ATOM DRIVER – SLACKJAW EP and cover of “JOHNNY” by X.

ATOM DRIVER – SLACKJAW EP and cover of “JOHNNY” by X.

This past weekend Atom Driver celebrated the release of their throttle punk EP Slackjaw on Powerbunny 4×4 Records at Pino’s in Highland Park, NJ. On the bill with them was Amy & Alex from Prosolar Mechanics as Bear Claw making their noise duo debut and as well as Couch and Commando cooking up some of their down home music before Atom Driver blasted everybody at Pino’s with songs from their release and a bunch of new tunes.

ATOM DRIVER AND FRIENDS COVERING “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” By X

Towards, the end of their set Amy and Anthony from Bionic Rhoda made their way to the stage to help hammer home an ode to Chuck Berry with a cover by X from their 1980 album Los Angeles. This is a feel good rock song and proof positive that even though the performances was taking place on the other side of Raritan River, rock is very much alive in the Hub City.

SLACKJAW EP REVIEW – Powerbunny 4×4
Now, we highly recommend Atom Driver’s debut EP Slackjaw, and not just because we’ve known Mike from Buzzkill who plays drums, or Mark Segal from Boss Jim Gettys’s on Guitar and Vocals for more years than we care to admit but because this band has molded perfect parts big noise and melodic metalcore. All tracks will blow the windows out of those soon to come self-driving cars that millenials will be driving around aimlessly and getting lost when the GPS goes out. These rock songs are powerful maps to what fresh rock stank and what ear bleeding hooks should be like. Justin Ingstrup on bass is also my new favorite bass player now as he really holds-up the wall of sound in this band. Recorded and mastered by Jesse Cannon Found Soundation, Union City, NJ, and mixed by the bands long time friend and engineer Steve Evetts.

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People who may like Cheap Trick a little too much – Part II

People who may like Cheap Trick a little too much – Part II

THE CONTINUED AND ACTUAL SONG FOR SONG ALBUM REVIEW: Cheap Trick’s new album is called “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” and it is important to mention that this album, since it doesn’t have Bun E., it cannot be considered a 100% authentic Cheap Trick album. On the other hand, the Peterssonless “One On One” and “Next Position Please” are fine albums and this new one reminds me a little of those at times.

This album sounds powerful and clean and every instrument is PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE and Robin Zander is loud on top of it and you can hear every word. This sounds like the work of a band who have something to prove. As a unit of players and singers they have never sounded better. Too bad about Bun E. but at least Daxx does not suck. His first name sucks, but aside from that he’s a heavy hitter and allows the band to retain their near-Zeppelin level of heaviosity which is a key factor setting them apart from all other so-called “power pop” bands. What a great gimmick: be the heaviest and still be the most catchy and melodic. This is loud guitars but tap your foot and sing along music. So the good news is the band is rocking harder here than on any studio recording since their first album. It’s like they’re doing it on purpose. Rick Nielsen’s guitar takes up more sonic real estate than maybe ever and the “everything louder than everything else” production style is very flattering to the band and plays to their strengths.

Here’s a song by song play by play:

GIVING THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT SONG
“Heart On The Line” has all the classic Cheap Trick ingredients. It is a chugging, driving rocker with and Robin Zander sounding as great as ever singing vocal singing an almost stereotypically Cheap Trick-like melody. The low E rumble is reminiscent of their great “Everything Works If You Let It” from the Roadie soundtrack. It also reminds me a little of “Auf Weiderschen”. This song has some great surprise sections and reminds the listener of about four different great Trick songs over the course of its four plus minutes. But then I can’t help but notice Daxx is putting cymbal crashes in places I don’t think Bun E. would. He has a similar effect on the sound of the band as Matt Sorum had on Guns ‘N” Roses but Cheap Trick is enough of a better band that the Sorum-likeness doesn’t hurt them too much. The guitar stands out as especially assertive in the mix. The guitar is so loud all over this album that I’m convinced that either 1) Rick Nielsen is intentionally making such a ballsy hard rocking album that the fans will have no choice other than to forgive the unfortunate change of drummers. 2) Bun E., for some reason, wouldn’t allow Nielsen to mix his guitars as loud as he wanted. This seems fairly unlikely. Whatever the reason, it works for me. This is the most they’ve sounded like an authentic straight ahead hard rock band since their debut opened with “Hot Love”. I love the sound Nielsen gets on this album, no reverb or delay, no excessive gain, just a plain electric guitar mixed at a healthy volume for perfect clarity. Nielsen is a long time admirer of AC/DC and the righteous purity of his gigantic guitar sound on this album lives up to that standard. There are two vintage Rick Nielson solos in this song. There is more lead guitar in this song than appears on some entire Trick albums. This is a very very good thing. Robin Zander just sounds very much like himself, which is a great thing.

