Dutch punk trio Antillectual have released a new single. “Fever” is the second track to be released from a session recorded at Tim van Doorn’s Big Dog Recordings in Antwerp, Belgium.
You can have a listen – and see upcoming dates – below.
The Interrupters brought the tail end of their headline tour in support of their most recent album, Fight The Good Fight, through Boston early last week. It was landmark night for a few reasons, not the least of which was brought on by the constant upward trajectory of the headline act over the better part of the last half-decade. You see, the festivities took place at a venue called Big Night Live. When the show was initially announced, legions of local fans immediately took to the comment sections of their social media page of choice to ask the same question: “What the hell is Big Night Live?” The answer, as it turns out, is a brand-spankin-new 1500-capacity venue located immediately in front of the TD Garden (home of the Bruins and Celtics) in what was, until very, very recently, the players’ parking lot (and, if you rewind the tape far enough, the still-not-100%-completed building that is home to Big Night Live occupies roughly the same footprint as the old, legendary Boston Garden).
A quick scroll through the upcoming calendar for Big Night Live reveals a lineup that includes the likes of Rick Ross and Lil Jon and Black Starr and something called Lil Dicky, but for this night, the doors opened to BNE’s first rock concert in the form of the four-piece (five if you include touring multi-instrumentalist Billy Kottage) first family of California ska/punk. The venue is longer than it is wide and, while it’s all one level, is tiered several times from the front to the back, meaning there aren’t many bad sight-lines in the middle third of the floor. Due to a handful of behemoth support girders, however, the same can’t be said for the far left and right wings. Still, everything was new and sparkling clean (oh, and the bathroom had one of those dudes that hands you a paper towel, which is a weird thing at a punk rock show), and the light show was a non-stop assault on the senses, perhaps better suited for the band’s 2020 run of stadium shows supporting Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer.
From a sound perspective, this may far and away been the best I’ve heard The Interrupters sound over the course of the half-dozen shows I’ve taken in over the last few years. There’s a reason the band’s trajectory has continued in a seemingly unstoppable upward direction. Their energy and positivity are infectious, with every song, whether it be their own anthems like “By My Side” or “A Friend Like Me” or “She’s Kerosene” or their scalding-hot covers of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” or Berlin’s “The Metro” becoming a sing-along dance party of its very own. Brothers Kevin (guitar) and Justin (bass) Bivona somehow manage to find the time to contribute backing vocals in spite of non-stop trading sides of the stage. The force of nature that is frontwoman Aimee Interrupter spent probably as much time at the barricade and leaning into the crowd (and, at one point, circumnavigating the entire cavernous venue, gold-covered wireless mic in tow) as she did singing and dancing from stage, her voice sounding as strong and crystal-clear as ever. Jesse Bivona even took a couple minutes to blaze through a part-tribal groove, part-Neil Peart drum solo, the likes of which are few and far between at a punk show. As it turns out, maybe The Interrupters were the perfect band to break in what will, in all likelihood, be more of a dance club than a rock hall.
Support on this run came from everyone’s favorite English sea shanty singalongers, Skinny Lister. The six-piece are another band that’ve been on a slow, steady upward path over the past half-dozen-or-so years on this side of the Atlantic. Much like The Interrupters, Skinny Lister are a constant ball of collective family energy centered around a dynamic frontwoman, Lorna Thomas. And while there might not be a flagon full of rum shared amongst the band’s members this time out – Thomas and her husband, lead vocalist/guitarist Dan Heptinstall are expecting in the new year! – there’s still more than enough good-time energy to go around. The packed house in attendance were willing participants in the start-to-finish singalong festivities.
