Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bombpops- ...Stole the TV

The Bombpops are one of the catchiest things I've ever heard ever. This is only their second EP, but they've already made quite the name for themselves in the SoCal scene. Poli van Dam's voice sounds awesome with Jen Razavi's, and they're both awesome guitarists. Dylan Wade is the optimum pop-punk drummer, and I love Neil Wayne. Because I love all good bassists from the bottom of my heart. Overall, you're going to love this EP. I promise. RIYL Mikey Erg, the Unlovables, Salteens, etc. Released on October 4th!
The entire EP is exactly 10 minutes, 10 seconds of badass. The first song, "(Back to) The Medicine Cabinet" is an awesome song. The lyrics are really great, and the melody is fast and powerful. I love it. It's addictive and fun, which is exactly what you're looking for in a pop punk record. "Paranoid" starts off a little slower, but you know it won't stay that way. It sets into an awesome driving song with the same energy of the first song. It's the perfect (and confusing) combination of cute and punk. "Grocery Store" is probably my favorite. And last but not least, "Crazy" has such awesome vocals. It's got great lyrics and the harmonies are wonderful.

Overall, fell in love. You probably will too. Hopefully I'll see these guys live sometime in the next few months, cause it sounds like a great time!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Are the Union - Graveyard Grins

We Are the Union are at it again! It seems like it's been ages since they've put something out, but lucky for us it's a great one. About a week ago, those crazy kids from Ann Arbor released a digital EP on Paper + Plastick, and that EP is called 'Graveyard Grins', and it's pretty damn rad.

For those of you hermits who are unfamiliar with them, We Are the Union are a ska-punk group of sorts. I mean, they're like pop punk that has been mildly infused with a bit of hardcore, which was then carefully blended with a bit of ska music...and after all of that chemistry the world was left with WATU. They have two full lengths out there in the world, and both of them are pretty awesome. 'Who We Are' was this awesome as fuck, heavy with pop punk record with some of the catchiest songs ever to be written, and 'Great Leaps Forward' was some of the coolest shit I've ever heard done with any of the involved genres, and none of their trademark catchiness was lost in the process.

'Graveyard Grins' kicks off with a typical sounding WATU song. "If I Can't Smoke or Swear I'm Fucked" seems very much like WATU song title (or a Latterman song title...which is saying the same thing, pretty much) and it's definitely in their usual style. It's horn heavy, guitar heavy, and full of vocalist Reed Wolcott's awesome lyricism and vocals, which have gotten much better with each release. The only difference here is that they throw a guitar solo in there, which is mixed in so loudly that I'm pretty sure it has been trying very hard for very long to break out over the rest of the instruments. Another thing I'd like to mention is how quiet the trombone is on this record. It's a little ridiculous. That's basically my only problem, though. Because this album is completely awesome.

The rest of the album goes at a much slower pace. "Do What You Love..." is kind of a Lifetime styled song, if Lifetime had some awesome horn lines, and it leads into "...And Fuck the Rest", which is this reggae influenced instrumental ordeal that can only really be described as either weird or interesting.  The former song is probably my favorite on the album, and I guess the latter is really just continuing the same song, meaning it's part of my favorite song on the album? I'm not really sure how that works out.

But hey, the album isn't over after these two! They're followed by an awesome cover of "Thank You" by Descendents. To be honest, THIS is my favorite song on the EP. But to be fair, it's just a cover so I can't really make that claim. If you like Descendents and you like WATU, there's zero chance that you won't love this cover. It's done so well, and there's horns! It's a pretty awesome deal. There's even some sort of 8-bit style shit after the song ends. Rad.

This album is definitely worth the four dollars that Paper + Plastick is charging for it, so don't miss out on this release. I mean, unless it turns out that the three originals songs are going to be on the upcoming full length. If that's the case, then it's not worth the four dollars, but it is worth at least a dollar for that awesome Descendents cover. So yeah, you should just go ahead and buy it. Because you're a good person and probably have been waiting ages for some new material from the WATUniverse. The wait is over.


