Tag Archives: Review

Album Review: Big Nothing – Dog Hours

Bands like Big Nothing are hard to come by. I first learned of them back in 2019 and have been a fan since. Their style then was something that was just so enticing to my ears. Said release became one of my favorites and to this day is still in regular rotation.

Featuring Liz Parsons (bass/vocals), Matt Quinn (guitar/vocals), Pat Graham (guitar/vocals), and Chris Jordan (drums), Big Nothing has this distinctive charisma all in thanks to how they share vocal duties that coincides with the music they create. Their overall style, which clearly shows strong appreciation for various genres of music, results in an unique sound that teeters between indie punk and alt-country without missing a beat.

“Always On My Mind” opened up this 10-track album with an impactful yet chill song about inhibitions around courtship. I loved their regressed sound that the band managed to produce outside of traditional studio sessions all in thanks to stupid Covid.

I loved everything about “A Lot of Finding Out.” With so many proper Westerberg similarities, this track sucked me in immediately. It was personal and wholesome and catered directly to the listener.

“Still Sorta Healing,” all in thanks to Parsons, reminded me of early Juliana Hatfield in the best way. This track brought me back to the days when I shook off the grunge and started expanding on my musical tastes

The damper “Curiosity” was an alt-country stumble that truly hit at somber feelings. I’m almost afraid to know what this one was about. Truly a personal battle with the loss of great impact.

I feel the band came together the most in “Dog Hours.” This track was just great in every way. Without being overly complex, it carried a good sound throughout.

“Make Believe” had Parsons taking over lead vocals once again changing the dynamic of the album without distraction. I honestly look forward to this shift as it showcases the true talent of this band.

“Accents” just ruled. The hook on this track was so memorable it had me singing along at first listen. This track is going to get this band a lot of attention I feel. Seriously, scroll down and listen to this one.

In true alt-country form, “What I Wanna Say” closed down the album with a good story backed by harmony and twang. I loved the laughing and someone saying “done” at the end, but it just left me wanting more.

Dog Hours continued where Chris left off for listeners like myself who just simply wanted more jams from their debut. There was a clear in change in tempo and style for the benefit of the band. With a more intimate, pure sound, I feel more connected to this band. As much as I adore their debut, Dog Years is equally as impressive.

Call me corny, but they really should have called themselves Big Everything. Dog Hours without a doubt is one of my fav releases of the year.

Big Nothing links:
Bandcamp / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / Lame-O Records

Album Review: The Decayed – Corrupt Politicians Will Never Set You Free

I am probably a little overdue for a review, so allow me to take a few moments to talk about a ripper of an album that was sent to me a couple months back by Jake from The Decayed .

I promise y’all it was listened to upon release, the delay on my end came from carving out some time to talk about it.

Hailing from South Chicago, The Decayed manage to smash punk and thrash together making for a unique, full of angst listen. The foursome are working class dudes with vocal opinions and zero filter. Their debut Corrupt Politician Will Set You Free dropped almost a year to the day, so apologies on my end for the delay of this post.

The album cover clearly has a They Live feel with a money-hungry politician surrounded by brute force that more than compensates for the album’s title. Before even listening to this, I had a feeling it was going to have tons of raw energy.

“Piece By Piece” had me slightly nervous that the back was nothing more than a Jackyl spinoff with the chainsaw, but boy I was dead wrong. These dudes just jumped right into it and got to business. Think street punk mixed with thrash and a steady bass lick keeping it all together.

“Abandon Hope” was the prominent song off this album with a powerful metal / punk collaboration enjoyable throughout. Loved the riffs on this one that tore into solitude and escape.

“Desolate” to me is what Bleeding Through would have sounded like if they skipped the metalcore and fell towards hardcore. This was a brutal track all surrounding gut feelings about propaganda and failed states.

Sounding like and angry early AFI sans emotion came “A Fire Inside”. I laugh about this one because it was not until a few minutes into writing that comparison did I line up that AFI is abbreviation for, yeah, you guessed it. Coincidence? Perhaps. The track is a good listen.

“The Old & The Dead” easily was one of my choice cuts all in thanks to angry old man punk with Matt Fremon-like bass playing. This song isn’t cookie-cutter at all and just blatantly tells you how it is and I for one appreciated the hell out of it.

“One Last Ride” was a working class, do-or-die punk rock track. I have to hand it to them, hearing “I got a perfect view of heaven from my front row seat in hell” was quite appealing to me. This wasn’t a happy-ending by any means and was more so a vision of extremities when all else is lost.

The Decayed are on the same page as Anti-Flag but far heavier. If you carry the same ideals and need something to just get your blood pumping as you question this reality built around, I’d consider checking out Corrupt Politicians Will Never Set You Free. If you are on the other side of the tracks, I hope this offends the shit out of you.

The debut was pressed on a black & white splatter LP which just looks awesome and sounds amazing when played loud. You can snag one for yourself on their Bandcamp page. It is also steaming on all of those platforms that will never pay artists what they truly deserve, except for Bandcamp. Here, I will make it easy on you, check them out:

Album Review: Heart & Lung – Twistin’ The Knife Away

Heart & Lung were one of Cleveland’s best kept punk rock secrets until that Toby guy over at Red Scare had to sign them and promote the ever-living hell out of them for all to adore.

