Showing posts with label punk rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label punk rock. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

video review: 'order in decline' by sum 41

So yeah, this was a nice pleasant surprise here, good stuff.

Anyway, next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, but what to be next... stay tuned!

Monday, July 22, 2019

album review: 'order in decline' by sum 41

I think a lot of Canadians have a weird relationship to Sum 41.

Hell, given this is the first time I'm talking about the band... I think pretty much ever, mostly because I'd describe myself as a casual fan at best, Sum 41 is one of those breakthrough punk acts in the early 2000s that might have notched a few singles in the U.S. but were damn near ubiquitous in Canada, to the point when I went through an old greatest hits compilation I was stunned how many songs I knew from memory. But that was the rub with Sum 41: for me they've always been more of a singles band who drilled into insanely catchy hooks and infectious energy more than consistent refinement, especially lyrically. And hey, a blunt wallop can be fine for a shot of adrenaline on the radio, or even for a surprisingly raucous crossover metal song, but Sum 41 also had a tendency to overreach into ballads of questionable quality or political subject matter that where the writing occasionally had more heart than focus. So when even Canadian audiences lost track of them... I'll be honest, I didn't even notice they were gone.

But by 2016, with the band now on an indie label and long out of an obligation to court radio play - plus the return of their original lead guitarist to make them a five piece act - the band regained some critical attention on their album 13 Voices that year, which signaled a slow shift to a darker, more melodic hardcore and alternative metal-leaning sound that wasn't precisely great but was more likable than I expected. And when I heard the group was getting even darker, heavier, and more political on their newest album... look, it's always a little weird to see Canadian punks write about American politics, but apparently they weren't going to snub some of the toxicity leaking in up here, so hell yeah I was interested, especially given how the band didn't seem interested at all on coasting on nostalgia. So okay, I'm intrigued and a little stunned that I'm doing this, but what did we get from Sum 41 on Order In Decline?

Sunday, July 7, 2019

video review: 'scared of you' by laura imbruglia

Well okay, I was way late to the party with this one... but yeah, special type of indie rock, and she's entirely independent and deserves a lot of attention.

But now onto something way more hyped... stay tuned!

album review: 'scared of you' by laura imbruglia

I can imagine that some of you are looking at this review and have questions. For one, if you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen this album on my schedule and are thinking, 'Wait, wasn't this supposed to be on the Trailing Edge?', or you're seeing the name of the artist and if you know the 90s at all you might be thinking, 'Wait, she's got a new album?'.

And I'm here to say that, in your own way, you're both wrong. For one, you're probably thinking of Natalie Imbruglia, most well-known for her 90s staple 'Torn', and while Laura Imbruglia is related, her music has been way more interesting this past decade and is our primary focus here. For one, Laura Imbruglia has been far more punk in her releases, and while she may have had a famous older sister that might have opened doors for her in the industry, the sound she was pursuing would have slammed those doors in her face, embracing an artsier side of punk rock, indie rock, and even alternative country, complete with a distinctly Australian jagged side that led to weirder song constructions and lyrics that took more chances. Yeah, her back catalog is uneven - mostly on the country side where her song structures got a bit more conventional but not always to her benefit - but for the past fifteen or so years she's been working in the indie circuit and the albums have been well-written, nuanced, and incredibly catchy. And since this is her first album since 2013, I wanted to give it some airtime even if it was going to wind up on the  Trailing Edge, so what did I find in Scared Of You?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

video review: 'morbid stuff' by PUP

I know, I'm late to this... and will be late to my next review too, so stay tuned! 

album review: 'morbid stuff' by PUP

You know, it's funny, I was talking with a fellow Canadian music writer when I was catching a few punk bands performing in downtown Toronto and mostly making fun of the label guys who are clearly too cool for any of this and aren't nearly as inconspicuous as they think they are, and I was wondering why the hell they were even here. Sure, punk can move units on the festival circuit, but that scene is nowhere close to the market share it was even a decade ago. But then she pointed out something obvious: they had to be there. Even if the majority of those bar bands would turn out to be nothing or would flame out or become the underground lifers for which music is a hobby, every so often you'd get an act like Fucked Up or Japandroids or PUP, and whatever's left of larger rock/punk labels would need to find them somehow.

