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DS Staff Picks – Best Albums of 2014 (griffintainment)

I’m not going to lie to you. 2014 was a bit of a downer year for music as well as movies. In both categories, it wasn’t easy to scrape together ten shining examples of excellence in entertainment. Which isn’t to say the ten on this list are less than stellar in my own opinion. But with the exception of the first few spots, I wasn’t blown away by much of what the world of punk and quasi-punk had to offer this year. I can only hope that means that old man punk rock has been saving all his gems for 2015.

Below are my top ten picks for the best punk (and punk-ish) releases of 2014.

Fat Wreck Chords releases mini-documentary following Lagwagon and The Swingin’ Utters

Fat Wreck Chords has just released a “mini-documentary” made by Raw Cut Media about Lagwagon and The Swingin’ Utters. The documentary catches up with the legendary bands over the course of three days while on tour in Canada and captures what life is like on the road for the two band while also giving a glimpse into the making of Lagwagon’s Hang and the Swingin’ Utters’ Fistful Of Hollow. You can check it out below.

Lagwagon have been touring in support of Hang, released October 28th via Fat Wreck Chords. The Utters, meanwhile, have been touring in support of Fistful of Hollow, released November 11th on the same label. Dying Scene was at the Boston show: check out our photos here, and read our recent interview with Lagwagon’s Joey Cape here while you’re at it.

New Video: Lagwagon and Swingin’ Utters post tour documentary teaser

As faithful readers of Dying Scene are no doubt aware, Lagwagon and the Swingin’ Utters are just about to wrap up their recent US/Canadian tour. The kind folks at Raw Cut Media caught up with the legendary bands over the course of three days in the Great White North and filmed what’s sure to be a pretty compelling tour documentary. The official teaser video for that very documentary is now available: check it out below.

Lagwagon are touring in support of Hang, released October 28th on Fat Wreck Chords. The Utters, meanwhile, are touring in support of their latest, Fistful of Hollow, released November 11th on that same label. Dying Scene was at the Boston show: check out our photos here, and read our recent interview with Lagwagon’s Joey Cape here while you’re at it.

Dying Scene Photo Set: Lagwagon and Swingin’ Utters at Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA (12/3/14)

I’m not too proud to admit that when news broke a few months ago that Lagwagon and Swingin’ Utters were not only putting out new albums around the same time but teaming up for a tour surrounding those release, I had more than a momentary lapse into “16-year-old fanboy excitement mode.” You see, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. It may result in the permanent revocation of my punk card, but whatever; I’m 35 years old, it’s been a good run. Though Lagwagon and the Utters have been firmly entrenched on my short list of favorite punk bands, it somehow happened that prior to December 2014, I had never seen either band in concert. (Actually, that’s not necessarily 100% true: I was at Warped Tour 1997, but I’m pretty sure Lagwagon were playing opposite Suicide Machines or something, since I have absolutely no recollection of their set.) 

Anyway, it should probably go without saying that I had December 3rd circled on my calendar from the moment the tour was announced, as that was the day the two bands, alongside opener This Legend, wound their way to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall. As the day approached, however, I became a little tentative about the show. Not about going to it, but about how well it would be received. See, Boston is a bit of a finicky place to play sometimes, particularly for some of the stalwarts of the 1990s punk explosion crowd. So an all ages show on a Wednesday night in December didn’t necessarily give yours truly a case of the warm fuzzies.

It is more than worth mentioning that any trepidation on my part was wildly inappropriate, as the venue was at or near capacity, resulting in a sweaty, raucous show, particularly during Lagwagon’s headlining set. (In the interest of full disclosure, yours truly arrived from suburbia just as This Legend were finishing their set. Early shows make for many a show-opener missed.) Though the show was admittedly not without its technical difficulties, the general consensus is that the issues plagued the bands more than they did the crowd. No names are necessary, but I think we all know that there are numerous bands well in to their second or third (or fourth…) decades that continue to phone in performances night after night, essentially serving as almost unrecognizable shells of their former selves. It should be stated for the record that both the Utters and Lagwagon remain at-or-near the top of their live performance game, and both have put out some of the more highly-touted releases of their respective careers in the very recent past. The current wave of popular punk bands…if there is such a wave…should take notes (and with two-thirds of up-and-coming Boston punk band The Barroom Heroes in attendance, it seems that’s exactly what was happening).

