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Album Review: Darius Koski – “What Was Once Is By And Gone”

When Darius Koski released his debut solo album, Sisu, on Fat Wreck Chords a couple of years ago, I remember thinking that even though it was the longtime Swingin’ Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards guitarist and principle songwriter’s first album under his own name, it nevertheless seemed like it was a quintessentially “Darius Koski” album, full of the sort of neo-folk/Americana rooted non-traditional punk rock left turns that made the Utters and the Bastards unique in their own regards. It was solid, and different from the Utters for sure, but not THAT different to leave people confused.

What Was Once Is By And Gone, released last Friday (November 3rd, also on Fat), pushes the genre-bending theme to newer and bolder and more diverse levels. Sure there are still some Americana-based elements that would have fit nicely on Sisu; album-opener “Black Sheep” and the slow burning “Old Bones,” for example. That fact that stands to reason given that like on his debut album, the bulk of What Was Once Is By And Gone was culled from two decades of songs and song ideas Koski had in the bankThere are a handful of tracks like “Yes I Believe” and “The Observer” that seem to pay direct homage to the uptempo chugging, reverb-heavy rockabilly freight train that Johnny Cash perfected a half-century ago.

But then, of course, there are the more conceptual pieces that make What Was Once Is By And Gone not only stand apart from Sisu, but truly shine in its own right. “Imitation Tala” has has an acoustic backbone that, combined with Koski’s subdued drone, give the track a “world music” feel that reminds me of the band Three Fish, itself a side project for Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament a couple decades ago. “Stay With Me” and it’s whistle-driven melody evokes a sort of melodramatic cowboy waltz. “Another Man” might be the most straight-forward, Tim Barry-esque acoustic songwriter track that cuts deeply in its emotionally honest tale of introspection and self-doubt.

What Was Once Is by And Gone also contains a few instrumental tracks, though to they are really more vignettes than truly songs. “Tangled Chords” is a brief  hodgepodge of reverb guitar,, spoken word voice-over, and what appears to be the sound of somebody hammering a nail. “A Little Buzz” is bright and hopeful. “A Version” sounds a bit like a sad, blue carnival with it’s weaving trumpet and synthesizer melodies. The repetitive, staccato piano undertones of “Soap Opera” give the track a haunting quality that evokes feelings of a movie score. In fact, all four of the vignettes do a good job of evoking different, movie score style feelings, and that’s not an accident, as Koski has expressed an interest in dipping his toes in that water in the future.

After a relatively busy post-comeback period a few years ago (three albums in four years), things have been quiet on the new music front from the Swingin’ Utters for a little while now. And while there aren’t traditional punk tunes present on What Was Once Is By And Gone, it serves as a welcome addition to the Koski catalog and hopefully offers him enough of a repertoire to make a go at the solo artist route alongside his normal Utters duties.

4/5 Stars

 

 

 



Stream the new Direct Hit!/PEARS split

PEARS and Direct Hit!‘s new split “Human Movement”, which has just been released on Fat Wreck, is streaming now. You can listen to the album, which is 6 songs from each band, below.

The album is available on various formats now.

 

 



Full Set Video: The Flatliners play “The Great Awake” in its entirety at Fest 16

The Flatliners are currently on a 10th anniversary tour for their sophomore LP The Great Awake. You can check out a video of the band playing the full album live at Fest 16 in Gainesville below.

The Great Awake could be considered the band’s breakthrough album. It was their first release on Fat Wreck Chords, featuring the anthemic single “Eulogy”.



Swingin’ Utters announce best of album “Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun”

San Francisco punk legends Swingin’ Utters have jsut announced that via Fat Wreck Chords, they will be releasing a thirty three song album titled Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun as a ‘best of’ hurrah on December 8th.

Available for pre-order today, this anthology touches on the Swingin’ Utters from birth to the their most recent material. Their 1995 debut album The Streets of San Francisco, through 2014’s Fistful of Hollow offers a taste of these guys through their evolution and sums up their identity.

The guys also will be hitting the road starting tomorrow to celebrate, so make sure to pick up your tickets here and check out the dates below.



Video: The Bombpops perform “Jerk” Live From The Rock Room

Live From The Rock Room have released the third video of The Bombpops performing for them. Earlier this year we saw them playing “F.O.M.O” and “Watch Me Fold”; in this video the band are playing the song “Jerk”. Check it out below.