And it was that conversation that leaped to mind when I went through PUP's back catalog again for this review: because man, I've heard a lot of pop punk bar acts that fit close to what PUP is delivering. Huge abrasive riffs, shouted vocals, far better guitar and drum work that you wouldn't expect from the old pop punk set in the 2000s thanks to a lingering post-hardcore influence, lyrics ripping sheets from the third wave of emo - really, the bands that blow up with this sound are the ones that actually can write sticky songs and hooks, and that's what PUP had. I'll freely admit not quite loving what PUP brought to the table - I've long felt the band had missed some tightness in their first two projects even if the hooks were there, especially on the debut which I think I like more than The Dream Is Over - but given how much critical acclaim has fallen on their third album Morbid Stuff, which many have suggested is their most refined and paradoxically raucous project to date, I really had to make time to check this out, so what did we get from Morbid Stuff?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

video review: 'prehysteria' by t-rextasy

So I honestly don't expect this band to get a ton of traffic thanks to this review - hell, I don't expect this review to get a lot of traffic - but it's a goofy and fun little project, definitely worth a listen!

album review: 'prehysteria' by t-rextasy

So one of my plans for 2019 was getting a bit more freedom to venture into weird places to find new music, and given how slow things are starting this year, it's a good time to build a nice routine in finding it. And nowhere is more overstuffed with offkilter weirdness than Bandcamp and talk about the sort of act that immediately becomes tricky to talk about, mostly because they defy easy categorization.

So yes, let's talk about T-Rextasy, a New York-based punk group that broke out in the mid-2010s with their debut Jurassic Punk - and if by some of those names you might be thinking we're dealing with a joke act... well, I could definitely see it, but I'm not sure I'd entirely agree. It's definitely true that this group has a broad, cartoonish blend of vintage garage rock and art punk, splitting the difference between twee and riot grrl so subtly you might be convinced neither are truly applicable, and all delivered with a bratty yet comedic theatricality that at its best can feel wry and clever but at its worst can feel like Brooklyn hipster community theater that's both grating and entirely too impressed with itself. What I am stressing is that this sound can be very niche, especially given the thick accent of Lyris Faron... but it's certainly catchy and colourful, and I enjoyed their debut album enough to check out their follow-up Prehysteria, so what did we get?

Monday, December 3, 2018

resonators 2018 - episode #011 - 'earth a.d./wolfs blood' by misfits (VIDEO)

Nearly forgot to post this - but yeah, bit of a frustrating review to put together for Resonators. Eh, it happens.

Next up, time to catch up on a slow weekend where I wasn't doing much - stay tuned!

Friday, November 30, 2018

resonators 2018 - episode #011 - 'earth a.d./wolfs blood' by misfits

So in my loosely sketched out plans for this show, I was planning on covering this last month. I figured it would fit: the band many people attribute to the breakout of horror punk with a video set for around Halloween, that's almost too easy. But my plans went awry when you all wanted me to cover Husker Du and fair enough, I totally get why, but I still hoped that I'd get a chance to discuss this band in particular, especially as we're dealing with two very unique facets: not only were they band that broke horror punk, but they're also an example of a band that started in more traditional punk rock before shifting into hardcore... which wasn't really common. Normally it was the other way around, with hardcore punk bands expanding or shifting their sound either towards crossover thrash, punk rock, post-punk, or just outright alternative.

