Monday, December 8, 2008
So, I don't exactly have ten albums, because while I bought more than ten albums this year, I know there were better ones out there than the ones I bought or heard legally, so I am just going to review the ones I liked. These are in an order consistent with the Mayan calendar:
Banner Pilot - Resignation Day
I'm not sure if I first hear Banner Pilot on the Punknews Fest 6 compilation or if it was shortly before that, but I instantly recognized that I would like this band. Vocals draw me in and lyrics encourage me to stay and this album did both. Lead singer Nick Johnson (not Nick Johnson) sings about the dark, chilly nights in Minneapolis drinking with friends, tired heartbreaks, and making big plans. I know I am just hurting things by making it sound like Counting Crows lyrics, but my words won't do it justice. Read these linear notes. I know a lot of small town kids will identify a lot of the situations in these tunes. This is the kind of music that makes high school bearable for a lot of outcasts. The band is currently recording another album and Twittering the experience.
LaGrecia - On Parallels
This artifact is a tragic little gem. LaGrecia was the third band for vocalist and lyricist Jason Shevchuk, formerly (and now currently) None More Black and Kid Dynamite (still not counting his metal band Bound). Before this album was even released by Suburban Home Records, he left the three-piece, leaving hundreds or thousands of albums with no band to tour, promote, and sell them. Why the sudden departure? It's his third band in about 9 or 10 years. He is never content. The reason this time though was because he dipped his pen in the company ink (company ink aka Dana Berkowitz played drums for the band). The songs on this album differed from other Shevchuk products in that it was more "indie" and experimental than a straight forward punk or melodic hardcore band. A couple of tracks, including Slower Than Manasses and Two Shotguns, have some jazz influence. It would have been fun to sing along with this band live, but we'll all have to settle for yelling in our car. Also, the album art by bassist Sal DellAquila is by far the best of any 2008 album, hands fucking down.
Lemuria - Get Better
Female lead singers have to walk a fine line. Unfairly or not, she has to maintain her femininity without being so "girly" that they are looked down upon by the majority of the punk audience. I suppose that's a gauntlet all successful women have to face but this album just made me think about it. (Co?)Lead singer Sheena Ozzella has strong, consistent vocals that still sound like they're sung by a girl. I wouldn't be surprised to find out she was a classically trained vocalist. And while a lot of female-fronted groups have their chick strutting around like she is on the short list to join the Pussycat Dolls, Ozzella isn't that kind of girl. The band's music is, rightfully so, the show. My preference for this album has fluctuated the few months I have been listening to it. When I first got it, I loved the sweet harmonies between Ozzella and drummer Alex Kerns. But the more I listened to it, I was a little turned off by the constant repetition in the lyrics. The choruses on almost all the songs are repeated to a point where I wonder if they ran out of lyrics. However, even later I grew to like that as well. I mean, despite the clear vocals, they're a punk band (or an indie band with punk aesthetic) and if it's something punk bands do well, it's make catchy anthems that are fun to sing along with live.
Murder By Death - Red of Tooth and Claw
Take a spaghetti western, make it darker, place random barrels of whiskey around (more than usual) then you are on your way to understanding the aesthetic created by Murder by Death's style of music and Red of Tooth and Claw is no different. It's hard to pigeon hole the sound. The two most distinctive aspects of the music are Adam Turla's baritone singing and the cello work by Sarah Balliet. Lyrics tend to focus on good versus evil and traveling themes. I also got to catch Murder By Death live this year and it was one of the most fun shows I have been attended in a long time. They deftly carry their studio sound to the stage. The band is reportedly working on a follow up to their concept album Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them for the near future. I can't wait to see what's in store for this talented group.
The Gaslight Anthem - Señor and the Queen & The '59 Sound
While it's hard to pick an album of the year, the most impressive band of the the year is The Gaslight Anthem. They're everywhere and deservedly so. This band takes the best from The Bouncing Souls, The Clash, and Born to Ride-era Springsteen to make a sound that sounds fresh even with so many nods to other artists. They released a four-song EP on Sabot Records and later signed with SideOneDummy and released the full length heard 'round the world. The EP is a cleaner continuation of the debut Sink or Swim. The most noticeable aspect on The '59 Sound is the echo in the vocals. Lead singer Brian Fallon continually explains in interviews that the echo or reverb was a conscious choice to pay homage to albums produced in the late fifties and early sixties. While I still can't see the parallel between the production on this album and those of yesteryear, I like the atmosphere it creates. I had an opportunity to see this band open for Alkaline Trio, Thrice, and Rise Against. Unfortunately, they started their set exactly on time and I only got to see two songs (The Backseat and Angry Johnny and The Radio). While I was disappointed at the time, it says a lot about the band that those two songs were the highlight of an outstanding evening. I read somewhere that they are going to tour this Spring, so I'll make sure to catch the full set then. In the meantime, I'll continue to sing with my heroes, my arms in my bothers arms.
Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony
This was an improvement over Crimson, but they have to shake that poppy, atmospheric crap. I even got the deluxe set to get the acoustic songs. Even that is only 70% good.
The Briggs - Come All You Madmen
The Briggs are a talented group that oftentimes take the street punk genre to new and fun places. Unfortunately, even they fall victim to some of the limits of the style occasionally. This conflict is found on Come All You Madmen when a beautiful song like Molly can't even overcome the sickeningly silly This is L.A. It wouldn't have been so bad but they made that terrible track their single. C'mon guys, you're better than that.
Less Than Jake - GNA FLA
I still love this band. A few inspired tracks including the single Does the Lion Still Roar are signs that they can still write new tunes that will get the crowd singing along. Unfortunately, the album is largely forgettable.
Chuck Ragan/Austin Lucas - Bristle Ridge
Mr. Ragan teams up with former Man Alive lead singer Austin Lucas and family to make a bluegrass album. The result is a tight album from two seasoned professionals. If you are open minded enough to expand beyond the punk genre, check out this collaboration.
Shorebirds - It's Gonna Get Ugly
This mayfly of a band was the cocktease of the year. Matt Canino, formerly of Latterman, and Chris Bauermeister, formerly of Jawbreaker, and some drummer formed this band that was not to be. As is Canino's M.O., the group disbanded but not before releasing an EP and this full length. I suppose this never came out in CD format, only a 12" vinyl, because, as Canino and/or his significant hipster girlfriend/entrepreneur stated: they're "a record label, not an MP3 label." Despite that reactionary, Luddite attitude, there are MP3s out there for sale on odd MP3 sites and there are torrents, but I have trouble believing that the band or label (Rumbletowne) sees any of that profit, so I'm not buying. Fortunately, I got to hear it on Punknews. Heartfelt music and trademarked strained vocals characterize this beautiful album.
Paint It Black - New Lexicon
Dan Yemin's contribution to the punk and hardcore community is undeniable. Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, and now Paint It Black have all been amazing bands. I just can't get into the latter. I can tell it's technically great, but as a whole I'm not into it. I guess I'm not hardcore.
Albums released that I haven't heard all the way through, but really want to:
Off With Their Heads - From The Bottom
The Riot Before - Fists Buried in Pockets
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
The Tossers - On A Fine Spring Evening
Ben Nichols - The Last Pale Light In The West (the full length, 7 song mini-album released late 2008)
New Banner Pilot
New Lawrence Arms (hopefully)
New The Verbs (Redux)
Want some tracks from bands I discussed? Here you go:
I realize that I probably missed a lot, but whatever. Check out the two new blogs I added to my blog list: Walkoff Walk and Sound Scene Revolution.
Album images courtesy of Punknews.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The music that disturbed the delicate sensibilities of Pittsburgh residents :
Monday, September 22, 2008
So I've neglected this blog for a while, but I've been busy and the Cards collapsed so I've (unfairly) been less interested in baseball.
Well, what's been going on? The Cards, as I've mentioned, have sucked. All they needed to do was finish .500, but instead they decided to get swept by the motherfuggin Pirates! Rays have clinched. Cubs have *heave* clinched. Mets have been sucking. Yankees still take up too much airtime. Blah blah. Forgive my general indifference. I think I'll root for Tampa Bay during the playoffs. They don't play in a city that has a mostly white working class so there is no chance of that the team will be romanticized.
Musically I've been listening to Banner Pilot's Resignation Day. It's such a solid album. All the songs fit together like a finely tuned piano (just try to untangle that metaphor).
Speaking of music, here's what I really want to talk about. First, please listen to this podcast by a couple friends of mine. Mike, the guy getting interviewed, tells the story of one of his band's songs. The song and the story behind it are equally beautiful and I want everyone I know and don't know to hear it. His whole band (minus the new bassist) did a previous podcast as well that exhibits their great senses of humor. A little funny after the kind of sad story is good for the soul.
