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DS Photo Gallery: Lucero celebrate 20th anniversary with hometown Block Party blowout

Last weekend (April 13-14), for the fourth time in as many years, Lucero fans from far and wide converged on the grounds surrounding Minglewood Hall in the band’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, for the annual Family Block Party, a music and arts extravaganza for patrons of all ages. This year’s installment, in addition to being the biggest one yet, was celebratory for another, particularly noteworthy reason; April 13, 2018, marked the twentieth anniversary of Lucero’s very first show, which took place in a Memphis warehouse across the street from the infamous Lorraine Motel.

The weekend’s festivities kicked off on the evening of Friday the 13th inside the 1884 Lounge at the Minglewood complex, in the form of a gathering that was equal parts history lesson and birthday party, the bulk of which was curated by Lucero lead guitar player Brian Venable. Venable has long been the band’s unofficial historian, and in the days (hours?!?) leading up to the event, he dug through the time capsule and pulled out old pictures, setlists, album artwork, show flyers, lyric sheets and band-related memorabilia (old Flying Vs! Roy’s old Nikes!) that were compiled into a walk-through exhibit that inspired a night full of laughter and reminiscing between the band’s members, crew, and family of dedicated fans.

The lounge and the cavernous concert hall inside Minglewood remained open on Saturday, but the bulk of the goings-on took place outside. Not only was the venue’s parking lot closed to traffic, but neighboring South Willett and Monroe Streets and a few adjacent parking lots were as well, giving the occasion a true, block party feel. Local food trucks hawked their wares, as did a variety of merchandise vendors (Shitluck Clothing, Lumberjack Outfitters, tintype photography with Michael Foster, Oliver Peck and his Cheap Thrills line, etc) , most of whom remained steadily busy throughout the afternoon and well into the evening. But the focus, as you might expect, was on the music. Local singer/songwriter Louise Page (above) got things rolling under overcast but not quite rainy mid-afternoon skies. Page has only been in the business for a couple years but has steadily built a name for herself in Memphis, and it’s easy to see why, with elements of folk, pop and soul oozing throughout her melodies. A singer and piano player by trade, Page’s live sound was filled out by a five-piece band that consisted of drums, stand-up bass, violin, saxophone and trombone.

The inimitable John Moreland came next, accompanied by a full rock band of his own. That the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native isn’t household name on par with Jason Isbell or Chris Stapleton seems nothing less than criminal, although I guess there’s something special about his once-in-a-generation voice being our little secret. Moreland’s forty-minute set primarily highlighted his last two albums, last year’s stellar Big Bad Luv and 2015’s flawless High On Tulsa Heat, with a revved-up, pitch perfect cover of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” tagged on as a raucous show closer.

The set change between Moreland and the next band on the docket, Rhode Island’s own Deer Tick, featured an appearance by The Mighty Souls Brass Band, a rotating group of musicians that includes former Lucero touring saxophone player Jim Spake playing their way through the crowd, an experience ripped right out of the French Quarter. While Deer Tick do, as stated, call the Ocean State home, they’ve become more involved in the Tennessee scene over the last handful of years; frontman John McCauley and his wife, Vanessa Carlton, have a Nashville home, and the band recorded both of their self-titled 2017 releases down the road from Minglewood Hall at renowned Ardent Studios. Deer Tick were followed by an hour-long set from the evening’s direct support, Turnpike Troubadours. Like Lucero, the Oklahoma-native Troubadours are road dogs in their own right, having spent more than a decade at this point touring like a punk rock band. While they play a style of music that’s a little more straight-forward country than you might be accustomed to reading about on the pages of Dying Scene, there’s a real storytelling aspect to frontman Evan Felker’s lyrics that make the music instantly more relatable.

While the afternoon and early evening’s happenings were an enjoyable gathering – even in spite of the occasional raindrops – of friends and families alike, this was clearly Lucero’s night. There were more than 4,000 people spread throughout the Block Party’s grounds by the time the band took the stage at a little after 8pm. When you’ve got twenty years and almost a dozen albums under your belt, it might be a little bit difficult to keep your rabid fanbase on their toes, but that’s just what they did, as Ben Nichols and the crew opened their celebratory set with “For The Lonely Ones,” a brand-new track off the band’s yet-to-be-released-or-even-formally-announced full length, due sometime in August on their new label home, Thirty Tigers (Jason Isbell, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, etc).

Eschewing their normal formula for improvising their way through a two-hour set, the band did curate a setlist for this particular special occasion. Roughly half of the new album was woven in to the set and because this is 2018 and the internet is a thing, aside from one or two songs that hadn’t been played anywhere yet, a solid number of the new tracks (especially “Bottom of the Sea” and “Cover Me”) were not only well-received by their fans but were greeted with the same audience singalong treatment that decade-old crowd favorites have long generated. The band dug deep into the catalog, including a rare appearance by the raw, gritty stomach-punch of “No Roses No More” from their self-titled 2001 debut album (revisited on these pages a couple years back). Jim Spake rejoined the band on stage on saxophone duties for a few tracks, but otherwise this was a night to celebrate the long-running core of the band that’s stayed together in spite of a handful of moving parts throughout the decades. Nichos and Venable founded the band and played that first warehouse show with a different rhythm section, but Roy Berry (drums) and John C. Stubblefield (bass) would join within the first year and have remained in pace ever since, while the multi-instrumentally talented Rick Steff brought his serious chops into the mix in 2006. The night even featured a proclamation from Memphis mayor Jim Strickland declaring April 14, 2018, to be Lucero Day in the city, in honor of the band’s twenty year legacy of serving as a “source of inspiration, encouragement and strength for listeners all over the world.”

