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DS Album Review: Bridge The Gap – “Secret Kombinations”

After months of hype and anticipation, Bridge The Gap have some serious expectations to live up to with their debut album Secret Kombinations. The 13-song LP was recorded at legendary Fort Collins, CO recording studio The Blasting Room. You may know the producer; I think he’s some drummer guy named Bill Stevenson? No big deal. […]

After months of hype and anticipation, Bridge The Gap have some serious expectations to live up to with their debut album Secret Kombinations. The 13-song LP was recorded at legendary Fort Collins, CO recording studio The Blasting Room. You may know the producer; I think he’s some drummer guy named Bill Stevenson? No big deal.

Secret Kombinations has all the hallmarks of the 90’s “Epifat” skate punk sound. The album serves up a heaping helping of everything from hard charging, Pennywise-ish sociopolitical anthems, to feel-good melodic punk songs in the vein of bands like No Use For A Name, Pulley, and the slightly more contemporary Chaser. Of course, there’s no shortage of whoas and oozin’ aahs sprinkled throughout the entire album.

The record starts strong with its title track, immediately followed by “Road Less Traveled”, delivering a solid 1-2 punch that grabs you right off the bat. “Over the Target” keeps things moving along at a brisk pace with its riffy guitar work and a driving, whoa-filled chorus. “Open Heart Purgery” and “My Creation” are much slower, but still manage to match the energy of the album’s fastest tracks. I’ve seen plenty of people comparing the latter to Pulley’s classic “Insects Destroy”, and I wholeheartedly agree with the comparison.

The back half of Secret Kombinations is where the band starts to really hit their stride; standout tracks include “Found in a Fire”, “Up”, and “Whippersnapper”. Lyrically, these are some of the album’s most introspecticive, personal songs. There’s a really earnest tone on these tracks that echoes NUFAN’s late-90’s output, somewhere between Making Friends and More Betterness.

This may be the band’s maiden voyage under their current moniker, but these guys are no greenhorns. Bridge The Gap’s lineup is comprised of members of long defunct Salt Lake City punk band Unfold, in which they released an album over 20 years ago. When paired with the warchest of knowledge Bill Stevenson brings to the table, that past experience pays dividends on Secret Kombinations. Bridge The Gap put their spin on the skate punk conventions of yesteryear, and the end result is an ultra-polished record with laser focused musical direction.

Super official review score: 4.25 out of 5 star emojicons ⭐⭐⭐⭐¼

Secret Kombinations releases March 24th on People of Punk Rock Records. Head over here to get the album on vinyl and/or CD. Digital download is available on Bandcamp.

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DS Album Review: Diesel Boy – “Gets Old”

Listen, I’ll be upfront. I was ten when Diesel Boy released their last album “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet”, and I initially didn’t hear it until I was 19. So that, for me, made this period of longing for new material a little shorter. I’m 31 now, so the period here isn’t as intense as […]

Listen, I’ll be upfront. I was ten when Diesel Boy released their last album “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet”, and I initially didn’t hear it until I was 19. So that, for me, made this period of longing for new material a little shorter. I’m 31 now, so the period here isn’t as intense as many have waited. But still, like many, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the band. With Gets Old, Diesel Boy are back, and the past 22 years have benefited from their break.

If we look at the opener ‘Lost Decade’, it could come off as the average punk song. But they take the piss out of themselves and give fans a sense of what they’ve been up to since they’ve been gone. Is it a reunion if no one cared we were gone or that we’re back?” and those lyrics are funny.

This quickly became my favourite song. ‘Viking Funeral’ starts with what I imagine is Gjallarhorn, but I’m pretty sure it’s regular horns playing. The lyrics are heavy and could hint towards a break-up that left someone with a heavy heart afterward. ‘Corpse Paint Blues’ is a pretty pop-punk song about some nice coffee shop and dreaming about suburban life. I felt this song was grown up, longing for the earlier years when things seemed simpler. ‘Two Stones’ hits differently. Lyrically it seems somber, and while the rest of the album hasn’t been “light” on the lyrics, to be honest. The guitar solo and the sound overall remind me of an 80s song. Friends, this may very well be one of the nicest album-closers I’ve heard this year.

22 years is what it took for Diesel Boy to return, and I hope they don’t take another 22 years to release a new album. Because this was fun to hear from them, I think it’s a good comeback album, and no matter what they sing in ‘Lost Decade’ I care that they are back! And you should be too! Check out this album; if you’re at Brakrock this week, remember to check them out!

