Akron, Ohio’s Worship This! have really served up a killer sophomore release simply titled Mint once again on A-F Records.
This foursome punk rock band consists of some of the best humans I have ever had the privilege of calling friends, so chances are you might think this review is a little biased.
The truth is, even if I did not spend years hanging out on porches and in basements with these guys, I would still adore their music. They are like a punk 90s DIY hybrid, but different.
Everything this band has dished out so far I have been a fan of. I just lucked out with the friendship part. Christ, listen to me. I need to calm the hell down and just review this album already…
This is the second time I have had the privilege to review a Worship This! full length. This review comes from the heart, but I’d be doing this even if these guys and I never crossed paths, because I seriously think everyone who likes punk rock needs to hear them.
Starting off the album strong was “Decisions, Decisions”. The chorus on this track alone was insane. I think I listened to this song about five times before moving on. I just loved it. It made me feel a bit old, but also made me realize how true experiences and decisions have shaped me to who I am today.
“Miserable Again” was a quick, catchy intervention of sorts. The start with everyone just letting loose ruled, especially with the nod to their hometown. Listening to this track had me thinking of who they might have written this about and I guess that is the genius of it. The dual singing on the chorus was so bad ass too.
“So Long…Sucker!” proved to me how much this bad has matured over the years. This track started off with all members bringing their all into the music. Very melodic to start and quick to transition. I loved when the group vocals started up followed by simple yet fitting breakdowns.
The tough-to-absorb “19th Street” was a reminder of how life treats us all. No one ever asks for some of the shit that is thrown at us, but we all get by one way or another. This track hit me hard in a few ways knowing what I have been through in my life but also had me appreciate how I handled it.
“Everything Wrong” in my opinion is the best track on this album. Adding a clip of Kenny Shopsin from the documentary I Like Killing Flies was perfect and so fitting. The amount of angst in this song would have benefited me in my teen years. This is one of those anthem tracks that you just immediately want to memorize.
“Loving A Wild Thing” was another song on this album I adored. It was not like the others given the singing styles and I think that is what I liked about it the most. It was just like a catchy conversation. I liked everything about this tune.
Closing down the album was “Relapser”, a just brutal track of breaking down and finding new avenues. There was enough emotion in this one song alone to last a lifetime.
I enjoyed Mint way more than I thought I would. In fact, this follow up is way better than the debut Tomorrow, I’ll Miss You and I adored that album. The band sounds more together and has taken that extra approach at defining their own sound but without worrying about taking chances. Mint is a little harder, more emotional in terms of growing up, and most of all just fun to take in.
It comes as no surprise to me that Worship This! released one of my favorite albums of the year. I have believed in this band since the first time I heard their demos and always anticipated good things for them. Mint is definitely a good thing.
The band is headed on tour next week. If you know what is good for you, you will try and check them out.
I am still kicking my ass for missing Rise Against when they recently played Cleveland. I literally overlooked the show until hours before they started and had already committed to other engagements.
Ok, I am done feeling sorry for myself.
Today I was reminded of an awesome protest compilation album being released by A-F Records called This Concerns Everyone.
What does this have to do with Rise Against you ask? Go on, keep reading…
The album will feature a ton of artists playing covers and originals including Tom Morello, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Chris Farren (Fake Problems), Erica Freas (RVIVR), Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves, as well as Justin Sane and Chris#2 (Anti-Flag), just to name a few. See below for the complete track listing.
What first stated as a split between Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane and Chris #2 as well as The Homeless Gospel Choir and Chris Stowe turned into an inspirational idea. More and more people got involved and soon the split turned into a compilation.
An undisclosed portion of proceeds will be donated to the Right To Heal Campaign. I think this is an amazing way for artists to reach out to troops in need.
The good folk at Alternative Press are currently streaming Tim McIlrath’s rendition of a classic Guns N Roses track. Head over to Alternative Press to check out his rendition of “Civil War”.
This comp drops on 11/18/2014. Head over to A-F Records and pre-order yourself a copy now.
