Dead End Drive In – A Worthwhile Endeavor

2022 has been, in my opinion, one of the best years for new music since the turn of the century. Especially the last few months, I feel like I keep coming across a new album that just blows me away and I put it on every chance I get. No more NPR and podcasts on the drive across town, too much excellent new music. I’m overwhelmed by it at the moment. I’m a busy man, I have a family. I don’t have time for it. You can imagine my annoyance when I was tasked with reviewing this new Dead End Drive In, put it on, and it just absolutely fucking rips end to end. Goddamn it.

I’m embarrassed to write this review because I like this album so much. It will require some restraint on my part to not make it read like a bad puff piece. I swear I don’t know anyone in this band, nor do I owe them any favors. I keep listening to it trying to find something critical to say that doesn’t make me sound like an idiot, but whatever, I can’t. It’s great. Let me get this over with and tell you why I think so. 

The only thing I know about Dead End Drive In lies within the descriptor on their Bandcamp page, which reads as follows: “Punk band from Vancouver, BC. You know. That one with three guitar players. Gotta shred with existential dread.” This last line describes their sound appropriately. It appears to be their second full length, having also released a CD/digital album in 2018, and an EP in 2016. They don’t seem to have a presence on Discogs, which suggests they’re still a fairly humble outfit. However, their name is also comprised of a bunch of words from other band names, so it’s possible I just overlooked it. Their level of notoriety will change drastically if this record gets into enough ears out there.

The opening track has a sort of Frontier Trust sounding cowpunk vibe to it, and clocks in at 6:23. Pretty fucking bold for a punk band you’ve never heard of. It didn’t catch me first time around, but as I became more familiar with the rest of the album, I’ve really come around to liking it.  Just don’t give up on these guys if you aren’t blown away halfway through track one. It isn’t called “A Worthwhile Endeavor” because it’s a waste of your time. All these songs, many of which double or triple in length from your standard punk fare, are all part of a larger thing. I hate to use the term “concept album”, but this product is best consumed whole. Fast forwarding through the seemingly unremarkable parts would detract from your overall appreciation of the whole thing. Stick with it and you will be rewarded.

By track two things start to open up a little into more of a straightforward punk sound, but there are just so many cool parts, leads, and instrumentation to each song that it’s somewhat misleading to suggest it’s anything less than pleasantly surprising. Overall, I would say they sound like if Jon Kastner (Doughboys) and Tad Kuebler (The Hold Steady) were in Teenage Halloween. I also hear some Darius Koski Swingin Utters. I even have D. Boon written down in my notes here. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I stand by this reference. This band can really play their instruments, and the more complicated parts positively contribute to the composition rather than coming across as cumbersome and indulgent. The quality of songwriting is just stellar. 

It’s hard to pick favorite songs on complete records like this one, but if pressed I’d say I prefer the back half of the album. Namely, “Dying Breed”,  “Before I Start Noticing”, and “God Forbid You Go off Script”. Nothing on here sounds redundant, and even at 10 tracks in 45 minutes it doesn’t feel overly long. On a couple of occasions I’ve even restarted it from the beginning and listened to it twice all the way through. 

I know people can get lazy buying new music for themselves around the holidays, but don’t sleep on this one. Who cares if it disrupts your album of the year rankings that only 12 people will read? It’s going to disrupt mine, and I’m grateful for it. I need a physical copy of this one, in case any of you haven’t got me a Christmas present yet. 

–Zack Akenson

Photo by Alice Hong

Alberta Canada’s Trashed Ambulance Release New Standalone Single “Cyntax Error”

Alberta Canada’s Trashed Ambulance has unveiled the new standalone single “Cyntax Error,” which follows on the heels of the band’s third LP, 2022’s critically celebrated ‘Future Considerations.’

The single is a loving tribute to Thousand Islands Records label co-owner and label manager Cynthia Charpentier, in honor of her recent birthday. The band says, “When a great friend/mom-ager turns 40, you have to make sure she feels the love. This song is an ode to Cynthia for always kicking ass and taking names while being the best gal East of the Saskatchewan River!”

Stream “Cyntax Error” here: https://bfan.link/cyntax-error.

Cyntax Error Written by Josh Hauta, Jason Ezeard, and Riley Bourne Guitar/Vocals – Josh Hauta Bass/Vocals – Jason Ezeard Drum/Vocals – Riley Bourne Additional Vocals – Casey Lewis Recorded at Echo Base Studio in Calgary, Alberta Recorded, engineered, and produced by Casey Lewis. Mixed and mastered by Casey Lewis.

