Search Results for "La Escalera Records"

Album Review: Mercy Music – “Until the End of Your World”

How often do you find a new favorite band?

For me—not very often. I’m a reviewer, I listen to a bunch of music, and as much as I put in my ears, a select handful of it ends up sticking. But, when it does—oh boy. Mercy Music is the latest to be thrown at the wall and the latest to stick. Their new album Until the End of Your World makes a case for them being a new and electric voice in the world of misery-melodies and gutter poetry.

There’s something at once urgent and reckless about the music—each and every one written with the finality and verve of a suicide note. It feels indispensable, like music made to last. Album opener “Song For” begins: “Am I too afraid to kill myself?” It’s a gunshot crooned, silky smooth and impossible to ignore, and it hangs heavy in the air until the needle lifts. Mercy Music live in the twilight between acts of self destruction and sugary pop and the final product sounds like an amalgam of earnest songwriting, big hooks, and moody melodic punk. It’s the juxtaposition between singer Brendan Scholz’s smooth voice and his dark lyricism that makes Mercy Music into its own beast, and the production backs the vibe. If there’s a moment that captures Mercy Music at its essence, it’s the first thing we hear: rumbling distortion, punctuated with a melody played by bright sounding bells.

When it comes to power trios, there’s a very real danger of writing an album of chord progressions with no real songs. But, throughout Until the End of Your World, it becomes clear that there are some great songwriting minds at work in Mercy Music, and each individual instrument works hard to not only carry us through the changes, but to emphasize rhythms, introduce counter-melodies and to build honest to goodness songs. The album wouldn’t be as good as it is if it wasn’t for these instrumental considerations.The drums deserve special mention, providing beats evocative of Phil Spector and 60s pop, while singer/guitarist Scholz shreds, palm-mutes, and riffs his way through anthem after anthem. These disparate elements—the pitch black lyrics, the aggressive fretwork, and sugary pop backbone—join together to form the core of Mercy Music’s sound.

It was, however, the lyrics that first jumped out and bit me. From the opening line, (which, in my mind, has already become iconic) to little lexical rattlesnakes on “Mark Your Wrists” (“You have a way with words and I’m too abrupt.”) and “Mr. Universe,” (“Are these the last words I’ll ever write? And is it too late to suck you in tonight?”), the lyrics are constantly coiling, rattling, and ready—fangs dripping with venom. They ask plaintive, painful questions that bleed and in turn resonate, like calls from the void, desperate for even an echo.

Until The End of Your World is full of great songs, and beyond great, honest lyrics, musical cohesion, and the fact that this is a power trio in every sense of the phrase—it was the songs that kept me coming back. On my first listen, I toe-tapped to the beats as little lines crawled out of melodies and white-knuckled my attention. On the next listen, I started learning melodies, singing along. Soon, I had a shortlist of favorite tracks. Then, I got to see Mercy Music live with Spanish Love Songs and I heard them again for the first time: I witnessed their scrappy, electric energy in person and watched them breathe life into the songs I didn’t know yet. And now, however that all adds up, I have a new favorite. Eleven songs of anxiety, depression, and injured hope—eleven songs I’ll sing for the rest of my life.

 

5/5

 



Album Review: Squarecrow – “Before the Sun Catches Us All”

My immediate impression of Before the Sun Catches Us All was that Squarecrow was getting serious. I hadn’t had much of an encounter with the band before, but I knew their name from bills of shows I’d never end up going to. I knew they were active, I knew they played some sort of melodic punk, and now, I know they have an album out.

“Six Miles Above Clackamas” paints the seriousness in technicolor. It’s a slow, jammy, singalong, the sort that melodic punk bands write when they’re going for something bigger—when they’re playing with dynamics and examining what it means, to them, to write a punk record. I can’t help but get shades of the Menzingers here, with a little bit of classic rock melody. What it means is that Squarecrow aren’t just releasing some songs, they’ve written a record, and from the first song, they’re intention is announced. 

But there’s a certain kind of album that is hard for me to talk about, and it’s the album that is good, but not great. You listen, you nod your head, but ultimately, you’d be fine if you never heard it again.  And while that sounds scathing, I wouldn’t say it is—it has as much to do with personal taste as it does the band. What Squarecrow has done with Before the Sun Catches Us All is write a record that hits all the major beats of melodic punk.  Down the checklist, we go: right now, we need emotional turmoil. Stuff with lyrics like, “Oh maybe, oh maybe, I’ll find my way out of this open sea.” We need catchy melodies that don’t sound too Ramones-y. Because remember: this is melodic punk, not pop punk. And finally, when you’ve added drama to the arrangement, where the instruments nearly drop out and you can deliver your lyrics in the same painfully plaintive way the other guys do, you’re ready to bill your album as a concept album (in melodic punk, concept albums are a big deal, and unless you’re Direct Hit!, they’re a clear signifier that you are not, I repeat, pop punk).

