Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Album Review: Souvenir

Title:  Souvenir (Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)

Banner Pilot’s fourth album Souvenir plays true to form in that it is a collection of incredibly catchy, hooked laden Midwestern punk tunes.  The band’s familiar sound pulls heavily from the likes of Dillinger Four, Jawbreaker, Pegboy, and Hot Water Music, but their passion and intensity is what really makes their music stand out (not that one could ever really go wrong following in the footsteps of those punk rock giants, IMHO).  While the 12 songs on Souvenir are undeniably Banner Pilot (especially with those thundering basslines), this isn’t simply the same record all over again.  Simply put, Souvenir is a stellar record that proves that not all great punk rock (or music for that matter) is from the past.

Video of the Day: "Puppet" by The Franklys

"Puppet" by The Franklys (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, SoundCloud)


From:  Puppet (Official)


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Album Review: Spin It

Title:  Spin It (Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby)
Artist:  The Forty Nineteens (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ReverbNation, CD Baby, Vimeo, Last.fm)

The Forty Nineteens’ sophomore full-length Spin It takes the foundation the band laid with their brilliant debut No Expiration Date and builds on it adding power pop savvy to their unique band rock ‘n’ roll.  Still there are the elements of college rock, alt country, indie, and punk rock but this time around the pop is front and center.  While No Expiration Date was the sound of a band expressing their devotion for Dramarama, Spin It is the sound of a band articulating their admiration of early Elvis Costello. 

The eight song album opens with the excellent, and very Go-Go’s-esque, pop gem “Falling Down,” a fun commentary on modern communication and connectivity, perfectly seting up the rest of the record (and should also totally be performed as a mash-up/medley with The Go-Go’s “Our Lips are Sealed”).  My only complaint with Spin It is that it has only eight songs.  This is a record that is fun and heartfelt and when it ends it leaves you begging for more.  The Forty Nineteens have once again produced a stellar record that is easily one of the best of the year.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Currently Listening

1.  “Come On Down” by Gameface (from Now Is What Matters Now)
2.  “Tumbling Dice” by The Gaslight Anthem (from The B-Sides)
3.  “Back To You” by Twin Forks (from Twin Forks)
4.  “I Feel” by Placeholder (from Seems Like There’s a Show Every Night)
5.  “I Miss You” by Candy Hearts (from I Miss You)
6.  “For All We Care” by Chuck Ragan (from Till Midnight)
7.  “Smile” by Morningside Lane (from A Fifth of Elvis)
8.  “The Answer’s No” by Kevin Seconds (from Off Stockton)
9.  “Cats” by Sinal Vessel (from Profanity)
10.  “Bombs Away” by The Shell Corporation (from Mandrake)

Friday, April 04, 2014

EP Review: The Royal We

Title:  The Royal We (BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Seagulls (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, ReverbNation)

Atlanta, GA’s Seagulls’ sophomore EP The Royal We is five songs of gravelly vocal, punk rock anthem goodness (six including the bonus track).  These are the kind of catchy songs that bridge that gap between pop punk, street punk, Midwest punk, and the like; in other words they should appeal equally to fans of Teenage Bottlerocket, U.S. Bombs, and Dillinger Four.  Seagulls’ greatest strength is in their ability to craft a great hook and a chorus that pulls you in and dares you to not sing along.  The only song that seems to deviate from this formula is the hardcore-esque “F.F.M.” and while it works as melodic hardcore song (think Hogan’s Heroes, Sick Of It All type of stuff), it doesn’t work as well as the rest of the EP (this just could be a personal preference thing on my part seeing as I’m a sucker for catchy as hell punk rock anthems, which this band excels at).  Overall The Royal We is an excellent EP from a great up and coming band.  This EP is certainly going to make my best of 2014 list and Seagulls is definitely a band that I am going to keep my eyes on.  

