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Bad Nerves – “USA”

"USA" - Bad Nerves

Release Date: September 15, 2023 Record Label: Unsigned Release Type: Single

Just in time for a US tour in direct support for none other than Royal Blood, UK’s Bad Nerves are back with a new single entitled “USA.” Here’s what the band’s lyricist/frontman Bobby Bird had to say about the track:

It’s strangely satisfying yelling ‘United States of America’ over and over. You can feel it stick to the back of your throat. The unparalleled superpower of the West. Yosemite and the green mountains of BlackRock! The American dream and the mighty Super Bowl! But perhaps it’s just the phonetics. After all, Papua New Guinea didn’t have quite the same ring, although it did look beautiful through my computer screen” 

You can check out the video for “USA” below, and keep scrolling for the rundown on the Royal Blood/Bad Nerves tour dates!

Sep 18 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore
Sep 19 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre
Sep 22 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
Sep 23 – Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
Sep 25 – Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Sep 26 – Montreal, QC – MTELUS
Sep 27 – Boston, MA – Roadrunner
Sep 29 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall
Sep 30 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
Oct 2 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel
Oct 3 – New York, NY – Webster Hall

Book about Brooklyn's Saint Vitus Bar to be released

A book about Brooklyn-based music venue Saint Vitus is on the way. It is called Saint Vitus Bar: The First 10 Years, An Oral and Visual History and will be out on October 31. The book was written and put together by Nathaniel Shannon and is 346 pages long. The book features “original essays, stories, anecdotes from dozens of musicians, fans, and promoters” including from Laura Jane Grace, Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder, Walter Schreifels of Quicksand, Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front, Frank Truner, Jeff Walker of Carcass, and Bill Stevenson of Descendents. The book also has never before seen photos, setlists, archived show posters, and more. Check out the trailers for the book below.

Brooklyn Based Hardcore Act MAAFA Releases Track-By-Track Breakdown of Upcoming Debut Album “Because We Are”

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek […]

NYC hardcore act MAAFA are releasing their debut full length album Because We Are this coming Juneteenth on Fuzz Therapy Records and to get you hyped for that impending release, the bad-ass Brooklynites sent over a track-by-track breakdown, giving insight into their writing process and the inspiration for each song. Read through this exclusive ‘peek behind the curtain’ provided by lead vocalist and lyricist Flora Lucini whilst enjoying their latest Single ‘Welfare’ and remember to snag the LP on Tuesday!

1. “Origém (Intro) 

The word “origém” translates to “Origin” in Portuguese and it is also the name of my father, Leonardo Lucini’s (Bassist/Composer) Brazilian Jazz band which he shares with my Uncle Alejandro Lucini (Drums/Composer.) For their album, they used their grandmother, Dora Muniz’s, painting (she was a painter) as their album cover. She thankfully lived long enough for me to spend time and live with her before her passing when I was a kid. Every morning before school I would sit next to her while she painted at our breakfast table. So, the artwork in the album for the page dedicated to this song is of one of her original paintings. 

When I started MAAFA, I knew that I wanted to incorporate/reference these influences on the record and tribute my paternal family, but I also wanted to tribute my maternal family as well which leads to the music. 

Originally the song had a sample of this style of music called “Tambor De Crioula” from my mother’s hometown in the northeast of Brazil São Luis, Maranhão. Which both myself and all the women in my family grew up dancing and participating in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get permissions for that sample in time for this release. It was going to start with that sample from Brazil into the intro with Batá that you hear on the track now, to showcase the similarities and connection of the traditions through its African origins.  

The Batá drums and rhythm on this track reminds me of the instrumentation and even some of the drum patterns found in Tambor de crioula. It’s very similar in the sense that both traditions use 3 double headed drums, “small, medium and large” that are all assigned different functions and both traditions are African Traditions brought through “THE MAAFA” to Brazil and Cuba (then to other parts of the diaspora later) and used traditionally in African traditional religious ceremonies. This was one of the ways to incorporate a tribute to my mother’s hometown as well. All the references from the album art to the actual musical styles point to my “Origins” in some way. 

I also split playing the bass on this track with my Bassist Ray Russell. He plays the majority of the bass lines on the intro and I play the Tumbão Groove in the second half of the “Batá” section in the intro. 

2. Welfare

This was the first song I ever wrote specifically for MAAFA. The lyrics really embodied where I was/still am politically and in terms of what I wanted the message of this first record to convey. 

I wrote all the songs on this album on classical/acoustic guitar because I couldn’t afford an electric one at the time. I also just write everything on acoustic LOL. 

Welfare was not intended to be an “anthem” like song but it has definitely grown to that. I was trying moreso to mash up some of the more traditional styles of Hardcore and Punk into one song while the lyrics ushered in a perspective that called out a lot of the more problematic ideologies that plagued/continue to plague both our scene and our society, seeing as how music is a reflection of culture. 

