“Punishment” is a sweet yet sinister love song. It’s about all the ways that someone can control another by ‘caring’ or ‘helping’ them. You can put yourself in the role of caregiver and have it become such a deep rooted part of your identity that you actually don’t want the person you ‘care’ for to get better.
This song is written from the point of someone who is sabotaging an individual just enough so that they are unable to become independent and will continue to rely on their ‘caregiver.’
Do I get what I want, when she sets fire? The narrator of this song needs to be with someone who ‘sets herself on fire’ to feel like they are needed. Maybe they are admitting this to themselves for the first time in this cycle or maybe this admission is part of the cycle as well.
I have been reading a book for the last month. It’s a good book. It’s well researched and thorough.It’s not just good. It is a great book.
My initial plan was to tell you about that book. I changed my mind.
I woke up this morning and realized that I don’t want to tell you about the book. I do want you to read the book though, so here’s a little story about how I stumbled into a love of Ska.
I grew up in the midwest in the late 70s and early 80s. Life was easy. We loved Night Ranger and Loverboy. It’s what you loved if you didn’t pledge allegiance to Conway Twitty each and every night. We turned the radio on. We turned the radio up.
Maybe I had it easy on my path to Ska, but I grew up in a reasonably diverse household, musically speaking. My dad loved a wide blend of hippy music and acid rock, and my mom was way into Motown. I started to climb a mountain. That mountain’s name was Rock and Roll.
I will do you a favor and fast forward you a bit through the horrors of later 80s rock radio. It was a lot more bad than good. Let’s leave it at that.
Radio rock aside, I wasn’t really much into music. My older brother was. He was my gateway into other music. It was hit or miss for a while, but when he played Appetite for Destruction for me, I started to come around. When a friend of his was over and played the new Suicidal (How Will I Laugh Tomorrow) I was hooked. I can still feel my hair growing. That’s how metal I was.
New forms of music became my thing. I liked to be on the forward front, all “Have you heard this?” This continued when I went away to college. New Pantera, cool, but “Have you heard the new Voivod?” “Hey what if we listen to Ween?” In that quest for “new”, I found new. New to me anyway. In 1993 I heard “Don’t Know How To Party” for the first time. The Bosstones had me hooked on a new thing.
Later that year I was in a music store (Big Don’s Music City) in Joplin, MO. There was a message board near the front. (For the post-internet crowd, physical message boards were a place to connect with like-minded individuals to sell used appliances and find bass players.) That message board had a “take-a-number” sheet on it looking for members to start a Ska band. Influences including: Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Let’s Go Bowling, Toasters. Welp, I had heard the one, Let’s hear more.
I liked this Ska stuff. It had horns. (was a trombone player once) It was opinionated, but at the same time, friendly.
About a year later, MU330 rolled through the college town I was living in. I don’t even think they had an opening act. Just them doing a solid hour set. Afterward the sat down to chill and talk to the fans. I remember sitting with Dan and Jason (who was on lead vocals at the time). Jason shook my hand with the kind of handshake where you cover the entire handshake with your other hand, and don’t let go until you know the other person’s hand is fully shook. … if you know what I mean. It’s the handshake of long lost friends; the hug of handshakes. We chatted a bit, Jason, Dan and myself. I asked Dan, “how do you get those guitar sounds? I like it, but everything I try comes out sounding like Black Sabbath.” Dan said, “There’s nothing wrong with that. Keep Trying.” Better words were never said.
I was in love with Ska. I tried to tell my brother, to share a bit of what he had given to me. He wasn’t into it. I think maybe the first stuff I played for him wasn’t quite aggressive enough. He was still pretty much a metalhead then. … but things change. Something stuck and he was asking me if I knew of more Ska bands, and where I could get more CDs.
I was living in Portland at the time and my brother came to visit. I took him to Ozone Records and he bought every Ska CD they had in the store. If I have my chronology right, later that year, maybe early the next, I went back home to visit. My brother picked me up in Kansas City and we went to Lawrence for a show at The Grenada. Less Than Jake, Skavoovie and the Epitones, and Chris Murray. IT WAS AMAZING.
Special shout out to Chris. Skavoovie’s keyboard player had decided mid-tour to go back to college (I think that’s the story) So Chris played his opening “Campfire Ska” set, then went backstage, jumped into a suit, and proceeded to rock the full Skavoovie set on the keys. (Many years later Chris played my 20th wedding anniversary party.)
