When the keg’s run dry and the adrenaline starts to fade here’s a great album to wind things down a smidge while still keeping the punk vibes flowing. Salvation is the new full-length from Leeds folk punk Tim Loud and it was released last week on TNS Records. Give it a spin below.
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Friday, October 5, 2018 at 4:46 PM (PST) by Johnny X
Friday, October 5, 2018 at 11:00 AM (PST) by jaystone
So a funny thing happened last Friday night, and I know that’s a peculiar way to start a story that’s supposed to be a show review, but, well, here we are. The latter stages of Frank Turner‘s Herculean tour in support of his latest album, Be More Kind found their way to a Friday night stop at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Though it had been a few years since I’d been in the area, I’m a native of New Hampshire, and as is requisite when you’re a Granite Stater, I’ve spent many, many hours eating Blink’s Fry Doe and perusing the airbrush t-shirt shops up and down the strip at Hampton Beach. I’ve taken in a handful of shows at the Casino Ballroom in years past, though the last of those was a Sevendust/Drowning Pool/Stereomud show as a recent college graduate a week prior to 9/11, which is a statement that provides a lot more context than you might realize.
A lot, obviously, has changed since then. I’ve lived in Massachusetts for a decade-and-a-half with my wife of fifteen years (the night of this show marked our anniversary) and, more recently, with our just-about eleven-year-old daughter. The three of us headed to the Seacoast on this particular evening, and immediately upon reaching the top of the stairs inside the venue, the feeling of deja vu made its first appearance. This wasn’t a nu-metal show, and I wasn’t 21, and I was with my wife and my kid and yet, immediately everything started to feel familiar. Due to a bit of a snafu at the ticket window (also not the first time) the show had already started — Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs were 3/4 of the way through their first song — so I got into normal position in the photo pit and went to work and it kinda went away for a bit. I’d never experienced the Canadian sextet in person before, and they were a lot of fun. The spandex-and-sequin adorned Coffey led his denim-vested band of misfits through a high energy set that owed more than a little bit to T. Rex and would have been right at home on an arena stage several times the size at the 2000-capacity Casino Ballroom.
Bad Cop/Bad Cop were next up as the tour’s direct support, and as I’ve said many times on these pages, they’re one of my favorite bands for myriad reasons. When the California-based quartet put out their sophomore album, Warriors, in June of last year, it presented as one of the first albums to fire a direct shot across the bow of the newly-inaugurated Trump administration. It was powerful, angry, defiant, righteous, raw…everything a classic punk rock album should be. They’ve been boldly and continuously flying the flag since, and this set was no different. Pulling from both of their Fat Wreck studio full-lengths and their Boss Lady EP, the band’s set was not only well received by the Turner diehards in the crowd, it seemed especially fiery given the day’s breaking news surrounding the week-long postponement of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote in the US Senate in favor of what, it seems, was a sham investigation. It is frustrating that we’re still at a point where the foursome don’t have to look far and wide for new ways to be inspired and fired-up, but damnit we’re lucky to have them.
Frank Turner took the stage for his headline set and, though he was accompanied by his full band, the Sleeping Souls, the lights were low and Turner dove into the first notes of set-opener “Be More Kind” accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. It was a bit of a delicate other side of the coin to the firebrand BC/BC set that preceded it, that was an equally poignant rallying cry amidst these crazy times. The full band kicked into high gear on the set’s next track, “1933,” and I’m paraphrasing a bit, but there’s a line at the beginning of the song’s second verse that makes reference to the idea of surveying the landscape and thinking “we already did this.” As that line bounced around my head for a second while I was switching lenses in the photo pit, the deja vu came roaring back. In the song, that line has a negative connotation, drawing a direct parallel between the events going on in the West now and those that the Greatest Generation witnessed building in the pre-World War II lead-up. As it relates to this story and this show in particular, though, my brain twisted that line to a more positive context.
