Ever find yourself missing a band from the past and serendipitously stumbling into them, or an iteration of the sound you missed, some time in the future?
Well biggity bam, fam, here I am.
I got an email a couple weeks ago about a new 7” from Duck & Cover. The name of the band didn’t ring a bell at all, but as I started listening, there was a familiarity that couldn’t be missed. A quick scan of the sidebar revealed “(ex/current The Coffin Lids, The Acro-brats, Bang Camaro, Black Cheers, Vampire Lezbos, The Throwaways, The Drags, Wild Zero…)”
I want to digress a bit here to say that anyone currently aged 15 – 80 is very likely also a ex/current member of Bang Camaro, it’s just one of those things.
Anyway, I’ve long enjoyed The Acro-brats, specifically. This is documented by the long since faded sticker on my car. It’s nice to hear some new material with a familiar sound.
I don’t want to detract from Duck & Cover with my nostalgic opine, however. The band and their new 7” Two Shots have merit on their own.
Three tracks of bouncy rock and roll, with a bit of a post new wave vibe about it. It’s like what an alternate 80s timeline could have been if hair metal never took to the high seas and bomb-blasted us all with their Hollywood sleaze.
I suppose this all distills down to where I tell you what you get. Well, what you get is a solid rock and roll band, tempered by punk and new wave of yesteryear. The culmination of that is a damn fine 7” record.
In December 2019, Fat Mike dropped a list of albums that were coming out in 2020. One of them was The Suicide Machines, and today we finally get to unveil the details! Their debut FAT full-length, Revolution Spring, streets on March 27th, and is available for pre-order now! What’s
more, this new album is filled to the brim with blistering, rousing
songs that combine hardcore, ska, and anthemic punk rock. Recorded in
“about 12 days” at Rancho Recordo, and produced by Less Than Jake’s bassist Roger Lima, you can get your first contagious kiss of their lead track, “Awkward Always,” below.
Vocalist, Jason Navarro, had this to share about joining the FAT family: We
all felt we wrote such a good record that there could be no home for us
other than FAT. It’s an honor to be in the DIY house they built and be
included with so many Legendary bands. Feels like we are finally home.
Photo: Mark Marfa Capodanno It was in 2006 that Detroit punks The Suicide Machines called it a day after 15 years and six full-throttle, super-charged and confrontational albums. The break didn’t last too long – in 2009, the four-piece crew reconvened to play the occasional local shows and embarked on some even less frequent tours. There was no sign of new material – until now!
Revolution Spring, the band’s seventh album, and first new material since 2005’s War Profiteering Is Killing Us All, will be released March 27th, 2020. What’s more, this new album full of blistering, rousing songs finds the band on truly explosive and energetic form. So why now you may ask? “Everyone just kind of got inspired,” chuckles vocalist Jason Navarro, about the band’s decision to begin making music again. “That’s all. I think we were watching all these other bands ride a wave of nostalgia and we didn’t want to be lumped into that, so we started writing a couple of songs and it went from there.”
Over the course of a couple of years, the band – completed by drummer Ryan Vandeberghe, bassist Rich Tschirhart and guitarist Justin Malek (who is also the drummer in Navarro’s post Suicide Machines outfit Hellmouth) – wrote a total 30 songs. With the help of both Less Than Jake’s bassist Roger Lima, who produced Revolution Spring, and The Code’s frontman Marc Code, who is their longtime friend and now manager, The Suicide Machines whittled those 30 songs down to the 16 that make up this record. While on the one hand, these songs serve as an overview of the band’s career and the different permutations of punk they’ve dabbled in over the years, it also possess the energy, spontaneity and enthusiasm of a band many years their junior – albeit with the wisdom that comes from being alive for a few decades.
