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Album Review: Regan Ashton – “…and the people you always have with you”

It is strange to look out my window after listening to this album. The songs make me think of a 1990s post-apocalyptic film where the lands are decimated and tumbleweeds shift from left to right across a cracked road. The sun pours down more heat than usable energy and out of the distance walks a punker…maybe a few. The only people left for miles and they look somehow less crusty than some of these people that exist in real life in 2018 that have showers and many outfits. If this movie ever exists, the opening song that plays while the punkers walk toward the camera should be Scumbag, the first track off “…and the people you always have with you” by Regan Ashton.

When I look out my window, it’s just a regular ol’ post-hood neighborhood. Lower middle class living at its bestest. Such a weird dynamic.

This is a cool album. 6 songs. It’s like drunken hillbilly Punk for the fuck of it. If it was produced lousier, it could be considered backwoods mountain music. But, it’s definitely a grouping of songs that has intention. Ideally, I wish I could get really drunk and dance to it. I had plans to do just that, but by the time I was drunk, it was late and I just feel asleep. Sorry Regan. Maybe next time.

Regan is also in a band called Problem Daughter who released their last album thru Dying Scene Records, so I feel this weird apprehension about assessing it vs. how I might if it wasn’t. The Punk culture is supposed to be familyish, or whatever. Ultimately, I’ve not got many criticisms for “…and the people you always have with you”. It’s funny. Not comically funny…funny like when someone looks at your mohawk, hand tattoos, and body piercings and assumes you’re a nitwit, gives you a dirty look, and then goes back to their modestly awesome life while you have to go back to living in poverty cuz society craps most on the minorities it’s not illegal to marginalize. Ha. My only criticism is that this recording sounds too controlled. I dunno, it’s like now that recording is less expensive and lots of folk have home studios, everyone and their idiot mothers are releasing projects of all sorts but everyone seems to rely on metronomes way too much. And, it’s not a bad thing, mind you. I just feel like the live feel is stripped from modern recordings. Everything is perfect…in the John Feldmann sense of producing…and it feels like harnessed energy instead of free-flowing energy. Surely, I wasn’t there for the recording sessions for this release. Maybe Regan didn’t use metronomes at all. This album seems like most recordings these days. Very planned. Think of the last couple releases from Less Than Jake.

Anyway, beyond fitting into the current paradigm, “…and the people..” is neato. Lyrically, it seems to hone in on the Punk philosophy as it is in constant flux. Kinda gives me a Rancid vibe. That whole “I guess I’m a fuckup…dude, I just keep waking up whether I want to or not” thing. This album is very relatable. It’s very musical. It’s not stripped down. Regan, as I mentioned, is in Problem Daughter, and oftentimes solo projects can suck. This doesn’t. You may not like it if you are a Problem Daughter fan, but that also might you like it more. There’s so much music out there now that no one can keep up. Musicians be like: “Look at what we’re doing! You don’t have the time to pay attention to it all, but isn’t the artistic upheaval amazing?!”

I can’t help but feel an odd sense of malaise cuz of the album, tho. To a theoretical hell we should send those unfailing optimists, sure…but after listening to these 6 songs and agreeing, sympathizing, relating, etc….the feeling of absolute fuckitude lingers. Misery may love company, but this isn’t misery. It’s…well…um…perhaps we humans build up walls and live partially-delusive lives to protect us from the inescapable and bizarre. I guess it’s like: There is something about this album to where if I listened to it enough, it would make me cry. It’s that real. I don’t know about you, but I can’t cry unless music is playing. People I know have died and it didn’t really shake me, but if you put on Flogging Molly’s If I Ever Leave This World Alive, I’ll leave the room…out of earshot…cuz I just can’t take it.

As fun as “…and the people you always have with you” is, it just hits me on that kind of a level. And that’s not me sucking up to Dying Scene or Regan. It’s the song Failed Author. It just hones in on something real fucking deep. And, it’s not something you’d get if you just listened to only that song. I feel like when the album starts, Scumbag sets a tone…it made me think that the rest of the songs were going to continue that vibe…like it’s all gonna be fuck-it hilarity…but art reflects life…by the end, I was left with another lesson in “Life fucking sucks bro”. Life isn’t a let-down, nope. It’s just problematic because our imaginations get away from us and they take our hopes with them. Our hopes raise and then when you realize that it was all delusion, the reality that takes its place is just calm. Not exuberant. Not banal. Just inexplicable.

Tho, after that calm passes, you laugh to yourself. Maybe you look out your window and wonder if the kids playing basketball across the street will ever know the true depth of reflection. Maybe they’ll luck-out and live a life of innocence and ignorance like the rich folk and/or the religious folk that don’t even allow themselves the chance at truly knowing.

One cool thing about this album is that it made my mind go crazy with words. When I listen to Aesop Rock, it’s like my brain gets going and I have to write out a poem or whatever. This recording made that happen too.

So yeah, I like this cd.
“What’s a cd?” asked the kid.
If you don’t know what a cd is, you’re a nitwit. Your generation is overloaded with data by schools but you don’t know what a cd is? You think you are a Punk fan but you don’t know what a cd is?? Piss off.

The song Russian Blue is another favorite.
They’re all good, tho. Especially Junkyard Parakeet.
This cd sounds like something Cooper from The Devil Makes Three would dig.

5/5 Stars



Regan Ashton of Problem Daughter is releasing an alt-country-folk-punk solo album and its awesome

So pumped to announce this news. Fans who dig the distinctly unique vocal talents of Problem Daughter co-vocalist Regan Ahston are in for a special treat. The lovable front-man of the Salt Lake City pop-punk act will be releasing his debut solo album “…And The People You Always Have With You” on May 11th via La Escalera. I’ve had the honor of hearing the tunes pre-release and can personally endorse it for any fan of the alt-country/americana/folky hybrid genre that’s been spinning out of the punk scene recently, not to mention fans of Problem Daughter of course.

Check out a promo video with a snippet of a tune below and pre-order the album and some great Regan merch here.