Inspired by the likes of Pulley, Face to Face, and The Flatliners, Trashed Ambulance continues to churn out gloriously angry yet hopeful punk anthems! Formed in 2014, Trashed Ambulance has survived a plethora of member changes and hangovers to continue forging ahead as a reputable option in the Central Alberta punk scene.

With a handful of EPs, LPs, CDs, and cassettes already under their belt, the boys hit Echo Base Studio in Calgary to work with Casey Lewis (Belvedere) on their most recent LP ‘Future Considerations.’ To date, the band has shared the stage with such punk juggernauts as Face to Face, Belvedere, Voodoo Glowskulls, The Real McKenzies, The Murderburgers, and Ten Foot Pole and have even made an appearance at Pouzza Fest – Montreal’s annual premiere punk fest.

The guys already have some Western Canadian tour dates lined up and plan on terrorizing as many pubs, curling rinks, and bowling alleys as they can play this year.
Trashed Ambulanced Cyntax Error

Bar Tape – S/T

If forced to make a wild guess about where and when this album was recorded after a blind listen, you might say somewhere in the Twin Cities around 1995. As it turns out, Bar Tape are currently a band from Dublin, Ireland, but consist entirely of ex-pats from the US. Perhaps because they don’t sound Irish at all, or because my raging ADHD didn’t allow me to digest the final 25% of their Bandcamp header “Bar Tape: Dublin, Ireland”, I assumed they were from Dublin, Ohio. I like to treat every review as a geographical learning opportunity, so I started reading up on the Columbus suburb while listening to these songs. It’s no longer relevant, but that’s where Wendy’s has its headquarters. The depths of Dublin, Ireland’s history is far too heavy to be trivialized by the opening paragraph in an online punk review, so we’ll leave that one alone too. 

I’d be doing Bar Tape a disservice if I didn’t first talk about how excellent the band members’ punk names are. On vocals/guitar we have Cory Hotline, which is a reference to a golden age Simpsons episode that they also sample before one of the songs. On guitar we have Barry Tape. Classic. On drums/vocals we have Colin Sick, which has to be one of the greatest punk names of all time. Lastly, on bass/vocals we have Juvenile Delinquent, which strikes me as funny because there’s no effort in word play whatsoever. 

I’d like to think there’s a fun story here as to why an American punk band moved to Ireland, but the only thing I could find about them aside from the music was a one question interview from Scene Point Blank. In it Cory Hotline says, “I figure if we were around 20 years ago, we’d be more popular. We’re still delighted with the reaction we’ve received from Irish punks/hardcore kids and rockers, despite the lack of local press.” It’s funny to think of this sound as retro now, but I guess it is, and I guess we’re all old. I read somewhere (there will be no footnotes, so please don’t look for them) once where Paddy from D4 talked about how his Ramones were Naked Raygun. That’s the type of pop punk we’re talking about here.  

Any one of Sara Kirsch’s early 90s projects mixed together with Dillinger Four seems like a fair comparison, or maybe Sludgeworth meets Shang-A-Lang. Another old Minneapolis band Man Afraid also comes to mind. Like all those bands, Bar Tape makes sing along punk songs full of hooks that also manage to sound hard. The production is raw, but in a special way an old Ebullition 7″ with a photocopied sleeve is. I wouldn’t say anyone in the band knows how to sing, but nobody is over-fabricating a contrived punk voice to make up for it. The vocalists sound like Sarah Kirsch on those early Pinhead Gunpowder and Fuel records, which I love. Mix that together with the awesome rawness of Shang-A-Lang, the leads of Sludgeworth, and the power of Man Afraid, and you have yourself a record you should probably get your hands on.

–Zack Akenson

Pre-order here: https://distrotable.com/products/bar-tape-s-t-lp

The Amalgamated – True Tone

True Tone is the brand new album from San Diego, CA’s smooth Ska stars, The Amalgamated. Recorded at The After Hours Studio in Ramona, CA by Dub Robot (Brian Wallace). The band says, “We are very proud of the original songs we have written and it is mostly Ska with a few Sweet Rocksteady and Boss Reggae tunes.”

This release provides 12 tracks of, as mentioned, Ska performed by the 10-member ensemble. The sound is heavily influenced by 60s Ska and Jazz with Rocksteady and Reggae influences as well. Musicianship is top notch, as it really has to be to coordinate with that many band members. Vocal delivery is reminiscent of Dr. Ringding, or at times Ansis Purins of Skavoovie and the Epitones, and always smooth. 

