On March 20th, Anti-Flag released their 8th studio album, The General Strike, and it seems like they haven’t received a whole lot of press for their efforts. But that isn’t to say they don’t deserve it. Much like their last record, The People or the Gun, Anti-Flag has once again scored the soundtrack to an important political issue of the time, the Occupy movement ( while the previous album addressed the Bailout situation).
It seems funny to me that just like both of these events have been largely ignored by the mainstream, Anti-Flag’s last two albums have seemingly flew under the radar of the punk scene. Now, Anti-Flag is not breaking any new ground with their latest 12 tracks as they carry the same type of sound that they have become known for by mixing melodic moments with more street punk sounds. What they are doing is putting together politically scathing lyrics and touching upon subject matter that is not common in a lot of music. When they released The Bright Lights of America, I read a review stating that the album really lacked direction. This is not the case with The General Strike, and the direction becomes quite clear from the first aggressive track. Combine their tried and true sound with their lyric themes and direction and then you get something special.
I just received my copy of the album yesterday and I am still getting a handle on it, but I am completely enjoying it. One of the coolest surprises though was when I opened up my package and a drop card for the Vans Warped Tour EP came out which includes 3 songs from the album and 2 unreleased tracks (“SKATE” and “Whistleblower”). I knew that the download would be given out at the cd release shows, but I didn’t know it would be included in my order. All I can say is this, if you are at all interested in Anti-Flag or political punk rock give the album its due, give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.
(c) 2012 Paramount Drive Records
While You Were Out is the forthcoming release from Chicago based pop-punkers The Projection. The disc offers up ten tracks of rock and roll with the catchy hooks and snotty vocals that make pop punk the perennial favorite that it is. The tracks are all clocking in at around the 3 and a half minute mark, perfect for that drive time radio slot, right?
The genre isn’t without its flaws though. When your band started years after the Warped Tour, there is a considerably number of acts to compare to. I’m inclined to think they’re like a less cheeky Sum 41 or a slower Goldfinger minus the Ska. That said, the sonic mashup of pop and punk is still rather a new kid on the block and largely still trendy. Despite the flavor-of-the-month nature that pop punk is, this release is not without its own charm. There are some interesting progressions and breakdowns in the tunes that keep it from becoming too stale too fast.
As a bonus, literally the bonus track, the band throws in a cover of the Buddy Holly classic, Oh Boy! Any band that appreciates Buddy can’t be all bad. At any rate, the faster numbers make the cut. They’re peppy and danceable. The wanking ballad variety, on the other hand, not so much. I like the vocals and overall the band has a good sound, that is if you want an edgy version of The Rembrandts. 😉
About once a year I will come across a band that at first listen I don’t love, but I keep goiing back to, then I try to resist buying the album because I am not sure I like it, but then I just bite the bullet and get it anyway. The next thing I know I am waking up with the songs in my head although I may not have listened to it for a while. Then the love affair truly begins. This year’s album that has had that effect on me is Bad Lucky by The Magnificent.
Looking at the album cover I can’t help but be reminded of The Ramones self titled debut album. Then I am reminded of a quote from The Magnificent’s webpage that said ” If you are American, the music sounds English. If you are English, you have never heard of this band.” From there I can’t help but think that just as The Ramones’ debut introduced the world to the now legendary group, it would be nice if Bad Lucky were able to do the same type of thing for The Magnificent.
At times the last statement may seem like wishful thinking, but when I listen I start to think that maybe it is not so far fetched. Bad Lucky has everything that allows punk albums to endure for generations. Not only does it contain slick guitar driven melodies and sing along choruses, the lyrics speak to a generation that doesn’t quite know how to make it’s way in the world. All qualities which allow music to trascend time.
Now only time will tell if this particular album will be considered great 30 + years later (plus they may need to become known in their homeland first too), but if you take the time to listen, it will be something that you keep coming back to for some time to come.
