Did you ever wonder what a punk version of one of The Spice Girls’ songs would sound like? Me neither, but Toronto based hardcore-punk act The Bare Minimum have gone ahead and made the dreams you never knew you had come true. Check out their version of “Spice Up Your Life” below.
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Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 10:06 AM (PST) by Johnny X
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 8:41 AM (PST) by Johnny X
Mark Lind and the Unloved recently released their new album “The Last Bastion” via State Line Records and for those of you that like a little rock n roll swagger with their punk rock (or a strong punk edge in their rock n roll) this is a great listen. Check it out below.
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 1:53 PM (PST) by MattPower
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.
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 3:39 PM (PST) by Will Malkus
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.
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:00 PM (PST) by Dolly Llama
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.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 8:33 PM (PST) by J.S. Moses
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.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 2:45 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
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.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 2:33 PM (PST) by Johnny X
Punk trio The Carolyn have just released a video for their single “Heartsunk” from their forthcoming debut album This Will Begin to Make Things Right. The full release will be on December 6. Helping the band is Georgia-based label 59 X Records.
Whilst you wait for the release of the complete record, check out “Heartsunk” below. The previous music from The Carolyn was a single earlier this year titled A.M.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 2:15 PM (PST) by Johnny X
If Against Me! had a second singer and written a different album instead of “As The Eternal Cowboy” it might have sounded a lot like The Damn Tracks‘ new release “Second City Is Burning.” The Chicago three piece has at least one singer that to me sounds a lot like early Laura Jane Grace (aka “Tom Gabel”) and the dynamic song writing of feels reminiscent of early Against Me as well. I’m only 4 tracks in but feel like I’ve stumbled onto a gem of an album. Join me in the discovery below!
Aussie punks Clowns have released a video for their song “Soul for Sale”. The song comes from the band’s latest release Nature/Nurture which came out earlier this summer on Fat Wreck Chords. The new video is a part of the band’s initiative to revitalize the Melbourne live music scene. With many smaller clubs and venues facing closure, Clowns went out and played five shows in smaller capacity “dive” bars. The shows helped to reignite the sense of community, as well as give the flailing bars a boost with the near capacity crowds.
The Keepin’ The Dive Alive initiative should be considered a success and the band had this to say about it: “We heard that some of these venues were facing closure and wanted to do something! The biggest highlight for me was seeing how much people loved these venues, and how much they appreciated the our efforts. You could really feel the community behind the shows and to give back to that community who have been so kind to us over the years really felt good. I wanna do it again next year but in a different city!”
Naturally the video shows a ton of live footage of the Keepin’ The Dive Alive run of shows, so check it out below.
As mentioned above Clowns released Nature/Nurture earlier this year.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 2:03 PM (PST) by Johnny X
Reno ska-punk outfit Boss’ Daughter are streaming their latest release Ace of BAC/DC bw Built Up to This. The new EP features four tracks two of which were recorded live.
Check out the new EP below.
Boss’ Daughter last released “One Big Guessing Game” which was their contribution to the 7Seconds tribute album which came out earlier this year.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1:57 PM (PST) by Johnny X
To get you lot in the mood for it, the band have been good enough to put out a single ahead of its release. You can check out the video for “Hate Conquers All” below.
To celebrate the release of 20/20 Vision Anti-Flag will be hitting the road around the US and Europe. You can check out the full list of gigs below too.
The previous collection of music from Anti-Flag was their 2018 acoustic effort American Reckoning.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1:51 PM (PST) by Johnny X
Canadian punks PUP have a new music video out. “See You At Your Funeral” sees the band celebrating Halloween with the help of director Joe Stakun. The track appears on PUP’s 2019 record Morbid Stuff.
Along with the new video, PUP have a few tour dates to share with you. You can check them and the new video out below.
The PUP release prior to Morbid Stuff was 2016’s The Dream is Over.
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1:23 PM (PST) by MattPower
Hailing from Perth, Australia, The Decline are back with their fourth studio album; Flash Gordon Ramsay Street. This album is a return to the fast, loud punk rock that underpinned their first 2 albums but went missing somewhat on their previous release “Resistor”. You could be forgiven for thinking that this album is a 90’s or early 2000’s punk band signed to Fat Wreck Chords, it has definitely got that Southern California punk feel about it.
The album artwork is uniquely Australian with a Kookaburra sitting on a street sign that reads the album title “Flash Gordon Ramsay Street” in front of a court bowl bearing resemblance to that of Ramsay Street. For non-Australian (or British) readers; Ramsay Street is iconic for being the setting of terrible Australian soap opera “Neighbours”. The process of nonsensically joining pairs of words that flow into one another, the way a rapper – or schizophrenic – may, is continued from the album title to the 6th song ‘Summerbucht’ and the 13th song ’Bahia De Verano’. These songs, each 5 seconds long, include the same 15 words “flash Gordon Ramsay street fighter pilot light sabre tooth fairy dust Pan Pacific rim job” as the former ramps up in intensity and the latter winds down with the album.
The album reaches a value-for-money 17 songs but only checks in at 30min in length, ensuring the listener doesn’t lose interest or get bored throughout the album. Kicking off with the very solid “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”, the album really comes into its own on the second -and arguably the best- song “Brovine”. Without having any context, it is hard to tell whether this song is about sexual harassment and domestic abuse, or factory farms and meat-eating – most likely it is about both. The songs’ verses are tied together with a chorus-chant of “fuck off with your macho shit” sung with such passion that I can’t help but join in every time it is sung, I can only imagine this would be amazing in a live show. The albums intensity continues to rise through the fourth song “War” which features guest singer Nuno Pereira of A Wilhelm Scream taking control of the song for a single verse that completely changes from The Decline’s usual sound to that AWS.
The guest vocals don’t end there, the very next song, “A Verge Collection”, features Stacy Dee of Bad Cop Bad Cop as the girlfriend that the protagonist is running from. As the album approaches the end, the mood is lifted slightly by the song “Get Hyrule, Save Zelda” which features slightly more poppy music over a more relaxed set of lyrics about playing Zelda. For Australian music fans, it is worth identifying this song as another – “Get, See” song, starting with The Smith Street Band’s “Get High, See Mice”, Lincoln Le Fevre’s “Get Drunk, See Bands” and Luca Brasi’s “Get Sad, See No One”.
The raised mood is only temporary before the album ends on a particularly sad pair of songs, “Your Funeral” and “Josh”. “Your Funeral” is the only slow song on the album and is sung with serious emotion; the lyrics express concern for an old friend, the lyrics “feels like we wrote the whole of Eat That in your background over beers” identifies the friend in trouble as a past band member and quite likely former vocalist Dan Cribb. The song focuses on the friends mental health issues, not being in contact with the friend and the associated feeling of not being able to do anything to make a difference. This leads into the louder “Josh” a tribute to a friend who has died and how different things are now that he is gone. This doesn’t have the raw sadness of “Your Funeral” and feels more like a celebration of the life and good times that were shared before the passing of Josh.
The album has really put The Decline back in the drivers seat of Australian punk rock and demonstrates that they should be far more famous than they are. A little more touring to get their music out there and this album would be taking out the top spot on a lot of reviewers end of year lists.