Currently Listening

1.  “Falling Down” by The Forty Nineteens (from Spin It)
2.  “Beautiful Things” by The Lawrence Arms (from Metropole)
3.  “Alabama Movies” by Skating Polly (from Fuzz Steilacoom)
4.  “Going Down” by Crosshatch (from Full Speed Ahead)
5.  “Vagabond” by Chuck Ragan (from Till Midnight)
6.  “Joey” by Honeyblood (from Honeyblood)
7.  “Close One” by Seagulls (from The Royal We)
8.  “Break the Tide” by The Mighty Fine (from Brothers and Smugglers)
9.  “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” by The Menzingers (from Rented World)
10.  “Wait a While” by The Hold Steady (from Teeth Dreams)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Top 5 Songs by Hot Water Music

I first heard Hot Water Music through the split that they released with Alkaline Trio.  At the time (around 2008 or so) my internet access was pretty bad and I was also pretty broke (not that that has changed much over the years) so that was my only real exposure to the band for a number of years.  I’d know of the band since the early ‘00s but hadn’t heard any of their stuff until after they broke up (thankfully they have since reunited).  My interest in the band was piqued after I discovered Chuck Ragan’s solo material.  Since then Hot Water Music has become one of my favorite bands. 

For more information on Hot Water Music check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Last.fm, AllMusic, and Wikipedia pages.

Here, in no particular order, are my five favorite songs by Hot Water Music. 

1.  “Trusty Chords” (from Caution)

2.  “No Division” (from No Division)

3.  “The Traps” (from Exister)

4.  “Wayfarer” (from Caution)

5.  “At the End of a Gun” (from No Division)

Honorable Mentions –
Paid in Full” (from Exister)
Paper Thin” (from A Flight and a Crash)
Sunday Suit” (from A Flight and a Crash)
Hit and Miss” (from No Division)

Monday, March 31, 2014

10 Questions with Broadcaster

I first discovered Long Island’s Broadcaster in 2011 when I came across their killer EP Joyride.  Then in 2012 they did it again with the excellent Tightrope Walker EP and followed that up with what is probably their best record to date, 2013’s A Million Hours (you can read my reviews of each here, here, and here).  Each release ended up on my best of lists for 2011, 2012, and 2013.  So needless to say, I’m a big fan. 

Broadcaster’s music is that perfect mix of ‘90s influence power pop, indie, and punk rock.  In other words they play catchy as hell pop rock songs with big hooks that dare you to not dance and sing along.  But what makes Broadcaster so great is that they aren’t simply a nostalgia act.  This is music that is as new and modern as it is familiar, making Broadcaster a must for fans of power pop, indie rock, and punk (or anyone who just likes great rock ‘n’ roll). 

This interview was conducted via email February 23 – March 4, 2014.

For more information on Broadcaster check out their Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, and Instagram pages.

Dave:  How did the band get together? 

Anthony Vito:  It started out as a fun project between the three of us, who were all in different bands at the time. We recorded an album over a weekend and threw it up online for free download, and people really liked it. As time went on and our other projects fizzled out, Broadcaster became the main focus.


Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

Vito:  I just call it rock 'n roll. Plain and simple.


Dave:  In 2013 you released your sophomore full-length album, A Million Hours, on Jump Start Records.  What’s the story behind the record?  How did you get connected with Jump Start?

Jesse Litwa:  All the songs on A Million Hours were written over the course of 2011/2012, in between whatever tours we were doing. We went down to Magpie Cage in Baltimore for a week to record it with J. Robbins, our friend JP Flexner did all the artwork, and it was released by Jump Start in September 2013.

We started working with Jump Start a couple years ago. They were the first label to ever express any interest in us. Since then, Jeremy and Kevin who run the label have become great friends of ours and we're grateful to have them helping out our band. Jeremy also runs a badass brewery called Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company, and Kevin plays in one of our favorite bands, Aspiga.


Dave:  Lyrically and thematically A Million Hours feels like a far more personal, serious, and darker record than your previous releases.  Was that something that happened consciously? 

