Rotten Flag – We Are…

So I had a chance to check out “We Are…” the sophomore album by Gothenburg Sweden’s very own DIY punk rock band Rotten Flag. Trying to put this band into a category was a little difficult, and I landed on Punk. They are a punk bands punk band. Picture Cock Sparrer and Angelic Upstarts with a splash of Ramones for good measure. This album is twelve short tracks of simple riffs and alternating vocal stylings that range from hoarse growling to a semi-melodic tone that will keep you invested. 

Boasting a somewhat apolitical stance with the first track Oxymoron Stereotype, you’ll get the impression that they’d rather spend the short time given to each song (averaging well under two minutes) discussing the more important things in life like drinking, doing drugs, and having promiscuous sex. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But they do take a more political stand later in the album with the songs When We Attack, and Damnation. The song The Evil of Religion sounds exactly like you’d expect from the title. 

This album embodies that classic punk attitude of railing against conformity and giving the middle finger to authority figures with a shit eating grin. It’s the kind of punk your parents tried to warn you about. Rotten Flag clearly doesn’t give a shit about your PC sensibilities, so if you’re easily offended by a little off-colour language then this might not be a great choice for you. Personally I find it refreshing. They seem like they’d be either the most fun guys at the party, or the most terrifying. 

All in all, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable album. My personal favourites include We Are…, You Didn’t Hear It On The Radio, and Do You Wanna Be My Anarchy. I will definitely be looking for the LP when it finally comes out, and will be keeping an eye on these guys for their third album. And considering that their first release “the band from the pubs” came out in December 2021 I Will be expecting something possibly in early 2023 or so. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part though. 

Keep up the good work guys! 

Jëffy 

The album will be released on streaming platforms on January, 31st 2022, with a vinyl release to follow as production allows.

The Sleights – It’s Not That Easy

Click here to listen to It’s Not That Easy

This band includes members of the Nobodys, who are most famous for out-Guttermouthing Guttermouth as the shittiest, most mysogynistic punk band of the 90s. With song titles like “She Can’t Say No”, “Kielbasa Queen”, and “Just Another Cunt”, it was surprising to me even then that they were embraced to the extent they were. Here’s a lyrical sample from a 2001 album, “I like young girls. I like the way they smell. I like their pretty curls. Their parents can go to hell”.

Look, I don’t know if any of the chief songwriters are in The Sleights, but why the fuck would you even put it in your bio? Aren’t you embarrassed now? You should be. I’m not even a super PC dude when it comes to my punk rock, I love The Dwarves and Cosmic Psychos, but there is a big difference between those bands and the Nobodys. In an effort to be fair, there is also a dude from The Lillingtons in here, who as far as I know are NOT sexual predators. Also to be fair, this band is factually not The Nobodys.

They are The Sleights and sound like mid-tempo Good Riddance with Samiam-style vocals. Subject matter seems to focus on the vague interpersonal negative feelings of 40-something-year-old bearded white dudes in black band T-shirts, and also on alcohol. I am, regrettably, the target demographic. I have to say though, I like this more each time I listen to it.

The song “Fucked Up” in particular, even though it clocks in at nearly four and half minutes, has some Wrath of Khan strength ear worms and does not seem overly long. I went a few days between listens, and the song had burrowed its way into my brain enough that it was echoing around in there. Lots of echoing in there. Mostly of other mid-tempo punk rock and stupid things I regret saying between the years 1989-present.

In conclusion, The Sleights are sort of good. It’s better than I could do. Maybe when they hangout together and get deep enough into the night, they speak in hushed tones to one another about how fucking dumb The Nobodys were and how they’re better people now. Maybe the guilt of having been in The Nobodys is what echoes around in their brains.

–Zach Akenson

Tracks:
1. It’s Not That Easy
2. I Don’t Give a Damn
3. Skin and Bone
4. Fucked Up
5. Faded
6. The Morgue

Special Duties – 7 Days A Week

So I had a chance to check out the new album 7 Days a Week by English punk band Special Duties. If you’re in the mood for an old-school Oi! sound that’s been polished up and produced in a much more modern way, then look no further, 7 Days a Week is exactly that. 

This album is chock full songs about social issues, addiction, and class struggle, as well as some songs that feel like you should be singing along to while tipping back pints in an English pub. And that is exactly what you’d expect from these guys.

At first pass the album kinda falls flat and seems like the lyrics were put together in a hasty, hap-hazard fashion. Subsequent listening will have you singing along to the better constructed tunes like the albums namesake 7 Days a Week and Punks and Bootboys. The songs Fight Back, Rebel and Time Bomb show a more aggressive side of the band and are my personal favourites from this release. 

At times the high quality of the recording feels like it takes away from the expected “punkness”. If that’s a thing… but this is just wishful thinking on my part I suppose. It’s not like we can expect modern engineers to deliberately make a band sound like shit… can we? 

All in all it’s a passable album, and if you grew up listening to the older British punk of the early 80s you should definitely at the very least, give this a try. I won’t be running out to get the first pressing or anything, but it might be fun to catch the live show at some point.

