Tag Archives: New Release

Album Review: Haunt – Beautiful Distraction

I learned of Haunt about a year ago thanks to Bandcamp and absolutely adore the galvanizing 80s metal style. They are without a doubt one of the more exciting bands to emerge in recent years all thanks to catchy as hell songs that are full of riffs and guitar solos a plenty.

Formed by Trevor William Church, Haunt is more or less a solo project that started back in 2017. Hearing his rigorous anthems could fool anyone easily into thinking he’s been around for decades. With a style similar to bands like Helloween, Iron Maiden, and even early Anthrax, Haunt isn’t a modern day cookie-cutter rock band or gimmicky at all. Honestly, Haunt could easily be mistaken for being part of the original NWOBHM era and Church’s dedication and style is a proper resurgence to be taken seriously.

With that said, there is some history behind the creator of Haunt. Church is the man behind Beastmaker and once played in An Angle, a 2000s indie/pop band on Drive-Thru Records. If you can recall either band’s sound, boy are you in for a treat because Haunt sounds nothing like them.

Church himself is a busy man. Not only does he rock the title husband and father, but he currently plays in two other bands aside from Haunt. When not recording new tunes, he is revisiting old ones and perfecting his style for the sake of the art.

Fun fact, his father is renowned bassist Bill Church who played in Montrose and with Sammy Hagar.

Beautiful Distraction is the band’s sixth full-length album and is slated to drop April 2nd under Church’s own label Church Recordings. With just one guest guitarist who supplied some solos, Church wrote and performed all of the songs, recorded, mixed, and mastered it and also had every involvement of manufacturing and marketing. This is beyond a one man show.

As much as I have loved the last couple Haunt albums, this one is an absolute ripper. There is so much energy packed into just over 38 minutes that it is almost unfair it did not last longer.

Staring things off was album title track “Beautiful Distraction” and all I could think about was how the singing style complimented a young Claudio Sanchez from Coheed & Cambria. I totally got sucked into this song and it made for a strong ass opening track. The solos at the end were to die for. Loved this song a ton.

When Church started to tear it up in “In Our Dreams,” all I could do was sit back and enjoy the ride. “Fortune’s Wheel” again had this progressive metal feel to it that was all too enjoyable.

The reworked “Fool’s Paradise” was a hell of a journey to listen to. The keys at the start key things feeling a tad retro, but then Church did what he does best and tore it up on a few occasions. This was a fun one with riffs galore.

“Hearts On Fire” was another re-recorded full-forced rager that never held up once. I adored the keys buried behind the brutal guitar playing and furious drumming and favor this way more than the original.

Church has some serious talent when it comes to creating tunes from start to finish and this album continued to prove it. There was not one dull moment in Beautiful Distraction and nothing sounded recycled, repeated, or cheesy for that matter.

As someone who usually finds themselves hanging out in the punk rock genre, Haunt has dropped one of my favorite albums of the year easily. This band is not to be overlooked at all and is guaranteed to entertain.

Listen below, to some of Haunt’s older tunes, snag your copy though Bandcamp and enjoy.

Preorders for Beautiful Distraction go live this Friday.

Album Review: Shuffle and Bang – Island Bop

Full disclosure: My review I worked so hard on for this release last week seemingly was lost and never saved.

Usually when this happens, I become annoyed to no end, but in this case, I was not phased at all because that meant I had more reason to listen to Shuffle and Bang over and over again

This isn’t your typical Pirates Press Records release, but the moment my eyes caught the album art, I knew this was going to be something special. The second it hit my ears though, and I was in love. Jamaican jazz fused with two-tone is the best way I can explain these guys.

Shuffle and Bang is a father and son (Pops and Korey Horn) idea that combined their love for dub, reggae, and jazz. Eventually they joined forces with a slew of amazing musicians who have lent their talents to The Aggrolites, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Original Wailers, and some guy named Stevie Wonder. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the pianist plays organ for the San Diego Padres baseball team. Case and point, this band is full to the brim of talent.

In a span of two years over plenty of recording sessions, Pirates Press Records buddied up with band’s own Jetsetter Records to release this unique album titled Island Bop.

Starting off the album was “Don’t Go To Strangers”, a intro of sorts. A cappella and full of soul. It really just built up my anticipation of what was to come.

The ever-appropriate “Song for My Father” had things kicking into full gear. This track was not only an ode to “The Man”, but also just showcased the intense amount of talent brought forth.

“Daahoud Ska” immediately put me in the best mood upon heading it. I loved everything about this upbeat track from the horns, stand up bass, and piano playing. This song’s purpose is to entertain as much as possible.

“Blow Mr. Low” carried tons of swing jazz love. The horns on this song were not only the subject of the lyrics, but the glue that kept it all together.

“When I Take My Sugar to Tea” was a romantic romp as much as a brag to the boys about being in good company. This track was built on feelings and a certain boost in moral when feeling like you’re on top of the world. This track might be new, but sounded like it’s been around for decades.

One of my favorite cuts on this release was “Let The Good Times Roll.” I loved the personalized feeling that was inclusive to everyone and anyone. I couldn’t help but imagine I was in some speakeasy while listening to this. What a fun one this was.

Closing track “Drum Song” was more like a cosmic dub jam session amongst friends. Memorable lyrics taken from the Gorillaz just made it that much more entertaining for me. I enjoyed the slow departure to wind down the release.

With as shitty as this year has been, Island Bop seemingly is a beacon of light that just makes everything better once you begin to listen. A surprise release for me and I’m sure others, it’s certainly at the top of my best of list and will be in regular rotation for years to come.

Like a modern day Mongo Sanataria, Shuffle and Bang are guaranteed to supply the soundtrack for a good time. Fans of Hepcat, Coltrane, ska, two-tone, and just anyone who appreciates honest to god good musicianship are going to enjoy the everlasting hell out of this release. I know I did.