I bought my first Asian Man Records shirt at that show. It was magic. Later that night we went to the record store next to The Grenada. My brother bought me Mepheskapheles “God Bless Satan”, and Spring Heeled Jack (usa) “Static World View”.
Life was a whirlwind back then. I was young, living in a city. Bands were playing all the time. So many. It was hard to keep up. I saw the Pietasters for the first time then. I was enamoured. Cool jazz guys almost, in wrinkled suits, with a couple of drinks in them. Good times. I bought a CD copy of OoLooLoo. I was blasting it in the apartment and one of my neighbors was all “Pietasters? Fuck Yeah!” She was from DC and totally on board with hometown music hitting the West Coast
A little anecdote here, but while I was living in Portland, my rather concervative grandmother came to visit. She wasn’t happy about a lot of the music I listened to, but she loved The Pietasters. She said it reminded her of big bands from back in the day.
Nothing ever changed for me after that, as it pertains to Ska. I mean, one time I couldn’t get tickets to Less Than Jack and Reel Big Fish because the show was sold out. Life goes on though. I didn’t turn my back because of that. I just found new stuff. I’m like, “Up yours Reel Big Fish! I’ll listen to Thumper instead.”
I suppose I could ramble on more about the bands that bent my ear (Suicide Machines) and all the great shows I saw, but it would all be driving to the same destination. Ska is awesome. There is, not now, never once, a reason to be ashamed.
I stand In Defense of Ska. But, as they say, the best defense is a good offense. (I think people say that) So to that end, I say, “GO OUT THERE AND BUY THIS MUTHAFUCKING BOOK AND LISTEN TO SKA!”
Got a CD in the post box the other day. It’s been on deck in the CD player for a week or so now. Finally enough of a lull in the day job to throw a few words at it. A paucity of words leaves them hanging though, right?
Here’s some quick thoughts about Skism and their new release “2021”. A blast of old school (which I realize is a term I use a lot) street punk from NYC.
Loud, gritty, in-your-face Punk / Hardcore / Oi
The lyric run a course from the murderous lament of “Eyes”, into the markedly anti-Nazi “U.S. Nazis Fuck Off and Die”, to the questioning retorts of “Agent Orange” and “Trioxin”.
Things delve into the personal with “Knocked Down With A 40”, a song, as it turns out, about being knocked down with a 40. The final track, something we all can relate to, “Outside the Club” brings how the feeling of being shut out in the cold.
You know what street punk sounds like? The drums pound. The guitar chugs. The bass rumbles. The vocals are somewhere between a sing and a shout. You know what you like. So check out Skism on all the streaming platforms. (but especially Bandcamp)
Tracks: 1. Pain and Pain 02:12 2. Eyes 02:24 3. U.S. Nazies Fuck Off and Die 01:32 4. Agent Orange 01:46 5. Trioxin 01:52 6. Knocked Down With A 40 01:26 7. Nomad 02:08 8. In Control (Eyes Reprise) 02:00 9. Outside the Club 01:29
Bio: Skism is an anti-social, angst ridden, hyperactive punks who pound out driving music with screaming vocals, fast guitars and pounding drums, with old school punk, hardcore and oi influences, featuring players who played in The Krays, American Eagle, WRENCH and Mad Mulligans.
Sacri-Political sent me a copy of their new single, Shove It Up Your Ass!, and well, fuck yeah. It rocks in an old school way that reminds me of the snottiness of Wasted Youth’s “Fuck Authority”.
There’s, of course a very compelling reason there’s such an “old school” sound. They’ve been around for a couple minutes. According to the band’s bio:
‘Sacripolitical (1982 – 1993, 2019 – present) is a punk rock band from Marin County, CA. The name Sacripolitical refers to the band members’ attitude toward politics. Just as a person who is sacrilegious is irreverent toward the sacred, Sacripolitical plays songs, like “Peace: Under our Supervision,” “The Nihilist Void,” and “Napalm Baby,” that are politically and philosophically irreverent.’
The track is both irreverent and finger wagging, opening a view into what I think a lot of people have felt during the pandemic. It is kind of the idea that everything is pretty fucked, because everybody (politicians, corporations, racists, zealots) keep fucking everything up. Everything is fucked. It’s your fault, and you can, well, shove it up your ass.