–Jëffy

Milquetoast – Caterwaul

I can’t pretend like I’m ever terribly excited to hear a band that has descriptors like “doom”, “stoner”, and “sludge”. This is mostly because modern bands who fall into these categories often take themselves too seriously, and frankly I just don’t understand why you’re so goddamn negative and serious if you’re blazing up all the time. Thankfully, Milquetoast does not fall into this genre trapping.

They have instead crafted a modern day album of AmRep-style bangers that sometimes even veers into old school hardcore goofiness, a la Flag of Democracy. Before grunge was called grunge and ruined by shit bands like Alice In Chains, it kind of sounded like this. There is definitely some excellent Mark Arm howling going on. I’m also hearing Cows, particularly in the way Milquetoast throws instrumental curve balls at you to keep things interesting.

I’m listening to this via a YouTube link, so it’s difficult to refer to specific tracks, but there’s enough variety on here to make the whole thing worth your time. This is a quality I’ve found lacking in other “doom” and “sludge” bands. Unless your band is exclusively marijuana referencing in the name, I don’t get the “stoner” part either.

Historically, AmRep, Mudhoney, and proto-grunge bands like Cosmic Psychos (who invented that blown out sound) have been way more famous for beer consumption. To me, this is drunk music more than stoner rock, and that’s a good thing. Whatever you like to do to your brain when you pretend like the world isn’t ending, do it while blasting Milquetoast. This is a super fun record that I wish I had a hard copy of. Highly (or drunkenly) recommended.

–Zach Akenson

Tracks:
Intro
Dead Inside
Recognize
Matapacos
Stoner Safari
Step Off
Space Force
Fake News Blues
Wall
Forgotten Death

Bio:
When Milquetoast (milk-ˌtōst) is used as an adjective, it means timid, meek, or unassertive. But you only need a single distorted power chord or unhinged howl from the Indiana trio’s punked-up party sludge to get sucker-punched by the band name’s irony. Milquetoast will kick 2022’s front door off its hinges with their debut LP mastered by Chris Fielding of the mighty Conan, appropriately named Caterwaul.

Formed in 2018 by vocalist/guitarist Ty Winslow, Milquetoast was devised as an expression of weirdo punk fury. In fact, it was Winslow’s penchant for loud riffs and cheeky vibes that initially lured vocalist/bassist Andy Bowerman as a collaborator.

“In a church 2.5 hours in the middle of nowhere,” Bowerman recalls, “I was looking out into the melee [of a mosh pit] and seeing crossdressing members of [Winslow’s then-band] Battersea riding each other around like jousting mounts. So the friendship came easy—and came often.”

After recruiting drumming dynamo Nick James, the band’s unique impish energy took shape. Gather the mops that soaked up sweat and blood from stages in the ’80s west coast punk and Seattle grunge scenes. Squeeze the fluids into a shot glass…

MILQUETOAST IS:
Ty – guitar and vocals
Andy – bass, vocals, and synth
Nick – drums

The Dynamite Club – Is The Dancefloor Calling?… No.

So I had a chance to listen to the debut EP from The Dynamite ClubIs The Dancefloor Calling?… No.” If you’re unfamiliar with them now, you won’t be for long. This EP hits hard right out of the gate with the opening song “Wake Up” and then keeps you guessing just what kind of band you’re listening to with more anthem styled tunes like “Apocalypse” and “One Sixth” to more pop punk influenced tunes like “Erotomania”. 

This hard working punk band from across the pond with two snarky English singers has been working it out for the past five years in the London area. Their DIY ethics are evident in this recording produced and mixed by James Kirsch

My only complaint about this EP is that there isn’t, as of yet more from The Dynamite Club to listen to. If you’re in the mood for a band that is a little different than you’re used to, but would fit perfectly on a playlist with your favourite SoCal punk bands, Is The Dance Floor Calling?… No. might just hit the spot.

-Jëffy

Tracks:
1. Wake Up
2. Apocalypse
3. Erotomania
4. Lights Out
5. Third Eye
6. One Sixth

The Dynamite Club is
Sam – vocals and guitar
James  – vocals and guitar
Luke – Bass 
Steven – Drums 

Bio:
Been a band for about 5 years, with James and Steven joining in last couple. Everything you see and hear is done totally DIY (with a little help from our friends). 

​We’ve played shows for the likes of the Garageland club, Camden Rocks and South London Punk Collective.

​Influences: fast punk n roll from 1950s to present day.

The Effens – New song “Punishment” out now!

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.’

Hear “Punishment,” taken from our upcoming EP, Eventually (out July 30th), on your preferred streaming platform.  

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.

Instagram // Twitter // Facebook // Bandcamp
http://www.theeffens.com/

Ska, I got your back!

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!”

Cheers!

-Jerry Actually

Skism – 2021

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. 

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Sacri-Political – Shove It Up Your Ass!

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. 

Stay safe!

Jerry Actually

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES
ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM

WHEN GOD WAS GREAT
OUT MAY 7

SHARE “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING”

Ska-punk pioneers The Mighty Mighty BossToneS will release their 11th studio record When God Was Great on 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.

Today, the band shares their new single “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING”.

CHECK OUT “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING NOW

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).

CREDIT: YOYO YOSEF