Kicking things off on this run – and so technically the first band to officially play Big Night Live (Steve Aoki technically kicked things off the night before but that’s different) were Sharp/Shock. The LA-by-way-of-UK – or is it UK-by-way-of-LA, I always forget how that works – trio are tight and punch and melodic as hell. To my knowledge, it was their first Boston-area show, and a solid number of people showed up early enough to take in their crisp melodies, even singing along to tracks like “I Don’t Want To Be A Millionaire” and “Troublemaker.” As I’ve mentioned before, Boston can be a little fickle when it comes to newcomers and to punk rock bands of a certain style, so this was a super welcome sight!
Check out our full photo gallery below! As I mentioned above, it was mostly fog machines and swirling, strobe lights, making a tough row to hoe for a rank amateur like yours truly. Still…enjoy!
Sometime in the unknown, but assumably not too far away, future German pop-punk act Between Bodies will release their debut EP on KROD Records. No whet the appetites of would-be fans the band has created a music video for a song off the release titled “Fire Alarm,” and I must say it has certainly worked on me. Dynamic, fresh, slightly emo-ish, and just… good. These guys have successfully landed on my radar. Let them do the same for you by checking out the music video below.
The last time Off With Their Heads (OWTH) released new music was their 2013 album Home. After seeing the band support Against Me! In Melbourne and having never listened to them before, I gave Home a listen as soon as it was released and almost instantly OWTH became my favourite band. Over the past 6 years a lot as happened for OWTH and their lead singer Ryan Young; a nervous breakdown, constant touring, the successful Anxious & Angry Podcast – morphing into a record label, online store and screen printing business – and an acoustic album in 2016. Similarly, a lot has happened for me; I stopped drinking heavily, graduated university, got a good job, fell in love and got married and don’t need the music of OWTH in the same way I used to. That said, it’s been a long, long wait for the diehard fans of OWTH, but finally – after 6 years – there is a new album “Be Good”.
The album artwork is brighter than their older music, featuring a scene of women in 1940’s style dresses, enjoying the sun on a beach, while the smoke stack of a power plant looms over them in the background. The first pressing vinyl is released in “Pollution” or “Blue Sky” colour-ways and it feels like a choose your own adventure. Interestingly the Blue Sky vinyl sold out first, giving an indication of optimism in the community while I had to remain true to the reason I love OWTH; the honesty, raw pain and helplessness they sing with – buying the pollution vinyl. As soon as the opening track plays it becomes apparent that this album is not a positive and is not a choose your own adventure, it is filled with the same emotion and hurt as all OWTH work.
The opening track, titled “Disappear”, is the most different OWTH song that I can recall. It starts with raw vocals by Ryan backed with only very minor guitar, building slightly from the 30 second mark before Ryan repeats the opening lyrics 1 minute in this time screaming, “I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS FROM THE START” and from then the song is recognizably OWTH. As “Disappear” comes to an end, it flows seamlessly into the title track “Be Good” indicating there is a definite and intended flow to this album; all the more reason to listen to it on vinyl. “Be Good” opens with The Arrivals’ style drum rolls, building up to even more screaming by Ryan as he declares “I can’t take anymore, I just want out RIGHT NOW”. As I write this review I’m reading the lyrics to “Be Good” for the first time and as I hear Ryan sing the words that I’m reading I get goosebumps. For how much better Ryan has been doing since the release of “Home”, this song describes the intense toll that so many years of severe depression and anxiety have taken on his mental health. It is a song about doing all you can to be good and make a positive impact, but it is also a song about being exhausted and destroyed from years of mental illness; “I had assumed I would have been gone by now – but the ship has weathered the storm – and the feeling of defeat that lies underneath is still alive and on it’s course – I’m destroyed”.
Half way through the album, at “Take Me Away” the album has returned to the softer and quieter sound that was present on “Disappear”. This time the softer sound hangs around for about half the song, on and off, as Ryan sings about needing space to figure things out; I’m speculating here but it feels like it is about the breakdown that led to the start of the Anxious & Angry Podcast and getting proper help for his mental health issues. Up next is “Tear Me Apart” and while the song naming convention is similar, there is real flow between the two songs. While “Take Me Away” is an introspective look at how Ryan felt at a particular point in time, “Tear Me Apart” is welcoming external criticism of his behaviours, acknowledging he deserved them at the time. Doubling down on my speculation, assuming I was correct about “Take Me Away”, this song would seem to about the aftermath of his breakdown and deserving being torn apart by his bandmates and girlfriend.