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Shuteye Unison- Our Future Selves

Shuteye Unison is one of my favorite west coast bands. Their first album was badass, and this record has not let me down. Daniel Mckenzie, Jon Fee, Jake Krohn, and Remco Vanderheide worked incredibly hard to make this album happen and released it on April 12th of this year through Parks and Records. RIYL: Autolux, Sonic Youth, and Silversun Pickups.
Our Future Selves is a very, very interesting record. I think that's why I like it so much. Even though I can recommend it towards similar bands, it honestly doesn't sound like ANYTHING else. It's really hard to be this original and not sound like a.) shit b.) assholes c.) all of the above. But these boys manage to do it. It's a very light, mellow, and slow record.
It makes me feel like I am on drugs. The sound is very thought provoking and honestly makes me think of euphony. I reserve the term "euphony" for the most extreme cases, you guys.
Let's start off with the first track: "Be Kimball." The intro is badass. It gets you pumped. It's catchy, it's rough, and it makes you excited to hear what's next. It goes into a very interesting melody: they put a soothing and relaxed vocal melody along side jagged, powerful instrumentals. I love it.
"Portable Rome" is shorter than "Be Kimball" but I really think it has more to it. It's got more going on.
I'm just gonna talk about a few of my favorite songs:
"Century M" has a beautiful riff. It makes me think of sunshine. (Yes, I said sunshine.)
"Better Highway Vision" is probably the most entertaining and abstract song on the album. All the instruments work together perfectly on this track.
"Our Future Selves" easily has the coolest lyrics ever.
What a great album.

I strongly recommend you check them out!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The InCiders - MegaKill v.2 Turbo

It seems like the most logical thing to do at this point in my life would be to grab the Bear and fly overseas to the UK and start a hardcore punk band. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's what everyone in that country is doing these days. We just did a review of Officer Down earlier this week, and we have this friend Jake who plays in a hardcore punk band and does nothing but go on and on about the various local punk bands that he listens to. And now we've stumbled upon another punk band from the UK that borrows almost no influence from recent punk rock catastrophes. Excellent. Now I just need to convince the Bear to go with me to the UK!

The InCiders (the band I just mentioned a second ago) play pedal to the metal punk rock music. By pedal, I of course am referring to the distortion pedal. And by metal, I'm of course referring to the fact that there are random metal riffs and bass notions mixed into various parts of their songs. And by punk rock, I mean it's fucking punk rock. That part is pretty obvious and redundant. They recently released this full length that is for some reason called 'MegaKill v.2 Turbo' and is accompanied by album art that I'm pretty certain you'd find on some sort of tumblr page regarding goofy punk album covers. I hope that page exists. Oh wait, it does! Oh, and the cool thing about this release (other than the music) is that it's up on bandcamp for free streaming and downloading. So get to it!

'MegaKill v.2 Turbo' contains eight medium length songs that embody the nature of punk music. They're fast, lo-fi, raw, accompanied by politically charged lyrics and awesome. I mean, this is like some Municipal Waste type shit. This is what Minor Threat would sound like if they were to have occurred a couple decades later then they did. This is what it would sound like if some lions with mohawk'd manes delved into the punk world. I'm not 100% sure about that last one, but you should definitely just take my word for it. Actually, don't take my word for it! You have the link to their bandcamp page. Go download or stream this shit and have the time of your life! It'll be like Dirty Dancing, if Dirty Dancing took place in some sort of punk rock utopia (dystopia?) and was about moshing and pogoing or what have you. Take my word for it.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family Lumber - Look to the Sidelines EP

I'm not 100% what kind of band Family Lumber is; I guess that's the best way I could possibly start off my review of their new EP 'Look to the Sidelines'. They're from Long Island. They're not a rock band...or maybe they are? I've heard softer stuff than this still be considered rock music. Their music is very calming and relaxing type stuff, and reminds me a lot of stuff Jonah Mantranga (onelinedrawing) puts out. Therefore, I would have to classify Family Lumber as one of those bands where I could instantly think of 10 or so people who would be really into them, while not finding it very interesting myself.

The first song on EP, "Before I Sleep" is this very atmospheric number. Being the first song on the EP, it's your first impression of the band and of course immediately influences your opinion on them. Well, that's what happened with me. I didn't really get into the first song, and felt like it was far too serious and strange. But then the second song came on, and I was like, "hey, maybe I'll actually get into these dudes afterall!" "Everything You Wanted to Say" is a very 90s styled song. It's more poppy than the previous song, and I personally find it far more enjoyable. It's followed by another awesome song that also sounds like it could be an entirely different band.

