Tag Archives: CD

Album Review: Joey Cape / Tony Sly – Acoustic Volume 2

Has it really been been 8 years since Tony Sly and Joey Cape released their first solo album collectively?  I can remember the day I heard cuts off that release and bragged to my close friends about it.  Soon they were just as hooked as I was with the acoustic renditions of Lagwagon and No Use For a Name (NUFAN) songs.

Hearing those punk rock songs acoustically was just something so new and exciting for this listener.  Keep in mind, this was before many of the punk musicians started their acoustic projects.  It was a new method of sorts and would pave a side road for punk rock music forever.  It’s save to say the revival was made possible by Cape and Sly.

Cape and Sly would continued with their solo careers separately after the release and both dropped some remarkable albums, but nothing was as memorable as their first attempt.  Over the past 8 years, Cape and Sly really built their reputation as solo artists and decided it was time again to take some of their classic songs and create acoustic renditions of them for all to head.  Needless to say when I found out via Fat Wreck Chords that Cape and Sly were releasing Acoustic Volume 2, I got a tad excited.

Once again the duo took 5 songs each from their back catalogs and turned them into acoustic masterpieces.  To keep with the idea of their original attempt, they both wrote and recorded brand new tracks to add to the mix.  The result is a sequel to an amazing release that follows the same path of awesomeness.

Cape took the first half of the album and started it with “I Must Be Hateful” taken from 2003’s Blaze. The already amazing song sounded more powerful than ever when broke down into acoustic form.  Cape loses the rasp in his voice and gently sings with assistance from soft piano.

“Know It All” was one of my favorite tracks off of 1994’s Trashed, and 18 years later it continued to impress me on a different caliber.  “Alison’s Disease”, originally found on Live Fat, Die Young, was a tearjerker to listen to.  I remember the original on the Fat Wreck compilation, but this round was almost as hard to listen to as Fat Mike’s acoustic version of “My Orphan Year”.  Amazing on how slowing down a song can unleash so much emotion.

I was so happy to hear “Resolve” on this release.  Listening to Cape play a more folky version brought a smile to my face even though the track pays homage to their drummer Derrick Piourde who passed in 2005.  “Broken Record”, Cape’s all new track, followed the same path as previous tracks with a mellow mood.  The song perked up half way through but ended just as soon as it started.

Sly took over the remainder of the album with a powerful version of “Black Box”.  Maybe it was the accordion in the background with piano and a strings section, but the new and improved version taken off the 2005 NUFAN release Keep Them Confused sounded better than ever.

“Soulmate” was my choice track off this release.  The track was already one of my favorites in the 90s on Leche con Carne! and hearing it all over again in a different way was just refreshing.  A new take on an old classic was just what I was looking to hear.  I could not help but feel the same way I did when I heard “Justified Black Eye” for the first time in acoustic form back in 2004.  It brought a smile to my face and I instantly sung along.

“Chasing Rainbows” was a fun take on the original found on More Betterness!, but overall I still preferred the 1999 original.  “Pre-Medicated Murder”sounded nothing like the version found on Hard Rock Bottom. The slowed down version was eerie in a sense to listen to and enhanced the lyrics so much more.

Sly’s original, “Liver Let Die”, was a barroom masterpiece in it’s own carried by strumming acoustic guitar.  The song was likable and held out an instant invite for me to learn the chorus and sing along.  The track ended with a crowd chanting “one more song, one more song” and to me was a perfect way to put this release to sleep.  It also provided for a taste of what Sly has in store for his listeners in future releases.

What happens when punk musicians age?  They grow up, maybe have a family, live life, but never put down the guitar.  If you are thinking that this album is “just another punk rock side project” you are wrong.  This album is a celebration by two men and their career featuring some classic songs.  I am glad I only had to wait 8 years for this because honestly, 10 years might have been too long.

If you like NUFAN and Lagwagon, chances are you already know about Acoustic Volume 2.  If you dig acoustic music, check it out, you will not be disappointed.  Punk rock or not, this duo make for some amazing renditions of classic cuts I feel many can appreciate regardless of what genre of music is preferred.

