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Album Review: Various Artists – “Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers”

I’m never quite sure where to place compilation albums in the grand scheme of things. Are they disposable? Are they art? To this day I’m not sure, and because I missed out on the days of Punk-a-rama, I may never truly understand where a good comp falls into one’s collection. If I were to hazard a guess though, in a world where everything is perfect and physical media has not yet been grounded by cardiac arrest, I would want a good comp to be something akin to your coolest friend with the coolest taste sitting you down and saying: “listen to this.”

I like to think that’s where Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers falls into place. And if there’s anyone to inhabit the role of coolest friend with coolest taste, it’s without a doubt Red Scare’s mastermind Tobias Jeg. 15 Years of Tears and Beers serves as a reminder to all the great music Red Scare has brought us over the years, featuring fifteen artists that helped shape the label into the monster it is today. 

The best part of this whole thing though, is that these are new songs. This isn’t just a greatest hits collection of some classic Red Scare alums—these are hot new tracks from some of the finest punk rock songwriters in the game today. The Copyrights start things off with one of my favorite songs by them, period (“Maine or Oregon”). It’s as fast and catchy as just about anyone familiar with the Copyrights would expect, and it’s less than a minute long. Sincere Engineer makes an appearance with “Dragged Across the Finish Line,” another song that I thought was just stellar. Funny enough, this is one of those groups that I could never get into, but recently, I seem to recall Jeg saying that Sincere Engineer wasn’t a singer-songwriter thing, but in actuality a stealth gruff-punk thing. This shifted my perspective quite a bit, and on this track, I totally hear it. “Dragged Across the Finish Line” is a total banger with lots of heart that sounds like something straight out of the camps of Hot Water Music and Lawrence Arms. 

There’s a couple of great covers on this one. The Menzingers are represented by Broadway Calls who cover their classic “Sunday Morning,” with a grounded pop-punk approach. Billy Liar ends the album with a Nothington cover of “The Escapist.” Both of these tracks provide a little familiarity in the mix as well as a sense of living history. At the end of the day, 15 Years of Tears and Beers is a celebration, and is working tirelessly not to give you a sense of dour self-importance, but a sense of fun surrounding all of the great music that’s happened because of Red Scare. This is fun, covers are fun; the message is clear: have fun. 

There are too many tracks to call out by name as favorites here, but I’ll list a couple that I thought were standouts. Elway’s “High Drama, Low Comedy” knocks it out of the park here. This is a band, much like Sincere Engineer, that I never got into. First it was the Elway is Jerks meme that went around PunkNews that I mistook for people actually calling the people in the band out as rockstar divas (apparently, I was quite wrong, and they are good folks). Second, it was For the Sake of the Bit’s aim at taking down internet music reviewers, which hit a little too close to home for me, because, well—guess what I am? Either way, I can’t deny that this song is a banger and it might just be what forces me to reconsider Elway. Shout out in particular to the Queen-ish guitar solo bridge, inspired stuff. 

“Dead Body” by Garrett Dale of Red City Radio is a ridiculous, catchy song that stopped me in my tracks on the first listen. Dale is clearly having fun with this one, where you can hear him exclaiming “this has got to be the dumbest song” after a killer sax break. And hey, maybe it is—but it’s fun as Hell (and as I established earlier, fun is the name of the game). It’s like an oldies radio hit born in 2019 and is a clear highlight of the whole album. 

But if that’s not enough for you, you also have great tracks from MakeWar, Ramona, Tightwire, The Bombpops, and many, many others. What I’m trying to say here is: this thing is stacked! And it’s not just big names, it’s big songs. What struck me most about 15 Years was the sheer quality from start to finish. It’s a diverse collection of great songs from the Red Scare roster, and if you ask me, it’s worth all the tears and beers to get there. 

