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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

Frenzal Rhomb announce Australian tour

Aussie punk-rock legends Frenzal Rhomb have announced a two-month tour of Australia. The tour begins right before the end of the year, and ends in early February. Tickets go on sale this Friday (October 13th), while the tour’s dates are below.

The tour sees Frenzal Rhomb continuing to support their latest album Hi-Vis High Tea, which was released in May through Fat Wreck Chords and is their first in six years.

The Flatliners announce tour to celebrate 10 year anniversary of “The Great Awake”

The Flatliners have announced tour dates to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their classic sophomore LP “The Great Awake”. They will be joined each night by A Wilhelm Scream, who will also be celebrating the ten year anniversary since their release of Career Suicide”. Check out the dates below.

Frontman Chris Cresswell said:

“We can’t believe it, but it’s been 10 years since we released our album The Great Awake…All the way back then, we fired off a message to one of our favourite bands – A Wilhelm Scream – on MySpace (yes… MySpace…) asking them to join us for our record release shows. They obliged, and subsequently embarrassed us on stage every night with their incredible level of musicianship and overall presence. An inimitable friendship was born, and one that’s seen us play in over 10 countries together over the last 10 years, making a hell of a lot of memories along the way.”

Fat Mike hints at Bad Religion and NOFX tour next year

In a recent interview with The Inertia, Fat Mike talked about the Punk in Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival, co-headlined by Bad Religion and his band NOFX.

When asked if there were any bands he wanted on the bill that couldn’t participate in the festival, Mike hinted at NOFX and Bad Religion doing an 18-date tour next year. He said, “I just talked to the Bad Religion guys an hour ago and we’re going to do 18 shows together next year because Tacoma this year was so fun. And Boise.”

It’s been almost a full year since NOFX released their latest album First Ditch Effort, which was their first in four years, following 2012’s Self Entitled. Bad Religion have been promising a new album for a while, which will be their first since 2013’s True North, and is expected to come out next year.

The Flatliners launch new podcast “Carry The Banner”

Ontario punkers The Flatliners have announced the launch of a new podcast called “Carry The Banner”. You can find it on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Band member Chris Cresswell said:

“As a podcast lover, I’d be remiss if I let the opportunity of chatting with the great friends we’ve made through music and other endeavours pass me by as we trot the globe in the name of rock n roll. So I give you Carry The Banner – a podcast born from the idea that music, friendship, positivity, and a little bit of comedy will always make for great entertainment. I’m fired up to be able to share some great stories and insightful conversations with you all, and also just to see where this thing goes.”

The first two episode are out now and include guests from The Menzingers, Comeback Kid and Sights and Sounds.

Starter Jackets (Copyrights, Hospital Job) debut 7″ “Preferred Stock” ready for preorder, listening now

Listen. Stop typing up your super clever rebuttal to your racist uncle’s facebook post about super rich athletes and their hot takes on kneeling. Your racist uncle isn’t going anywhere. But Starter Jackets are going somewhere. And I don’t mean my parents’ closet where my late 90s Minnesota Wild Starter parka is collecting dust. I’m talking about the fine gentlemen that make up the mysterious and stealthily pop-friendly Starter Jackets.

If you’re an awesome specimen of a human being, you may remember that I covered them a few months ago in my Hidden Gems of Bandcamp article

Since then, the band has done some more recording, and it is absofuckinglutely fantastic. Starter Jackets fill a pop-punk new wave void that gives me more joy than three McDonalds breakfast burritos and a bottle of PowerAid after a whiskey hangover. Check out the only break you need below: 

Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket) to release new book, “I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Peace and You Can To”

If you’ve gotten to know Miguel Chen over the years, either in person or via social media, you’re no doubt aware that in addition to being a proud Wyomingite and, more importantly, bass player for Teenage Bottlerocket, he’s also a pretty devout yoga practitioner. This coming February, he’ll add another title to that list: published author!

With an assist from Rob Meade Sperry, Miguel has written a book entitled I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Piece And You Can Too. Dubbed “a self-help book for people who hate self-help books,” the book tackles how Miguel was able to begin walking a spiritual path after years of running from his problems. And while books of a spiritual nature can take on a bit of a heady tone, don’t worry: each chapter contains a TL:DR summation in the form of a takeaway point. This is 2017, after all.

I Wanna Be Well is due out February 18th via Wisdom Publications, a leading publisher of Buddhist and mindfulness literature. Pre-orders are available on Amazon right here already. Check it out, and stay tuned for more on this over the next couple months!

CJ Ramone announces Japanese shows

Former Ramones bassist CJ Ramone will be playing a handful of shows in Japan later this fall. Check out the tour dates below to see if there’s a show near you.

CJ’s latest album American Beauty was released in March through Fat Wreck Chords.