© 2012 Suitors Club Records
Edgy/Indie suits Bay area outfit, Lemon Party quite nicely. The band has a new EP, Trash City out now. The EP features four tracks of past-era garage-fi melancholy, garage-fi angst, and plate reverb. (I don’t know if they actually used a big ol’ plate reverb unit or not, but the spacey echoing makes me think so. … What am I am engineer?) At any rate, there are four tracks on a recording that immediately reminds me of Dinosaur Jr. and things I can’t quite place at the moment.
The songs run tempos from the mid-slow opener, Jerusalem Cruisers to the mid-quick sophomore and junior tracks, Hesh-Kevin and Massachusetts Meltdown respectively. The latter containing some fun woo-hooing. (like a Vonage commercial w/ the 5-6-7-8s.) The senior track, if you will, keeps the tempo up, but reduces the overdrive and achieves an even more decidedly 60s sound, (tonally if not musically.) I can’t make out much lyrically on initial listen, but the words sounds on the sad side … like “love” and “anymore”.
To sum it up, Trash City by Lemon Party (curious about the name. have I lost touch with youth culture?) is a decent fun EP. I’d totally throw it in the mix every now and then for some tunes that are both up-tempo and downtrodden. Best of all it is a no risk move. Think you might like it? Think you might hate it? Is that so important these days? You can check it out compas gratis at their bandcamp page: http://lemonparty.bandcamp.com/album/trash-city
I have long been a fan of Rebel Time Records and I own and enjoy almost every single release on the imprint, but for some reason I have always been weary of listening to one particular group that has released music through them, The Class Assassins. I don’t even know if I can come up with a valid reason as to why, which became even more apparent when I actually sat down and listened to them.
I recently sat and listened to their two latest releases, Treason, which is available on 7″ vinyl from Rebel Time Records, and Equalize X Distort The Studio 3 Sessions. The latter recording is an 8 song live recording which was done in November at CIUT FM in Toronto. The recording features 6 songs from the groups back catalog (including ” Treason” and ” Start Again” from the Treason 7″) as well as two covers “Breaking the Law” and “Fortunate Son” (which I have heard covered before but the group has definitely added their own spin to this classic with a bass and drum intro). The recording was apparently limited to 100 copies on cd but it is available in its entirety on their bandcamp page.
Listening to The Class Assassins reminds me of the Street Dogs songs “Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Not because it sounds like it, but because if Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll was added to the many sub-genres of punk I imagine they would have either wrote the recipe for it or redefined it. Now while I am only currently familiar with the 8 tracks from these two releases, they are full of exactly what I like in punk songs,fast paced guitar attacks and fist pumping, rabble rousing, sing along choruses. Treason and Equalize X Distort were my introduction to The Class Assassins, and it is as good as a place as any to start, and I highly recommend you do.
© 2011 Fat Wreck Chords
To build on the momentum of last night, I decided to sit down and do something that I have meant to for some time now. That is to review Banner Pilot’s Heart Beats Pacific. This has been a long time coming for me, first, when I bought the album it was delayed getting to me so I didn’t get to hear it right away and also I have just been lazy.
Either way, the album is fabulous. It actually made my top ten list where I blamed it for causing me to speed while driving my truck. But it is also responsible for an even more ridiculous side effect. While alone on my 30 minute commute to town it is usually my album of choice. One day recently I actually caught myself (and I don’t know how long I had been doing it beforehand) doing only what I could describe as the “bow down.” Now for anyone not aware there was rap music before everybody in the club started getting tipsy and rappers had to explain why they were hot there was a group called Westside Connection who put out a single called Bow Down. Well the video included Ice Cube, WC, and Mack 10 raising their arms and making a bowing motion, hence the name of my dance move. This isn’t the first time an album has done that to me, I actually went through a stretch of time where I would do jazz hands while listening to In Desolation.
