At Both Ends – Wheel’s Out The Window

At Both Ends is a pop-punk ska band reminiscent of the big 90’s 3rd wave era. They come from Sacramento and “Wheel’s Out the Window”, released under Morning Wood Records! Is their second album.

Alright, let’s get into it. One word I would use to describe this album is dynamic, and my opinion changed several times as the album progressed. As a predominately hardcore and ska-core fan, I was pleasantly surprised by some elements in this work. From the great rumbling bass riff to a thrash-like breakdown, I found many things to enjoy. Don’t let me paint this as a heavy ska-punk album though. The majority of the riffs are built around a poppy electric (emphasis on electric) guitar that most of the time got on my nerves, as did the singing which I will get into soon.

I do have to say I am a big fan of the horns on this album. Although they aren’t in every song I found them fantastic and well linked with the guitar, but were also original and crisp similar to that of Streetlight Manifesto’s many hits. Overall I am a fan of the music except for the voice. The lyrics and singer definitely put a damper on my appreciation of the piece. Though the songs have themes of unconformity (“Your Way”) and freedom (“Freedom”), the lead singer Gene sounds similar to the tone you think of when someone says pop-punk and not in a good way. Not to mention cheesy lyrics and rhymes, I found the album at its best when there wasn’t any singing at all. However, if Reel Big Fish, Green Day, and Less Than Jake are your jams, I think you will enjoy this album. Personally if Gene could pull off a kind of Jason Navarro of The Suicide Machines this album would be twice as good.

Overall I would recommend the album due to an overall appreciation for creating something fresh in the ska scene that announces similar values to that of the masters. Although I critiqued the guitar heavily, it did have its moments as well as the rest of the instruments. About 2/3 of the songs I can see myself listening to again, leaving about 5 or so songs that were in my opinion mediocre due to a pop sound and vocals.

You can find it at bancamp at:
https://atbothendspunk.bandcamp.com/album/wheels-out-the-window

Thanks for reading and leave your comments and opinions below! What did you think of the album?

-PW

The Best of the Worst – Painted Fools

Ska, Punk, Rock and Roll!

New Jersey based The Best of the Worst is back at it with a brand new EP. Painted Fools (available on 04/20/2017) offers up 7 new tracks of, well, ska, punk, and rock and roll.

From dreamy to screamy the band hits a wide range of sounds both across and within individual tracks. I’ll be honest here, I’m not at all familiar with this band, so I’m going to go out on a limb here with who their influences might be. I hear the subtle guiding hand of Bomb the Music Industry, Less Than Jake, Isaac Green and the Skalars, Lawrence Arms and, I don’t know, maybe some Tom Petty.

I am honestly a bit disappointed that I haven’t heard of them before, because I’m rather enjoying what I’m hearing. They’ve got track complexity, without being obtuse. The songs are well crafted with subtlety and nuance. Good takes. Good mix. There’s a link below. Go and buy a copy. Support local music, even if local is 1000s of miles away from where you really are.

We have the internet people! You can listen to sweet new music and then give a band some of your hard earned ducats so that they too can enjoy the sweet life of top shelf ramen on occasion.

http://chokeartist.storenvy.com/products/19480255-the-best-of-the-worst-painted-fools-cd

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Habits Live Hard
2. Inside My Apartment
3. Where Complacency Lives.
4. Spoiler Alert:
5. Doesn’t Really Matter, (feat. Tom Etts)
6. Like Bugs in Amber
7. We’ve Been Held Captive

THE MENZINGERS SHARE VIDEO FOR “AFTER THE PARTY”

PHILADELPHIA PUNK BAND NOW ON NATIONAL HEADLINE TOUR

(Photo Credit Charles Wzresniewski)

Today marks the premiere of the video for “After the Party,” the title track from The Menzingers’ latest album. The Philadelphia punk band’s fifth full-length, After the Party was released last month to much critical acclaim.

Directed by Kyle Thrash, “After the Party” unfolds as a frenetic short film following a young couple through Dairy Queen parking lots, trashed apartments, house parties, motel rooms, pool halls, and rooftops. The video’s gritty yet romantic sensibility perfectly captures the spirit of the song—a bittersweet anthem that Menzingers singer/guitarist Greg Barnett has described as “mundane moments etched behind eyelids that culminate into meaningful realizations, and of course give way to the beautiful trifecta of Sex! Drugs! Rock n Roll!”

Watch the video for “After the Party” here:

Produced by Will Yip (Title Fight, Balance & Composure, Pianos Become the Teeth), After the Party offers a raw yet nuanced look at getting older but not quite growing up. In a five-star review, Blurt praised the album as “one of the best punk records you’ll hear this year.” Also hailing After the Party as the band’s best album to date, Blurt noted that The Menzingers “have been progressively growing from their fiery, aggressive earlier years into something more reflective and introspective, while never compromising energy or attitude.”