9/10

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DS Album Review: Fool’s Errand – “Big Up The Impact

If your soul begs to chant “Oi!” while grizzled men shout about the world’s problems then the new Fool’s Errand record will be right up your alley. Big Up The Impact is an explosive album that comes in loud and within 33-ish minutes is back on its merry way. Fool’s Errand hails from Las Vegas […]

If your soul begs to chant “Oi!” while grizzled men shout about the world’s problems then the new Fool’s Errand record will be right up your alley. Big Up The Impact is an explosive album that comes in loud and within 33-ish minutes is back on its merry way. Fool’s Errand hails from Las Vegas but their sound takes me to somewhere in an East Coast urban sprawl full of those cabbie hats and the smell of whiskey.

“It’s a Problem” is a catchy opening track, a memorable opening riff draws you in before setting the tone, “Sometimes this high can get me so low, try to resist it, that’s a no-go // I found a message in a bottle and it just said help me.” I like when an album opens with a track that just lays out how the singer is doing, really sets the tone for where their head is at for the album itself.

Then we’re off to the races with anthemic tracks like “Shit,” “Wrote you a song, it’s only 4 letters long. Easy for someone like you to recite” and “I Think I Like It!” which was an unexpectedly tender-hearted song lyric-wise: “One kiss is like a kick to the teeth, she only laughs when we’re disturbing the peace. This girl’ll be the death of me, but I think that I like it!

Before I could process what was happening “Know What I Mean” had come and gone. If the song was a punch all I’d have to know it by was the ring impressions on my face. Lady Liberty stares down her nose at us in “Goin’ Back to Jersey” and we get a peek into what it feels like to feel alienated by the place you call home: “Lace up those boots, cuz we’re all goin’ down the Shore but our old stomping grounds don’t look the same and I’m not sure if I belong here anymore but I just can’t forget from where I came.”

This album has lots of themes of a world constantly changing around us, the rampant use of alcohol to tamp down the feelings caused by that same world, and the need to reach out to our friends and our loved ones during those uncertain times. My favorite track on the album “Lost a Friend” holds the same emotional poignancy, “Here’s to a new beginning, here’s to a bitter end. Here’s to the long walk on my own cuz I just lost a friend.” While we’re still mourning the spectres left in our memory we get angry; angry at the grind of working until your dead like in “The Good Life” or, like in the closing track “Not The Same, angry at the wolves in sheep’s clothing that hide amongst your friends and neighbors.

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DS Album Review: Frenzal Rhomb – “The Cup of Pestilence”

A wise band once said, “All we need is a punch in the face”. That’s exactly what Frenzal Rhomb provides with their latest effort The Cup of Pestilence. Australia’s finest pick up where they left off on Smoko at the Pet Food Factory and Hi Vis High Tea, ripping through 19 songs in 32 minutes. […]

A wise band once said, “All we need is a punch in the face”. That’s exactly what Frenzal Rhomb provides with their latest effort The Cup of Pestilence. Australia’s finest pick up where they left off on Smoko at the Pet Food Factory and Hi Vis High Tea, ripping through 19 songs in 32 minutes. A sonic punch in the face, if you will. The tone is set as the album opens with the lightning fast lead single “Where Drug Dealers Take Their Kids”, which is followed by the somehow even faster “Gone to the Dogs” (honestly, almost every song on this record is fast as fuck, so I’m gonna try to refrain from using that as a descriptor going forward).

“The Wreckage” proves Frenzal Rhomb is the only band that can write a love song with the word “cunt” sprinkled quite liberally throughout its lyrics (upon subsequent listens I’ve determined this is about a bromance, not a love song, but I’m too lazy to rephase this so fuck it). Other tracks like “Dead Man’s Underpants”, “Lil Dead$hit”, “Dog Tranquilizer”, and “I Think My Neighbour is Planning to Kill Me” provide a dose of the absurdist comic relief fans have always been able to expect from Frenzal. “Horse Meat” recounts the tale of a vegan who relapsed and “went from tofu salad straight to horse meat”, while “How to Make Gravox” pays tribute to the band’s favorite canned gravy product. It’s world-shaking stuff, if I’m being honest.