Contest: Win An Unwritten Law Prize Pack

Finals are done and I finally have some freedom from forcing knowledge into my brain.  That means more updates on good ‘ol BHP.

Let’s start off things with right way with a contest.  I have not had one in a while so why not?  How about an Unwritten Law contest?

Up for grabs I have 3 Unwritten Law prize packs that will include:

  • A CD of Unwritten Law’s Swan 
  • An Unwritten Law t-shirt
  • An Unwritten Law poster

I reviewed Swan a few weeks ago when it released and wound up enjoying it.  The band has been through a lot over the years and still are dishing out material.  If you have not heard their new album yet, you have no reason to not try and win it then! 

So how do you win one of these prize packs?  Throw in a comment below with a valid email telling me what class in high school or college you absolutely hated.  You know what kind of class I am talking about, the one class you would have rather chewed off your own arm to get out of the room.

Mine would have to have been the Shakespeare class I took at Tri-C years ago.  I had no right signing up for that class and was absolutely miserable taking it.  I wound up dropping it because I knew it was only going to hurt my GPA plus I was not about to read a Shakespeare book a week…

I will pick 3 random winners this weekend.

Good luck!!!

Quick Reviews: Sh*t Robot, The Chemical Brothers, J. Tillman

I have been getting tons of material lately for review consideration so I thought I would try something new and shrink down my usually lengthy reviews.  Nothing fancy, just trying to get the word out on some amazing bands and releases.  Enjoy.

Sh*t Robot – From The Cradle To The Rave

Marcus Lambkin, aka Sh*t Robot, has taken his time releasing his debut album – literally it has been 20 years in the making.  The Irish born punk rocker turned DJ has made a name for himself in the NYC club scene and even though has never recorded an album before has made a huge name for himself by just doing his thing.  I should also mention that Lambkin helped build that which is now DFA Records from the ground up.

From The Cradle To The Rave reflects Lambkin’s life as a DJ and more.  Opening track, co-written by LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy, “Tuff Enough?” is an electronic anthem of sorts with simple beats and synthesizer that was actually written about an upcoming expectancy.  “Losing My Patience” featuring Hot Chip‘s Alexia Taylor was a fun track that I think many of the dance clubs will have no problem spinning. “Simple Things (Work It Out)” was an entertaining experimental dance track of sorts with almost a spoken word feel to it.

My personal favorite cut on the album was “Take ‘Em Up” featuring another musician from LCD Soundsystem, Nancy Whang.  This song not only screamed retro 80’s but also heavily reminded me of what would happen if Daft Punk decided to sample a Sonic The Hedgehog soundtrack.  Whang’s vocals are perfect for this track more suitable to be played at a roller rink.

From The Cradle To The Rave is proof that sometimes taking your time is a good thing.  This release is for all the folk out there that still enjoy the clubs.  Full of electronic goodness that reaches back to the days when techno was all the hype in the 90’s as well as hints at some Kraftwerk.  The album is solid front to back without over doing it.  Where I don’t frequent those types of clubs anymore I still got a kick out of that which is Sh*t Robot.

The Chemical Brothers – Further

Seeing a band like The Chemical Brothers come out with new material makes this guy right here happy.  As a longtime fan of the British duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons), I was thrilled when Further was released and even more intrigued when I heard that alongside the album would be visuals to accompany each of the songs. While I still have yet to obtain the videos I can tell you that they are available on DVD and iTunes for download.

Further is different from previous releases as it is mostly instrumental with Rowlands taking it upon himself to sing on a couple tracks as well as features Stephanie Dosen (Massive Attack) who lends her vocals as well.  I honestly prefer when they collaborate with other musicians on their previous releases but still enjoyed listening to tracks like “Escape Velocity” and “Another World”. “Swoon” was a trip in itself that I could not help but tag along with.

Heavy on the synthesizers and easing back on the drum machines throughout make for a very chill album to listen to.  This is one of those types of albums I can see myself not growing tired of anytime soon.  For those of you out there that still has a soft spot for the duo who hit the charts with “Block Rocking Beats” back in the day don’t hesitate to pick up Further.  The duo still has it and has dropped one great album to dance the night away to or even just sit back and get lost in.