UNCOOL COMMERCIAL POP SONG
“No Direction” turns things decidedly and abruptly “power pop”. It comes in with chimey guitars and superfluous vocal harmonies right off the bat, spelling out the whole vibe right from go. It also has a very uncool chorus that reeks of the dreaded “this could be played on the radio” genre of yesteryear.

The song sort of reminds me of a rocked up version of Missing Person’s – “Destination Unknown”.

I don’t think Cheap Trick is stealing from Missing Persons, it’s very likely an example of the inevitable occurrence of parallel mediocrity as a result of intentional commercialism. “No Direction” has that kind of chorus that you have a hard time believing the band themselves would actually enjoy listening to. This is the opposite of what makes Cheap Trick great. They are rock and roll scholars with impeccable taste and have a gift for translating the sophistication of someone like Roy Wood into something an American mainstream rock audience can enjoy. And that’s why the chorus to this song makes me sad. But at least there’s another great guitar solo here. He plays some licks from “Oh, Caroline” to boot! This is the old stuff we love. But then it leads into a gratuitous bit of “Life In The Fast Lane” style phase-shifting which highlights the makeshift, random-stuff-pushed-together, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink vibe of the writing and playing on this song and they take that crappy chorus all the way out. Still, Nielsen will not stop with the ceaseless commentary of awesome rock licks. For me, Rick’s guitar is the saving grace of this album. He’s just giving more great guitar than ever before. Zander and Petersen don’t exactly sound like they’re watching the clock either. This sounds like an album that was made with a great care for detail and quality control. Even on a bad song this band is sounding pretty great. But skip this song anyway, it sucks.

NEIL YOUNGISH SINGER SONGWRITER TUNE
I have read that Zander did a great Neil Young when he was a solo acoustic folkie busker-type before he joined forces with Neilsen and co. This song (“When I Wake Up Tomorrow”) sounds like something Neil Young would write and record if he hadn’t suffered from epilepsy. It’s a nice song with a nice melody and another really cool guitar solo. And maybe more importantly, there’s an undercurrent of dark droning A string pedal from Rick Nielsen, which is an early Trick staple on songs like “Taxman, Mr. Thief”, “High Roller”, “Hello There” and others. It’s not totally convincing here but it’s the thought that counts. A good non-Cheap Trick sounding Cheap Trick song.

“AUTHENTICALLY POWERFUL DINOSAUR ROCK JAM”
“Do You Believe Me” sounds cool in a Mutt Lange production of Shania Twain/Def Leppard kind of way followed by Mutt Lange AC/DC style in the jam at the end. I think this song is an homage to Mutt Lange, generally. Maybe they’re hoping he might do a Todd Rundgren-Meat Loaf thing with them and produce their next album and have it become a gigantic monster that no one could have ever foreseen. Who knows? We do know that Cheap Trick admire Lange’s classic productions of AC/DC like any other sensible practitioner of two guitars, bass and drums. They are jamming like Zeppelin. The pre-chorus heads into dark stomping Lennonesque territory, which is the most Cheap Trick thing about this song. And then finally we get to a chorus that just has NOTHING going for it. No meaningful lyrics, no melody, it just gets into more AC/DC type crashing chords, leading into yet ANOTHER awesome guitar solo. This one is extended and Rick is on fire here. Daxx is a good drummer but he’s doing the sort of bullshit tasteless rock dude fills only a drummer could love. I’ll call this one a mixed blessing.

