Search Results for "A-F Records"

Album Review: Dead Bars – “Regulars”

Ever since I heard that first self-titled EP, I’ve been rooting for Dead Bars. They write simple songs that can paint a world in four lines of lyrics; they have big melodies that translate into bigger singalongs. They tap into that communal, we’re-all-in-this-together punk spirit—and seeing them at Fest this last year, I saw for myself how the gospel had spread. And why not? Dead Bars have continued to grow in new and interesting ways while still honoring what they are at their core—a band of big dreamers. They’ve gone from an Off With Their Heads-adjacent, No Idea Records gritty pop-punk band to a loud, hopeful band of rock ‘n roll devotees. Dream Gig was the first step in a peaceful coup, but it’s on Regulars where the dream is realized.

What’s apparent immediately is just how good Regulars sounds. With Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Afghan Whigs) wearing the production hat, Dead Bars have never sounded better. This is a band that doesn’t pull from a specific sound as much as a specific spirit. Regulars is KISS, Tom Petty, The Clash, Motorhead, The Replacements, and Nirvana, even if they sound like a sort of minimalist Lawrence Arms. The important thing is this: the guitars are loud and distorted, the drums sound like thunder, and the words are true. Dead Bars is the Prometheus of rock ‘n roll, stealing pyrotechnics from the Gods to set the small stage ablaze.

This Ramones-y devotion to the power of music is on immediate display with album opener “Freaks.” Dead Bars are trading in hope and optimism—and it’s clear they hold an earnest belief in the power of music. On “Freaks”, this optimism rears its head as unity, as the chorus rages: “This one’s for the freaks, you’re all sick freaks!” It’s a rallying cry, as gritty as it is catchy, and I’d put a good wager that in a dark club, with a cold beer, it’ll be an anthem for all the like-minded weirdos who still see rock ‘n roll as kin to salvation.

It’s this direction that makes Regulars feel like Dead Bars have reached their own personal enlightenment, as if, release after release, they’ve shed their non-essential parts and now, with their sophomore album, have embraced the truest form of themselves. Which means, they’re songwriting is as great as ever. Minimalist, heart wrenching, with a sly sense of self-deprecating humor.

And with lyrics like, “I’m growin’ up, yeah, I’m growin’ up/ but I just threw up,” “Pink Drink” is about as simple and direct as you can be. Still, this song, with probably about a short verse full of unique lyrics, captures a lifetime. Even the title (which doubles as its chorus) is evocative. We all know what a pink drink is, we’ve seen them in bars, we’ve had friends make fun of us for ordering them. They represent taking your medicine with a spoonful of sugar, they’re a confectious means to an end, and in “Pink Drink” they’re also a sign of world-weariness, of getting older and not having the energy to maintain appearances. The burn of whiskey, the bite of vodka loses its luster—and you look around, and realize no one’s impressed anymore. That’s “Pink Drink.” The trials of growing up have always been at the heart of Dead Bars—but there’s something empowering and defiant in the way they capture that angst and then also stick their flag in it. On “Pink Drink, “No Tattoos,” and others—could’ves and should’ves are confronted head-on, and maybe a pink drink won’t save you, but maybe it will—if only for tonight.

The title track, “I’m a Regular,” is a clear highlight of the album, capturing Dead Bars at their most intimately anxious. Ushered in by ringing feedback, vocalist John Maiello snarls, “I’m a regular here, but nobody knows my name.” It actually highlights one of my favorite things about Dead Bars—the microcosm of their scope. We feel millions of little things a day, flights of fancy and minor frissons of panic, all instantly recognizable and largely left totally unspoken. “I’m a Regular” examines a funny, melancholy intrusive thought with rock ‘n roll gusto, bursting forth into a huge name-dropping chorus (“And it’s way Tom Petty, I’m livin’ like a refugee!”) We may not be living in a Cheers episode, but the internal dilemma (why the fuck not?) roars loud and clear. “I’m a Regular” is a snotty, riotous ode to living under the radar.

C.J. Frederick, original member and lead six-stringer of Dead Bars, is a strong presence on Regulars—where for the first time, Dead Bars truly feels like a ‘guitar band.’ This time around, the songs are distinctively riffy, with big muscular licks opening songs like “Time Takes Away”, “Rain,” and “I Need You.” The propensity for solos is also higher and welcome, bringing the music and lyrical direction into total synchronicity. For a group of guys who worship rock music, what’s more religious than a sick trilling solo? Here, they aren’t just talking the talk, they’re now walking it too, emulating the magic as if they’re the only ones who can keep it alive.