Head below to check out our full photo gallery of the weekend’s triumphant festivities, and stay tuned for more on Lucero’s new album (and a special Father’s Day release) in the weeks to come!



New Music: Louise Distras debuts “Land Of Dope And Glory”

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from UK-based folk punk badass Louise Distras; too long, if you ask me. But the wait is finally just about over!

Distras holed up at a studio in Oakland, California, with producer Ross Petersen (Bruce Springsteen, The Vamps) and with The Business’s Steve Whale for work on a full-length follow-up to her 2015 debut, Dreams From The Factory Floor. The first of the fruits of those labors are now upon us, as today marks the unveiling of the new track, “Land Of Dope And Glory.” Check it out below!

Dreams From The Factory Floor was released in the States on Pirates Press Records. The new album is due out this fall!



DS Exclusive: “There’s Nothing I Love More Than Seeing If I Can Pull Something Off!” – Brendan Kelly on The Lawrence Arms, punk rock Champions Of The World

When last we chatted with the inimitable Brendan Kelly – at an upstairs table at a firehouse-turned-swingers-club-turned-music-venue in a sketchy Providence, Rhode Island, neighborhood – his The Falcon project was winding down its year-long revival and there was talk of working on a new Wandering Birds album and firing the engines of the USS Lawrence Arms up again. It may have taken a tad longer than expected, but last Wednesday in the Boston area (see our photos and review of that show here), The Lawrence Arms kicked off the first of three scheduled twelve-day tours in the  in support of their latest album, We Are The Champions Of The World.

If you’re not familiar with WATCOTW, it’s a Fat Wreck Chords-released 29-song retrospective culled from the band’s nearly twenty years in the game. We caught up with Kelly again on release day (March 30), to discuss how a band without any bona fide “hits” – at least in the traditional sense – could pull together a “greatest hits” album. The idea, believe it or not, came from their Fat Wreck Chords boss himself.  “I would love — LOVE — to take credit for masterminding this,” explains Kelly, “but as with everything in punk rock, Fat Mike came up with the idea!” As you may have noticed, Fat Wreck has gotten in the “greatest hits” game in recent years, with bands like Swingin’ Utters and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and No Use For A Name getting the treatment. According to Kelly, Fat Mike reached out directly with the proposal. “He hit me up and he was like “hey, we like you guys, I seem to recall you guys liking us a lot. We’d love to do a greatest hits record.” I was like “that seems like an odd thing to do!” Like, really? When No Use For A Name puts out a greatest hits record or NOFX puts out a greatest hits record, I get that. But we’re the fucking Lawrence Arms…it seems like an odd thing.” Ever the businessman, Fat Mike of course had a method to his madness. Says Kelly: “He made a good point, or at least I’m attributing this point to him. (He said) ‘the way people consume music these days is that they just go on Spotify and check something out. Wouldn’t you like to have a bunch of good songs in one place so everybody can just go there and you can make sure they’re not getting something that’s not that representative of your band? A greatest hits record is a great way to do that!

With that, Kelly and his longtime TLA comrades Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessy set to figuring out exactly what songs to include on such a retrospective. Individual fans might take issue with a particular favorite of theirs not making the cut, but the album is largely representative from the best parts of each of the band’s albums. Well…almost the best parts. Never one to pine wistfully on the olden days, Kelly isn’t the kind of guy who listens to his own catalog with any regularity. “I didn’t go back and revisit the old recordings at all, which MAYBE kinda bit us in the dick a little bit on this release, because there is a song on the record, that’s not supposed to be on there.” If you’re one of the lucky ones who already obtained one of the first pressings of the album, you may have already caught the mistake. While it is listed on the album’s official tracklist, the song “The Northside, L & L, and Any Number Of Crappy Apartments” does not actually appear on the record. In its place is “Someday We’re All Gonna Weigh 400 Lbs,” the track immediately before “Northside…” on the band’s debut album, Guided Tour Of Chicago. The mistake’s roots trace back nearly twenty years, as when Guided Tour… was being put together, not only did Kelly pull the album’s artwork and layout together, but he and an old engineer did the digital markings for the tracks as well. “This is so boring…” laughs Kelly without realizing exactly how big a dork I and many of the band’s rabid fans are. “We both didn’t know what we were doing, which is why there’s that five seconds at the beginning of Guided Tour Of Chicago that’s Track 1. So all the tracklisting is pushed as a result, and so when whoever either at Asian Man or at Fat was sending the .WAV files, I looked at them and said “oh, Track 6 is “Northside…” and it was labelled as “Northside…”when they sent it over, but it was actually “Someday We’re All Gonna Weigh 400 Lbs” instead. If you’re lucky enough to get a physical copy that has that song on it, hold on to it, because someday nerds will be fighting tooth and nail to get their hands on it!:

While We Are The Champions Of The World contains snapshots from each of the band’s studio albums – full-length and EP – it also contains five previously unreleased songs, all culled from the recording sessions for what would be their highly-regarded 2006 full-length, Oh! Calcutta!. Curiously enough, they also represent the only real unreleased music from the band’s vault’s, save for one song that the only existed on cassette tape. “(Oh! Calcutta!) was a unique record for us,” says Kelly. “We were in the studio for like three months. We were writing like crazy. I had a broken kneecap, so I was in a full leg cast. My songs kept getting angrier and angrier at the time…because I was fucking angry from being in a cast for six months! We just had this huge amount of material, and at the same time, as the record started coming together, we started to see a real vision of what it was becoming and how it was cohesing (sic).

