Hans Gruber and the Die Hards – With A Vengeance

You’re probably like me. You just want a little bit of Ska Punk to listen to. Maybe you want it to be flavored with a delicate hint of Bluebonnets? Why wouldn’t you? Well then dig into this. “With A Vengeance” is the 4th full album from Austin TX band Hans Gruber and the Die Hards, and it’s pretty damn kickass!

Pre-order’s for the 2nd pressing can be found here.

The album opens with a cumbia inspired track, “Nothing Like a Good Old Fashioned Witch Hunt”. The band has this to say about it:

“Nothing Like a Good Old Fashioned Witch Hunt” started as a musical exploration into Kurt’s obsession with the horn heavy Cumbia sounds he was introduced to while living in Texas. Not being one to shy away from cramming several genres together, we also managed to flow through some hardcore and punk rhythms in the piece.

Lyrically, this song represents some stream of consciousness frustrations Kurt had with some of his friends, family and self, that, in retrospect, also reflect some of the more bizarre aspects of modern American culture.

We’d love to tell you the old fashioned 3D effects applied to this music video is about world views and our split nation. But it’s just because we thought it looked cool. Feel free to read into it and give the video some depth and meaning for us.

“With a Vengeance” is the most “Hans Gruber and the Die Hards-y” album we’ve done. Cliche as it is to say, it’s been a weird time getting this out and we can’t be more proud.

~Kurt, Rosey and Chris

The music and lyrical content is diverse. From the highly controversial “No No Bronto”, a ska punk treatise on the non-existence of the Brontosaurus to the sweep arpeggios accompanying the doom metal sounds of “My Friend Chuck”, into the haunting proto-occult wailings of “Vril Society”, each track rings out a distinct piece of the cohesive whole.

The clearly tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “Let’s Drive Everywhere” provided a glimpse into the band’s environmental standpoint. “Squatcore” featuring Omnigone is a shout along punk rock banger extolling the virtues of physical fitness, obviously. 

16 tracks in 29 minutes sets for a breakneck pace, punctuated by an interesting theatrical intermission with their cover of Brazil. It’s a fantastic album. I highly encourage you to check it out, if you haven’t already. As a final note, if you have dandruff, you may want to double check that it isn’t actually ghosts and/or demons. Can’t be too safe.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Nothing Like a Good Old Fashioned Witch Hunt 01:59
2. No No Bronto 01:46
3. My Friend Chuck 01:20
4. Vril Society 02:18
5. No Outside Tanks 01:52
6. Time, I Don’t Want It Anymore 01:25
7. Blood on the Walls 00:42
8. Brazil 02:21
9. Let’s Drive Everywhere 01:58
10. An Old Man Like Me 02:17
11. Monster of Walgren Lake 02:26
12. Credit Cards are a Product of Satan 01:33
13. Dandruff 01:21
14. You’re Being Watched 01:49
15. Squatcore feat. Adam Davis 01:14
16. Praise to the Algorithm 02:30 

Hans Gruber and the Die Hards is:
Chris Thompson – Drums, Vocals, Theremin, Ukulele
Rosey Armstrong – Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
Kurt Armstrong – Vocals, Bass, Trombone, Kazoo

Additional musicians:
Hans Emanuelson – Guitars, Keys, Trumpet, Ukulele, Backing Vocals
Nick Tozzo – Timbales, Congas, Triangle, Guira, Shaker, Tambourine on Tracks 1, 8 and 9
Eric Molina – Baritone Saxophone on Track 1
Jose Noriega – Sousaphone on Tracks 2, 8 and 13
Dave Cavallo – Backup Vocals on Tracks 3 and 8
Drew Leclaire – Backup Vocals on Track 8, Theremin on Track 4
Adam Davis – Vocals on Track 15
Co-Produced, Mixed and Recorded by Drew Leclair

Recorded at Studio 8522, Hokus Tracks and Vine Recording. Mixed at Vine Recording.

Mastered by Luis Crivelli             

Bio:
Menacingly fun, Hans Gruber and the Die Hards brand of punk/ska mashes genres together like a toddler eating chocolate cake – with messy intensity for maximum enjoyment. From Boston hardcore to Colombian cumbia, southern gospel to crossover thrash, their live shows are filled with pits, sock puppets, conga lines and confusion – if you are nihilistic enough to jump in feet first. 