I'd also like my small group of readers to check out Mike's band called The Verbs (Redux) (be sure to click on their album on the left). The first thing you may notice is that it isn't punk. We'll I'm a complicated man with many tastes, so humor me. If you notice, it's a pay what you want system, so do just that: pay whatever you want. Fifty percent of all the proceeds goes back to the band. I think the default setting is $.45 a track, but you can click on the price and lower or raise it to what ever you think it is worth. If you like hip-hop or alternative music, check out the other bands on that link as well.
Another cool aspect of all this music on this label (LemonDrop Records) is that it is under a Creative Commons license. That means you are free to distribute it as long as you give the band and the label credit. You can also use it in your own creative products, again as long as you give credit to the band(s) and the label. That's a pretty cool deal for all artists out there (DJs, filmmakers, etc.).
All right, I leave for a month or so and now I ask for you to DO stuff. I know, I'm sorry. I think I am going to do some music reviews in the off season and I'll probably keep track of some of the fun hot stove league. I enjoy that stuff a lot but that's probably the fantasy geek in me. Anyway, keep well, y'all.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Rather than allow the rather innocuous new item and the comments pass, as most artists do, Mr. Bemis chose to issue a "clarifying" statement to punk site Absolutepunk.net. In this statement, Bemis stated that the Punknews commenters were "strange, slow, old people" and that they should "keep listening exclusively to hot water music and shut up." See what he did there? He took the if-you're-not-my-friend-you're-my-enemy approach. That always works. But whatever your thoughts on this songwriter-for-hire program that he has set up, keep the following information in mind.
Say Anything's debut album is titled Baseball (now it comes full circle). It was released in 2001 and there may be as few as 200 copies of this album ever printed. Even the most committed Say Anything fans may have never heard the band play a song off this album live. Why not? Bemis refuses to play those songs and even refuses to reprint the album. So Bemis has an album full of original songs that he could play and his most loyal fans would love; however, he chooses to have his fans contribute inspiration for a price. With all this revealed about the frontman, I'm not sure how anyone can support a person who won't play Baseball.
Image via Colin Smith at distorted perspective. Check out his stuff. It's great
Bemis let's us know where the hurt is and Dr. Ragan provides the remedy.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
AFI via 1992 or so. Nice clean kids.
Seriously, what the hell happened? Don't be surprised if Daniel Murphy starts looking like this in the next couple weeks. Damn you, "Totalimmortal!"
Moving on, MLB has been chronicling at bat songs of some players around the league in the MLB Entertainment blog. Silly me, I thought baseball itself was entertaining but MLB thinks they need to appeal to every last soul on the planet. (Coming soon: MLB feminine hygiene products. Get a tampon emblazoned with you favorite (or least favorite) baseball team. Giambi-approved!) So far, the team with the "best" overall music taste is the Cleveland Indians but really no one wins here. They only feature a couple players from each team and even fewer songs. ("What this team needs is WAY MORE METALLICA!") I was hoping they'd have C.J. Wilson's musical picks but, alas, no such luck. His taste doesn't even rub off on his teammates, but I have a feeling his cohorts don't want to hear him. What with C.J. saying his teammates are ignorant and selfish and Manager Ron Washington demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T:
We still love you C.J. even if you won't be a Ranger next year. Especially if you won't be a Ranger next year.
Here's the two versions of Totalimmortal. PunkOnDeck takes no responsibility in the listener of these songs wanting to crank up Conspiracy of One. (You forgot that album, didn't you? We all did.)
Saturday, August 2, 2008
While the infallible Wikipedia says The Hold Steady are "Brooklyn-based," it's no secret that the band exudes Minneapolis pride. That is no more evident than in their professed love for the Twins. While I am not as versed in The Hold Steady as I perhaps should be, they supposedly reference the Twinkies in a number of their songs. At live shows, they give history lessons on the team and they were recently asked to record a rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" (see below), which is played at the Metrodome.