As you’re reading this, the band’s first twelve day run in support of WATCOTW is about halfway over; after a two-week break, the second leg fires up in Seattle on April 27th and runs through May 6th in Denver. Both runs feature the likes of highly-regarded Red Scare Industries acts Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer. Both put out stellar releases within the past couple of months. And while most readers here are well versed on the likes of Oklahoma’s Red City Radio, the buzz behind Sincere Engineer’s Deanna Belos is intense and still growing. “Deanna is awesome, man,” states Kelly with the tone of a proud older brother. “She’s just like this weird kid from Chicago that grew up listening to all the bands that played with us and she really did her own thing, man. It’s really neat. I balk at taking credit for things that turn out well! But she’s been influenced by a lot of the things that a lot of my friends and peers have done, and she’s really synthesized it into something very cool and unique. I’m really happy to be part of Red Scare to give her a platform and I’m really happy that we’re taking her out on tour!”

Head below to check out our full Good Friday (the punkest of holidays!) chat with the always entertaining Brendan Kelly. There’s also more than a little bit of information on that aforementioned still-in-the-works Wandering Birds record!



DS Photo Gallery: The Lawrence Arms w/Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer (Cambridge, MA)

Over the course of a semi-llustrious career that’s spanned just shy of twenty years, it seems like The Lawrence Arms have played Boston somewhere around two dozen times anyway. And so it seems a little strange that this past Wednesday marked the trio’s first appearance in the area in over four years, since the tour for 2014’s Metropole. It also marked the first night of the twelve-date East Coast leg in support of their mammoth great-ish hits collection, We Are The Champions Of The World (released last Friday on Fat Wreck Chords). If there was any rust that had accrued after the three months of day jobs that the band had returned to since they last played together, it was shaken off pretty quickly. After taking the stage to the sounds of a polka rendition of the Queen classic that their recent release stole its name from, the trio ripped into “On With The Show” and “Alert The Audience,” in that order, from their 2003 full-length, The Greatest Story Ever Told and didn’t really let off the gas pedal for the next hour.

The crowd was engaged right from the rip as well, finally knocking yours truly from his spot at stage center about halfway through the hour long main set  out of fear of finally dropping my PBR-drenched camera into the pit once and for all. Chris McCaughan maintained his steady, workmanlike presence on stage right manning guitar and co-vocal duties. His stage left counterpart, Brendan Kelly, was not as noticeably *ahem* lubricated as his reputation had proceeded, though he nevertheless peacocked around the stage in his usual manner that’s equal parts tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. I feel like special mention needs to be made of Neil Hennessy. Hennessy’s drumming is wildly underappreciated in the scene-at-large (frequent “Henn-Ess-Y! Henn-Ess-Y!” or, in Boston’s case, “Neil! Neil! Neil!” chants notwithstanding). Hennessy is rock steady, proving that you can be a dynamic force without engaging in some of the self-flagellating over-playing that some of the better known punk rock drummers have made their forte. The band’s fourteen-song main set and two-song encore did feel a tad on the short side, but when you’re the champions of the world, people are cool with you leaving them wanting more. Let’s just not have that take four years this time around…we may not be here that long!

Direct support on the East and West Coast legs of the We Are The Champions Of The World tour comes from Red Scare Industries bands Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer. The Oklahoma-based foursome that is Red City Radio recently released their latest EP, SkyTigers, and it’s already solidified a spot on many year-end “Best Of…” lists. It’s a little sludgier and filled with more balls-out rock riffs than their normal, more punk-tinged fare. The new tracks were well-received by the audience, most of whom sounded already familiar with the bulk of the RCR catalog, although the weed-inspired “In The Meantime…” from their 2015 self-titled album finally got what would become a non-stop pit for the rest of the night to finally take shape.

Sincere Engineer exists in several forms but is primarily the brainchild/working moniker of Chicago’s Deanna Belos. She released her debut full-length late last year accompanied by a full band, and it landed like a welcome breath of fresh air; honest, raw and inspiring fresh air. Yet Belos grew her milk teeth writing and playing as a solo artist, with advice and inspiration from Kelly and from Red Scare Comrade-In-Charge Toby Jeg, and is on this tour accompanied only by her trusty Taylor acoustic guitar. Belos was outwardly nervous about the prospects of opening for her all-time favorite band on not one but two tours, but she wears her coy vulnerability as a badge of honor. she might cut a figure that’s equal parts demure and, in her own words, fragile, but Belos is a legit songwriting and perofming powerhouse, as evidenced by set closer “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7.”

Head below for our full photo gallery!

