The Pink Elephants – We Hate You

(c) 2011

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

We Hate You is an album that clocked in late 2011 from Spanish punk rockers, The Pink Elephants. This new disc is the follow up to the 2009 release of 100% R&R Liquor. On the new album, this Barcelona band offers 13 tracks of punk / pop punk blend in a manner similar to a lot of early 90s punk (at least to my American ears) The accent brings a nice new spin to it that keeps it fresh.

The tracks are mid-tempo and clocking in around the late two to three minute mark. A bit lengthy for me, but by no means a stretch of the attention span. The sounds are familiar (hard to not have that anymore) but the band is plenty able to make those familiar sounds their own.

At the end of it all, what I get from this is the grand idea that if I ever visit Barcelona, and The Pink Elephants are playing, I know I’m going to try to catch that show.

–Jerry Actually

One MIle Left-Behind The Story

So a while back I asked Jerry if he had anything that he needed reviewed, he told me he would send me something over.  He sent me a link for a German pop punk band named One Mile Left. I didn’t have anything else I wanted to write about, plus Jerry buttered me up a bit by telling me they liked my Pennywise review.  So I took a listen without knowing anything about them, and not reading their bio. From the first few bars all I could think was Blink 182 circa Enema of the State. The guitar and vocal melodies were eerily reminiscent, and I could only picture the webcam scene from American Pie where Jim is trying to get it on with Nadia and the guys from Blink 182 are watching with a monkey.  Well the funny thing about that is that I later went back and read their bio that they sent and they mentioned being inspired by the pop-punk of The same time and actually mentioned American Pie as being an influence.

Don’t get me wrong, these guys aren’t carbon copies of Blink or anything like that, in fact they don’t  have the same use of humor in their music, but when you listen to the music there is no doubt about the bands and time that the music was influenced by.

With all that said, I like them, maybe it is just nostalgia and longing for my younger years considering I turned 32 today but this is something I could listen to.  I have loved pop-punk since the first time I heard “Longview” and this brings me back to those earlier years. Check them out, for fans of those late 90’s pop-punk years they are definitely worth a listen.


Sundials – When I Couldn’t Breathe

© 2012 Asian Man Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Please join me in saying welcome to Sundials. Relatively new to the Asian Man Records roster and totally new to !upstarter, this Richmond, VA based outfit makes nice with their 90s alt vibe.

“When I Couldn’t Breathe” is jammed to the gills with alt-pop-rock melody laden goodness. At the core, isn’t that all you really need to know? I suppose you want to hear things about their casual cool rockishness, or maybe some bits about how college generates a lifestyle that begets band such as Sundials. Maybe I will say something about that. … Really, I generally like to offer something in the way of directional guidance, but Sundials’ sound is hanging just beyond my periphery. it’s a good sound though, one that could just as easily rock you as rock you to sleep (track dependent of course). Some people have made reference to the Lemonheads, personally, I’m thinking Short Round. Do with that what you wish.

At the end of it, what you get is 13 tracks of quality music that, at least for me, takes a time machine ride back to the dreamy 90s alt rock of days gone by.

–Jerry Actually

Morning Glory – Poets Were My Heroes

© 2012 Fat Wreck Chords
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been waiting years for this CD to come out. Ever since way back in the day when the world was all Choking Victim this and Leftover Crack (rock steady) that, I’ve been looking forward to hearing more from Morning Glory. Well about ten long years after the bands formation and nearly as many since I was listening to “This Is No Time Ta Sleep” and “The Whole World Is Watching”, there is finally something new for me to jam into my ears.

“Poets Were My Heroes” is the brand new full length from Morning Glory. You might be familiar with the band if you are familiar with front man Ezra Kire’s past projects, the aforementioned Choking Victim and Leftover Crack as well as InDK, or perhaps not. Morning Glory presents a more orchestrated and compellingly complex example of sounds perpetuated by the other bands; more anthemic and more epic.

The new release consists of “official” tracks, 1 – 13 and an unlisted track. They are all, seriously, stellar. The overall sound blends more common place punk and ska beats and riffs with sing-a-long chorus melodies and eerie horn stabs. Overall the effect is pretty damned impressive. The arrangement flows well from each track to the next, building, swelling, subsiding, and continually progressing until the album culminates in the alarmingly sincere, not unlike a shockingly sober Shane McGowan, vocals and piano of the final track, “Care of Me”.  (I have it on good faith that the whole CD was opted just based on this track.)

To close, this album is one of those rare classics that exemplify the idea of being more than the sum of its parts. Each piece builds together to form a whole that is, thus far, the best release of 2012.