First, check out this interview with singer Craig Finn by Ezra Ace Caraeff of the Portland Mercury from May 2007. Excerpt:
I went down to Fort Meyers, Florida, for two games, and had a lot of fun. I was talking to this guy Jim Walsh, who is doing the Replacements oral history and he told me Paul would be down there. I kind of had my eye out looking for him, and sure enough, he was there with his son. I've never met him before, so it didn't seem like the right time to go bother him. It's funny because even before we did "Take Me out to the Ball Game" for the Twins, I was at the Metrodome last year and noticed how great the music was during the games. They played a lot of the Replacements.
Next, if you have patience with buffering, check out this video with Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler talking about the Twins and baseball in general.
And finally some tunes, of course:
Photo courtesy of Blue Collar Distro.
Monday, July 21, 2008
How do you juggle running the park, singing in the band and coaching?
I am surrounded by some pretty good people. I could not run a business if there wasn’t someone I could trust. So I am lucky to have that. The band has been going now for over 20 years in this same format, so I think it’s safe to say it runs itself. We have all learned how to make it work this way and get the most out of it. Coaching, well for me its the same as when I was playing as far as the time it takes away during a year. So it has been easy for all of us.
Meanwhile, this interview/confrontation recently came to my attention. I already thought Billy Beane was the most interesting GM in baseball. Do yourself a favor and read Moneyball if you haven't already. It will most likely change how you see the game and you will realize why so many people hate Joe Morgan .
Anyway, Billy Beane is an unabashed rock fan so this interview with Johnny Ramone is a gushing fanboy mess. I think the interview took place in 2002, which would be about 2 years before Johnny's death. It was presented by something called Chin Music magazine. It looks like this 'zine had a similar mission to Punk on Deck. So if you have some time to kill while refreshing the Punknews boards, check out the Chin Music archives. A wee bit of ultra-interview:
BB: Well, when I gave Hatteberg "The Filth & the Fury," I explained to him the differences between the New York scene and the English scene. He actually went home and watched it and he was just blown away. He couldn't believe how great it was!So if you see Billy Beane out and about in Oakland, challenge him to some Guitar Hero or something.
JR: Oh, he was liking it then?
BB: Oh, he loved it!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Granted it's a Chuck Liddell style mohawk but kind of cool. Here's the Mets' leadoff man Jose Reyes:
Defend this, Mets fans. I'm sorry to kick you while you're down, but c'mon.
Photos courtesy of Bugs & Cranks and Newsday (via: Sportingnews)
Monday, June 30, 2008
When you were growing up, who was your favorite ballplayer?
I always liked the Seattle superstars, Ken Jr and the Big Unit. (I had a coach who called me the medium unit, brutal nickname, haha) But the first player I really got excited about watching was Scott Radinsky. Go figure! The best part was, during the time he was with the Dodger, I had no idea about the other side of him. Didn't know he was a local guy, I was singing Pulley tracks not knowing he was on vocals, and had no idea about the skateboard side either. Later on, when I discovered all of this, he pretty much became my idol. One of the biggest compliments I ever received was this high school coach, my pony ball coach at the time, telling me I reminded him of Scott Radinsky.
What was the best concert you've ever attended?
Well Strung Out always puts on a great show, the small local places are the best, it's always the same people in the crowd. That said, my favorite was None More Black. It just so happens, that it ties into baseball. In 2006 I was playing at CSUF at the time, and we had a series against Long Beach state. Originally the show was scheduled or mislabeled to be on a Sunday night. We play day games on Sunday, so I would have plenty of time to make it. Turns out the show was on Saturday night. I was crushed! NMB was playing on the west coast, 15 minutes from my apartment and I cant see them. Anyways, Saturday night comes and we are warming up for the game. About 30 minutes prior to the start a transformer blows up on one of the light poles. The game is delayed for sometime, and finally cancelled. I get all excited about making it to the show. Of course we hit traffic on the way back to Fullerton, and I'm thinking all is lost. To sum it up, I managed to change, pick up my bro, and drive to Chain Reaction (the club) in record time. We rolled in and NMB was just stepping up to the stage. I think we all know what happened after that. The whole day of events seemed like they were out of a movie. That was a very special show for me.
Do you have any music recommendations for my dozens of readers?
Obviously I recommend anything by Strung Out, Kid Dynamite and NMB, but that's boring, everyone knows those bands. I'll try to throw out a few people may have never heard of.
Drunk in Public - Tapped Out This band is from Lompoc, Ca. That's all I got on these guys, they probably are not even around anymore. A friend dropped off the album a long time ago. It's punk with just a hint of twang mixed around. Dude, the album cover has astronauts hooked up to kegs, floating in space. What else do you need to know?
