Remember that time your dad went to the grocery store to get milk and never came back? That’s the exact heartbreak us skate punk fans have felt since Cigar released Speed is Relative 23 years ago and disappeared into the ether shortly thereafter. Good news! Dad’s back, and he got the milk! Or, in this […]
Remember that time your dad went to the grocery store to get milk and never came back? That’s the exact heartbreak us skate punk fans have felt since Cigarreleased Speed is Relative 23 years ago and disappeared into the ether shortly thereafter. Good news! Dad’s back, and he got the milk! Or, in this case, Cigar’s back and they’ve got an awesome new record.
The wait was long, but it was worth it. With their Fat Wreck Chords debut The Visitor, Cigar picks up right where they left off on Speed is Relative. This record delivers more of the crazy fast, ultra melodic punk that earned the band’s 1999 debut its deserved status as a cult classic among skate punk diehards. Actually, I think this record might even be faster than the first one! Yes, two decades have passed, but these guys have defeated Father Time. They still have the same youthful energy that originally drew me to their music; I’m confident it will win many new listeners over as well.
Cigar wastes no time getting out of the gate, as “These Chances” kicks off The Visitor at a breakneck pace, and immediately rolls into the equally speedy “Legacy of the 7 Piles”. Right off the bat, drummer Jon Sortland is firing off like a fucking machine gun on drums; seriously, this guy is a lunatic. New bassist Jonathan Hischke shows off his chops with riffs that will make your fingers bleed just listening to them. Frontman Rami Krayem turns in a great performance once again, with some creative guitar parts and equally impressive vocal range.
I loved the album’s lead single “We Used To” when I first heard it a few months ago, and that’s still the case. This song has “instant classic” written all over it. But when trying to pick a favorite track, it’s a complete toss up for me. There are no stinkers to be found here. “Gone Wrong”, “Classic You”, “Forget About Me”, and basically everything else on this record is on par with the fan favorites of Speed is Relative.
The Visitor‘s closing track “Knocked Down” is introduced with an a cappella intro, and for a brief moment in time, you get the impression that Cigar might actually slow down. But this glimpse into a seemingly softer side of the band is short-lived. They quickly hit the gas, opening up the circle pit one more time with a rapid fire skate punk anthem to rival “Mr. Hurtado”.If you like punk rock fast enough to set a land speed record, The Visitor is the record for you. With any luck, Cigar won’t keep us waiting another 23 years for the next one!
Record Store Day have published their list for their Black Friday event. It will take place November 25, 2022 at participating independent record stores. Releases from David Bowie, Goldfinger, The Gun Club, Iggy Pop, Motorhead, Run The Jewels, Masked Intruder, Joe Strummer, and many more are on the list. Check out the list in full right here.
L. A. Edwards for all intents and purposes is a band of brothers as well as the name of lead singer and main writer in the band. Led by Luke Andrew Edwards, the band which was originally intended to be a solo project has morphed into a family affair with his older brother Jay and […]
L. A. Edwards for all intents and purposes is a band of brothers as well as the name of lead singer and main writer in the band. Led by Luke Andrew Edwards, the band which was originally intended to be a solo project has morphed into a family affair with his older brother Jay and younger brother Jerry both having joined Luke as full-time members. Having been born and raised in southern California, and subsequently transplanted to Nashville, LA’s first two LP’s (2018’s True Blue and 2020’s Blessings From Home) were very Laurel-Canyon-meets-East-Nashville in their sound, easy going and tranquil country/folk-rock which was reminiscent of both Jackson Browne as well as the band Dawes in its style as well as sound.
With Out Of The Heart Of Darkness, LA Edwards’ new release out January 6th on Bitchin’ Music Group, the band has put together a very different kind of album with a distinctly more diverse and harder-edged sound. The album was recorded largely at Luke’s Seatle, WA home studio during the first half of 2022. Work on the album was temporarily put on hold while the band did some extensive touring with both Lucero and then The White Buffalo. Returning to the studio in September, the 3 brothers along with studio engineer, Hunter Rath finished up the recordings for the album. Lookng for a harder, more auster sound to compliment the voluminous material, the band brought in Grammy Award winner, Tom Lord-Alge to work on post production and mixing.