–Jerry Actually

For fans of: Chocking Victim, InDK, Team Spider

01. Stevie Dinner
02. Everything’s A Song (To Me)
03. Shelter From The Spoon
04. Poets Were My Heroes
05. March Of The Asylum
06. Quemar Las Fronteras
07. Divide By
08. Orphan’s Holiday
09. Touch
10. Patiently
11. Life’s A Long Revenge
12. Another Way (Outside The Walls Of Eden)
13. Born To December
14. Care Of Me

The Gaslight Anthem-Handwritten

It would be stupid for me to believe that I am going to tell you something you haven’t already read about this album, or figured on your own if you have listened to it (my first borrowed line from Nick Hornsby’s description of Handwritten).  The Gaslight Anthem’s latest work has been out for almost a month now, and I have spent a lot of time driving recently which usually equates to a lot of chance to enjoy some good music along the way.  While Handwritten wasn’t the only record to grace my cd player while driving, it was thoroughly played.  Some songs played more than others as my wife is my opposite number when it comes to listening to music.  I am an album listener and I listen from beginning to end, her on the other hand will play the same song over and over again.  She does that with a few songs from the album, most notably “45”, “Keepsake”, and “You Got Lucky.”  She also has her own dance for the latter song, and she has listened to it so many times that her copy of the cd skips on this song. 

Anyway, we were travelling through Manitoba and during one of our many listens to “Keepsake” she pointed out to me that the song reminded her of me.  We listened to it over and over again, and I could not figure it out (and she wouldn’t stop playing it until I guessed).  So finally I asked “is he singing about his  (a) dad?”  to which she replied “yeah, I figured that out like the first time I heard it.” 

So while she likes to hear her favourites over and over again, I like to break up the monotony of driving the Trans-Canada highway by playing music trivia, and more specifically, “Who was the original singer for this song?”  I have to point out the she got “Which deceased 90’s rock star was the original artist for this song?” (Kurt Cobain and Nirvana on “Sliver”) and “Who was the original singer to this” (Tom Petty on “You Got Lucky”)  both wrong.  But she now claims that when she does her dance to “You Got Lucky” that if I “didn’t want me to dance like this you shouldn’t have introduced me to the song.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I am glad I did, and I am glad that she enjoys the group (almost) as much as I do.  It is hard to describe, but when listening to a Gaslight Anthem song there is an energy that isn’t present in most music.  I remember being younger and listening to  Born in the U.S.A on my grandmother’s 8 track player, or the Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker on my step-dad’s cassette in the car and just knowing that the music was something special.  I remember telling my wife when American Slang came out that one day our boy (not long after he was born) will look back and tell people about how his parents used to listen to The Gaslight Anthem on long trips, she agreed. 

Not long after this, I remember Lady Gaga being on an awards show and dressing up in meat (notice how I don’t really remember what show) and somebody at work stating how she is such a fashion icon.  I tried to gently explain that Lady Gaga needs that type of gimmick because her music isn’t very good, but guys like Brian Fallon and the like just exude cool through their music and don’t need that type of stuff.  I don’t think she understood me.  As it turns out, Nick Hornsby would write something eerily similar on the album write up as I said almost two years prior when he wrote ” even clothes made out of meat won’t do you much good if your music is 1980’s dance-pop.”  So while I may not have anything to say about Handwritten that hasn’t already been said I will take some solace in knowing that the group themselves are not trying to recreate the wheel when they record an album, but are just carrying on the tradition of rock ‘n’roll, in their own voice and doing  with as much conviction and authenticity as they can muster (my third Nick Hornsby reference).


Money In The Banana Stand – Giant Steps II

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Do you like subtle irony? Do you? I don’t care what your response was. Listen to this band. A reference to one of the most genius TV shows is enough to garner a listen, but wait, there’s more.

Money In The Banana Stand crafts clever songs; songs which are both well instrumented and well articulated. It is poetry done with music and done quite well.

I’m doing the micro review thing here, so get this CD (EP) ok? OK!

–Jerry Actually

Backyard Surgeons – No Anesthetic

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

It’s been a while since I’ve done a DVD review. This one is well worth the wait. (the DVD, not the review)

If you are a fan of travel, roadtrip movies and things like NOFX: Backstage Pass, this little travel doc from Melbourne’s Backyard Surgeons is a must see.

DIY funded and booked, a largely unknown band (at least here in USA) sets out to bring their brand of poppy punk rock to China. It’s heartfelt and real. Train rides, beers and good times abound.

Sorry for the bevity, but I’m on a tight deadline (self-imposed)

At any rate, this is so worth seeing. If you’re a fan of making your own way in this world and would like to bring punk rock to the masses, by all means, get a hold of this DVD. I think you can find them here for the time being:

On a more personal note, having owned a Gibson Explorer for 20+ years, I know what a bitch it can be lugging that thing around, kudos to you brother. I never had to lug mine that far in such a short time.