I really love it when bands pull this shit. You hear one song by them and you think you've got them all figured out and you're sitting there thinking, "oh, they're this type of band. They sound like this and this and this and that's all there is to know about them." And then the next song comes on and you're floored and begin to frantically scribble over the notes you already took down! Revise! Revise! Revise! So yeah, that's what listening to Family Lumber is like. Each song is a new experience and I feel as though the EP just gets better with each song. I mean, there's only like four songs, though! Imagine if there were like 50 songs, and by the last song they were the best band in the world! I guess that's the whole reason for further releases. And after listening to this full EP, I can honestly say that I'm pretty stoked for whatever they put out next. Great job, guys! You made Long Island cool, somehow!


The Wild/Run, Forever 7"

I recently saw The Wild live for the first time, and it was an incredible show. They were playing with The Taste of Irony and Andrew Jackson Jihad, so of course it was a built to win show, and it was definitely one of the best shows I've ever seen without leaving Kentucky. It wasn't until after witnessing the amazingness that is The Wild's live show that I finally sat down and gave the band a listen. I didn't regret this at all. They're amazing. They have this one release out on Quote Unquote that is just brilliant from beginning to end. They're this band full of like 58 or so members (I may be exaggerating due to how much energy the dudes have) and they play absolutely excellent folk punk music that would turn the greediest asshole into a people loving philanthropist. True story. Well, they make a point to put every single bit of their excellence into the two songs donated to our ears with this split. If you like any band that's ever been on Plan-It-X, you'll probably have a thing for The Wild. And the other side of the split has just as much awesomeness to offer.

I don't think I've really heard much about Run, Forever until this release. I know they're from Pittsburgh, and since I'm from Cincinnati I'm suppose to like hate them or something...I'm not quite sure. I fail at hating them anyway, because their music is impossible not to enjoy. The two songs on this split are seriously two of the most likable electric folk punk jams I've ever laid ears on. They're catchy, energetic, the lyrics are rad, and they manage to unique through all of this. They kind of remind me of Signals Midwest, just in the way they manage to hammer out these clearly flawless punk songs with a folky vibe. Plus I mean, who can help but sing along when the instrumentals come to a halt long enough for, "sometimes it takes going through hell to make you feel alive!", followed by the instrumentals coming back in to accompany some "woah-ohs" and "we're gonna be fine!"

Solid split between two awesome bands, what more can you ask for? You can even download it for free from If You Make It, if you want. But, the cooler thing to do is to purchase the 7" record from Kat Kat Records. Trust me. This is going to be one of your favorite purchases of all time if you go through with it.


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Coffee Project- Concrete Boots EP

Coffee Project is an amazing folk punx band from Gainsville composing of Jake Crown and Buddy Shuab. Every single release they have amazes me- and I don't think I'm alone. Concrete Boots is no exception- I loved it, and you will too. It was self-recorded in Shaub's basement! They released it on the 27th of September.

The record starts off awesome with "Shenandoah Valley", which is an awesome song with a really catchy melody. They have such a great "feel good" sound to them, and the blending of the music is perfect. The trombone is definitely my favorite part of the song. 
"Concrete Boots" is my favorite track on the EP. The soft guitar, the great lyrics, Kim Helm's guest vocals, the trombone... I could go on. It all combines perfectly. It's a great song.
"Exit Stage Left" has a little bit different of a sound, but it's still an awesome song. I really dig the bass.
"Laid Up" has the best vocals and horn lines hands down. The lyrics (as per the usual) are also great. Sometimes, I think I might honestly like Coffee Project more than LTJ. Only sometimes though ;)
"Little Boxes" is the last track. It's extremely addictive and cutesy. The lyrics are HILARIOUS.
Overall, it's a great EP. I adore it.


Monday, October 17, 2011

These Branches - The Payoff

We reviewed an EP by this band These Branches not too long ago, and now they're back with a followup release that will blow you out of the water (unless you're not currently in the water). Seriously, it's a really great 7" with four really great songs that I'm fairly certain you'll dig just as much as I do. Without further ado, my review of the new 7" by These Branches, 'The Payoff' (Kat Kat Records).