The music itself is a mid-tempo 3-chord banger. Very straight forward 4-piece punk rock with a little bit of a shuffle to it. It’s not out to pave new roads, but fits nicely in the well worn grooves in the asphalt.
The B-side, “Gogol’s Nose” is in a little more of a DK vein, but with some horn parts dropped in. At any rate, I dig it. Check it out. Support local music any way you can.
Ska-punk pioneers The Mighty Mighty BossToneS will release their 11th studio record When God Was Greaton May 7 via Hellcat Records.
Co-produced by longtime collaborator Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys) and Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong (Transplants, Jimmy Cliff), When God Was Great is the culmination of their extensive and all-embracing career and sees the band bringing back friends, tourmates, and bandmates from the past for a sonic celebration that stresses the power of perseverance and human connection during tumultuous times. The album features 15-tracks that initially arose out of a collective sense of loss.
“We were lightly writing songs before the insanity without any sort of timeline in mind. All of a sudden, the world changed and benchmark events in a very long career that we were looking forward to, such as playing with the Madness at the Greek Theatre, were taken away from us,” explains frontman Dicky Barrett. “With all of this time on our hands, we started writing at a quickened pace and we were really inspired. As grim as everything around us was in the outside world, this was the most fun we ever had making a record.
WHEN GOD WAS GREAT TRACK LISTING 1. DECIDE 2. M O V E 3. I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING 4. CERTAIN THINGS 5. BRUISED 6. LONELY BOY 7. THE KILLING OF GEORGIE (PART III) 8. YOU HAD TO BE THERE 9. WHEN GOD WAS GREAT 10. WHAT IT TAKES 11. LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT 12. THE TRUTH HURTS 13. IT WENT WELL 14. I DON’T WANT TO BE YOU 15. THE FINAL PARADE
Since their formation in 1983, the BossToneS have been credited as one of the forefathers of ska punk and the creators of its subgenre, ska-core. With a career spanning over 30-years Boston’s best dressed band has built and continued to build a devoted following with their unique brass-infused brand of punk rock. To date they have released ten studio records; Devil’s Night Out (1989), More Noise and Other Disturbances (1992), Don’t Know How to Party (1993), Question the Answers (1994), Let’s Face It (1997), Pay Attention (2000), A Jackknife to a Swan (2002), Pin Points and Gin Joints (2009), The Magic of Youth (2011), and While We’re at It (2018).
No time to mince words. We’re all starving for entertainment during the pandemic. So unjam your earholes and stuff some rock and roll into ‘em.
Now listening to “Cop Bait” by Sex Cuts, a lo-fi rager from Gothenburg Sweden’s Sex Cuts. This collection of six tracks of Apocolyptica will blast new and/or additional holes in your head.
Very garage, anti-music vibe going on. I dig the dissonance. Feels a bit like old Sonic Youth meets Rollins Band. It’s a raw release. Straight to cassette, which is cool I suppose for easy and cost effective media production. Thankfully there’s digital copies, because my cassette deck is fucked and I’d never hear it otherwise.
Cheers to Sex Cuts for a banger of an EP. Check them out at their Bandcamp site. Buy some shit. Support independent music!
Tracks: 1. Designer Thoughts 03:10 2. 1994:137 03:17 3. The Politics of Sinking 02:35 4. Chaos Rites 04:15 5. Cultural Sale 03:52 6. 52 Hertz 01:40
2020 was a crap year. It’s also another year where I couldn’t often find the motivation to write, or to do much of anything, really. Here’s to 2021 being a bit better. I don’t want to be too negative, but I’m not holding my breath.
As I didn’t really write much, the best album of the year honors were among limited choices. So with all due respect to anyone who got it together enough to produce material in 2020, cheers to you!
Here’s a quick shout out to Terminal City Rats with their new album, Year of the Rat. Hailing from Vancouver BC, these neighbors to the north have kicked out a solid punk rock record.
13 tracks of punk. largely in the vein of some of the crack rocksteady sounds of Leftover Crack, Star Fucking Hipsters, Morning Glory etc. Not a carbon copy, of course, but clearly going down that path.
It’s good, so give it a listen. You aren’t doing anything right now anyway.