Check out our photo set below. 

Album Review: Swingin’ Utters – “Fistful of Hollow”

Let’s get right to it.

‘Alice’ stumbles in like a madman crawling up your leg with a knife in his teeth, before the squall and feedback, the jungle thump of the drum toms make way and the madman plunges the knife into your abdomen. Announcing that, after their briefest break between record releases, the $wingin’ Utter$ are back and kicking off their new record with one of their heaviest songs in years. Hell of a way to burst through the doors.

‘Fistful of Hollow’ is nothing more than further proof that Darius Koski is one of this, or any other generation’s greatest songwriting penmen. Smooth, easy punk melodies gliding through poetic wordplay delivered by his own laid-back delivery. Title tracks should usually be one of the better songs on an album, but often aren’t. This one is.

‘Tell Them Told You So’ shows us why the Utter$ are one of the genre’s most interesting, exciting and satisfying bands. Constantly striving for new sounds and new fitting the band with new ideas, this track is unlike anything they’ve done before. All the while sounding resolutely like the $wingin’ Utter$ we know and love. A simple guitar riff which leads Johnny Bonnel’s own funky vocal delivery and lyrical wordplay through quasi hip hop verses and indie pop sensibilities in the chorus. My favourite song on the record, incredibly fun.

‘From the Towers to the Tenements’ is full chested straight ahead punk rock greatness. Street level tales of life on the streets with a fistful of key changes and a simple energy that will tap toes. End of story.

‘Napalm South’ see’s the boys in the band in (their alter ego’s) Filthy Thieving Bastards territory. Dance floor punk rock Americana with waltzing bass lines, snare rim clicks and hand claps aplenty.

‘More or Less Moral’. More toe tapping and increases in heart rates as the band rips through the powerful verses to get us to the impossibly catchy chorus and the nautical stomp of the bridge. My only complaint is that it’s over too soon. Light on duration but heavy on the hook.

‘I’m Not Coming Home’ sounds the most like the Utter$ of the past couple albums. Which isn’t a complaint. New ground is fun, but sometimes the greatest comfort is in familiarity. A nice dichotomy to the song’s title then.

‘Spanish’. ‘Spanish’ is definitely newer territory. Incredibly catchy, like the rest of the album, with a moaning guitar and lyrical playfulness. It’s a cool song that’s both perfect for the album while managing to stand out. It even devolves, strangely, wonderfully, into stringed accompaniment on the outro.

‘Tibetan Book of the Damned’ is a gritty view of the apocalypse set against the country grind of musical cross reference these guys are just so damned good at. Again, it’s over much too soon.

But not as soon as ‘Agonist.’ The just over one minute wonder of a song which sports arguably the catchiest chorus on the record. This one will ignite the pits and at $wingin’ shows for years to come.

‘We Are Your Garbage’ is some of that homespun Californian self deprecation these boys are so fond of highlighting on every record. You won’t find a more humble group of guys than the guys in $wingin’ Utter$, but on songs like ‘We Are Your Garbage’ and ‘Poorly Formed’ from their last record, they take it a step further. Of course, all of it with a tongue in cheek sensibility. I hope.

‘Tonight’s Moons’ and ‘No Talking’ are Ramones-y rippers that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Juvenile Product of the Working Class.’

While ‘Unaffected’ is a pretty punk poem and a song I actually found quite moving, both lyrically and musically.