01. Chris Farren (Fake Problems) – Establishment Blues (Rodriguez)
02. Erica Freas (RVIVR) – Tiny Murders
03. Chris Conley (Saves The Day) – A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
04. Chris #2 (Anti-Flag) – What Did You Learn In School Today (Pete Seeger)
05. PJ Bond – Dirty Hands
06. Anika Pyle (Chumped) – Ugly
07. Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman) – House Gone Up In Flames
08. The Homeless Gospel Choir – Some People
09. Chris Stowe – Other Peoples Guns Side B:
10. Chris Wollard (Hot Water Music) – Selected Scenes
11. Roger Harvey – What Are You Fighting For (Phil Ochs)
12. Shawna Potter and Brooks Harlan (War On Women) – Servilia
13. Tim Mcllrath (Rise Against) – Civil War (Guns N’ Roses)
14. Justin Sane (Anti-Flag) – I Ain’t Got No Home (Woody Guthrie)
15. Thomas From The Burning Land (Strike Anywhere) – The Deep State (Field Recording) Digital Bonus Tracks:
01. Prophet Motive – Hallowawa
02. Josh Massie – Life During War Time (Green Day)
03. Spoonboy – Last Of The Asshole (The Max Levine Ensemble)
04. Pat Thetic – Owe Us A Living (CRASS)
Chances are if you’ve heard of Pittsburgh political punkers Anti-Flag, you’ve heard about their label A-F Records.
For the longest time, I thought A-F Records was just a fading memory as I did not see a lot of releases coming from the independent label. In fact, the label pretty much stopped putting out releases about 8 years ago…until recently.
A-F Records have gone through a huge overhaul and have reinvented themselves adding multiple artists to their roster in just the past year alone.
This said reconstruction can be credited to Mr. Chris Stowe who has been working hard the last couple of years to make the independent label even bigger. He’s the label manager / jack of all trades.
As if busting his ass for the label is not enough, Stowe has a solo project going on, rocks out with White Wives, and is also a permanent substitute of sorts for WSPC. Needless to say, he is a busy, busy man.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Stowe who was still in heavy celebrations for signing himself to the very label he represents. Check out what he had to say:
BHP: Hey man, thanks for taking some time to chat with me today. What have you been up to recently?
CS: No prob man. Lately we’ve just been laying the ground work for our 2014 releases we’ve got planned and just trying to be as prepared for that as [soon as] possible. We’ve made some moves to expand this year and i’m stoked about that.
I am sure many can agree with me that A-F Records has revitalized themselves over the last couple years. Word on the street is that you have been pouring your blood and sweat into the label. How did you happen to fall into this role?
Blood and sweat huh? To be honest, I’m not really sure how the hell I ended up doing this. A few years ago, I joined White Wives [and] then got to know Chris and Chris [#2] through being in that band with them. Then Anti-Flag needed someone to drive/tour manage them for Warped Tour two summers ago and they asked if i could do it. Since I’ve never experienced anything like that, I jumped at the opportunity.
We talked a lot about label stuff while we were out there and how it would be cool to be able to put out records. When we got home, the dudes decided they wanted to make that bacon shaped picture disc thing and all of a sudden we had relaunched A-F Records and I was managing it.
Just like that? Crazy. To someone who may not know of the indie label A-F Records, can you give them some history?
Yeah sure. Anti-Flag started A-F Records in 1997 to release Their System Doesn’t Work For You and then they just grew from there. They put out a ton of classic punk records. Reagan Squad was amazing, The Unseen, etc. In the early 2000s, they continued to grow with the boom of the record industry and put out a ton of great bands but eventually fell prey to the great collapse in 2006 and then eventually went dormant around 2008 until we relaunched it last year.
Some of these hand-picked bands on the current roster are top-notch in my book, but also seem to challenge the former A-F alumni. Would you agree?
Hmmmm, not sure what you mean by “challenge” here? I’m thinking maybe you mean that they’re not necessarily in the same genre of political punk rock as some of the old A-F Records bands?
Yeah, I meant the political punk rock. Sorry about that. Can you tell me when you say you hope to move A-F into a less genre specific label that you might try something completely different, say like gangster folk? I kid about that of course but not really.
Gangster folk. That sounds terrible, so probably not. But I mean, I’m not opposed to anything as long as it’s awesome and the people that made it are awesome.
My end goal with the label is to put out great records that are pieces of sonic and visual art, and that’s it. I feel like we’ve done that so far with our new bands even though they don’t necessarily live within a specific genre, and that’s how i think it should be anyways.
Ideally in the next few years, I’m hoping to move A-F records into being a less genre specific label and we’ve got a bunch of stuff coming out this year that we hope challenges our core group of hard core fans and also brings some new faces into the family at the same time.
Speaking of new faces… Who would win in a street fight: Worship This! or World’s Scariest Police Chases?
Police Chases obviously, as they will have zero problem fighting dirty. pepper spray, dick punches, purple nurples, etc.
I appreciate the detail in that answer.
When A-F Records started, social media was barely existent. These days though it is almost impossible to not be emerged in. How are you taking advantage of social media to better the label?
It’s definitely got its good and bad elements, but mostly the key to properly utilizing all of the various social media outlets is to just keep your crowd engaged. The best response we’ve had I feel has come from the level of personal engagement we have with people that follow our bands and buy our records.
