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Dying Scene Album Review: Joker’s Republic – “Necessary Evil”

For a long time, it wasn’t “cool” to say you like ska, but that never deterred me; I’m not cool anyway. I see Less Than Jake more often than I see my parents. I get through long days at work by listening to The Toasters, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Against All Authority, Buck-O-Nine, and my favorite […]

For a long time, it wasn’t “cool” to say you like ska, but that never deterred me; I’m not cool anyway. I see Less Than Jake more often than I see my parents. I get through long days at work by listening to The Toasters, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Against All Authority, Buck-O-Nine, and my favorite hometown band Victims of Circumstance. In recent years, ska has enjoyed quite the revival, and the old guard is starting to make way for some new blood. Ska Tune Network has brought the genre to a new audience, with fun ska-punk covers of pop songs and video game music garnering over 12 million views on YouTube. The Interrupters are breaking into the mainstream and have even performed on national TV. The tide is turning, and for the first time in a long time, ska is cool again.

Naturally, with the revival of a genre comes a new wave of bands. New Jersey’s Joker’s Republic is part of a growing crop of ska-punk up-and-comers. Their new album Necessary Evil was recorded and produced by Less Than Jake’s Roger Lima at his Gainesville recording studio The Moathouse. If you’re a fan of the poppy “fourth wave” ska-punk formula played by bands like We Are The Union and Kill Lincoln, these guys are right up your alley. The production on this album is top notch, and the songwriting isn’t too shabby either. Necessary Evil, the band’s third effort, offers up a mix of pop-punk and ska, with a hint of skate punk. The album-opening title track is my favorite song, but the blazing fast “Talk To Me” is a close second. “Gin and Tonic” is cleverly built around a fun early Blink-182 sounding guitar riff that doubles as a bassline during the song’s second bridge. “Anxiety” and “Dead Man Walking” are both very skankable tracks with some really catchy hooks. The album wraps up with “Anchor”, a grooving mid-tempo ska song that reminds me a lot of “The Science of Selling Yourself Short“.

As much as I like this album, I have to say that Joker’s Republic and Necessary Evil would benefit greatly from the addition of a horn section. The opening track features a guest appearance from LTJ’s Buddy “Goldfinger” Schaub on trombone, laying down some awesome horn parts. This added a much needed extra layer of depth to the song’s melody, and rounded out the band’s sound very nicely. After this, on the album’s remaining nine tracks, there are no brass instruments to be found. How could you do this to me? I feel deceived, hustled, betrayed, and utterly bamboozled! Let’s Face It, ska just isn’t as good without horns; unless, of course, your band is named Operation Ivy. In other words, it’s time to start auditioning for your horn section, fellas!

These guys are a promising young band, and I look forward to watching them continue to evolve. Listening to their previous releases on Spotify and comparing it to their latest work, it’s easy to see that Joker’s Republic is progressing pretty quickly. Necessary Evil is by far their best work to date. Listen below and click here to grab the CD. If you prefer digital, visit their Bandcamp to download the album.

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Dying Scene Presents – Artists Beyond the Chords: Chris Shary

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary. Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. […]

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary.

Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. Based out of Stockton, California, Shary is also a dedicated drama teacher, father, husband, and self-proclaimed dork. He truly does it ALL (pun intended). Best known for his depiction of “Milo” (Descenedents), his works have also supported the likes of ALL, The Damned, Devo, Blink-182, The Meatmen, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds, The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, Melvins, The Lillingtons, Chemical People, Masked Intruder, and so many more. His output ranges from album art, concert flyers, t-shirts, specialized merch items, and even action figures. With such an impressive resume, one might think it’s all done for notoriety, but deep down he’s just a huge fan expressing his undying love for music. 

Shary’s artistic journey began when he was first able to hold a crayon and pencil, but really became serious at the tender age of 6. At 17 years old, he started creating pieces for different bands and has been going strong ever since. He often teeters between different portraiture styles such as vibrant pop-art induced color blocking and black and white sketch realism. His current art-weapons-of-choice are pen and ink, mainly sharpies, but he recently started working with acrylic paints again. Consistently creating is key to his process.

“I try and draw every day, but I do a lot of thinking prior to starting commissioned work, or if I am getting ideas together for a band I want to work with. I walk my dog for a half hour every morning right when I wake up and that’s time I devote to thinking of ideas of what I might create,” said Shary.

Another way he searches for ideas is by experiencing live music. Oftentimes you can catch him at some of the biggest shows snapping shots for his latest creations. Not many can rock a phone camera in the photo pit without getting a boot from security, but he has clout, and for good reason. 

“I use the photos as reference when I’m working,” Shary explained, “but it also connects me with bands on a much closer level.”