Recorded in “about 12 days” at Rancho Recordo – the studio run by Marc Jacob Hudson, who also plays bass for Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Revolution Spring is a powerful and cohesive combination of hardcore, ska and anthemic punk rock. That, says Navarro, was all fueled by “Awkward Always”, “Black Tar Halo” and “Impossible Possibilities”, the first three songs that the band wrote, all of which made the cut for the record. “We did those three right off the bat,” says Navarro, “and we were like ‘Wow, these are better than most of the songs Suicide Machines have ever written in any form. That was the start of the spark. It was a long process after that because we were very picky about it, because we wanted to put out the record we wanted to put out and nothing else.”
While Revolution Spring harnesses the belligerent energy that has defined The Suicide Machines since their inception, there are, Navarro says, two marked differences this time around. The first is that these songs are particularly personal.
“This album is legitimately pretty autobiographical,” he says. “A lot of it is very personal – about how I am and where I am now and how I got where I am now mentally. I kind of wanted to leave my children with an understanding of who I am as an older person. Maybe years from now when I’ve passed away, they can pick up the record and look at the lyrics and listen to it and, if they didn’t already know exactly, go ‘Okay, so this is what dad is about.’” The personal component is especially obvious on “Trapped in A Bomb”, a poignant ode to a close friend Navarro lost to suicide that made the singer open up lyrically, perhaps more than he ever had before.
“I completely burst into tears the first time I had to sing that one,” he admits. “It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to sing. I’ve definitely tried to kill myself, but my friend did it. He called me, and an hour later he was dead. This is me saying ‘I’ve made it to this point, and I wish you could have, too.’”
The second overriding difference on this album is the (relatively) newfound optimism possessed by the singer. He started becoming aware of this when he made Oblivion, Hellmouth’s 2016 third full-length. “You wouldn’t think this would be the case with the way the world is looking now,” he admits, “but I’ve become a lot more positive about things. And I stopped pointing fingers and started doing things instead – I feed the homeless a couple of times a week with a bunch of friends of mine, I’ve protested against ICE here in Detroit, I’ve done things locally like water drives for Flint – and I feel like doing these things has created more positivity in my head, whereas before I was being pissed off and not doing anything.”
That’s not to say The Suicide Machines aren’t pissed off on this record, let’s be clear on that point. Opener “Bully In Blue” is a breakneck anthem that rallies against police brutality; the jaunty, ska-punk tones of “Babylon of Ours” overlay a harsh indictment of capitalism and American imperialism, and “Flint Hostage Crisis” is a brutal takedown that addresses the lack of clean water in that city – and the fact that nothing has been done to address it. ‘This is what class war really looks like’ snarls Navarro viciously at the end of the brief, belligerent track. Still, he insists, he’s just writing about things close to him, and that he stopped far short of where he otherwise would have done in the past.
“I’m from here,” he says, “so I feel like it’s something we know. My best friend works for the water department there. He’s sold merch for us, so I know a lot about it. I didn’t say ‘Hey, we should hang our governor and kill him’, whereas, maybe 10 years ago I would have. I’m just saying that this is fucked, and this is how these things work and if you think that’s a surprise, it’s not.”
Yet despite all that, and despite the messed-up world these songs reflect so well… and despite this record’s provocative, insurrectionary title – Revolution Spring, is not, first and foremost, a political record. Although it reasserts The Suicide Machines as one of the most formidable and relevant punk bands around, more importantly for Navarro, it documents his personal growth as a human being and where he is at this very moment in time.
“It represents the change inside of me,” he explains. “People might think it’s political, but really it’s me thinking about springtime as rebirth. There’s change inside of me at 46 years old that’s strangely positive somehow. That’s not something I ever expected, because I’ve been a pretty angry person. And I think the other guys are in the same boat. But I could be dead tomorrow – and I’d be absolutely alright with leaving the world with this record.”
Old and new fans alike will find Revolution Spring an energetic homage to the band’s past anthemic, hardcore, ska-punk roots, mixed with the newfound optimism and raw personal life experiences of the band. It’s good to have them back.