Like I mentioned in the previous review, I'm pretty sure these guys listen to a lot of Latterman. However, I need to slightly reevaluate this statement for this release because the influence is far less overbearing. Before it was kind of like the way High School Football Heroes sounded like Less Than Jake, and now it's more like the way Bomb the Music Industry sound like Weezer. I mean, if you understand the comparisons there at least. I don't just take it for granted that you guys listen to those bands, so I guess it won't work for everyone. OH! I can do one for video gamers! The previous release was similar to Latterman in the way that Saints Row is similar to Grand Theft Auto. But the new one is similar to Latterman in the way that Half-Life 2 is similar to Doom. There we go! These Branches are their own damn band and they make their own damn music. What the hell was I on about back there?

I've listened to the 'This One's On You" release probably around 30-40 times since I reviewed it, and I still think it's a solid release. But really, 'The Payoff' shows a shit ton of progression. The songs are better constructed and feel more chiseled and deliberate than the ones on the prior release, and it's definitely a sign that These Branches are on a roller coaster than functions only by going uphill the entire time. I know, it sounds pretty boring and inconvenient when applied to roller coasters, but it's awesome when it comes to bands and the music they put out. With how rad and infectious the songs on 'The Payoff' are, and the fact that they're more rad and infectious than the ones on 'This One's On You', I am only led to believe that the next release will be nothing short of awesome.

If you like pop punk as much as you do indie, and if you like scratchy vocals as much as you like the singing talent to back it up, chances are you'll really get into These Branches. If not, then you might be some sort of alien life form. Which is fine and all, I'm not racist...or worldist...or whatever the terminology would be. I think all beings deserve to be created as equals or whatever. Except for wasps. Fuck wasps. They're just evil. I'm sure you've all seen the proof of this:

So yeah, These Branches are an awesome pop-punk-ish rock band that have done nothing but put out awesome songs and wasps have done nothing but fuck shit up. And I've done nothing but annoy the shit out of you. Don't let that stop you from checking these guys out though! 'The Payoff' is due out October 30th on Kat Kat Records! Save the date! They have a song from the album streaming online! You can also listen to their previous release 'This One's On You' over on their bandcamp page, and I definitely recommend you do so! Live long and eat pizza.


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Officer Down - Thrown to the Water

I don't know how they pulled it off, but Officer Down somehow traveled to present times from the 80s. I'm assuming they did so in some sort of Econoline van with a flux capacitor and suicide doors, only because DeLorean's are trendy as fuck, and it appears is though they did it to keep 80s styled punk rock alive. The only problem is that they chose to do this in the UK and not over where I am in the it's still very much dead where I live. But whatever, I still get to listen to them when I choose to, and that's what really matters. (No it's not; I'm just putting on a brave face. Moshing is what matters to me. Moshing and burritos and never growing up).

Conveniently enough, Officer Down also acts as a "fountain of youth" of sorts. While listening to them you may suddenly be rejuvenated and do quite a lot of regressing during the duration of the album and possibly for some time after. You may find yourself driving down streets knocking mailboxes off their posts with a baseball bat, yelling obscenities from your window at every person in a high school letterman jacket for the shit they gave you in your younger years, and quite possibly playing Streets of Rage 2 for Sega Genesis. These are just some of the side effects of listening to Officer Down, whereas the most prominent side effect is enjoying the music. Their songs are fast, scathing, fun, infectious, and punk as a duck. They still remind me a lot of Crack Rock Steady bands, as I mentioned in a review of a previous release of theirs, but really it's just in some of the instrumentals. They definitely sound more on the punk side, and they definitely have quite a bit more melody to their vocals than you'd find in much LOC type music. Oh, and the bass is still awesome. That's another thing I mentioned in the previous review.

This album throws 12 awesome punk songs at you and expects your stomach to somehow digest them properly and efficiently. They problem here is that the songs probably won't leave your system at a timely rate, and you'll probably be stuck with them for quite some time. Wait, that's not a problem...that's just the band doing their job. And if you were doing your job, you'd be heading over to Officer Down's big cartel page and purchasing this full length 'Thrown to the Water', because it's well worth it, I assure you. It's a super enjoyable release and we need far more of those in 2011. Seriously. The second half of the year has been pretty damn dry in comparison to the rambunctious first half. But whatever, we have Officer Down's full length. What else do we need? Well, pizza. Duh. However, I haven't the money for pizza, so I'll just stick with Officer Down.