But—this isn’t a bad album. In fact, this feels like a band pushing themselves out of ‘local band’ and into ‘nationwide touring act.’ The takeaway from Before the Sun Catches Us All, ultimately, is that they are a serious band. And not to make light of it—it is a serious record. The songs were written in the wake of singer Todd’s cancer diagnosis. Imagine the pain, the fear; the looking your own death in the eyes. That’s heavy shit, the heaviest shit. So, there’s no emotion unearned across Before the Sun Catches Us All—but what’s frustrating about it is that in too many ways it’s a mimicry of style, and while the album’s vulnerability is without a doubt earned, the style feels perfunctory in the face of such a profound concept.

I mean—what makes a Squarecrow? What is their identity as a band? How does Squarecrow sound different than say—Western Settings, Typesetter, Russian Girlfriends, or Mercy Music? There’s worse things to be than a competent executor of a popular style, but Squarecrow has something to say, and I wish they’d have pushed their music further to match the fire in their songwriting. There’s shades of power pop in here, a little of (gasp) pop punk, and even a little of skate punk, but the edges have been smoothed down and it becomes an exercise in kinda-sorta. I’d have preferred to hear Squarecrow commit hard to any one or two of those. Wanna do a punky power pop concept album? Go for it. Make it huge. Model it after Tommy or something. Wanna do an aggro-melodic-punk album? Bring out those distorted cowboy chords and go raw, and push the emotion level to its confrontational max—scream every line and make sure the audience hears every fucking word of what you’re feeling. But, don’t do half measures. If this is a serious record, we need Squarecrow to represent a sound or feeling we can put a finger on. In the world of great albums, nothing but transcendence will do.

But, and this is important, the songs are good. Pretty consistently too, and in fact, despite how typical the style is, Squarecrow has a host of great songs across this album. They feel tense and heavy with great melodies and emotive weight. From opener, “Six Miles Above Clackamas,” to closer “Windowless,” there’s a lot of talented, inspired songwriting here. “Walk It Off” is a catchy number carried by chugging chords and a couple of standout lyrics. “Aesthetic” and “Date Me” are a one-two punch of melodic punk bangers, sure-fire singalongs just waiting for an audience. There are no bad songs on Before the Sun Catches Us All and I think that is a department where Squarecrow has a leg-up on the competition, because of everything else I can pick bones with, songwriting is a much more ethereal, defiantly intangible process, and to be good at it is to simply have the right instincts.

Before the Sun Catches Us All will have its fans, and it should. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from hearing it, because it has a great story behind it and Squarecrow may just very well be the next big thing. La Escalera is starting to solidify itself as a west coast Red Scare in some ways, and if that means anything, we might get to see their roster poached by Epitaph and Fat in the next five years. This is an album expressing real shit, and while it doesn’t go out of the way to make the genre its own, at its core—it’s done right, with feeling. 

3.5/5 Stars



Mercy Music (pop punk) announce new album “Until The End Of Your World”

Las Vegas pop punk act Mercy Music have announced they will be releasing their new album Until The End Of Your World on July 13th via La Escalera Records.

To give you an idea of what to expect from the new album, you can check out a lyric video for “Hang Your Head” and a music video for “Song For” below.

Mercy Music last released When I Die, I’m Taking You With Me in 2014.



Album Review: Regan Ashton – “…and the people you always have with you”

It is strange to look out my window after listening to this album. The songs make me think of a 1990s post-apocalyptic film where the lands are decimated and tumbleweeds shift from left to right across a cracked road. The sun pours down more heat than usable energy and out of the distance walks a punker…maybe a few. The only people left for miles and they look somehow less crusty than some of these people that exist in real life in 2018 that have showers and many outfits. If this movie ever exists, the opening song that plays while the punkers walk toward the camera should be Scumbag, the first track off “…and the people you always have with you” by Regan Ashton.

When I look out my window, it’s just a regular ol’ post-hood neighborhood. Lower middle class living at its bestest. Such a weird dynamic.

This is a cool album. 6 songs. It’s like drunken hillbilly Punk for the fuck of it. If it was produced lousier, it could be considered backwoods mountain music. But, it’s definitely a grouping of songs that has intention. Ideally, I wish I could get really drunk and dance to it. I had plans to do just that, but by the time I was drunk, it was late and I just feel asleep. Sorry Regan. Maybe next time.