“Fireworks”, “Hospitality and Violence”, and “Finally I Can Get Arrested In This Town” power through the next stanza of The Cup of Pestilence with even more three part vocal harmonies and blues-on-speed guitar leads from The Doctor, backed by rapid fire drumming, courtesy of the fucken Metrognome Gordy Forman. All three songs are about a minute and 30 seconds long; blink and you’ll miss ’em. Most importantly, I believe “Those People” sets a new record for the number of times “cunt” has been used in a Frenzal Rhomb song, but who’s counting? Wait a second, I am! The word “cunt” is uttered approximately 22 times in this song. For comparison’s sake, “World’s Fuckedest Cunt” has a mere 13 cunts; “Cunt Act” closes the gap a bit with 18 cunts.

When it comes to its sonic qualities, The Cup of Pestilence pretty much sounds exactly the same as Frenzal Rhomb’s last two records. The band made the trek overseas to record in the friendly confines of The Blasting Room, where they previously recorded Smoko and Hi Vis, with Bill Stevenson once again handling production. All that’s really changed is they’ve got a new bassist in Michael Dallinger, but he’s been in the band going on four years now (and used to be in an excellent band named after Frenzal’s “Local Resident Failure”). Let me be clear, though: when I say this record sounds the same as the last two, that’s a good thing. Those records kicked ass. Unsurprisingly, this one kicks ass, too.

The one bone I’ll pick with The Cup of Pestilence (and I’m really grasping at the shortest of straws here) is it’s somewhat lacking in variety compared to Hi Vis High Tea. Of course, most of that album was blazing fast skate punk, but songs like “Beer and a Shot”, “The Black Prince”, “Messed Up”, and “Food Court” offered a refreshing change of pace and allowed you to take a breather between headbanging sessions on “Classic Pervert”, “Storage Unit Pill Press”, etc. Outside of “Deathbed Darren” and brief intros on “Old Mate Neck Tattoo” and the album closing “Thought It Was Yoga But It Was Ketamine”, The Cup of Pestilence does not afford you the same luxury. But I’m sure that’s what the people want, and in all likelihood Frenzal Rhomb based their decision to make a purely balls-to-the-wall record on extensive market research. Alas, I was not present at that board meeting.

Well, it’s time to give the album a score. Let’s go with 4 out of 5 Star Emojis ⭐⭐⭐⭐✰ That’s a nice round number, innit?

The Cup of Pestilence arrives April 7th on Fat Wreck Chords. Pre-order the record here (US), here (EU), or here (AUS).

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DS Album Review: Hayley & The Crushers – “Modern Adult Kicks”

It’s summer in 2002 and it’s about to be golden hour while you lay on your bed staring at the ceiling. You are dwelling on some fight you had with your mom. Every friend you have is out having fun or on vacation- unreachable by phone and you’re swearing off each and every one of […]

It’s summer in 2002 and it’s about to be golden hour while you lay on your bed staring at the ceiling. You are dwelling on some fight you had with your mom. Every friend you have is out having fun or on vacation- unreachable by phone and you’re swearing off each and every one of them. Your last ditch effort of hope points to a Walkman and a bike while you ride the familiar streets of some suburban Midwestern town with headphones filled with relief.

Flash forward to 2022 after a pandemic and a half has washed over you and you’re still sitting with the same feeling of being grated by life, but you have time to step into the Crushverse and kick it with Hayley & the Crushers. Modern Adult Kicks is an album that houses singles released from 2021 and some fresh new tunes from the band and most have adult themes paired with power pop fun that are sure to ride with you from your morning coffee to a late-night vinyl dance sesh. By the way, this album comes in a limited edition blue raspberry for those vinyl aficionados.

Modern Adult Kicks starts off strong with the single “Taboo” which offers this hefty guitar riff as Hayley’s dark and devious voice coaxes you melodiously to the stranger side of power pop. You’re gonna follow her and you’re gonna love where it’s headed. In the 2nd verse, the first four lines are delivered such a mood of heavy desperation and need. You hear it in the annunciation of T’s and the beaks in guitar. “Taboo” connects this memory of that feeling while looking out of the window in The Lockdown of 2020. You wanted to go out, but you know it was taboo.