J. Tillman – Singing Ax

Beautiful is just one of the many words that can be used to describe J. Tillman‘s latest release Singing Ax. Not just a member of Fleet Foxes, the folk artist has been very involved in recording material with others as well as himself since around 2004.  His latest offering is a vinyl only release that was recorded by Tillman almost entirely by himself in just three days.  The result is a calm yet captivating collection of songs that couple compliment any campfire gathering or just a quiet afternoon of solitude.

Opening track “Three Sisters” pretty much set the bar up high for the entire album for me.  While listening to TIllman’s singing I could only anticipate on what he was going to sing next and patiently waited the story, backed by acoustic guitar playing and drum machine, to unfold.  “Diamondback” continued with a calm retreat of a pleasant tale that had me closing my eyes and absorbing the intimate song.  In fact I found myself doing that a lot while listening to Singing Ax.  Later on I was treated to the album ending “A Seat At The Table” a song, to me, that almost was a musical rendition of a storm rolling in complete with thundering drumming towards the end of the track.

Tillman dropped an amazing album that barely carried any further supplement aside from his singing and acoustic guitar.  Honestly nothing more was needed as the folk chill release was presented perfectly.  I can only imagine what a live performance would entail.  Luckily for me he is touring with Phosphorescent and is making a stop in Cleveland in just a short couple of weeks.  Fans of Nick Drake and even a younger Neil Young I think will really enjoy this album as well as anyone out there that is just looking for a musical form of relaxation.

Sage Francis – LI(F)E – CD Review

Hip-hop artist Sage Francis recently returned with LI(F)E, an all new album on ANTI- Records.  This time around the lyrical genius has tried a different approach to his music by asking for assistance from various musicians who provided personal selections for him to work with.  Skip the bass heavy beats and typical hip-hop soundtracks that have gone with many of his previous works, this time around LI(F)E proves to be Sage Francis’ most sundry work to date.

Having been a fan of Sage Francis since about the time Y2K seemed a threat, I have only gotten more thrilled in anticipation with each of his releases.  I never listened to his albums as much as I studied them.  The man always impressed me with his ability of taking words and formulating them into something intriguing all while accompanied with sometimes self-made hip-hop and even jazzy beats.  This comes from the guy who bought a Sage Francis hoodie from Sage himself a couple years back at one of his shows and did not even realize it was him until mid-way though our conversation.  Oops.

I had to admit I was stoked to see the album cover for LI(F)E was drawn up by contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey.  A young Sage Francis graces the cover and I later found out that it was a dated photo of Sage Francis reminding him of the harder times in life when he slept on the floors at his friend’s houses and just lived day by day.  Not getting down by this things have obviously changed for the better over the years.

“Little Houdini” opened up the album featuring music written by ex-Grandaddy turned solo artist Jason Lytle.  The music, previously written as an instrumental by Lytle, originally had no lyrics to go along with.  Once obtained Francis worked his magic and created a song focused around a fugitive who escaped custody to see his dying mother based from actual events.  Francis had no problem putting his flair on top of the music and one would think both were written at the same time.  The song was one of the better cuts on the entire album.

“Three Sheets To The Wind”, featuring music by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie continued with a appealing track but it just did not match up to the opening track  The questionable “I Was Zero” started out great until Sage just inserted a weak refrain repeating  “when I came out my momma, I was zero”. For a seasoned hip hop artist that holds many wins on freestyle challenges in the past I felt more effort could have been put forth in this track lyrically.  Perhaps my expectations were set high for Sage and I should include that some of the lines he flows out during the song contained amazing selections of words but the music provided perfect for a rap of sorts with a generic chorus killed it for me.

I enjoyed “Slow Man”, a slow folky track summing up the thoughts in many aging individuals, if not Sage himself.  If Sage’s voice had more baritone in it on “Diamond’s & Pearls” I swear I would have been listening to Everlast.  The impressive “The Baby Stays” was a profound story based around the results of a redundant establishment called life only to succumb to the new outlook at the result between an unlikely pair.  The folk soundtrack, courtesy of Tim Rutili, aided Sage to the very ideal story about an unwanted life turning into the greatest thing ever.

