Bitter Grounds – Hollowlands

© 2016


Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

bitter-grounds-hollowlandsBoom! Ska-tinged punk rock fired like a rocket out of Netherlands. I’m rocking a brand new release (December 2016) from Bitter Grounds. 11 smashing tracks that are simultaneously, a breath of fresh air, and a nod to late 90’s punk / ska punk. Hollowlands is a DIY effort done in conjunction with the band and Ring of Fire Records, Bad Granola Records, and Nextpunk Records.

On initial listen, the vocals strike me as a curious approximation of Lemmy, Leatherface, and Lars Frederiksen. Layer this on top of very fluid guitar melodies, reggae chop, and solid backing rhythms and you’re at the core of Bitter Ground’s sound. Don’t let me pigeonhole the album, however, that’s merely the gist of it. There’s plenty more variety going on up here.

As much as there’s Rancid influence, I’m also picking up reminders of Classic’s of Love and the vocal delivery method of Jesse Michaels. Maybe I’m inventing it in my head, or perhaps the band is as big of Op Ivy fans as I am.

Bottom line is that though the struggle continues, music is still being made. Art that addresses life’s concerns, society’s problems, humanity, solidarity, all the feelings that are challenging to express outside of the realm of art. Without struggle we wouldn’t find catharsis. Maybe struggle is worth it? Just remember, Ska’s not dead. Punk’s not dead. Check this shit out. It’s got all things that are good.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Hollowlands 02:39
2. Struck Out 03:11
3. Tell Me Now 02:46
4. Life of Violence 03:27
5. Human Touch 02:55
6. Patience 02:31
7. Pressure 03:04
8. Fine, Alright 02:10
9. Dead in my Head 01:30
10. Breakdown 03:46
11. Trouble 03:11

Labels:
Ring of Fire records ( http://rof-records.com/ )
Nextpunk Records ( http://www.nextpunk.ch/ )
Bad Granola Records ( https://www.facebook.com/Badgranola/ )

Neverlearn – Start Tomorrow EP

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

neverlearn

I know I sometimes slack off, a lot, the last few years, but something that still inspires me to “pick up the pen” as it were, is getting refreshing new music from around the globe. Today is one of those days. Seriously, music, from around the planet, is linking us all. That is a seriously awesome connection. The technology we have available makes so much more possible. I suppose that maybe it takes away the former coveted knowledge, secret band thing of the old tape trading days, but waxing nostalgic aside, the unprecedented access to new music from far flung markets is fantastic. But I digress.

I’m listening to the Start Tomorrow EP by Finnish (Oulu, Finland) band Neverlearn. The four tracks are a quick burst of energetic, melodic punk rock. It’s maybe a bit on the pop punk tip with a hint of AFI-esque emo to it. On the whole I dig it.

The guitar leads are as smooth as the rhythm is tight. This is especially present on track 3, Gravel Pit. The vocals are pulled back and ever so slightly washed out. It gives the song an interesting far away sound.

Though there are only four tracks on the EP, it starts strong, keeps ramping up, and finishes stronger that it started.

Get some!

-Jerry Actually

NOBODYS – Hussy

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

©2016 Rad Girlfriend Records

nobodys-hussyColorado’s porno-punks NOBODYS are back with HUSSY, their first record in 15 years! Original members JJ Nobody (Drag The River) & Randy “The Kid” Schumacher join forces with Adam Huscher & Steve Bauer (Buck O Nine)to take NOBODYS brash attitude, that you know so well, and have evolved into a full blown Rock N Fucking Roll Band.

Produced and Engineered by Chris Fogal (The Gamits) at Black In Bluhm studios. Hussy comes out late October of 2016 from Rad Girlfriend Records.

15 years is a mighty long time to go without a new record. Usually if there’s that much of a lapse in band activity, the band is essentially dead, but ya know, sometimes shit happens. Well that’s what we have here. Some shit happened and brand new batch of a musically aggressive breed of ramones-core has once again sprung forth out of Colorado. Hells yeah.

I’ve not been overly pleased for the last few iterations about the crap that I’m hearing. Everything’s been “postpunk” this and “prerock” that. Everybody has an angle. Well cut the crap and let’s get back to the Sex Drug (Sex) and Rock & Roll that we loved in the first place.