The album opens up with a short snippet of a young boy describing, as near as I can tell a near-death drowning experience. It is certainly a soundbite that might have come directly from Joseph Conrad’s epic novel from which I have to imagine Edwards co-opted the album’s moniker. Following this “Prelude” we get the album’s first actual song, a track called “Little Boy Blue,” which kicks off with a singular guitar riff, reminiscent of the opening of “Life In A Northern Town” from early the 80’s English folk-rock band Dream Acadamy. But before you have a chance to nestle into this gentle flow, you’re hit with a Springstonian power strum and there’s no looking back as the band pushes forward with what turns out to be a churning rock song replete with a majestic harmony-laden chorus which is just perfect.
The first single off of the album was released in early December and the first thing you will notice is that “Let It Out” is no soft country rocker. Right from the get-go of Luke’s 2,3,4,1,2,3 countdown, it becomes obvious that the Edwards boys are here to rock with this one. A jaunty, almost punkish number with top-heavy guitar backdrop, this song immediately brought some early Deer Tick to mind as I listened to the rhythmic guitar clapping along with LA’s huskier than in the past voice. The band got quite a marketing bonus when this one was picked up and included in the “The Dream Is Not Me,” episode in this year’s hottest TV show, Yellowstone.
The rocking continues a couple of songs later on the album with “Time To Go” which starts off with a distorted guitar line followed by what I’m sure will be an anthemic sing-along chorus before it builds and builds itself into a screeching guitar wall of sound, all while the words “is it now time to go?” is quietly harmonized in the background.
“Time To Go” is then followed by a somewhat mellower “Hi Rite Now!”, a country ditty that laments the appreciation for greener pastures so to speak. And even though compared to the previous track, “Hi…” seems to be mellower, it certainly is no power ballad by any stretch of the imagination.
“Peace Be With You” is the second to last song on the album and it starts off with a hard electric guitar strum leading into Luke’s beautiful vocals which remind me of my favorite (and unfortunately unknown outside of his native city of Little Rock) singers, Adam Faucett. And if you’re lucky enough to know Adam’s work, you will know that a comparison to him and his otherworldly voice is the utmost praise to which you can bestow on another singer.
All in all, L.A.Edwards, as one might expect from an album named after the book which spawned the movie “Apocalypse Now” takes on quite a journey with Out Of The Heart Of Darkness. The album is filled with human emotions which are all over the map and to perfectly augment these disparate emotions Luke, Jerry and Jay provide us with a musical and instrumental landscape which fits like a glove to the rollercoaster ride of feelings portrayed in this collection. While the songs by no means fit into any one easy, concise pigeon hole, they do work veritably seamlessly with one another. Be it Jay’s spooky keyboard work on “Already Gone” to the stoner protest of “Hi Rite Now!” to the beer-soaked barroom rock and roll of “Let It Out”, the songs on OOTHOD run the gamut yet fit together like distinctly shaped pieces of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.
The Real McKenzies are celebrating thirty years as a band with a brand new album, Songs of the Highlands, Songs of the Sea (Fat Wreck Chords). The album itself was preceded by the release of the single “Leave Her Johnny”, a traditional 19th-century sea shanty that has been performed by many folk acts over the […]
The Real McKenzies are celebrating thirty years as a band with a brand new album, Songs of the Highlands, Songs of the Sea (Fat Wreck Chords). The album itself was preceded by the release of the single “Leave Her Johnny”, a traditional 19th-century sea shanty that has been performed by many folk acts over the years, and a fitting example of what the album has in store.
Songs of the Highlands, Songs of the Sea is an album of 12 traditional shanties and folk tunes; the title really gives it away in that some are songs of the Scottish Highlands, and others are songs of sea fairing and the sailor’s life.
Time-honoured Scottish drums and bagpipes open the album, with distorted guitars soon joining in, setting out the classic Real McKenzies sound of Gaelic punk rock with a strong traditional folk feel. Foot stomping, fist pumping, hey! shouting, “Scotland the Brave” is one of the unofficial national anthems of Scotland and is as good an opener as you’d expect. I know if I were Paul McKenzie I would open every live show like this!
“A Red, Red Rose”, a poem by the famed Robert Burns, is one of several songs on this album penned by the legendary lyricist and voice of the true Scotsman; “Ye Jacobites By Name” and the stomping “My Heart is in the Highlands” are also penned by his hand. The expected Real McKenzies sound continues on through “The Green Hills of Tyrol” and the lead single “Leave Her Johnny” and “My Heart’s in the Highlands”.