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The Static Age- In The City Of Wandering Lights

The Static Age (Chicago, IL) is a powerful blend of punk and 90s alternative. It's a unique mix of smooth vocals, weaving guitar melodies, and a strong backbone from the bass and drums. This album was released on April 19th of this year.
First off, can I rant about this album art? It's beautiful. Whoever the artist is has EXTREME talent. Love it. But about the music- the first track, "Wires" got me hooked. I love Andrew Paley's voice tons, and the music is all really well thought out and talented. "Returning" is a very mellow song with awesome guitar melodies and harmonies. It's the kind of song you can listen to a million times and pick up something new each time. "One City" is a little different from the first two, because it's very bass heavy. Not that I'm complaining- I have a soft spot for the bass. I play the bass, personally, so whenever I hear a really great bass line, my heart does this. It softens out towards the end, with a refrain of "This is how we get free" and I love it. Great track.
The last track, "Down To Your Canyons" is a longer track, and almost a ballad. It's extremely soft and shows great understanding of dynamics (I love when I get to talk about theory in reviews!!). The music is really interesting and has a lot of variance. Andrew does most of the instrumentals on this track and he does a great job.
"I Heard About You" is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It's extremely addictive and the lyrics are absolutely wonderful. Annie Coleman also does some backup vocals on this track! :) Adam Meilleur is also one of my new favorite bassists. Just throwing that out there. "Patience" has a different sound. It's got some abstract harmonies in it and the intro reminds me of David Bowie making love to Billy Idol. What else do you need in a song?
"Wandering Lights" is another one of those amazing lyrical songs. Love it. And last but not least, "Come Swimming" is a little more upbeat than the rest of the album. It's a fabulous song with a really catchy guitar line and I dance in my chair a little bit when it's on. :)

Note: Although I like to review on "Shuffle," I always start off with the album in perfect order.... And I recommend you do the same. This album has some AWESOME transitions. :)


Be Easy- It's Going Well

Hey guys, do you remember Be Easy from last summer? We loved them the first time, and we're loving them the second. Make all the jokes you want about that statement. Georgia pop punk, you'll love it. Promise. Released on October 1st. :)
The four track EP isn't even 10 minutes long, but every second counts with a band like this. It's very catchy, addictive, etc. It's one of those albums that just gets you pumped up. 
The "Intro" (these boys seem to like intros a lot) is awesome. It does a pretty nice showcase of all the different sounds. My first thought was "Damn, the drums on this track. Damn." but then I was like "Wait. is this a guitar thing? This sounds like a guitar thing." The bass pulls the entire thing together very nicely with the backbeat.
In the next track, "Routine," we get introduced to the last player of the game- John's voice. It's a very fast, driven song with all the appropriate qualities of pop punk. We have the power chords, the 'woah-ohs', the fun lyrics. What else do you need?
"Stay What You Are" is the best song on the EP. I want to show it to every angsty teen in the world and say "You're welcome." Enough said.
Last but not least, "Selflessness" follows the trend of the other three songs... Awesome. The beat is really easy to get into, and it wraps everything up nicely.

Check out the new Be Easy EP on Bandcamp.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big Big Buildings- Be Not Aglow - Review + Interview

Big Big Buildings, the solo project of Adam McElreath, has been active in the Boston music & art scene for about six years now. Adam has been recording and self releasing his own EPs since he was 16 years old as Big Big Buildings. The music is extremely talented, and his artwork is beautiful. His first full length is being released today! He's having an awesome release party tonight at The Bear's Place, playing with the Okay Win and Butterknife. Check it out!
I'm happy to say that Be Not Aglow is one of the best album's I've heard in quite a long time. The music is very catchy and pretty, and I'm in love with Adam's voice. There are songs like "Fishing for Wires" and "Landscape" that are almost acoustic guitar and vocals. There are also songs like "Slinking Down A Mountain" and "Crickets" that are pure instrumental tracks, but with a lot more going on in them. Be Not Aglow is an extremely diverse album with lots of different sounds and it's great. Easily one of the best folk/indie albums I've heard in a very long time. "Tasteful Abandon" and "Last Weekend" are my favorite tracks, hands down. You've gotta get yourself this album... And maybe even go out to see him play it live tonight!