The album goes on to carry The Crushers’ more polished sound for your tender punk heart. The band has described this album as an example of “how to grow up without growing jaded.” Nothing could be more rightly said about it. The death of the ego really prevails in the sound of Hayley’s sharp guitar playing, lyrics, and titles of songs in this album. Songs like “She Drives”, “California Sober”, and “Overexposed” bring out this perfect mixture of sunny pop-tempo painting this scene of punks enjoying life knowing full well everything around them is burning (this is fine). Which is just the kind of macabre sense of fun that most of us who survived the past few years may need right now. Don’t worry for all you tough guys out there the album still houses the familiar punk sound echoing the frustration and need to thrash around that resides in most of us.

In her own words on Sound Digest, Hayley has written a little year in review which gives insight into what this album may mean to her. It is in this touching honesty as she writes about being a musician during the pandemic, getting her shit together, and driving to really refine her career as a musician. All the touring she wanted to do for the band’s last album which was released in 2020 never got to come to fruition. All that hard work and self-reflection came to be in March of 2021 when the band was signed by Josie Cotton to her record label Kitten Robot Records. The band got to work with Paul Roessler remotely as well as in person for Modern Adult Kicks and the album was mastered by Mass Giorgini (Squirtgun). The band is gearing up for a tour that begins September 23rs, 2022 and it is one that you may not want to miss out on.

Modern Adult Kicks is available for purchase

Tour Dates & Locations

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DS Album Review: Hot Mulligan – “Why Would I Watch”

Hot Mulligan is well known for their buoyant pop-punk sound with an emo seriousness behind their lyrics. These guys have been a huge favorite of mine for so many years. Getting into the local scene, a lot of bands here seemed to pull inspiration for their sound from these guys (or bands similar to them). […]

Hot Mulligan is well known for their buoyant pop-punk sound with an emo seriousness behind their lyrics. These guys have been a huge favorite of mine for so many years. Getting into the local scene, a lot of bands here seemed to pull inspiration for their sound from these guys (or bands similar to them). They never fail to bring such a fun and upbeat tempo in their songs, despite having a song or two that start soft and then pick back up into the pop-punk sound we are familiar with from them. Why Would I Watch is an incredible album as far as lyrics go, throwing in a song about a lost pet that had me bawling in my car on my way to work one morning. Absolutely worth it.

This album kicks off with a decently long song title (as are many of their song titles, but whatever) called “Shouldn’t Have a Leg Hole But I Do”. It’s a very happy-go-lucky-sounding song that will throw you way back to the original pop-punk sounds that we all grew up with. I found myself finding this song almost familiar and comforting. They did a phenomenal job in capturing the “old sound” of pop-punk and going back to the roots of the genre (which will also be a recurring theme throughout the album). Lyrics for this song speak volumes on trying to escape a situation or leave something behind that you know you should and need to live your life for yourself, but something will always bring you right back until you face whatever it is that needs to be addressed.

Powering into the next track is a beautiful transition that tells the realities of life not going as you expect. “It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad” is largely about breaking cycles and being aware of the toxicity that is to be able to change and grow from it. My biggest indicator of that is the more than relatable line in the song that jumped out at me where he sang, “Sit down and give me the confessional // Stay together for the kid // Isn’t that original?” Having been faced with that situation, this song hit home and had me hooked on the rest of the album to follow. The instrumentals of this track scream the classic and familiar sound of Hot Mulligan’s original tracks from when they formed in 2014. I love how consistent they’ve always seemed to be while making their music. Always staying somewhat in line with what they’ve always done, yet making it just different enough to keep us on our toes!

Moving into the next song, it almost has a sense of urgency in the tone of the entire thing. It really brings together the lyrics’ theme of just trying to survive in a world that’s so different from where you were. “And I Smoke” might be relatable for more of us than we may realize, just pay attention to the lyrics and see if you may find a sense of familiarity in the feelings this track has to offer. My personal favorite being almost the start of the song, 00:22 in he sings, “Move out, a new place that I don’t know // Its smallest details are unfamiliar // Sit in the shower until I feeI alone”. I moved to a new city I wasn’t super familiar with not too long ago and so this song really resonated with me on that. The unfamiliar and the fear of the unknown is a real thing to battle with when moving out and on your own, especially if you have children in tow.

The song that has everyone’s brains trying to process the way the band will have to announce it while on tour. “This Song is Called it’s Called What it’s Called” is one of my favorite tracks. It beings with soft instrumentals and vocals that bring the most comforting sounds I’ve heard from a punk band. Reminiscing on a few spotty memories, seemingly with a fond tone. Then 60 seconds in the realization hits that it’s all gone by in a blink of an eye and the time lost is nearly crippling. The regret of not doing things just slightly different and leaving things unsaid that could have changed the entire trajectory of your life. “Oh, there’s so much I would change // Take more pictures // Oh, I left so much to say // All the missed connections.” I think everyone can relate to this in one way or another and this band has got a serious knack for finding the perfect instrumentals to not only match the mood of the song, but also keep the listener engaged with their tempo changes and execution of the lyrical melody! Easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.