The band’s debut album Fear of Missing Out was released in February through Fat Wreck Chords



DS Interview: Darius Koski (Swingin Utters) on his new solo album, “What Was Once Is By And Gone,” and hitting the road with a new Utters linuep

If you rewind the punk rock history tape back a couple of years, you’ll come across the release of Sisu, the debut solo release from Darius Koski. The album was very much rooted in Americana and marked a bit of a sonic departure for the longtime Swingin’ Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards guitarist and principle songwriter, though it still fit within the more diverse end of the Utters spectrum at the very least. Next Friday, Koski will release his sophomore solo album, What Was Once Is By And Gone, again via his lifelong label home, Fat Wreck Chords. This time out, Koski pushes the genre-bending element to new heights; while there is still a thread of Americana that pops up, also present are very heavy rockabilly and Johnny Cash and Nick Cave and Tom Waits-inspired sounds that each create a very different, very real mood. And that’s all by design.

I don’t want to play one style of music; I like too many things,” says Koski, who spent a dozen of his most formative years playing solely violin before eventually moving on to guitar and finding punk rock. “I just wanted to write songs, that’s basically what it came down to. I wasn’t really interested in being a virtuoso, which is all that’s about. And that’s great, but I would rather write songs than be a ripping violin player.” Still, that early experience with incredibly broad musical horizons created an early, lasting influence. “Too many things influence me and I’m interested in too many things to be a one note kind of dude, you know? So yeah, I think this one is even more all-over-the-place than the last one, for sure.”

Many of the tracks on Sisu were culled from years and years of songs that Koski has stored up, forming a catalog consisting of many dozens of tracks that date back close to three decades. It should go without saying that technological advances in the audio recording world have advanced many times over in the years since Koski began writing and recording, creating an interesting set of challenges when it comes time to revisit old tracks. “For a while, I was recording on – I don’t know if you remember, but those little cassette tapes? What do you do with those?” he asks, half-jokingly. As it turns out, what you do is press play on a microcassette player and record on a regular cassette tape, creating a lo-fidelity, hiss-heavy mix to try to decipher. “For the most part, I’m pretty anal about cataloging stuff because I’m just afraid of losing things. I’m totally that guy that spends a month being a month being obsessed with transferring his vinyl!”

The process was much the same on What Was Once Is By And Gone. Some of the tracks began simply as hummed notes into his iPhone, while some date as far back as the mid-1990s. Of particular note is the track “Fresh Glass of Nothing,” a song that was coincidentally written by his wife, herself an avid poet with whom he’s actually collaborated many times through out his songwriting career; the bulk of the Utters’ classic album Five Lessons Learned, for example, was culled primarily from her old poetry books. “Fresh Glass of Nothing” went a little differently, however. Back in the mid-90s, Koski had been in the market for a 4-track cassette recorder, and his wife purchased one while he was away on tour. “She was messing around with it at home to figure out how it worked,” he explains. One thing lead to another, and by the time Koski had returned from tour, his wife “had recorded two songs! Like, fully done songs, with her playing guitar, her lyrics, and her singing the melody! She’s not  a songwriter, but she had these two songs, and the other one is great too, but (“Fresh Glass of Nothing”) was, like, phenomenal!” Koski added the solo that appears on the song, but the rest of what you hear on the album is completely his wife’s brainchild.

Speaking of touring; Koski is putting down the day job plumber’s wrenches and gearing up to head out on the road as a solo artist for the first real time, as he’ll be doing double duty by opening up the Swingin’ Utters upcoming November dates. While he’s played a handful of dates acoustic and by himself, this time out he’ll have a small band backing him up, helping to fill out the added instrumentation that is so important to the sound on What Was Once Is By And Gone. While it can be hard to afford a full band to go on the road with, it is ultimately a goal of Koski’s to make touring with a backing band more of a part of his regular routine. I really, really want to try to make that happen,” he explains, “because the majority of the stuff on both of these records really has a lot of instrumentation and drums.” On the upcoming run, Koski has enlisted the help of some of his Utters brethren: “for this tour, Luke (Ray) is going to play drums and Tony who’s playing bass for the Utters is going to play bass, so we’ll be a three-piece.” The Tony in question is none other than Tony Teixiera, whom you probably know from his time in Cobra Skulls, Western Addiction, and most recently with alongside Luke Ray in Sciatic Nerve. Teixiera filled in for Utters bassist Miles Peck on their most recent tour and will be doing so again from here on out. “He’s pretty much our bass player now,” adding that Peck “just didn’t want to fucking tour any more. It’s not in him. It’s hard, man. It’s not for everybody.

Head here to see where you can catch Koski and the newly-retooled Swingin’ Utters lineup on the road, beginning next week in Arizona. Pre-orders for What Was Once Is By And Gone, which is due out November 3rd on Fat Wreck, are available at the same link. Meanwhile, you can head below to check out our full Q&A with Koski!