Cheers! Jerry Actually
Tracks: 1. Intro 00:58 2. Year of the Rat 00:17 3. TCRA 01:11 4. Stand Proud 02:14 5. More than a Scene 01:32 6. Lion’s Roar 01:37 7. Never Surrender 02:00 8. The Struggle 01:53 9. Hastings 01:29 10. Stay Sharp 01:21 11. Here’s to You (Broken and Alone) 01:33 12. Queens 01:41 13. Wants and Needs 01:56
Bio: Started sometime in early 2018 by founding members, bassist and songwriter Jeremy Starcok and drummer Liam Ready, Terminal City Rats were just two new friends brought together by their mutual love for punk rock. The duo spent a couple of months jamming and composing ideas before guitarist Chris “Crash” Campbell (F’Neh / The Receptionists) joined. “I ran into Crash at a show and casually mentioned that I had started a new project when he pretty much informed me that he was going to be our guitar player”, recalls Jeremy. “He basically told me right there on the spot that he was coming to our next practice without me even asking.”
Having played together in the short lived Vancouver punk band Struck A Nerve years earlier, the two knew they shared some musical chemistry and common tastes. Eager to find a singer, the trio made a social media post in search of someone. Bed ridden and recovering from a nasty knee injury, Jameson Trenholm (Obscene Being) answered jokingly with “I’ll join your band”, not expecting anything to actually come of it. “…I had turned my knee into mashed potato. I somehow managed to hobble my broke self to a few jams where I was crowned the Singer”.
Now a four piece and the addition of a second songwriter in Jameson, the band spent the next few months crafting a collection of songs, three of which would be recorded on their debut self titled demo recorded at Rain City Recorders by Stu McKillop in the fall of 2018. For the next year or so, Terminal City Rats played a handful of shows at venues around Vancouver including the Have A Good Laugh festival and legendary local haunts such as the Alf house, Pub 340 and SBC. “Those were really fun shows and we played with some killer local and touring bands but when we started this band, it was always the plan to have two guitar players. Two differently styled players who complimented each other.” says Jeremy.
Enter Mandy Green (Frank Love) in August of 2019. “…having known Jameson through the Vancouver music scene, he said they were looking for a second guitarist and after hearing their fast, raw, high energy sound I said ‘I’m in.’” With the long time plan of being a 5 piece finally coming to fruition, the band set out to incorporate Mandy’s guitar playing into their set. More shows followed including a sold out night at the Cambie in downtown Vancouver playing with some of Vancouver’s finest in Space Chimp, Alien Boys, Chain Whip and The Vicious Cycles. Riding the high of that night, the band again decided to enter the studio to record the follow up to their first release.
Whilst practicing and preparing to record, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, essentially halting the band’s ability to get together and jam. Months passed, during which time founding member Liam decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of Terminal City Rats and left to focus on other areas of his life. The band, now without a drummer and quickly approaching studio time, started to consider cancelling their scheduled recording session. As some of the pandemic restrictions started to be lifted, the band was able to begin jamming again but was still without a drummer.
Through friendship and connections in the local community, Jameson approached drummer Marco Bieri (Space Chimp, ATD, The Dreadnoughts) about the possibility of helping the band in the studio. With his various projects also on hold due to the pandemic and itching to play, Marco welcomed the opportunity. Learning 5 songs in only a few practices, the band entered Rain City Recorders for two days in June 2020 again with Stu McKillop at the helm. With the reinvigorated energy of a new drummer in addition to the results of that session, Marco asked “Why not do a full length album?” 8 more songs and two weeks later, Terminal City Rats returned to the studio to finish their debut full length album “The Year of the Rat”.
Listening to Gibberish, the recently released album from Lafayette, Louisiana punk band, Subliminal Landmines. 12 tracks of bouncy, mid-tempo, rock and roll songs, with enough grit and sneer to take the more poppy edges off, and keep it just dangerous enough to not drift into pure rock territory. The sound is defiantly out of garageland, and totally suits the band. Three piece, three chords, 1. 2. 3. Go!
Everything reminds me of everything these days, but Subliminal Landmines has a vocal style that is similar to something, but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s good and it’s cool, so there’s that at any rate. Maybe I’m wrong, but as I’ve continued listening, the vocals kind of strike me as being like psychobilly/rockabilly act The Blackjakits. I dunno maybe I’m nuts.