“No Shoes In The Coffee Shop (Or Socks)” is an upbeat song that kicks the vibe back up to a more fun and lighthearted feel, telling the story of looking back on what is expected to be an epic journey that ends up being filled with regrets. This title track has a deep undertone to it if you’re willing to listen close enough, and maybe you’ll catch the placement of the album’s title and appreciate its weight when you do! It’s followed by a slightly higher energy, good-vibed track named “Christ Alive My Toe Damnit Hurts”. It’s honestly about the back and forth of addiction and how hard it can truly be to ignore the intrusive thoughts that come across the mental when you’re trying to fight the urge of needing just one more. The admiration I have for artists like Hot Mulligan that have off-the-wall track names to go with songs that have a 50/50 shot of being deep and meaningful, or just a good chuckle with the randomness of the analogies chosen with no serious direction to be left open to interpretation.

Then we get to “Betty.” If you’re ready to bawl your eyes out to a beautifully soft and wholesome ballad to a best friend…this is it. I was completely blindsided by a single line around the 1:11 timestamp that had the waterworks start almost immediately. If you’ve ever had a pet, and had them cross that rainbow bridge without you, this song is going to have you severely deep in your feelings and reminiscing those best friends that you cherished once upon a time.

This song’s title is a bit deceiving. Maybe you’d read “Cock Party 2 (Better Than The First)” and think it’s going to be a heavy and upbeat track, like myself. Much to my pleasant surprise, this song starts out pretty low-key and mellow. Then I went back the second time through and really listened to and read the lyrics along with the track, finding the meaning behind it. Beautifully written, and something ALL of us pop punk babies who have grown up can easily relate to this. The first verse screaming the song’s meaning of growing up and wondering where the hell all the time went and how we wish we could just not be adults and see our missed childhood loved one(s) as if we didn’t have responsibilities to worry about now. “When did we stop laughing? // Feel sorry for us now // Paying rent, calling home again // Routine and tedium now.” Its ending having a very Panic At The Disco!-esque ending of emphasizing the last two lines almost word for word. It’s a beautiful punctual ending to the overall feel of the track.

“Shhhh! Golf Is On” is an immediate classic vibe of instrumentals for throwing us back into the nostalgic sound pool. Then it brings in the instrument that will spice up ANY band’s sound, the cowbell. The love I have for bands that find some clever way to incorporate the cowbell, let alone subtly and in an extremely tasteful manner, will have me applauding the artists every time. It only makes an appearance a few times throughout the track, so it isn’t an incessant sound they try to force to work throughout it, just enough to give it a unique and fun spin.

“Gans Media Retro Games” is a title I didn’t fully understand, which in turn made me immediately go check out the lyrics to maybe get a better understanding on how this song was going to maybe sound like. When I read them and found it was about blacking out and wondering if you’re the problem when things go wrong nights you don’t remember. The next morning regret being strong and trying to come to terms with figuring out the story to find the root of the problem. It’s definitely relatable for some people (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few nights like that myself) and the vibe of the song is upbeat, but with enough of the urgent and somber feel of realizing you just may be the problem due to how you choose to cope, was a strong play for them to throw so bluntly into a song. It’s absolutely admirable to see a song about trying to take accountability and get to the root of their issues.

This is one of those tracks that has an opening line that had me replaying it a time or three to make sure I heard it right. To say I was not expecting to hear “Sucking blood out of a canker sore” come out of Nathan’s mouth, had me double taking, then laughing a little bit. Then getting into the rest of the lyrics, they seem like they may just be gibberish with random meaning, but if you really listen, there are a few lines in there that hint at what the true meaning of the song is about. Watching a loved one deteriorate to a memory-stealing disease is never easy. I have loved ones who suffer from conditions and diseases that are similar and it’s taxing to your mind, your body, and even your soul.