But this band was different - in the late 70s in exchange for a trademark with Mercury Records they got enough studio time to hammer out an album that wouldn't see release until the 90s, and like most punk bands around the turn of the decade they saw most of their success off of singles. But they built notoriety in the scene for an increasingly exaggerated and macabre image, along with a reputation for criminal antics and a rotating cast list of members. By 1982 they had managed to push out a proper debut that won some acclaim for solid melodies and a distinctive, schlock-horror theme in their songwriting, but the band was in mid-collapse even then and the frontman Glenn Danzig had confided in his friend and frontman of Black Flag Henry Rollins that he was planning on quitting himself. By 1983, Danzig was even including songs he was intending for a future band on the sophomore project just to push the album through to completion... and it wouldn't be enough. The band would break up two months before this album's release after a disastrous Halloween show and would not reform in any capacity until the late 90s, leaving behind what some have deemed a hardcore punk classic. That's right folk, we're talking about Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood by the Misfits, and this is Resonators!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

resonators 2018 - episode #006 - 'kill from the heart' by dicks (VIDEO)

I've got a lot of thoughts that I wound up being the one doing this profile years later - the fact that I can't find any anniversary pieces on this album baffles me, or even something in Pride... but then again, hardcore punk being ahead of its time and then promptly forgotten is nothing new. /sigh

Okay, next up, let's talk about Natalie Prass and then I might handle Panic! At The Disco - stay tuned!

resonators 2018 - episode #006 - 'kill from the heart' by dicks

So there are some cultural narratives around certain genres of music like hardcore punk that I'd like to think this series at least has taken a small step in helping demystify, and today we're going to be talking about one of the more complicated ones: homosexuality in hardcore. Because just within the classic records I've covered so far we've heard gay slurs, and while the majority of the artists seem to regret them now, it's just as important to understand this was the early 1980s. It was Reagan's America, hypermasculinity was in, and hardcore punk was very much a boys club, and even though we're talking about a genre that trended left, I wasn't remotely surprised to see those slurs pop up among young guys looking to be as blunt and edgy as possible.

But that did not mean that there weren't gay artists in hardcore, and while I wasn't originally hoping for this record to top the poll for this month, given that it's Pride Month I'm kind of happy it did. That's right, folks, it's time we talk about one of the foundational albums in queercore, hardcore punk that tried to take a stridently progressive angle when it came to sexuality and gender and bringing it with as much fury as any of their more conventionally oriented counterparts. Hailing from Texas of all places and well-known for a drunken live show and their prominent socialist bent - and again, this was in 1983 - a band in Austin started as a joke by their openly gay frontman Gary Lloyd until singles and records proved otherwise, today we're going to be talking about The Dicks, and their full-length debut album Kill From The Heart, and this is Resonators!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

resonators 2018 - episode #003 - 'milo goes to college' by the descendents (VIDEO)

I kind of feel like I had to cover this one, but man alive, I'm expecting a pretty sizable backlash here...

Anyway, working on the Trailing Edge next, so stay tuned!

resonators 2018 - episode #003 - 'milo goes to college' by the descendents

So let's change gears for a bit on this series and talk about something light, something with a little more melody and upbeat charm - and frankly, this is a side of punk that you'll often get on the poppier side but I'm always a little mystified that it doesn't translate to the other subgenres as often. And it's also something I'd argue can drive a lot of people away from punk in the long-term, especially the more political stuff. Yes, punk often deals with serious issues and the furious intensity of hardcore means that it's naturally suited to emotions that are more negative or angry, but the truth is that said material can burn out a lot of listeners, especially when you consider the puritanical straight edge side that came out of hardcore as the 80s continued on. And yes, there is absolutely a place for that, and when I finally get a chance to talk about Minor Threat we'll discuss it in detail... but there's a reason why bands that at least seem like they're having fun have a little more longevity in popular culture. And while some will look down on that, it's hard to deny a sense of humor and raw populism might spread the message even further - even the bad or misguided ideas Dead Kennedys had have stuck around thanks to Jello Biafra's delivery and wit.

So let's discuss one of the more influential acts in that mold across hardcore and pop punk, who released their full-length debut in 1982 and titled it with the expectation that their frontman Milo Aukerman was going off to college, after which the band went on one of their many hiatuses. They had seen some groundswell a year earlier with the Fat EP - just to give you an idea of the sense of humor we're dealing with - and had actually been produced by Spot, the guy who worked in-house for most of SST and co-produced Black Flag's Damaged, among many others - expect his name to come up a lot more, especially when it comes the California scene. But this group was the furthest thing thematically from Black Flag - a band of hyper-caffeinated teenagers on the goofy side that in 1982 were actively looking to buck the serious, destructive, borderline anarchistic side of the scene... and in doing they made one of the most influential melodic hardcore albums of all time and inspired countless groups, especially the pop punk mainstream breakthroughs in the mid-to-late 90s. That's right, folks, we're talking abut Milo Goes To College by The Descendents, and this is Resonators!