3. Deficit

The intro to Deficit was written before the song was. I had this idea for the intro after being inspired by a call and response pattern I had heard in an African Drum and Dance class in 2008. I slowed it waaaay down and translated the inspo from it into a heavier style. I had always heard Kora in the intro too and am so glad it worked out where the professor of the class, Amadou Kouyaté, who is also my friend of almost 20 years and is one of the original members of MAAFA is playing Kora in the intro. He is also playing a series of drums such as 2 Djembes, Dudunba, Sangban, Segesege and more. This same Djembe pattern repeats in the outro and slows down even more as it transitions to a more typical “beatdown hardcore” feel which is when the gang vocals start screaming “Reclaiming my time.”

I wrote the lyrics after a frustrating experience with a former colleague who kept abusing their access to me by constantly bombarding me with requests to correct their problematic behavior, specifically around racism and homophobia. They never asked me, they demanded, they never offered to pay me for my intellectual labor, they never gave me credit for said labor and the entire interaction was transactional and unwarranted. Just kind of kept messaging me over and over again until finally I had to block them.

This led me to reflect on the history of QTBIPOC interactions with folks like that, especially sense this happned during the height of social unrest around the murdering of unarmed Black folk. It remonded me of how often we all are constantly being put in positions like this to do all this labor and are expected to do it for free. 

This song was written in 2017/2018, around the time that U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (a Black Woman)  went viral for standing up to her problematic colleagues in government by “Reclaiming Her Time” during a house committee meeting.  She was coined #AuntieMaxine shortly after. The visual of a Black Woman in power stating “I’m Reclaiming My Time” from problematic “colleagues” fit perfectly with the messaging of this song. It’s really about paying BIPOC for their labor, self-advocacy, boundaries and self-care.

3. Libation

There is a theme about water here: cleansing, ritual, baptism, sacrifice, rebirth, death, legacy, tribute and worship. Libation is a reflection on the legacy of what our ancestors have left for us and what we are responsible to build moving forward as the descendants/survivors of Chattel Slavery. It’s about ancestral worship, ancestral memory, a moment to reflect on our loved ones who have passed. 

It is part poem, part prayer, part ritual and of course, part call to action.   

I wanted to give myself space to write a song both musically and lyrically where I can depart from the typical lyrical styles and song structures we find in Hardcore but while still pulling from influences like Spoken word, Reggae and Hip-Hop influenced-Hardcore. For example, Lyrics like “Black is the river now. So much flesh in the waters, the waters have changed.” Was inspired by a statistic I read that said so many African bodies were thrown overboard into the Atlantic Ocean during the middle passages/ The Maafa, that it changed the temperature of the water forever. 

Naming the song “Libation” was inspired by the history of the Black American ritual that some of us do when one of our loved ones passes away i.e. “Pour one out for our homies” and the fact that some in the States who practice that and learned that from Hip-Hop didn’t or don’t know that pouring Libation is African Ancestral Memory, it can be traced back to many of our ancestral nations on the continent as an important ritual across many religions and cultures it is also not exclusive to Indigenous African Nations but also to Indigenous Nations in the West. It has been said that for many Africans & her descendants “Nothing important happens without Libation.

I am of Yoruba (Nigerian) descent, and a lot of the lyrics reference ritual/aesthetics still present throughout my family and that can be found in some African Traditional Religions (ATR’s for short) such as Black American Hoodoo/Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lucumí/Lukumi etc. But also Black American Christianity/Southern Baptist + Pentecostal references. 

I wanted the overall feel to take the listener on a journey and for it to be like spoken word meets hip hop influenced hardcore in the verses then the Reggae part allows you to meditate then finally resolving on a metal/opera like ceremonial vibe that centers hope in the end. 

It was important to me to make a moment for meditation that musically centered the real, Black African tradition of Reggae. The whole song touches on the connection of the spiritual and the political being in balance for true resistance. Which we see in historical victories such as The Haitian revolution, for ex. Very rarely do I hear true stories about uprisings and revolts of enslaved Africans where we did not seek the guidance of our ancestors and the spirit world/our religions to see them through. 

All the way to the civil rights movement and how a lot of organizing happened in the church, (regardless if everyone was actually Christian or not.) So many of our diasporic African religions are practiced under the guise of Abrahamic Religions because we were forced to hide our practices during enslavement. Take the saints of Catholicism for example (i.e. where “santeria” came from and that many feel should not be the appropriate term to use) in order to avoid being murdered by slave owners because our religions were considered “savage, primitive and of the white Judeo-Christian Devil.” Our political resistance and our god(s) have always and to this day remain connected for many of us (with all due respect to our very powerful atheist siblings who fight very hard on the frontlines and some even while trying to heal from religious trauma) and this song sheds light on that. Which is what “Libation” is really about: how the spiritual and political are connected when it comes to our living, our afterlife and our fight here on earth against systemic oppression and religious (ATR) prosecution.