Revolution Spring track listing:
1 Bully in Blue 2 Awkward Always 3 Babylon of Ours 4 Flint Hostage Crisis 5 To Play Caesar (Is to Be Stabbed to Death) 6 Trapped in a Bomb 7 Detroit Is the New Miami 8 Eternal Contrarian 9 Well Whiskey Wishes 10 Black Tar Halo 11 Empty Time 12 Impossible Possibilities 13 Potter’s Song 14 Simple 15 Anarchist Wedding 16 Cheers to Ya
The Suicide Machines Tour Dates:
28 Mar in McKees Rocks, PA, US @ Roxian Theatre w/ Anti-Flag 04 Apr in Atlantic City, NJ, US @ Atlantic City Beer Festival 09 May in Wels, Austria @ Sbam Fest 2020 23 May in Leeds, UK @ Slam Dunk Festival North 24 May in Hatfield, UK @ Slam Dunk Festival South
We dropped that we would have a new PEARS album in 2020, and you didn’t have to wait long! Head over to our YouTube page right now to listen to “Comfortably Dumb!” It’s a ferocious first taste of their ripping new full-length, PEARS, out March 6th. As if that’s not enough, their album is available for pre-order today! This is their third proper full-length and was recorded with Chris Fogal (The Gamits) at Black in Bluhm Studio in Denver. PEARS will take their latest effort on the road extensively in the coming year, with tours in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan, and South America.
Photo: John Allen
Some of history’s best punk bands came and went before they had a chance to get comfortable (and boring), so it’s not surprising that PEARS frontman Zach Quinn had doubts when it came time to record the band’s third full-length. While PEARS have only existed since 2014, maybe a couple LPs and hundreds of explosive live shows were enough?
“I was perfectly prepared to have my Blue Album already,” Quinn says, laughing. “That whole fucking cliché of ‘Our best record’s behind us.’
With the imminent release of PEARS (March 6, Fat Wreck Chords), Quinn says, “Maybe not!” But there’s no maybe about it. PEARS is a significant step forward for a band that has grown by leaps and bounds on each album.
Recorded with Chris Fogal (The Gamits) at Black in Bluhm Studio in Denver, PEARS is 14 songs and 31 minutes of the band’s signature hardcore: heavy, melodic, blistering, pointed, and surprisingly catchy. While it continues down the path set by Green Starand 2015’s Go to Prison, PEARS finds the band taking a different creative approach.
“The last PEARS record, almost every detail was worked out before we ever stepped foot into the studio,” Quinn explains. “This record, we went in with skeletons of songs and put things together on the fly. ”
“We never could afford the studio time to be in there 24/7,” adds guitarist/vocalist Brian Pretus. “A couple of songs ended up being stuff that we wrote on the spot.”
Those include “Naptime,” which moves from loping pop to group-chant hardcore in the space of two minutes, and penultimate track “Traveling Time,” which Pretus describes as a “palate cleanser.” Basically, a midtempo pop song, “Traveling Time” began as a Quinn solo track but found its way onto PEARS thanks to the band’s more open studio approach.
“Collectively, we figured we’ve danced around pop music our entire career so far,” Quinn says, “but we were like, ‘Let’s just do a full-on fucking pop tune. Why not?”
“Full on” is a good descriptor for PEARS in general. The album opens with feedback at the beginning of the riff-heavy “Killing Me” and closes when the even riff-heavier “Cynical Serene” (whose opening plays like Nirvana by way of Hum). In between are 12 songs that shake with can’t-sit-still energy, as the band—rounded out by the ace rhythm section of bassist Erich Goodyear and drummer Jarret Nathan—shifts on a dime between parts and sounds. Elements of prog and grunge intermingle with classic hardcore and hook-laden rock—and it can happen in the space of one song. (In this case, “Worm.”)
Atop all of it are Quinn’s voice and words, which took a different approach as well on this album.
“I thought that I was going to continue the absurdist poetry thing that started with Go to Prison and amplified on Green Star,” he says. Describing Green Star as “The Iliad with shit and cum,” Quinn notes that this time, “The songs are about shit.”
