Chicago bred trio The Lawrence Arms will release Skeleton Coast, their first album in six years, on July 17. The band offers fans a glimpse at the record with the release of the first single from the new record, “PTA.”

Skeleton Coast was recorded 30 miles east of El Paso, TX at Sonic Ranch Studios with longtime producer Matt Allison. It was kind of like album camp in the sense that we were in this very remote setting for two weeks and really focusing on making the record. That was a very different experience for us because we’ve always made our records in Chicago which is home and all the things about home are in the way,” says vocalist and guitarist Chris McCaughan.

The album contains the elements of the band’s sound that fans have come to love for the past two decades but recontextualizes them in a way that somehow sounds perfectly aligned with this strange time in our collective history. Although it was written and recorded before the Coronavirus upended the world, the band’s seventh studio album sounds eerily prescient as it imagines an apocalyptic future where coyotes croon and wolf packs roam free. “For a band who has been around as long as us, this is about as urgent of a record as we could make,” vocalist and bassist Brendan Kelly explains. “It may be kind of dark but it’s really about searching for light in the darkness and finding it, as small as those moments may seem. That’s sort of where we’re at: Collecting the scraps of things that could make for a bearable existence in dark times.”

1. Quiet Storm
2. PTA
3. Belly Of The Whale
4. Dead Man’s Coat
5. Pigeons and Spies
6. Last Last Words
7. Demon
8. Ghostwriter
9. How To Rot
10. Under Paris
11. Goblin Fox Hunt
12. Lose Control
13. Don’t Look At Me
14. Coyote Crown

The Lawrence Arms have never had any agenda apart from just having fun and making good music. Since forming in Chicago in 1999—the trio of bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly, guitarist/vocalist Chris McCaughan and drummer Neil Hennessy—have made albums that continually challenge the boundaries of their sound. In the process they’ve carved out a distinctive identity in the punk community that’s simultaneously gritty, beautiful, melodic and mutinous.

The Lawrence Arms by Ben Pier

For more information on The Lawrence Arms, visit:

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.

Jerry Actually

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

The Downtown Struts – Victoria!


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

Ok folks, here it is, Victoria! the brand new full length from Chicago’s Downtown Struts. I’ve long been a fan of the punk rock sounds coming out of the Windy City and this newest venture doesn’t disappoint; equal parts rock and roll and angst all rolled together with enough ennui to bend the ear of the most cynical among us.

The tracks are longer and a tad slower than my attention span generally allows for, but the song writing and delivery is in a such a manner that I’ll sit transfixed through the entire album (and on a bad traffic day, I’ll sit through it twice) I’ve talked about bands that are wearing this new mantle before: Dead to Me, The Loved Ones, Hollowpoints. The list could go on, but I hope you get the point. The music is full on rock and roll but loaded with introspection and damn I do love some introspection.

What you get with Victoria! is 10 tracks that set a great stage for sad story telling; telling tales of a life lost in America. To me it symbolizes lost glory, a pining for halcyon days but retaking the faded sense of hope. The album encompasses a dying ember on a still burning torch. Not everything is lost, but what exactly does it take to rekindle that waning flame?

The bottom line is one of the best new releases that I’ve heard so far this year. If you’re a punk fan that also gives a shit about song writing and you can feel the heavy weight of words, especially in combination with music that matches the spirit of the lyrics, then grab a copy of Victoria! You can find more info on the band here:

–Jerry Actually

The Projection – While You Were Out


(c) 2012 Paramount Drive Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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. 😉

–Jerry Actually

The Psycho Kid – Hypocrite Land


© 2009 Logan Ave Recrods
Rating: ★★★½☆

psycho_kid_hypocrite_land_300I’ve got to stop moving apartments. Once again I’ve lost the one sheet that came with “Hypocrite Land”, the new CD release by Chicago area trio The Psycho Kid. Thanks, however, to the modern miracle that is the Internets, I have their bio up online. Here’s the rundown: Glenn Brandt (vocals/guitar), Julia Zap (vocals/bass), Chris Morrow (vocals/drums)started in 2005, developing material for their next album, playing music, playing well, making people grit their teeth (not dentist friendly) and making people dance. I say these are all admirable goals, except maybe the teeth gritting part, but I am not a dentist, so I don’t really know. Ok, now that you know who the hell I’m talking about let me tell you a bit about the disc. 13 tracks of poppy punk rock with a good amount of crunch, not to say that the music is crunchy, but the instrumentation is very crisp, it’s snappy if you will. The vox have an interesting sort of talk-sing sort of thing going on with a decent amount of complimentary backups going on. Here is the weird thing though, I almost get the feeling that this disc was recorded at 78rpms and then down-shifted to 45 and then pitch corrected. I’m sure it wasn’t, but I get a weird impression that some of these songs want to be faster … ne, need to be faster. Perhaps I’m just impatient. I tell you what though, I like The Psycho Kid. They are a hard working 3-piece combo keeping the DIY spirit alive and well in Chicago. Rock on!

-Jerry Actually

The Lawrence Arms – A Guided Tour of Chicago

(c) 1999 Asian Man Records

Clouded by depression and gilt with anger, bearing a jaded outlook for today and the future, The Lawrence Arms grind out 10 Emo-Laden tracks on their debut CD “A Guided Tour of Chicago”. These former members of the Broadways and Baxters turn out some decent suburban angst-ridden punk rock, albeit a little on the emotionally torn side. These guys are not the fastest, they’re not the most hardcore, and they’re not aiming for the hip and trendy set. In these day were in that get slammed in the head like a runaway cement truck, It’s refreshing to hear a little bit of good ol’ Punk Rock -n- Roll. With bleak view of the future and a hope for better yesterdays, Chicago’s The Lawrence Arms leave me with a feeling of inner turmoil of my own. It is the kind of CD that fits well on a rainy day and evokes a bit of a cathartic feeling. Given that I am in Portland, This may get quite a bit of play throughout the winter. Final assessment, Good, like seeing a bitter drama flick that leaves you pissed off when you leave the theater, a difficult situation with no resolution.

–Jerry Actually

Hay Perro – Summer of Destruction (EP)

(c) 2008 Belgian Style Records
Rating: ★★★½☆

From lands far east of here, in a town known unto legend as the Windy City and Chi-Town comes forth a alchemist’s concoction. Combining the dark forces of metal, the thunder of rock and the furious pace of the mighty jackalope a newer stronger less leaden band has been thrust forth thusly. Harkin unto Hay Perro I say. Listen to their five mighty tracks of sonic and rhythmic destruction. Ok, but more seriously I was getting way side tracked into the Dark Age tale of yore. Hay Perro hails from Chicago and has been around for about half a decade. “Summer of Destruction” brings it with five tracks of metal tinged rock and roll. You can certainly hear the Maiden influence as well as Kiss and perhaps a little Zeke … but what do I know? Comparisons aside Hay Perro has a fresh rock sound and from what I can gather would likely be quite formidable in front of you on a stage, preferably somewhere near to where you are. So, um, without further banter, go check ‘em out on the inter-tubes: and

–Jerry Actually