Friday, August 19, 2016

EP Review: 'The Defeatist' by Habits

Title:  The Defeatist (BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby)
Artist:  Habits (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp)

Brooklyn, NY's Habits follow up their excellent 2013 debut EP Train Wrecks with authority in The Defeatist.  The EP is five songs of melodic post-hardcore punk rock 'n' roll that punches with its hooks and beguiles with its pop sensibilities underneath its gruff execution.  From top to bottom The Defeatist is an excellent record, that delivers on the promise of the band's debut.  This band is a must for fans of Timeshares, Red City Radio, Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Nothington, and Shallow Cuts.

Sadly the band recently announced that they would be breaking up after one last show, September 2nd at the Gutter Bar with Arliss Nancy, MakeWar, and Jeff Riddle.  Those in the NYC area should definitely go to this show, it is sure to be a good one.  The band is also working on one final EP before calling it a day, so we have that to look forward to.  In their short run, Habits has already knocked out two excellent EPs with a third on the way.  It's sad that the band is calling it quits but they have left a legacy behind that is certainly one to be proud of.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

10 Questions with The Gomes

The Gomes are a new two-piece rock n'n roll band from Oklahoma City, OK.  The band recently released their debut single "Alright" and are working on full-length debut due out later this year.

This interview was conducted via email July 28 - August 5, 2016 with drummer Korben Neftzger and singer/guitarist/bassist Klint Vance.

For more information on The Gomes check out their Facebook, InstagramBandCamp pages.

Dave:  How did the band get together?

Korben Neftzger:  We went to high school together and became friends after probably 3 months of sitting at the same lunch table and not really talking to each other.  Over the years we’ve played in different bands both together and apart, and finally decided that we would rather play music with only the two of us – less mess.


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name The Gomes?

Korben:  Not much of a story at all there.

Klint Vance:  Gibberish as far as wordsmiths or word connoisseurs are concerned, but there’s weight in it for us.


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

Korben:  Well, that is just about everyone… I’d say it is a reflection of our record collection.

Klint:  I second that. Our goal hasn’t been to reinvent any musical wheel.


Dave:  You recently released your debut single “Alright” on BandCamp and just finished your debut record. What made you decide to go with BandCamp for the release of the single? What's the story behind the record and what are the plans for its release?

Korben:  Bandcamp was just the option that would take the least amount of effort on our part.  We already had a Bandcamp set up for The Gomes and had been releasing demos on it since last June.  We had a new batch of songs that we felt needed to be properly recorded so I started looking for studios.  We landed on Battletapes in Nashville because of the analog setup, location, and the attitude we had towards recording. Early this year, through a series of e-mails with Battletapes wizard Jeremy Ferguson, we booked a session.  With studio time ahead of us, we started to write and rehearse a batch of songs for the album over the next several months at our own lovably broken studio, The Practice Space.  This June, Klint and I packed up and drove to Tennessee to record the album.  In addition to getting to work with Jeremy, Alicia Bognanno of Bully helped with recording the live tracking portion of the session.  Both Jeremy and Alicia were so helpful and supportive during the entire process – they really created an environment in which we weren’t allowed to over-think it or dwell on (too much at least) what we were really doing.  It was relatively fast paced, recording took 6 days, and was over before we knew it. Having an engineer and producer who understood what we were going for really made it easy on us, we didn’t have to give much direction on anything they were doing – They just did their thing.

We’ll be printing CDs and doing the usual digital distribution for the album, which should come out early this fall – we don’t have an exact date yet, as a few things still need to be taken care of.


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

Korben:  If there was ever somehow a demand for it, sure..  But for right now, no. We’ve only played six shows, two of which were funerals.  I think the funerals were my favorite times we’ve played for an audience.


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

Klint:  Almost each song on this record was written differently, but I can say they almost all began as a melody and string of words in my head - with the exception of the song “Shame” that I wrote 2 years ago in real-time one squinty eyed night around 2 am. There’s a song called “New Humor” that came about as chorus in my head as I rounded the last corner on a walk to my apartment after a shift at Eskimo Joes in Stillwater. Two or three were written on hikes with my dog. I’m earning an awareness of moon and mood more and more everytime an idea is born and avoid rationalizing any of it. If I thought I understood where my ideas came from I think I’d be selling my muse short. Korben and I have gone through formative years together and share the same taste in 90% of what we listen to, so when it comes to shaping songs it’s easy for one of us to through out a reference and know what the other is meaning.