The 8th song “Let It All” is a return to the OWTH sound from their 2007 album “All Things Move Toward Their End” – I think this is caused by the distorted recording sound along with the return to a more melodic sound. I’m not sure what it is about this song but it is probably the funnest song on the album to listen to, there’s something about the chorus “inside for far too long, pulling my strings – singing my songs” which is extremely enjoyable to listen to and sing along to. The second last song, “Locking Eyes” is the most consistently slow and quiet song on the album. It is a song of loss, of losing someone who kept coming back until they have been pushed one too many times. As Ryan screams “I know its all my fault – I know I deserve it all” over soft music, the pain in his voice is palpable. From here, the album fades into the final song, “Death”, which is the only instrumental that I know of OWTH ever doing as it carries on the sound of “Locking Eyes” for close to another 3 minutes as the album fades out.
Ryan and the rest of OWTH get full marks on growth and development on this album, it is clearly different to their other music and one could argue more mature. For me, it doesn’t quite live up to the urgency of “Home” but it could just be that I don’t need the album as much as I needed “Home” when I first heard it. “Be Good” is for OWTH fans new and old, but even more than that it is for Ryan and the band members, and nothing we as listeners can say about the album will change that this is what they needed at this time. It was well worth the 6 year wait, and I’ll be happy to wait for more.
Canadian skate punks Colorsfade have released the music video for “Obedience”, one of the songs off of their 2018 debut LP In Real Time. “Obedience,” though firmly rooted in classic pop punk structures and rhythm, also features guitar riffs that border on speed metal at times. In Real Time was the band’s first release since signing to Thousand Island Records.
The video, which consists of Colorsfade’s last tour across Quebec, was filmed and edited by Julien Vallée. Check it out below.
San Diego hardcore punk act, The Undertaking! are back following up their springtime EP release of Scavengers with a brand new lyric video for the single “About Ghosts”. “About Ghosts” was mastered by The Used’s Joey Bradford. It was appropriately released at Halloween time, and relays a woeful account of chasing ghosts, “and you realize you’re wasting space in your brain by thinking about it over and over,” relates the band. “Don’t waste time worrying about stupid people doing stupid things.” Solid advice accompanying a grudgeful and spooky premiere. Their next show is December 15 at Brick by Brick in San Diego with The Fall of Troy. Stream the new video for “About Ghosts” below. (more…)
While more often than not Los Angeles based indie rockers Historian come out with a deeper ethereal sound that can be more described as alt than punk, their new record Distractions really breaks that mold. The record, due out January 17 is much more raw and powerful than all of the group’s previous works and acts as somewhat of the blow-off for all the steam they have been building up while crafting 3 records in the year 2019.
“Witch Hazel” is the records lead single and its nasty, fuzz-laden, guitar-heavy tune that takes a sharp turn away from everything the band has done in the past. It should be fun to see what the group comes out with next in the months leading up to the record’s release.
Developing a Theory of Integrity was one of my favorite releases back in 2016. Back then, they were on Red Scare—one in a long line of bands that helped carve out the label’s reputation as having the best ear for signings in the game. Now, three years later, MakeWar has come a long way. In the interim, I had the pleasure of seeing them play twice—and two times I got a look into their continued development, and subsequent dominance, within the world of melodic punk. Once at Fest: where they played one of the best sets of the weekend (complete with a blow-up orca bouncing around the moshpit—you know, the one from the album cover). People were into it; loving it, eating it up. This was a crowd of fans who knew every word, who had already adopted their latest release into their all-time favorites. MakeWar had made good on everything their song’s promised. The second time I saw them, they were on the bill of a mega tour, opening for Lagwagon and Face to Face. Of course, this was writing on the wall, writing I should’ve read. MakeWar was poised to release on Fat Wreck Chords, joining the talented masses that got their start on Red Scare and graduated to the upper echelon of modern punk.