 



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 6 – Band Spotlight: Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves

The official podcast of Dying Scene is back with Episode Six! In this installment, the boys head down to Pomona, CA to hang with wolvesx4 who drove all the way out from North Carolina just to do an interview with them…..and play a show…at a stop on their extensive tour….but hey! At least they didn’t bring, AP any Bojangles! But that’s not all! The guys are also slingin’ some scene news that you were probably too lazy to read and playing some fantastic music from bands you were probably too lazy to discover! Sooooo, that’s it, comrades… Git ta streamin’, below!



DS Exclusive: Ravenna premieres new album “Hearts Under Fire”

Dutch Melodic pop punks Ravenna are releasing their new album, “Hearts Under Fire,” April 7th. We’re excited to bring you the premiere of the new album! Featuring members of Manu Armata and former members of Nom De Plume and Midnight Menace, Ravenna has some solid melodic punk chops.

You can buy the album from White Russian Records, but in the mean time, stream out the entire LP below!



DS Exclusive: Brian Fallon on “Sleepwalkers,” Growing As A Solo Artist, and, of course, Gaslight Anthem

I’m not entirely sure if “journalistic integrity” is one of the hallmarks that Dying Scene is known for when we conduct artist interviews, but it’s worth mentioning that I’m going to jettison whatever notions of it there may have been and insert myself right into the middle of this story. The Gaslight Anthem are one of the very few bands that I can not only vividly remember my first exposure to them, but can equally vividly remember being stopped in my tracks about what I was hearing and seeing. It was 2008 and I was a 28-year-old new dad, and the video for “The ’59 Sound” and it was on MTV (remember that?!?) as I was getting ready for work in the morning. I knew nothing about the band, and yet I instantly felt like I knew exactly who they were. Led by their Telecaster-and-patchwork-scally-clad frontman, Brian Fallon, the band presented a look and a sound that combined the best parts of my parents’ favorite artist (Springsteen) and my favorite band growing up (Pearl Jam), and ran it all through a ‘child of the 90s’ punk rock filter.

In the decade since, Fallon’s voice and words have been a constant steadying factor in my life. His lyrics have shifted away from telling other people’s stories and have instead become intensely personal, though each album somehow contains a song that either presently or in hindsight make you wonder if he’d somehow been following you around, telling your own story better than you could. There were rumblings probably five years ago that Fallon would work on a solo album after the release of the band’s 2012 album Handwritten, but those plans were shelved in favor of what became 2014’s Get Hurt. The dark, visceral album (a personal favorite) rather notoriously chronicles Fallon’s then-recent divorce, but it’s in many ways also a chronicle of the drifting away of the band’s members themselves; an indefinite hiatus would begin the following year.

Fallon himself would not be out of the game for long, as 2016 would see the release of his debut solo album, Painkillers. Recorded in Nashville with Butch Walker at the helm, the album was a stylistic departure, largely rooted in folk and Americana music. Still, there were more than enough threads to connect the listener – and the artist – to his past; Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia joined Fallon’s touring band, The Crowes, on guitar and keyboards, alongside Fallon’s longtime friend and frequent collaborator Ian Perkins, and Jared Hart of fellow Jersey punk band The Scandals.

Which brings us to 2018 and Fallon’s sophomore solo album, Sleepwalkers. We caught up with Fallon by phone earlier this week, hours after the US leg of the album’s tour kicked off in Nashville, to chat about all things Sleepwalkers and, of course, Gaslight Anthem. Released February 9th (Island Records), the new album finds Fallon in a happier, more uplifting mood, having slogged for a few years through some pretty dark places. It can be viewed as a bit of a bookend to an unintentional trilogy that marks the most personal music of Fallon’s career, with 2014’s Get Hurt lamenting the demise of relationships and 2016’s Painkillers playing as a guy trying to figure out what comes next, in myriad levels. That trilogy was not, as you might imagine, by design. “I think that if I planned it out like that to be a trilogy, I’d be pretty smart,” jokes Fallon, pointing out that it was more realistically a natural progression. “It makes the point that records are true to life. I was following exactly where I was at the time on all three records, and it’s funny how it worked out like that, where it seems like it follows a trajectory. It did, although the trajectory wasn’t a planned record, it was my life.” 

Stylistically, Sleepwalkers is more straight-forward, R&B-infused, punk-tinged rock-and-roll than Painkillers or than his 2011 side project The Horrible Crowes. Fallon has long been a student of rock music and has not shied away from referencing his influences directly, especially in the earlier part of the Gaslight catalog. Soaked in references to The Beatles and The Clash and Etta James, Sleepwalkers is the most early-Gaslight thing that Fallon has done since, well, since the early Gaslight period. That’s at least partially by design. Gaslight Anthem, you see, was obviously one-fourth Fallon. “You can’t take away who you are and what your style inherently is and remove it just because you’re doing a new project, you know? I decided that instead of running from that, I’m just going to be myself, and if some people say “well, that sounds like Gaslight,” of course it does, because I’m the one doing it. The parts that don’t sound like the band are the parts that came from the other three people in the band, and now there are new people, so those parts will sound different and I’m the part that sounds the same. I finally was just like “yup, I’m okay with that! That’s fine!” Songwriting choices came quicker and freer after that realization was made. “I got to put my own shoes on again,” he explains, adding only half-jokingly that “I like Bruce Springsteen, I like old movies, I like New Jersey, I don’t care what you say about it!” 