The breakdown pays tribute to the traditional Rastafari community I grew up around in D.C that are responsible for some of my earliest exposure to Pan-Africanism and Militant Black Liberation Politics very early on in life.

The end of the song is an extension of the meditative reggae break, but the vibe changes into a more metal influenced, almost operatic style to evoke the feeling of a ceremony/ritual chant for the hope of where we are headed as a people and that the deaths of our ancestors were not in vain, instead their legacies fuel our resistance and our “big dreams” to this day. One that factors in the entirety of our history and “The Legacy They Left Here for Us” (the very last line of the song) a lot of our traditions teach us that when we die we then are promoted to “ancestor” and have to begin our duties as an ancestors over our descendants that are still here on earth. The overall feel is about hope and how we must carry on to a better world, which is a great segue into the next song “A Luta Continua.”

5. A Luta Continua (Interlude)

“A Luta Continua” translates to “The fight goes on” in Portuguese. This interlude was an instrumental bass and percussion duet I wrote and am performing on. It is a duet featuring me playing the bass (everything you hear on this track that is not vocals or percussion is the bass. There are no guitars) and me singing/harmonizing with myself. The only other musical instruments are Traditional Brazilian percussion played by my friend Everton Isidoro who is also from Brasil. The style of music is a mix of Traditional Capoeira percussion & rhythm and the lead Bass lines were inspired by a style called Baião .

Overlayed is a sample of Councilwoman Marielle Franco’s speech (SPEECH HERE) at a hearing on violence against women in the Favelas, given about a week before she was assassinated. This interlude is to usher in the song “Filha Da Luta” that also features Afro-Brazilian Musical elements. 

6. Filha Da Luta

“Filha da luta” translates to “Daughter of the fight” in Portuguese and is a saying I saw become popular on protest signs during uprising against Bolsonaro’s election and when Marielle was assassinated. “Filha da luta” is a play on words for the insult “Filha da puta” (which translates to what in the U.S. we would say “son (Filho) of a bitch” but in this case it’s daughter(filha) of a bitch lol) activists changed it from the cuss word “Puta” to “Luta” which means fight. “Puta” is also a misogynistic slur in Portuguese for Slut/Whore. 

The song’s intro features a rhythm called “Samba-Reggae” that is very popular in Brazil during carnival especially in the northeast of Brazil so places like my mommy’s hometown and Bahia, considered the “Black state of Brazil” which has similarities we can find in some Afro-Caribbean cultures. 

My friend Everton recorded the Brazilian percussion for this song as well, he played a bunch of the traditional instruments that go along with this style like the surdo, agogo, pandeiro, atabaque and more. 

The choruses and the breakdown at the end features a rhythm that is very dear to my heart called “Afoxé”  (Here’s a video of my cover of that Afoxé song I arranged, choreographed and sang for Harry Belafonte at my Almer Mater, Berklee College of Music) which is an African-Brazilian Rhythm that my dad uses a lot in his songwriting and which has a long history with Black resistance and enslaved African uprising during the Maafa. It is also a rhythm that primarily is used in religious ceremonies and rituals in the ATR- candomblé. (Video of my uncle and friends back home in DC playing Afoxé)

I dedicate this song to Marielle every time we play it live and to all Black/Brown, Non-Cishet male activists globally that we’ve lost and whom are still here fighting and organizing. 

7. Not Your Exotic (CW: Sexual Assault) 

The inspiration for this song’s title and for some of its lyrics is the poem “Not your erotic, Not your exotic” by Palestenian-New Yorker poet, Suheir Hammad. She and I have become really good friends after I wrote this song when one of her homies happened to come to one of our shows and connected us. This poem changed my life and finally made me feel “seen” and most importantly she found the words I had such a hard time formulating over the years. It unlocked my voice about this issue, and I owe it all to her. 

The song is simple, straight to the point heavy punk rock. I wanted to write a groovy, still “Maafa” style punk song, that emphasized the lyrics more than anything else. 

The lyrics are about the violence that Women/Femme identified and presenting Black and Brown people like me face from being hypersexualized/fetishized/Other’ed etc. 

Hypersexualized for being a Black Woman, A Brazilian woman, lightskinned/mixed race presenting Woman/ for my body type etc. You name it! We’ve heard all the gross and highly offensive things “Spicy, Sassy, pretty for a Black girl, Pretty for a fat girl etc.” my darkskinned siblings have to then add colorism on top of that like “Pretty for a Darkskinned girl” or fetishized statements like “You’re the Only/first Black/Fat/Brazilian etc. Girl I’ve ever been with/liked” etc. or “why are you so Angry/Emotional/Hysterical/Crazy/Irrational/Sensitive/Moody” etc…AND the FAVORITE one they use for Black Women: “You have an attitude.”  