These songs are legendary for a reason and were written to be performed. I can well imagine a live show, unexpectedly finding myself in the pit, singing my heart out for Scotland in much the same way I sing for Ireland with the Dropkick Murphys. It is important that these folk songs remain as folk songs; that is, songs for the people, to be performed by and for the people, interpreted as needed for the time and audience. While nationalism and pride in your home are often negative traits, these songs remind us that we can be proud without it being at the expense of others.
At this point, the album takes a step down for me. We’re halfway through, I’m fired up, I’m ready to rock and next we have “Sloop John B” performed with acoustic guitar. It’s perfectly good, but I don’t see what it offers above or beyond every other version (Beach Boys excepted). There’s nothing wrong with it, and perhaps those with more polished taste will appreciate the darker feel than the Californian Pop version, but I keep waiting for the electric guitars to kick in with a big fast chorus in the style of so many 90s punk covers. Maybe it would sit better, grouped with other slower songs?
“Drunken Sailor”, picks up where it should be going for me: fast, mean, the way a shanty should be delivered, with the pounding drums and distorted guitars, and shouted lyrics and the cold sea wind rattling the windows, fogged with the breath of a crowd of drunk sailors.
“The Bonnie Ship The Diamond” takes a more traditional folky sound, which is to be expected for the band, but isn’t really to my taste. The Real McKenzies have always felt more like a folk band that listen to punk rather than a punk band that listen to folk, and in that is the uniqueness of their sound. I fear I lean more toward the punk than the folk, so perhaps it is lost on me.
“Dead Mans Chest” caught me out, opening with the riff of “American Jesus” by Bad Religion, complete with pick slide into the first verse. It’s an interesting take on both songs, but the familiarity of the Bad Religion classic takes away from the familiar “yo hoho and a bottle of rum” lyrics for me. I honestly wondered if they had chucked in a Bad Religion cover, and although it is a classic in this scene, it’s not what most would consider a traditional anthem!
“Swansea Town” is sung by Brenna Red from the Last Gang, and it takes the song in a similar direction to “The Bonnie Ship The Diamond”, with winsome melodies and a feeling of sadness that carries the words through the song.
Closing track “Blow the Man Down” is another traditional shanty sounds like it was a lot of fun to record, but I’m not sure where its place on this album really is. Much as with “Sloop John B”, it is a faithful performance, but it doesn’t feel like the Real McKenzies have really made it their own in any way, and in part that sums up this album. In places it is a Real McKenzies album that just happens to be traditional songs rather than originals, but in part it is also the Real McKenzies playing some traditional songs in a traditional way. I am almost certain these songs would be incredible live, and since they are on tour in Europe from January 2023, I shall make the effort to get out and see them and confirm my suspicions!
I’m pretty excited about this one, gang. Jason Cruz and Howl are about to release their very long-awaited sophomore album, Wolves! The Strung Out frontman’s outlaw folk project are slated to release the record this spring on a new label known as Liars Club, a collaboration founded by the inimitable Amigo the Devil and indie […]
I’m pretty excited about this one, gang. Jason Cruz and Howl are about to release their very long-awaited sophomore album, Wolves! The Strung Out frontman’s outlaw folk project are slated to release the record this spring on a new label known as Liars Club, a collaboration founded by the inimitable Amigo the Devil and indie powerhouse Regime Music Group. Wolves will serve as the follow-up to the band’s debut record, Good Man’s Ruin, which somehow came out nine years ago (and has been in constant rotation in yours truly’s collection ever since).
What’s even better is that we get to debut the video for the lead single, “Good Hands”! Here’s what the band’s frontman, the one-and-only Jason Cruz, had to say about the track.
This track is definitely the most ‘polished’ song on the album. I actually threw it in the trash at one point, because I had re-wrote and tweaked it so many times. Eventually it turned out to be one of the best songs on the record.
Astute viewers will notice that Howl features a retooled lineup that now includes Cruz supported by Chad Kulengoky on lead guitar, Jason Nielson on bass and Kris Comeaux on drums. Here’s what Cruz had to say about the new record:
This record was born of loss. Before the pandemic, I had lost my best friend and bass player, Chris Stein, to cancer. It took me years to start writing a new Howl record again. This new record is a reflection of me not being afraid anymore. I’ve always tried to be that way when it comes to art and music, but with Wolves I felt more free than I ever had before and just embraced it. This album is a reminder nothing ever really dies; it just turns to something else. Sometimes pain can help fuel you creatively, and in turn, guide you out of the darkness. Wolves is a record of healing, taking chances, and a new beginning.