Formed in Austin, TX as a four piece in 2014, the band shamelessly embraces change. Over the years they added a full time Saxophone player, as well as parted ways with two of their founding members. Their newest album,  “With A Vengeance,” represents the best of times with the former lineup, the struggles of a new era after their departure, and finding a new voice through these very same songs. 

Much like their ability to combine musical genres, their lyrics tread a fine line between metaphor, truth, sarcasm and lies, assuming their audiences have the know-how to join them on this magical journey.

Possessed by unbridled joy for music, Hans Gruber and the Die Hards continue to push forward looking for the next venue to haunt as they chant: IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 – Plague Doctor

David Hillyard & The Rocksteady come rocking back steady with their first new album since 2018’s The Giver. The new release, Plague Doctor (Due summer 2022)  is brimming with traditional Jamaican rhythms, but nicely blended with Brazilian musical elements and themes. 

The sound and feel is as much new Rocksteady, Jazz Ska as it is 60s/70 Latin, Caribbean, and Cumbia. Admittedly I’m roundly ignorant of classic Brazilian music, but there are striking similarities to much of the Caribbean and Latin Ska and Rocksteady I’ve heard previously. 

Mid-tempo, danceable instrumentals are the bread and butter of this release, which makes for great direct listening as well as more casual ambient listening. If you were to throw this on the hi-fi at a swanky cocktail party, the guests and location would transport across a parallel universe where everyone, and everything, is super cool and chill. The vocal tracks are no less compelling with smooth Portuguese lyrics artfully interwoven into the almost hypnotic rhythm.  

David Hillyard is, of course, the saxophone player for the Ska stalwarts The Slackers. The band is rounded out with additional musicians of significant pedigree. “The Rocksteady 7 features some of the best players in the current ska/reggae scene, including members of NYC ska staples The Slackers and percussionist Larry McDonald (Toots & The Maytals, Gil Scott-Heron. Lee “Scratch” Perry).”

Technically “new”, this release was recorded a couple years back and is just now surfacing. “The album, Plague Doctor, was recorded in the summer of 2020. We were just out of the 1st covid lockdowns but the vaccine was still just a dream. Normally, with Rocksteady 7, we all get in a big room together and knock out tunes together in 1-2 days. This time, we started recording basic rhythms and saxophone being in different rooms of the same house. Then we added percussion, guitars, keys, vibraphone, marimba, trumpet, trombone, and vocals sequentially. Each person improvising and improving upon the work of the last person who had it.  

For me, there are a lot of emotions in the playing. There is the joy of making music together. There is the anguish of being unable to see the people you love in person. Overall, the goal is to make healing music. Music that heals a varities of wounds and ailments.” – David

If you’re interested in expanding your Ska/Rocksteady collection, I highly encourage checking out David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7, and picking up a copy of Plague Doctor when it becomes available.

–Jerry Actually

Tracks:
A1 Plague Doctor Theme
A2 Closer To My Heart
A3 Maracatu Atomico
A4 The Frog
A5 Amanha
A6 Chove Chuva

B1 Wide Pacific Ocean
B2 Dedicada
B3 Was I Made For These Times
B4 Plague Doctor
B5 Boogaloo

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

The Fauxriginals – … If You Believe It

Got another banger here from PDX Punk-Ska-Rockers, the Fauxriginals. …If You Believe It is out today and you’re locked down with nothing better to do, so listen to this and buy a copy or something.

The new EP drops eight fresh tracks of well polished pop punk with ska hooks and a great rock and roll swagger. Aside from previous mentions to Orangetree, this new release kinda reminds me a bit of Johnny Socko, and that ain’t a bad thing, kids.

The songs run the gamut of the laments of not being “Punk Enough” to the spiritual lifestyle coaching of “Beeritual Advisor” A strong range if you ask me. Tracks are largely rapid paced interspersed with more pedestrian speeds on tracks such as “Spelling Lessons”

Everything has a solid polish to it, musicianship and recording are full on quality, nothing to report by goodness there. If you enjoy pop punk that straddles the late tail of 3rd Wave Ska, then this is totally up your alley.

Cheers and stay safe!

-Jerry Actually

Victims of Circumstance – Five

It’s a new year. It’s a new decade. It’s friday and it’s time to let loose. So pry your head from your desk and read about some Florida punk ska courtesy of Victims of Circumstance.

Five is the brand new album from Clearwater-based VOC. It throws down 12 rowdy rock-n-ska tracks. Pop sensibility, rock hooks, horns, and a punk attitude all line up for a fairly contagious release.

