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Album Review: Cigar – “The Visitor”

Remember that time your dad went to the grocery store to get milk and never came back? That’s the exact heartbreak us skate punk fans have felt since Cigar released Speed is Relative 23 years ago and disappeared into the ether shortly thereafter. Good news! Dad’s back, and he got the milk! Or, in this […]

Remember that time your dad went to the grocery store to get milk and never came back? That’s the exact heartbreak us skate punk fans have felt since Cigar released Speed is Relative 23 years ago and disappeared into the ether shortly thereafter. Good news! Dad’s back, and he got the milk! Or, in this case, Cigar’s back and they’ve got an awesome new record.

The wait was long, but it was worth it. With their Fat Wreck Chords debut The Visitor, Cigar picks up right where they left off on Speed is Relative. This record delivers more of the crazy fast, ultra melodic punk that earned the band’s 1999 debut its deserved status as a cult classic among skate punk diehards. Actually, I think this record might even be faster than the first one! Yes, two decades have passed, but these guys have defeated Father Time. They still have the same youthful energy that originally drew me to their music; I’m confident it will win many new listeners over as well.

Cigar wastes no time getting out of the gate, as “These Chances” kicks off The Visitor at a breakneck pace, and immediately rolls into the equally speedy “Legacy of the 7 Piles”. Right off the bat, drummer Jon Sortland is firing off like a fucking machine gun on drums; seriously, this guy is a lunatic. New bassist Jonathan Hischke shows off his chops with riffs that will make your fingers bleed just listening to them. Frontman Rami Krayem turns in a great performance once again, with some creative guitar parts and equally impressive vocal range.

I loved the album’s lead single “We Used To” when I first heard it a few months ago, and that’s still the case. This song has “instant classic” written all over it. But when trying to pick a favorite track, it’s a complete toss up for me. There are no stinkers to be found here. “Gone Wrong”, “Classic You”, “Forget About Me”, and basically everything else on this record is on par with the fan favorites of Speed is Relative.

The Visitor‘s closing track “Knocked Down” is introduced with an a cappella intro, and for a brief moment in time, you get the impression that Cigar might actually slow down. But this glimpse into a seemingly softer side of the band is short-lived. They quickly hit the gas, opening up the circle pit one more time with a rapid fire skate punk anthem to rival “Mr. Hurtado”.If you like punk rock fast enough to set a land speed record, The Visitor is the record for you. With any luck, Cigar won’t keep us waiting another 23 years for the next one!

Buy The Visitor
Physical / Digital

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Bad Cop / Bad Cop

Bad Cop Bad Cop has done angry. The band’s 2017 full-length, Warriors, was recorded in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. The Los Angeles quartet’s new full-length, The Ride (Fat Wreck Chords, June 19th), shows what happens when you come out the other side of that anger.

“It’s not that I am just stoked or blind to suffering,” says singer-guitarist Jennie Cotterill. “I think anger is a legitimate and understandable reaction to injustice and wrongdoing. It’s just that for myself, I am trying to move past ‘reaction’ into productive ‘response.’”

The message BCBC is sending this time around is less about wagging your finger at others, or giving the middle one to the Man, than it is about self-love and acceptance. As Cotterill puts it, “Love is a more powerful truth than anger.” That positivity fuels many of The Ride’s tracks: “Originators,” “Simple Girl,” “Community,” “I Choose,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “The Mirage” exude confidence, gratitude, and compassion. In 2020, such things qualify as contrarian.

“These are political statements—self-love is a huge fucking statement,” affirms singer-guitarist Stacey Dee. “Self-love means putting a fix on the problems at home before trying to fix everything in the world. It’s asking people to find it in themselves to create the life that they really want to have so they’re not in turmoil, so they’re not in a place of stress and sickness.”

Dee speaks from experience. In 2018 she was hospitalized twice for different ailments, then discovered she had stage one breast cancer at the end of the year. Fortunately it was highly treatable, but the experience was life-altering. Dee captures it with brutal frankness on “Breastless,” whose bright melodies belie the struggle described in the lyrics.

