Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year End Wrap Up

And my last post with this blog.

My top 10, in some particular order.

1. Paint it Black - New Lexicon
2. Able Baker Fox - Voices
3. Blacklisted - Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God
4. Lemuria - Get Better
5. Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song
6. Dustheads - Little Pieces (re-recording)
7. Dillinger Four - Civil War
8. Off With Their Heads - From the Bottom
9. Have Heart - Songs to Scream at the Sun
10. Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Honorable mention:
Bridge and Tunnel - East/West
Chuck Ragan & Austin Lucas - Bristle Ridge
Braindead - No Consequences
Memorial - The Creative Process/Berlin

1. Title Fight - Kingston
2. Gaslight Anthem - Senor and the Queen
3. Crumbler - Dirty Weeks
4. The Steinways - Unoriginal Recipe
5. Dead to Me - Little brother

Friday, October 17, 2008

Revival Tour Sendspace

Someone posted a torrent of this show out on the interweb, but it was FLAC. A friend of mine downloaded it and converted it for me. I haven't even listened yet, so I'm not sure on quality, but check it out.

Set list is from the torrent's info page. Seems pretty accurate, to the best of my recollection.


01. Intro>
02. Tim Barry-Shoulda Oughta
03. Chuck Ragan-Do You Pray
04. Jon Gaunt-Fiddle solo
05. Ben Nichols-Last Night In Town
06. Jesse Malin-Russian Roulette {Lords of the New Church cover}
07. Jesse Malin-Wendy
08. Jesse Malin-Leaving Babylon {Bad Brains cover}
09. Jesee Malin-Megan Don't Know
10. Jesse Malin-Black Haired Girl
11. Jesse Malin-Bastards of Young {Replacements cover}
12. Jesse Malin-Brooklyn
13. Jesse Malin-You Can Make Him Like You {Hold Steady cover}
14. Tim Barry-Exit Wounds
15. Tim Barry-On and On / Dog Bumped (part 1)
16. Tim Barry-Dog Bumped (part 2)
17. Tim Barry-Wait at Milano
18. Tim Barry-Avoiding Catatonic Surrender (part 1)
19. Tim Barry-Avoiding Catatonic Surrender (part 2)
20. Tim Barry-Church Of Level Track
21. Ben Nichols-Nights Like These
22. Ben Nichols-When You Decided to Leave
23. Ben Nichols-I Can Get Us Out Of Here
24. Ben Nichols-Toadvine
25. Ben Nichols-San Francisco
26. Ben Nichols-Hate and Jealousy
27. Ben Nichols-Nobody's Darlings
28. Ben Nichols-What are You Willing to Lose
29. Ben Nichols-The War / The Last Pale Light In The West
30. Chuck Ragan-California Burritos
31. Chuck Ragan-Between The Lines
32. Chuck Ragan-Don’t Cry
33. Chuck Ragan-It’s What You Will (part 1)
34. Chuck Ragan-It’s What You Will (part 2)
35. Chuck Ragan-Open Up And Wail
36. Chuck Ragan-Bleeder (Alkaline Trio)
37. Chuck Ragan-Geraldine
38. Chuck Ragan-The Boat
39. Chuck Ragan-God Deciding (Hot Water Music)
40. Chuck Ragan-Symmetry
41. Chuck Ragan-Bloody Shells
42. Chuck Ragan-For Broken Ears (w/Dave Hause [from the Loved Ones])
43. Ben Nichols-Hold Fast
44. Tim Barry-Idle Idylist
45. Chuck Ragan-Revival Road

Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song

Frank Turner - Love, Ire, and Song
X-tra Mile (England)

A year ago, my friend Mike started telling me all about Frank Turner, but I sort of didn't pay attention. I'm not sure why, but holy hell did I miss out. Recently, someone showed me mp3s of this new album, which Mike hadn't told me about. I checked it out on a whim, and was absolutely floored. From the first time I listened, I was blown away. For the last few weeks it's been hard for me to turn this off, and the only reason I do is so that I don't burn myself out on it. I'll try to keep from gushing further, but I make no promises.

Frank Turner is a singer/songwriter from England, which immediately leads to Billy Bragg comparisons. While they've valid, they're not entirely accurate. Turner is a much more layered songwriter, and his guitar parts are interesting, whether solo or with a full band setting. There are more upbeat and energetic songs like "Imperfect Tense" and "Reasons Not to Be an Idiot," as well as slower, more relaxed songs such as "Substitute" and "A Love Worth Keeping." Some songs are mostly Turner, while others contain all sorts of various instrumentation.