If you haven't clicked on those band links, do so. Ryan has some great taste in music. Remember, Ryan pitches for the Augusta Green Jackets in the Class A South Atlantic League. If you are near Augusta or a team that plays in the league, be sure to go to a game to see him pitch. He's a reliever (mostly), so you never know when he'll get the call. But when he warms up in Augusta, his walk out song is "Drop the Pop" by None More Black.
I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on his progress over the season and beyond. Good luck, Ryan and thanks for the interview.
Photos courtesy of SJGiantsFan.org and Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Our first minor league pro ball punk is found all the way in the single A South Atlantic League. Ryan Paul is a relief pitcher for the Augusta Green Jackets, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, located in Augusta, Ga. The south paw was the Giants 10th pick in the 2006 draft. He spent some time in high A ball with the San Jose Giants this year but was demoted to make room for another pitcher.
He pitched collegiately for the Cal State Fullerton Titans. His college bio is the only clue I have that he is into punk. Under favorite musical artists he lists Kid Dynamite, None More Black, and Strung Out. The dude is "Orgcore." I wonder if he knows about the band that never was, LaGrecia. Their new and only album On Parallels is awesome, by the way.
So if anybody lives near Augusta and goes to a Green Jackets game, let me know what song they play when he enters a game. If you are feeling industrious, try to interview the guy.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Highlights include his thoughts on Brett Myers ("He's a bad redneck."), mohawks (They're dumb, mohawks.") and the indie rock sports community (Read the interview).
The entry's a few months old but it is still useful. You can really tell that he is a big fan.
As far as the music side, my knowledge of 90s college rock is limited. I DO know that a Pavement song leads into Pardon the Interruption (see below). That's all I got. But nevertheless, this was a pleasantly surprising find.
Photo courtesy of Moses Berkson and Matador Records.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It's rather appropriate that Jonathan Papelbon plays for a team that claims the Dropkick Murphys as its unofficial house band. The Dropkicks are known for pandering to Boston's sense of phony nostalgia with catchy anthems. See that Scorsese film. Since that film, it had been observed that there are quite a few more, let's say, mainstream music fans at Dropkick shows.
As you can see, Papelbon went with the mohawk in the past. But just as listening to the Dropkick Murphys doesn't make you punk, having a mohawk doesn't either. He has also been known to pander to Boston.
But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He currently has a 1.84 ERA and .89 WHIP. As a commenter pointed out, pitching successfully in a bandbox of a stadium is very respectable. Papelbon does just that in Fenway, which features a high wall at tee ball distance in left field.
Papelbon also has a web site and he does some charity work as well. Overall, I give Johnathan a pass, but I am more impressed with his brother Josh, who throws sidearm.
Photo courtesy of JoeSportsFan.com. Check out their Worthless Card Collection.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Tooth and Nail act Hawk Nelson have recently announced a "Faith Nights Baseball Tour." This tour will take the Canadian act through minor league parks throughout the US. While I don't support Hawk Nelson's brand of pre-packaged, sugary, Christian pop, I do support the idea of bands touring minor league ballparks. More bands, expecially ones trying to get their name out, should do this. It's a venue that guarantees at least a thousand or more listeners and minor league games are everywhere. There is no shortage of games throughout the country. Personally, I think a ball cap from each park you play would be cool, too. If you are interested in seeing Hawk Nelson, you can check them out at the following games:
I'd like to see a pic of this band in Modesto Nuts gear.
6.8.08 Huntsville Stars, Huntsville, AL
6.26.08 Durham Bulls, Durham, NC
7.13.08 Memphis Redbirds, Memphis, TN
7.24.08 Fort Wayne Wizards, Fort Wayne, IN
7.25.08 South Bend Silver Hawks, South Bend, IN
7.26.08 Akron Aeros, Akron, OH
7.27.08 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Appleton, WI
7.28.08 West Michigan White Caps, Comstock Park, MI
7.30.08 Mississippi Braves, Pearl, MS
8.14.08 Frisco Rough Riders, Frisco, TX
8.16.08 Tucson Sidewinders, Tucson, AZ
8.20.08 Fresno Grizzlies, Fresno, CA
8.22.08 High Desert Mavericks, Adelanto, CA
8.27.08 Modesto Nuts, Modesto, CA
Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Leader.