“John “The Rock” Cena, Can You Smell What the Undertaker.” To be entirely honest I had no words when I saw this track title, just straight confusion. I assume that’s the entire point, but, as I mentioned before, these off-the-wall names are just leaving no room to even try to guess what it could bring to the table instrumentally or lyrically and I love the mystery. I’m not 100% positive about this interpretation that I’ve gathered from the song’s meaning, but it seems to be the toxic expectations of the organized religions in the world. It doesn’t name any specifically, but it touches on key points and the lyrics, to me, screamed the struggle to fit the mold of what the religion had for its followers and the intrusive thoughts that followed when you’ve been taught toxic “rules” to life based on how they think you’re supposed to live.

Overall this album is incredible. Nathan and the guys did a great job bringing us back to the original roots of punk and giving us that nostalgic feeling of being in middle and high school again blasting the artists who started it all. Three years was well worth the wait for this band to drop another solid vibed album that came with some deep and heavy topics that I wholeheartedly believe the world needed songs for. Beautifully done, Hot Mulligan, and we can’t wait to see what else you’ve got in store for us!

Why Would I Watch? was released everywhere on May 12th, 2023!

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DS Album Review: Noise Brigade – “The Mess Inside Of Me”

To say that I’ve been following this band for a while would be an understatement. Once upon a time, I was a drummer for an awful pop-punk band from Anchorage, Alaska fronted by Noise Brigade’s own vocalist/guitarist Nathan Nelson. I had a breakdown in a random Qdoba and broke up the band, but luckily Nathan […]

To say that I’ve been following this band for a while would be an understatement. Once upon a time, I was a drummer for an awful pop-punk band from Anchorage, Alaska fronted by Noise Brigade’s own vocalist/guitarist Nathan Nelson. I had a breakdown in a random Qdoba and broke up the band, but luckily Nathan found Noise Brigade. More than a decade later, rehoming from Anchorage to Portland, several lineup changes, and departing from their label, this band has put themselves back out there independently with The Mess Inside Of Me and emotional expression is at the forefront.

The EP opens with the single “Fiberglass” which showcases everything I love about this band. The guitar riffs and chugs into the verse, Doug’s lyrics providing a landscape for Nathan’s chorus, everything coming together to form the conceptual fiberglass that chokes the song’s narrator with emotion. Lines like “I still turn my head at the scent of your perfume” and “I’m mortified and suffering, if I see you there I back away” cover a wide swath of feelings that come with unrequited love. The song fades down to a simple repeated concept, “I wanna be with you, I wanna be with you, there’s nothing I can do.”

“Jackie” showcases a dynamic build to a chorus that reveals the EP’s name, “Figure out all our wants and needs cause you clean the mess inside of me”. The song plays out like a lullaby with earworm guitar/synth riffs that fades out into my favorite track “Panic Bloom” which kicks in aggressively. The song is quickly tempered by the soft lilt of Doug’s vocals over twinkly guitars but by the chorus we’re “getting the message loud and clear” as the lyrics suggest. The bridge goes hard, starting as a whisper we hear, “I’ll fuck up my own life, I’ll fuck up” as it builds to a shredding scream before giving way to the chorus one last time.

As the sound of a calm indie-emo intro washes over you as if from a distant radio we get “Asteroid Blues” which blows in like a cold breeze. The chorus laments, softly and almost child-like, about a wound that we’re not sure ever heals, “I scrape my knees, pulling rocks out of my hands and let it bleed, cover up the wound and set me free.” This song makes me feel like a kid again, whether it’s from the lyrics making me feel like I’m hiding something from my parents or the reverby noodling something about this song is doing it for me.

What do you really expect from someone when you ask, “How’s it goin’?” We get “Cope”, a track of the two singers comforting one another over their shared feelings of isolation, failure, and former glory. This song verbalizes the intense imposter syndrome that can grow in your mind, “How did we get here, how do we get out, does anybody want me around?” and these thoughts can grow if you’re a mess inside, very thematically relevant. Anyone who has been in a band long enough will feel the lines “I wanna be on top of the world again, I wanna feel like I’m worth it to all my friends”.

The closing track “Same Pain” echoes the emotional sentiments of the entire EP. Despite the mental anguish of where you’ve been, it’s nicer to have people around you that share the same pain. “Don’t tell me it’s not over, don’t take away my hope, I wanna feel the sunshine, I wanna know, I wanna know I’m not alone.” The song closes instrumentally after an anthemic swell and I wish there was more, but that’s probably a good thing. This collection of songs doesn’t overstay its welcome: it’s emotionally poignant and showcases everything I love about this band. If you’re absolutely hurting for more Noise Brigade, don’t worry, not only do they have a decent catalog, but the two singers have started up a podcast detailing their musical history and all the growing pains of a working band called “Mustard In A Ketchup Packet: Stories From A Band That Tried”.