The album art for this song features the song title super imposed over a picture of one of the signs used to announce the auction/arrival of an enslaved Black Woman named Sarah Baartman aka Venus Hottentot who was enslaved and treated by her capturers as like a zoo animal they paraded around the world naked, on display like a circus freak show/side show so that white people can come and stare and violate at her “exotic” body. (This is a gross over simplification of her life and legacy, due to the sake of time.)

It’s wild to think this actually happened and that a body type that is extremely common amongst Black and some Brown folk (and that she and I both share similarities with) is somehow “exotic” and “freak-ish” “abnormal” or a “deformation/illness” that it needed to be literally caged and put on display. 

DISGUSTED is the first word that should come to mind, which is exactly how I feel and how many folks like me feel regularly. Sexual harassment is part of my everyday life. My safety is something I have to factor in when I get dressed, what time I leave my house, what kind of clothes I want to wear or go shopping for etc. Shopping is a lot of “Damn, I shouldn’t wear that, I COULD GET HURT.”  I have been assaulted more times than I can count, I haven’t taken the subway alone in 6 years because I was sexually assaulted on the train 3 times in broad daylight. 

I, like many BIPOC femmes, have survived sexual assault, being followed to my house, to my car, to public bathrooms, physically sexually assaulted at shows, cat-called on the street, etc.  My friends have to literally make sure I make it home all the way in the door when dropping me off in an Uber. I’m required to check in via messages with my homies as soon as I’m in the house just so they know I’m ok and they are also required to do the same. None of us drive off until everyone is inside their homes with the doors locked and accounted for in the group chat. If one of us forgets to check in, we can absolutely expect several missed calls the next morning. 

In fact some of my girlfriends and I have a group chat that we all send “I’m home” or “I’m on so and so street, with so and so, his/her/their license is…and I’m wearing…. etc.” even though we all live in different states. We all have access to our parent’s/spouses’ information, address, emergency contacts etc. and we all carry emergency contact and information cards with info like “I’m allergic to penicillin.”

Having to live like this since I was little which was taught to us by our mothers/sisters/elders/community and theirs to them and so on for survival, is absolutely normalized. And this song feels like a collective “exhale” for 2 minutes and some change that we can all take and scream all the pain and frustration we feel that is constantly being dismissed. 

NOTE: Most CisHet masculine Men and Boys NOT having to ever think about stuff like this is a type of privilege I speak about in “Welfare”: “To Inhabit your skin without fear (white privilege) / To inhabit your body without shame (Fatphobia/skinny privilege/Masculine body privilege) / To love who you want (Hetereosexual Privilege) /  TO WALK AT NIGHT ALONE (that part) / To be standing on the outside looking in / THAT’S PRIVILEGE!” 

8. For The Culture

My hometown here in the states is Washington, DC. And D.C. has its own original style of music called GO-GO that I grew up on. Go-Go and D.C. Hardcore have a lot of history together and sometimes , many many moons ago traditional Go-Go bands would play Hardcore shows.  

So this song musically is a love letter to my hometown. Go-Go, like Hardcore, has also evolved tremendously; for example, THIS is one example of what modern Go-Go can sound like with more rock influences. I love everything about Go-Go, especially all the obvious ancestral memory you see in every element, down to its own dance called “BEAT YA FEET.”

The artwork on the album for this song depicts the Bucket drummers that perform at the metro stations in DC that I also grew up listening and dancing to – also another example of ancestral memory. 

“For The Culture” is a phrase some Black folks use when we are acknowledging something that is being done strictly for the sake and the betterment of Black culture and Black people. 

The lyrics are calling out gentrification, posers and people that want to exploit how “trendy” being Black and “punk” or “alternative” is now a days all of a sudden. When most of us grew up getting beat up or harassed for listening to “White people music” and it was actually dangerous for us to “dress punk” back in the day. Oftentimes the violence came from our own people as well as racists that we faced at shows, so we caught it from both ends. But now a lot of those same people want to dress like us and study what we’re doing in our scenes cuz they think it’s “cool and trendy.”

The song was inspired from my rage against corporate “alternative music” festivals that exploit the word PUNK and the people in the community in order to chase “clout” and be trendy, when their festivals have absolutely nothing to do with our communities and do nothing but erase actual Black punks and Hardcore kids like Maafa and our sibling bands.

9. Dichotomy

This is my break up song, but you know I can’t do a break up song without making it political lol. Relationships bring out things in you in a way that only they can, because of the unique things it forces us to face when having to deal with other people in a romantic way, like during talks about the future, children, expectations etc. It will bring up your own traumas and sometimes your partner can treat you so badly that they become a trauma themselves that you’re forced to heal from. Which is in part what happened here as well: this was written after I got out of an abusive relationship.