I’ve been privileged to shoot Turner and his supremely talented crew more than a few times in the last half-decade most recently at a date on the weeklong Boston run that closed out the first US leg of the Be More Kind tour. Though I’d never seen him play some of these specific songs and had certainly never done so at this venue, in this State, with these people, I was overwhelmed with a sense of familiarity that I’d never quite experienced before. Turner and his band have long been quintessential road warriors in every sense of that phrase, rather famously having played well over 2000 shows at this point in their respective careers. The “Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls” live show is inspiring not just in the message of the lyrics — if you’ve never heard “Be More Kind” or “Recovery” or “Get Better” or even “Four Little Words,” you can probably paint an accurate picture of their content based on title alone — but in how honest the unit are as performers. Each of the band’s five core members (yes, though the pictures don’t prove it, they were all present, but the lighting sucked worse than my self-taught photography skills) are the musical equivalent of the athlete who “leaves it all on the field every night.” The bulk of the night’s set – seven of a total of 23 songs – was culled from the band’s most recent release, but in typical Turner fashion, he dug WAY into the vault for a solo acoustic rendition of “Wisdom Teeth” and even FURTHER into the archives for a rather poignant take on “Nashville, Tennessee.” Though he’s from across the pond — “Olde Hampshire,” to be exact — Turner has become one of the most dependable and familiar lynchpins of the US music community, trying desperately to inspire the world around him to wake up and fight to keep this country from falling off an all-too-familiar cliff. If only we’d be able to stop having this same conversation again and again.
Anyway, head below to check out our full photo stream from the evening!
Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 6:41 PM (PST) by liathdavis
Portugal natives We Bless This Mess are now streaming their new album “Awareness Songs and Side Stories.”
The nine track release follows up their release of “Ocean” which hit the streets in September of last year.
Stream it below.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 10:42 AM (PST) by KCRaniero
Steady Hands, Philadelphia Americana/punk project of former Modern Baseball drummer Sean Huber, has announced the October 19, 2018 release of their debut, self-titled, full-length album, “Truth in Comedy.”
The record will be released via Lame-O Records. This will be the first musical release from Steady hands since the 2016 release of “Steady Hands-Live at Ortlieb’s.”
Pierre is now streaming the first single from the record, “Indifferent Belushi.” If you like sad songs that make you want to dance, you can check it out below.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 12:30 PM (PST) by The Torchbearer
Danish folk/acoustic-punk poet Stöj Snak is streaming his new EP, 1000 Daisies, which was released on September 19th.
You can give it a listen below.
Stöj Snak last released ScreamerSongwriter in June 2016.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 11:57 AM (PST) by Goldfinger
German folk-punks North Alone have recently had a tiny addition to the band in the form of lead singer Manuel North’s little son Milo being born. In honor of this amazing moment, North Alone has released the track “For Milo”.
I warn you if you’re a parent watching your kids grow up way too fast, this song will definitely bring on the mist. Seriously though, go check it out below.
North Alone is hot off the heels of releasing possibly the best album of the year, Next Stop, CA. If you enjoy sounds you’ll enjoy these guys, that is literally how awesome they are!
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 5:57 PM (PST) by Kelly McPunxy
Let it be known I am a big fan of Kyle Trocolla‘s work, I have every Two Fisted Law album and have seen TFL at least 8 times. When he came out with his solo album The Stranger in 2016 I thought it was one of the finest acoustic albums I have ever heard and this week I was totally stoked to catch up with him to chat about his most recent album The Moon USA.
Read what he had to say below.
Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 5:48 AM (PST) by Johnny X
I can’t classify Raleigh’s Thirsty Curses. Alt-Country? Folky-Americana? Garage-Punk? Indie-Rock (gasp!)? Your significant other that doesn’t appreciate your taste in punk music will probably like half this album. Great, but why are you reading about this band on Dying Scene, you’re rightfully asking. Because as soon as I start to think Thirsty Curses’ music might not qualify for Dying Scene, a pissed off, fast paced track with gang backed “whoah-ohs” comes out of nowhere and seems to pull them back into the realm of acceptable Dying Scene standards. As schizophrenic as their genre influences seems to be, the one common denominator is that I dig every single track I’m hearing. If you have trouble getting into anything outside your typical skate-punk or hardcore, this one won’t be for you. If you occasionally like to dabble in rock ‘n roll, folk, or God forbid, more contemporary indie rock like Modest Mouse or Mumford and Sons you might want to give this quirky album a spin below. I defy you not to get hooked by the track “Dimlit Cathedral.”
Monday, August 20, 2018 at 5:56 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
Rob Taxpayer is an artist’s artist. This is a man who continuously creates. Whether it be the many exciting, volatile, and ambitious records he’s made with The Taxpayers, or the accompanying novel to God Forgive These Bastards: Songs From the Forgotten Life of Henry Turner, Rob Taxpayer is constantly busy making something. He’s punk in the most classical sense—an individual with a developed perspective and DIY to the bone—following his muse in and out of the strict boundaries punk sets for itself, and redrawing the borders as he sees fit.
