Sunday, October 12, 2014

Album Review: ‘Ordinary Life’ by The Tim Version

Title:  Ordinary Life (No Idea Records, iTunes)  
Artist:  The Tim Version (Facebook, MySpace,, AllMusic)

The Tim Version’s fourth album Ordinary Life is nothing short of brilliant.  Perfectly mixing elements of punk (ala Hot Water Music), college rock (ala The Replacements), and alt country (ala Lucero and Drag the River), the result is a powerful blast of everything that is good in rock ‘n’ roll music.  The record moves effortlessly from high octane rockers (“For the Birds” and “Hello, Waterface”) to haunting ballads (“The Future Of Humanity Is Dogs” and “Die In Yer Sleep”) to mid-tempo anthems (“Plague Dogs,” “Funny Movies,” and “A Dream About Dean’s Dream”).  From top to bottom, Ordinary Life not only works but excels at being a top notch rock ‘n’ roll record that is easily one of the best releases of 2014.  My only complain is that this is my first exposure to The Tim Version.  This band is fantastic and is everything that I love about the modern punk scene and it bums me out that I am just hearing them now.  Needless to say, The Tim Version and Ordinary Life will be getting a lot of play in my house.  Fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves, Against Me!, The Loved Ones, and the aforementioned bands need to give Ordinary Life a listen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

EP Review: ‘Storm Watch’ by Shallow Cuts

Title:  Storm Watch (No Idea Records, Amoeba Music)
Artist:  Shallow Cuts (Facebook, BandCamp)

Boasting members of Dear Landlord, Dan Padilla, and Madison Bloodbath and hailing from San Diego, CA, Shallow Cuts delivers a stellar EP in Storm Watch.  With a sound that is catchy as hell, pulling from the best of punk, power pop, and straight up rock ‘n’ roll, Shallow Cuts’ debut is a timeless piece of perfection.  From the opening hook of “The Mission” with its wink to Loverboy (which amazingly works and makes the classic rock number not suck simply by its association to such a great new song), to the closing crescendo of “Calamine,” Storm Watch is, simply put, flawless.  2014 has given us the debuts from two incredibly brilliant new bands; the first in Beach Slang and the second in Shallow Cuts.  Storm Watch is a must for fans of ridiculously catchy rock/punk/power pop and one of the best records of the year.

EP Review: ‘Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street’ by Beach Slang

Title:  Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street (BandCamp [Beach Slang], BandCamp [Tiny Engines], Tiny Engines Records, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, SoundCloud)  
Artist:  Beach Slang (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, BandCamp,

Beach Slang’s debut EP Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? is by far my favorite record of 2014 and I have been eagerly awaiting its follow-up.  Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street succeeds in every way that a follow-up release should by taking the energy and excitement of the previous release and adding to it new levels of nuance and passion.  The four song EP takes the band’s punk-as-seen-through-college-rock approach of Who Would Ever… and tweaks it by adding layers of deeper sorrow and heartache and touches of Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen.  The resulting sound is still clearly Beach Slang but displays a growth to this band’s already passionate and deep work.  While Cheap Thrills… is less in-your-face than its predecessor, the slower tempo and refined approach make it just as invigorating and powerful.  This band is seriously something special and one to watch.  I look forward to being a fan for many years to come.   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Album Review: ‘Fatten the Leeches’ by Cancers

Title:  Fatten the Leeches (Dead Broke Rekerds, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Cancers (Official, Facebook, Twitter)

Cancers’ full-length debut Fatten the Leeches is a blast of grunge-guitar driven, unforgettably catchy, rich power pop that harkens back to the glory days of the early 1990s.  Formed by Ella Kasper and Lenny Miller, Cancers’ sound is reminiscent of the pre-(and very early post)Nirvana underground music scene without sounding cliched or overtly nostalgic.  Love of the era of Kurt Cobain is in full swing and that has unfortunately brought us a lot of acts that simply minick or pilfer the music of two decades ago.  That is not the case with Cancers.  Fatten the Leeches is a brilliant album with a timeless feel that makes it sound like it could have been released in 1991 or 2014.  Aside from the crunching guitars and perfect pop hooks, what truly makes this record excel is Kasper’s lush and sensuous vocals.  From top to bottom Fatten the Leeches is an excellent record that would sound just at home playing next to early ‘90s releases like Gish, Spooky, and Nevermind as it would beside 2014 releases such as Famous Graves, Nervous Like Me, and Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

K98X The Fringe Saturday Spotify Playlist: All Covers Edition

This week on the K98X The Fringe Saturday Playlist we're doing nothing but covers.  Enjoy bands like the Pixies, Swingin' Utters, Agent Orange, Lucero, The Muffs, Depeche Mode, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and ALL covering some of the favorite songs!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Album Review: ‘Report’ by The Copyright

Title:  Report (Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  The Copyrights (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp,, Wikipedia)

The Copyrights’ sixth full-length album Report is nothing short of brilliant.  The Carbondale, IL quartet has been knocking out some of the best pop punk around since 2002 and after 12 years it’s safe to say that this band has not only gotten better with age but perfected the genre.  Pop punk can be a tricky genre.  Often bands are just doing their best to channel and/or emulate the Ramones or Screeching Weasel or Alkaline Trio or the like, to varying degrees of success.  At its core, pop punk is a very simple genre -- songs that are generally under three minutes and follow the formula laid out by Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys (and kicked into high gear by the Ramones).  Most bands don’t do a lot to take that formula and make it their own; this is not the case with The Copyrights.  With a sound that is distinctive and Midwestern, driven by great hooks and spot on harmonies, The Copyrights have done what so few have been able to do before them -- take the genre of pop punk and make it their own.  With so many pop punk bands one can easily draw comparisons to other acts, but not The Copyrights.  The closest comparisons one can make to the boys from Carbondale are fellow Illinois natives The Methadones and one of the most criminally underrated bands of the 1990s, Sinkhole.  Report opens with a whisper that turns into a roar in “Slider” and never lets up from there.  Each song is filled with infectious hooks, catchy choruses, and cleverly poignant lyrics that are guaranteed to have you bopping along (and if not then there is something seriously wrong with you).  From top to bottom this is a perfect record and easily one of the best of 2014 (and one of the best ever in the genre).  If you are a fan of pop punk and have yet to experience The Copyrights, then make it a priority to pick up a copy of Report, you won’t be sorry that you did.