Things like infidelity & betrayal trauma are also experiences that inspired this song. It’s my most vulnerable song & most personal.

Basically, the inspo for this song is how a break up was the catalyst to my journey with mental health that saved my life and how during that journey the issue of mental health in the Black community came up i.e. still not having a therapist or the right meds because they’re low income; how HR from Bad Brains is/was treated/talked about during his battle with mental health; and the stigma in the Black community around mental illness and seeking help, especially amongst Black men. 

My experience with depression and anxiety during this period felt like I was possessed by a demon or something really dark that had more control over me than I did so there are moments in the lyrics that reflect that down to the very last line that says, “Release Me, Please,” as if pleading with the demon to exorcise itself from my mind/body. But the song is also about healing and about taking control and responsibility for my healing which is how I reclaimed my power over the “demon.” Which is also reflected in the lyrics and in the aesthetic of the album art depicting items one would find in an apothecary to symbolize healing with medicine and healing with spiritual/religious ritual. 
My parents and I are best friends and my father is my guide post in all things “life.”  So to tribute him and how much he supported me during that time I made the song’s intro my interpretation of the intro and outro of my dad’s song “PEGA” – the sample is from the outro of the video in that link, so the Jazz sample at the end of the song is actually my dad and his band playing.

10. Blindspot 

White boys get to make angry chugga chugga music to “bitch” about the things they hate all the time and they get praised for it, even though 99.99999% of the time the things they sing about hating are people and ideas that are different than them. They also love to gatekeep Hardcore for white straight men who are hyper masculine and violent. Well, this is MY angry chugga chugga song about the things I hate the most which are problematic white boys who make chugga chugga Hardcore and are put in a position of power to control the entire narrative of who and what Hardcore is and looks like and then, being true to their nature, they cry victim and get defensive when someone calls them out on how they protect and perpetuate harmful ideologies and behaviours in our scene. Hence: DECOLONIZE HARDCORE. 

Now, I absolutely love and grew up on chugga chugga hardcore MUSIC* ( i.e. Beatdown Hardcore/ Traditional NYHC/ or my favorite as I like to call it “That Castle Heights shit” lol) so I’m not coming at the music, I’m critiquing SOME of the bands and their content, who are really the minority in the scene but because of privilege and supremacy are glamourized as not only the majority, when they’re not, but as the only “true” definition of Hardcore. As I often say, it’s “bullshiterious.” (I got that from a Black Feminist FB group) 

Decolonizing Hardcore is also about reminding Black people in our scene and those who are new to our scene that they should NEVER have to negate their Blackness to be here. Manipulate their appearnce or the way they “talk”  just to “assimilate.” That it’s about re-educating my own people about the Black history of Hardcore and Punk, that everything hardcore is and stands on comes from Black people who invented rock n roll, call and response, oral history keeping, communicating through dance without words, singalongs and pile-ups and spinkicks. 


This is a house our ancestors built for us too, we are not guests here, this is part of our birthright and if anything, like any other subculture, it’s usually the descendants of our colonizers and the ones who benefit from white privilege who are the “guests.” 

Decolonizing Hardcore is about centering the QTBIPOC presence visibly and loudly and unapologetically reclaiming not just our time but our rhythms, our dances, our styles, our languages, our lands, our spaces and our scene.

Batá Drums, Yoruba Tradition, Babalawo, Lucumi religion (aka Santeria, we do not Call it Santeria because that term is a colonial term and can be seen as offensive. The actual name of the tradition is called “Lucumi”or “Lukumi” Loo-koo-me)

The Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass[1] with one end larger than the other. The percussion instrument is still used for its original purpose as it is one of the most important drums in the yoruba land and used for traditional and religious activities among the Yoruba.[2][3] Batá drums have been used in the religion known as Santería in Cuba since the 1800s, and in Puerto Rico and the United States since the 1950s.[4][5] Today, they are also used for semi-religious musical entertainment in Nigeria and in secular, popular music. The early function of the batá was as a drum of different gods, of royalty, of ancestors and a drum of politicians, impacting all spheres of life in Yoruba land.[6][7]

The drummers on Batá and Djembe for the intro song. One of them is Jabari Exum. He and our Friend Amadou Kouyate who is not only my former mentor but my former professor and one of my best friends and is an original and current member of MAAFA, he is on this album, they both were best friends with Chadwick Boseman from The Black Panther Movies (Wakanda Forever) so when it came time to make those movies Chadwick hired Jabari as choreographer, Lead Djembefola and to be his right hand man meaning every time he was on set, at a red carpet etc. Jabari, who is on this album, was playing Djembe next to Chadwick. Jabari was also in both movies in several Djembe scenes and as an extra in a few scenes in the second movie. 