As far as his true artistic motivation, Shary does not look outside of his own home. Family comes first, and it lives in the heart of each piece he creates. 

“My family is the thing that inspires me the most. My wife Lori is also an amazing artist and she is constantly making incredible pieces and kinda pushes me because of that. My son is also a big fan of the work we do, so I always want to impress him.”

Like a machine, Shary regularly posts new works on his social media accounts. Whether it’s commissioned or perfectly juxtaposed doodles for his own pleasure. Music aside, subjects range from pop culture references, memes, movies, television, and comic books. He never lets himself falter or take long breaks away from art, and strongly believes no creative person should. 

“I think the idea of an artist’s block is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People tend to psych themselves out and then can’t get out of it. It just seems like an easy way to not work. I’m all about making things and hitting headlines. Just keep doing work and there is no need to slow down.” 

For those who want to break into the music art industry, Shary preaches the importance of repetition while remaining open and to your true self. 

“Do the work. Draw everyday and be happy to do it for yourself. No one owes you anything so be happy for whatever happens. It’s not always a quick process so do the work,” he advised. 

When asking Shary what he would like to leave Dying Scene readers with he offered a pure sentiment of kindness. 

“Be nice to each other, and try seeing things from other people’s point of view.”

View and support Chris Shary’s artwork at: 

Chrisshary.bigcartel.com

Instagram

Facebook 

Chris Shary’s Liner Notes

Do you have a favorite concert memory? 
One of my biggest thrills was singing “Bloodstains” with DESCENDENTS in 97. I guess one of my all time favorite shows was one with Kevin Seconds, Steve Soto and Alyson Seconds in an acoustic setting. It was insanely beautiful. 

What bands are you listening to now? 
The Linda Lindas have been an obsession lately. Just saw Bleached and fell for them. Kinda been listening to the Lemonheads a lot lately and always Jawbreaker, and DESCENDENTS of course. Saw HoleHog in Sacramento the other night and they were rad!

What song best describes you as a person? 
The theme from Shaft. At least that’s what I hear in my head a lot.

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Dying Scene Record Radar: New punk vinyl releases & reissues (Green Day, New Found Glory, OFF! & more)

Welcome to the first installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl. We’ll be highlighting new releases to look out for, as well as all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it… Kicking things off, […]

Welcome to the first installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl. We’ll be highlighting new releases to look out for, as well as all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it…


Kicking things off, New Found Glory! Back in April they released a 20th anniversary reissue of Sticks and Stones. Well, that shit sold out really quick, so they’re doing a second pressing of the reissue, limited to 2,000 copies. Go here this Friday, July 1st at Noon Eastern time to get your hands on it. Or wait ’til they sell out again and pay some clown $100 for it on Discogs.


Bad Religion is also reissuing two of their classic albums. Up first is Generator getting a 30th anniversary reissue. There are different variants for the US, UK, and Australia. Links to order all of those can be found here.


2002’s The Process of Belief is also getting the same reissue treatment for its 20th birthday. This one was announced a few weeks ago but there’s still plenty available. Links to order those are here.


Up next on the reissue train is the best band to name themselves after a Frenzal Rhomb song, Local Resident Failure, with the 10th anniversary reissue of their debut album A Breath of Stale Air. The variants are quite pretty! Americans and Canadians can get it here, Europeans here, and Aussies right here. And you can listen to it, right here! ∨∨∨


Nitro Records participated in Record Store Day 2022 with a reissue of their classic 1996 comp Go Ahead Punk… Make My Day. The compilation features AFI, The Vandals, Guttermouth, The Offspring and Jughead’s Revenge. 5,000 copies were made, and this is its first release on wax. There are still plenty of these out there. You can even get it on Discogs at a very reasonable price.


Now, here’s something that’s sure to ruffle some feathers: Walmart’s Exclusive pressings of Green Day‘s Dookie, American Idiot, and International Superhits. “Green Day? Walmart? That’s not punk!” No fucking shit, but who really cares? Sure the Waltons are one of the most despised families in America and they don’t need any more of your money, but look at the pretty colors! Help fund Billie Joe’s move to the UK, I’m sure he could really use the money.


The Bouncing Souls‘ self-titled record turns 25 this year, so they’re celebrating with four colorful polyvinyl chloride discs. Links to get all the different variants can be found here. East coast! Fuck you!


More reissues! Keith Morris’ OFF! is offering up new pressings of their back catalog, including the stellar First Four EPs, which is now available as a 12″ LP for the first time. These records kick ass. Buy, buy, buy.


Hey, here’s some new music! Screeching Weasel has a new record coming out on July 15th. It’s called The Awful Disclosures of Screeching Weasel. The LP is pricey at $30, but the two songs Mr. Weasel has put up for streaming have been good (stream below), and I enjoyed their last album a lot. Americans can pre-order here, and Europeans can get it here.