Here are some words from Adam about his music:

Did you grow up in a musical family? Have you always been a musician, or is it something you picked up in your teen years?
My mom has always been really into music. She had me when she was 18, so I was exposed to heavy doses of MTV at a very early age. When I was 2, I was singing Aerosmith and Taylor Dayne. The radio was always on and I'd often ask my mom what certain lyrics meant. I always has a romantic fantasy that I'd get to write my own songs and play them for folks, and it's always occurring to me how fortunate I am to be doing that. As a whole, my family isn't particularly artistic or musical, so they've always encouraged me to keep making my stuff and I'm certainly thankful for that.

How has your music evolved since you were 16?
 I was way more outwardly mellow-dramatic and heartbroken at 16. My music was so bittersweet, I can barely listen to it now. It was all heart. It's taken me a long time to start using my brain, too. I've become much more aware of social issues. Not so much political issues, but the complexity of human interaction and what people do with their given power. I like to think of my songs now as a bit more light-hearted, but I'm probably wrong . Other than that, since 16, I learned how to sing, kind of.

We've spoken about your self-made illustrations for the cover art. Do you make the cover art to reflect the songs?

 I think any connection between my art and music will be in the eye of the beholder. Both mediums have the same emotional push, but the illustrations play more on the psychedelic aspect of life. I'm also a blossoming absurdist, so I often enjoy illustrating something that has nothing to do with the content of the music, simply because I can. For "Be Not Aglow", though, I had a definite mental image of what i wanted to cover to look like. Something compact, with a lot of detail, like the eye of a microscope.

About how long did it take you to record Be Not Aglow?

Be Not Aglow took me about a year to record. All of it was recorded in my room, which, up until a couple months ago, was a tiny walk-in closet with no windows. It was like an endurance test, but it gave me means to be closer to the process. Within the year, my goal was to sit down and get the best possible take of each song. That's always the time-consuming part, just playing the song over and over, until it develops it's traits and quirks. I tend to take my time, but I'm glad a year was all it took.

Who are your biggest influences?

My influences change day-to-day, but there's certain music that keeps following me throughout life. In a song called "Consolation" on Be Not Aglow, I reference two of my favorite song writers, Chris McCaughan and Mark Kozelek. Those are two guys I can listen to and think, "Yeah, these dudes get it." There's a band from Kansas called The Appleseed cast that I've been listening to since high school and have evolved beautifully since. As far as reliable classic stuff, I love Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, but I also love seeing what folks are doing right now. I'm inspired by anyone who reminds you how amazing it is that music even exists.

Any big tour plans coming up?

 I desperately want to tour. I suppose it's just hard to will yourself to do it as a solo musician. I don't have a manager or anything, so for me, tour would mean hopping in a car and driving for a long time, by myself. Hopefully, some people will listen to the record and dig it, and I'll find means to get around. I have no car and no money, though. I'm down for a national tour, but somebody's gotta pick me up.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man

To anyone familiar with all the Andrew Jackson Jihad releases to date, this new one, 'Knife Man', will seem long. REALLY long. At first, you'll probably be all like, "ah, a formidable opponent! 43 minutes playing time, I will defeat you!" But, of course, after you're like a song or two in, your inner dialogue becomes, "oh shit, this album is amazing!" And then after the last song, "WHY NO MORE SONGS :(" Yeah, something like that. To sum this really amateur introductory paragraph up:  Knife Man is full of 16 really awesome songs and unless you lack a heart and soul, you will fall in love with it.

Andrew Jackson Jihad are like a folk punk band, I suppose. I don't know if that's what you'd really classify them as, but whenever I hear the term "folk punk", several bands go through my mind all at once. That'd be Wingnut Dishwasher's Union, Chris Clavin, and Andrew Jackson Jihad. I mean, they're really punk influenced dudes who play a bunch of really catchy songs to a bunch of punk kids all the time. If that's not folk punk, then I don't really know what is. I've read somewhere that they're from Arizona, but I'm pretty sure that's false. They're most definitely from heaven. Or, at least, they've spent a shit load of time in heaven perfecting their music and becoming awesome people. I think it's really the only possible way to explain the effect their music has on people. I swear that everyone I know is head over heels in love with these guys, and I'm included. Sean (vocalist, guitarist) and Ben (bassist) are some of the nicest people in the world, and I'm saying that while having only ever met the former! Oh yeah, the new album...