Finally, ‘End of the Weak’ (not a typo), is a song that is the musical equivalent of laying on a grassy knoll and watching the clouds drift by overhead. A song of quiet contemplation and restrained resolution with (I believe) banjo, xylophone, violin and a bass guitar which manages at times to sound like jug, as your guides. A beautiful song. It would be hard to imagine a more perfect ending to this record.

Fistful of Hollow (out on Fat Wreck Chords) sees the $wingin’ Utter$ dancing on the sharpest edge of a creative peak that has produced three records in just over three years. As a collaborative effort, this is one of the band’s most involved recordings, with Darius, Johnny, bassist Miles Peck and guitarist Jack Dalrymple all contributing to what is, in my opinion, one of the band’s best record’s thus far. All killer, no filler (right Sum-41?)

I’m jumping the gun about six weeks here, but screw it: Fistful of Hollow is the best record of 2014.





DS Photo Gallery: Workin’ Stiffs and Downtown Struts at ‘Rock The Ship’ after-party with sepcial guests Swingin’ Utters and Cock Sparrer

The haggard, drunken, sweaty crowd picked themselves up from their bootstraps after Cock Sparrer finished out the main event, and stumbled down the street to Bottom of The Hill, where local band Workin’ Stiffs and Chicago-based Downtown Struts were preparing to round the night out with help from some special guests who had just been announced as Swingin’ Utters.

The night was not over, in fact there was much more music to be played, drinks to be had, and dancing to be swung. The crowd took a little time to get going, but the energy was definitely in full-swing by the time the Struts took over. Then something happened. It was like a paralysis fell over everyone as Johnny, Jack, Darius, and crew took the stage. Nothing the raucous group did got the crowd moving. It was weighing on Johnny and it was unfortunate to see. I took my shots and tried to get things going, but to no avail. In the process I spilled someone’s beer so now the dance floor was wet and full of shards of glass (I ended up running into the spill victim at The Adicts‘ show later that week…during “Who Spilt My Beer?”). Swingin’ Utters insisted that they were not the special guest, and to keep waiting for the main event, but there was an air of sarcasm and disdain in his voice. It was at that point that a Pirate informed me of an informal Cock Sparrer set to follow the Utters.

Cock Sparrer twice in one night?? Amazing! This latter performance was much more saturated with booze and smiles and as the band took the stage to a half-empty venue, I knew I was in for an intimate treat. The band had no set list and was willing to play anything they hadn’t played earlier in the night, with the exception of “Out on an Island”, which after many years seeing Sparrer, I have yet to see be performed live. I was able to get a shout out for “Bird Trouble” which was incredible. The inebriated Sparrer crew invited friends on stage to help with vocal duties – including Bryan from Bouncing Souls, Darrel from Harrington Saints/Suede Razors, and Ben from Downtown Struts to name a few. The night came to an end with a heartfelt thank you from Mr. McFaull to son-in-law Mr. Mueller. Guitarist Mick Beaufoy finished the set with a little stage-dive to crowd-surf combo all the way to the bar! Great night and great end to an unforgettable weekend.

Check out shots from all of the after-party performances below.

Thanks again to all the Pirates Press crew for everything!

Swingin’ Utters streaming entire new album – “Fistful Of Hollow”

San Francisco punk veterans Swingin’ Utters are now streaming their new album, Fistful Of Hollow, over on Pandora (apparently that’s the big thing lately). Check it out right here.

The album is due out next week (November 11th) on Fat Wreck Chords. You can preorder it on CD/vinyl/digital over here.

In two days (November 6th) Swingin’ Utters will also be taking off on a North American tour with Lagwagon and This Legend (ft. former Yellowcard members Longineu Parsons and Ben Harper).

Swingin’ Utters’ last full-length was Poorly Formed, which came out last year, also on Fat Wreck Chords.