UNEXPECTED GLAM ROCK GEM
“Blood Red Lips” is great. A best case scenario for a new Cheap Trick song, it doesn’t sound like a retread of anything they’ve done before, which is particularly tough for a group like this, but the glam rock style sounds perfectly in line with their aesthetic criteria. It’s got that swing. It’s got that swinging drum roll feeling that is used to such great effect in songs like Sweet’s Teenage’ Rampage.

This song pulls off a stunt that rarely is ever seen from a band with Cheap Trick’s history. They’ve written a quintessential Cheap Trick song that doesn’t remind the listener of any of their own classic era songs. The vocabulary stays squarely in rock and roll, so the Trick plays this music with great confidence and swagger. This is the first song on the album to deliver a truly satisfying chorus. It reminds me a lot of Sweet, it’s a Chapman-Chinn style composition and production in the best way. You can hear Slade and the Move and T. Rex in here too. It’s really that good, easily the best song on the album.

OBLIGATORY SEMI-POWER BALLADISH SONG
This song reminds me of an above-average Wings album track. There are some post 90s Jeff Lynne sort of harmonies on this song, which is a regrettable color to add to their palette. This is another one that sounds like they’re aiming for what used to be known as “could be played on the radio”. I don’t even know to what extent radio even actually exists anymore so I wish they’d stop doing this. On the other hand Robin Zander has never sounded better. And yeah, cool guitar solo…

URGENT ROCKER, DOUBLE TIME
This song has the heavy double time groove of songs like Kiss’s “Deuce” and the Pretenders “Mystery Achievement”. Rick is getting into his “Cold Turkey” mindset for the riffs here, which is a signature of his that is always welcome. “Roll Me” is the song that has the most overt rock cliches of anything on the album. The performance is impressive as usual but ultimately this is just another collection of well-executed gestures that doesn’t add up to a convincing song.

AN OBSCURE COVER OF AN OBSCURE COVER
It is not for no reason that this sounds like a guitar heavy Roxy Music, which is a pretty fucking awesome, if not best possible, way for a rock band to sound. That’s because “The In Crowd” is a cover Bryan Ferry did on his first solo album. The Bryan Ferry version, from 1974, starts out as a primitive mid tempo Velvet Underground groove and keeps it going. The Ferry version sounds like Roxy except the guitars are more prominent. The dominance of the basic open E chord on this weird and rocking song is something I’d imagine Rick Nielsen hooked onto way back then. I imagine Cheap Trick hearing this in 1974 as both an inspiration and an affirmation of the way smart and interesting rock and roll music should sound going into the 70s. The original three members aside from Zander toured Europe in 1973. And we know the band covered The Velvets’ “Waiting For The Man” in their early club days. This is a case of covering the cover that may well have been a key source for Cheap Trick’s own unique style. I am speculating Cheap Trick covered it out of 1974 nostalgia.
Bryan Ferry – The ‘In’ Crowd (Lyrics)

Bryan Ferry covered it out of 1964 nostalgia:

WHEREIN RICK NIELSEN IS MORE JIMMY PAGE THAN JIMMY PAGE
On “Long Time No See You” the band sound like when Jimmy Page played Zeppelin music with the Black Crowes. Rick Nielsen’s arranging, layering, overdubbing, idiosyncratic riff making and soloing are nearly up to “Houses Of The Holy”/”Physical Graffiti” era Page standards. The band sounds great here and Daxx is impressive. There’s a funky rock groove that could be associated with Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith. And I hear a certain amount of Tylerism coming from Zander so I’m gonna think of it as their Aerosmith song. Nielsen evokes Page and Petersson gets up to Entwistle levels of bass tone and assertiveness. A VERY GOOD Aerosmith song.

THE BIG PRODUCTION
“The Sun Never Sets Up” wouldn’t sound out of place on “All Shook Up”. They’re showing some of the Move influence that characterizes much of their best work and there’s a touch of strings that remind me of “Dream Police” and “Stop This Game”. It is an epic pop production in the tradition of those two songs. This is not a particularly great specimen of that sort of song but a nice try nonetheless.