'Knife Man' is just as great as everything else AJJ have released up to this point, if not even more great! There are so many parts you can't help but singalong to, and so many cleverly simple lyrics that are simply clever, and just the right mix of cynicism, realism, pessimism, optimism, intellectualism, anti-intellectualism, atheism, theism, and every other ism you can think of. Seriously, the isms are all mixed in pretty well with this release. There's even another edition of the People song series that we all fondly remember from the album 'People Who Can Eat People...', and it's just as awesome as the prior editions. There's also a lot of electric guitar and drumming and other full band type shit that I probably should've mentioned earlier on in the review. This album is definitely far more eclectic than the other releases, and definitely has a lot to show for it. IT'S SO GOOD, GUYS. I SWEAR.

My friend Tim kept telling me how imperative it was that I listened to this album immediately. He was totally right. I'm pretty sure if you played this movie for Bambi right after the whole scene with his mother dying and whatnot, he'd find inner peace and happiness and probably head down to the forest soup kitchen to help out the even less fortunate. I don't know what the science is behind music making people feel this great, but clearly Sean and Ben are renowned scientific visionaries in this field. Folkologists or punkologists, or folkpunkologists or something. I don't know what it is; I just know that this album is amazing. There's zero chance of you not liking it. Unless you're a complete weirdo. So, buy it. Duh.

5 out of 5 stars, dudes.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Challenges - We Ruined the Neighborhood

Challenges are a few things. Firstly, they're another one of those bands that are heavily influenced by New Found Glory, Blink 182, Set Your Goals, and all the bands that have emerged recently who share the same influences. Secondly, they're from Massachusetts...which means it's pretty likely that they're a pretty rad pop punk band. And lastly, they're pretty damn good!

Late last year, Challenges released their debut full length 'We Ruined the Neighborhood', and for some reason it's taken nearly a year to reach my inbox. It's one of those albums where you really dig the shit out of it, but you're pretty aware of all the ways it could be better, and are also pretty aware that the band could be just a couple changes in style away from no longer inciting your interest. The album is packed with so much energy that you'd probably have to enlist a fleet of very large cargo ships to even begin to contain it all, and with enough infectious vocal hooks to almost trick you into thinking you're listening to Fireworks by accident. Sure, it can sound pretty whiny at times, and you may have a problem with how much Tom Delonge influence the vocals exhibit, but there's enough awesomeness going on that most of your problems with the record will be heavily outweighed by all the reasons you keep hitting play again after all the tracks have run their course.

Challenges have put out an excellent album to kick open the door with, and they have plans on releasing their sophomore LP this year. Most of my feelings towards this band are definitely of anticipation. I want to see where they go next. I've almost always liked the second album far more than first with basically every band in this genre, and I hope it's the case with Challenges, because I'm definitely more than a little bit interested in listening to a lot more music by them in the future. It's not just pop punk mixed with hardcore; it's also good music mixed with rambunctious energy and unapologetic attitudes and good times condensed into melodic form. It's Challenges, and it's pretty rad. Oh, and it's also on bandcamp. Cheers.


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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Drinking Mercury- Orcades

Drinking Mercury, hailing from Lansing, MI, is an interesting combination of alternative rock and psychedelia... And it sounds great. The four friends work together to make a musical baby from sounds like the Decemberists, The Flaming Lips, and a little bit of Jefferson Airplane/Starship. It's a great record, released on September 27 by Bermuda Mohawk and GTG Productions.
This is a long record. Okay, maybe I'm just used to short records... But still. It's almost an hour of awesome. The songs are all on the longer side, with a beautiful mellow lack of direction. The vocals are absolutely amazing and all the musicians are extremely talented at what they do. The dynamics are complicated and beautiful, and it's just awesome. "Barely Strung" is the first song to absolutely blow my mind- it's such an awesome song with a really catchy sound. "Pretend We're Unique" has the best song title ever. "Grateful Day" is such a cool intro. I think that if I were going to go on a huge LSD binge, I know the CD I'm going to listen to. Or if I'm just going to be painting something abstract or going on a long drive. Any of the above. "Mother's Son" is super long. I'm talking almost eight minutes long. It's an epic. The instrumentals are so great. It's such a soft, pretty song. Definitely one of my favorites.
"Hey Hey Sally" is AWESOME. So great. I could listen to this song for hours. Days, maybe. It's such an amazing combination of different sounds and the harmonies and the bass/guitar working off eachother... Mmmm wonderful.
This entire album was great for me. I'm so into this CD.