 

4.5/5



Billy Liar streams new “I Still Struggle” lyric video, announces tour

One of Scotland’s finest, Billy Liar has just put out a new lyric video for the song “I Still Struggle”, which appears on the album Some Legacyreleased on June 21 via Red Scare Industries. “I Still Struggle” is available for streaming below, and be sure to check out his upcoming tour dates (also featured below) from FEST in Gainesville to Detroit and back over to the UK. Billy Liar is covering a lot of ground.  



Brendan Kelly and The Wandering Birds stream video-cover of The Lillingtons’ “All I Hear is Static”

If you know anything about Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds, then you know that any news from them means you’re in for something a little different. The band is absolutely killing it right now with the release of this new music video/cover of the the great Lillingtons‘ “All I hear is Static”. Derek Grant of Alkaline Trio, and Suicide Machines fame not only played on the track but directed the video as well. It’s a cover that originally appeared on Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers. That compilation is available for purchase here through Red Scare Industries. Stream the new video below.



Tightwire (punk) premiere video for new song “AYL” off upcoming Red Scare comp

Are you listening?  Minneapolis pop-punk act Tightwire wants to know in their brand new track “AYL” which we’re stoked to premiere in the form of a music video for you loyal readers. Check it out along with the band’s upcoming tour dates with Masked Intruder below.

Here’s a quote from the band about the track that I couldn’t be more on the same page with:

I was sitting at my neighborhood bar yelling, “Are you listening?!” at some friends. They weren’t, so I wrote a song that has nothing to do with that situation. It speaks more on my frustration with people being unable to properly communicate with each other. Just because you don’t see eye to eye with someone doesn’t make them a bad person. Stop being a judge-y prick. Listen to each other, try to understand, and move forward from there. At the end of the day we’re all going to die, so fuck it, be pleasant to each other. Or don’t. I don’t really give a shit.

“AYL” is just one of many previously-unreleased songs to appear on “Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers,” a compilation celebrating the label’s 15th anniversary. This is the first new music from Tightwire since 2018’s debut album “Six Feet Deep.”

Bandcamp pre-order
CD / LP pre-order



DS Exclusive: Sicko (Red Scare pop-punk) premiere lyric video for “The Sprinkler”

Do you guys remember Sicko, the pop-punk band from Seattle who had their heyday in the mid 90s? You might if you’re over 35 and the rest of you should get familiar by checking out their back catalog available digitally through Red Scare.

Anyway, for the pre-initiated, you’ll be pleased to know that Red Scare just released an anthology/”best-of” album “In The Alternate Timeline” containing 19 remastered songs, hand-picked by the band, and I couldn’t be more pleased to bring you a lyric video from one of said tunes. Being “old” and into punk for 25 odd years I can proudly say I owned every Sicko record when I was but a youngster. Join me in my fandom by scoping the lyric video for “The Sprinkler” along with some of the band’s rare(!) upcoming gig dates below.

Oh, and here’s a cool little story about the footage from the band themselves:

Once, on a warm spring evening long ago, 3 pop punkers drove their beloved touring van onto the island of Manhattan, through the streets of Greenwich Village, and played a show at a club called Coney Island High (15 St. Mark’s Place?). We had a lot of fun playing to an at-the-time rare enthusiastic audience. Was that Alan Rappaport from Popkid Records swinging from the overhead pipes while we played? Watch the video and you be the judge. That was quite a display of youthful energy and abandon, looking back on it now. The truth is New York scared us: the size of it, the all-hours press of people, the lack of identifiable traffic lanes, movies like Escape from New York… it was all too much for 3 tense provincials just stepping out into the world. In the event, New York held surprises for us and our misconceptions: an 11pm parking ticket, cafes full of happy chatting people at 2am, and some of the friendliest, kindest, warmest punk rockers we would meet in a 10,000 mile tour across America. We’re looking forward to seeing a few of you again, old friends. Come down to Gold Sounds in Brooklyn, hear the sounds of your youth (ours too!), share your old stories and do-you-remember-when with us a bit. This time we’re leaving the van at home! Love, Sicko.



