Friday, April 17, 2015

EP Review: 'A History So Repeating' by Gentlemen Rogues

Title:  A History So Repeating (End Sounds, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Gentlemen Rogues (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace)

Gentlemen Rogues latest EP A History So Repeating is a power pop powerhouse release.  From top to bottom, the songs on the EP are catchy with tight hooks and melodies that are destined to get stuck in your head.  Gentlemen Rogues’ music pulls from the legendary power pop artists on the late 70s (Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello) and the indie rock of the early 1990s (The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers) resulting in a sound that is familiar and nostalgic while still fresh and vibrant.  The EP opens with a blast in the incredibly catchy “Your Armageddon” and never lets up from there.  Gentlemen Rogues is an incredibly fun band with great taste in music (just check out their covers of Erasure’s “A Little Respect” on this EP plus their previous covers of Buffalo Tom and Beach Slang).  A History So Repeating is the band’s third and probably best release to date making it a must for fans of power pop, early 90s indie rock, or just catchy as hell rock ‘n’ roll.      

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ranking the Albums: John Moreland

In honor of and preparation for the April 21st release of his latest album High on Tulsa Heat, I figured this would be a good time to revisit my Ranking the Albums feature with one of the best artists the Sooner State has ever produced – John Moreland.

Moreland started playing music in punk and hardcore bands. He made his first splash with his group John Moreland & The Black Gold Band, recording two full-length albums with the band (Endless Oklahoma Sky and Things I Can't Control) before moving on to a solo career. His first solo record Earthbound Blues was released in 2011, which also saw the release of Everything the Hard Way his first record with John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls. 2013 saw the release of Moreland's staggeringly beautiful In The Throes which very well could be his magnum opus. In-between the full-length records, he has also release a few EPs including Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu (in 2010 and 2011 respectfully) and has had three songs appear on the hit television series Sons of Anarchy.

For this list I have limited myself to Moreland's full-length albums. Make sure to also check out my reviews of Things I Can't Control, Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu, Earthbound Blues, Everything the Hard Way, and In The Throes. Also make sure to pick up Moreland's new record High on Tulsa Heat when it come out next week. I've heard it and it is awesome so go and out and buy it already! This list is in order of preference (though they are all fantastic).

For more information on John Moreland check out his official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, BandCamp, Last.fm, and Wikipedia pages.

1. In the Throes
2. Everything the Hard Way
3. Things I Can't Control
4. Earthbound Blues
5. Endless Oklahoma Sky

Video of the Day: "Honey" by Kid Wave

"Honey" by Kid Wave (OfficialFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud)

From:  Wonderlust (Rough Trade Records, Amazon, iTunes)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Album Review: ‘Tales From Wyoming’ by Teenage Bottlerocket

Title:  Tales From Wyoming (Official, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  Teenage Bottlerocket (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Teenage Bottlerocket is THE quintessential pop punk band.  More than Screeching Weasel, more than the Descendents, hell even more than the Ramones, Teenage Bottlerocket epitomize the genre.  The band’s sixth full-length, and first for Rise Records, Tales From Wyoming is everything one would expect from TBR and then some.  With songs that are as catchy as they are quirky, TBR tackles topics ranging from love and girls to Minecraft and Metallica.  Tales… is this first time that the band has worked with legendary producer Bill Stevenson (ALL, Descendents) and the result is pretty much perfection.  Overall the record is a bit slower than previous efforts (most songs are in the faster-mid-tempo range) and includes the band’s first acoustic ballad, the beautiful closing track “First Time” but that is not to say that the record is lacking energy because it is not.  In fact, the record is bursting with energy and dares the listener to not sing and dance along.  From start to finish Tales From Wyoming is a perfect pop punk record that should even turn folks that aren’t fans of the genre into fans of the band.    