Standout tracks include “Is It Wrong” with its Dub style winding out the song, and the amazing horn lines on “Deal With It.” 

I won’t belabor the point here. Do you like Traditional Ska? If you do, please do yourself a favor and check out True Tone, the latest release for The Amalgamated. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Bio:
Formed in 2007 in San Diego, CA, The Amalgamated are an incredible live band that makes everyone dance to up-tempo beats and also get the audience into a groove with light reggae textures. 

Hit The Dirt Release Lyric Video for Heart Social Chlamedia

Berlin skate punker’s Hit The Dirt have released a lyric video for their song “<3 Social Chlamedia”. The track appeared on their Six Pack EP that was released earlier this year via High End Denim Records.

The band had this to say about the song: “<3 Social Chlamedia is a song about how our phones, social media and the modern digital world in general has taken over our lives. From the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep, we are mostly addicted to this crazy digital world inside of our phones.”

Conditions Apply – Rage & Ignorance

I’m listening to Rage & Ignorance, the debut full-length by Montreal punk rockers Conditions Apply. 14 tracks of angry, snotty, riff heavy rock and roll. The band blends a lot of sub-genres into the mix: punk, hardcore, bits of metal. It’s worth your time to check this out.

It’s all you can really ask for in a punk rock record, short catchy songs, great guitar chug, driving rhythm, and vocal snarl that remains articulate. I am a fan, as always, of the trio format. I think it delivers the stripped down, concise nature that drives punk rock, at least the punk that I’m into.

I’ll keep this brief, but seriously check this band out, because Rage & Ignorance is a kick ass album. 

Cheers!
Jerry Actually 

Tracks:
1. Bulletproof Boots 02:09
2. Watching It All Crumble 01:26
3. Consolation Prize 02:41
4. Who’s The Victim 01:34
5. Carrot Meets Sticks 01:49
6. Sketchy Oi! 01:11
7. The Mad Dog 02:04
8. Time To Get Loose 02:36
9. Destroy My Quiet 01:29
10. Of Things 02:00
11. Small Print 01:33
12. Sentimental Fiction 01:52
13. 2 Words 1 Finger 02:00
14. Angry All The Time 01:49

Bio:
Conditions Apply began in 2019. Playing a few shows before the world shut down, the three-piece have been making up for lost time by recording a debut full-length album, shooting a video and making a name for themselves as one of Montreal’s most exciting live punk bands.

Melding hardcore-punk with aspects of oi! and street-punk, adding melody and blistering guitar leads, Conditions Apply have taken different genres and created a sound all their own.

The members started playing and touring in the early 90’s in punk bands Lumpin Proletariat and All The Answers. They’ve continued making music throughout the 2000’s in such bands as Ballast, …And The Saga Continues, Mental Fix and Hard Charger.

After putting out their video single, Bulletproof Boots, Conditions Apply are set to release their debut album Rage & Ignorance on November 22, 2022.

Conditions Apply are raw, angry and passionate.

Sludgeworth Release Losers of the Year on Vinyl

SLUDGEWORTH, CHICAGO PUNK PIONEERS, TO RELEASE ’95 COMPILATION, LOSERS OF THE YEAR, ON VINYL FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

For the uninitiated, Sludgeworth are Chicago punk pioneers from the 1980’s that released a posthumous collection/discography album on Lookout Records back in the day — and it sold tens of thousands of copies, which was impressive for a defunct band. With members of Screeching Weasel, they had obvious leanings towards melodic punk, but they also had a quintessential Midwest sound mixed in with some post-punk. Think Naked Raygun and Fugazi.

And now, for the first time ever, Red Scare Industries is releasing Sludgeworth’s first and only LP, Losers of the Year, on vinyl and streaming services. The CD/digital version is getting two previously unreleased tracks: “To Be The Same” and “Here For A While.”