Rob’s latest project is the Song of the Week Club, in which he releases a new song every week. August 20th, today, is the anniversary of this insane, impressive project. To commemorate this event, we’re premiering the video for “Gary, Indiana”—a song about Janus, the Roman God of Change “taking Gary, Indiana into her car and carrying the city towards whatever new birth is coming for the post-industrial midwestern city.”
As an added bonus, Rob sat down with us to talk about the Song of the Week Club, songwriting, his new video, and everything else he’s doing. Check below to see the video and read what Rob has to say about all the cool stuff he’s working on these days.
Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 4:50 PM (PST) by Johnny X
If you somehow missed it, Chicago folk-punk artist Davey Dynamite digitally released one of the best punk albums of 2016 on Dying Scene Records (stream it or download “Holy Shit” for free here if you don’t believe me). Ever since the day I stumbled across that album in my tiny Brooklyn apartment I’ve been dying to see Davey’s live show and now, nearly 2 years later, he’s finally announced a decent run of tour dates extending all the way to the East Coast. Of course, now I live in Africa where where my chances of catching a Davey Dynamite show went from slim to none, which is why I need you readers to go in my stead so I can at least live it vicariously.
Find all the dates and locations here, and report back on your experience!
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 1:00 PM (PST) by The Torchbearer
Arizona’s AJJ are streaming a new album consisting of never-before-heard studio cuts, live favorites, songs previously only available on vinyl, and alternate takes of album highlights, all spanning the years of 2012-2016, The new album is called Ugly Spiral: Lost Works 2012-2016, and you can give it a listen below.
AJJ last released Back in the Jazz Coffin in August 2017.
Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM (PST) by forrestcook
Freaky deaky folk-punk band, The Manx, out of L.A., has just released a 25-track follow up of remixes and teasers to 2015’s Voyage in Bad Taste.
Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland, Buzz Osborne of The Melvins, JR Slayer of Blood Brothers fame, and Ryan Kattner of Man Man all make cameos on “Mystery Skum and the Odessey of Goo”, just to give you a small feel for some of the more eclectic tangibilities of the album, available on cassette and digital download here.
Banjo player Tommy Meehan describes, “Among other things included on the cassette tape are a bunch of experimental tracks and atmospheric bits we’ve used for live shows over the last couple of years. There are several little gobs and splats of foreshadowing that will tie into our upcoming full length album as well. This collection of absurdities is a labyrinth of digital grime almost as much as it is a road map to the slimed out Manx lore we’ve been evolving over the last couple of years.” The full album is available to stream at punknews.org.
Oregon five piece of bluegrass-folk-punk Larry and His Flask are now returning to Xtra Mile Recordings for a new album in 2019. The quintet is returning after five years after their last release, “By The Lamplight.”
In regards to re-signing with XMR the band says, ““When we were faced with what company to approach for our new album XMR was our first and only choice. Not to mention they have some of our favourite bands on their label. We are so excited to be part of the XMR family with Frank Turner, Against Me, Skinny Lister and on and on. XMR is a perfect fit for us.”
Be on the lookout for their new album!
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 11:30 AM (PST) by jaystone
“My life would have been so much easier if I had just played punk rock songs at punk rock shows, or played country songs at country shows. But for some reason, there’s something in me that has got to play punk rock songs at country shows and country songs at punk rock shows.” – Ben Nichols (Lucero)
It’s an interesting phenomenon to have been a band long enough to have something resembling an arc or a trajectory to your career, thanks in no small part to the amount of “figuring you out” that fans and industry people and pretend music journalists like yours truly will try to do. If you’ve followed the path of Memphis’ Lucero, who’ve now crossed the twenty year mark as a band, you’ll know that it’s one marked by a series of genre-busting left-hand turns; depending where you jumped on the train as it careened down the track, you found yourself a fan of a band that was performing markedly different music – and was composed of markedly different members – than somebody who hopped aboard five years in either direction.