Josh David and the Dream Jeans- Can You Believe We Landed On The Moon?

Josh David and the Dream Jeans is quite a shock... They're a true flashback to the days of 80s-hardcore. The music has the energy and speed of the true "punx" bands. Ironic, because a few days before receiving the CD, I had been bitching to Idle about the lack of balls-out punk these days. As much as I appreciate the indie and pop punk bands, I have a softspot for Ian Mackaye, Henry Rollins (<3), and Jello Biafra. This band signals all of the idols in Can You Believe We Landed On The Moon?, released on September 27, 2011 on both Bermuda Mohawk and GTG Records.

The first thing we have to get straight about this album is that it's all about the noise. It's the kinda band that you get lost in at a show- you can't tell what they're saying, but you just wanna move to it. It's got an amazing energy that I fell in love with from the start. It's very fast, and very fun. The intro, "Richard Switzer," is a build up to the insanity of the actual music.. And then you land straight into "Tall Paul Rides Again", with a great beat and incredibly addictive guitar lines.
Some of my favorite songs from the album:
"Oh Santa" is a great song with very interesting riffs and hilarious lyrics. I absolutely love Josh David's vocals in this song. "Baby I'm A Fiend" is easily the catchiest song on the album. It ties in so many strong influences, and is an awesome-throwback. "It's Derry not Londonderry" cracks me up every time. It's a great song with super funny lyrics. Overall, the entire album is great. It's music to blast and rock out to. Preferably at a time when you can be pants-less and using your hairbrush as a microphone. (Am I doing punk rock wrong?)
Anyway, the music of JDDJ is very raw and powerful. It's rough, it's experimental... It's kickass. I want to party with these guys. 

You need to check out this band!


Real Talk!/Dollar Signs split

If you've ever been sitting around watching Jersey Shore (for your sake, I hope this has never happened), then you might at some point wonder whether or not there's anything not shitty going on in that state. I mean, The Ergs and no more, and Lifetime are just being all weird about the fact that they quit being a band forever ago. If you're 16 you might be all like, "oh man, Streetlight Manifesto are from New Jersey," but if you're 21, you're probably like, "well at least there's a good deal of pop punk bands from New Jersey these days. Oh, and Clerks was pretty good." But there's those moments in time when you have to wonder about the folk punk scene in such a hellish state. Don't worry guys, I've done some research (i.e. I did zero research and just read an email) and I think it's safe to say that the folk punk scene doesn't seem so bad.

There's this split out between a Jersey folk punk group known as Real Talk! and North Carolina based Dollar Signs that I'm finding to be pretty damn enjoyable. Dollar Signs are pretty typical folk punk in terms of musical style and lyrical content. Songs about homeless people dying, homeless people smiling, girl troubles, hatred, instances in which people get eaten by werewolves and cats get fucked by dogs and blood is vomited up onto a rainbow. Very typical folk punk stuff, you know? It's stuff that you'd really enjoy if you're into Matt Wixson and Andrew Jackson Jihad type stuff. And if you have a sense of humor, a sense of honesty, and good taste in music.

Real Talk! sound kind of like back when Signals Midwest was just an acoustic solo project by Max Stern. The not-too-simple lyrics combined with the innocent guitar playing and non-abrasive vocals really hit home as far as my taste in music goes, and it definitely ensures their half of this Split as being pretty damn good. Both bands supply four songs which range from above-average to awesome, and therefore you should totally go to the bandcamp page for this split and listen to it at least 50 times. Maybe try listening to it 70 times, just to be safe. It's on you, man! The vegetarian meatball is in YOUR food court, now.


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