PEARS and Direct Hit! cover each others songs

PEARS and Direct Hit!! had a chat with the folks over at New Noise Magazine today. They spoke about their lives, their music and the upcoming split Human Movement. They also covered each others songs; Direct Hit! played PEARS’ song “You’re Boring” while PEARS cover Direct Hit!’s “The World Is Ending (Sorta)”. You can give it a read and listen to the tracks here.

Human Movement is due out on November 3rd via Fat Wreck Chords.



Mean Jeans release Mountain Dew tribute song

Portland pop-punks Mean Jeans have released a new song that serves as a tribute to Mountain Dew, called “Mountain Dew (I Need It).”

You can give it a listen below.

The bands’ latest album, Tight New Dimension, was released in April 2016 through Fat Wreck Chords.



Fat Wreck Chords signs The Last Gang, streams new song

Fat Wreck Chords just announced that they have signed a new band, Los Angeles’ The Last Gang.  The band will be releasing a two-song 7-inch called “Sing For Your Supper” on December 8th.  The release will feature the title track, which will also be on the bands’ eventual full length debut for Fat, as well as a b-side exclusive to the 7-inch.  To give you an idea of what to expect from the band, you can listen to “Sing For Your Supper” below.



Darius Koski (Swingin’ Utters) streams new song “Black Sheep”

Swingin’ Utters guitarist Darius Koski has premiered another song off his upcoming solo album What Was Once Is By And Gone. Give “Black Sheep” a listen below.

What Was Once Is By And Gone is set to release on November 3rd through Fat Wreck Chords. Koski will also be the opening act on the Utters’ upcoming US tour (dates below).



Direct Hit! and PEARS release dual video for “Blood on Your Tongue” and “Arduous Angel”

Fat Wreck newcomers and future heavyweights Direct Hit! and PEARS have broken convention and released a dual video for Direct HIt’s “Blood On My Tongue” and PEARS’ “Arduous Angle”, both tracks off the bands’ upcoming split “Human Movement.” It plays like a gory feature film and we highly recommend you check out the masterpiece below.

The two vocalists had this to say about the song/video:

“This is a weird video about two groups of people who hate each other, but recognize a common evil and fight against it together,” says Direct Hit’s Nick Woods. “On one side, you have this heroine who orchestrates a kidnapping and drugging to turn this smitten henchman into a weapon. And on the other, you have this kind of weird cleanup crew who paves the way for it to happen. In the end, the people at the top of the chain end up dead, and it’s the middleman tool who gets fucked over.”

“Part of this song is about being a kid who hears their parent fight,” says PEARS vocalist Zach Quinn. “Divorce for some is traumatic, for others, it is a lifesaver. Additionally, I think this is PEARS’ first song with a standard pop structure, which doesn’t happen all too often.”

“Human Movement” is slated for release November 3rd via Fat Wreck Chords.



Fat Mike Presents Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival Rescheduled

The Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival previously scheduled for Saturday October 14th at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA has been rescheduled for Saturday October 29th.  The reschedule is due to concern over air quality and crowd safety in Concord due to ongoing wildfires in the surrounding areas.

All tickets for the previously scheduled performance date will be honored at the rescheduled date on Sunday, October 29th. For those unable to attend the postponed date, refunds are available at the original point of purchase.

Because of artist availability, the lineup has been changed to include NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Get Dead, and more to be announced.



Iconic Minneapolis punk venue Triple Rock closes; this is my eulogy

The Triple Rock, owned by Erik Funk of Dillinger Four and his wife Gretchen Funk, will be shutting down for good after November 22nd. The bar was opened in 1998, and the music side in 2003.

Shows will continue until the bar closes for good, with acts including Craig Finn of the Hold Steady/Lifter Puller, the Dead Boys, Swingin’ Utters, Western Settings, and tonight, Rozwell Kid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a final Dillinger Four show.

Check out the Star Tribune for more details and comments from Erik Funk. You can see the statement from Triple Rock and NOFX’s “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock” video below.

To put it eloquently, this is a giant fucking bummer. One of my first shows there was Against Me! in, 2004, I think. My most recent show was The Murderburgers with Rational Anthem, City Mouse, and 83 Wolfpack. I lost count of how many times I saw Dillinger Four, Off With Their Heads, and Banner Pilot there.

Dillinger Fourth of July was always the best. You don’t know fine dining until a shirtless, drunk Paddy Costello starts passing out hot dogs and lit cigarettes in the middle of a set. The last D4th of July I went to was in 2016, where I caught The Brokedowns and was instantly a fan.

