Friday, April 18, 2014

Album Review: Metropole

Artist:  The Lawrence Arms (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace,, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

The Lawrence Arms’ sixth studio record Metropole is an ode to that realization that one has entered middle age.  The dueling lead vocals of bassist Brendan Kelly and guitarist Chris McCaughan bite with harsh honesty and clever lyrics that make these songs meaningful without berating or beating the listener on the head to drive home the point.  In other words this record is subtle and straight-forward all at the same time. 

I am relatively new to The Lawrence Arms’ music.  I’d heard of the band for years and knew of their connection to the legendary Chicago ska punk band Slapstick but for whatever reason, I never got around to checking them out.  My first real exposure to The Lawrence Arms came by the way of their side-projects Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds and Sundowner, both of which I have thoroughly enjoyed (check out my reviews of their latest records here and here).  So when I heard that Kelly, McCaughan, and drummer Neil Hennessy were getting back together, I was instantly interested.  I got a copy of Metropole shortly after its release and I’ve been listening to it, fairly constantly, since.  For me, this is one of those records that really hits home with its themes of growing up and growing old, while still feeling the anger and frustration of youth.  On top of that, the songs are catchy punk rock ‘n’ roll anthems the mix the best elements of Jawbreaker, The Goo Goo Dolls (an early influence according to Kelly and one that I can definitely hear), and the historic Chicago punk scene.  This is the kind of record that makes you feel like you are not alone and that is reassuring (at least for this middle aged Gen Xer).  It’s also a record that isn’t afraid to be more than just another punk rock outing, making it a collection of catchy rock ‘n’ roll tunes and anthems that should appeal to a wide audience.  One thing’s for certain, Metropole is easily one of 2014’s best records.   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Album Review: Souvenir

Title:  Souvenir (Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)

Banner Pilot’s fourth album Souvenir plays true to form in that it is a collection of incredibly catchy, hooked laden Midwestern punk tunes.  The band’s familiar sound pulls heavily from the likes of Dillinger Four, Jawbreaker, Pegboy, and Hot Water Music, but their passion and intensity is what really makes their music stand out (not that one could ever really go wrong following in the footsteps of those punk rock giants, IMHO).  While the 12 songs on Souvenir are undeniably Banner Pilot (especially with those thundering basslines), this isn’t simply the same record all over again.  Simply put, Souvenir is a stellar record that proves that not all great punk rock (or music for that matter) is from the past.

Video of the Day: "Puppet" by The Franklys

"Puppet" by The Franklys (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, SoundCloud)

From:  Puppet (Official)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Album Review: Spin It

Title:  Spin It (Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby)
Artist:  The Forty Nineteens (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ReverbNation, CD Baby, Vimeo,

The Forty Nineteens’ sophomore full-length Spin It takes the foundation the band laid with their brilliant debut No Expiration Date and builds on it adding power pop savvy to their unique band rock ‘n’ roll.  Still there are the elements of college rock, alt country, indie, and punk rock but this time around the pop is front and center.  While No Expiration Date was the sound of a band expressing their devotion for Dramarama, Spin It is the sound of a band articulating their admiration of early Elvis Costello. 

The eight song album opens with the excellent, and very Go-Go’s-esque, pop gem “Falling Down,” a fun commentary on modern communication and connectivity, perfectly seting up the rest of the record (and should also totally be performed as a mash-up/medley with The Go-Go’s “Our Lips are Sealed”).  My only complaint with Spin It is that it has only eight songs.  This is a record that is fun and heartfelt and when it ends it leaves you begging for more.  The Forty Nineteens have once again produced a stellar record that is easily one of the best of the year.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Currently Listening

1.  “Come On Down” by Gameface (from Now Is What Matters Now)
2.  “Tumbling Dice” by The Gaslight Anthem (from The B-Sides)
3.  “Back To You” by Twin Forks (from Twin Forks)
4.  “I Feel” by Placeholder (from Seems Like There’s a Show Every Night)
5.  “I Miss You” by Candy Hearts (from I Miss You)
6.  “For All We Care” by Chuck Ragan (from Till Midnight)
7.  “Smile” by Morningside Lane (from A Fifth of Elvis)
8.  “The Answer’s No” by Kevin Seconds (from Off Stockton)
9.  “Cats” by Sinal Vessel (from Profanity)
10.  “Bombs Away” by The Shell Corporation (from Mandrake)

Friday, April 04, 2014

EP Review: The Royal We

Title:  The Royal We (BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Seagulls (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, ReverbNation)

Atlanta, GA’s Seagulls’ sophomore EP The Royal We is five songs of gravelly vocal, punk rock anthem goodness (six including the bonus track).  These are the kind of catchy songs that bridge that gap between pop punk, street punk, Midwest punk, and the like; in other words they should appeal equally to fans of Teenage Bottlerocket, U.S. Bombs, and Dillinger Four.  Seagulls’ greatest strength is in their ability to craft a great hook and a chorus that pulls you in and dares you to not sing along.  The only song that seems to deviate from this formula is the hardcore-esque “F.F.M.” and while it works as melodic hardcore song (think Hogan’s Heroes, Sick Of It All type of stuff), it doesn’t work as well as the rest of the EP (this just could be a personal preference thing on my part seeing as I’m a sucker for catchy as hell punk rock anthems, which this band excels at).  Overall The Royal We is an excellent EP from a great up and coming band.  This EP is certainly going to make my best of 2014 list and Seagulls is definitely a band that I am going to keep my eyes on.  

Currently Listening

1.  “Falling Down” by The Forty Nineteens (from Spin It)
2.  “Beautiful Things” by The Lawrence Arms (from Metropole)
3.  “Alabama Movies” by Skating Polly (from Fuzz Steilacoom)
4.  “Going Down” by Crosshatch (from Full Speed Ahead)
5.  “Vagabond” by Chuck Ragan (from Till Midnight)
6.  “Joey” by Honeyblood (from Honeyblood)
7.  “Close One” by Seagulls (from The Royal We)
8.  “Break the Tide” by The Mighty Fine (from Brothers and Smugglers)
9.  “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” by The Menzingers (from Rented World)
10.  “Wait a While” by The Hold Steady (from Teeth Dreams)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Top 5 Songs by Hot Water Music

I first heard Hot Water Music through the split that they released with Alkaline Trio.  At the time (around 2008 or so) my internet access was pretty bad and I was also pretty broke (not that that has changed much over the years) so that was my only real exposure to the band for a number of years.  I’d know of the band since the early ‘00s but hadn’t heard any of their stuff until after they broke up (thankfully they have since reunited).  My interest in the band was piqued after I discovered Chuck Ragan’s solo material.  Since then Hot Water Music has become one of my favorite bands. 

For more information on Hot Water Music check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace,, AllMusic, and Wikipedia pages.

Here, in no particular order, are my five favorite songs by Hot Water Music. 

1.  “Trusty Chords” (from Caution)

2.  “No Division” (from No Division)

3.  “The Traps” (from Exister)

4.  “Wayfarer” (from Caution)

5.  “At the End of a Gun” (from No Division)

Honorable Mentions –
Paid in Full” (from Exister)
Paper Thin” (from A Flight and a Crash)
Sunday Suit” (from A Flight and a Crash)
Hit and Miss” (from No Division)