AFTER THE PARTY TRACKLIST:

1. Tellin’ Lies
2. Thick as Thieves
3. Lookers
4. Midwestern States
5. Charlie’s Army
6. House on Fire
7. Black Mass
8. Boy Blue
9. Bad Catholics
10. Your Wild Years
11. The Bars
12. After the Party
13. Livin’ Ain’t Easy

The Menzingers are currently on tour in support of After the Party, with Jeff Rosenstock and Rozwell Kid opening up.

Tickets for the tour are on sale now.

THE MENZINGERS TOUR DATES:

Mar 23 Orlando, FL – The Social
Mar 24 Orlando, FL – The Social (Sold Out)
Mar 25 Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
Mar 26 Tampa, FL – The State Theatre
Mar 28 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Mar 29 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel (Sold Out)
Mar 30 New York, NY – Irving Plaza (Sold Out)
Mar 31 Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
Apr 01 Boston, MA – Royale (Sold Out)
Apr 04 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg

For more information on The Menzingers, visit:

And The Wasters – State of Repair EP

© 2017
Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Here’s an interesting little slice of audio for ya. State of Repair, a forthcoming EP by Bristol based folk-ska-punk act “And The Wasters”. Five tracks of music spanning several decades of influence.

I’m immediately struck by how much it reminds me of many of my favorite late 70s / early 80s UK favorites: The Specials and Fun Boy Three, Madness, Pogues, Clash, then throw in a bit of more modern influence of Flogging Molly and Gogol Bordello. Blend it up even more with some dub ska instrumental jams ala Skatalites and I think you’ll get a sense of what I’m picking up.

The opening track, Lion’s Share sets the tone of disenchantment. Without picking apart each track, I get a strong sense of anarcho/pirate punk and a bit of an anti-establishment bent, certainly helpful for any sort of protest music. The tracks are up-tempo and catchy and at only five songs, I’m left with wanting more.

I feel like maybe the tracks I’ve been given to listen to are a bit out of order, what with “Intro Dub” occurring last, but hey, who am I to judge? At any rate, I’ve listened to the EP about 10x through now and I am totally into it. If you haven’t heard And The Wasters, I demand you check them out!

“After many years touring Festivals, Squats and far-flung venues, And the Wasters have evolved from their Folk-Punk-Ska roots through elements of Hip-hop, Balkan & Latin. They weld this explosive musical concoction with an empowering political message to create a relentless live energy!” ~And The Wasters

https://willtunandthewasters1.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/willtunandthewasters

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Lion’s Share
2. Small Victories
3. Reduce, Reuse, Rebel
4. Bound as One
5. Intro Dub

The Scutches announce west coast tour dates

New York punk act, The Scutches, have announced a handful of west coast tour dates.

TOUR DATES:
4/6- Double Down Saloon, Las Vegas, NV
4/7- Palo Verde Lounge, Tempe/Phoenix, AZ
4/8- Tower Bar, San Diego, CA
4/9- Redwood Bar, Manhattan Beach, LA
4/10- The Caravan, San Jose, CA

SOCIAL LINKS:
https://twitter.com/theScutches
https://www.facebook.com/thescutches/
https://thescutches.bandcamp.com/

The Pope Virgins – Confessions

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

How about a little bit of “Local Punk Friday”? That’s a thing now. I said so. So, for Local Punk Friday I’m listening to the debut album from San Diego punk upstarts, The Pope Virgins. (It is important to note that this does not include all popes, as some may assume. To that end, here’s a list of sexually active popes.) Historical footnotes aside, I’m rocking out right now to “Confessions” which is, as I mentioned, the debut release from The Pope Virgins.

According to the band, and I’m paraphrasing here, they are working on reviving the local punk scene. They are a genre diverse band with ska and metal influences as well as straight up punk rock. The songs are largely politically driven, but also include songs about struggles with poverty and a joke song or two.

I should also note that the band supports a very community / scene minded effort to produce physical products, to promote the people and bands involved. (as opposed to streaming content that has become all too popular and convenient these days)

On the whole the music is raw and very “punk”; 4:4 tracks with chunky guitars, bass, snotty vocals, and spitfire drums. There’s a sense of chaos in the tracks as if they are a bit unhinged and could fly apart at any moment. I like that. The band’s sound is reminiscent of older influences like Reagan Youth, Black Flag, DRI, Vandals (after Peace Through Vandalism) and a sound, occasionally similar to, Awesome and the Asskickers. (this is likely a coincidence)

I like the album, by and large. One thing I could live without thought is songs about boning. It just does nothing for me to have a porno script set to a punk rock track. Maybe I’ve made it over the hill and juvenile antics just don’t cut it for me. To each their own though.

One more thing I suppose, the horn playing, while admirable in its attempt, is hilariously bad. Ska is not for everyone, but hell yeah get out there and strangle that fucking saxophone! (I assume it’s a saxophone. It could be a really really sad clarinet.)