Dead Bars are underdogs, and when they aren’t, well, I’m not sure if they’ll be Dead Bars anymore. Regulars prove the band can put forth a product that is both polished and cohesive, and still be those same scrappy dudes who daydream of killer riffs and big singalongs. Somewhere in between the rock ‘n roll dream and the gutter realism of DIY punk is Dead Bars, and with Regulars, as always, it’s a pleasure to see where the two meet.

5/5



Album Review: Nightmarathons – “Missing Parts”

As a reviewer, I go into every album with the hope of liking it. It’s easy to forget, that behind the paragraphs, there are people. We have thoughts, feelings, and ideas regarding what makes music great, what makes it special. Punk rock can be analyzed both objectively and subjectively—I can break down the lyrics, but I can also talk about how they make me feel. I think the most effective recommendations hang on a merging of the objective and subjective: what are they doing,  how does it work, and what does it make me feel?

Nightmarathons from Pittsburgh had me considering a lot of these questions. Missing Parts is their debut album, released by A-F Records—who have, in the last couple years, positioned themselves as one of our most exciting contemporary punk labels. Nightmarathons play the sort of melodic punk that I can’t help but keep returning to, time and time again. Think: The Menzingers, Dead Bars, Elway, Nothington and you’re on the right track. Their band bio throws a curveball into the mix, an angle that seeks to invigorate and intrigue: “Nightmarathons melds varying punk, post punk, and first-wave emo influences to create their own unique take on melodic punk rock music.”

First-wave emo? Like Embrace, Rites of Spring? That sounds awesome. That sounds like a fresh take on punk’s most muscular contemporary genre. But why do my words feel so loaded? Why am I talking about the difficulty of reviewing when I should be talking about Missing Parts greatness? Because objectivity and subjectivity do not always align. For me, this is one of those cases. Nightmarathons have a great logline and Missing Parts is as competent a debut as any—but more often than not, it just doesn’t stick.

Which is why I hate giving star reviews. Who can boil down a work of art to a numeric system? An album can do ten things right and three things wrong, but if the ten good are ten great, the three get lost in the mix and vice versa. No five-star album is perfect and no one-star album is completely imperfect, they’re just different ratios of good and bad, weighted by importance by some schmuck with a keyboard. This is my way of saying that Nightmarathons does most things right, leaving me with the question: is it enough?

Missing Parts is an album of anthems. Across its runtime, there are prime moments for screaming along, jittery moments before choruses where you can fully expect to be swept up by the rhythm of a crowd. This is the sort of punk rock that takes a work week to appreciate. It takes a full week of saying yes, sir and no, sir—until you’re looking at the clock and thinking about the last five minutes of your Friday and watching the minutes drip away so slow and thick they might as well be honey. And then, when you’re released, you go to the show. You hear these downbeat anthems, you dance and sing and drink way too much and you let everything out in a silly, sad bout of catharsis. We laugh at all the modern punk cliches, but it describes Nightmarathons’ melodic punk perfectly. This is music meant as an antidote to whatever ails you. If you look around, you might realize Nightmarathons aren’t alone in this approach.

The songs on Missing Parts, for the first listen, entirely passed me by. I was looking for hooks, looking for something to etch itself into my memory, and I was left with empty hands. But, repetition breeds familiarity and soon, on my fourth or fifth listen, I realized that there was actually some admirable songwriting on Missing Parts. Songs like “Closer,” with its rousing chorus of, “Take a bow, disappear/ turn my back, so insincere!” became an earworm with time. “Cull Your Heart,” with its thick and fuzzy guitar lines makes good on Nightmarathons’ promise of melding first-wave emo with melodic punk. The band becomes more intense and immediate as the album continues with “Honor System.” “Simple,” with its languid pace and earnest delivery shows a diversity of sound that passed me by entirely at first.

Nightmarathons is a lot of things, but to call Missing Parts anything but a grower would be misleading. I ended up liking this album a lot more than I originally thought, but the problems I had with it on the first listen are the same I had on the tenth: a relative lack of boldness. Missing Parts loses itself in a lot of similar sounding songs that take a fair amount of objective observation to decipher from their surroundings. This is not to say they are not good songs, but that they lack immediacy and verve. These songs—or, as we established earlier, anthems—should roll out with a gut punch. They should sound strong and singular, but more often than not, they roll by like a black car on a black night with broken headlights. Missing Parts is a good album full of good songs that take too much objectivity to be great.

And that’s why the ratio is all kinds of fucked up. Nightmarathons don’t do much wrong, but the one thing that doesn’t work for me is like a blanket that muffles the entire album. It’s the emotional hook—that feeling of yeah, I get that—that doesn’t deliver until all other choices have been considered. I’m out here looking for the mirror image—the subjective hook front and center, the thing that pulls you in and makes you comb through the music to support whatever intangible feelings it gives you.