Now I don’t know making listeners do ridiculous dances was their intention when writing but it was definitely a result. I’m sure listeners will also experience several other side effects which may include singing along to the tremendously catchy songs which include (but are not limited to) “Alchemy”, “Spanish Reds”, “Expat”, and “Division Street.” There are not many bands around that are going to write catchier hooks then can be found on Heart Beats Pacific. It may not have had the hype of some albums that came out at around the same time but it is the one that I listen to the most and it will continue to be one of my favourites for a long time.
All right, here is some raw as all get out, punk to the muthafuckin’ gills rock-n-roll. “Demos” by Good Things gives up four brief tracks of basement-grade ballast; chunky guitar, chunky bass, chunky drums, chunky everything. It’s raw, but its got balls.
While you only get four tracks, the ones you get are like a time machine dragging your ass back to the early 80’s and then stomping a riot straight into your guts. Plus they have a song about Ghostdad, so Bill Cosby would pretty much love them right out of the gate.
Despite the basement laden recording, there are some dynamics that are apparent in the band if you make it all the way to track four, “The Scofflaw”. It is easily the winner for polish out of the quatrain of tunes.
While I generally don’t comment much on cover art, it does appear that Good Things are fans of sodomy, so if that’s your thing too, then perhaps you should check them out. In the end though, I think the tags on their bandcamp page really say it best: “punk fuck punk Rockville”
(c) 2012 Epitaph Records
I have had a few things on my docket in recent weeks that I said I would review, but I just haven’t done it, and I kept telling myself I have to come up with something, but couldn’t. I just wasn’t inspired enough, I just couldn’t listen and put anything together. Fast forward to today, I had taken the day off work to take my little boy in for vaccinations, and he wasn’t having the best day afterward so we were just sitting around and I came across The Punk News’ exclusive stream of The Menzingers On The Impossible Past and we shared my headphones as we listened.
Maybe it was getting to share the music with my son or the music was really just that good but I started to get a feeling of joy that one only gets when they find something that was truly worth the time spent. From the opening track I was blown away. I started thinking about past albums that may have evoked the same feelings and I thought of albums that I could tell you exactly where I was when I first heard them, Dookie (skateboarding in a friend’s basement in March of ’94), American Idiot (at a New Year’s Eve party in ’05), and The ’59 Sound (in the Toronto Airport waiting for another delayed Air Canada flight in December of ’09). I don’t know why this particular thought crossed my mind, but as the stream continued to play and we sat listening it started to become more apparent that this very album may turn to be the 4th on that list.
Top to bottom the album is stunning, lyrics, vocals, guitar, drums, everything. I think I will skip my standard picking out of stand-out tracks and just say that I love them all. While the title might seem to imply that it is impossible to bring back the past, but after listening today I would have to beg to differ and say that no matter where you are or what you are doing when you listen to this it will invoke some sort of memory, and maybe play a part in a new one.
You can now stream The Menzingers Epitaph Records debut On The Impossible Past by going to: http://www.punknews.org/article/46191
Welcome back, Ducky Boys. Chasing the Ghost, the first album from the band in six years, is definitely a rocker, albeit an often sad rocker. It is a respectable blend of punk rock tempered with rock and roll. The real world guts and grit is intact and the songs have heart and blue collar soul.
Chasing the Ghost offers 17 tracks, written primarily by bass player and vocalist Mark Lind. The tracks are often melancholy or at the very least have an overtone of loss and longing. The sounds of pining for what life could have or should have been perhaps?
In general, the tracks are mid tempo rock with several deviations such as the more lively opening track New Chapter and the sing-a-long style of Surrogates. In addition to the more “active” tracks, there is some counterpoint in the folkish styling of Feeling Alive and the rock ballad sounds on the closer: There’s Always Another Way.
The bottom line is that this is a rock solid release, but it won’t likely end up on my heavy playlist unless I’m feeling depressed and looking for catharsis. While the tracks are great, they are pretty down note. Don’t get me wrong there is a sound of hope there, but a far away hope that might not ever show.