Skate punk veterans Cigar have stepped out of a time machine from 1999 to release their sophomore album. The Visitor is due out on September 9th through Fat Wreck Chords. Colored variants are long sold out, but I urge all self respecting skate punk fans to grab it on black wax here in America, here in Europe, and here in Australia. Listen to the debut single while you order!


1-2-3-4 Go! Records has spent the last year reissuing the entire Pinhead Gunpowder discography. The latest installment includes the Shoot the Moon LP (my personal favorite) and 8 Chords, 328 Words 7″. Everything in this series has been Grade A quality, and these reissues are a lot more affordable than original pressings of these records. You can get your hands on these here.


Pop-punk tastemakers Eccentric Pop Records have a bunch of new stuff up on their webstore. For the ridiculously low price of $16 (seriously Travis, how can you sell shit this cheap?!), you can get your hands on Dan Vapid and the Cheats‘ new LP Escape Velocity (listen below), and a new prepress of Horror Section’s long out of print self-titled record. Support a great label and add some awesome records to your collection!


Here’s a highly recommended pickup for those who worship at the altar of Joey Ramone. The Budweisers are a fantastic pop-punk band from Spain, and their new record Look Out Below is great! Plenty of fan service here for everyone who longs for the days when Lookout! Records ruled the pop-punk universe. Monster Zero has it up for pre-order now.


Target joins the “big box store reissuing classic punk albums” party with an exclusive 40th anniversary pressing of The Clash‘s Combat Rock on red vinyl. I grabbed this from my local Target a few weeks ago, and it sounds fantastic. I even signed up for the Red Card and saved 5% – what a deal! I love this record. “Rock the Casbah” is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. There’s a UK pressing on green vinyl as well – you can get that one here.


And I think that oughta do it! There’s undoubtedly a lot of stuff I missed, but hey, shit happens. The world keeps spinning, and we live to see another day. Like I said earlier, these recaps of new colorful plastic discs to waste your money on should be a weekly thing, but I could use a little help. Is there a new record you think should be highlighted in next week’s Record Radar? Suggestions are welcome – send us a message on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll look into it!

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Dying Scene Record Radar: New punk vinyl releases & reissues (Mr. T Experience, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtracks & more)

Hello, and welcome to this week’s installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl, highlighting new releases and all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it… Now that all the new and upcoming releases have […]

Hello, and welcome to this week’s installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar! This is a weekly round up of all things punk rock vinyl, highlighting new releases and all those ultra limited reissues that get the collector nerds’ hearts racing. So, let’s get into it…

Wake up, sleepy heads! 1-2-3-4 Go! Records has a new exclusive pressing of an East Bay punk classic going up Friday, July 8th (that’s today!) at 8am PST/11am EST. Limited to 500 hand numbered copies on fiery red vinyl, it’s Jawbreaker‘s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy! Make sure to join their mailing list to be notified when this goes up.

Save the date! The Mr. T Experience is finally reissuing their 1997 LP Revenge Is Sweet, And So Are You. Preorders for this one start Monday, July 11th at Noon Eastern time. To gain access to the preorder, you need to join this mailing list. This pop-punk classic has been out of print since its initial release on Lookout! Records 25 years ago. Don’t miss out!

Speaking of Lookout! Records, Sewer Trout‘s full discography is getting reissued as a compilation LP. This is a collaborative effort between Lavasocks Records and Dead Broke Rekerds. You can preorder it here.

Epitaph Records is reissuing Down By Law‘s 1994 LP Punkrockacademyfightsong on purple vinyl. This is another one that’s limited to 500 copies. US preorders are already sold out, but the label’s European store still has some in stock if you can stomach the extra shipping cost. Or hey, maybe you live in Europe!

Canadian punks Trashed Ambulance just put out a new album called Future Considerations. It’s available to stream right now, but Thousand Islands Records doesn’t expect the LPs to be in hand for a few months. Listen to the album on the below, and preorder it here (North America) or here (UK).

Attention, all skate punk fans! I implore you to check out the new record from Australia’s No Quarter. If you like fast, melodic punk in the vein of Satanic Surfers, you’ll like these guys. You can listen to Fear and Loathing on the Pacific Highway below, and order the LP here.

Feeling nostalgic for the days when you played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater late into the night, chugging Mountain Dew and getting Cheeto dust on your Mad Catz controller? Then maybe these vinyl bootlegs of the THPS 1 and 2 soundtracks will interest you. If so, you’ll wanna hurry up and grab one here, because these have nearly sold out in just two days.