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D-Tension – “Tales From The Pub”

"Tales From The Pub" - D-Tension’s Secret Rock & Roll Band

Release Date: April 04, 2023 Record Label: Redfield Digital Release Type: LPBandcamp Link: Listen on Bandcamp

Okay, so we should start with a big, giant mea culpa here. Last summer, as some of you may remember, Dying Scene helped put on a series of shows around the country to help mark the resurrection of the site. We had shows in Denver and LA and Brooklyn and Chicago and, of course, the Boston area. At the latter of those, local legend D-Tension helped us mark the occasion with his Secret Rock And Roll Band. It marked a bit of a stylistic departure for D, who has not only been a staple voice on the local radio waves for years but has made a name for himself primarily in the world of hip-hop production.

D-Tension’s rock and roll project finally put out their debut full-length, Tales From The Pub, earlier this year via Red On Red Records and we totally spaced putting it in our “Release” section here at the site. UNTIL NOW! You can check out Tales From The Pub down below or order it straight from his bandcamp page. It’s super fun, and it’s chock full of D’s trademark wit and street wisdom but in a raw, rock-and-roll format. Oh, and he played all the instruments! Check it out…great stuff, D-Tension!


downtalker is a Boston-based post-punk disco project rooted in recovery, chronicled by struggle, and nurtured by love. A result of 20 years of collaboration and friendship between Massachusetts natives Darin Thompson (lead vocals, synth, bass, guitar) and Justin Mantell (synth, guitar, bass, backing vocals), 2021 debut album Post Junkie Selfish Millennial Single Father Field Notes landed in Brooklyn Vegan’s Year in Review series. In September 2023, with an overall sound now augmented by Matt Freake (drums, percussion, backing vocals), downtalker released two kinetic new dance-minded singles – “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Watch Your Heart Break” – via the resurrected Iodine Recordings, with their debut show arriving a week later, opening for Fiddlehead’s highly-anticipated record release party at Royale. More new music is set to come, opening up the creative world of downtalker and the difficult, yet hopeful, stories of addiction and recovery contained within.

DS Album Review: The Hold Steady – “The Price Of Progress”

There exists a small handful of bands that I feel like, in some ways, I’ve grown up alongside. I feel like if you’re an active music listener, once you get to about your mid-twenties, you reach a point where the current bands that you’re listening to have transitioned from being bands of your parents’ generation […]

Band photo: Shervin Lainez

There exists a small handful of bands that I feel like, in some ways, I’ve grown up alongside. I feel like if you’re an active music listener, once you get to about your mid-twenties, you reach a point where the current bands that you’re listening to have transitioned from being bands of your parents’ generation (or at least your cool uncle’s generation, although my parents were and are pretty cool so I’m lucky that way) to bands that are in that sort of in-between-but-still-older generation to, finally, bands that are basically your peers. People who are right in your same age bracket and same general socioeconomic bracket and with whom you shared a series of experiences, both personally and culturally, even if you never met and instead lived hundreds or thousands of miles apart. As a result, they resonate with you on a level that is just different and more personal than the music of your formative years. They become “your” bands, and you continue to grow and change and amass shared life experiences and go through different phases arm-in-arm (and maybe if you’re lucky you get to meet them along the way and share actual experiences that only serve to confirm their place in your life). So if you’ve read anything that I’ve written over the last dozen years here at Dying Scene, you’re probably aware that The Loved Ones/Dave Hause and Gaslight Anthem/Brian Fallon and Lucero/Ben Nichols comprise probably 3/4ths of my own personal Mt. Rushmore. The fourth and final spot undoubtedly belongs to The Hold Steady.

In many ways, The Hold Steady itself has grown up quite considerably along the way. In a literal sense, they’ve gone from a four-piece to a five-piece to a differently-assembled five-piece to a six-piece to a six-piece that sometimes has horns. Musically, the band has long-since moved on from being simply “America’s best bar band” to a band that has continued to level-up musically and push the sonic boundaries of what it means to be The Hold Steady. That is never more evident than on The Price Of Progress, the newest of the band’s nine studio full-lengths.

Due out today (happy new release day!), The Price Of Progress is a bit of a journey. I was lucky enough to receive a press copy long enough in advance that I decided to give the album a full couple of listens and then put it aside for a while and then revisit it before it came time to write the actual review. I’m glad I did, because The Price Of Progress is a bit of a journey. In many ways, it may be the “least Hold Steadyish” album of the nine in their ouevre. Few and far-between are the drunken, sweaty burners and the cathartic, sing-along-in-exultation choruses and the ripping guitar solos or even the extended keyboard jams. Those first couple of listens a few months ago left me with the vague impression that “well…that’s different.” And yet, in the time that’s ensued, I can’t help but shake the feeling that, in a lot of ways, maybe this is their “most Hold Steadyish” album to date. Let’s get into the weeds.