The bands decade and a half together is evident in the songcraft and musicianship. The sound isn’t overproduced however, merely polished. It is reminiscent of the transition that Mustard Plug made over the years. Bands grow and learn as they do and eventually gel in a way that doesn’t often manifest in the nascent years. I’m hearing that here is what I’m saying.

You’ve heard ska and punk combined before. If you like how that made you feel, I can’t imagine how you’re not going to dig this album. Absolutely for fans of Bosstons, Mustard Plug, Buck-0-Nine, and tbh, vocally I keep picking up hints of Dropkick. I certainly don’t want to typecast though, so for fans of, and the fans to be, get on up and check out a copy of Five

Cheers,

Jerry Actually  

Tracks

01 Sober 3:36
02 Tonight We’re Getting Loud 2:34
03 The X 4:25
04 Involuntary 2:48
05 Aggravated 3:38
06 Obey The Rules 4:51
07 Enemy 3:23
08 Quit Looking for the Win (Vinnie Owes us a S… 3:40
09 Never Have I Ever 3:47
10 Roll the Dice 3:42
11 The Edge 3:21
12 Ready to Go 2:25

Bio

Founded in 2005 in Clearwater, Florida, Victims of Circumstance is a punk and ska band known for blending pop-hooks with a unique style of ska. The current line-up includes band members: Michael Smyth (vocals & guitar), Glenn Stewart (drums), Lindsey Pittard (bass), Jason Atheney (saxophone), and Devin Johnson (trumpet).

The VOC, as they are known by fans, built a loyal following while playing around their home state of Florida before setting out on a tour that ended with an invitation to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones tenth Hometown Throwdown in Boston, MA in 2007. Victims of Circumstance has performed with numerous national acts including Less Than Jake, Big D & the Kids Table, The Pietasters, The Aquabats, Mustard Plug, Whole Wheat Bread, The Toasters and many, many others.

In 2007 they tapped The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ saxophone player and skacore veteran Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton to produce their first full-length album, Do It Yourself. At the end of 2008, Steve Foote of Big D and the Kids Table produced their second album, Roll the Dice, released in 2009.

In early 2011, the VOC flew to Japan and recorded their first live album, 2011’s Live in Japan.

After returning from their first 3 week European Tour in the summer of 2011, The VOC released their self produced album Acupunkture and received rave reviews such as – “This album is Great!. It stands up with the best in the genre.” – Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

In July and August 2012 the VOC completed another successful 3 week European tour which included playing at the world’s biggest Punk Rock Festival, “Rebellion”, in Blackpool UK. The VOC also provided support on their tour for bands such as MXPX, Snuff and The Creepshow.

In the fall of 2012 the band recorded a six song EP of cover tunes. The album, titled Decades, featured one song from each decade from the ’50s through the 2000’s. Including an all out Punk and Ska version of UK Boy Band One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”.  Following that release, VOC returned to the studio to write and record their fourth studio album, No More Heroes.

In the summer of 2014 Victims of Circumstance released their fourth studio album No More Heroes and provided support for bands such as Streetlight Manifesto and The Dropkick Murphys.  Online punk news organization, Dying Scene, selected No More Heroes as their top pick for best punk-ska album of 2014.

During 2015, VOC continued to tour in support of the new album.  During the summer they completed their third – 3 week European tour to help celebrate their 10th anniversary.  Tour dates included several festivals such as “The Boom Town Fair” and playing an all out killer set on the main stage during the final day of “Rebellion”.

2016 had the band continuing to play in support of  No More Heroes as well as re-entering the studio to record the follow up to Decades, “Decades Volume #2”, which was released in the   spring of 2017 receiving heavy play across college and internet radio.  

While VOC continued to play numerous shows and festivals across the southeast for the next few years, they also re-entered the studio in 2018 – 2019 to record their 5th full length all original studio album “FIVE”.  The album stretches the boundaries of their Punk and Ska roots and launches them into their 15th year as a band. “FIVE” will be released in January 2020.

The Fauxriginals – It’s Not a Lie…

the Fauxriginals album cover for It's Not a Lie...

Pop/Ska/Punk/Northwest/Rockandroll/Hellzyeah!

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!

-Jerry Actually

Tracks:

  1. My, Myself, and Idioms
  2. Bfff’s
  3. Painted on My Spine
  4. Level of Malevolence
  5. Being Alive in the 21st Century 
  6. Some of a Kind
  7. Rsvp

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.


We Know John – A Shot In The Dark

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.”