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Top 15 Records of 1995

1995 was kind of a weird year for music.  There was the further exploitation of the punk scene, the continued corporatization of the (for lack of a better term) alternative scene, and a general sense that the music media was desperately looking for that next big scene.  Admittedly, my memory of 1995 is pretty fuzzy at this point so I don’t remember a lot of what happened that year other than the fact that I saw both ALL and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (or was that ’94…crap who knows at this point).  Checked out my best of posts for 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994.

15.  Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities by Circle Jerks
14.  Dear You by Jawbreaker
13.  Space Freak by Sinkhole
12.  Grandpaw Would by Ben Lee
11.  Sleepy Eyed by Buffalo Tom
10.  Pummel by ALL
9.  [tie] Love Is Dead and Alternative Is Here To Stay! by The Mr. T Experience
8.  Mantra by Shelter
7.  Foo Fighters by Foo Fighters
6.  Set Your Goals by CIV
5.  ...Rocks Your Lame Ass by Hagfish
4.  Maniacal Laughter by The Bouncing Souls
3.  Those Unknown by Those Unknown
2.  ...And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid
1.  A Boy Named Goo by Goo Goo Dolls


Other Notable Releases –
Gone by Dwight Yoakam
Chef Boyrudum by Sicko
¡Leche con Carne! by No Use for a Name
13 Unlucky Numbers by Wax
Elastica by Elastica
100% Fun by Matthew Sweet
Brainbloodvolume by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices
Lemonade and Brownies by Sugar Ray
Blonder and Blonder by The Muffs
You'd Prefer an Astronaut by Hum
Sparkle and Fade by Everclear
Red Medicine by Fugazi
The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers by Supersuckers
Garbage by Garbage
Here's Where the Strings Come In by Superchunk
(What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis
Return of the Rentals by The Rentals

Saturday, March 28, 2015

EP Review: 'Volume 2' by The Warning Shots

Title: Volume 2 (BandCamp [State Line Records], Amazon, iTunes)
Artist: The Warning Shots (Facebook, Twitter)

The Warning Shots' sophomore EP Volume 2 is five songs of high energy, catchy as f, passionate, and fun as all hell rock 'n' roll. At first glance, the Boston five-piece sounds to be a 77 style punk band (not that there is anything wrong with that) but as this EP shows, they are so, so, so much more. The band's debut EP Six to Midnight was incredible, one of the best releases of 2013, and Volume 2 is just as good, if not better. The EP opens with a blast of straight up punk rock in “Make You Move” followed by “Right There Beside You” with its sing-a-long chorus, but it's the two songs that follow that really showcase the brilliance of this band. “The Ghosts of the Past” is an epicly large feeling rock 'n' roll song that harkens back to the glory days of arena rock with its guitar work and expansive chorus (think Boston, Journey, etc.) while “You Lost Your Faith” taps into that perfect place that mixes everything good in punk, resulting in a powerful and uplifting song. The EP closes out with a cover of one of Rancid's more obscure songs,“Brad Logan.” The overall result is another excellent EP by a band that just simple gets it. The Warning Shots understand the power, fun, and potential of rock 'n' roll and it shows on Volume 2.  One last note, on Amazon and iTunes Volume 2 has been release with Six to Midnight under the title Year One.  
        

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Video of the Day: "All We've Ever Known" by Light You Up

"All We've Ever Known" by Light You Up (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp)

From:  All We've Ever Known (Amazon, iTunes)

EP Review: ‘Here is a List of Things That Exist’ by The Rentiers

Title:  Here is a List of Things That Exist (Square of Opposition Records, Death to False Hope Records, BandCamp [Square of Opposition], Amazon [vinyl], Amazon [digital], iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  The Rentiers (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

