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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Album Review: 'Peace of Mind' by Hudson Falcons

Title: Peace of Mind (BandCamp [East Grand Record Co.], Amazon, iTunes, Google Play)
Artist: Hudson Falcons (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, ReverbNation, Last.fm)

The Hudson Falcons' sixth full-length album Peace of Mind is a brilliant blast of some of purest and most heartfelt rock 'n' roll that you will ever hear. With songs that tackle topics such as heartache, perseverance, the struggle of the working class, love, salvation, and the hope that betters days are still ahead, one can't help but identify with the record's strife and feel the burn of its optimism. Sonicly the Falcons have finally solidified their musical voice. When the band started in the mid to late 1990s, they played a blend of oi/77 style punk with traditional rock 'n' roll (imagine a mixture of Stiff Little Fingers, Chuck Berry, and Bruce Springsteen). That sound was perfectly manifested in the band's full-length debut Desperation & Revolution. At the time, a number of bands were making waves with similarly oi influenced sounds that were part of what best can be described as the street punk explosion of the late '90s. The band's follow-up was the decidedly un-street punk For Those Whose Hearts and Souls Are True, a record that was manic in its energy and pulled influence more from the garage rock of bands like The Devil Dogs and Electric Frankenstein. With their third album La Famiglia the band's sound took a distinct turn towards the rock of acts like The Rolling Stones. Almost entirely gone was the oi influence of their early work, but the change resulted in the Falcons' best collection of songs to that point. The two following records, Desire to Burn and Dancing Underneath the Moonlight found the band cultivating their sound with nobs to the past, a bit of experimentation, and both feet planted firmly on their path. In a way, Peace of Mind is the culmination of this musical journey. This is a record that is defiant in its confidence, boldly proclaiming what it is and what it isn't in the opening chords of the Thin Lizzy-esque “Live Right Now” and that is just the opening track. The record moves through emotions and tempos with staggering ease that can only be accomplished through experience and dauntless passion. From start to finish, Peace of Mind is a powerful and unyielding record that should forever redefine how people see and think of the Hudson Falcons. Fans of The Hold Steady, Dave Hause, The Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and Thin Lizzy should do themselves a favor and buy this record right now.    

Friday, February 27, 2015

Great Band Alert: Alright

Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Alright is a fuzzy power pop indie rock power trio with a sound that is equal parts nostalgic and classic modern and fresh. Driving the band is singer/guitarist Sarah Blumenthal with her Juliana Hatfield meets Joan Jett vocals and crunching guitars while Joshua Robbins and Garrett Herzfeld round things out with their booming and thunderous bass and drumming respectfully. The band's sophomore self-titled EP will be released on March 24th on Negative Fun Records and Self Aware Records while their debut Sleep Study EP is currently available on BandCamp. Fans of Husker Du, The Lemonheads, The Thermals, Cayetana, and Lemuria should give this band a listen. I think you'll like what you hear.

For more information on Alright check out their Facebook, Twitter, and BandCamp pages.