New Video: Sincere Engineer – “Dragged Across The Finish Line” from upcoming Red Scare anniversary comp

Well this is pretty awesome. Chicago’s (but really all of ours, right?!?) Sincere Engineer has dropped a brand new video. It’s for a new track called “Dragged Across The Finish Line,” and I’m pretty sure it’s about every single 5k road race I’ve ever run. Anyway, check out the video below, fellow human trash cans!

“Dragged Across The Finish Line” is featured on the upcoming Red Scare Industries 15th anniversary compilation alongside other ass-kicking bands like The Bombpops, Ramona, The Copyrights, The Lippies and more! Pre-order it here!



Red Scare to release comp with unreleased Brendan Kelly, Broadway Calls, Sundowner and more

Red Scare Industries is celebrating their 15th anniversary with the release of “Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers,” a compilation featuring new, previously-unreleased songs from Brendan Kelly (covering The Lillingtons), Broadway Calls (covering The Menzingers), the first new Sundowner song in years, the first new Lippies song since they reunited, as well as tracks by Sincere Engineer, The Copyrights, Elway, The Bombpops, Tightwire, Ramona, MakeWar, Billy Liar, and more. Here’s what the label says:

Fifteen years?!? Now that Red Scare has overstayed its welcome for a decade and a half, we figure we better celebrate it… ‘cuz no one else will! We’ve got the label’s past, present, and future represented on this album: fifteen Red Scare artists with fifteen brand new, unreleased songs. Good ones too! The keen observer will recognize some Red Scare covers in the mix. That, along with some cool artwork/liner notes and a bonus poster with the vinyl make this a pretty sweet package. Needless to say, it requires a lot of support from listeners and the underground music community to last this long, and these fifteen hits are the best way we can repay y’all. Crank it or spank it, comrades.

The comp comes out September 27 via Red Scare (pre-order digital or physical). Check out the full tracklist below.



Red Scare to put Sicko back on the map with release of best hits album “In The Alternate Timeline”

Do you guys remember Sicko, the pop-punk band from Seattle who had their heyday in the mid 90s? You might if you’re over 35 and the rest of you should start checking out their back catalog available digitally through Red Scare.

Anyway, for the pre-initiated, you’ll be pleased to know that in September Red Scare will be releasing an anthology/”best-of” album “In The Alternate Timeline” containing 19 remastered songs, hand-picked by the band. Give some of the tunes a listen below while you check out some of the band’s upcoming reunion shows.



The Reaganomics (punk) stream new demo songs from

In August The Reaganomics will be heading into the studio to record a new LP for Red Scare Industries and to get you properly stoked they’ve released a few demos, which you can stream below. Here’s what the band had to say about “The Jeff Sessions:”

“In the spirit of the live action remake of Disney’s The Lion King, we’ve decided to release some new music for free. Here’s some demos. Put it this way… these three demos are Simba. Young, eager, but rough around the edges. At some point we’ll be putting out our third LP on Red Scare, which will represent Mufasa, the ever powerful king of the jungle, of course until his brother Scar murdered him. Um, maybe the new album is Simba as an adult. Or… dare I say Nala! Shit, I don’t know. Enough nonsense.”

The band’s last album was Lower The Bar which was released in 2011 via Red Scare, although they have since released a split with the Carousel Kings in 2013.



Album Review: Ramona – “Deals, Deals, Deals!”

Deals, Deals, Deals is probably my favorite surprise of the year. I’d seen Ramona before, I’d even liked them before, but their Red Scare debut is something special. They have the songs, they have the hooks, and they have the words to make it more than just a party. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with what I actually I want from punk music. So much of it is trying to be something else—either a clone of a clone or a knowing throwback to when clones ruled the indies. Ramona is different. Ramona feels like a natural intersection of a group of close creatives; Deals, Deals, Deals is defined by songwriting before genre, and where the songs go, the sound rightly follows.