The early part of 2018 brought with it the 20th anniversary of the band’s first show (celebrated in a barn-burner of a block party in their collective hometown back in April), and also found the band putting the finishing touches on its soon-to-be-released ninth studio album, Among The Ghosts. Due out August 3rd on a new label home (Thirty Tigers) the album finds the quintet taking a hard left once again. Gone is the quintessentially Memphis boogie-woogie sound that had been a focal point of the last three Ted Hutt-produced albums. Instead, Among The Ghosts finds the band producing some of the fullest sounds and most complex textures of the band’s two-decade-old catalog: Nichols’ lyrics and vocals are more earnest, the bass grooves are punchier, the time-keeping pocket is deeper, the guitar leads are soaring and more angular, the keys and strings and horns lead to a fuller and more cinematic quality than we’ve heard the band commit to record. In many ways, it’s years different from a lot of what we’ve heard from Lucero in recent memory; in other ways, it’s the most “Lucero” album yet.
We caught up with Lucero frontman Ben Nichols via telephone from his house, and it became instantly apparent that it’s not only the band’s musical direction that have changed since the release of their last album, 2015’s All A Man Should Do. An hour before our conversation, Lucero announced a slew of US tour dates that’ll keep them busy for the bulk of this coming fall. For a band that long-ago earned its Road Warrior badge of honor, that should not come as much of a surprise. However this Lucero circa 2018, not 2008. Nichols, who spent the formative years of his songwriting career penning some of the most soul-crushing songs of whiskey-soaked heartbreak and unrequited love of the last generation, has not only gotten married but has become a father for the first time (his not-quite-two year-old daughter Izzy is the whirling-dervish focal point to the band’s limited-release seven-inch that hit shelves a month ago).
If Nichols and company weren’t so immensely proud of the new record – and with good reason – the remainder of this calendar year might look radically different. “I’m really excited about the new record,” Nichols states rather emphatically. Now, it is obviously standard operating procedure for bands to publicly pronounce that their new music is more satisfying than anything they’ve produced to date, especially when it’s fresh. Nichols is nothing if not tangibly genuine in his appreciation for the new material, perhaps because it is, legitimately, so damn good. “I really love these new songs, and I love playing them every night…it hurts a little more to leave town, but I’m just so proud of the record, so it’s totally worth saying goodbye for a little bit and going out on the road.”
When it came time to write material for the first post-fatherhood album for two of the band’s members (drummer Roy Berry’s own daughter is just shy of two as well), the band opted not to team up with Ted Hutt again, as had been their recent pattern, and instead stuck with the theme of keeping things different this time out. Where the Hutt-era albums involved a lot of pre-production and a concentrated editing effort geared at cutting things up and making them fit in the best way possible, the Among The Ghosts sessions started the band back toward their earlier influences. “For the last three records,” Nichols states, “I wanted to go for that more Memphis sound, with the horn section and the boogie-woogie piano parts. It was fun to explore that. But with this record, I decided to go back to our roots.”
Those roots, as should be probably apparent given Nichols’ age and place in the music scene, involved traditional country music and late-80s alternative rock, run through a bit of a punk rock filter. Sort of. “When I started the band, it was kind of a rejection of the punk rock scene. I wanted to play sort of traditional country music, which we quickly found out we were unable to play,” explains Nichols. “I started off playing at 14, 15 years old, learning Cure covers and REM covers. That kind of ‘120 Minutes‘ era stuff. That’s what I grew up listening to in high school and those are the first songs that I learned how to play when I picked up a guitar. That stuff, whether I wanted it to be or not, was actually more of a presence in that early Lucero stuff than I thought it was.”
When searching for musical inspiration, looking toward one’s roots can be a questionable decision if not handled appropriately. But with the right approach, and with twenty years more knowledge, skill and ability in the ol’ tool belt, it can bear productive fruit. Armed with little more than four or five basic guitar lines to work with, the band gathered in early 2017 at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis with a new locally-based producer, Matt Ross-Spang, who has a few Grammys to his credit from work with the likes of Jason Isbell, combined his attitude with the studio knowledge they obtained through the Hutt years, and took their time crafting a new record. The band set up on the floor in the studio and experimented, capturing new sounds and directions in real time, and allowing the product to build slowly and organically toward its eventual direction in real time. The Civil War letter home-inspired cadence and march of “To My Dearest Wife” came together fairly quickly, as did the album’s title track, an intense, angular rock song that also ranks as probably the most on-the-nose personal song on the album if not in the entire Nichols catalog. “Family ended up being a much bigger influence on the record than I thought it was going to be at first,” Nichols explains. “With Izzy and being married and having a house and a family (editor’s note: Nichols’ wife has two daughters from a prior relationship), those themes are obviously at the front of my mind, and those are songs that I feel like singing because that’s kind of what I’m going through at the moment.”