Not shit in the “shit and cum” sense. Quinn writes directly about getting older (“Traveling Time”), moving past anger (“Nervous”), and the prospect of never having a family (“Daughter”), among other topics, all with the wit and candor PEARS fans have come to expect from the explosive frontman.
“It makes perfect sense that this is the third act, but it’s not what I would have predicted it to be,” Quinn says. “I wouldn’t have guessed that the album would end on a bittersweet note. It’s more uplifting than either record that we’ve done, but it’s not a happy record.”
It’s a great record regardless. PEARS will take it on the road extensively in the coming year, with tours in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan, and South America.
PEARS track listing 1. Killing Me 2. Zero Wheels 3. Comfortably Dumb 4. Dial Up 5. Rich to Rags 6. Nervous 7. Naptime 8. Pepaw 9. Worm 10. Funerals 11. Sympathy Cone 12. Daughter 13. Traveling Time 14. Cynical Serene
Gonna bust out a dirty one here for NY punk rockers, SKUM CITY.
Rise of the Skum is an 11 track blast of aural assault that will simultaneously stab you in an ear and peel your face off. Old school East Coast HC vibes on short punchy tracks.
Gritty by snotty vocals and vintage shred, clock radio speaker distorted guitars, combine with stripped down drums and bass definitely impart a garage / basement vibe.
Excepting track 5. “Don’t Worry/Maggots” (arguably two songs) is well under the two minute mark. (Which, as you may well know, the appropriate time span for songs to exist in.)
By and large a punk rock / hardcore release, the signature drifts a little towards speed metal turf with track 8. “People You May Know” … It doesn’t drift too far mind you, just enough.
Vintage / old school aside, the sound isn’t lost in the pas. It’s fully engaged in the present and showcases the fact punk and hardcore remain vital forces in music to this day.
End of the line it’s a kick ass new release from SKUM CITY. It’s old. It’s new. It’s fucking true.
1. Rise of the Skum 01:38
2. Diazepam 02:07
3. Stay Home and Fuck 01:28
4. 24×4 01:09
5. Don’t Worry/Maggots 03:17
6. Front Me A Quarter 01:23
7. Coexist 01:57
8. People You May Know 01:44
9. Why Even Have Friends 01:06
10. Leg Rub Steve 01:02
11. Driven By Distraction 02:14
Skum City is a bone crushing hardcore punk rock powerhouse that hails from NYC. They’ve been around the block a few times and like aged BEEF, they only get better with time. Beef ages well with time, right? RIGHT?! Their songs are hook-driven, guitar- heavy blasts of energy that will leave you breathless, yet begging for more. The band was started in 2007 by the hell raising husband and wife team of Mike Moosehead, on searing guitar, and Xtene on scintillating bass. The two most recent additions to the band are drummer Gisel, who plays so fast that her wrists look like humming birds fluttering above barrels on honey, and vocalist Christopher Thee Wailing-Siren. Christopher is a charismatic singer who is equal parts fearless front man, as well as a no-holds-barred, poet, borderline stand up comic in the vein of say a Lenny Bruce or a Don Rickles.
A couple days late, as per my usual, I’m just now checking out the new EP “It’s Not a Lie”, from Portland, Oregon based The Fauxriginals. You know what? I like ska. I like punk. Let’s go!
The EP pops out seven fresh tracks of punky ska. It’s diggable. Very reminiscent of LTJ, but it also reminds me of an unsung band, Orangetree. (If you’re not familiar w/ Orangetree, they were a band fronted by Jason Nelson of MU330)
Damn, as I listen to this, especially “Being Alive in the 21st Century”, I’m really feeling the Orangetree vibe. Not in a copped sort of way mind you, just compellingly similar.
Sonically I would pin this more in the rock vein than punk, per se. It’s peppy, and bouncy. Not overly aggressive with respect to the punk portion. I’d venture that it’s damn near friendly. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes you need a little bit more friendly in the world.