People of Punk Rock Records will be giving two Rufio albums their first-ever vinyl releases. Head to their website Monday, July 11th at 11am Eastern to get your hands on these beautiful new pressings of MCMLXXXV and The Comfort of Home.

Garageland has exclusive reissues of three – count ’em, three! – Agnostic Front records. Something’s Gotta Give, Riot Riot Upstart, and Dead Yuppies are all available on limited splatter colored vinyl. Head over to their store and get ’em while the gettin’s good.

European friends! If you’re looking for a deal on some great punk records, I suggest you head over to SBÄM Records‘ webstore, where you can save 25% on everything through July 29th. Just enter the code “SBAMFEST” at checkout and you’re ready to roll. They have a bunch of good shit from Pulley, Frenzal Rhomb, Chaser, Guttermouth, and many more. You name it, they’ve probably got it!

Mom’s Basement Records just replenished their pop-punk arsenal with some killer records! New additions to their distro include LPs by the Hawaiians, Beatnik Termites, Lillingtons, and Methadones. Lots of good stuff for my fellow pop-punk enjoyers to munch on.

Now that all the new and upcoming releases have been covered, I thought I’d show you the records I picked up this week, because I’m sure you really care! Anywho, I was in Ocala, FL visiting my parents for the 4th of July and I decided to stop by the only local record store in town, which is appropriately named Vinyl Oasis. I was very happy to find the RamonesIt’s Alive II, a 2020 Record Store Day title that I had been in search of for the last two years, and I was even happier it was only $30 (suck it, resellers!). I also snatched up a brand new 3xLP copy of The Clash‘s notoriously bloated Sandinista (I like it!), and a few CDs including the very interesting Misfits / Nutley Brass crossover album Fiend Club Lounge.

Well, it’s getting late, so I’ll wrap things up there. If you’re still reading this for some reason, thank you again for tuning in to this week’s edition of the Dying Scene Record Radar! Is there a new record you think should be highlighted in next week’s column? Suggestions are always welcome – send us a message on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll look into it!

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Dying Scene Revisits: One Man Army’s “Dead End Stories”, an overlooked 90’s punk masterpiece

One Man Army, in my opinion, is one of the most overlooked 90’s punk bands. Likewise, this album – their 1998 debut – is woefully underrated. Dead End Stories has the honor of being the first record Billie Joe Armstrong chose to release through his record label Adeline Records. And it’s easy for me to […]

One Man Army, in my opinion, is one of the most overlooked 90’s punk bands. Likewise, this album – their 1998 debut – is woefully underrated. Dead End Stories has the honor of being the first record Billie Joe Armstrong chose to release through his record label Adeline Records. And it’s easy for me to see what the Green Day frontman saw in the band; what isn’t easy for me to understand is why One Man Army isn’t held in higher regard.

Dead End Stories is one of the strongest debut albums I’ve laid ears on. Sure, some bands strike gold on their inaugural effort – the Ramones being one of the most notable examples. But let’s face it, more often than not, debut albums see a band getting their sea legs with an amalgamation of hastily produced, half baked songs. Having already recorded two EPs, One Man Army had their shit together when it came time to hit the studio for their first LP. I love everything about this record. The candid lyrics and jangly guitar of Jack Dalrymple, James Kotter’s infectious, busy basslines, and Brandon Pollack’s bouncy drumming – I love every bit of it.

The title track pulls you in right off the bat. Dalrymple makes a strong first impression with his unique, raspy voice, belting out sneering lines about being “just like the rest and part of the problem”. After that it’s full speed ahead, as the band reels off four more rapid fire punk rock songs. As Side A of the record winds down, we reach “Another Time”. This hauntingly beautiful song is without a doubt my favorite track. One Man Army takes their foot off the gas and delivers an uncannily somber story of two young boys who endure the untimely passing of their single mother. Jack’s simple lead guitar parts put an exclamation point on the song’s melancholy feel. This track delivers an unexpectedly powerful message that feels like a punch in the gut, yet it does not seem out of place in the slightest among all these rowdy punk songs.

And just as quickly as things slowed to a crawl, they rapidly accelerate once again. “Fate at Fourteen”, a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of growing up too fast, kicks off the record’s B side as the band launches into another 15 minutes of up-tempo punk. Other standout tracks include anthemic drinking song “Big Time” and the more bitter “Back Then”, in which Dalrymple expresses his contempt for an estranged friend who “used to be a punk back then”. The album culminates in “Downtown Lights”, a screenplay-like tale of a naive kid who moves to Hollywood to pursue his ill fated dreams of a musical career. A fitting end to a record called Dead End Stories.

This is one of those albums you can put on no matter your mood. If you’ve never heard this record, I can’t recommend it enough. If you have heard it but it’s been a while since you last gave it a spin, now’s the time. One Man Army kicks fucking ass.

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