Korben:  I don’t care much about the moon or anyone’s mood. In regards to my role in that process - Klint will send me a voice memo of an idea, and I can usually hear what the drums should be doing right away.  Rarely, if ever, does one of us have to suggest what the other should be playing.  The collaboration mainly comes in the form of defining song structure.


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

Korben:  It seems to be thriving.  I wouldn’t say we’re really a part of it though.


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

Korben:  Oh golly… I’m deflecting this question, there’s no way I’m letting Barry laugh at Hysteria being in my top 5 albums. I’ll give my top SIX drummers instead.
1. Charlie Watts
2. Grant Hart
3. Alison Galloway
4. Rick Allen
5. Brendan Canty
6. Glen Kotche

Klint:  Ha! What a kick down the throat watching that, trying to figure which character you identify with more and left with no honest answer. I’m gonna take this question and run – some of my favorite bands over the years being The Velvet Underground and The Strokes, Ramones – I have a real attraction to the hustle of NYC but no desire to live it, and these bands allow you to scrape a thumb across the filthy sidewalk outside Electric Lady Studios without getting out of bed. I went through periods of living my life through Stones, Dylan, Petty, Harrison, Dead and Neil Young records - those are my roots, just as much as The Lemonheads, The ‘Mats and anything Ian Mackaye has ever been a part of. As far as newer artists go, I believe Chance The Rapper is in a category all his own. His latest mixtape “Coloring Book” is by far the most motivating and inspirational batch of songs I’ve heard in years. I don’t watch enough movies or TV to give an educated answer, but I back everything Tarantino and The Coen Brothers have done and every few days I like to go watch Modern Family with my dad. On The Road by Jack Kerouac is a book I can’t put down. I read and reread it every couple of weeks and for me it’s a time machine and sends me to a place mentally where I feel very at home and understood.


Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Korben:  Release the Gomes album early this fall, play a few shows – maybe a wedding this time? – start prepping for the next record.

Klint:  For now we’re content enough with just having the songs but are really anxious and excited to share it with everyone. I’m ready to have some fun playing these songs live.


Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Korben:  We really do appreciate being able to contribute to your rad blog, Dave. Thanks!

Klint:  Spend time on the mountain, spend time at the bottom of the pool. Enjoy both equally.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

EP Review: 'Death Ride' by Don't Make Ghosts

Title:  Death Ride (BandCamp)
Artist:  Don't Make Ghosts (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, SquareUp)

Oklahoma City's Don't Make Ghosts debut EP Death Ride is nothing short of spectacular.  The five-song EP beautifully mixes elements of melodic post hardcore, classic rock, and anthematic punk resulting in a sound that is heartfelt, energetic, uplifting, poignant, fresh, and familiar all at the same time.

Death Ride opens with  "Upside of Sorrow" an upbeat song that deals with depression, loss, and sadness as perfectly captured in the chorus.
Caught in the upside of sorrow
Walking a thin line
Down dirt roads
With everything passing you by
Paralyzed
Staring at the clouds
The song end with hope for a better tomorrow in the final verse --
Keep having the same dream
Keep searchin’ for signs
Duct tape on the windows
To hold out the light
Write songs on the hardwood floor
Surrounded by eyes
They think I look like a dead man
But I feel alright
Next is the near-ballad "Wrecking" a song touching on internal struggles and self-destruction.
Bloods the color of your scare
With the way you talk it all makes perfect sense
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame

A lovely place
Before the wrecking starts inside the gates
"Wrecking" is a methodical song that uses measured structure to bring out its desperation.  There are moments in this song that take me back to U2's "Exit" from The Joshua Tree.  Both fill the same roll in each respective record, of the song that is sonically the most different while at the same time is the anchor that holds everything together.  This song also showcases the diverse songwriting ability of the band.
Ashes fallen from the sky
Create a perfect stage where the motherless cry
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame
"Bottles of Wine," one of Death Wish's two love songs, is next.  With a tremendous opening guitar lick and a chorus that dares you to not sing along, the song is the retelling of a relationship's beginning and an affirmation that the people involved complete each other.
We met on the northside bridge
I was stumbling like a sinner
It was dark as hell
The streetlights didn't glow
If you got an extra bag
I don't mind to carry
I can haul a pretty heavy load 
And I will follow you anywhere you want me to
I will turn the pain into a memory that's miles away
And if we break the chain
It will never take away
Emptiness we can’t replace
With sorrow and bottles of wine
Next is "Pine Box" an extremely clever song that deals with loss and the repercussions of the death of a loved one but from the point of view of the deceased.
Just keep a light on Rose and you’ll make it through
I know the worlds been getting’ the best of you
I cannot see you but I’m hearing you loud and clear
Keep your chin up Rosie the end is near