If we’re being fair though, I can’t deny that Nightmarathons did grow on me. In time, I found myself recognizing songs and remembering snippets of lyrics, but ultimately: the subjective recognition only took me so far, and regrettably much too late. Missing Parts is a wildly competent album that will surely have its devout followers, but as with anything—if it doesn’t catch you hard, it might not catch you at all.



Nightmarathons premiere another new song ‘Reset”‘

Pittsburgh’s Nightmarathons are premiering another new song from their upcoming release Missing Parts, out March 29th on A-F Records. The song is streaming below and is sounding perhaps even stronger than the other songs put out so far. This bodes very well for the album.

Nightmarathons last release was their self-titled EP in 2017.



Nightmarathons (melodic punk) premiere new song ‘Waiting Room’

Nightmarathons, a punk rock band from Pittsburgh, are premiering the first song via The Alternative. The band features Chris Stowe, who co-runs A-F Records with the band Anti Flag. Chris Number 2 of Anti Flag produced the song ‘Waiting Room’ which will be on the album ‘Missing’ out March 29th via A-F Records.

Nightmarathons, draw influence from Piebald and Hot Water Music. You can hear the song streaming below.



Short/Fast/Loud: Dollar Signs – “This Will Haunt Me”

Here at Dying Scene, we’ve been talking a lot behind the scenes about how to maximize our content—not only covering more, but covering better. We’ll be making some changes to our output in the coming months, and the end goal will be to provide our writers with more opportunities to write in-depth reviews, editorials, and interviews. Part of this is adapting our review format—there is simply too much out there to cover and full-length reviews just aren’t time effective. That doesn’t mean we’re getting rid of longform reviews (we’d rather die), only that when we do them, we’ll be investing more in them and treating them as we would a feature. For the rest, we want to cover the multitude of bands that are working hard out there but might get squashed under the great wheel of the album submissions game. Short-form reviews—as short and loud as punk itself—will be a way for us to cover more while still providing honest, dependable feedback. Let us know what you think of the new format, we plan to roll out capsule reviews as they accumulate from here on out.

Dollar Signs have been flying under the radar for a couple years now, poised for something bigger. This Will Haunt Me may very well be that something bigger. The Charlotte quintet pride themselves on their tongue-in-cheek sad sack anthems that straddle the lines of hardcore, pop punk, and folk punk. They drive forward with a garagey energy that brings to mind the likes of Jeff Rosenstock (who singer Erik Button is a vocal dead ringer for), while being self-deprecating, young, and painfully open. This Will Haunt Me continues the grand tradition of punk rock as talk therapy, and Dollar Signs work through their shit with talent to spare.

Check out: “Cryhard,” “Tears/ Beer/ Fears”



Reconciler (Atlanta Melodic Punk) stream new album “Set Us Free”

Atlanta melodic punk act Reconciler are streaming their new album, Set Us Free, which was released on February 1st via A-F Records.

You can give it a listen below.

Reconciler last released I. in April 2017.



Album Review: Lee Corey Oswald – “Darkness, Together”

Lee Corey Oswald - Darkness TogetherLee Corey Oswald‘s latest album is a fantastic step forward for the Portland based punk/rock act. Darkness, Together forms this particular sound of small town America, desperation, emotional loss, growing up, and dreams of something bigger. It’s an album I didn’t give the time it deserves in 2018, but truly grew to love as I listened through.

The band has put together a great sound over time, with some iconic lyrical shaping through their past releases, and that continues on for Darkness, Together. Lee Corey Oswald originated from Scranton in Pennsylvania, building themselves in the vibrant punk scene alongside bands such as Title Fight and Tigers Jaw. However after moving to Portland, they took the lifestyle and indie scene from the area and weaved influence from it into their sound. There’s an emotional urgency at times, but also contemplation and poetic strings of thought, notably within the track “Neighborhoods.” Lee Ellis, the vocalist, ponders the idea of a regular life and expectations in a suburban neighborhood, building to a beautiful delivery of “As your kids grow they’ll help in the garden, go to school, just to learn it’s not what they belong in.”