Screaming children assist Sage in “London Bridge” a fun track full of random wonders and events in the world.  The song was fun and I think that is all it was meant to be featuring Sage, a bunch of kids, and once again Chris Walla.  Without looking too deep into it I left it at that and enjoyed it.

The late Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) collaborated with Sage on “Love The Lie”, perhaps my favorite cut on the entire CD.  It was chilling to hear this song knowing that Linkous ended his life for reasons that will never be known.  The track was upbeat from start to finish and almost inspiring yet clearly full of sarcasm.  This is the kind of song you had to actually listen to in order to understand how Sage works.

“The Best Of Times” was another track on LI(F)E that I admired over the others.  The more spoken word track recalled personal stories of Sage making for a powerful close to an impressive release.  As if sitting there listening to Sage was not great enough the musicthat accompanied Sage’s verbal memory was created by Yann Tiersen.

I loved how the album ended as strong as it began.  Sure there were a couple head scratching tracks in there but overall LI(F)E was a pleasure to listen to.  It’s not a hip-hop album by any means but more of a carefully premeditated project from a guy who happens to be good at rapping.  It’s easy for anyone who is familiar with his older material to just not get it – it’s different.  Taking written music in favor of generated beats this round, Sage has created a branch off of what he loves to do and I honestly admire his doing.  Without sounding too cliché, give LI(F)E a chance.

The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits – CD Review

Working class punk rock has never sounded so good thanks to Scranton, PA’s The Menzingers who recently dropped their sophomore release Chamberlain Waits on Red Scare Records.  The foursome are making a name for themselves by escaping from the clutches of The Electric City and sharing their dirty punk rock style with the world.  Named one of of AP Magazine’s 2010 bands to watch, all it takes is one listen to understand how exceptional this young act is.

At first listen it was apparent Chamberlain Waits was a winner to my ears.  The different genres, ranging from a DIY punk feel to hearty rock and roll, made for a unique style so commonly attempted but rarely fine tuned.  Think the likes of The Clash, Against Me!, and even a little Bruce Springsteen added to blatant determination from group of four who were once told they were going no where with their lives.  The result is a start to finish straightforward album that absolutely rocks.

All is took was the opening track, “Who’s Your Partner”, for myself to become an instant fan of this band.  I enjoyed the more rock feel throughout the song as well as lead vocalist’s Tom May’s singing styles.  “I Was Born” continued with the band bordering tastefully on the lines of a punk song and rock song with equal screams and harmony.  “Deep Sleep” easily could have been created by a certain Gainsville, FL act with amazing sing along qualities and likable guitar playing but it was not and regardless of the similarities to other bands the song was one of my favorites to listen to on the album.

The fist pumping “Tasker-Morris Station” showed a heavier more intense side of the band.  The track was really put together well without being overproduced.  “So It Goes” was another great track on the album with insane amounts of sing along opportunities.  As great as all previous songs, “Rivalries” hands down was the winning cut on the album for me.  I loved the opening of the track that soon morphed into a toe tapping rock track with ever so real lyrics regarding failure and accord.  “Come Here Often?” followed and all I could think to myself was how each song seemingly got better and better.  Closing album title track “Chamberlain Waits” started off mildly folky but erupted into an energetic group singing jam that closed out the album perfectly.

I can honestly say that this band has the potential to be the next big thing – Chamberlain Waits is an album I can easily listen to over and over without growing tiresome of.  Fans of Against Me! and The Gaslight Anthem, I would like to introduce you to your newest obsession…The Menzingers.

The Menzingers are actually the the middle of a giant tour right now with heavy hitters NOFX, Tony Sly, and Teenage Bottlerocket as well as will be playing a couple shows with Against Me! and Cheap Girls.  Do yourself a favor and get out to one of their shows if you can and if not I highly suggest you at least check them out and see what they are all about.  I don’t usually get this excited for bands these days but The Menzingers pretty much have taken two genres of music I adore and slammed them into something amazing.