Six years have passed
Since the dirt was cast
On a pine box east of our hometown
[...] 
I know a silver linings hard to find
There’s ghosts in picture frames that never shy
I curse the day that you were left behind

The EP closes with the ridiculously catchy "Highway 27."  The song is the second love song of the record but it's a love song about taking life by the balls and making the most out of every day.
Call in sick we're leaving home again
Turn a daydream into something that is real
This old blacktop always feels
Like a muddy waters record like the first time that we kissed
And I don’t know if we'll ever get out of here
We saw neighbors walking hand in hand
Searching for a missing body in the fields
The corn has been replaced by cotton since
Old men smoking cigarettes and tending fires in front yard pits
And I don't know if we'll ever be just like them 
Lost on highway 27
Lost on highway 27
Drive till it’s too late
When I first heard about Don't Make Ghosts I was immediately excited.  The band boasts two former members of my favorite act from the Sooner State, the Roustabouts.  Then I saw them open for the Hudson Falcons earlier this year and I was totally blown away.  Not only was it great watching some long-time friends back on the stage but they completely killed it.  From the second they took the stage, they owned it.  There was nothing flashy or fancy about their performance; they simply captivated the audience with their incredible music and I have been a die-hard fan ever since.

Death Ride is the perfect record to introduce the world to Don't Make Ghosts.  The performances are perfectly spot on, the lyrics and vocals are passionate, thoughtful, and intelligent, and the energy levels are off the charts.  The EP moves from rousing anthems to a ballad to mid-tempo rockers, seamlessly pulling influence from a number of disparate places creating a unique and definitive sound.  Recently a number of bands have taken influence from a variety of different genres and sub-genres creating a hybrid sound (see Iron Chic, Worship This!, Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Timeshares, Red City Radio) but few have done it this well.  Don't Make Ghosts have created something extremely special in Death Ride, something I know that I will be enjoying for many years to come.  Fans of Tender Defender, Foo Fighters, or any of the aforementioned bands need to do themselves a favor and buy this record!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Currently Listening

1.  "Horses" by War Waves (from Horses)
2.  "Without Love" by Descendents (from Hypercaffium Spazzinate)
3.  "Punks In A Disco Bar" by Beach Slang (from Punks In A Disco Bar)
4.  "Before We Get Started" by The Circus Act (from The Feeling / Never Lasts)
5.  "Life" by American Television (from Reaction)
6.  "Ringer" by Left & Right (from Pivot Foot)
7.  "Hate the Pilot" by California (from California)
8.  "Sick Day" by Easy Creatures (from Low Fidelity)
9.  "Say U Want Me" by Chris Farren (from Say U Want Me)
10.  "Warmest Jets" by Grieving (from Demonstrations)
11.  "Your Rock and Roll" by Northcote (from Your Rock and Roll)
12.  "Up To Us" by The Bouncing Souls (from Simplicity)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 Questions with Shallow Cuts

Hailing from San Diego, Ca and Minneapolis, MN and boasting members of Dan Padilla, Madison Bloodbath, Dear Landlord, and Gateway District, Shallow Cuts is a powerhouse of a band that perfectly and precisely mixes elements of melodic punk rock, classic arena rock 'n' roll, and power pop.  The band released their full-length debut, Empty Beach Towns, in June on No Idea Records and will be playing this year's Awesome Fest in San Diego in September and The Fest in Gainesville, FL in October.

This interview was conducted via email with J. Wang and Matty July 2 - 27, 2016.

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

The band's latest release, the excellent Empty Beach Town, is available via No Idea Records, BandCamp (No Idea), BandCamp (Shallow Cuts), Amazon, and iTunes.

Dave:  How did the band get together?

J. Wang:  Brad and I are long time friends from travelling and touring with each other’s bands and enjoyed spending time together.  We always shared our bands songs with each other and both had the idea to send songs back and forth and try recording some. Matty and I have played music for a long time together and I really enjoy playing with him and it was an easy fit to fill the bass playing.