Jesse:  Definitely not consciously. I think we all started to notice that as we started demoing them out though. I guess 2011/2012 weren't my favorite years haha. Either way though, we just try our best to write catchy music. Whether it’s light-hearted or a bit more serious, hopefully there’s a melody that will get stuck in someone’s head.


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Vito:  Normally, Jesse will demo out a song idea and bring it to us, then we'll jam on it. The songs usually come together rather quickly. We try not to over think things and just let it all happen organically. This method works well for us.


Dave:  Your music has a distinctly 1990s feel to it.  Were you a big fan of the music of that decade?  As one of a number of bands that have drawn heavily from the ‘90s, do you feel any camaraderie with those other bands (like Cheap Girls, Crosshatch, Great Cynics, Candy Hearts, The Termals, etc.)?

Vito:  It was never a conscious decision for us to be a '90s style band. For most people our age, that decade was when we first picked up our instruments, so of course the music of that era bears a huge influence on our playing. I think the same can be said for all the bands you've mentioned. We're all just putting our own spin on the music that inspired us.


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in New York?  How is being a band from Long Island different then say a band from NYC or Manhattan?  (Note:  I’ve never been to New York, so this might seem like a dumb question.  I tend to think of the greater NYC metro as one place but after my time working for an airline, I learned that no, places like Long Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan are very, very different.  Also, I love to hear band’s thoughts on their hometown scenes.)  

Vito:  Long Island has always had its own thing going on, and being that we're so close to New York City, we can kind of exist in both circles of bands, which is cool. Since we live in such a densely populated area, we're never at a loss for a venue to play at or people to play with. There's always something going on. On the down side, the cost of living has gotten ridiculously expensive, which makes it difficult for bands to commit to what they do full time.   


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors? 

Jesse:  That’s tough. Like everyone else, the favorite bands list could go on forever, but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Limbeck, American Hellfire Club, The Wannadies, and Randy Newman’s early stuff, specifically the album Good Old Boys. Some favorite albums of all-time are Cheap Girls - Find Me A Drink Home, The Get Up Kids - Four Minute Mile, Weezer - The Blue Album, among a zillion others. I think our collective favorite movies would include The Sandlot and anything with Tom Hanks, especially Forest Gump and That Thing You Do. My favorite TV show was Stella, which lasted one season. Charles M. Schulz is my favorite author.

Dave:  What’s next for the band? 

Vito:  We're heading out on tour again next month, hitting up the midwest with our friends in Iron Chic, then we're doing our first ever Canadian run.

Jesse:  After that we'll be working on some dates for summer/fall. We'll also have a new release or two before the year is out.


Dave:  Any final thoughts? 

Vito:  Rest in peace, Harold Raimis.

Jesse:  Print is dead.

10 Questions with Bombers

Hailing from Queens, NY, Bombers plays high energy punk influence, rock ‘n’ roll.  Their latest release was the Unconditional Rough (BandCamp) single released last summer.   

This interview was conducted via email February 26 – March 3, 2014.

For more information on Bombers check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, MySpace, YouTube, and Last.fm pages. 

Dave:  How did the band get together? 

John Oliva:  This is one is too long to explain, so I'll try to keep it short. The band formed as an idea in a backyard in Queens June 2006 between some friends of mine. I approached some old friends and wanted to create a no gimmick, straight up rock band. The original lineup had me on bass, and vocals and writing were split between myself and Sean Walsh. Sean and I, like every band, had issues finding a solid drummer. After years of fill ins and acoustic touring we finally came across "Jimmy Smiles" James Lovaglio who at the time was our pizza delivery guy at the music store we both worked at. After a few years Sean's passion had shifted to acting and so we enlisted "Sweet Dave" Schulman to play bass and I moved over to guitar and vocals. We've had this lineup, our most solid lineup since the start of 2012, and I can say it’s been a refreshing experience since then.


