former crew) have created a timeless album for music fans of all ages.  Catchy yet poignant, the album has been on a weekly rotation to my ears since the album dropped.  It may clock in at around 30 minutes, but it is a hell of a ride from start to finish.

Worship This! - Mint
Worship This! – Mint
-So what if these guys are my pals, their sophomore release blew me away.  I can not say enough good things about this album.  It is poppy, punky, and addictive.  More people need to check this album out as these Akron/Cleveland boys really know how to make sweet jams.  They are the next big thing in my mind and I love them all dearly.


Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate 
-Having one of my all time favorite bands release something new in 2016 was pretty rad.  Having one of my all time favorite bands stick to their sound from start to finish and have no indication of slowing down made it that much better.

Nothing
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
-I never thought I would like shoegazing.  To be honest, I really never knew what shoegaze was until I heard this album and I am still not quite sure.  Indie rock and neo-psychadelica mixed with plenty of distortion and emotion made for an album that I could not get out of my head for weeks.  That’s a good thing.

Mean Jeans
Mean Jeans – Tight New Dimension 
-Mean Jeans are probably one of the most underrated bands out there right now.  This album further proved that.  A modern-day Ramones-like banger.  I loved it.


Bouncing Souls – Simplicity 
-The Souls are like a fine cheese or wine to me.  With age, this band seems to just get better.  Their latest release was just full of punk rock fun.  When I started singing along to the first song during my first listen, I knew I was going to love this album and play it over and over.

Blink 182 - California
Blink 182 – California
-I can’t help it, I got sucked in to the new Blink and I know why…  Matt Skiba.  He was the perfect addition to reinvent this band.

The Avalanches
The Avalanches – Wildflower
-16 years after their debut, The Avalanches came back with an all new release that very well probably took all 16 years to create.  I know some of my pals were not digging this release fully, but I adored it.  It probably helps that the likes of Danny Brown and Biz Marke helped make this album what it is.

Arms Aloft
Arms Aloft – What a Time to be Barely Alive
This is the one album I really need to do a proper review on, but I keep getting sidetracked.  I listen to it all of the time and it is freaking amazing.  Punk rock from the 80s perfectly blended with punk rock from the mid 2000s is one way I can describe these fellows.  The music is infections, the lyrics are fun, and from what I hear the band is pretty cool too.  This kind of sounds like a review, but it is not.  This is just me telling y’all that this album was impressive.

Signals Midwest
Signals Midwest – At This Age
-This is their third release and probably their most tied together, mature material I have heard them create.  They have pushed their limits from a one time local band and are more or less prepping themselves for what’s next to come.  I am proud of these dudes.

Arilss Nancy
Arliss Nancy – Greater Divides
-This band really should be at Lucero levels by now.  They are exceptional at what they do and it can be heard throughout their latest release.

har-mar-superstar
Har Mar Superstar – Best Summer Ever
-Har Mar continues to put out incredible material with each release.  This man is so talented that he drops albums that cover various genres and avoids any and all gimmicky sounds.

NOFX
NOFX – First Ditch Effort
-After all this band has been though, it only makes sense that they dropped a more personal album.  It took me a couple of listens to truly appreciate.  Don’t worry, it’s still crass at times as well as hilarious, but man, that Tony Sly tribute song will put tears in your eyes.

Harvey Pekar
Harvey Pekar – The Astral We
-This Cleveland hardcore band is just that…  This album was insane yet intelligent, and I loved every moment of it.

the-falcon-gather-up-the-chaps
The Falcon – Gather Up the Chaps
-I love that Dave Hause was on this album.  I love that he had to play ska riffs knowing how much he hates ska because Brendan Kelly decided it was a good idea.  This album was far from serious and a good time all around.

NOTE: I promise you, Red Scare did not pay me for putting so many albums on this list.  They just had a hell of a year with releases…  Toby, I take plastic btw.

I wanted to throw a couple of EPs on here as well:

Jonathan Richman
Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins – That’s All We Need at Our Party
Blue Arrow Records and the creative vinyl masters Wax Merge teamed up to put out an insane variant of this 7″.  I was lucky enough to score #100 out of 100.  It’s a thing of beauty plus the tunes on it kick ass.  I love me some Jonathan Richman.  I am sure there are a few left, so snag one if you can.

Throw Shade
Throw Shade – Self-Titled
-I have talented friends who make beautiful music.  This EP is absolute proof.


Nine Inch Nails – Not the Actual Events
-I really did not know what to expect from Reznor and crew with this EP seeing how I just lost interest in their material for the last 10 years.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised.  This EP brought me back to 90s NIN and I can not wait for their full-length to drop in 2017.

bracket
Bracket – The Last Page
-At just over 70 minutes, this is one long-ass song and it’s amazing.  The track keeps it together for the listener and takes them on a punk rock voyage.  My first listed was distracted thanks to my paying gig, but my second listen with headphones on was incredible.

Finally, I know this is a best of list, but it would not be right if I did not make mention of this:

RIP Dag House…
Dag HouseIt goes without saying, sometimes you find yourself in the right situations by chance.  Thanks to an amazing batch of pals who kept Dag House going for years.  Not everyone gets to experience basement shows, and some of that could be by choice, but goddamn, if you are a music fan, basement shows are the best shows.  Dag House threw together a hell of a rager for their last show, and I was happy to be a part of it.  Thanks for the memories Dag.

2016 was a crazy year.  If you’ve made it this far in my post, thanks for sticking around and being so rad.  It is people like you and the bands above that keep me doing what I do.  Be well.