The Rentiers is the brainchild of Plow United and Ex Friends’ Joel Tannenbaum.  On the band’s debut EP, Here is a List of Things That Exist, he was joined by Mikey Erg of The Ergs on drums, Chumped’s Anika Pyle added her sweet and sultry vocals to the mix, and Gym Class Heroes’ Tyler Pursel on pretty much everything else (including production).  The result is a splendidly beautiful four-song punky indie pop rock EP that is catchy as all get out, with hooks and harmonies that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  Lyrically the record is personal and hopeful while at the same time stark and witty.  This dichotomy of hope and defeat is best laid out in the opening track “Stories of Adam” –
All these stories of failure
They keep us warm like old blankets
Or sweaters out of a freebox
At 4 in the morning
When the fire is dying
When the fire is dying

All these stories of failure
Of guys who said “Fuck it.”
Of girls who said “Who gives a shit?”
And walked away with their dignity
Walked away with integrity
Yeah, I kind of call bullshit on that

All these stories of Adam
You know I saw him last weekend
At the Huntington El stop
And he asked me for money
And I was like “Are you kidding dude?”
Do you even know who you’re talking to?
You know that I used to do this too
Shit, once or twice I even did it with you
But he just kind of looked through me
So I got on the subway

All these stories of people
People like me and you
You know that I kind of like you
I get the sense that you like me too
Tell me, what are we gonna do?
Tell me, what are we gonna do?
Here is a song that highlights the failures of adulthood while at the same time spurning those who give up on life. 

“The Legend of Molly Pitcher” is a fun mix of historical and pop culture references brought together through discoveries of shared memories and driven home with some sound advice –
You found a marbleized notebook in the garage full of fan fiction about Nicki Minaj
And a mixtape labeled “Songs About Margaret Thatcher (and Ronald Reagan)
And an engagement ring with an amethyst inscribed “Here is a list of things that exist”
And a picture of your grandmother with Edith Piaf after the war
And underneath that is a wooden chest and inside of there you find a soot-stained vest
That belonged to some guy who lived and died like it was no big deal

I can’t concentrate

Waves
It comes and goes in waves
Sometimes it goes away
Sometimes it stays

I can’t concentrate

Keep the small rules, break the big ones
Keep the small rules, the small rules are the easy ones
For the people who will tell you how to live
The small rules are the only ones they care about or understand

I can’t concentrate

“Margaret Stackhouse” is a clever song about the famed high school student that impressed director Stanley Kubrick with her commentary on his classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey
In the morning, in the evening, I can picture Margaret Stackhouse
I can picture Margaret Stackhouse and she’s reading and she’s thinking
Of monoliths and obelisks and skylines full of minarets
A bricolage of languages, assemblages of meaning
And she’s reading in the morning, and in the evening

The EP closes out with “Votive Candles,” an intensely profound song about the ups and downs of life –
Those jackboots are made for marching and I’m afraid that’s what they’ll do
One of these days they’re gonna march the length of Woodland Avenue
To a half empty bodega that is staffed by an old man whose most deeply held belief is that
Life never gives you more than you can handle
Where are all the votive candles?

Repainted and refurbished now, the house we used to rent
We tried soundproofing the basement but we barely made a dent
The nights were pricked by sirens and the days went on forever
And we never called the cops when the substation was torn apart by vandals
We lit our rooms with votive candles

Life never gives you more than you can handle
Where are all the votive candles?

They never stopped the violence or reversed the wear and tear
But the mariachi’s silent now like it was never there
We marched in just like fire ants and burned out just like fireflies
And the flux goes on forever but life never gives you more than you can handle
Where are all the votive candles?

If life ever gives you more than you can handle
Look at all the votive candles

From start to finish Here is a List of Things That Exist is a stellar debut that showcases Tannenbaum’s songwriting chops and mastery of insightful and intelligent lyrics.  This is the kind of release that should appeal to a wide variety of listeners from fans of pop punk to power pop to indie rock to 90s nostalgia to the modern Philadelphia movement (The Rentiers’ hometown, along with the likes of Beach Slang, Luther, Restorations, The Menzingers, and Dave Hause).  Here is a List of Things That Exist is one of 2015 first great records and sure to be one of the best of the year.