In large part, the remarried, father-of-two Fallon drew motivation to move forward through some of the earlier darkness from his young children. “I didn’t have the luxury of just being a lunatic!” he laughs, adding “I was like ‘you have children, and you have clearly messed yourself up to the point where you don’t know what’s going on, and you’ve got to put your head back together. Your kids deserve better than that’.” While it took a lot of work — therapy, reading, doctors, etc — to come out the other side, Fallon is refreshingly not afraid to talk about that work, and has been inspired by the recent trend, particularly in the punk community, toward shedding light and awareness on mental health issues. It’s a trend that didn’t exist in earlier parts of his career, but that he certainly would have taken advantage of. “I know there’s this site I’ve been following (on social media) called Punk Talks, and they’ve got a number where you can call them and talk to them. I was amazed when I first saw it.” The organization would have come in handy, Fallon says, when dealing with the rapid ascent that Gaslight Anthem found themselves on a decade ago, where they went from playing their first shows in their home state of New Jersey to having The Boss himself join them on festival stages within the span of barely two years. “The speed at which that went and the inability to be prepared for it, whether it was my age or inexperience or expectations or just something that was inside of me,” Fallon explains, “created a lot of anxiety in me, to the point of not being even really able to enjoy a lot of it, because I was so nervous about everything all the time. It really was a hard, hard thing. I wasn’t prepared for the level of anxiety it would cause.”

That’s not to say, however, that Fallon is complaining. Far from it in fact. “It was awesome! We totally went for it. I feel like I was (just) ill prepared for it. I didn’t do the homework on myself to catch up. I was 27 then, now I’m 38, and I have much more — it’s funny to say “wisdom” — but I have much more of a perspective on how to handle something like that now.” Fallon is also not afraid to pass his teachable moments on to younger bands that might find themselves on the type of rapid ascent that Gaslight found themselves on a decade ago. “You have to break this thing down. If your band is getting successful and you’re starting to come up and get more recognition and to get it quicker than you thought and that’s getting to you mentally or emotionally, break it down into small, in-the-day things.” If taking the stage in front of any number of people can be enough to rattle some people’s nerves, taking the stage in front of five- or ten- or twenty-thousand can be downright overwhelming. “You have to remember that those people are not there to crucify you and they’re not there to criticize you,” says Fallon. “There might be one or two, but they’re always going to be there, whether you’re playing to twenty people or twenty thousand people. Most of the people there just love what you’re doing, and they’re trying to have a good time, and they’re just like you. They’re no different than you.”

Head below to read our full chat with Fallon. I had roughly nine years worth of questions to ask, but this was a good start. And yes, there’s plenty of insight on what happened – and is happening – with Gaslight, including the ’59 Sound anniversary shows, but you’ll have to read it to find out. Also, head here to find out where you can catch Brian Fallon and his new band, The Howling Weather, on tour over the next month!



DS Exclusive: Archie and the Bunkers (hi-fi organ punk) premiere “Laura”

Cleveland’s Archie and the Bunkers are definitely something unique. Unique in a good way, not like how your eighth grade English teacher described your poetry about “living in a purple sea of sorrow.”

Brothers Emmett & Cullen O’Connor draw influence from jazz organ and punk icons like the Dead Boys and Iggy Pop. Their organ & drum style is best described as “hi-fi organ punk.” They’ve played with greats such as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Iggy Pop himself.

Archie and the Bunkers are gearing up for their sophomore album, “Songs From the Lodge,” which is slated to be released on April 20th via Dirty Water Records. Their record release show will be April 28th in Lakewood, Ohio, at Mahall’s.

You can preorder the album on everything from digital to vinyl to CD and, sigh, cassette, here. In the meantime, check out their single “Laura,” below!



DS Exclusive: Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish premiere new video for “Nailbiter”

Ottawa’s own Jon Creeden & the Flying Hellfish have premiered the video for “Nailbiter,” off their new LP “Stall,” released via My Fingers! My Brain! Records, Maps and Continents Records, and Dead Broke Rekerds.

The digital version of the album is already available at bandcamp, and is an absolute steal at pay-what-you-can. I hadn’t even finished the third song when I decided to buy it. If you’d prefer to get a physical copy, you can check out Jon’s IndieGoGo page to get it on CD or vinyl.

The official album release show will be Friday, April 6th at House of TARG in Ottawa.

You can check out the video for “Nailbiter” below!



DS Exclusive: MCKC Premieres New Song “Baker”

Today we get to show the other side of a songwriter we’ve championed on Dying Scene. Casey Keele of the band Wicked Bears (who’s latest album “Tuning Out” was in Dying Scene owner Dave Buck’s Top 10 of 2017) – has been writing songs and playing basement and living room shows as MCKC for almost a decade. Today we’re featuring his new song “Baker,” a folky, organ driven track off of his new EP “IS OK”, slated to be released on April 14th through Hidden Home.

Keele had this to say about the track:

“Baker is a solitary town located in the Mojave Desert of California. It’s one of the only cities you’ll pass as you drive from Barstow to Las Vegas. This song is an imagining of what it would be like to live there.”