What makes this record truly great, however, is the lyrical content. As a 25 year old, constantly struggling with the battle of getting older and "maturing," while still enjoying my youth, Turner seems to have written the soundtrack to my last year. Ideas of moving into adult, while still thinking "I won't sit down, I won't shut up, and most of all I will not grow up" speak to disillusioned mid-twenties everywhere. You know that feeling you get when you realize that you're just another person stuck in the 9-5, and "punk rock didn't live up to what (you'd) hope that it could be"? Yup, Turner knows that too. There's a sense of disillusionment on this record that runs deep, but is coupled with a feeling of youthful optimism that makes you feel like it will all work out.

This album seriously surprised me and came out of nowhere, but it's easily in my top three records of the year and I can't recommend it enough. It was originally released in England, but you can get import versions (CD) on Amazon for reasonable prices. I'm hoping to track down the vinyl in the near future. I have enough CDs that are now "coasters for beer and clean surfaces for drugs," sings Frank.*

*PS. Happy edge day! Mine is sharp as ever.

The Revival Tour - 10.10.08

The First Unitarian Church
8:30 PM

I've been to a lot of really great shows this past year, but lately I've found myself pretty strapped for cash and resigned to a lot of weekends on my couch watching reruns of bad tv shows and screwing around online. It takes a lot for me to make it out to a show lately, and unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it to a lot of killer shows. One show that I refused to miss was The Revival Tour, featuring Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry, and Ben Nichols. This wasn't billed as your standard three-act show. Each artist was going to be in and out throughout the night, playing songs together, as well as independently. They wanted to recreate the feel of old vaudeville shows, and the result was awe inspiring.

To start the night, Chuck, Tim, Ben, and a handful of supporting musicians all hit the stage. Digger Barnes manned the upright bass, John Gaunt played fiddle, and I'm not sure of the pedal steel player's name, but he killed it all night. Initially, this "supergroup" played a handful of songs together, including some of their "hits." After this disbanded, Jesse Malin hit the stage and played a semi-solo set. He was accompanied by some of the backing band, as well as a keyboard/accordian playing woman. I was ok with his set for a few songs, but after a while it just dragged on. He played a Bad Brains cover, as well as a Hold Steady song and "Bastards of Young" by the Replacements (which he slowed to a crawl and made painful). All in all, a lackluster performance. The lucky shows following this had Frank Turner in his place, and other strings of dates have Sundowner, Austin Lucas, and Tom Gabel. I guess Philly got the short end of the stick.

Next, Richmond's favorite son Tim Barry played a nice mix of his solo songs, and got the crowd pretty into it. The sing-a-longs for "Dogbumped" and "Avoiding Catatonic Surrender" had a punk rock intensity, and "Exit Wounds" secured its place as one of my favorite Tim songs. He didn't play any Avail songs, but it didn't matter. He sounded great, and despite the fact that his songs are simple and repetitive, his intensity and sincerity are blatantly obvious.

Lucero was never a band that I was super into, but I've always enjoyed the Ben Nichols solo songs I've seen on YouTube. Needless to say, I was really impressed live. He's a fun showman, despite hobbling around on crutches and sitting for a majority of the set. I didn't recognize any of the songs, but Jon Loudon informed me that they were all Lucero songs, so I'm going to have to check them out more thoroughly.

There's not much that can be said about Chuck Ragan. Hot Water Music is one of the biggest influences on my music collection, and Chuck's solo stuff has been plentiful and inspiring over the last year or two. Live, he delivered yet again. Any of the solo songs that I could've asked for were played, as well as "Bleeder," "God Deciding," and "California Burritos." He played mandolin, guitar, and harmonica with such excitement that it was hard to not just stare in unadulterated awe. I make it a point to see him whenever he comes around in any form (HWM or solo), and I can honestly say that he's one of my two favorite songwriters of all time.

After Chuck's "solo" sstuff they whole band came out for a few more songs, including closing with "Revival Road," which they recorded just two days later. Grab it! As a whole, this was by far one of the best shows that I was lucky enough to catch this year, and I'm hoping that I get to see any and each of the performers again in the near future. It's great to see a tour built on genuine friendship and respect, both personally and musically, and that's exactly what The Revival Tour is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bridge and Tunnel - East/West

Bridge and Tunnel - East/West
No Idea Records

A few years ago, it felt like Latterman was playing every show I went to, and I really couldn't care less. It was odd, because they were a band that I should enjoy. Scratchy punk with melodic hooks, big bears, and that No Idea records sound. For some reason, it never stuck, and because of that, I wrote off Bridge and Tunnel from the outset. Well, that was a shame, because I've really come to love their debut full length, East/West.