Don’t let the friendly fool you though, just based on the song titles, I’d say the band is at least almost entirely jaded.
Bottom line, it’s a fun release. I wouldn’t hesitate to go see them live either. So, yeah, listen at your leisure and support local bands!
My, Myself, and Idioms
Painted on My Spine
Level of Malevolence
Being Alive in the 21st Century
Some of a Kind
Portland, Oregon-based three piece The Fauxriginals dropped their debut EP “It’s Not a Lie…” on 9/29/19. This EP will be the first of a two-part set, with the second drop “…If You Believe It” coming shortly thereafter. Both will be streamable everywhere you get music.
After releasing a steady stream of demos and playing a year’s worth of punk and ska shows in the Pacific Northwest, the band created a two-part release filled with the definitive versions of these songs.
Featuring songs written by Tyler Rothe (Lead Vox/Guitar), the band’s focus is to combine elements of pop-punk, skate punk, ska, and punk rock while focusing on hooks and technical chops.
The Fauxriginals are playing regular shows in the PNW and have music videos available on YouTube. Music streaming everywhere you stream music.
For fans of: Less Than Jake, Blink-182, Descendents, Offspring, Green Day, and Queen.
DIY Punk is alive and well in Anacortes, Washington. For the unaware, Anacortes is a small town in Northwest Washington State, damn near up to the Canadian border. It’s great to hear tunes coming out of small town USA. As testament to this, I’m listening to “All-American” the debut full-length by BUFFET.
The album is all all jagged edges and garage spirit. 14 tracks of rock and roll energy. While the sound is familiar, it’s also refreshingly new. The intro track, “Land” has a lot of the same vibe as “Possessed” by Suicidal. The band professes to be influenced by Circle Jerks and Descendents, and I can totally hear that.
The tunes progress rapidly, ADD fashion. The bulk of the songs clock in under the 2 minute mark. It’s important. There’s a lot of shit going on. No one needs to be weighed down by the burden of epic ballads, unless they choose that. Viva short songs!
There is a small selection of the songs that slow down the pace and pick up the emotion. Track 6, “Throne” is the pinnacle of this. It works well as a point to catch your breath. After that it’s back into the full swing.
The structures are simple and repetitive, great for driving home the point. The notes claim the album was recorded “live” at Anacortes Unknown. I take this to mean it was recorded as the full band, at once. This is as opposed to individual multi-tracks. If this isn’t the case, damn there must not have been a single person at that show.
Personal favorite is track 8, “4 Brides For 4 Guys”. It’s short and sweet. Autobiographical, perhaps, or maybe just wishful thinking.
Frenzied fast paced, metallic punk rock from Toronto.
Illusion of Choice is the new album from The New Enemy. I’ll admit to not being at all familiar with the band, prior to listening right now, but I’m full on rocking to what I’m listening to right now.
The eight tracks (five original, three covers) are chock to the freakin’ brim with crushing riffs, call and response vocals, staccato breakdowns, and an overall sense of urgency.
The tracks are short and sweet, with most songs clocking in just barely under the two minute mark. Right in the sweet spot for hardcore punk. To that end, while firmly in the vein of hardcore punk ala Agnostic Front, H20, and Snapcase, (the final track, “Ambition Now” being a cover of the aforementioned.) there is no shortage of thrash metal on this release. It channels the spirit of old DRI and Suicidal, but still maintains an East Coast Hardcore sound all its own. As a bit of a side note, there are few instances where I’m very reminded of Leftover Crack.
The band is clearly one with a message and a cause. “Since forming, The New Enemy has donated all Bandcamp revenues to charity. For “Illusion of Choice”, we’ll be raising funds for YMCA Sprott House, the first LGBTQ2S transitional housing program for youth in Canada.”
As I’m sure you can tell from the dust around here, I don’t get around to writing about much anymore. Another phase of my life I suppose. What’s a fella to do? Every now and then I get a brief impetus to write something though. Today I shall grace you with the results of one of those urges.