Thankfully there are bands such as NOBODYS that can muster up the gumption to kick out 13 new tracks of noteworthy punk rock. Oh sure, that averages less than a track per year in their hiatus, but you know what, I’ll take what I can get and I’ll like it!

Standout numbers include the aforementioned “Sex Drugs Sex and Rock & Roll”, “Beer for Breakfast”, (I really like the stripped down hollow sound on this track) and the auto-biographical “Joe Queer Kicked Me Out.” (The exceedingly Queers sounding riffs on this one are hilariously fantastic)

The band will have an album release show at JJ Nobody’s bar, The Triple Nickel Tavern in Colorado Springs on October 29th with Ray Carlisle from Teenage Bottlerocket will be performing acoustic at the release show. Limited Midwestern tour dates, including shows with The Mr. T Experience will follow.

You’ve got a day to be early. Get some!

Pre-order the record from Bandcamp at: http://radgirlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hussy

Or pre-order the color copies directly from the website at:
http://radgirlfriendrecords.storenvy.com/products/18103847-rgf-062-nobodys-hussy-lp

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

nobodys

Track listing:
Not Loving You
Know It All
Sex Drugs Sex And Rock & Roll
He Moved To Denver
Do It All Again
Beer For Breakfast
Drop What You’re Doing
Joe Queer Kicked Me Out
Kick Me While I’m Down
Who Invited You
She Thinks I’m Sexist
Bad Business
She’s Nuts

Dead To Me – I Wanna Die In Los Angeles

© 2016 Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

dead_to_me_die_in_laHere’s a bit of news that you’ve probably already heard. Jack Darlymple is back with Dead To Me after his six year hiatus from the band. The band is working on a new album and in the meantime, there’s a new EP out.

I’ve got the three tracks on loop this morning and I’m, as expected, digging the sounds coming out of my speakers.

The sad thing about EPs is that they can leave you wanting. The three tracks are lyrically intense and feel personal, representative of breakdown and recovery after Tyson “Chicken” Annicharico’s “nonstop drug and alcohol abuse leading him to, in his words, “a psychotic break” which resulted in his admission into a psych ward in San Diego in early November.”

Though brief, I’m happy to hear the band returning to form with solid punk rock and depth that belies a genre that was once panned as a juvenile product of the working class.

Cheers
-Jerry Actually

Tracks:
I Wanna Die In Los Angeles
Tune It Out
Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the …

dead_to_me_group

The Mr. T Experience – King Dork Approximately

The Mr. T Experience – King Dork Approximately
© 2016

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

mtx_king_dork_approximatelyIf there is such a thing as “pop-punk legends” The Mr. T Experience, or MTX as they’ve become known are surely among them. Admittedly I am not the biggest pop-punk genre and haven’t really listened to MTX in years. As it happens the band hasn’t put out anything new in about 12 years. I guess that kind of makes me still in the loop.

2016 brings us back around though. There’s a brand new MTX album. King Dork Approximately, not so coincidentally the same title as the recently released young adult book by MTX vocalist/songwriter “Dr. Frank” Portman. (The new book is the sequel to the acclaimed “King Dork”)

The new release offers 12 tracks of very poppy music with tinges of punk here and there. The songs are sweet and well crafted. It, in a way, is what would have happened in an alternate universe 1960s USA if the Beach Boys would have drifted more towards garage instead of surf. I guess what I’m getting at is that the songs are resplendent of teenage love songs, but with more edge that comes along with the societal norms from a different era.

I haven’t had the opportunity to read the book to which this album is apparently the soundtrack, but the songs make me feel like that it is early teen / junior high / highschool lit, geared towards the awkward and the weird. The worried and the harried. I’m well past that age bracket of my life, thankfully, but the core still resonates strongly to a guy who never really outgrew his own reign as King Dork.

The self-referential bits aside, King Dork Approximately is as tender of a pop-punk album as you’re likely to ever get. If you’re down with a little bit of bubble gum and want to reminisce about the good ol’ days of Lookout Records, grab yourself a copy and give it a spin.