Bottom line is fresh faced punk rock in my town. Fuck yeah!

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Happy
2. Keep Your Beer Close But Your Cocaine Closer
3. Confessions
4. God is Sold
5. Amerecock
6. Chromes Lullaby
7. City Streets
8. Muhnolo
9. I Kinda Love You
10. Process of Elimination
11. Humes Paradox
12. Unnamed Poem
13. Now He Watches Anime
14. Virgins Good, Trump Bad
15. Jesus Fucked Up
16. Sad Man

Corrupted Youth – Class Struggle

© 2016 Evacuate Record

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

What’s this that I’ve got course through my earholes? I’ll tell you what som’bitch. I’ve got some screaming bloody fucking murder, backyard crust punk from right out of East L.A. Class Struggle, the recently released album by L.A. underground punk band Corrupted Youth is a blistering salvo aimed squarely at the shit storm that has hit the USA hard in 2016.

Straight out of the gate the band establishes a breakneck pace and rarely lets up during the 40 minute audio assault. The album features 14 scathing tracks. The tracks cut to the bone and continue beyond that. These are songs that call out the problems of war, abuse, life on the streets, poverty, degradation, immigrant life, and the day to day struggle that the working class, the poor, the disenfranchised, the despised, the down and out face in the day of holier-than-though, self-aggrandizing, knee-jerk douche canoes everywhere.

Lyrics are done in both English and Spanish, depending on the track. I’m not fluent in Spanish, but based on the lyrical content of the ones in English, I will suffice it to assume that the core message doesn’t deviate. Thank goodness, by the way for the lyric sheet on the album. If it weren’t for that I’d never be able to discern half the things being spouted. Which brings me to my only real complaint about the release.

SCREAMO vocals. I don’t dig ‘em. … some folks are inclined to disagree. They can disagree all they want. I’m not the one who’s going to blow out my vocal chords and fuck up my throat. Bare that in mind and have a damn lozenge or something. My personal gripes aside, the album is solid in both message and music. The band reminds me sonically of The Casualties meets Leftover Crack (and Star Fucking Hipsters due to the guest vox on track 7, Abuse)

The big take away is that people are still struggling. It’s recognized at the lower spectrum of our society, and people are pissed. How long does this go on before something breaks? As they say, something’s gotta give. So get out there, read something, make yourself aware. Go see shows and support the ones who are calling out the struggle and if anything at least providing a brief reprieve to the day-to-day crap that a lot of people face.

They have some shows coming up in the LA area. Go check ’em.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
War
Immigrantes
Wasted Youth
Confusion
Beer for Breakfast
Death on the Streets
Abuse
Heartless Bastards
Class Struggle
Bigotry
No End
Power for Control
Endless Blockades (GISM)
System Corruption

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/ )

Behind Deadlines – Status Quo

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

behind_deadlines_status_quo

Yay! New Ska!

I’m listening to “Status Quo” the forthcoming debut full-length album from Philadelphia based ska punk band, Behind Deadlines. The release features 10 peppy tracks, and is a damn nice way to start into this holiday season. [Edit, the album actually will have 11 tracks when released. The updated track listing is below.] I think the band and I may differ slightly with the punk to ska ratio. I’d say, that the punk portion is tempered a bit with funk. But hey, I’m not the arbiter of such things (or am I) Overall it’s a winning combination and more of what this world needs.

The album sounds polished. Mix is clean and the levels all seem to sit right where they ought to. I suppose this stands to reason. The production has a solid pedigree, having been recorded by Dan Malsch (Bigwig, Four Year Strong, Forever the Sickest Kids) and mixed by Mark Michalik (The Swellers, We Are The Union, Fireworks, Into It Over It, The Wonder Years).

Over the years I swear it’s become more challenging for me to decide on specific influences that bands have. They have to be pretty blatantly obvious. If I had to throw a few out there, I’d suggest Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, Deal’s Gone Bad, and Bosstones. I might just be name dropping. Who knows? The takeaway is that fan’s of the aforementioned bands, will probably find some affinity for Behind Deadlines as well. Give it a whirl.

A few notes on individual tracks: I’m not a big fan of guitar solos, but the first solo on track 4, “Hey Dear Friend” is tasteful as all getout. I fully approve. As well, the horns that kick in around the 8 second mark on track 5, “Making Change” are damn tasty too.

I won’t spend a whole lot of time telling you what you already know. If you like ska, punk, fun danceable rock and roll, or any combination thereof, please checkout Status Quo and if you can, go check out a live show. If you’re not on the East Coast, the band is playing a few select dates on the Best Coast too.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Biochemistry
2. Sick Of It All
3. Laid Off
4. Hey Dear Friend
5. Making Change
6. Six Months
7. Sink or Swim
8. Optimism
9. Worthless
10. Escape From Philadelphia
11. Drinking to Brazil