Regan is also in a band called Problem Daughter who released their last album thru Dying Scene Records, so I feel this weird apprehension about assessing it vs. how I might if it wasn’t. The Punk culture is supposed to be familyish, or whatever. Ultimately, I’ve not got many criticisms for “…and the people you always have with you”. It’s funny. Not comically funny…funny like when someone looks at your mohawk, hand tattoos, and body piercings and assumes you’re a nitwit, gives you a dirty look, and then goes back to their modestly awesome life while you have to go back to living in poverty cuz society craps most on the minorities it’s not illegal to marginalize. Ha. My only criticism is that this recording sounds too controlled. I dunno, it’s like now that recording is less expensive and lots of folk have home studios, everyone and their idiot mothers are releasing projects of all sorts but everyone seems to rely on metronomes way too much. And, it’s not a bad thing, mind you. I just feel like the live feel is stripped from modern recordings. Everything is perfect…in the John Feldmann sense of producing…and it feels like harnessed energy instead of free-flowing energy. Surely, I wasn’t there for the recording sessions for this release. Maybe Regan didn’t use metronomes at all. This album seems like most recordings these days. Very planned. Think of the last couple releases from Less Than Jake.

Anyway, beyond fitting into the current paradigm, “…and the people..” is neato. Lyrically, it seems to hone in on the Punk philosophy as it is in constant flux. Kinda gives me a Rancid vibe. That whole “I guess I’m a fuckup…dude, I just keep waking up whether I want to or not” thing. This album is very relatable. It’s very musical. It’s not stripped down. Regan, as I mentioned, is in Problem Daughter, and oftentimes solo projects can suck. This doesn’t. You may not like it if you are a Problem Daughter fan, but that also might you like it more. There’s so much music out there now that no one can keep up. Musicians be like: “Look at what we’re doing! You don’t have the time to pay attention to it all, but isn’t the artistic upheaval amazing?!”

I can’t help but feel an odd sense of malaise cuz of the album, tho. To a theoretical hell we should send those unfailing optimists, sure…but after listening to these 6 songs and agreeing, sympathizing, relating, etc….the feeling of absolute fuckitude lingers. Misery may love company, but this isn’t misery. It’s…well…um…perhaps we humans build up walls and live partially-delusive lives to protect us from the inescapable and bizarre. I guess it’s like: There is something about this album to where if I listened to it enough, it would make me cry. It’s that real. I don’t know about you, but I can’t cry unless music is playing. People I know have died and it didn’t really shake me, but if you put on Flogging Molly’s If I Ever Leave This World Alive, I’ll leave the room…out of earshot…cuz I just can’t take it.

As fun as “…and the people you always have with you” is, it just hits me on that kind of a level. And that’s not me sucking up to Dying Scene or Regan. It’s the song Failed Author. It just hones in on something real fucking deep. And, it’s not something you’d get if you just listened to only that song. I feel like when the album starts, Scumbag sets a tone…it made me think that the rest of the songs were going to continue that vibe…like it’s all gonna be fuck-it hilarity…but art reflects life…by the end, I was left with another lesson in “Life fucking sucks bro”. Life isn’t a let-down, nope. It’s just problematic because our imaginations get away from us and they take our hopes with them. Our hopes raise and then when you realize that it was all delusion, the reality that takes its place is just calm. Not exuberant. Not banal. Just inexplicable.

Tho, after that calm passes, you laugh to yourself. Maybe you look out your window and wonder if the kids playing basketball across the street will ever know the true depth of reflection. Maybe they’ll luck-out and live a life of innocence and ignorance like the rich folk and/or the religious folk that don’t even allow themselves the chance at truly knowing.

One cool thing about this album is that it made my mind go crazy with words. When I listen to Aesop Rock, it’s like my brain gets going and I have to write out a poem or whatever. This recording made that happen too.

So yeah, I like this cd.
“What’s a cd?” asked the kid.
If you don’t know what a cd is, you’re a nitwit. Your generation is overloaded with data by schools but you don’t know what a cd is? You think you are a Punk fan but you don’t know what a cd is?? Piss off.

The song Russian Blue is another favorite.
They’re all good, tho. Especially Junkyard Parakeet.
This cd sounds like something Cooper from The Devil Makes Three would dig.

5/5 Stars



Se Vende (punk) streaming new single “Edith Jean” off new album

San Diego punks Se Vende are streaming the single “Edith Jean” off of their new album It’s Okay. The album which is out now, has been released through La Escalera Records.

You can give the song a listen below.

This is the first new music from Se Vende since the 2017 release of “Regular”. If you’re into Screeching Weasel you’ll definitely enjoy these guys.