Tour Dates:
Apr 29 2010 – The Riverside Theater W/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, and Tony Sly -Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 30 2010 – The Madison Theater W/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, Tony Sly – Covington, Kentucky
May 1 2010 – Pops Nightclub W/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, Tony Sly – Sauget, Illinois
May 2 2010 – The Beaumont Club W/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, Tony Sly – Kansas City, Missouri
May 3 2010 – Firehouse Pizza & Pub – Normal, Illinois
May 4 2010 – Rock Island Brewing Company W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Rock Island, Illinois
May 5 2010 – Slowdown W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Omaha, Nebraska
May 6 2010 – The Black Sheep W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 7 2010 – Launchpad W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Albuquerque, New Mexico
May 10 2010 – Jakes W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Lubbock, Texas
May 11 2010 – Scoutbar W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – San Antonio, Texas
May 12 2010 – One Eyed Jack’s W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – New Orleans, Louisiana
May 13 2010 – Alabama Music Box W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Mobile, Alabama
May 14 2010 – Sector 7G W/ Against Me! and Dead To Me – Augusta, Georgia
May 15 2010 – Visulite Theatre W/ Against Me! – Charlotte, North Carolina
May 17 2010 – The Hangar W/ Nothington, Spanish Gamble – Greenville, South Carolina
May 18 2010 – The Tipsy W/ The Holy Mess – Greenville, North Carolina
May 20 2010 – 538 Johnson W/ The Holy Mess, Timeshares, 10-4 Eleanor – Brooklyn, New York
May 21 2010 – The Democracy Center W/ The Holy Mess, Choke Up – Cambridge, Massachusetts
May 22 2010 – Cafe Metropolis CD RELEASE SHOW! W/ The Holy Mess – Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
May 23 2010 – The Fire CD RELEASE SHOW! W/ The Holy Mess – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 27 2010 – Most Wanted Fine Art – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
May 28 2010 – Mickey Finns Pub (All Ages) – Toledo, Ohio
May 29 2010 – Windy City Sound Clash II @ The Subterranean – Chicago, Illinois
May 30 2010 – The Speakeasy (314 S Hamilton St) W/ Cheap Girls – Madison, Wisconsin
May 31 2010 – Triple Rock W/ Cheap Girls – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jun 2 2010 – Marquis Theatre W/ Cheap Girls – Denver, Colorado
Jun 3 2010 – TBA W/ Cheap Girls – Salt Lake City, Utah
Jun 4 2010 – Red Room W/ Cheap Girls – Boise, Idaho
Jun 5 2010 – The Know W/ Cheap Girls – Portland, Oregon
Jun 6 2010 – Studio Seven W/ Cheap Girls – Seattle, Washington
Jun 7 2010 – TBA W/ Cheap Girls – Redding, California
Jun 8 2010 – Thee Parkside W/ Cheap Girls – San Francisco, California
Jun 9 2010 – The CYC W/ Cheap Girls – Fresno, California
Jun 10 2010 – The Warehouse W/ Cheap Girls – Pomona, California
Jun 11 2010 – Radio Room W/ Cheap Girls – San Diego, California
Jun 12 2010 – Rogue Bar W/ Cheap Girls – Scottsdale, Arizona
Jun 13 2010 – The Underground W/ Soul Control – Mesa, Arizona
Jun 14 2010 – Echo Chamber W/ Soul Control – Portales, New Mexico
Jun 15 2010 – The Maquiladora W/ Soul Control – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jun 16 2010 – The Ten Eleven W/ Soul Control – San Antonio, Texas
Jun 17 2010 – The Mink W/ Soul Control – Houston, Texas
Jun 18 2010 – The Rabbit Hole W/ Soul Control – Panama City, Florida
Jun 20 2010 – Backbooth W/ Soul Control – Orlando, Florida
Jun 21 2010 – The House Of Hardcore W/ Soul Control – Columbia, South Carolina
Jun 22 2010 – The Camel W/ Soul Control – Richmond, Virginia
Jun 23 2010 – Ava House W/ Soul Control – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jun 25 2010 – Insubordination Fest – Baltimore, Maryland
Jun 26 2010 – Insubordination Fest – Baltimore, Maryland