Cheers,
Jerry Actually

Anti-Nowhere League – The Cage

© 2016 Cleopatra Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

the_cageFile under old punks don’t die. For the second time this week, I’m listening to brand new music by an old school Brit band. Yesterday I was checking out a new track by trash stalwarts, Lawnmower Deth, and now I’m rocking a brand new album from veteran punk rockers, Anti-Nowhere league.

If you’re like me, your familiarity with ANL is from Metallica’s cover of So What off of Garage Days. Outside of that I had very little knowledge of the band until this new album. Kinda crazy how times changes and influence circles around. Now I’m listening to the bands that influenced the sounds I liked in the day instead of the bands that were under the influence, so to speak.

At any rate, I’m listening to a brand new album, The Cage by Anti-Nowhere League, out today (05/13/2016) and I’m digging it. 13 tracks of energetic punk rock with enough maturity under its belt that you know that it says what it means and means what it says. Tracks are tight and well produced. The songs are well balanced sonically. Vocals don’t overpower the backing tracks and the bass isn’t drowned out by the guitar. It’s got guts; quality guts!

As much as I’m enjoying it, there is some wanking solos that I could totally live without. Sometimes I dislike (ok, most of the time) when punks grow up, learn how to play and then have to prove it. … God damn punks! I trade the guitar solos for more songs for more awesome alcohol fueled sing-a-long tracks like #9 God Bless Alcohol!

For reals though, this release is some solid brand new punk rock by some serious veterans of the game. Look for them live at some of the upcoming Punk Rock Bowling events.

On a side note, WTF festival franchises? Festival events used to be cool and almost mythical. Now there’s a dozen in every town. Perhaps I’m being a bit of a snob, but I think it waters down the scene.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

UGLYBoNES – Growing Concerns

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

uglybonesUGLYBoNES is a four piece hardcore/thrash punk outfit running out of the Windy City, (Chicago for those of you living under rocks) They’ve got a new album to jam up into your earholes. It’s entitled Growing Concerns and it will crush you.

The release contains 10 tracks, ninety percent of which clock in well under the two minute mark. Rapid bursts of sonic aggression without being over the top ear bleed screamo assault. (totally up my alley as screamo razer vocals are fn lame)

The tracks are all solidly constructed on a foundation of the angst of fading youth. The lyrical delivery is drenched with intensity and the musical accompaniment is fraught with urgency. The overall effect is a cavalcade of pretty rad hardcore punk.

The only downside I can think of is that the tracks have a very consistent pattern of insisting on a slower breakdown segment. Not saying they don’t have merit, but it can get a bit formulaic by the end.

Any downside aside, this band deserves a little bit of your attentions. Go check out their tracks and kick ‘em down some dough so they can continue to rip this shit up.

http://uglybones.bandcamp.com/

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Set Off 01:44
2. PCAF 01:20
3. Not The Same 01:39
4. Obscene 01:17
5. Grown Up 00:54
6. Office Destroyer 00:30
7. SUX 01:20
8. Took Too Much 01:19
9. Bendz 02:25
10. Lazy 01:38

Leftover Crack – Constructs of the State

© 2015 Fat Wreck Chords


Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

constructs_of_the_stateThere’s a warm feeling that overcomes some people when certain sounds, something familiar and inviting plays. I’m getting those kind of feelings now as I listen to the new Leftover Crack album, Constructs of the State. It’s been the better part of a decade since the controversial and exceptional Fuck World Trade was released. Just in time for the holiday season, for your gatherings with kith and kin are the crack rocksteady sounds both old and new to warm your cold dead hearts.

The new release stays true to form with 13 scathing salvos against a broken system, what’s new is more sonic diversity. Track five, Slave to the Throne is a brutally metallic track with speed metal thrash riffs more akin to Slayer or Obituary than more common ska-punk outfits. There’s also a wider range of instrumentation in play with folkish sounds of banjo and possibly a washboard on track six, Bedbugs and Beyond.

Many of the tracks feature film or tv soundtrack backdrops to frame the context of the lyrics. “Of course I’m dangerous, I’m police. I can do terrible things to people..with impunity.” from True Detective sets the tone of the track Corrupt Vision. In addition to the tonal variety of the individual tracks, there’s plenty of guest vocals including track four, System Fucked featuring Jesse Michaels of Op Ivy.