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Bio:

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

The Amalgamated – Premium Quality


San Diego’s own trad-ska combo The Amalgamated are back with some Premium Quality recordings. Putting their soulful reggae ska spin on some legendary tracks. Step lively now and give it a whirl.

If you aren’t familiar with the band, here’s a bit of their bio:

The Amalgamated are a traditional ska/jazz band, influenced very much by early SKA styles, old reggae tunes, great jazz standards and soulful ballads in the vain of the late 60’s. A 10-member ensemble that includes vocals, two guitars, stand-up bass, dual saxophones, trumpets, trombone, keys and percussion.

About the album:

This is a tribute to the artists that influence and inspire the band. These crowd pleasing tunes done in the style of Traditional Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae will have you dancing all night long. Recorded in 2013 at After hours Studio Ramona, CA

The new album boasts covers as diverse as All of Me, Crazy, and Twistin’ the Night Away, all performed with The Amalgamated’s signature swagger. It’s a covers album, sure, but it’s the bands take on songs that influenced and inspire them.

Above all, it’s fun album. Get some.

Tracks:
01 – My Little Suede Shoes
02 – All of Me
03 – Crazy
04 – I Love Paris
05 – Run Down
06 – A Love I Can Feel
07 – Black Orpheus
08 – That’ll Do Nicely
09 – Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White
10 – Twistin’ the Night Away
11 – La Cumparsita

Bargain Bin Heroes – Droppin’ The Deuce

Ahhhhhh yeah, the soothing sounds of the 3rd wave of ska. Say what you want, but the mesh of distortion, horns, and pop sensibilities with the upstroked, unity-filled, jumped up Kingston-come-London of two-tone really floats my boat. Droppin’ The Deuce, new from Florida ska act, Bargain Bin Heroes is currently the ska water keeping my boat afloat.

The new “EP” provides eight tracks (and a bonus) of fun-filled good times. I can wax nostalgic all day about this I suppose: Sounds of Mustard Plug, Buck O Nine, MU330, LTJ, and the rest fill my ears and it puts me at ease. I don’t want to pigeonhole the sound or any such thing, as all bands bring their own dynamic to any given genre they pursue. Bargain Bin Heroes are no exception. They’ve got their own take on what is now a fairly venerated sound.

All the tunes are performed abely, and the sound is tight, but not restrictive. Evidently this EP was mastered by Roger Lima. (whom I’m sure you’re familiar with) I’m certainly in favor of the more peppy of the lot. Track 4 “Coming Home” is a personal favorite. It’s a bit more uptempo and has a nice bounce to it.

Bottom line is that if you are in any way a fan of 3rd Wave Ska, please do yourself a favor and check out Bargain Bin Heroes.

Cheers!

Jerry Actually

Bio:
Bargain Bin Heroes is a high energy Punk/Ska (and Touch of Reggae ) band from Fort Myers, FL.

We formed in the summer of 2014,And have played all over the state of Florida ,and performed with acts such as Mustard Plug, The Independents, Unwritten Law, Fenix Tx, Mephiskapheles,
Whole Wheat Bread, UNRB, Victims Of Circumstance, and many more local and touring bands.

We released our first self titled EP in fall of 2015 and quickly gained a strong following playing as many shows as possible. Fast Forward to 2018 and Bargain Bin Heroes is gearing up to release their follow up EP Titled “Droppin’ The Deuce” recorded in their home town and mastered by Roger Lima Of Less Than Jake. Droppin’ The Deuce is eight tracks of punk,ska,and reggae goodness.

Ease Up – Return to Sender

I’m giving a quick listen to the new three track EP by ska/punk/reggae band Ease Up. I suppose that two and a half songs may be more apt. There are certainly three tracks, but two are very distinct versions of the same song, “Return to Sender” (not a cover). Bear in mind, the order that I am listening to the tracks is not the order that they will be on the release. (See below)

If you are down with any of the above mentioned genres, I think you’ll be pleased with the results of the band’s efforts. The two versions of “Return to Sender” alternate between a decidedly 3rd wave initial take into an sun-drenched island reggae version, heavy on the sleepy ganja-laced vibe. The final track cuts back to the faster and heavier vibe of the first, but with a rather Sublime vs. Less Than Jake appeal.

At the end of it all, this is quintessential SoCal summer beach music. Ska and Reggae vibes mixed with a decent dose of punk swagger.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Track Listing:
1. Return to Sender (2:43)
2. Turnaround (2:58)
3. Return to Sender (Mix) (3:35)

Get some: http://www.easeupmusic.net