You can hear the new track below. Pre-order “IS OK” at MCKCinfinity.com, and if you’re in the Salt Lake area, consider grabbing a ticket to the EP release show on April 14th at the Beehive in Salt Lake City (666 S. State Street).



DS Exclusive: Typhoid Rosie premieres “Diamonds in the Snow” from upcoming album “This Is Now”

Brooklyn’s Typhoid Rosie are releasing their third album, “This Is Now,” on Friday, March 23rd. They’re indie punk with pop hooks, and “Diamonds in the Snow” is catchy as hell.

Rosie explains the origin of the song:

“I can’t think of a more perfect song to kick off Spring than “Diamonds In The Snow.” It’s about that moment when Old Man Winter gives us one last encore before it melts away into Spring. I feel so lucky to be a New Yorker and to watch the Seasons change. Diamonds in the snow is about that change.

One winter morning we went on a hike in the Catskill Mountains. We got to this hill that was hard to climb because the ground was a solid sheet of ice. It took us a long time to get up this hill. But we finally get up there and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There were these tiny raindrops frozen in the trees and the ground was covered in pure ice. The morning sun was shining down from the East that created tiny rainbows shining through the ice. It looked like the ground and all of the trees were covered in Diamonds. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was – it was like Heaven on Earth. But by the end of the day, it warmed up – almost so much that we could take our coats off. We descended back down the mountain later that day to the same spot, and the snow had melted so fast that It was all gone by the time we got back. The moment was gone. The seasons changed that day. I thought about the mountain ice melting into a spring, and into a fresh water river that flows into the Hudson and into the salty sea.

When you think about life in that way, it doesn’t seem so sad to let go because it’s flowing so sweetly.  I see the entire circle of life and death every year in my garden and in the Seasons. When I think about death in that way – like the seasons changing, it feels so much easier to cast off your chains and to let go. But how beautiful is this planet, and all the life it brings fourth? What a gift – water – and life is – I hope that we can do everything in our power to save this beautiful planet. We made it through another beautiful and cold Winter, but I am so happy to welcome Spring!”

Typhoid Rosie will be playing a record release show at Kingsland Tavern in Brooklyn on March 23rd.

You can preview a couple of other tracks off the album and preorder it at bandcamp. In the meantime, check out the exclusive premiere of “Diamonds in the Snow” below!



DS Exclusive: The Goddamn Gallows premieres “Down With the Ship” from upcoming LP

The Goddamn Gallows are releasing their sixth album, “The Trial,” on March 23rd via Sailor’s Grave Records. Their sound is somewhere between “hobocore” and “americana-punk,” fusing rockabilly, psychobilly, punk, bluegrass, and metal. Sounds like a party.

We’ve got an exclusive stream of “Down With the Ship” off the upcoming album. Vocalist/guitarist/banjoist Mikey Classic had this to say about the track:

“‘Down With the Ship’ is about the world slowly sinking into shit. A world where our leaders take advantage of the workers and pit us against each other. A world where they want to put walls up and the people down. A world where our votes don’t count. And also it’s about being eaten by sharks.”

Sounds about right. Check out “Down With the Ship” below, and look for “The Trial” on March 23rd!



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 5 – Band Spotlight: Decent Criminal (Bonus Interview w/ Shibby Pictures Founder, Jak Kerley)

It took longer than normal, but Episode Five of the new and improved Dying Scene Radio is finally here! Since the boys took so long to get us new shit, we made them pull double duty. So, jam those buds into your ears and check out the latest installment of DSR, featuring interviews with Northern California phenoms, Decent Criminal and Mr. Jak Kerley of Shibby Pictures at the Los Angeles screening of his newest documentary Baseball Punx. All of that plus, scene news, super rad music from emerging punk acts and as always, plenty of bullshitting (does AP call the lead singer of The Lawrence Arms, Brandon?). Git ta listenin’, below!



DS Photo Gallery: Lucero Out-Heckle the Heckler in Hartford, CT (w/Jake La Botz)

After a couple of consecutive unfortunate show cancellations late last week, the good ship Lucero fired its well-traveled engines back up in Hartford, Connecticut, last Saturday, resuming a late winter tour that was initially paused on Thursday so that frontman Ben Nichols could fly to Arkansas for his grandmother’s funeral. The band had every intention of cancelling only that night’s show in Rhode Island and reconnecting in New Hampshire on Friday, only for Mother Nature to intervene in the form of a powerful winter storm that left Nichols unable to fly north and his bandmates rarely able to leave the confines of their tour bus for the better part of two days. The band finally reassembled as their full Voltron at the relatively new, 600-ish capacity Infinity Music Hall for what was by all accounts the band’s first headline gig in the capital of the Nutmeg State — we’re pretty sure they played Hartford on the Warped Tour in 2011 — which seems pretty remarkable for a band that’s spent twenty years earning a reputation as one of the hardest touring bands in the game. Much to the delight of all but one show-going knucklehead, the band seemed eager to get back into the swing of things as regularly as possible, making for a memorable, if slightly abridged, evening.