Which isn’t to say that Ramona is making music outside the confines of genre. This is melodic punk, or maybe indie punk. It’s bouncy and catchy and plaintive when it needs to be. The power chords are thick and chuggy and they form the blocky backing track to the band’s dueling vocalists. But, the fact that Ramona is a three-piece makes their music feel all the more intimate, listening to Deals, Deals, Deals, I couldn’t forget that these songs, as personal as they are, were forged from the fires of three close people. It goes a long way to capturing a certain tone, of raw conversations and comfortable clashes. 

The album opens with “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Hearts,” which features some slice-of-life relationship storytelling delivered with emotional gusto and supported by some meaty hooks. Where a lot of pop punkish bands lose their way is with their arrangements, but Ramona dodges this common misstep with thoughtful changes in their playing, specifically their drumming. I don’t often notice drumming in a song, because I’m a rhythmless philistine, but they use it here to great effect to control the song’s dynamic. “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Hearts” becomes a full-throated, danceable singalong with a positively insistent energy. 

On “Not Your Token,” we get to hear a really cool lyrical perspective as well as some Lawrence Arms-style duet singing between the two vocalists (who I wish I could name, but all the information I’ve found is the first names of the three members, and not what they do). The throat shredding call of, “I’m not your token, I’m a fucking person,” is the kind of punk rock line I live for. It boils down the sentiment to a single statement, direct and in your face. More structurally, the song is a grail of hooks, where the entire run time feels like a big singalong chorus. “We’ll make a difference, we’ll make it better, with or without you,” might just be punk’s logline for years to come. 

“Is This Emo?” is one of the other highlights of the album for me. It’s an incredibly frank, personal song about self-perception and it reminded me of that uncomfortable frisson I first felt from bands like AJJ and Against Me! It was that sort of confrontation via talk therapy that initially pulled me deeper into the genre, and it’s bands like Ramona, with their fearless navel-gazing, that keeps me there. Deals, Deals, Deals! is filled with these trauma-narrative-cum-pop-songs, and it makes it for an involving, resonant listen. 

The album ultimately has a message of hope, as “Mambo 69” concludes: “you can build your own family, be the person that you wanna be.” Deals, Deals, Deals! uses punk rock as a vehicle for self-improvement, as a means to stare the bullshit in the eye and see it for what it is. It’s about acknowledging the worst and then striving for the best. Ramona accomplishes their goals with the finesse of scene veterans, and they do it with some of the best music I’ve heard all year. 



Billy Liar releases new album “Some Legacy”

Scottish folk punk Billy Liar has released his new album, Some Legacy, which came out via Red Scare. The Scottish folk punk mainstay has got together a band for this one and it’s available to order on vinyl or CD.

You can have a taste of the record below.



Billy Liar (folk punk) releases lyric video for “The Righteous & The Rats”

Scottish folk punk Billy Liar has released a lyric video for his new song “The Righteous & The Rats.”

You can check it out below.

“The Righteous & The Rats” comes from Billy Liar’s upcoming debut album, Some Legacy, which is set to be released on June 21st via Red Scare.



Red Scare announces Red Scare West Coast Roast tour

California punk label Red Scare Industries has announced some upcoming tour dates featuring Elway, Ramona, and Sam Russo.  You can check out all the dates and locations below.



MakeWar release “Don’t Panic” music video

MakeWar just premiered a video for “Don’t Panic” with New Noise magazine. The track tackles anxiety attacks and mental health issues, and is taken from MakeWar’s 2016 LP “Developing a Theory of Integrity” album.

The video come together at the behest of a cinematographer friend of the band, and comes while the band are working on their next release.

Check out the video using the player below.



Red Scare to release new Ramona and Billy Liar albums in June.

Red Scare has a busy summer coming up, as they’ve announced they will be releasing new albums from both Seattle-based punk band Ramona and Scottish folk punk Billy Liar this June.  We’ll keep you updated as songs premiere, but for now, you can check out the cover art, track listings, and release dates for these upcoming albums below.