Rightfully so though, this upbeat band rips on so many levels, is fun, and absolutely deserves the attention.

The foursome has been doing their thing for over 5 years now and just have this ability to put you in a great freaking mood. They are hilarious, but will strike your ass with their snark and style – so try not to make any eye-contact at a show (just kidding, they are super friendly folk).

Unlike any typical non-serious review I have ever done, I think it is important to share my latest dumb idea for a t-shirt for these guys to lean into what I want to say next about them:

HEART, LUNGS, & HARMONY
(This of course is done in the style of the Bone, Thugs, and Harmony logo …)

The balance these dudes carry is unreal. This is not some NOFX-bellyaching where they talk over tunes, Heart & Lung just carry an ability to combine and lead from each other’s verses without disrupting.

Anyways stupid, but rad idea – hint, hint.

The boys dropped their sophomore release titled Twistin’ The Knife Away in mid-October on Red Scare records, and it was an instant classic to my ears. Hell, Brenden Kelly said himself, “What do you kids say these days? It fucks? It slaps? It does all that stuff.” He ain’t wrong.

The album is a quick listen, but is full of tracks that are going to get stuck in your head and played over and over.

“Watch You Suffer” started off the release with a fast-paced banger for all to adore. The band has no problem holding back on this track surrounded by the best intentions for someone who clearly sucks. As much as I adore the breakdown on this one, the guitar licks are where it’s at.

“I’m Fine” is a day-to-day reminder of the things we do living in this repetitious life. Loved that they tossed in their debut album name on this, but the punky bluegrass build up was what won me over on this track. The harmonies kick in hard here to the point I have been singing this one to myself a lot lately when the day is challenging.

“Headache” was slightly toned down with good reason. I loved the emotion in this track while sitting back and realizing how aligned I am with the subject.

Loved the Blazing Saddles quote on “Shit Together”, a song the pretty much defined many of our entry to adulthood lives while stuck trying to figure things out. Damn song almost made me sad listening to it as I recalled too many parts of it in a personal aspect.

Probably one of my favorite tracks was “Never Come Home”. This song did not let up once and carried almost hidden powerful encouragement in regards to moving on when life comes down in the worst way. Maybe skip this one if you just broke up with someone recently.

“Control” was another good one that had some hints of bluegrass masked over clearly by the good stuff. This track was harmonic, yet quick and totally captured my total attention.

With 3 singers who connect on the best level, this band is incredible and entertaining to listen to. Taking queues from their previous bluegrass talent, these boys know how to steal your attention with some of the catchiest music I have heard all year. Do not take my word for it, check out Twistin’ The Knife Away and thank me later after your 20th listen.

Heart & Lung have been touring to the best of their ability lately and are opening for some band called Lagwagon in early December at the Grog Shop. Should be a good time had by all!

Heart & Lung “Watch You Suffer”

Twistin’ The Knife Away is on those streaming services, but if you really want to supposed a rad act, head over to the Red Scare Industries store and pick up a copy or 2. Tis the season to rack up credit!

EP Review: MakeWar – Stay

MakeWar are easily one of the most exciting bands to hit the Fat roster in recent years. I have been a fan of them since they were a one man show called Sad & French and always knew the potential the band had as they grew.

Lucky for us, they dropped a nice surprise on a couple weeks back. No, they did not to a split with NOFX, Frank Turner, Me First or anything (yet), but they did drop an EP that made me equal parts sad and happy.

The Brooklyn, NY punk band has been gaining ground over the past couple of years with their catchy yet emotionally driven punk tracks and Stay is no exception. It may be just 4 songs, 2 unreleased and 2 of which are original takes on songs from their last release Get It Together, but they are all solid tracks and absolutely needed to be released for all to hear.

MakeWar

Listening to the opening track “Stay” brought forth some personal trauma of losing my best 4-legged friend about a year ago. The track, a homage to Jose Prieto’s dog (Bruno) is a must hear with with Vinnie Caruana (Movielife/I Am The Avalanche) taking on singing duties on behalf of Bruno. I smiled and teared up while listening to this previously unreleased song that was more or less the last conversation the two had while remembering the great times I had with my beloved Sweet Lou and Zeus. This track will punch you in the heart if you love(d) your pet unconditionally.

“I’m Sure My Little Brother Never Listened to Lagwagon” was the other unreleased track and was a total banger. Loved the bass licks that reminded me of Matt Fremon as well as the recollection of punk life pitfalls.

“American Futbol” and “My Bones” were a little rawer than what showed up on Get It Together but equally as great and served as a reminder how much I adored their Fat debut.

2021 has been yet another shit year, right? I personally thank bands like MakeWar for persevering on with their true passion and providing those distractions we all need to make these days a little better.

MakeWar play The Fest today and then have a few Northeast shows lined up on their way back home in early November. In 2022, they landed some Europe shows with some band called the Descendents.

