Saturday, December 20, 2014

Album Review: ‘Teenage Retirement’ by Chumped

Title:  Teenage Retirement (BandCamp, Anchorless Records, Amazon, iTunes)  
Artist:  Chumped (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Chumped channels the purest elements of youthful angst and rage, joy and fun in their full-length debut Teenage Retirement.  Lead by sharp wit and razor tongue of singer/guitarist Anika Pyle, Chumped have produced an album of pop punk brilliance that harkens back to the genre’s glory days in the early to mid 1990s while at the same time sounding fresh, modern, and vibrantly young.  More than maybe any other genre or sub-genre, pop punk lends itself to the unadulterated exuberance of youth and Teenage Retirement is the absolute perfect expression of the hope and desire and desperation that comes from being young.  This should be the soundtrack to many a teenage misfits high school career, but what makes it really work is the fact that it also speaks to the teenager in all of us.  As a 40 year old man, I can get just as much out of this record as a 16 year old and that is quite an accomplishment.  Chumped is a band with a hell of a bright future.  I can’t wait to see what they do next.


EP Review: ‘Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All’ & ‘Gentlemen Rogues EP’ by Gentlemen Rogues

Titles:  Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All (BandCamp, iTunes), Gentlemen Rogues EP (BandCamp, iTunes)
Artist:  Gentlemen Rogues (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, BandCamp, SoundCloud)

Hailing from Austin, TX, Gentlemen Rogues is a power pop powerhouse.  With two releases under their belt (2013’s self-titled EP and this summer’s Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All single), they have created a sound that is equal parts early UK power pop ala The Who, The Jam, and Elvis Costello and ‘90s indie rock ala Buffalo Tom, the Lemonheads, and Teenage Fanclub.  The result is something that sounds older and classic and new and fresh all at the same time.  Despite the year separating their releases, these two EPs flow together beautifully thanks to the band’s excellent sense of melody and hooks.  On top of that, the Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All single includes a killer cover of the Buffalo Tom classic “Mountains Of Your Head” and these guys are fans of Beach Slang as one can tell from lead singer/guitarist Danny Dunlap’s fantastic cover of “We Are Nothing.”  A band that covers Buffalo Tom and Beach Slang?  Sign me up!  Fans of any of the aforementioned bands or power pop in general need to give Gentlemen Rogues a listen.  I think you’ll love what you hear.  


Monday, December 15, 2014

Album Review: ‘Stay Clean Jolene’ by Stay Clean Jolene

Artist:  Stay Clean Jolene (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, Last.fm)

Stay Clean Jolene’s self-titled full-length debut is a blast of everything that is good in punk rock right now.  Mixing big hooks with bigger choruses, Stay Clean Jolene finds that perfect spot that is equal parts Leatherface, Dillinger Four, The Bouncing Souls, Iron Chic, and Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves, making songs that are catchy as hell, full of energy, and a joy to listen to.  In a way I’m not really sure what else to say about this record other than it is fucking brilliant and one of the best of the year.  Seriously, go out and get this right now.    


Friday, December 12, 2014

EP Review: ‘Fire Academy EP’ by Radio Reds

Title:  Fire Academy EP (Death to False Hope Records)
Artist:  Radio Reds (Facebook, Tumblr, BandCamp, ReverbNation, Storenvy, Last.fm)

Radio Reds’ latest, and final, release isn’t some haphazard swansong thrown together with leftover bits and pieces; no, Fire Academy EP is their magnum opus.  From the opening, Billy Bragg-esque jangle guitar of “Sell Out” to the haunting piano driven closer “Plain for You,” Fire Academy works in every way.  These songs are passionate and heartfelt and grab you by the balls with their intensity and hooks (and there’s a killer cover of “I Melt With You” to boot).  Radio Reds formed in 2011 and since then have released four EPs (including this one), one split EP, one full-length album, and one compilation; not a bad output for a band that lasted four years.  The shame of this band calling it a day is that I think they were on the verge of not only hitting their stride musically (which they certainly showcased herein) but finding a wider audience.  Bands like Restorations, Luther, and The Menzingers have found success in punk circles (especially The Fest crowd) with styles that mix and match elements from punk, indie, post hardcore, Americana, and emo and I see no reason why fans of those bands wouldn’t love Fire Academy and Radio Reds in general.  


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Album Review: ‘Red Scare Industries: 10 Years Of Your Dumb Bullshit’ by Various Artists

Title:  Red Scare Industries: 10 Years Of Your Dumb Bullshit (Official, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  Various

Red Scare Industries is one of the best record labels in punk rock today.  This label has given us the likes of Teenage Bottlerocket, The Copyrights, The Menzingers, Masked Intruder, and The Sidekicks just to name a few.  10 Years Of Your Dumb Bullshit is a collection of new songs from some of this label’s best acts past and present.  Included herein are tracks from Teenage Bottlerocket, The Copyright, The Falcon, Masked Intruder, Elway, Direct Hit!, The Methadones, Druglords of the Avenues, The Sidekicks, and Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds.  One of the record’s standout moments is Nothington’s brilliant “So It Is,” a song that showcases that Red Scare isn’t just a pop punk label.  In a lot of ways I see Red Scare as a modern-day Lookout Records.  Both labels were known for classic pop punk bands and albums but both have put out records from across the punk spectrum and that is what made Lookout so legendary and makes Red Scare such a tour de force.  From top to bottom, this is a stellar collection of songs that showcases how freaking great Red Scare Industries is as a label.   

Friday, December 05, 2014

Album Review: ‘Lost & Rootless’ by Tim Barry

Title:  Lost & Rootless (Official, Chunksaah Records, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)  
Artist:  Tim Barry (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

Tim Barry’s sixth album is probably his best.  The stripped down and heartfelt Lost & Rootless is an earnest and humble collection of modern folk perfection.  Recorded in his shed (soundproofed with bits of carpet, blankets, and pallets), Barry describes the album as wooden stating “That's the feel that I was going for when I picked the songs.  There's violin, voice, a wooden resonator guitar...there's a very subtle electric bass on one track, but otherwise I wanted to do a wooden record.”  The minimalist approach to the recording only serves to highlight Barry’s talent as a songwriter.  His unique voice has always shined through his lyrics, going all the way back to his time as the lead singer of Avail, but it is at its brightest when laid bare and accompanied by little to nothing more than his guitar and that is exactly what you get on Lost & Rootless.  Simply put, Tim Barry has perfected his craft as a singer/songwriter and this record is a brilliant example of the power of simplicity and the effectiveness of folk music.