Sunday, April 19, 2015

Album Review: 'Red City Radio' by Red City Radio

Title: Red City Radio (Official, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist: Red City Radio (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Red City Radio's self-titled third full-length album is a record that displays a deep musical and lyrical growth. Following the departure of guitarist/co-vocalist and founding member Paul Pendley in 2014, the band was joined by former Nothington bassist Ryan Donovan on guitar. The change in lineup has certainly had an effect on the band's sound but the roots of this new direction were more than amply laid on their previous record Titles (plus singer/guitarist Garrett Dale's solo material also dropped a few hints about RCR's future sound). So what exactly is different? Red City Radio's earlier records were high octane punk rock that pulled generously from the likes of Dillinger Four and Hot Water Music. On Red City Radio, the band has dropped the earlier pretense of cryptic lyrics for straight forward personal tales of love, struggle, and life. Sonically this record is a tad slower and far more rock 'n' roll than previous releases but the spirit of punk rock is still front and center. The easiest way to describe these changes is to say that this record is far more The Tim Version and Nothington than Dillinger Four and Hot Water Music. The end result is a powerful punch to the gut that touches the soul and leaves the listener singing along while pumping their fist in the air. Red City Radio is easily the band's best release to date and is one of, if not the, best record of 2015.    

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Album Review: 'In This Mess' by toyGuitar

Title:  In This Mess (Fat Wreck Chords, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)

In This Mess is a high energy romp that mixes elements of garage rock, punk, and power pop.  The record opens with the jangly blast of “Human Hyenas” perfectly setting the stage for what is to come.  While most of the record is on the fast side, it is the slower moments that really let toyGuitar shine.  Songs like the mid-tempo “Static Attraction” and the almost ballad “Roller Coasters” showcase that this band is far from being another punk band which shouldn’t be at all surprising considering the band is led by singer/guitarist Jack Dalrymple of One Man Army, Dead To Me, and Swingin’ Utters fame.  I have been a fan of Dalrymple’s work since I first heard One Man Army’s “Down the Block” on a now long-forgotten four-way split seven inch, prior to the release of the band’s full-length debut (we’re talking sometime in ’97 or ’98) and have followed him ever since.  Dalrymple’s songwriting has always been light-years ahead of his contemporaries and that is certainly the case here.  In This Mess is a record that in a lot of ways, is very hard to describe.  The songs are fun and catchy with lyrics that are intelligent and poignant, but at the same time this band really sounds like no one else.  Sure there are elements that are familiar, especially for fans of One Man Army’s last EP She’s An Alarm, but the totality of the record and the band is impossible to classify with one simple label or genre.  The main takeaway from In This Mess is that toyGuitar isan incredibly talented band that writes fun and high energy songs that are complex in their simplicity and powerful in their honesty.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

EP Review: 'A History So Repeating' by Gentlemen Rogues

Title:  A History So Repeating (End Sounds, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Gentlemen Rogues (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace)

Gentlemen Rogues latest EP A History So Repeating is a power pop powerhouse release.  From top to bottom, the songs on the EP are catchy with tight hooks and melodies that are destined to get stuck in your head.  Gentlemen Rogues’ music pulls from the legendary power pop artists on the late 70s (Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello) and the indie rock of the early 1990s (The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers) resulting in a sound that is familiar and nostalgic while still fresh and vibrant.  The EP opens with a blast in the incredibly catchy “Your Armageddon” and never lets up from there.  Gentlemen Rogues is an incredibly fun band with great taste in music (just check out their covers of Erasure’s “A Little Respect” on this EP plus their previous covers of Buffalo Tom and Beach Slang).  A History So Repeating is the band’s third and probably best release to date making it a must for fans of power pop, early 90s indie rock, or just catchy as hell rock ‘n’ roll.      

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ranking the Albums: John Moreland

In honor of and preparation for the April 21st release of his latest album High on Tulsa Heat, I figured this would be a good time to revisit my Ranking the Albums feature with one of the best artists the Sooner State has ever produced – John Moreland.

Moreland started playing music in punk and hardcore bands. He made his first splash with his group John Moreland & The Black Gold Band, recording two full-length albums with the band (Endless Oklahoma Sky and Things I Can't Control) before moving on to a solo career. His first solo record Earthbound Blues was released in 2011, which also saw the release of Everything the Hard Way his first record with John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls. 2013 saw the release of Moreland's staggeringly beautiful In The Throes which very well could be his magnum opus. In-between the full-length records, he has also release a few EPs including Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu (in 2010 and 2011 respectfully) and has had three songs appear on the hit television series Sons of Anarchy.

For this list I have limited myself to Moreland's full-length albums. Make sure to also check out my reviews of Things I Can't Control, Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu, Earthbound Blues, Everything the Hard Way, and In The Throes. Also make sure to pick up Moreland's new record High on Tulsa Heat when it come out next week. I've heard it and it is awesome so go and out and buy it already! This list is in order of preference (though they are all fantastic).