Check out the video for “Good Hands” below, and after you’ve given it a few spins with the volume way up, check out pre-order options here.
You can also stream the Liars Club reissue of Good Man’s Ruin down below if the spirit moves you (as well it should)!
Even though we weren’t up and running for most of the month of June, we still wanted to make sure we acknowledged PRIDE Month and what better way to do that than with the first ‘Post-Resurrection’ DS Exclusive Stream! This kick ass comp consists of LGBTQIA artists from across the musical spectrum and will be […]
Even though we weren’t up and running for most of the month of June, we still wanted to make sure we acknowledged PRIDE Month and what better way to do that than with the first ‘Post-Resurrection’ DS Exclusive Stream!
This kick ass comp consists of LGBTQIA artists from across the musical spectrum and will be the first in an ongoing series. Say-10 Records will be donating 50% of the profits from sales of the album to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
A digital version of the comp will be included with every transaction, with the mp3s available immediately after purchase instead of having to wait until 7/29 when it officially releases on all digital platforms. Preorder here!
Also worthy of note, all LP orders will come with a zine that has contributions from all of the artists. Some bands included lyrics, while others opted for something more political, and some just included a little about themselves. See one of the entries below. Cool!
There’s no field guide, road map, manual, blueprint for being a queer musician. You aren’t given any starter kit the first time you decide to play that first chord, connect in a barely air conditioned basement with some friends and try to start a “band.” No one tells you how to answer questions like, “Why don’t you sing like a girl?” or “Do you feel like it’s more economical these days to be a queer-fronted band?” (There’s also no lessons on how to apply your makeup in a dimly lit venue bathroom mirror half covered in band stickers from 1996, but that’s besides the point.) In spite of all that, there’s something pretty amazing about the process. Music has always been subtle, communal magick, creating a sound that helps someone else understand the shape and scope of how you’re feeling inside. It’s why the punk rock ethos and the queer experience have always been so interconnected – we need to know that we’re all out there asking these big questions, figuring ourselves out, picking ourselves up and telling each other that we’re not alone. Speaking from my own experiences with gender and sexuality, there’s always been this nebulous, twisted ball of space dust and frustration swirling in my chest, trying to figure out who it’s supposed to be. My guess is that some of you listening to this record understand that feeling. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s actually part of what makes you beautiful. So here we are, and here you are. This is a compilation of several queer musicians who have come together because music binds us, draws us together and lets us know we all feel these big frustrating, nebulous, wonderful questions. So, whether you’re starting a band, making art, speaking out, or just finding the courage to be who you are amidst the stupidity of a world that doesn’t feel shaped for you – consider this a little field guide. Or at least a message of encouragement: do things your way, always.
Have you heard the good news? Staten Island pop-punk veterans Goin’ Places have a new covers album coming out, and your friends at Dying Scene have an exclusive stream of one of the tracks! Well, it’s not actually new… it’s actually pretty old. But it’s new to you! We’ll let the band explain the situation […]
Have you heard the good news? Staten Island pop-punk veterans Goin’ Places have a new covers album coming out, and your friends at Dying Scene have an exclusive stream of one of the tracks! Well, it’s not actually new… it’s actually pretty old. But it’s new to you!
We’ll let the band explain the situation (they’re better with words than we are):
“Back in early 2002 we recorded our first album “Girl Songwriting 101”. After we left the studio we had several months of downtime while it was getting mixed, mastered and shopped to labels. So we did what any other band would do and said “let’s record another album”. We started rehearsing and soon after recorded an album called “Fingerboard Road”. It featured 18 songs by 4 guys from Liverpool (yes, THOSE 4 guys). We didn’t want two new albums out at the same time, so we decided to wait 6 months or so to release “Fingerboard Road”. Somehow 6 months turned into 20 years. The album sat on a shelf gathering dust and aside from a very limited digital release, never saw the light of day… until now.”
Check out Goin’ Places’ cover of “I Saw Her Standing There” below, and head over to Mom’s Basement Records‘ webstore on Friday, November 18th to grab your copy of Fingerboard Road, along with some of their other awesome pop-punk records.