With no barricades and the stage only a few feet off the ground, it will forever be one of my favorite venues. Most bands I saw mingled, bought drinks for fans, and sold merch themselves. Maybe that’s not so uncommon in other places, but for a kid from a small town in the sticks of southern Minnesota, it was pretty fucking cool. Before I started going to the Triple Rock, I had only been to Warped Tour in 2000 (my first and last time), the legendary First Avenue, and The Quest (Fuck those columns!). Beyond house shows, I had never been exposed to anything so intimate.

Going to the Triple Rock showed me that the people that made the music I loved were just normal people. Billy Morrisette of Dillinger Four gave me a couple of free drinks because I played his (and my) favorite Clash song on the jukebox. I met Paddy at Grumpy’s in NE Minneapolis. We shotgunned cans of Francis Ford Coppola’s champagne out back. He forgot his knockoff Aviators at the end of the night, and I tried to return them the next time I saw him at the Triple Rock, and he told me to keep them. Yes, it’s all incredibly stupid, and yes, I’m dropping names. It doesn’t make me special. And that’s the point. These were just normal (I use that word very, very loosely) people. They made a thing I loved, and I could approach them. We could relate. The people that made the music I loved had time for a naive, wide-eyed kid fresh off the farm town. Fuck yeah.

The Triple Rock was a haven for me during one of the worst times of my life. I never had a bad time there. I saw a lot of great local bands that are no longer around, but still have a place in the giant CD book I’ve been lugging around from car to car since the early 2000s. Pretty Boy Thorson, The Fuck Yeahs, The Goddamn Doo-wop Band, Choke Cherry, Bastard Saint, Cardinal Sin, who knows who else. Hopefully some of the other smaller venues up here can pick up the slack, or maybe something new will come out of this. Either way, the Triple Rock will be sorely missed, but I’m grateful for the memories and all the people I met there, from performers, to staff, to other fans, and even that weird dude walking by out front that tried to sell me flowers at the Murderburgers show.



The Dwarves release video for “Sluts of the USA”

The Dwarves have released a video for “Sluts of the USA”, their contribution to the soundtrack of the film “Fuck Off I Love You“.

You can watch what is, apparently, the cleaner version of the video below. Unless YouTube have taken it down by the time you read this.



Album Review: The Lillingtons – “Stella Sapiente”


11 years is a long time in the music industry. For many bands, it is an entire lifetime, but for The Lillingtons it was just an opportunity to gather strength. For years, The Lillingtons flew just beneath the general radar with a rabid cult-following…until now. Stella Sapiente sees the band gather their acolytes in a campaign for hearts, minds, souls and the domination of the earth.

The dark and otherworldly echoes of “Golden Dawn/Knights Templar” open the album, with lush guitars reverberating into the shadows: equal parts dark ritual and signals from another world. Vocalist and guitarist Kody Templeman paints an aural picture of mystery, that bleeds seamlessly into “Insect Nightmares’. Buzzsaw crunch gives way to a dueling guitar riff Ronnie James Dio would solemnly flash an approving pair of horns at.

The retro vibe continues with “Night Visions”. Deep chorus effects evoke a dark-wave feel, while the gothic horror of the lyric “recurring nightmares cloud my mind, eradication of mankind” weave a Lovecraftian atmosphere of intrigue and foreboding. The band then powers into “K6” and “Zodiac”, more up-tempo, driving tracks. “Pursuit of Pleasure” has one of the most fun choruses I have heard in a while: simple and inescapable like a black hole.

“London Fog” opens with a riff and tone that evoke The Misfits “London Dungeon” with reverence, without feeling like a lift. “Cult of Dagon” is a dis-harmonic, synth powered acid trip followed by “Villagers” and “The Walker”: tracks that maintain the macabre atmosphere while revving the intensity and beats per minute back up. “They Live” shows the band at its absolute best: galloping drums leading scorching guitars in a harmonic race into the unknown. Dual guitars rip into leads that would bring Thin Lizzy to tears. The album closes with the same speed and strength with punk rock/80’s metal hybrid “Drawing Down the Star”, then fades out enigmatically.

Just from the opening riffs of Stella Sapiente, you quickly appreciate the band’s evolution as musicians from their Ramones-core origins. Effects are used to establish mood and emphasize the music brilliantly. The album radiates a dark, mysterious energy while keeping the speed and seriousness of The Too Late Show. This record may be The Lillingtons crowning achievement to date: showcasing a band at the peak of its songwriting ability pushing its own boundaries. This record isn’t a reinvention, its an evolution. My only real complaint is the length: like a dream, the record is over before you’re ready to wake up.

Stella Sapiente is available now through Fat Wreck Chords.

5/5 Stars