The album continues in a consistent manner, lashing out at broken systems of finance, patriarchy, healthcare and prison systems. The sounds of the songs may change from track to track but the tone is the same. There’s something very broken. I don’t know if an album can provide solutions to the complex problems that we face as a society, but if it can make people think it’s a start.

The album does get to a point where I believe that it’s almost too overproduced. It’s a fine example of production, but the it serves to burnish the raw edge that I’m missing. Between that and what I think is an imbalance of more ska heavy content I’ve had to knock the score down a bit. All aside it’s a fantastic album, fit for a time when things are in constant threat of being ripped apart at the seams.

Final note: I’ve been going over this release for about a week now. Initially I didn’t feel quite so strongly about it as I’ve become over successive listens. The more times I hear it, the more the music sinks in and the impact of the band’s rage takes hold. We’re living during some incredible times, but we’re also living through some incredibly fucked up times. If you ask me, it’s times like these that music is the best weapon against a war to which we’ve all been blindly conscripted.

–Jerry Actually

Hollowpoints – Rocket to Rainier

© 2015 Sailor’s Grave Records

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

hollowpointsIt’s been a statistically significant amount of time since I’ve heard anything from the Seattle, WA punk rock getup The Hollowpoints. It’s been over five years since I reviewed “Old Haunts”, and well, that’s just been too damn long. Hell, it’s damn near a third of the time that I’ve been reviewing music. I’d just about given up. Thankfully now I can continue trucking on.

A bit over five years ago, the previous Hollowpoints release was the darling of the day. I pegged it as a must have album and my favorite thus far in 2010. (It actually landed at the #5 spot for my Top 10 or 2010) Now I’ve got my hot little hands on Rocket to Rainier. The new album drops on October 2, 2015 (Did you totally just read me saying “The new album DROPS?” Yeah, I’m pretty insidery and shit, but enough about me. Here’s some important things that you might want to know about the new record: It contains 13 songs. They are all rad. The material is face paced and melodic but with the rough edges left intact.

The band has stayed consistent to my perception of them from time past. The songs are sonically rich with excellent arrangement. However, I don’t want to mislead you. The songs are not technically complex or all bizarre wanking fusion or some such thing. They are orchestrated well, musically and sonically, for fast-paced punk rock tunes. The tracks still resonate with my lyrically as well; poignant, anthemic, without attempting to become (too) epic. Combined, it’s the kind of music that captures the existential angst of a begrudgingly depressing life in America. It’s the kind of tunes that I’d imagine that Springsteen or Petty would make if they would have been born decades after their respective births. (except with vocals that sound eerily reminiscent of Roger from Less Than Jake on occasion)

As I dig my heels into this record, it is in turn latching its hooks into my brain. I have a feeling that this is going to get a bit of heavy rotation though this month. As far as influences go, at least ones that I’m perceiving, the reminders of the Clash and Cheap Trick are still there. I can’t help thinking of American Steele too. In fact, everything I loved about the last album is here, only perhaps more so. Once again I am inclined to highly recommend Hollowpoints. Support your local punk rock band kids. Go to the shows. Buy some records and t-shirts!

–Jerry Actually

PEARS – Go to Prison

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
(c) 2015 Fat Wreck Chords

pearsDamn! PEARS “Go to Prison” is the best, most intense, and my favoritist new release since maybe the Classics of Love “Walking in Shadows” EP.

Barreling straight at you out of the Crescent City, this hardcore punk rock unit is down with intensity and rapidity.

I’ll have to check my references, but I believe it was something on the order of eight weeks (nope, it was totally five) from formation to this albums release on Fat Wreck Chords. I understand the label’s interest. The band has chops, guts, the energy of Suicide Machines (minus the ska), hardcore intensity, and some hooks like NOFX.

I’ll cut this short for now, because I’m into the whole brevity thing. This album rules. It’s my current new favorite. It’s a whipped up mix of punk and hardcore to the benefit of both genes. Frankly I’m a bit jealous that my band didn’t have its shit together like PEARS.

I’d have given this a perfect 10, but it’s about two tracks to short to make the full drive to work. … Maybe I should live closer. Read on if you want the full press release.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

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