VINTAGE NEW WAVE ART ROCK
“All Strung Out” is a curiosity. It’s like an overly modern new wave power pop overproduction of a Velvet Underground song that wouldn’t sound out of place on the first Roxy Music album (again with the Velvets/Roxy thing) and as usual, the guitars are great. Robin Zander is doing a cross between Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry and the whole thing works. And it’s got the best bridge on the album to boot.

In conclusion: if you love Cheap Trick you probably should get this album. You know who you are. If you don’t love Cheap Trick I can’t imagine you made it through this whole long rambling review and are reading this right now…

RELATED: READ PART ONE THE ALBUM REVIEW INTRODUCTION


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People who may like Cheap Trick a little too much – Part I

People who may like Cheap Trick a little too much – Part I

ALBUM REVIEW: Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello’ – I love Cheap Trick as much as the next guy except when the next guy falls into a category I call “people who may like Cheap Trick a little too much.” The first time I ever noticed this guy, it was myself. I don’t quite FEEL like that guy these days but that guy lives in me still. I have had and continue to have many friends who are or have been this guy. One of these friends is Tom Beaujour. He is a rock journalist (and a recording studio owner/operator and musician, etc.) who has interviewed Rick Nielsen many times. The last time I saw Tom he was telling me about his most recent interview with Nielsen. I wanted to know only one thing: what’s this Van Halen bullshit where a beloved original member is ousted to be replaced by the control freak guitarist’s offspring? I don’t get these rock stars who gotta be like Donald Trump with this foisting of their offspring on the paying customer. No one wants this. I may not quite be one of those “people who may like Cheap Trick a little too much” at the moment but I am righteously teed off nonetheless. In the history of rock there is no other band in which each individual member is more individually beloved than Cheap Trick. Musically, each member is as individually important as the members of Led Zeppelin or the Who. Image-wise, each member is as individually important as the members of Kiss or the Beatles. By these (not necessarily 100% scientific) metrics, Bun E. Carlos would be one of the twenty most irreplaceable rock band members in history. So they have some explaining to do. Bun E. has, in fact, done some of this explaining in easily Googleable interviews which are informative and entertaining. So when I spoke to my friend Tom, I immediately asked if Nielsen did any explaining about this new arrangement. To paraphrase Tom: “It was kind of frustrating because I asked their publicist if Rick’s son was replacing Bun E. and Rick said ‘Daxx is the touring drummer for Cheap Trick’ and I said ‘Yeah but they just made a new album and Daxx plays on it instead of Bun E. so it seems like he’s Cheap Trick’s new drummer…’ ‘Daxx is Cheap Trick’s touring drummer…”. The exchange went nowhere, The publicist was evasive, inscrutable and why wouldn’t he be? Because it’s just wrong and whatever explanation he could possibly have would suck anyway.

Sidebar: Read this article by Alex Castle: I don’t know exactly how much Nielsen has in common with Van Halen but I’m sure it pertains in some way.

Before digging into the album let’s consider the true significance of a new Cheap Trick album in the year 2016. Their debut came out almost forty years ago and even then they were ten year veteran journeyman musicians. Cheap Trick was never new and they were never young, at least not in the way we typically think of new young bands.

Here’s a severely abridged Cliff Notes account of the long, strange career of Cheap Trick: Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson had a band called Fuse from 1967 to 1973. They recorded an album for Epic in 1970, which failed artistically and commercially. By 1973 they were playing with two members of The Nazz and good ole’ Bun E. Carlos, sometimes as “Fuse” and sometimes under the name “The Nazz”. They formed Cheap Trick in 1973, finally adding the key ingredient for world domination, the not remotely secret weapon Robin Zander in 1974. And they were finally… off to the races?

Well, not quite yet. The band had a couple years of touring ahead of them before finally being signed (again to Epic) in 1976 and releasing their debut in 1977. And then they were finally… off to the races?