Were I to pick one word to best describe The Price Of Progress, that word would have to be ‘theatrical,’ and I mean that in the literal sense of the word in that the bulk of the album’s ten tracks create the impression that you’re watching a play unfold before you. Ten sets of different characters performing in front of a studio audience, all narrated at side-stage by frontman Craig Finn’s trademark sprechgesang vocal stylings. “Grand Junction” gets the festivities underway and the atypical time signature (6/8? I think? I’m not good at musical theory but I think it’s 6/8 and I asked my brother and he’s a music teacher and he said yes so we’ll go with that) is an immediate signal that we’re not in Kansas (or Brooklyn…or Minneapolis) anymore, Toto. Tad Kubler and Steve Selvidge trade off some nifty guitar work in the bridge that’s as close as we’re getting to a solo. “Sideways Skull” comes next, and was an early single for a reason as it is probably the most “Hold Steady song on the record. It feels like it could be set in a universe that’s a continuation of Open Door Policy‘s “Family Farm.” There are big, swirling guitar sounds and a big, cathartic build-up with plenty of oozin’ aahs. Lyrically, it’s filled with the dark humor and oddly specific references (“the jacket held together by the rock band patches”) that somehow make the imagery instantly relatable, as does the referential nod to the home state shared by both THS multi-instrumental wizard Franz Nicolay and I. “Carlos Is Crying” has a super fun swing in the verse, complete with a spanky guitar groove and some layered harmonica and keys (from Nicolay, no doubt) providing the texture. Wonder if the dickhead in Denver is the same fella that cut his hair in the airport bathroom back on Thrashing Thru The Passion?

Understudies” is a real unique and interesting song. There’s a slow-build organ-centered intro that provides the backbone until the Bobby Drake’s drums kick in about a minute later, then there’s a super theatrical Galen Polivka bass groove laid down over some dramatic strings. Lyrically it’s layer upon layer of metaphor and it’s tough to tell if you should take the story literally or figuratively or if it even matters which one you choose. “Sixers” is one of my favorites. There are a couple of big pseudo-starts that hint at a musical direction before the real mood is revealed as a mid-tempo rock song. There’s no real chorus per se, but there is at least what seems like a standard structure, but then we get to an interlude that just kind of takes over. It’s one of the REAL theatrical vignettes, and it’s followed by “The Birdwatchers,” a song that caught me off guard at first but has become a very strong favorite. There’s a real interesting musical bed/intro, and it like “Sixers,” it plays as a theatrical vignette. There are horns, but they largely serve as texture and not a lead instrument, though they do devolve into a bit of a free-jazz sound at times. There are also bells and chimes, and the curtain just kinda ends on the song and the story, the latter of which is also riddled with metaphor and double meaning.

“City At Eleven” has no real chorus. It may be the most “Craig Finn-ish” song on The Price Of Progress. “Perdido” which translates to “lost” and which has an almost hypnotic guitar melody, a evokes a sort of slowed-down version of the Ella Fitzgerald/Duke Ellington standard with which it shares a name. “Distortions Of Faith” is a smoky, blues waltz number. The guitars are drenched in reverb and the song has a long, descending outro. “Flyover Halftime” brings our procession to a close with what is maybe the second “Hold Steadiest” song on the album. The guitars growl but they don’t overpower. We’ve got a hornets reference! And we’ve also got a fan on the field…

Because of its focus on scope and texture and scenery rather than catchiness or bombast or catharsis, The Price Of Progress is more of a grower than a shower, but it’s also the kind of album, that once it does grow, it takes over and becomes probably The Hold Steady’s most instantly re-listenable album since at least Teeth Dreams (I know the fanboys will be in a tizzy over that statement, but that’s a great rock and roll album and you know it).

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DS Albums Punk Forgot: Revisiting Night Surf’s 2017 debut EP “Blasted!”

This article is going to start the same way Night Surf‘s 2017 debut EP Blasted! does; straight to the point. The opening song “So Long” just fires into this EP while painting amazing apocalyptic imagery, which I am a huge sucker for. Call me old fashioned but heartfelt descriptions of the end of the world […]

This article is going to start the same way Night Surf‘s 2017 debut EP Blasted! does; straight to the point. The opening song “So Long” just fires into this EP while painting amazing apocalyptic imagery, which I am a huge sucker for. Call me old fashioned but heartfelt descriptions of the end of the world shouted over catchy pop-punk guitars just gets me fucking jacked. The execution in “So Long” is so perfect that you can’t help but scream along:

And I want you to know
That I don’t need to go
And we can stare at the dying sun
and wait for nuclear winter!
As long as you’re by my side
I’ll be ready when it’s our time to die
Say so long to the falling stars
So much for being so lucky!