Musically the band naturally shifts through faster punk sounds and this incredibly catchy rolling flow. The first track “Asbury Waters” has a heavier sound, with more emphasis placed on each tone, and a rather deliberate delivery. This transitioning into the fuzzy and bright ‘Neighborhoods’ shows the range of the band, keeping their own flavor across their styles. Thematically they do the same, melding the different ideas they’re playing with and seamlessly flowing from one to another. There’s the idea of growing up, escaping expectations and subverting cliche to live your own life. This features across “Asbury Waters,” into a different form through “Neighborhoods,” then is placed much more firmly through “You Want To Be Right or Happy.” The tracks discuss running from the past, denying the present, and the darkness of the future.

There’s so much to identify with in the current climate, from stories of alienation in the suburbs, growing up, love and loss from friends to the bands we all cherish. ‘Desperate,’ despite the repetition of ‘You’re in love, in love, in love‘ and ‘We’re in love, in love, in love,’ subverts a love song into the idea of his love for someone, who loves another, yet they still both feel a love which gives them a togetherness in the protagonist’s mind. “Free Stuff” perfectly encapsulates a satirical presentation of how we all do what we need to get by in the modern day, whilst “Curse Words” goes back to the other side of suburban living in moving back in with your mother and helping her out.

But where all these themes so brilliantly captured come together is in the final track, “Darkness, Together (11/20/85).” The loss of a friend puts everything into perspective, and contemplating how to cope with a world that keeps moving on past you. The closing lines to the song are all too relatable, ‘And all the bands that we would talk about, if only you were still around.’ The desperation for just one more conversation on something which draws so many people together. The name of the album truly matches what it discusses, the idea of darkness, depression, and all these negative things, and how we experience it together, even if apart.

Darkness, Together was released on October 12th, 2018 via A-F Records, and can be streamed via Bandcamp here.



Lee Corey Oswald stream new album “Darkness, Together”

Portland based punk band Lee Corey Oswald are streaming their new album Darkness, Together, which was released on October 12, 2018 via A-F Records.

You can give it a listen below.

Lee Corey Oswald last released Unhealthy in October 2017.



Antillectual announce European tour dates

Dutch skate punk band Antillectual have announced the dates for their “The Invisible Hand Meets the Visible Fist” tour, in celebration of the new single they will be releasing on October 30th.

You can check out all the dates and locations below.

Antillectual last released their single “Heads You Win, Tails We Lose” on June 6 via Uncle M Music.



Nightmarathons (melodic punk) Stream New Single “Estimate”

Pittsburgh melodic punk act Nightmarathons are streaming their latest single. The track is titled “Estimate” and has been released by A-F Records. It’s the first new music from the four-piece since their self-titled EP, which was released in 2017.

You can listen to “Estimate” below.



Lee Corey Oswald release third single “Head Over Heels” off upcoming album “Darkness, Together”

Portland based punk band Lee Corey Oswald recently premiered a new track called “Head Over Heels.” It will be off of the band’s new album titled “Darkness, Together”, due out October 12, 2018 via A-F Records.

“Head Over Heels” is the third single from the album. In August, the band released the first single, “Neighborhood.” Following this was the September release of the video for the second single, “Ferris Wheel.”

This album will be Lee Corey Oswald’s latest release since “Unhealthy” in October 2017, and it is available for pre-order right here. In the meantime, you can stream the first three singles off “Darkness, Together” below.



World’s Scariest Police Chases announce third album, stream new song “MODERNBASEBALLISWAR”

Pittsburg funny guy punks World’s Scariest Police Chases have announced their legendary third album appropriately titled, Ablum 3 (no, that is not a typo). The album is scheduled for official release on October 12th through Say-10 Records. For now, you can listen to a brand new song called, “MODERNBASEBALLISWAR” below.

We will keep you updated on this project as more details come to light. STAY TUNED.



Dead Bars announce tour, single, and new home at A-F Records

Seattle’s Dead Bars have recently signed with Anti-Flag’s A-F Records and released a single, a cover of Guided By Voices “Gold Star for Robot Boy”. With a new LP slated for sometime in 2019.

The only place to get a vinyl copy of the single is to catch them on tour, which will see them across much of the U.S. and is centered on their appearance at The Fest.

Dead Bars released their debut Dream Gig last year on No Idea Records.

Check out a stream of “Gold Star for Robot Boy” and all the current tour dates below.



Lee Corey Oswald premiere music video for “Ferris Wheel”

Portland’s Lee Corey Oswald have premiered a new music video for their new single “Ferris Wheel” which can be found on the band’s new album Darkness, Together which is due out October 12 via A-F Records.

Pre-orders for the album are available here.

Check out the video below.



Aspiga stream new album “Dragged Through The Years”

New Jersey indie/punk trio Aspiga are streaming their new album, Dragged Through The Years, which was released on September 7th via A-F Records.

You can give it a listen below.

Aspiga last released What Happened To You? in 2014.