Well, not quite yet. Their records were well received by the press and a slowly building cult following while their incessant touring, now opening for big headliners like Kiss and Aerosmith, was earning them a reputation as a top notch big time live rock act. But they weren’t selling too many records yet.

Their first album was “too raw” to get radio airplay. It’s a great example of a band’s first album consisting of them blasting through a road tested set with great energy and aplomb. It’s the sort of debut wherein the band avoids the red light fright by never acknowledging to themselves that they’re actually recording an album in a recording studio. That’s what it sounds like to me at least. This is my favorite Cheap Trick album, it’s the one that I think sounds like “the real” Cheap Trick. No fillers, no sweeteners, no trying to make it listenable to non-rock fans. It consists 100% of great songs and it’s HEAVY.

On the next album (“In Color”) Tom Werman’s production serves as a bit of an over correction. It is a slick album. Compared to the first album it sounds restrained. It is not for no reason that they rerecorded this album with Steve Albini in 22 years later in 1998 but it also is not for no reason that Albini wanted to rerecord it. This is the second in a string of at least five albums to come from this proverbial “great band at the height of their powers”. Nielsen’s pop songwriting genius is specifically highlighted here, primarily by making this album (along with pretty much everything they’ve done since) a showcase for Zander’s godlike vocals. In fact, the last thing you hear here is Zander’s voice holding what I’m pretty sure is the longest most beautiful high note ever recorded. The thing literally ends on a high note. Convincing.

For their third time up, Werman and the band make a more satisfyingly slick album that reclaims the band’s signature heaviosity to an extent. Many people cite “Heaven Tonight” as Cheap Trick’s best album. It’s my second favorite but that’s just a matter of personal taste. What is a fact is that the best Cheap Trick album is either the first one or “Heaven Tonight”. So anyway, they slick up the production of their second and third albums and they’re finally… off to the races?

Well, almost. They were starting to sell a little more and the label was continuing with the Werman strategy and they were back in the studio working on what was intended to be their fourth release, “Dream Police”.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the fourth album. Would you believe it turned out those first three Cheap Trick albums, neglected in their native USA, were BIG IN JAPAN? So Cheap Trick had three gold albums in Japan and they went there and played a couple concerts at the legendary Japanese venue Budokan and they happened to record these performances for an album exclusively for their Japanese audience. And of course this throwaway live recording turned out to be the very thing that the world needed to hear in order to finally “get” this most extremely palatable rock band with all these great songs, the amazing Cheap Trick. What makes Cheap Trick a truly great rock band can only be truly heard in live performance. This combination of beautiful singing and songwriting coupled with caveman caterwaul and stomp is a unique and powerful thing that is to be treasured. And all the greatest bands rock in a way that is loose but tight and Cheap Trick has always been one of these bands.

In hindsight, Cheap Trick was a wildly successful record selling band for a grand total of two consecutive albums which were both released in America in 1979. So let’s say Rick Nielsen has been plugging away for 52 years and he’s had a total of one year of carefree runaway success? Later there was also 1988’s “Lap Of Luxury” but that was more of a “Deal With The Devil” situation which could never be sustained. What HAS sustained Cheap Trick for over forty years is their work ethic. They are a band who are very familiar with struggle and never far from it. We love to fantasize about what it would be like to be a big household name rock star but for Cheap Trick I imagine it’s “no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise” and that they “consider it a challenge before the whole human race” and they “ain’t gonna lose”.

Their next album, “All Shook Up”, has George Martin producing and they suffer diminished sales, a critical backlash and the departure of the beloved Tom Petersson, Nielsen’s partner in crime from ’67 on. Almost immediately after things start going well for these guys, they’re taking a turn for the worse. Then they make a different sounding album with Roy Thomas Baker (“One One One”) and it sells less. Then they make a different different sounding album with Todd Rundgren and it sells even less. Then they make two more albums that don’t do much.

But then in 1988 the band finally has a mixed blessing of a sort of resurgence after being forced by their label to record a hideous Hail Mary power ballad written by people not in Cheap Trick, but this doesn’t substantially alter the arc of their career, though having a ginormous hit single certainly didn’t hurt them. What really helps Cheap Trick in a long term way is the return of Tom Petersson. As I mentioned earlier, this is a band in which each individual member is very important to their fans. Knowing you were going to see “the real Cheap Trick” was a major selling point for their live show until Bun E’s departure in 2010.