Starting off with "Wartime Souvenirs," one would think that this is a more punk rock record, picking up where Latterman left off. But to make that assumption would be thinking a little too quickly. While there is a definite punk feel, this is more of a gruff indie rock record, not unlike Domestica era Cursive. Dense layers of fuzzy guitars weave together, almost reminding you of Minus the Bear (particularly on songs like "Night Owls" and "Dear Sir" due to the drums). They're technical and noodley, but not as precise as Minus the Bear. There's an underlying Kinsella vibe as well (Cap'n Jazz and American Football), but this is mostly in the music.

As stated above, the vocals have a very Cursive sound, with a hoarse shout from singer/guitarist Jeff, and a mix of female vocals from Rachel and Tia (guitar and drums, respectively). What really helps to make this band interesting is the lyrical content. There is a current of optimism to the record, with a positivity that borders on cheesy but never goes overboard. The rallying cry to "build something better," both personally, socially, and globally fills the record, and it's obvious that they're passionate about what they care about, which is important.

I'm disappointed in myself for sleeping on this band for so long, but I'm glad that I've finally checked them out and realized what all the hype was about. Unfortunately, I'm sure I missed a lot of great shows they've turned in over the past few months. Luckily I saw them at Party Mansion last month and will see them at Fest next month. Burn your sleeves!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Broadways Calls - s/t

Broadway Calls - s/t
Adeline Records

Fuck, this is good. Like, really pretty damn good. I really didn't want to like this band, kind of based of what I read on the internet about them, and this album art. I expected it to be super poppy and cheesy, and really something that I'd hate. So, a few weeks ago, I saw that they had a video ("Call It Off") on On Demand. I decided to throw it on, and it kind of fit what I'd expected. It was super poppy, and definitely radio-friendly pop punk. But, there whether it was the stage dives, decent band t-shirts (and I'm 99% sure a HWM tattoo!), or underlying Green Day inflection to the vocals, I got the feeling that this was pop punk by fairly legit punk rock kids. It was enough that it made me check out the full length. And I liked it. A lot.

The song "Call it Off" from the video is the first from the record, and the Myspace profile song "Back to Oregon" are two of the first three songs, and are both undeniably good pop songs. But, the rest of the record shows a band with equal footing in radio pop punk and the East Bay circa 1992. This record is full of buzz-saw guitars, a singer who sounds like he's trying to sound semi-British (ala Jawbreaker and Green Day), but with big vocal hooks and choruses. Gang vocals and "whoa-ohs" are all over this record, as are fast tempos and lyrics of growing up, hitting the road (and the inevitable return home), and of course girls and relationships.

While this record is sure to turn off the hardcore and punk purists, I can honestly say that I'm impressed by it. It's a bit long (14 songs, 40+ minutes), but there's enough variety and musicianships, and hooks to fill it up. I'm looking forward to hearing what else these guys come up with, and to checking out their split with Teenage Bottlerocket. Maybe all the teenyboppers that these guys attract will find them as a great springboard into even more legitimate pop punk, like Green Day fans did back with Dookie. And even if they don't, I'd rather have kids watch this video on On Demand than a lot of the crap on there.

Banner Pilot - Resignation Day

Banner Pilot - Resignation Day
Go-Kart Records

In the review of the Monikers full length (below!), I referenced the split between them and Banner Pilot. I was more impressed with the two Banner Pilot songs on that 7", and that carried over to the debut full lengths from those bands. Resignation Day is a solid debut full length that shows a lot of energy and excitement from this Minneapolis pop punk band.

Saying Minneapolis should give at least some indication of where these guys are coming from, as that D4/OWTH sound is pretty pervasive on this record. Of course, Banner Pilot shares a member with Off With Their Heads, so this isn't too surprisingly. Musically, it's similar, but Banner Pilot has a slicker, more polished feel to it. It's still gruff, scratchy, and undeniably pop punk, but the thick guitars and upbeat drums give it a slightly cleaner feel than OWTH, or split-mates Monikers.

If I had one gripe about this release, it's that it's not out on vinyl yet, and I have yet to hear any plans for it's release. That said, it's a minor complaint for a solid debut. If you're into the aforementioned Minneapolis sound, or bands like Lawrence Arms or even Jawbreaker, Banner Pilot is definitely a band worth checking out. Their split with Monikers was a great introduction, and this debut full length has been getting a lot of play from me. I can't wait to check em out at Fest this year!