The reissue also comes with live photos from back in the day and liner notes featuring contributions from Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati, Rise Against’s Joe Principe, Mikey Erg, Dillinger Four’s Patrick Costello, and more. It comes out on Friday, December 9 (pre-order).
“This has been in the works for well over 5 years. I know Dan (Sludgeworth singer) from The Methadones records we did. He gave me the green light, but it took ages to track down the audio for this. When I finally had the good sense to contact Chrisser (Appelgren, President/Owner of Lookout Records) he immediately wrote back that he had one last shoe box of tapes, but it was unlikely. Minutes later I got an email that was basically, ‘Ope, I’ll be damned, it’s in here!’ He overnighted me the DAT tape and that was the first promising sign! He’s one of the real heroes of this salvage project. Something else I found out: not easy to transfer a DAT tape these days! I know all sortsa fancy studios, but no one can keep a machine in working order because they’re impossible to maintain. And since THE VERY LAST copy of the master audio were in my hands, I wasn’t about to put it in the mail. Next stroke of luck was that I learned Arik from Creep Records still had a working machine and he hooked me up. He’s hero #2 in this tale! When we were transferring files he was like, ‘Damn, this is good!’ Yet another promising sign! Obviously the art was lost to the winds and there’s literally no band pic or promo shot, so Eric from Wall of Youth had his work cut out for him, but he pulled it off. The final package came out great: we got a buncha live shots and some blurbs from Sludgeworth’s contemporaries. Folks like Jeff from Naked Raygun, Joe from Rise Against, Mikey Erg, Patrick from Dillinger Four, etc. It took some time to cobble together, but I think people will be stoked to finally have a vinyl copy of this.” – Toby, Red Scare
1. Waste It Away
2. Someday
3. Anytime
4. Only One
5. Another Day
6. I Analyze
7. Never Say Never
8. Follow
9. Over And Over
10. She’s Not Disposable
11. Cry Baby
12. Nearest One To Stand Behind
13. Angry Man
14. Two Feet On The Ground
15. You And I
16. To Be The Same*
17. Here For A While*
*CD Only Bonus Tracks

CF98 – This is Fine

I’m always a little more interested in music when it’s happening in seasonally cold and unfashionable places, so I was pretty excited to receive the link for “This is Fine” and see that CF98 hail from Poland. Proto-punk legend Ian Hunter often spoke of the magic of these parts of the world after touring with Mott the Hoople in the 70s. He noticed that their weekday shows in central parts of Western continents were always packed out with people having a blast, whereas fans often appeared too cool to outwardly enjoy themselves during their more high profile gigs in London, New York, and LA. This was the inspiration for the song “Cleveland Rocks”, which was later covered by Presidents of the United States of America, and became the well known theme song for The Drew Carey Show. Ian referred to Ohio affectionately as “The Poland of America”, making the point that both places were relatively flat and knew how to party. I think what he was getting at was that rock and roll is better when it’s unpretentious and fun, which is something people from these locales are particularly adept at. 

A little Discogs research shows that this is the band’s sixth full length, and that they’ve already been at it nearly 20 years. In every photo of them I’ve come across they appear to be making each other laugh, and genuinely look like old friends. They haven’t run out of ideas for great songs, however, and man are they tight! They have that flawless poppy technical precision that avoids sounding metallic, much like Chad Price era ALL. Albeit with an excellent female vocalist, CF98 sound like a cross between Rad Owl and Vanilla Pod, but comparisons could also be drawn to No Use For a Name in regards to how catchy these songs are. They wouldn’t be out of place stateside on Fat’s roster, or in the UK on Brassneck or Boss Tuneage, both in style and quality of the product. 

The lead off track “Double Sunrise” is one of those songs that not only rips, but also self-references the band, touring, and how much they appreciate what they get to do together. I love songs that do this, much in the same way I enjoy reading autobiographies or watching documentaries about bands I’m interested in. Although on a smaller scale in a song, it gives the listener some buy-in with the characters involved, and ultimately makes you care more about what you’re hearing. Thematically it brings to mind “An Indie Rock Daydream” by Sicko, “Victory Lap” by Riverboat Gamblers, and probably like 50% of all the songs by Bouncing Souls. It’s a great song, and one that’s hard not to put on repeat. 

Thankfully, the album doesn’t let up from there and gives us another 13 rippers over the course of the next half an hour. There really isn’t a skippable track on here, but some other favorites include “Catastrophist”, “Love Is Never Wrong”, and the album closer, “One Day At A Time”. I’d love to get my hands on a physical copy of this one, so here’s to hoping there’s some US distribution

–Zack Akenson

Track Listing:
01 – Intro
02 – Double Sunrise
03 – She Doesn’t Like
04 – Catastrophist
05 – Plot Twist
06 – Clever
07 – Better Than Cocaine
08 – Love Is Never Wrong
09 – Sad But True
10 – I’m So Tired
11 – Fuck You
12 – Infinity Stones
13 – Get Old Nicely
14 – One Day At A Time

CF98