The album contains its fair share of running themes, many of which revolve around the protagonist not only having a battle to fight, literally or metaphorically, but a reason – in the shape of another person – to keep fighting for. Title track aside, Nichols explains that he was “intentionally trying to write more in a storytelling way, where the narrator isn’t necessarily Ben Nichols, and trying to work on the craft of songwriting, although that sounds pretentious.” Filled with straight forward mid-tempo tracks like “Everything Has Changed” and “To My Dearest Wife,” frantic, jagged rockers like the title track and “Cover Me” and tender ballads like “Always Been You” and “Loving,” the latter of which was also used in the closing credits of Nichols’ brother, Jeff’s award-winning 2016 movie of the same title, many of the images captured on Among The Ghosts are certainly inspired by very real events and historical tales, but they’re written in a way that makes the message translatable to the modern listener. “I wanted (them) to be applicable to whatever battle anyone’s fighting in their life. Whatever goals you have and whatever you’re fighting for, I wanted it to be able to apply to that.”
At this point, the bulk of Among The Ghosts has been played live over the course of the last half-year, with Nichols playing some of the tracks solo and acoustic in a one-off New Jersey date earlier this year, and the band playing a handful of tracks at springtime tour dates. Then, of course, came arguable the most traditionally “punk rock” decision any band will make this year, which found Lucero taking their 45 minute direct support slot on Frank Turner’s recent full US tour, sandwiched in between The Menzingers and Turner himself, and to using it to play 90% of the new album, months before its release. “It was a Frank Turner show, so we only had 45 minutes,” explains Nichols somewhat sheepishly. “Really when it comes down to it, I had so much fun playing those songs, and I’m away from my family and a lot of these songs are about missing my family, so I really just did it for myself! I think it worked!“
The one song that didn’t make it into that set, for reasons that’ll be obvious to the listener once they hear it, is “Back To The Night,” a track that’s jarring to listen to the first time out, as it contains a lengthy spoken-word element performed by Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals, Take Shelter, Mud, etc, etc, etc), who’ll also star in the band’s upcoming video for “Long Way Back Home. The band found themselves with the bulk of the track’s dark, haunting music completed, and Nichols had a surplus of lines that had been cut out of other songs that he didn’t want to necessarily discard. Inspired by the early-90s trend in which bands would insert movie or television dialog into their songs, what Nicholas also had was an idea. He explains: “I pieced together lines that I’d written that didn’t get used. A lot of them were from “Everything Has Changed,” some of them were from “Back To The Night,” some of them were from other things..that weren’t being used and were on the cutting room floor, but that I didn’t really want to get rid of. So I sent it to my brother, Jeff, and said “man, if you can just have Mike (Shannon) call us and leave a voice memo…” He was nice enough, within twenty-four hours, to recite those lines in a voice memo, and it was the coolest thing ever to get that voice memo.”
After a period of three-or-so weeks in the studio, stretched out over the course of most of 2017, Lucero completed work on Among The Ghosts. Though each of the track’s ten tracks are different, sometimes radically, it still ranks as perhaps the most complete and cohesive collection of stories in the band’s lexicon. “I think I’m pretty good at taking a step back and evaluating where the band is, at least for the last three records and how this new record fits into that arc,” Nichols affirms matter-of-factly. “I think we’re right where we want to be… (Among The Ghosts) ended up sounding exactly like the kind of music I was in the mood to hear right now.”
Head below to check out our full, extensive chat with Nichols. It ranks as one of our favorite conversations to appear on the pages of Dying Scene to date. While you’re at it, you can still pre-order Among The Ghosts here before it’s too late.
Monday, July 16, 2018 at 10:43 AM (PST) by dropkickeith
Kyle Trocolla, who is best known for his work with Two Fisted Law and for his solo folk punk album The Stranger, has now recruited members from Two Fisted Law and Zombii for an alt-country project titled Kyle Trocolla and The Strangers. They are streaming their new album THE Moon USA, a whiskey fueled heartfelt jaunt of aggressive country rock and roll.
Check out the stream below.