–Jerry Actually

PROBLEMS – Make it Through the Night

© 2012 P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Life is shitty. We all have problems. Life would be less shitty if we all had the new CD by Portland punk rock and rollers, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. ! (well, I suspect life would be piled with cash for the band if everyone in the world bought a copy of this, but I digress) Out in time for the summer west coast tour and the up and coming European tour, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S has a shiny new compact disc available for your listening pleasure. (as a side note, I have no idea if P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. stands for anything or if they fellas are just totally down with the full stop.)

Make it Through the Night is the latest release from P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. The disc kicks down 18 tracks of sonic bombast that reminds me a combination of Zeke and Nerve Agents. For those of you that know (and enjoy) those other bands, I suspect that this is right up your alley. Technically, Make It Through The Night is 9 official tracks and 9 “Bonus” tracks of previously released material. Technically you could put it in a box and call it box set, so you do what you want with that information.

The important thing is that P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. is badass and they have a pedigree to back that shit up. Some might dare to say they are a bit of a “Super Group”. Featuring former members of bands such as: Resist, Poison Idea, Detestation, The Weaklings, Masskontrol and Defiance might bring a certain amount of credibility to the aforementioned, but unlike other “Super Groups”, like the Damn Yankees, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. is not all about the douchebaggery. (as far as I can tell). There is another band I know of that has members of some of these same bands. Oh sure, they’re good, but not nearly as cool.

Some of the stand out tracks include the opener, “D.U.M.B” and track 6, Bad News. For the cover fans among you, there is also a great cover of The Cortinas “Fascist Dictator”.

The bottom line is that Portland, OR is still kicking out some hard rocking tunes and P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S is right there at its gritty rain-soaked core.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of this disc, I suppose you could contact the band here: of course there is a link to their MySpace page, so I wouldn’t blame you if you thought they broke up half a decade ago.

–Jerry Actually

Teenage Bottlerocket-Freak Out!

I say it’s not your music, it’s my attitude.  That is the only way that I can explain my reluctance toward listening to Teenage Bottlerocket.  I think it goes all the way back to SXSW 2011 when Ben Weasel had a physical altercation with two female fans.  A lot has been said of that of course, and why would that have anything to do with it? Especially considering they were very outspoken about the incident and were very quick to drop out of Weaselfest.   Well I was a fan of Screeching Weasel and couldn’t wait for the new album to come out (which I promptly sold), and I think I subconciously swore off any Ramone’s inspired pop-punk.

Fast forward to 2012 when Teenage Bottlerocket posted a stream of their first single from Freak Out, “I’m Done With Love.”  It caught my interest, and I even went back and listened to some of their older songs and I was hooked.  I am actually listening to it for a third time time today, and the thought of a fourth time just crept into my mind as I am currently listening to the final track “Go With The Flow” and the lyric “…I do as I feel like doing…(forgive me if I got that wrong)”  just inspired me to give it another go.

The other day I wrote a review of a new split from a couple Canadian hardcore bands, and while I did my best, hardcore is not my favourite punk genre, pop-punk is.  It is a combination of a lot of things, but mostly I love a good hook that I can sing along too.  Not to mention pop-punk is my style of choice while driving, I sing along, I do interpretive dances at times, and I drive equivalently fast as the music.

This last fact may get me into trouble as I drive across country this weekend and I head into Ontario where the Provincial Police and the 90 KM/H (approx 55 MPH) speed limit reign supreme.  Either way, it doesn’t matter much, songs like ” Who Killed Sensei”, “Freak Out”, “Mutilate Me”, and “Summertime” should fuel my driving and if I listen to it a compulsively as I have today, ensure that my fuel mileage isn’t as good as would be preferred.

Harrington Saints – Pride & Tradition

© 2012 Pirates Press Records / Contra Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

With a name like “Harrington Saints”, I’m immediately struck with the idea that this is a serious business, no holds barred, blue collar, in your face, working man’s street punk band. Maybe it’s familiarity with the genre, but there was no mistake in my assumption. These particular saints hail out of a little east bay town know as Oakland. You may have heard of it.

The band has been around since 2005 and Pride and Tradition is their second full-length. This one is produced by Lars Frederiksen. You may have heard of him. With it you get 11 tracks planted firmly in the vein of Oi and Street Punk; Blue collar rock and roll for the poor souls that have had their back broken by the man and get nothing in return.

The music is short, crisp, poignant, and timely yet timeless. (until such a time as people aren’t getting the short end of the stick I guess … so yeah, timeless.) That said, Street Punk isn’t the be all, end all for me. There is a strong tendency to get a bit repetitive. The Harrington Saints work to remedy this by not sticking strictly by the books. Tempos shift and not every track is a full on shout along. The themes run constant though; A desire for more, the tenuous grasp on the American Dream, white collar bandits, the ones who don’t put the effort in for their fair share.

Bottom line: If you like punk rock and you feel like you’ve constantly got the boot against your neck, rock the hell out and shout along with the Harrington Saints when they come crushing through your town.

–Jerry Actually