Yeah. That hits the spot. Thankfully, there’s more where that came from. “This Is What It Takes” follows up with the same raw energy that’s felt throughout the EP. The harmonized shouted/sung vocals fit so well together and give a very sincere feeling to the albums’ lyrics.

“Straight To” continues with the directness and just blasts open. There isn’t any time to relax during the opening 3 songs on this EP. I mean, if your trying to relax and looking for rest periods between songs, an album named Blasted! is probably a bad place to start. That should be a given, really. But I digress. They all hit one after another and, along with their shorter run time, it adds to the chaos presented by the lyrical content. It’s so good to sing along to!

And I’m alone in an echo chamber
Living completely under the radar
And if I escape I hope I never
See your face again.

My hope is wasted on you!

Alright. I have to keep it down. My wife is trying to sleep and all of my shouting is getting the dogs all riled up. Whatevs. This EP rips. The closing track “Lungs and Throat” finally gives you a moment to catch your breath before it goes on another tear. It feels like the final act compared to the blistering and slammed opening track “So Long” and gives the album a feeling of closure and completeness. Bleak closure and completeness. Not triumphant but defeated yet accepting.

So far from home
Hoping for the best all alone
I’ve lost my direction
I gave up the ghost
I’m waiting for this moment to go.
With no one around to hold my hand
I’m heading to the dark all alone.

I head into the dark all alone.

And now you die alone!

Fuck it. It’s too good not to scream along to and I don’t care if it’s late. I’m screaming Night Surf in my office and I will apologize to no one!

This was a self released EP by Night Surf in 2017. I can’t remember exactly how I found it but I was hooked on it the first time I heard it. Since Blasted! was released in 2017, they have released 1 EP and 1 full length album. Blasted! is the perfect introduction to this Brooklyn based pop-punk band and is an album punk forgot.

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DS Band Spotlight: Introducing Dutch pop-punks Lone Wolf; new album “Haze Wave” out now on Stardumb Records!

Welcome back to the Dying Scene Band Spotlight! Our latest installment brings us to Rotterdam, Netherlands, where we meet Dutch “post-pop punk” band Lone Wolf! They have an awesome new record called Haze Wave out now on Stardumb Records. If you like songs about the overwhelming existential dread of daily life tinged with bubblegum pop […]

Welcome back to the Dying Scene Band Spotlight! Our latest installment brings us to Rotterdam, Netherlands, where we meet Dutch “post-pop punk” band Lone Wolf!

They have an awesome new record called Haze Wave out now on Stardumb Records. If you like songs about the overwhelming existential dread of daily life tinged with bubblegum pop hooks, you’ll wanna check this record out. Songs like “Ready to Break”, “Meet Me in the Middle”, and “Terrible Heartache” will have you bouncing around while simultaneously on the brink of tears. Quite the dichotomy, isn’t it?

Anyway, this record kicks ass and I haven’t heard enough people talking about it. Check it out below and buy the LP here (US) or here (EU). Also, Lone Wolf will be paying us a visit here in the states this fall; catch them on their east coast tour and at The Fest! Dates are below.

See Lone Wolf on tour!

Sep 15 MJC Lillebonne – Nancy, France
Oct 19 Faces Brewing Co. – Malden, MA
Oct 20 The Broadway – Brooklyn, NY
Oct 21 The Skid Row Garage – York, PA
Oct 22 Pie Shop – Washington, DC
Oct 27 Fest – Gainesville, FL

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DS Band Spotlight: Proper.

If you’re unfamiliar, Proper. are a three-piece formed in NYC roughly 5/6 years ago (as The Great Wight initially) but hailing really from a variety of locations across the country and bringing with them all of their collective experiences and musical influences and creating something that hasn’t really been done before. I remember hearing their […]

If you’re unfamiliar, Proper. are a three-piece formed in NYC roughly 5/6 years ago (as The Great Wight initially) but hailing really from a variety of locations across the country and bringing with them all of their collective experiences and musical influences and creating something that hasn’t really been done before. I remember hearing their last album, I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better admittedly a little late and thinking “damn…I’ve never really heard anything like this before.” The new album, The Great American Novel, takes all of the things that were great about the last one and pushes the needles way past 10. It’s important music. It’s music about alienation and about not fitting in and about being a queer person of color in a land that, despite it being 2022, is at times becoming even less comfortable with people that check those boxes. It’s raw and it’s powerful and it’s somehow still hopeful. Oh, and if fucking rips. I feel lucky that I was able to catch up with the whole band (not just with Erik Garlington who spearheads the whole thing shredding on guitar and vocals but with the full band, new mom Natasha Johnson on bass and Elijah Watson on drums and whom you may also know from his “day job” as a journalist for Okay Player) for the (*both laugh*) podcast a couple months ago – you can check that our here or wherever you listen to your podcasts. In the meantime, fire up The Great American Novel and be ready to be blown away. we were able to catch up.

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