For more information on John Moreland check out his official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, BandCamp, Last.fm, and Wikipedia pages.

1. In the Throes
2. Everything the Hard Way
3. Things I Can't Control
4. Earthbound Blues
5. Endless Oklahoma Sky

Video of the Day: "Honey" by Kid Wave

"Honey" by Kid Wave (OfficialFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud)

From:  Wonderlust (Rough Trade Records, Amazon, iTunes)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Album Review: ‘Tales From Wyoming’ by Teenage Bottlerocket

Title:  Tales From Wyoming (Official, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  Teenage Bottlerocket (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Teenage Bottlerocket is THE quintessential pop punk band.  More than Screeching Weasel, more than the Descendents, hell even more than the Ramones, Teenage Bottlerocket epitomize the genre.  The band’s sixth full-length, and first for Rise Records, Tales From Wyoming is everything one would expect from TBR and then some.  With songs that are as catchy as they are quirky, TBR tackles topics ranging from love and girls to Minecraft and Metallica.  Tales… is this first time that the band has worked with legendary producer Bill Stevenson (ALL, Descendents) and the result is pretty much perfection.  Overall the record is a bit slower than previous efforts (most songs are in the faster-mid-tempo range) and includes the band’s first acoustic ballad, the beautiful closing track “First Time” but that is not to say that the record is lacking energy because it is not.  In fact, the record is bursting with energy and dares the listener to not sing and dance along.  From start to finish Tales From Wyoming is a perfect pop punk record that should even turn folks that aren’t fans of the genre into fans of the band.    

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Top 15 Records of 1995

1995 was kind of a weird year for music.  There was the further exploitation of the punk scene, the continued corporatization of the (for lack of a better term) alternative scene, and a general sense that the music media was desperately looking for that next big scene.  Admittedly, my memory of 1995 is pretty fuzzy at this point so I don’t remember a lot of what happened that year other than the fact that I saw both ALL and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (or was that ’94…crap who knows at this point).  Checked out my best of posts for 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994.

15.  Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities by Circle Jerks
14.  Dear You by Jawbreaker
13.  Space Freak by Sinkhole
12.  Grandpaw Would by Ben Lee
11.  Sleepy Eyed by Buffalo Tom
10.  Pummel by ALL
9.  [tie] Love Is Dead and Alternative Is Here To Stay! by The Mr. T Experience
8.  Mantra by Shelter
7.  Foo Fighters by Foo Fighters
6.  Set Your Goals by CIV
5.  ...Rocks Your Lame Ass by Hagfish
4.  Maniacal Laughter by The Bouncing Souls
3.  Those Unknown by Those Unknown
2.  ...And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid
1.  A Boy Named Goo by Goo Goo Dolls


Other Notable Releases –
Gone by Dwight Yoakam
Chef Boyrudum by Sicko
¡Leche con Carne! by No Use for a Name
13 Unlucky Numbers by Wax
Elastica by Elastica
100% Fun by Matthew Sweet
Brainbloodvolume by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices
Lemonade and Brownies by Sugar Ray
Blonder and Blonder by The Muffs
You'd Prefer an Astronaut by Hum
Sparkle and Fade by Everclear
Red Medicine by Fugazi
The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers by Supersuckers
Garbage by Garbage
Here's Where the Strings Come In by Superchunk
(What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis
Return of the Rentals by The Rentals

Saturday, March 28, 2015

EP Review: 'Volume 2' by The Warning Shots

Title: Volume 2 (BandCamp [State Line Records], Amazon, iTunes)
Artist: The Warning Shots (Facebook, Twitter)

The Warning Shots' sophomore EP Volume 2 is five songs of high energy, catchy as f, passionate, and fun as all hell rock 'n' roll. At first glance, the Boston five-piece sounds to be a 77 style punk band (not that there is anything wrong with that) but as this EP shows, they are so, so, so much more. The band's debut EP Six to Midnight was incredible, one of the best releases of 2013, and Volume 2 is just as good, if not better. The EP opens with a blast of straight up punk rock in “Make You Move” followed by “Right There Beside You” with its sing-a-long chorus, but it's the two songs that follow that really showcase the brilliance of this band. “The Ghosts of the Past” is an epicly large feeling rock 'n' roll song that harkens back to the glory days of arena rock with its guitar work and expansive chorus (think Boston, Journey, etc.) while “You Lost Your Faith” taps into that perfect place that mixes everything good in punk, resulting in a powerful and uplifting song. The EP closes out with a cover of one of Rancid's more obscure songs,“Brad Logan.” The overall result is another excellent EP by a band that just simple gets it. The Warning Shots understand the power, fun, and potential of rock 'n' roll and it shows on Volume 2.  One last note, on Amazon and iTunes Volume 2 has been release with Six to Midnight under the title Year One.