Squarecrow (melodic punk) stream new album “Before the Sun Catches Us All”

San Diego melodic punk band Squarecrow are streaming their new album Before the Sun Catches Us All on La Escalera Records. This is the band’s follow up to 2016’s Full Length Rammi Jammi and their split 7-inch with Seattle rockers Four Lights from last year.

Check out the stream below.



Pity Party announces west coast tour dates with Spider Cider

Oakland emo pop-punks Pity Party have announced some west coast dates in support of their latest EP Are You Happy Yet?, which is available through La Escalera Records.

Joining them will be Spider Cider, alternative emo for grown ups, from Tucson, AZ.

Stream the album and check out the dates below.



New Video: Squarecrow (San Diego punk) unveil “Syndicate” off upcoming full-length, “Before The Sun Catches Us All”

Just when you thought your chance to check out some new music on this fine Tuesday evening had all-but dried up…BAM! We’ve got a brand new video from San Diego melodic punks Squarecrow! It’s for a track called “Syndicate,” and it appears on the band’s upcoming full-length, Before The Sun Catches Us All. Check it out below!

Before The Sun Catches Us All is due out June 8th via Swamp Cabbage Records and La Escalera Records. As such, the band will be playing LA Escalera Fest in their hometown on May 19th, and in Tijuana the following day. Go see ’em!

Prior to Before The Sun Catches Us All, the last we’d heard from Squarecrow was their split 7-inch with Seattle’s Four Lights about a year ago. Their last proper full-length was Rammi Jammi, released in May 2016, also on La Escalera.



The Shell Corporation release video for “Kumbaya”

California punk act The Shell Corporation has released a hilarious Donald Trump-themed video called “Kumbaya”, which can be viewed below.

The band on the video, “Yes. The tape is real and we, The Shell Corporation, as patriotic Americans, feel it is our civic doodie to leak it. How we came to have this in our possession is no ones concern. Just sit back and let us shower you with our golden revelations.”

“Kumbaya” is taken from The Shell Corporation’s latest album Fucked, which was released last March through La Escalera Records at home and Gunner Records abroad.



La Escalera Records announce La Escalera Fest 7, stream fest sampler

California punk label La Escalera Records has announced the full lineup for the 2018 edition of its annual festival set to take place in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico from May 17th-20th.  Bands playing include PEARS, Pity Party, Success, Western Settings, Gentlemen Prefer Blood, Rayner, and much more.

You can check out the full list of bands above, as well as a sampler featuring 36 of those bands below.



Pity Party Release ‘Are You Happy Yet?’ EP

Oakland’s Pity Party released their new EP “Are We Happy Yet?last Friday (March 30th), out through La Escalera Records.  The EP is out on CD and vinyl, with orders up on the label store now.

You can have a listen to the four song offering below.



Regan Ashton of Problem Daughter is releasing an alt-country-folk-punk solo album and its awesome

So pumped to announce this news. Fans who dig the distinctly unique vocal talents of Problem Daughter co-vocalist Regan Ahston are in for a special treat. The lovable front-man of the Salt Lake City pop-punk act will be releasing his debut solo album “…And The People You Always Have With You” on May 11th via La Escalera. I’ve had the honor of hearing the tunes pre-release and can personally endorse it for any fan of the alt-country/americana/folky hybrid genre that’s been spinning out of the punk scene recently, not to mention fans of Problem Daughter of course.

Check out a promo video with a snippet of a tune below and pre-order the album and some great Regan merch here.



Pity Party (California) announce spring tour dates, stream new song

Bay Area punks Pity Party have announced some spring US tour dates.  Additionally the band is streaming a new song “Pop Song 4-Evr,” which comes from their upcoming EP, Are You Happy Yet?, that is set to be released on March 26th via La Escalera Records.

You can check out the song, and the tour dates below.

Pity Party last released Gnarbage in June 2016.



The Shell Corporation stream upcoming album “Fucked”

California punk act The Shell Corporation are releasing their new album “Fucked” on March 2nd through La Escalera Records at home and Gunner Records abroad. Ahead of the release, The Bad Copy are streaming the whole thing. 

US and European pre-orders are up now. The album is the follow up to 2014’s “Mandrake”.



Reunions(melodic) streaming new album “Aching Waits”

San Fran melodic punks Reunions are streaming their new album “Aching Awaits”. The album is quickly becoming a favorite new release of this Dying Scenester.

Do yourself a favor and check it out below.

This is the second release for Reunions, their début self titled EP was released in September of 2016. If your into The Penske File you will undoubtedly love these guys.