There was a time years ago when a Lucero show had the potential to go off the rails for a variety of reasons, many of which centered around the dysfunctional family dynamics that are present in any group of males working together, particularly when there’s alcohol involved. There’s less alcohol involved nowadays, meaning that a 2018-era Lucero live show has become less volatile but no less unpredictable for the band or the fans. No two sets are the same as Nichols calls shots that balance his instincts with feedback from an audience that’s generally rather lubricated in their own right, meaning his bandmates (Rick Steff on keys, John Stubblefield on bass, Brian Venable on guitar and Roy Berry on drums) have got to react on the fly. On this particular night, the Memphis-based quintet kicked their headline set off with crowd favorite “The Last Song” from their 2002 full-length, Tennessee. In this writer’s experience, this particular song has many times been reserved for later in the evening given the crescendo it builds to, so its early appearance was a welcome change of pace right off the bat. From there, things went in typical free-form fashion, with the band choosing to stick with the same album for the similarly crowd-pleasing singalong “Chain Link Fence” before taking the opportunity to showcase some brand new material. You see, Lucero have been hard at work on a follow-up to their last full-length, 2015’s All A Man Should Do, for a while now, and have slowly been working through some newer songs on stage in recent months (a trend that’s fallen by the wayside across the musical spectrum in the age of YouTube). Nichols’ pointing out that they were going to play a few new tracks, however, didn’t sit well with one particularly vocal gentleman at stage right who made his opinion rather well known early on.

The net result proved, for the young man, to be a fail of epic proportions, as a defiant Nichols led the band through four consecutive brand new songs – including the live debut of a song that seems to be called “Cover Me” which might be the strongest of an already strong bunch – until said young man made his way to the exit. The bulk of the crowd seemed mindful of the special nature of seeing so many new tracks played in order, heckler be damned. There seemed to be nary a hiccup, as the new tracks seem to fit naturally in the Lucero lexicon. I’ll shy away from specific spoilers except to say that “Cover Me” and “To My Dearest Wife” and “Everything Has Changed” sound like songs that were written by 2002 Lucero but performed by 2018 Lucero. Trust me, that’ll make sense when you hear them.

Most of the remainder of the set found the band calling on an ever-expanding number of audience favorites. “Texas & Tennessee,” “All Sewn Up,” “It Gets The Worst At Night,” “Nights Like These” and “On My Way Downtown” made requisite, raucous appearances. When he wasn’t at the mic, Nichols spent a greater-than-average amount of time pacing the stage, giving the impression of somebody who was working through a bit of a cathartic experience. Steff was his typically stoic, stabilizing self on stage left, and his stage-right bookend Venable’s understated leads seemed dialed in. I’ve said before on these pages that Berry is one of my favorite drummers to spend time watching, and that was still true on this evening. There’s in improvisational quality to his playing that’s in line with the rest of the set; just because you’ve heard him play “Tears Don’t Matter Much” a dozen times doesn’t mean you’ve ever heard him play it the same way more than once. Stubblefield left the stage at one point to get seasick over the side of the boat but somehow didn’t miss a beat holding down the low end (and that’s obviously not true, but it’s an inside joke that only he and probably mu wife will understand and I’m mostly just seeing if he’s reading this). The Nichols solo track “Loving,” penned for his filmmaker brother Mike’s film of the same name, seemed especially fitting as played on what happened to be the eve of an Oscars ceremony for which it was robed of even a nomination. “I Can’t Stand To Leave You” off 2012’s Women & Work was a personal favorite, as it’s the first time I’ve actually heard them play it.

But without question, no song was more poignant and heartfelt than “The War.” Accompanied my the multi-instrumentally talented Rick Steff on accordion, the song finds Nichols telling the stories of his World War II-veteran grandfather’s time as a member of the US Army. Many of those stories were told to Nichols over the years by the very grandmother whose funeral he had just returned from, giving the moment a special, albeit heavy, weight. Heckler aside, the only sour note of the evening was the venue’s hard 10:45pm curfew, meaning the band that’s capable of some fairly long sets had to cut things off at around 90 minutes or so. Nit-picking, I know.

Kicking the evening off at 8:00pm sharp was the mighty Jake La Botz. Very much the quintessential renaissance man, La Botz has been one of the more underrated folk-Americana songwriters in recent memory. He frequently tours solo, though this run opening for Lucero finds La Botz fronting a trio, with Brad Tucker (upright bass) and Phil Leone (drums) serving as the rhythm section, providing a bit of depth and foundation for La Botz’s soulful stories and imaginative guitar riffs to shine. If you’re not familiar with La Botz’s catalog, last year’s Sunnyside is as good a place as any to start, as the tracks featured were particularly well-received by the devout Lucero crowd.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the highly enjoyable evening!



DS Exclusive: Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket) on his new book, “I Wanna Be Well: How a Punk Found Peace And You Can Too”

If you’ve willingly plucked your head out of the proverbial sand at any point in the last handful of years, you’ve no doubt become aware that in a macro sense, we’re living in a pretty divisive, unstable time. If you add personal issues and unrest to the pile, the result can swallow you whole, whether you want it to or not. As an outlet, people will turn to a variety of solutions to help stem the tide of negativity; music, the arts, exercise, writing for a small punk-centric website, etc. Some people unfortunately choose more self-destructive paths that they hopefully, someday, are able to make it through minimally scarred. For Miguel Chen, the path seemed dark for a while, but has slowly, steadily become lightened – and enlightened – as it’s gone.