I have said it before and will say it again, these guys are going places. Do not sit on them.

Also, can we talk about how sick the color pressing of Stay is? I ordered mine the day it dropped and adore the variant that was shipped to me:

Want your own? Head to Fat Wreck Chords and snag one today!

Album Review: The Roots – Do You Want More?!!!??! [Deluxe Edition]

[This is a seriously delayed review. Life caught up with me as well as I struggled with trying to find the right words. It has been a while where I strived with placing my thoughts together.

There’s no time like the present, so here we go. Thanks for taking a few moments to read through!]

I can honestly say when The Roots first started releasing albums, I did not appreciate them for their full worth. I was a suburban, white teen when they began picking up steam.

Perhaps being stuck in specific scenes and favoring punk/hardcore in the 90s could be to blame, but clearly there was more. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about tons of hip-hop acts at that time. Truth is, I was too young, na├»ve, and just lacked understanding to the genus behind this amazing hip-hop act.

I do not need to get into their history for they’ve gained plenty of ground since their early days. As I eluded to earlier though, I knew of them, but it was years later until I actually listened to them. Man was I missing out…

I have tried to word this out as best as I could, but their lyrical craftmanship was just top notch and add to some amazing musical ability, it was impossible for me not to adore them.

How did this punk rocker become a fan of the Roots? Glad you asked that.

When I managed a record store in my hometown in the 00s, the pompous owners had this rule with playing music on the 5-disc carousal CD changer: 1 hip-hop, 1 jazz, classical, or blues, and 3 anything else. On most days it was a drag because if I was going to be stuck in a small store for 8-14 hours a day, I wanted to pick my own soundtrack to help speed the day along.

Honestly, it made sense to not have a bunch of punk/screamo music clogging the speakers and gave a chance to carry a range of genres for all to hear. This essentially was for the customers who walked through the front door and not the horde of tired workers who helped make their shopping experience a good one.

This rule resulted in many a day where The Roots were rotated into the mix. I could not tell you who or when the band started being played frequently, but I can tell you I always approved anyone who asked to play them. It was poetry layered on jazzy beats that followed its own refined path. Even though the songs were on shuffle I would always know exactly when The Roots were on and adored their music and flowing that carried over.

I remember when “Proceed” first came on and Black Thought dished out the line “and I can Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses crash.” I paused as the two band names caught my ear, but I was not fully paying attention to what they were saying and realized I needed to change that. For someone stuck in their own lane for so long, it was at the time I realized their music and lyrics were far more than just quick wins.

Recently, the band released a deluxe 25th anniversary edition of Do You Want More?, the band’s quintessential release in my opinion. Drawn from original recordings and featuring eighteen bonus tracks curated by Questlove, The Roots are back to remind you of their pure excellence and have tossed in some bonus treats.

Why is this a big deal you ask? Well, some of the tracks included on this edition have never been released and there are others that never were previously available digitally.

The 3LP deluxe vinyl edition features five bonus tracks plus a 24-page booklet featuring images taken by Mpozi Tolbert, essays by Questlove and Black Thought as well as track-by-track commentary which all was well-received by this Roots fan. I especially appreciated what Questlove had to say. It was a great read throughout.

The LPs are pressed on black vinyl and are ever so sharp to look at. The trifold gatefold sleeve houses said albums and the booklet, which I wish was hardbound instead of material slightly stronger than the insert paper we are all so used to. Still, it is a great boxset to hold and dig into.

Not good enough? The 4LP edition, which I in time would prefer to have, features all of the aforementioned plus additional eight bonus tracks. Do not worry if you can not swing either LP edition as it will be available digitally and the new content is outstanding and worth your time.

As I have listed to the original album tons of times, I do not really wish to carry on about it more than saying how awesome it sounded on wax. The slight crackles behind each track just kept it more classic for me. The bonus content though is what I was most excited for.

The remixes of “Proceed” were killer. I am not sure which of the three I enjoyed more, but I can tell you they were not carbon-copied. The AJ Shine mix rejuvenated the song while dipping back to the 80s.

The eight bonus tracks on the digital / 4LP release were the true treat of this release. To think The Roots sat on these gems for this long is almost unbelievable.

“In Your Dreams Kid (I’m Every MC)” won me over fully thanks to Black Thought’s masquerading personal influences including ODB, Busta Rhymes, and even Ice Cube. To say this feat was impressive is an understatement.

The original draft of “Swept Away” was better than the original with a raw take that easily could have been recorded from a small club set. I liked how you could hear Black Thought ruminate while spilling out verses to the point of excitement.

I found Do You Want More?!!!??! even a more powerful, poignant listen after taking it in over the past few weeks. These are tunes that certainly have not aged and are as important as ever.

Listening to this album on repeat for the past few months never once went stale. I honestly was reminded on how exceptional and definitive this release was.

As I made mention before, The Roots are not new to the game and chances are anyone who read this knows them one way or another. This celebration of a masterpiece of an album was re-released the right way with the bonus tracks tailored to the fan, both old and new, to cherish equally.