Book Review: F.T.W. Rise of the Anarchy March by Russ Lippitt

Imagine standing up for what you believe in to the point where you’re ready to risk life and limb to start a revolution. Due to corrupt dictators controlling the way of life in a dystopic future in favor of conformance, a definite change is evident. This path to righteousness isn’t easy as told in F.T.W. Rise of the Anarchy March, a story about group of punks who refuse to let their hellish wasteland continue to ruin lives.

We all know what F.T.W. means, and author Russ Lippitt took this literally in his post-apocalyptical sci-fi read that was like Tank Girl and Suburbia mixed with 1984.

This was one book I was glued to and just could not put down. I loved the punk ethos throughout and applauded the embedded references throughout, be it chapter names or mention of classic punk rock bands.

Let’s not forget some of the unexpected developments that just made things that much more interesting. There really was no time for dull moments in this.

The story itself was original, hinting at an obtainable sad future Mad Max-style where three punks, who refused to conform take on an unforgiving government by any means possible, put themselves on the ultimate mission. Full of memorable characters, side stories, and explicit detail, I must admit, this was one unique piece of work.

Without going into great detail, I can tell you I was not sure what to expect when I dug into this book after starting, but I was soon sucked in quickly and along for the ride. It had me angry at times, reminded me of my past in a sense, and most importantly, had me thinking at the very end. You loved some characters and wished demise for others.

My only complaint? I am not going to ruin things for anyone with a spoiler, but I am sure at some point you will share the same thought I had. Well, there was actually another part that became almost anticlimactic, but not to the point where I lost interest and I needed to remind myself this was just part one of a trilogy. With that said, I was fully captured in this story and cannot wait to see the follow-up to this down the road. I know there is just so much more story to be told.

The one thing that got to me most is what Lippitt wrote on literally could happen one day. Anything is possible when you look at the progression of human nature and Lippitt painted a sad prediction of what could come. Clearly, current events had slight input into this incredible story and when amplified just become plausible.

It would only make sense to see F.T.W. be made into a movie. Lippitt’s writing style surely painted clear images in my mind to the point that I wanted to see this taken to the screen. The story was original and full of action, violence, and even straight up comedy. Honestly, Hollywood might do themselves a favor by picking this up one day. Trust me on that.

Until then, if you are looking for a different type of adventure when reading that will more or less piss you off while still rooting for the good guys, check out F.T.W. I promise you that you have not read a piece like this one if you have a love for punk rock and are looking for one hell of an adventure.

The book drops at the end of this month an you can preorder it by clicking HERE.

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: The Electric Grandmother – Relaunch

80s synth-pop smashed with experimental sci-fi indie rock is about the best I can explain The Electric Grandmother these days to anyone who asks.

Taking their duo to a conceptional level higher than their last release, Cancelled that literally surrounded a man losing his mind over an axed sitcom, Relaunch is the most unique release I’ve heard these two drop to date.

Residing in Washington DC, and originally staking claim to fame in Columbus, OH, the high-level 411 on The Electric Grandmother is a husband/wife duo who have taken their love for each other and televised entertainment and put their own twist into it musically.  Sitcom Core pretty much was their lovechild, but with time comes maturity and they really are beyond what they once created.

I could sit here and tell you how much Pete and Mary Alice mean to me, but I’ll save that.  Instead, I would like to remind them the time I showed up at their wedding reception first if I am not mistaken and they both ran to me, excited to see someone on their level that wasn’t a family member asking over and over when they were going to start a family and talk about their lost cat or bridge mix.

What am I getting at you ask?

I was there for them then, and I still am today.

I write this review not because they asked me to check it out, but as a fan of a band that really has seemingly taken gimmicks to levels that almost carry on hidden meaning.

Case and point, Relaunch, is about Ronald Regan getting kidnapped, but surrounds the crew that came together to find and hopefully  bring him back to safety.  It’s a silly, serious escapade into another dimension with room for one more to enjoy the trip.

“The Kidnapping of Ronald Reagan” set up the story with Mary Alice’s ever so sweet singing followed up with her main squeeze’s melodica infused singing.  Not going to lie, I just sat here and marveled at how great this track sounded while hanging on for the ride.

Classic, crass sounding “Nancy Reagan” followed with plenty of poo and butt jokes including Mr. T’s lap.  I’d expect nothing less seeing how much these two shouldn’t always be taken seriously.

“Relaunch” could have been mistaken for Chemical Brothers at the start with the instrumentals.  Seriously, this track ruled so much that i had to listen to it a second time once it ended.  Clearly this track fueled the journey to space to find the president.

Even rescue astronauts need a distraction as proved in “Shuttle Dance Night”.  The samples were great, but the singing as provided by Pete and Mary Alice was far more intriguing.  Plenty of 80s references reside on this track all sampled perfectly.

“Stand For The Air Demon” carried beats like none other.  The end dropped with an almost Orson Welles monolog that drifted into silence only to be picked up and amplified in “Nine Miles To The Water”.

The only problem with “Two Mummies” is that someone missed the opportunity to toss a freestyle over it.  I suppose there’s always a chance of the Relaunch Remix.  

This is where I stop talking about the album because really do not want to ruin it for anyone.  If you’ve found yourself interested in this crazy tale, then it is up to you to check out the album to find out the conclusion.

As for The Electric Grandmother, they’ve once again wowed me with originality, but impressed me with how much further they have taken their talents music-wise.  They have not lost their charm, but at the same time are showcasing their true worth.  Never quit you two.

Available on Bandcamp, the band is taking proceeds from this album and donating to their favorite DC hangout spot, Slash Run.

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