Pulley – The Golden Life

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Man, Scott Radinsky is an interesting guy. The level of success he’s achieved in both professional athletics and punk rock is unparalleled. It’s especially impressive when you factor in that his punk career not only includes being in a hardcore band that put out a record on Mystic in the 80s, but also in Pulley who were at the top tier of the 90s Fat/Epitaph melodic punk boom.

I can think of a few other people who have had some sort of career in both sport and punk rock, but those who come to mind have only a peripheral or brief affiliation with the former. Ross Knight from Cosmic Psychos won a world championship in weightlifting, Mick Jones reportedly had a tryout with Crystal Palace, Bob Mould wrote scripts for the WCW, and Russ Rankin from Good Riddance is a talent scout for the WHL.

Scott, on the other hand, was a legit Major League Baseball pitcher, most notably for the White Sox and Dodgers. According to his Wikipedia page, his teammates in Chicago called him “Rad” (which is how he will be referred to from this point forward in the review) and he rode his bike to Cominsky Park for games. He later became a fan favorite local hero while in LA. 

I like to envision a scenario where Rad is just super focused in the bullpen during a game listening to his Walkman, and Bobby Thigpen walks up and is like, “Hey, Rad. What are you listening to that’s got you so jacked up?”. To which he replies, “RKL” and then stands up and throws a flaming 120 mph fastball into the bullpen catcher’s mitt. The catcher then has to remove his mitt because of the heat. Rad lowers sunglasses onto his face and looks into the camera just as the bassline to “Hangover” starts. Then the White Sox lose the game to the world champion 1991 Minnesota Twins.

There are a lot of different iterations of this. Make up your own! It basically just needs to include Rad, any random Nardcore band, sunglasses, another MLB player of that era (preferably American League for accuracy), a flaming baseball, and the bassline to “Hangover”. 

Moving along, Rad put up solid numbers throughout the 90s, despite missing the entirety of the 1994 season winning a battle against Hodgkin’s Disease. His playing career squeezed him out of being in Ten Foot Pole (who his 80s band Scared Straight had morphed into), due to his inability to tour during the MLB season. Rad just went ahead and started a better, more successful melodic punk band, who began a string of well received records on Epitaph in 1996. As his playing career came to a close, Pulley kept active and Rad began a career as a pitching coach for a variety of MLB and minor league squads.

This album is Pulley’s first in six years, and only their second in the last 17. I had to go back and refresh my memory of what the “classic” Pulley records sounded like, but stylistically this one does not seem to stray too far from the winning formula. It’s a strong batch of songs that their fanbase will be stoked on. Rad has the perfect vocals for melodic SoCal punk, similar to contemporaries like Tony Sly. Although I don’t listen to this type of punk very often as a man deep into his forties, I sure as hell did as a teenager deep into his 40s (of Olde English), and that nostalgia will always be there for this sound. If you’ve ever moshed in a pair of Arnettes and would like to revisit that period of your life, then check this one out. 

–Zack Akenson

Tracks:
01 Repeat Offender
02 Lonely
03 Wake Up
04 Two Winds
05 Align The Planets
06 Northbound
07 Sad Song
08 Golden Life
09 Frances
10 Dust Off The Dreams
11 Transmigration
12 California

Hollowpoints – Rocket to Rainier

© 2015 Sailor’s Grave Records

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[rating:9/10]

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

Morning Glory – Poets Were My Heroes

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© 2012 Fat Wreck Chords
[rating:9.5/10]

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

Tracks:
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

http://www.fatwreck.com/band/index/105

Swingin’ Utters – Brand New Lungs

Brand New Lungs marks the first release of new material from the Swingin’ Utters in seven years! The 7” will be available via vinyl and digitally and will feature two songs from their upcoming fall full-length and one exclusive to the 7”. Additionally, we’ve pressed this 7” in two different colors, one you can procure from our mail order, the other will be available exclusively at the Swingin’ Utters shows. Check their tour dates below and stay tuned for details on their upcoming full-length. Please let me know if you would like a copy for review, or would like to attend a show. Best, Vanessa

06/11/10 Apple Valley, CA Angel’s Roadhouse w/ Hurry Up and Die
06/12/10 Long Beach, CA INK & IRON FEST w/ Hepcat, Stiff Little Fingers, X
06/13/10 Carlsbad, CA Hensley’s Flying Elephants Pub & Grill
06/25/10 Carson, CA Home Depot Center VAN’S WARPED TOUR
06/26/10 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre VAN’S WARPED TOUR
06/27/10 Ventura , CA Seaside Park VAN’S WARPED TOUR
07/16/10 Portland, OR Dante’s w/ The Cute Lepers
07/17/10 Seattle, WA Funhouse w/ The Cute Lepers
07/18/10 Vancouver, BC Canada Venue 19+ w/ The jolts
07/22/10 Boise, ID The Red Room w/ The Cute Lepers
07/23/10 Salt Lake City, UT Burt’s Tiki Lounge w/ The Cute Lepers
07/24/10 Denver, CO Marquis Theatre w/ The Cute Lepers
07/28/10 San Diego, CA The Casbah w/ The Cute Lepers
07/29/10 Riverside, CA The Vibe 18+ w/ The Cute Lepers, Lost Cabras, Madison Bloodbath
07/30/10 West Hollywood, CA Troubador w/ The Cute Lepers
07/31/10 San Francisco, CA Slim’s w/ The Cute Lepers