If you’ve been even a casual Dying Scene reader over the years, you’re no doubt familiar with Chen from his role as the bass player for iconic Wyoming pop-punk band Teenage Bottlerocket for more than a decade. Like many bands in this scene, TBR developed a reputation for working hard and partying harder, touring seemingly endlessly and enjoying the experience to the fullest. The annals of rock music history are littered with similar stories, frequently ending in disastrous consequences. “On my own path,” explains Chen, “it (went) from ‘alright, we’re in our band, it’s fun! We’re touring, it’s fun! We’re putting out records, it’s fun! Holy shit, we’re on Fat Wreck Chords, it’s fun! We’re on the road with NOFX, it’s fun!’ And the whole time, it’s just like ‘party, party, party, party, party.” Eventually, you return home from the road, however, and something seems to be missing. “You get home from tour,” Chen explains, “(and it’s) ‘oh fuck, this is boring, I better party. Party, party, party, party, party.’ All of a sudden, years later, it’s like ‘fuck – am I a person who has to drink or do drugs? Is that me?‘.”

While that part of the story might sound endlessly familiar to anyone that’s been in or around the music scene, Chen’s tale takes a bit of an atypical turn. Years of what he considered ultimately ineffective traditional treatment for mental health diagnoses that included bipolar disorder and anxiety – think psychotherapy and medications – led Chen to develop an increased involvement in the practice of sitting mediation. From there, the repeated insistence of friend then brought him into the world of yoga. “Finally I went and tried a class,” he explains, adding “I thought ‘what’s the worst that can happen? I’m going to sweat a bunch and it’s going to suck and I just won’t go back. So I went to my first yoga class, and then the next day I went to my second yoga class and then the next day I went to my third yoga class and I just never stopped.”

Chen went from practicing yoga to teaching at a studio in his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming, to eventually taking over the studio he’d been teaching at and opening a second studio in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming. He continues to push himself in the punk rock world – Teenage Bottlerocket released a full-length album of covers and an EP of new original material last year – and the yoga world, having just returned from an intense training in Rishikesh, India, that lasted more than a month right before we talked. “It was one of those things where I said I’m just going to dedicate a month of my life to only complete practice,” explains Chen. “From waking up at 5:00 in the morning to start my practice, and I go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00pm, and that’s all my day is all day, every day. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Chen has also pushed himself positively in a new, creative way; published author. Released last week through Wisdom Publications, Chen teamed up with editor Rod Meade Sperry for the fun and insightful new read, I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Peace And You Can Too. While we’re presently living in what seems to be the age of the memoir, I Wanna Be Well is not your standard rock star autobiography fare. “I knew I didn’t want to just write my story, because who gives a shit,” jokes Chen. “Everybody has a story, everybody can write a book about themselves. I wanted this book to offer something to the readers. I wanted it to be about the reader. So that’s kind of where the idea, including these practices, came into play. Obviously it’s my story – here are things from my life – but at the end of it, that’s pretty much just an anchor point.

Each of the twenty-five chapters that make up I Wanna Be Well is broken into three four parts. First, there’s the lesson, which sometimes contains autobiographical stories and sometimes contains brief teachings from Buddhism or the self-help community, for example. Then comes the “practice” section, in which Chen gives the reader something to learn. Sometimes it’s instructions on how to start basic sitting meditation, some times it’s the steps behind some basic yoga movies, sometimes it’s just tricks to improve your own mindfulness of where you fit in to the world around you. Finally, each chapter culminates in a “tl/dr” tidbit that boils down the practice to its most essential point. “Rod had this genius idea,” tells Chen,”that people have short attention spans, so why don’t we add this thing at the end of each chapter where here’s a practice in a sentence or two for when you don’t want to fucking read the whole thing.

Let it be known that you should read the whole thing, however. It’s a quick read that somehow covers the entire emotional spectrum pretty quickly, from dealing with the loss of his mother to cancer when he was a child to the sudden loss of his sister in an accident less than a year later, to being asked to join one of his favorite bands and to create music with some of his best friends in the world, one of whom (founding TBR drummer Brandon Carlisle) also passed away far too early several years ago. All the while, Chen explains how these incidents have made him who he is today, and how, good or bad, they’ve all served to keep him looking inward and growing outward. “The whole time I was writing this book,” says Chen, “I was thinking ‘man, if even one person really gets it, this whole thing was worth it.‘ I’m grateful to every single person that even thinks about reading it, I’m going to be thankful to every person who reads it, even the people that don’t like it. I’m really grateful to have had this chance and to help.”

Because this is 2018 and the traditional book tour circuit is becoming less and less of “a thing,” there are no formal dates where you can catch Chen promoting his tome just yet. But, as a constantly touring musician, he’s found a way around that. “Luckily I travel a lot anyway,” he explains. “My plan is to kinda keep doing that, except now I’ll bring some books along. I always leave it open when I’m on tour, like hey, this is where I’m going to be, if anyone wants to do yoga or do some medication, shoot me a message.” And occasionally I’ll do events, like I’ll do Yoga For Punks or whatever, and I think I’ll do the same with the book. Like, if you want to pick up the book or talk about it, I’m on tour, come hang out!”

Check out our chat with Chen below, and pick up your copy of I Wanna Be Well at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Target or your local bookstore if you’ve got one!