Swingin’ Utters stream new song “I’m Not Coming Home”

San Francisco punk veterans Swingin’ Utters are streaming a new song titled “I’m Not Coming Home,” and you can give it a listen below. Guitarist Darius Koski had this to say about the track:

“The inspiration for this song comes from the Ramones, who I ripped off, entirely and probably pretty obviously. I basically wrote ‘Carbona not glue’, realized what I did, and just figured I might as well write a Ramones style song, just not completely rip them off like I did originally. I think it fits on the record just like everything we do somehow fits on each of our records, and that it’s of a different style than some of the other songs… Kind of, oh, I don’t know, like the Ramones?”

Swingin’ Utters’ new album Fistful of Hollow is set to be released on November 11th through Fat Wreck Chords. The band will also be embarking on a North American tour with Lagwagon and This Legend (ft. former Yellowcard members Longineu Parsons and Ben Harper) early next month.

Dead To Me reunite with Jack Dalrymple (Swingin Utters), plan new full-length

Well here’s something I didn’t expect to write today…

According to a series of posts on their official Twitter feed, San Francisco’s Dead To Me have apparently reunited with original member Jack Dalrymple (also of Swingin’ Utters and One Man Army fame). They’ll move forward as a five-piece, with Dalrymple sharing vocal and guitar-playing duties, and will record a brand new album, evidently named American Son of Cholo early next year. As you may recall, Dalrymple left Dead To Me after 2008’s Little Brother EP. Stay tuned for info, kids!

Dead To Me’s album Moscow Penny Ante was released in October 2011 via Fat Wreck Chords. The Utters, of course, have a new album titled Fistful Of Hollow due out November 11th on Fat Wreck.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes to co-headline December UK tour with The Skints

“This one’s a cover” punk supergroup Me First And The Gimme Gimmes will be co-headlining the Jägermeister UK Music Tour in December with East London, reggae infused up-and-comers, The Skints. Check out the dates and locations of the tour stops below.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ latest album Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! was released on May 13th, 2014 through Fat Wreck Chords.

Swingin’ Utters premiere title track off upcoming album “Fistful Of Hollow”

San Francisco punk group Swingin’ Utters have just premiered the title track off their upcoming album “Fistful Of Hollow.”

You can check it out below.

The album is due out on November 11th via Fat Wreck Chords.

Lagwagon announce North American tour with Swingin’ Utters & This Legend

To promote their long-awaited new album Hang!, California punk veterans Lagwagon will embark on a North AMerican tour in November and December with Swingin’ Utters and This Legend. All the dates and locations are below.

Hang! is due for release on October 28th via Fat Wreck Chords, and will be the band’s first studio album since 2005’s Resolve. Swingin Utters’ are also releasing a new album, titled Fistful of Hollow, on November 11th via Fat Wreck Chords.

Swingin’ Utters announce new album “Fistful of Hollow”

San Francisco punk group Swingin’ Utters have just announced that they will be releasing their latest album, Fistful of Hollow, on November 11th via Fat Wreck Chords.

On the upcoming release, band member Darius Koski commented:

I think we’ve made a “different” sounding record for us again, and that’s what we’ve been vying for from day one, so we’re going strong right now, full of ideas and just anxious to keep on with it!

We have no more information on the album itself other than it will synthesize classic punk rock with an “eclectic mix of sounds” and it will feature 15 tracks. We will keep you updated as more details come to light. You can view the artwork for the album above.

Swingin’ Utters finish recording new album

After a month of tracking with Chris Dugan at Oakland’s Jingle Town Studios (the same studio Green Day records at), California punk veterans Swingin’ Utters have finished recording their new full-length album!

We’ll be sure to keep you posted as more details on the album, which will serve as a follow-up to 2013’s Poorly Formed, come to light. The Utters’ latest release – a 7-inch entitled Stuck In A Circle – came out last November on Fat Wreck Chords.

Swingin’ Utters announce California tour dates

Swingin’ Utters have just announced a few California shows in April and May. Each of these shows will feature a classic punk band as an opener. You can check out the dates and locations of their tour below.

The groups’s latest album was Here, Under Protest, which was released in 2011 via Fat Wreck Chords.