Anti Flag celebrated their 20th year as a band last year. I was 17. How old were you?
I was 8. That’s over 2/3 of my lifetime that these dudes have been together…it’s really amazing.
You were 8? Holy shit. I feel old now. Thanks dude. Seriously though, that is beyond amazing. You are living a punk rock dream.
Yeah, 8 years old. There’s a John Waters quote, and I’m paraphrasing, that goes something like, “if you want to do what you love for a living, plan on interning for yourself for at least 20 years”, and I feel like that definitely applies in music. Just don’t stop doing it, no matter how hard it gets, and eventually you’ll find that you accidentally made a job for yourself.
That was deep dude. Well said. So, whose idea was it for the 20 Years of Hell subscription series?
That idea kind of evolved from a combination of a bunch of different ideas, so no one person was responsible for it i don’t think. We mostly just wanted to kind of create a platform to engage people in a new way, which i think we did with the subscription website. Ultimately, we did the whole thing as a project of love for the real hardcores, ya know? I can’t tell you how hard it is to die-cut 3000 record sleeves…
How’s the response been so far?
Really great. I feel like my favorite part is that, since it’s mostly just myself and Josh Massie – Anti-Flag merch guy / most helpful dude ever – communicating with the subscribers, I’ve been able to develop a cool personal relationship with a lot of kids that I wouldn’t have otherwise come in contact with.
A-F seems to be leading in throwing contests lately. Can you tell me the current contest that is going on?
We just wrapped up the Anti-Flag “Power To The Peaceful” cover contest, which was awesome. We got so many really good submissions for that, and they’re all up on our YouTube page.
Our next contest is going to be really cool and involve some rad Anti-Flag gear. Stay tuned on that.
Being a musician yourself, how tough is it to pack up all the A-F orders, mail them out, and then play a White Wives or WSPC show let alone focus on your solo stuff?
I’m not sure how many people know. It can definitely be a challenge to get everything done sometimes, but it’s also such a blessing to be busy doing shit that you love you know? I mean, basically my dream was to one day be doing music constantly, and I’ve somehow pulled that off so that’s cool. And it’s not just my music, it’s my solo stuff, White Wives, WSPC, plus all the A-F bands we’re working on this year. It’s a dream job dude, for real.
Hell yeah. So when is your solo stuff supposed to drop? Anything Wives related you care to mention?
I can’t really speak to Wives stuff, but I’ve got a record coming out on A-F this summer as Chris Stowe.
How’s it feel to be signed, a rock star, and have your own material coming out on wax?
It’s not that cool dude. “Hey Stowe, you wanna sign this Stowe guy? Sure Stowe, if you like it I’m all for it. Well sounds good, Stowe, you’re signed!” It does feel good.
I believe that. So I noticed the pre-orders for your solo release have posted to the A-F site already. Charlie Brown yellow may be the most unique color I have heard of in a while. Is there any reason behind this?
I just love the peanuts man, always have. Plus I like to come up with cool “inside” names for our vinyl colors like Forest County green. Forest County is a magical place in PA that I go camping with my buddies every summer and a lot of my record was inspired by that part of the country.
So how were you suckered into WSPC? I will not lie, they are currently one of my favorite bands right now and it has nothing to do with my bromance via instagram with DeLucia.
Well, DeLucia, in real life, became a mailman. and he couldn’t play Fest last year, so I learned all the songs and played in his place – although my head blew up after just 1 song so I didn’t end up playing Fest really… Then I played some more out of town shows with them, Detroit and Asbury Park…then they tried to kick me out, but I got real sad about it so they let me stick around. Now there’s too many guitar players.
Tell me about A-F Records and Turnstyle Films. I might have heard a little something something…
Yeah we’ll have to keep the kids in suspense on that for a little while longer. I will say that we’ll be working heavily with Turnstyle this year on a ton of projects, which i’m excited for. They are amazing at what they do.
I credit A-F for making Cleveland and Pittsburgh friends again. What city do you think you will swoon over next?
I love Cleveland. A lot. And Pittsburgh. A lot. I’m not sure I can take credit for them becoming friends again, I feel like they always have been. We’ve both got amazing music scenes and live in the same economical climate for the most part, so it only makes sense to me that we should combine forces as much as possible.
What is next for Chris Stowe?
Just A-F Records stuff, solo stuff, maybe a secret band no one has heard yet….all the stuff. ALL.
What about A-F Records? Seems like the label has built up a ton of momentum as of late and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Yup, just forging ahead. Going to put out some great stuff this year and see where that takes us. the future is bright.
Head on over to A-F Records site and secure your copy of Stowe’s upcoming release of Hallow. The album drops in late June.