I’ve got Shot Balowski’s self-titled debut album, out 03/29/2019, fired up on ye olde hifi and I’m rocking out to it. There’s a bit of a Ramonescore vibe as well as secondary source influence like Teenage Bottlerocket and Masked Intruder, combine that with a mix of The Pixies, an odd dash of Motorhead, add in a left-leaning bent and somewhat more raw of a sound and that’ll give you the gist.
The album provides 12 tracks of mostly up-tempo 3-piece punk rock, interlaced with the occasional folksy ballad on track six, Kitchen Sink / Girl in the Call Centre. There’s a bit of spoken word poetry as well mixed into the overall pastiche of a protest album. This isn’t to say it’s derivative in an overt way, so much as the song writing seems aware of its roots.
Overall it’s a great debut and I look forward to more from Shot Balowski in the future.
Hit the band up online to find out where to buy the new album, or catch a live show! Twitter:@shotbalowski
ShoT BAlowSki is a three-piece UK rock band with a leftist attitude and punk leanings. Debbie, Simon and Tef take grit, melody and acerbic lyrics and spit them out in two minutes flat.
Their self-titled debut album is released by Abnormal Product on Friday 29 March 2019 – it will be available on CD, download and streaming. It’s high-octane, classic punk rock from the dis-United Kingdom, tackling subjects like far right populism, and corrupt media, organisations and governments, while giving props to radical heroes like Emily Wilding Davison and Muhammad Ali.
The album’s tracks include Commander in Cheat (about Trump’s sexist, racist presidency), Nissan Poppy 24/7 (about patriotism and the politicisation of remembrance), Emily Does (about militant suffragette martyr Emily Wilding Davison), In the Suicide Forest (a short tone poem about vacuous vlogger Logan Paul), and a punk rock cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
Destroy the Daily Mail features a section written and performed by Wales’ most prominent living literary figure, poet and playwright Patrick Jones (see patrick-jones.info), elder brother of Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers and a frequent collaborator with the Welsh chart-topping band. Jones adds a stream-of-consciousness set of Mail-esque headlines. He agreed to the collaboration after reading the lyrics and listening to the raw track, calling the song “important and powerful”.
I’m listening to a Pop Punk band based in the South of England called ‘We Know John‘ They’ve just completed their first album ‘A Shot in the Dark’ and it’s due for release on January 4th.
This brand sparkin’ new album serves up 11 tracks of peppy, upbeat, often horn-fueled pop punk. It reminds me of things. These things, as the often do, escape me. The one influence that keeps surfacing is, especially with the horns, Less Than Jake. There are worse things to be reminded of.
Some of the structure reminds me of an parallel universe Alkaline Trio, where everyone is a bit more happy. In an overarching sense, the band seems like a “happy” band. They would probably be cool to hang with.
The entire album isn’t up-note, however. The album takes a bit of a plunge into sadder territory as track 5, “Not OK” begins. So, um, you know, diversity! Anywho, it’s good stuff. Listen to it. Feel the joy that can only be derived from pop punk or from drugs.
Unrelated, but when I think of the band’s name, in my head, it comes out like the scene between Ed and Shaun in Shaun of the Dead, when Ed says, “I’m sorry, Shaun” … so um, “We know, John.”
We Know John are a 7 piece pop punk band hailing from Southampton UK; playing powerful and energetic music that will make you want to jump and bounce along. Their guitars, bass and drums provide the driving force that will lure you in, whilst their catchy melodies and punchy horn lines get stuck in your head until you are hooked.
Formed In May 2013, We Know John have had a slow start to life. With a few local gigs and a lot of practising behind them, the band are ready kick on and make 2018 a great year to remember.
Vocals, Trombone / Sam Weller
Vocals, Trumpet / Toby Brimson
Bass / Sam Rees
Guitar, Sass / Ben Peckham
Guitar / Ben Harker
Drums / John Townend
Saxophone / Rory SomethingOrOther