Cheap Trick’s biggest album was an accident and no one ever figured out how to concoct a Cheap Trick album that would appeal to the gigantic demographic that constitutes all potential Cheap Trick fans. To restate: Rick Nielsen has been recording and releasing albums for 46 years and hit the bullseye, accidentally, exactly once with a live album. “Dream Police” sold a lot too, but that was largely attributable to the momentum created by “Budokkan”. It’s a good album, but not as great as the first three, not even close. Maybe it’s not even as good as “All Shook Up” but that’s a different discussion.

They never stopped touring. And once 70s nostalgia got going in the 90s Cheap Trick became the kind of band you see every year. Maybe in a festival, at an amusement park, a rock club, a theatre, they are on the road. From 1973 on, they are on the road. For 43 years they are on the road.

All this is a long way of saying that Cheap Trick is still grappling with the challenge of making a studio recorded album that lives up to their legend as a great live rock band. The pop thing is dangerous, it makes you think you need to think up some clever ideas in the studio. And too much thinking is kryptonite tor rock and roll.

The reason all this is important is Cheap Trick has recently released their 17th album. They had one big album that was an accident (“Budokkan”), one big album because it was their time (“Dream Police”) and one big album because the record business is evil (“Lap Of Luxury”). On the other 13 they were just trying to catch a break like anyone else. All things considered, this new album makes a fairly decent number 17. It’s a shame they called it “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” but the good news is that may be the worst thing about it.

WATCH: Cheap Trick – When I Wake Up Tomorrow

RELATED: PART TWO SONG FOR SONG CHEAP TRICK ALBUM REVIEW

Other Articles by The Keith Hartel

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Happy Accidents from an apartment in Green Point by Delicate Flowers

Happy Accidents from an apartment in Green Point by Delicate Flowers

ALBUM REVIEW: Happy Accidents by Delicate Flowers can best be described as gridy pop-folk that goes beyond the beard. There I said it, otherwise I would have categorized it as bedroom rock written by Eric Goldberg but instead he did the right thing Not releasing the demo’s from his creepy sad Daddy Mansion in Green Point; he made a proper solo album and recorded in Wayne, New Jersey’s Skyler Ross Recording (Happy Irony?)- We don’t know.

The canvas as whole is a wash of singer song writer insights. “Break Me Wide Open” is when Happy Accidents is this record paints a very vividly a single line indie rock anthem; from something you would find on a Deep Elm comp back in the 90’s with just a chorus to satisfy the hurt you might feel from a regular break-up song. The opener “Dissolution” does what a first track should do and brings you into his relationship struggle cubby-hole setting up your expectations. Song for song the struggle is real, glossy poetic with “Vaseline”, a slick middle three chord pop song discussing struggle of hiding those things called feelings(do a search on twitter and whole world will open up on this subject in it’s own joke format), where as he might just be editing the deeper hurtful parts when he sings na-na-na-nas to further cover up hurt and blurring of the lens. We don’t know but we certainly feel it and that makes this record gracious. Maybe evening sounding a little bit like Allanis’s bad break-up with that bad comedian from Full House. I joke only because there are feelings and good lyric writing through out is meant to relate to the listening through all the tools. “It’s Easy to Love a Martyr” is when we get to it’s most reverb laden Oasis center. All good in many ways and influences through-out I just really get this and it’s a totally a panty dropper. Probably the highest compliment and rating we might be able to give out here at RS and definitely a high-watermark for this year coming from the Sniffling Indie Kids label.

LABEL: SNIFFLING INDIE KIDS
RIYL: The Comas, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Dax Riggs, Elliot Smith, Jason Molina

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Going Down In History Waco Brothers at Monty Hall 4.16.16

Going Down In History Waco Brothers at Monty Hall 4.16.16

ALBUM REVIEW: Here’s a good way to celebrate DIY country punk the day after tax day with the Waco Brothers at Monte Hall in Jersey City and their newest studio album in years called Going Down In History (Bloodshot Records). Seasoned alternative guys mostly Chicag0-ians and one brit ex-pat with guitar lineage (Mekons, Jesus Jones, Dollar Store). In the New York area go see them in all the halls.