If any band can do it, it’s MakeWar. This is a band that thrives on the one X-factor that can make or break a group: songwriting. Anyone who’s heard Developing a Theory of Integrity knows that these guys have chops to spare when it comes to writing great songs. They match these catchy anthems with something akin to early Against Me! arrangements, stabbing strums and a penchant for gang vocals; a tightly wound three-piece with fantastic songs—what’s not to love?
Get it Together is a continuation of all the most important aspects of MakeWar. Their Latin American identity is put front and center, with two songs in Spanish sung by bassist Edwin. The first of them, “No Mas,” is a melodic hardcore rager with a staccato machine-gun vocal rhythm that rattles off Spanish with an ear-pleasing fluidity. This thread is also continued by “Hands on the Tyrant,” one of the most striking and personal songs on the album, directly addressing singer Jose Prieto’s native Venezuela. Both these songs and others feel like a more active engagement with their identity than the anthems on their last record, while still supplying hooks aplenty. For my money, perspective is one of the most important attributes of great songwriting, and here, it’s put front and center.
The heart-on-the-sleeve introspection, however, is still one of the band’s most powerful motors, brought forth into the Fat Wreck era by album opener “Hopeless Dreamer.” The song is propelled by chugging guitars and some killer backing vocals. The lyrics range from aspirational to slice-of-life conversational (“Is it cool if I close my eyes just for a bit?”); just as ever, they’re relatable and hard-hitting, the sort of stuff you can feel falling off your tongue from the first time you hear it.
MakeWar has always had a loud, brash, aspirational center indebted to the best of punk’s rhetoric. And in a world where it’s harder than ever to be an artist, this is not only charming, but admirable. “Oh, Brother” is an ode to a life lived in the punk scene, told as an all too familiar story. “Welcome to the world of punk, freaks and geeks and silly drugs,” begins the chorus. It’s a rallying cry, an ode to playing music in spite of all the constructs that make it near impossible. The bridge is perhaps one of the most emotionally powerful I’ve heard in recent years, a declaration to its listeners to embrace the grind, to create in endless defiance.
“Sails” matches this discontent with a fantasy of leaving the nine-to-five to sail around the world (in a parallel to “Sallie” from Developing a Theory of Integrity). It’s one of the best songs on the album, undoubtedly one of the catchiest. While the subject matter has been tread before, the tone is more ethereal, feeling like a daydream brought to life, something that the lighter guitars on this album bring to a more fully realized cohesion.
In the case of “Sails,” the lighter sounds on Get it Together help sell the content of the song. But other times, it feels like perfunctory growth. MakeWar has an album full of great songs, and a lot of them will come to define the band, I truly believe that. But, I can’t help but feel their sound was more impactful on their last outing. Before, they had that jittery, crunchy intensity that really fed into that sing-your-lungs-out, emotional punk aesthetic. Here, the goods still survive with a slicker package, but I’m often left with the question: why? There’s more treble, there’s more reverb, and sometimes a spare effects pedal is thrown into the mix—but for the most part, it doesn’t do much to develop the band’s sound in any notable way. It feels like a new coat of paint for the sake of painting, an affectation rooted more in their move to Fat Wreck than in the band’s core identity. Get it Together is a great album, but sonically, it sounds like a band developing in the most usual way.
Luckily, while the production seldom adds much, it doesn’t take away much either, leaving me only with a couple of gripes to go with a handful of new favorite songs. In my mind, it’s a fair trade. Get it Together is MakeWar doing everything they did great on the last album, and now doing it better. What’s added to the mix this time is the band’s political content, which is exciting and illuminating across the board. They’ve embraced themselves to a greater degree than ever, and in that, they’ve codified their identity as artists and musicians.