Matty:  Brad and J were sending new songs they wrote back and forth. They made a plan to get together and record. Once the plan was set J tied me in to their correspondence and said, "Matty you're playing bass"... or something like that. I didn't know anything about it, but was stoked to be a part of it.


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Shallow Cuts?

J.:  I’m not sure, Matty and Brad will have to answer that one.

Matty:  I think Shallow Cuts was a reference to surfing small waves.  J lives in a rad beach community. There were a lot of stupid surfer jokes when we first got together.


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

J.:  I think if you’ve heard any of our previous bands you will have an idea of what it sounds like. It is definitely a departure from what we all have previously done and a lot cleaner tones in guitar and vocals, getting away from being tagged a “gruff melodic punk band.”

Matty:  A close friend said it's "pop" without being a "pop punk" band. Always kind of liked that description.


Dave:  Your full-length debut Empty Beach Town comes out this month on No Idea Record. What's the story behind the record? How did you get hooked up with No Idea Records?

J.:  Empty Beach Town came from the idea of my home town Cardiff by the Sea and how it’s dead and all the tourists are gone during the winter. That transitioned into a fictitious story along the same lines with a homeless transient somewhere around the area of Pacifica in Northern California. Brad has put out records with his previous bands on No Idea and we have been friends with everyone at the label for a very long time and it seemed like a good fit.


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

J.:  Being that we are all pretty far from each other, we only get together about 2 times a year to tour, play shows, record, etc. We are playing shows in San Diego for Awesome Fest, Minneapolis for One Last Party and some shows in Florida revolving around Fest. These will all be in support of the release of the album. I really enjoy playing in Chicago and Minneapolis as well as home in San Diego. Gainesville has always been good to us as well.


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

J.:  With this band, time is short so we basically have the songs pretty much complete as composed by the songwriter. We demo the songs and send them to each other, rehearse and then record.

Matty:  Not really. I write the way I do, Brad does his the way he does, and J does his the same. We all sort of bring structure & lyrics to the table and go from there.


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in San Diego, CA?

J.:  I think it has always been pretty amazing. It definitely ebbs and flows with time. There is also an element of involvement, due to age, family, etc. that becomes a factor. I don’t make it to shows every night like I used to, so sometimes it’s hard to gage. I know the shows I go to are still well attended and its usually a great crowd. We did Dan Padilla’s last show at the Casbah and it sold out and was pretty amazing. There also seems to be a ton of venues now that have live music so there are a lot more choices on what to go see. There is definitely some great stuff going on with some younger people and that is always good to see.

Matty:  Bertos & Santa Ana Knights are amazing!


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

J.:  Well this is a constantly changing thing for me. Instead of top 5 I will just state that I’m listening to a lot of Van Morrison, Dinosaur Jr., Bob Mould, and Cayetana right now. As far as movies, tv, books, if it’s boring and educational.. then I love it!


Dave:  What’s next for the band?

J.:  We talked about trying to do a new ep late this year.


Dave:  Any final thoughts?

J.:  Thanks for your time and we hope everyone enjoys the new record. We are really stoked on it! Cheers. J.

Friday, July 29, 2016

EP Review: 'Demonstrations' by Grieving

Title:  Demonstrations (BandCamp)
Artist:  Grieving (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, SoundCloud)

Demonstrations, the debut EP from Cambridge, England's Grieving is a five-song powerhouse.  Reminiscent of early '90s acts like Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, and Seaweed, Grieving have perfectly straddled that divide between indie and punk rock by mixing elements of post hardcore, melodic punk anthems, and indie rock, with great pop sensibilities.  The end result is a sound that is distinct, powerful, poignant, catchy, familiar, and really stinking good.  Demonstrations opens subdued yet melodic "My Friend, The Ghost" before moving to the slightly angular "Ownership" followed by the fantastically catchy "No Sleep."  Next up is the record's most challenging track, the very angular and experimental "Little Armoured."  The EP closes out with the melodic "Warmest Jet," a perfect last song that leaves you wanting more.

Demonstrations does what every great debut record should do: it showcases the band's strengths while highlighting their excellent and diverse songwriting, super tight musicianship, and serves as a primer getting listeners excited for this and future releases.  Grieving is an obviously tight, diverse, and talented band, a fact made abundantly clear on this EP.  The moments on Demonstrations that truly stand out are those that are the most straight forward and melodic.  Grieving is a band that has an excellent sense of melody and top notch pop sensibilities making them a force to be reckoned with and a band to watch.  I can't wait to see what these guys do next!