I’ve half listened to the Gibberish a couple times now and it is growing on me with each successive run. The album as a whole sounds great and is entirely listenable, however standout Track six, Crutch, comes out of the gate like a Cheap Trick number. The intro really hooks in, and it’s totally a song about lost friendship, and about the things that you do to get by. Great stuff musically and lyrically.
The songs speak of loss, lament, drugs illicit or otherwise, and the type of soul searching that comes along with life on an isolated and often bleak planet. The effect is cathartic though. It helps to diffuse the pain of living.
From Crutch: “Staring at the ceiling while thinking bout way too much Having trouble standing without you as my crutch”
Bonus Green Day cover at the end, which I suppose puts a finer point on the sound and spirit Subliminal Landmines are trying to capture.
There’s a bunch of links below if you’d like to check them out. I think that perhaps you should.
Cheers! Jerry Actually
Tracks: 1. Criticized 02:13 2. Where’s My Coke? 03:54 3. Room for 3 02:36 4. She May Be 03:01 5. I’m Okay 02:53 6. Crutch 03:17 7. Suit Up 05:09 8. Target (Twenty-20) 02:59 9. I Love You a Camel 02:45 10. Ungrateful 01:48 11. Losing Heartbeats 03:16 12. Brain Stew / Jaded 04:30
Bio: Taking form in 2017, Subliminal Landmines exploded onto the South Louisiana Music scene with their energetic punk. Influenced by the grimey dive bars, garages, and smoke stained lungs of their youth, Subliminal Landmines released their debut EP “Captivity” which was received with open arms. Currently writing their first full length album to be called “Gibberish” which is set to release in the fall of 2020
Members: Grant Duhon: Vocals and Guitar Chris Hayes: Vocals and Bass Lee Gauthreaux: Drums
I’ve been pretty uninspired for a few months now. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was pretty upbeat. Working from home, being creative, and generally enjoying things to the fullest extent possible with the obvious restrictions. As spring drifted, summer languished, somehow we careened straight into fall. With that passage of time I have become a bit despondent. Colors have dulled. Highlights and lows have all reached their eventual entropy. Sometimes though, every now and again, you get a little bit of a boost.
Today’s boost arrived in the form of a brand new album from San Francisco’s Get Dead. “Dancing With The Curse” is out on October 9th, on the now venerable Fat Wreck Chords. What can I say, it’s a cathartic delight.
We were given a teaser of the album at the end of summer, via video for the intro track Disruption, a syncopated punk/rap number. The lead track segues into the remaining 11 tracks in a seamless fashion. The tracks move in and out of tempos from the fast-slow-fast-faster-slow-slower-fast-faster-slow keeping the sound swirling around in your gray matter.
Elements of folk, rap, ska, and reggae flavor the tracks and the band’s punk rock DNA. It makes for a lively album, one which repaves well worn ground with fresh new layers. It’s good stuff. It’s dynamic. You know what I’m saying?
Things, of course, are delivered in a patently dark fashion, tonally, but especially lyrically. That’s what keeps us coming back, right? Take some lines from track 4: Stickup
Did you really think You could start again This place is collapsing Hordes of incontrollable bastards They are coming for you It feels like this place is cursed So do your worst We are all going down
It’s not the sort of thing that engenders a lot of hope, not in a traditional way at least. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that you’re doomed, and it’s always nice to have a soundtrack to that feeling.
But, you know, there is hope. From track 7: Hard Times
Trouble breathing? Feel like something’s wrong? Have you felt like It’s been like this for too long? Is your heart beating? Can you hear this song? Then everything is okay
Maybe there will be better days? I know it made my day better.
Here’s the deal, there’s a new album by Get Dead and it’s the shit, as the kids used to say.
Cheers! Jerry Actually
There aren’t a lot of bands like Get Dead around these days. Instead of worrying about gimmicks and trends, this fivesome from San Francisco, California have always focused on the music and that’s evident with every passion-filled note they play. Get Dead started out performing together in 2007 after their respective bands called it quits and eventually attracted the attention of NOFX frontman Fat Mike who produced the band’s first full-length, “Bad News”, as well as their new full-length, “Honesty Lives Elsewhere”, and released both records on his label Fat Wreck Chords.