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DS Album Review: Sarchasm – “Conditional Love”

It’s always a shame when a band calls it quits, and that’s exactly what Sarchasm did a few weeks ago. When they announced their newest record, they also announced their last concert dates and their “indefinite hiatus”, but let’s be honest, on Instagram, that’s a nicer way of saying “we need a break from each […]


It’s always a shame when a band calls it quits, and that’s exactly what Sarchasm did a few weeks ago. When they announced their newest record, they also announced their last concert dates and their “indefinite hiatus”, but let’s be honest, on Instagram, that’s a nicer way of saying “we need a break from each other”. But, let’s move on to the fact that they are nice enough to go out with another album to please their fans. Well, guys, the last record is called Conditional Love, being released via Asian Man Records and it’s really good.

The first track “Hold Some Space” kicks off with the sweet introduction of drums only to be joined by guitar from Mateo Campos (he/him), who also provides vocals, then the bass from Alex Botkin (he/him), picking up just in time for the vocals to be provided by Stevie Campos-Seligman (they/them). Stevie’s delivery of the lyrics in the song isn’t something to play around with. Being able to drum and sing simultaneously, with a song that has this speed that it continually does throughout the song, is impeccable. ‘I’m grateful for everything you give to me/ But there’s a price tag on everything it seems’ could this little (vegan) nugget be about how conditional love is how one would feel they need to earn it? This song definitely does touch that subject, mostly during the bridge, we hear a more vulnerable mindset, on how the other person hasn’t been thoughtful about their partners feelings, singing that “I am not doing this anymore for you/I am now doing this for much more than you/ It didn’t matter to me, just you before/ Now I can matter to me, not you some more/ I’ll be more”. What a way to open an album, here one is left with the longing for self-reflection, which makes this song very special. Next up is “Crazy”, the first single that was released the day they announced Conditional Love, this is your classic indie punk song, and no wonder it was pushed as the first single from the album. The lyrics, vocals, and backing vocals at the end, fast-paced guitar riffs, and good underlying bass tone make this song a favorite from the first listen. This is probably a song taken out of my diary in my teens and I’m vibing with this one. The third track on the LP is “Therapist”, what a song to add to an album. It’s amazing. “Just see a therapist/ I know you can afford it/ Go please handle your shit with a therapist” is the first lines that hit your ear stream with a simple guitar that makes so much sense, because it picks up with all the instruments coming when they near the end of the verse. Some might get triggered but it’s good fun and the fun continues throughout the song; it opens your eyes and some might need to hear this. “I try not to let you down/ I try, and you let me down” could very well be a reference to how some might use their friends as a therapist, not thinking about the toll you put on your friends when you do that.

Let me jump a bit because I could go on and on about this album. The second single and fifth track from the album was “Good News”, and could be overanalyzed as how the world has gone to shits the last few years, and how we are waiting for “good news” instead of the bad news we are constantly overthrown by the news channels. The track starts of with Mateo’s guitar riffs, followed by the vocals, for a song with lyrics that seem so true, the song itself is so uplifting. The last track, “Conditional Love”, also the title of the album, is so upbeat and your classic pop-punk song, and what a way to end an album. “Everything’s gonna be alright/ everything’s gonna be fine”, short and simple with some out-of-this-world fast-paced drumming, and guitar riffs and nonetheless, the bass in this song shines through, ending the song with beautiful simple notes on the guitar and the final words sung “One day this pain will just be memory /’cause I know, everything is going to be alright”. And with that, Sarchasm bows out.

For twelve years, Sarchasm has been making extremely relatable music and sometimes, seeing a band like this go on “indefinite hiatus” can be rough. But at least they gave us one last album to cling to and for that, we sincerely thank them!