“Certain Kind of Monster” and “Pursuit of Liberty”—both written and sung by bassist Linh Le—are blistering repudiations of the current administration’s treatment of immigrants.

The former is an imagined conversation with an ICE agent, and the latter juxtaposes her family’s immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1975 to current events, something she’s never explored musically.

The perspective behind The Ride lends it an undeniable maturity, without losing its power. Recorded throughout much of 2018 and 2019 by Johnny Carey and Fat Mike of production team the D-Composers, the album boasts all of the elements of BCBC’s sound: big guitars, lock-step bass and drums (the latter by powerhouse drummer Myra Gallarza), intricate vocal harmonies, and plenty of attitude.

It’s just that this time, the attitude is encouraging, not raging. Nowhere is that more apparent than lilting album closer “Sing With Me.” Built around acoustic guitar, piano, and Cotterill’s voice, it’s an exhortation to “sing with me / or sing your own song / I don’t mind, just as long as you find / a voice.”

Dee adds, “If people are listening to our songs and they’re going to sing along to them, they’re going to start owning some of those words. And in owning some of those words that gives them some strength and power going forward. That’s really the biggest gift that I could give to anybody.”
“Stronger in every way” aptly describes Bad Cop Bad Cop in 2020. The anger may have taken a back seat on The Ride, but what’s taken its place is even more powerful.

Bottles To The Ground

Bands:  Codefendants, Doom Scroll, Melvinator

Mike and Erin from Fat Wreck Chords launched a new imprint would like to announce a new imprint on Fat Wreck Chords. It’s called Bottles to the Ground (BTTG) and it is a label curated and owned mostly by Mike and all the members of NOFX.

BTTG will be featuring mostly artists that are not Fat sounding bands. It will also feature bands and projects that members of NOFX are involved with such as Codefendents, Melvinator, Home Street Home, and Fat Mike Gets Strung Out… There will be a 12 song comp coming out early next year featuring all the new bands.


Skate punk veterans from Eugene, Oregon.

Cigar signs to Fat Wreck Chords, to release 'The Visitor'

Cigar has signed to Fat Wreck Chords and will be releasing their new album, The Visitor on September 9, 2022. The band, which has a new video for "We Used To", has been around since 1996 and we even interviewed them back in 2003 (!). Click Read More for the video.

Clowns – “Formaldehyde”

Formaldehyde - Clowns

Release Date: June 12, 2023 Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords Release Type: Single

Australian punks Clowns are finally back with their first new music since 2021! The brand new track is called “Formaldehyde” and it’s not only available for your listening pleasure on all the usual platforms, there’s also a brand-spankin’-new hella-80s video to go along with it! Rad! Check it out below, and keep scrolling for the band’s upcoming tour dates. Head’s up EU/UK – Clowns are coming!

CLOWNS Tour Dates – Tickets Available Here.

** with Feine Sahne Fischfilet

Codefendants – “This is Crimewave”

This is Crimewave - Codefendants

Release Date: March 24, 2023 Record Label: Bottles To The Ground Release Type: Album

NOFX frontman Fat Mike and Get Dead singer Sam King’s hip-hop / punk crossover project Codefendants have released their debut album This is Crimewave. The 10-song LP features guest appearances from Stacey Dee of Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Seattle rapper Onry Ozzborn, and hip-hop legend The D.O.C. Listen to the album below and buy it here.

This is Crimewave is out now on Fat Wreck imprint Bottles To The Ground. The band will be touring the US, UK & Europe over the next few months. Check out the tour dates to see if they’re stopping in your town.

Upcoming Releases

For I Am 04-19-2024
The Righteous & The Wicked
Frank Turner 05-03-2024
Hot Water Music 05-10-2024

Diesel Boy

Diesel Boy is a punk band from Santa Rosa, California, formed in 1993. They have released four full-length albums through Fat Wreck Chords imprint label Honest Don’s Records.

Dillinger Four

Dillinger Four is an punk rock band formed in 1994 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.