Friday, March 2, 2018

video review: 'all at once' by screaming females

I can imagine given how much critical acclaim this record has gotten that my slightly cooler take might be divisive... folks, I still like it, just not as much as everyone else, it happens.

Next up... hmm, probably Annihilation, but we'll see what shows up on the schedule come tomorrow, so stay tuned!

album review: 'all at once' by screaming females

So here's a hidden truth about being a music critic: in the age of the internet, you haven't heard everything, and you will never hear everything. And learning to reconcile that on some level is pretty much the only reason I haven't burned out nearly five years into this, and one reason I am so grateful Patreon provides some structure in my schedule. It doesn't mean I'm any less curious about everything that's out there or that I'm not kicking myself at the end of every year when I miss some record that's notched critical acclaim that I just didn't get a chance to cover, but it softens the blow a bit, especially considering my Patrons have a nice habit of pushing me outside my comfort zone, which is definitely healthy. That being said, since it's my policy to try and hear a band's entire discography before reviewing them in depth, it gets a tad exhausting when you see yet another indie rock band with considerable critical acclaim and a discography close to double digits wind up on my schedule. And it's not even that the bands are bad - it's typically got enough of a punk edge to stay exciting, the writing is often passable to pretty strong, the riffing is usually pretty well-developed, and at some point they typically get Steve Albini behind the production boards - but I also won't lie and say that unless the sound shifts significantly these records can start to run together a bit. 

Fortunately, it seems like five records in, Screaming Females realized this and started shifting up their formula after four pretty damn solid releases - my personal favourite favourite of those being Power Trip. For their fifth record in 2012 called Ugly, they brought in Steve Albini, tightened up the production and riffs, and crystallized their sound... only to swivel on their next full-length towards a crunchy brand of metal in 2015 on Rose Mountain that while was pretty likable didn't always flatter their more melodic guitar digressions or Marissa Paternoster's incensed, throaty vibrato. So when I heard they were heading closer towards mainstream rock radio on their newest collection... well, I had mixed expectations, given that they had kept Matt Bayles on production - and he's most well known for working with Mastodon on their pre-Crack The Skye years - and a swivel towards power-pop or pop punk seemed like uncharted territory, even if the critical consensus has generally been unsurprised by the pivot. Granted, said critics have also been giving this album the most praise Screaming Females have gotten since Ugly, so what the hell: how was All At Once?

Monday, February 26, 2018

resonators 2018 - episode #002 - 'fresh fruit for rotting vegetables' by dead kennedys (VIDEO) know, I was expecting WAY more critical backlash than what I've received thus far... but I think I've just got to give this one time, I reckon.

Anyway, now for the real event...

resonators 2018 - episode #002 - 'fresh fruit for rotting vegetables' by dead kennedys

So for the second episode of this series, I wanted to tackle something a little more widely known - and we immediately hit a quandary, because in the 1980s, hardcore punk didn't cross over to the mainstream, not unless you had a hot single or managed to snag the popular zeitgeist for one blistering sharp moment in time. And that also means that I'm going to be talking about a lot of records in this series that even decades later didn't sell at all. 

Today, we're going to be talking about one of the exceptions, one that actually predates Black Flag's Damaged by about a year, from a band further up the west coast that were a fair bit more political, but possibly dating themselves in the process, a band that had a legit underground single that led this record to actually move units and win certifications, even spots on the UK charts! But of course it came with a fair amount of controversy, protests, and holds a much more contentious spot in the hardcore canon. But when it comes to bands bridging the gap between traditional punk and hardcore, they do deserve attention, even if they're far from the purest expression of the genre. In other words... strap in, folks, we're talking about Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables by Dead Kennedys, and this is Resonators!