Dying Scene Radio Special Edition – It’s Not Dead Fest

In this Special Edition of the new and improved Dying Scene Radio, the boys get out of the city and head out to sweltering San Bernardino, CA for the second annual It’s Not Dead Fest. We told the new hosts that if they came back empty handed, we’d cut their funding and whaddaya know?!? It worked!  Not only did they miraculously pull off an interview with the stalwarts of ska, Buck O Nine, they also managed to somehow dupe canadian pop punk phenoms The Flatliners into talking to them! So congrats, gentlemen! For your herculean efforts your existing budget of $0 will remain in place in perpetuity. Now, get back to work! And you dear listener, enjoy the fruits of their labor! Interviews, a fantastic playlist featuring some of the many incredible acts to play the festival and much, much more, below!

The Lillingtons debut new track ‘Zodiac’

Holy shredders Batman, The Lillingtons just dropped a brand new track! ‘Zodiac’ is the second single of the band’s up and coming Fat Wreck Chords debut ‘Stella Sapiente’. That one won’t be out until the 13th of October, but all you impatient punks can head over here for a pre-order.

Check out ‘Zodiac’ below.

Show Review: Punk in Drublic (9/16/17 – Tacoma, WA)

The Punk in Drublic logline is the sort of thing that makes a Pacific Northwest punk a little misty-eyed: craft beer + punk rock. It sounds so simple, yet until now, it hadn’t been done. Fat Mike has managed to combine the unique atmosphere of a punk rock show with a brewfest. As Langston Hughes said, “Hold fast to dreams.”

The tour stops are cities most likely missed on regular circuits. I arrived at the Tacoma stop with the thought, as I’m sure did everyone else: why the fuck is this in Tacoma? The question is probably the answer. NOFX is a band that has been around forever and toured about everywhere you can think of, doing a weird tour of less-sought American cities seems right up their alley. Sometimes the only reason is why not?

I got to the venue early enough to walk around and take in the sights. It kind of reminded me of a mini-Punk Rock Bowling, but without the oppressive desert heat. In fact, the green grass and cool air were a welcome change from my past festival experiences. If there’s anyone listening out there: the mild climate of the Northwest is perfect for this type of thing. People were drinking beers and chatting, hyping themselves about the last time they saw NOFX or Bad Religion; decked out in Fat Wreck gear and comparing tasting notes. It was a cool vibe, definitely a unique festival experience. I had the pleasure of trying out Stone’s NOFX collaboration beer– a hoppy lager called Punk In Drublic– and am happy to report it tastes about how you’d expect: a big earthy bouquet of lager maltiness with a strong dose of hops. Pretty damn good, if you ask me.

The biggest problem with the beer side of the operation was that there wasn’t enough. There were ten-thousand punks in Tacoma that night, and they drank all the beer.

Photo credit: Evan Olszko

Impressively, it wasn’t even cheap beer, we’re talking ten-bucks-a-pop festival cups here. Fat Mike got his I-told-you-so in on the mic at the end of the night. For next time, they’ll have to remember that the crowd that goes to see a craft beer/ NOFX show aren’t the one-and-done types. Besides the beer running out into the middle of the final set, the festival went pretty smoothly, excepting for the long beer and merch lines. It’s hard to be too upset, allowing for inexperience with this sort of event. If they do it again (and God, I hope they do it again), they’ll need twice the kegs and the volunteers to go with them.

For the music of the day, I’m happy to say all the bands killed it. Tacoma darlings, the Hilltop Rats opened the show, obviously honored to be in the company of such a strong lineup. They played fast and aggressive skate punk with tons of melody and banter. They were there to get the fest started off right, and they were there to have fun along the way– what else can you expect from a band who played a song called “Jell-O Shots”?

Not to beat a dead horse, but the lines for beer were getting gargantuan by the time the music started in earnest. Unfortunately, the beer line predicament kept me in line for the entirety of Bad Cop/ Bad Cop’s set. From where I was though, they sounded great. Warriors is one of my favorites of the year, and I was happy to hear them play and harmonize with expert precision.

Goldinger was up next and if I had to name a song of their’s to save my life, I would have to gracefully accept a bullet. But, when they came on stage, I was in total awe. Those guys have energy to spare. They were bouncing up and down, kicking out muscular riffs that had folks dancing and singing along. Ska isn’t usually my thing, but man, I had to admit– Goldfinger kinda rocked it.

Less Than Jake had a bunch of energy too, and gave a bashful “Thanks, Fat Mike,” for putting on the punk beer fest. If there was a running theme through the night, it was that the band’s were as enthralled with the novelty of the event as the fans. They opened with “All My Best Friends are Metalheads,” which means, if I had to name one song of Less Than Jake’s to save my life, I could do exactly that.