04/13/2016 Union Hall
04/16/2016 Monty Hall

Album-Cover-Waco-Brothers-Going-Down-inHistory-560x

The rock shuffle number “We Know It” is one of our favorite tracks on this album, respectfully the opener “DIYBOYB” gets political in way circling up the wagons talking of the posthumous world where artisal world will live on through ideas as they sing “you can’t kill us because we’re already dead”. We asked Jon Langford thoughts on playing WFMU’s venue Monty Hall and he said “I did a session there with the Mekons but haven’t played a full on show there yet so I am very interested to see what mayhem will ensue.” We also ask John like where they find the energy to make grizzly music like this still? and he said “they bottle their rage in the winter time and unleash it in spring!”

ALBUM REVIEW: El Yunque – Baskenland – Belgian noise rock

ALBUM REVIEW: The debut LP by Belgian noise-rock group El Yunque opens Baskenland with the explosive drums, insectile guitar, and manic vocals one might expect venturing into this genre. I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least, but rather pleasantly surprised when the rest of the album offered a more constructed version of that first track. What I proceeded to find was a mix of industrial elements and versatile guitar, accompanied by a combination of English and apparently Belgian lyrics, ranging in style from folky, Gira-esque drawls, to shrill screaming. There’s a nice mix between fast progressive songs, and longer more hypnotic tracks revolving around a central groove.

“Kabeldraad” is an almost nineteen minute pounding jam that gives off a doom vibe at certain times while bringing you through a range of highs and lows, all while somehow not being boring. Noztechtransch takes you through an evil, country influenced, instrumentation overlaid with catchy verses with gems like, “I’m a redneck baller”. The classical rock elements given the context of the rest of the album gives it an interesting edge, I felt like I was in a dive bar that allows smoking mixed with some warehouse art rock performance. The way the band draws on each of their influences is very nuanced which can make it difficult to discern their core sound. With this in mind it opens up every new track to be a blank slate they can do whatever they want with, which is potentially very refreshing. When they’re using conventional rock elements it still has an edge to it, and when they have a noise interlude that’s a lot more deconstructed it retains a very cohesive feel because of the scaffolding the rest of the track provides.

Baskenlandis this band’s first LP, after just an EP and a cassette, and it showcases everything in a really promising experimental group. If this is step one, then I’m very much looking forward to the progression of El Yunque.

VIDEO: NOZTECHTRANSCH BY EL YUNQUE

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Tonight 11/13/15 at Asbury Park Yacht Club – Dead Stars with the mighty Overlake

Tonight 11/13/15 at Asbury Park Yacht Club – Dead Stars with the mighty Overlake

Tonight on Friday the fucking 13th, 2015 at Asbury Park Yaht Club, New York’s indie rock band Dead Stars rock the jersey shore with the sneakergazing and well groomed Overlake.

ALBUM REVIEW: Dead Stars – Slumber


Here is a cassette/digital release that is equal parts malt liquor guitar distortion grind alla J-Mascis and melodic rock vocals akin to jets to brazil. So as far as classic rock fans go you could throw in Dave Grohl there as an audible influence too by his long hairs but without the idiocratic persona. Maybe I also like it because it’s a strong 90’s nod to his upstate band called Tugboat Annie or even teenage fanclub. Many good reasons but this record stands on it’s own and is the good shit so you should support them on bandcamp.