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Bombers?

John:  Baseball, burgers, graffiti, fear, the list goes on. We wanted a name that represents the essence of our city from its beautiful parts to its darkest and most tragic moments.


Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

John:  Reality rock I suppose. Punk rock a bit. I usually just say straight forward rock.

Dave Schulman:  Same here, I like to think there's something for everyone in what we do, we don't follow any sort of rules.


Dave:  You self-released the Life Support EP in 2012 and the “Unconditional Rough” single in 2013.  What made you decide to go the self-release direction instead of working with a traditional record label?

Dave:  It's not as though we wouldn't welcome a major/indie label's support but it seems only fitting that the nature of both releases being sincerely personal and heartfelt it come from a truly DIY place. We put ourselves emotionally and financially into those tracks, they're kind of unmitigated open letters.

James:  We really just had so many new songs with this line up that were unrecorded and we wanted to get them out there and show people what we've been working on, we also had our own vision for this record and didn't want any of that to be lost.


Dave:  Do you have any plans for a full-length?

Dave:  In short, yes. When; is another question. I will say we are writing and rehearsing new material and it's very exciting for us.


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Dave:  I suppose most bands have a formula similar to ours. John usually has a general idea and structure, maybe some riffs and a chorus. We get together and flesh out our parts within John's structure under his general direction to come to a product we essentially all stand behind. We all bring something unique to the table.

James:  Yeah, I feel that some of our best parts have come from spontaneous moments of just reading each other well and just understanding the vibe of a song.


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in New York?

Dave:  I'm constantly at shows, it's crazy the amount of talent here.

James:  There are just so many amazing bands out here that don’t get the recognition or credit they deserve. Bands that I hope to share the stage with. Artists who inspire me to keep playing.


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors? 

Dave:  Questions like this are so hard to answer. I will say this, I learned how to play bass listening to Alkaline Trio and my all-time favorite band is The Lawrence Arms. True Detective is redefining television, RIP Breaking Bad. The Psychopath Test is an interesting read.

James Lovaglio:  I grew up playing along to my 3 favorite albums that I bought on cassette. Nirvana-Nevermind, Weezer- Blue Album and Green Day-Dookie. Everyday I would sit with a boombox next to my drums just blasting these tapes trying to learn how to play drums. As far as tv all you need to know is Breaking Bad and Its always sunny. I hear good things about True Detective, but the good things I hear involve the undressed naked lady body. Always a fan of that. As far as authors go, I really like what hugh Hefner has put out over the years.

John:  For me it's Thin Lizzy, old misfits, 70's punk/rock and roll. But I love all kinds of stuff from NIN to Nas, Cave In to Judas Priest. TV- yanks, the wire, true detective, sopranos reruns, real housewives of Beverly Hills lol. That's pretty much all I watch. For authors, I can't say I have a favorite at the moment, but for films, Ridley Scott, Farrely Bros and Gary Oldman is my fav actor by far.


Dave:  What’s next for the band? 

Dave:  making lots of noise, not stopping any time soon.


Dave:  Any final thoughts? 


John:  I'm sure we'll have some when our final moment comes...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Currently Listening

1.  “The Broken & The Bent” by Kevin Seconds (from Off Stockton)
2.  “In Remission” by The Menzingers (from Rented World)
3.  “Seventeen Summers” by Skinny Lister (from Forge and Flagon)
4.  “Safe for the Ride” by The Sleepwalkers (from Lost My Mind In Stereo)
5.  “Non Typical” by Chuck Ragan (from Till Midnight)
6.  “Full Disclosure” by Game Changer (from Three Years EP)
7.  “Going Down” by Crosshatch (from Full Speed Aheead)
8.  “Sketchy” by Molly and The Zombies (from SoundCloud Tracks)
9.  “Drunken Tweets” by The Lawrence Arms (from Metropole)
10.  “Close One” Seagulls (from The Royal We)