The gateway band that I can’t shake is Bad Religion. Yeah, there were other bands I listened to when I first got into punk, but Bad Religion is the one that I always come back to. What can I say about them that hasn’t been said? Their set at Punk In Drublic was one of the best I’ve seen from them, they sounded great (especially their harmonies) and opened with “American Jesus” and ended with “Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell.” In between those two, they also played “No Control,” “Do What You Want,” “Generator,” “Los Angeles Is Burning,” and a bunch of their other hits. As he is apt to do, Fat Mike jumped on stage for the bridge of “21st Century (Digital Boy).” At Punk Rock Bowling, he took over bass for “We’re Only Gonna Die.” If there’s one thing Fat Mike likes to do (besides drugs), it’s help Bad Religion keep their set exciting. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again, but it always brings a smile to my face.

I’d only see NOFX once before, but knowing how the band follows whims (you know, like pulling off a punk beer fest in Tacoma), I always figured their sets could be pretty distinct. As per usual, there was the trademark banter, which for a NOFX fan is as much a part of their set as well, you know– songs– but, it was funny and entertaining. Fat Mike riffed on event coordinators not having enough beer and then proceeded to play a lot of classic tracks, changing words for laughs along the way. Seeing NOFX in their element with an audience of ten-thousand was a sight to see. You don’t get many opportunities to sing “Bob” with a choir that size. Everyone was really into it, singing and circle pitting– whether in the pit or not– and I was pleasantly surprised to hear them play one of my favorite deep cuts, “I’m a Huge Fan of Bad Religion,” maybe just because I can relate to the title.

All in all, Tacoma’s Punk in Drublic was a unique spectacle of good beer, great live performances, and some logistics that could stand to be improved. But, as Fat Mike celebratorily said, “This is a punk rock festival for ADULTS!” And it certainly was. There was beer and there was a music, and not a fucking kid in sight.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?



Direct Hit! and Pears releasing full-length split “Human Movement”, stream 1 new track from each band!

OMG! OMG! On November 3, Fat Wreck Chords will release “Human Movement”, a split album from Direct Hit and PEARS. This 12 track scorcher features five new songs from each band, plus one cover of their counterpart’s material. You can get your first taste today by streaming “Blood On Your Tongue” by Direct Hit, and “Ardous Angel” by PEARS below.

For more on the release, check out what front-man Nick Woods from Direct Hit, and Brian Pretus from PEARS had to say about joining forces:

Nick Woods: “We’re really proud of how this record turned out, not only because all the tunes on it are rippers, but because we got to collaborate on it with some of our best friends. Splits like these rarely work with everyone involved playing to the others’ strengths. I’m really glad the stars aligned here in a way where the whole thing came together as a unified release, from one of the coolest record labels in the biz right now.”

Brian Pretus: “We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time, since like one of our first tours, which was with Direct Hit. It’s pretty surreal that we finally got to make it happen, and I couldnt be happier with how both sides of this thing turned out.”

If you pre-order the album from iTunes or Bandcamp, you’ll get an instant download of a song from each band.

Darius Koski (folk, CA) announces full length “What Was Once Is By And Gone” and stream teaser track from it

Fat Wreck folk punk artist Darius Koski has announced that their latest full-length record will be released on November, 3, 2017. Entitled What Was Once Is By And Gone, the album will feature sixteen tracks of country music-style folk punk delivered by the Swingin’ Utters axe-man. To get fans excited for the release, Koski has posted a teaser track called “Because He’s Beautiful” that will make the final cut of the record.

You can check it out below.

Face To Face announce “25 Years of SoCal Punk: A Visual History” coffee table book

Every year of a band’s existence gives it increased opportunities to look back and reflect and celebrate its own respective high and low points. But if you are a that’s been as seminal and influential to people as SoCal punk veterans Face To Face, who’ve rounded the corner on a quarter century of making music in one form or another, you get to collaborate with fans and look back together.

Founding frontman Trever Keith has announced details of a retrospective coffee table book called “Face To Face – 25 Years of SoCal Punk, The Visual History.” It was compiled by longtime fan (And graphic designer) Aaron Tanner, and it’s chock full of pictures, setlists, stories, and memories from such scene vets as Chris Carraba, Tim McIlrath, Roger Lima and more. The book is slated for release in December, but pre-orders of the limited edition book are available here. As is the standard nowadays, there are a variety of pre-order option packages available, but they all come with a previously unreleased track called “Self-determined.” Check it out!

Face to Face released their latest album, Protection, last May on Fat Wreck Chords. It’s the band’s ninth studio album.

Fat Wreck announces Riot Fest flexi pack that may feature new Jawbreaker music

Fat Wreck Chords have announced they will once again be releasing a special flexi pack exclusive to Riot Fest. In total, the pack will include four flexis with previously unreleased songs.

As most of you know, Jawbreaker will be playing this festival, and some puns in the label’s press release make it sound like one of the flexis may include new music by the recently-reunited band:

“Trust us, you’ll Want the special bonus two song flexi that will be included with every pack…that’s right, four flexis total! Leave your Chesterfields at home and get to Riot Fest and grab a flexi pack!”

Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach recently revealed that the band has been “trying to” write new music. It’s been 22 years since their last album Dear You was released.