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DS Album Review: The Bouncing Souls – “Ten Stories High”

Dropping the needle on a new Bouncing Souls record is like feeling the warm embrace of an old friend. That’s especially true with the New Jersey punk vets’ latest LP Ten Stories High. The album welcomes you in with open arms, as frontman Greg Attonito delivers the opening lines to the uplifting title track: “Ten […]

Dropping the needle on a new Bouncing Souls record is like feeling the warm embrace of an old friend. That’s especially true with the New Jersey punk vets’ latest LP Ten Stories High. The album welcomes you in with open arms, as frontman Greg Attonito delivers the opening lines to the uplifting title track: “Ten stories high… Words in the sky… Every day we live to grow… Life is all we really own… Ten stories high”. This is as good an introduction as any in the Souls’ expansive discography, going toe-to-toe with fan favorites like “That Song” and “Apartment 5F“.

Without hesitation, the band kicks things up a notch with “Back to Better” and “Another Night In Denver”, two blazing fast punk anthems that sound like they could have been lifted straight out of a classic Souls record. Bryan Kienlen continues to cement his legacy as one of punk rock’s all time great bassists, delivering an onslaught of his signature bouncy, rumbling basslines. “True Believer Radio” provides a healthy dose of nostalgia, calling back to perhaps the band’s most iconic song, while still having what it takes to stand on its own as a modern classic. I can definitely see this one becoming a fixture in the Souls’ live setlists for years to come.

And because it wouldn’t be a Bouncing Souls album without a few good love songs, “Shannon’s Song” and “Andy and Jackie” mark the halfway point of the record. There’s no debating that these Jersey boys are among the best in the game when it comes to writing sappy love songs, but if I had to pick favorites on Ten Stories High, these more mid-tempo tracks would likely find themselves on the chopping block. “Shannon’s Song” has a bit of a “Simple Man” feel at times and is definitely the more high energy of the two songs.

Track #7 “Vin and Casey” rights the ship and picks up the pace once again. Greg says this song was inspired by the heartbreaking story a fan told him about their friends, Vin and Casey: “They took them to their first show, which we were playing, but shortly after that both of them actually passed away. And ever since then they’ve been going to Bouncing Souls shows to sort of keep that connection. It was just this really tragic but also beautiful story.” 7Seconds frontman Kevin Seconds provides vocals on the song’s second verse, and overall, this is an expectedly heartfelt tribute from a band that’s always made it a point to honor their fans.

The album marches forward with another feel-good track in “Magnus Air Organ”, before rolling into the hard-charging “To Be Human”. Both songs sport the big choruses the Souls are known for, but there’s a stark contrast in their tonality. The latter has an almost Hard Rock-like feel, and while it’s a little different from the band’s standard fare, I think they pull it off pretty damn well.

Rounding out Ten Stories High is “Higher Ground”. This is pure, unadulterated, classic Bouncing Souls. Listening to this song when it was premiered as one of the album’s first two singles took me back in time to the first time I heard the Souls. This track instantly clicked with me, and as cliché as it may sound, blasting “Higher Ground” on my morning commute on a gloomy Florida morning brought more than a few tears to my eye. The title track got me amped on this record, but this song was what really sold me on Ten Stories High. Everything from Greg’s tender delivery of the sentimental lyrics to The Pete’s one-note guitar lead during the first verse is quintessential Bouncing Souls. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting conclusion to this album.

The Bouncing Souls are back, folks! This is their best record in 20 years.

I give Ten Stories High 4.5/5 Stars

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DS Band Spotlight: Houseghost continues making waves with sophomore album “Another Realm”

Dayton, Ohio’s Houseghost made waves in 2020 when Rad Girlfriend Records released their self-titled debut LP at the height of the pandemic. On their new album Another Realm, the band fronted by the brother-sister duo of Nick and Kayla Hamby delivers more lo-fi pop-punk with thematic horror punk lyrics. They call it “spooky punk”, and […]

Dayton, Ohio’s Houseghost made waves in 2020 when Rad Girlfriend Records released their self-titled debut LP at the height of the pandemic. On their new album Another Realm, the band fronted by the brother-sister duo of Nick and Kayla Hamby delivers more lo-fi pop-punk with thematic horror punk lyrics. They call it “spooky punk”, and I think that’s a fitting description.

The whole record is great (it probably would have been on my “Best of 2022” list if I hadn’t already made it lol). If I had to choose a few standout songs, I’d go with “Heart Up”, “Pretty Red”, “Nameless”, and the Lillingtons-esque “Night in the Woods”.

If these guys aren’t already on your radar, I highly recommend giving Another Realm a listen below. And if you’d like to support Houseghost, you can do so by grabbing a digital copy of the album here (I’d recommend picking it up on vinyl, but it’s sold out!).

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