Dead Stars ‘Someone Else’ Old Flame Records


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Album Review – Dereconstructed by Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires

Album Review – Dereconstructed by Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires

ALBUM REVIEW: Man these are good’ole boys re-invented with some rock-n-roll pride that stings you right in the face. Lots of fast jams that remind me of the fast parts of Nine Pound Hammer and burry The Supersuckers with their last rights. Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires is pure and uninhibited by their past. They let the bong rip one energetic tune after the next. It’s not a put-on and you can feel them flying their flag over the music with a different message and a new kind of pride. Taking on the world with dirty sweat, grit and the quest for the good weed. Lee is putting in the good work like a rock-n-roll as a preacher leading the boys into a tornado of rock and a hail locusts. What is important to know that these guys are a live band of regular dudes who happen to be on Sub Pop now who love to play music and listen to all sorts of shit. Hung out with them, drank cheap beer and the good tequila and these men are the real deal. Over the top distortion with great guitar tones is what you need and they delivery. Soon enough you will catch them live and thank us. Website | Twitter

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Hookworms – The Hum  the strum in your psyche

Hookworms – The Hum the strum in your psyche

hookworms the hum album reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: One of my new favorite downloads from the newly refocused emusic is Hookworms. If they(EM) didn’t recommend it I would still be ignoring the 30 times some publicist named dropped them to push their own band on me. Fuck totally been ignoring the blog too but that is a whole other matter I won’t bore you with the story here. Just know this “indie” psych band from Leeds UK is notable and THE HUM is the evidence, the happy noise that woke me up after a 3 month slumber of letting this blog float in space with not even so much as a reach around. They are coming around to the East Coast in April of 2015 so maybe I’ll get out of the house then. This record reminds me of a lot of other new psyche like no age and locals Wreaths; but they hit some pink floyd-esque flair here and there with well placed in a echo and bunnymen like Velvet Underground grooves and guitar delays. Still somewhat poppy and catchy though – your note dead right? Music shouldn’t bore you so this may keep you alive with a swift bong hit ( do the kids even do that anymore). Some screaming type stuff too on some of tracks which reminds me of Rye Coalition. You know when the notes yelp in a good way. Enough reminders and head-nods to a band that cares. Not operatic either or least you feel it as some of the running time on the their tunes goes over the minute mark.. Just good head noddin’ While their 13,000 fans on facebook already know their previous “artier” Pearl Mystic. This is a good sign and probably brought you by some record nerds or Weird World Record Co. Website

Eastern Anchors + Zero For Conduct Split = Melodically Pounding Sonic “Ummph….”

Eastern Anchors + Zero For Conduct Split = Melodically Pounding Sonic “Ummph….”

So when was the last time you jumped out of your workstation chair and shouted “holy fucking shit” at the (un)shocking dismay of your co-workers after discovering the kick ass sound of that next big band? Yeah, I don’t remember either since it rarely to never happens, but I did just that when I stumbled upon Eastern Anchors.

Researching them after learning my comrades in Tri-State were sharing the stage with the Red Bank trio at Parkside Lounge, NYC somewhere back in 2013.  I stumbled across their 2012 full release,  Drunken Arts and Pure Science which boasts a consistent shit-load of hits (“James the Viking”, “Crown Vic”, “Far From OK” “Herzog, Help Me” and on and on and on…).  The heavy but melodic, sonic, ball-crushing of their sound is just that and beautifully so.

Then they released their 2014 single release “Above Your Station”.  I wish I could honestly say I jumped out of my work chair and shouted “holy fucking shit” at the (un)shocking dismay of my co-workers again but I recently upgraded to an office.  Again, the onslaught of a perfect blend of melodically sonic “ummph” continues like a speeding train of alternate tuning, chugging bass and earth-shaking drums, charging full steam ahead and not stopping for shit.  If this track is just an appetizer, I can’t wait the main dish.  Check out the cute video for the tune below….

Flip the 7 ” over and you will find the delightful sounds of Zero For Conduct and their catchy single “Average Marks Makes Shitty Sparks.”  I don’t know much about this New Brunswick two piece except that I like this first release, though I can’t help thinking post-hardcore DC bands of the late 80s/early 90s, especially early Jawbox between the pounding forward, off the rails music and the singers J. Robbins-ish vox.  Nevertheless, I dig it and looking forward to more from them.

Overall a solid release from the Nefarious Industries label…..let’s hear some more….!

Buy From: Viva La Hara Records | Nefarious Industries