Category Archives: Punk


fairweather coverFairweather by Fairweather (Equal Vision)

It’s been eleven years since Washington DC’s Fairweather packed it up. Now the spring of 2014 and the boys show us a whole new bag full of hardcore, tight song structures, crazy guitar flourishes, powerful percussion, more forceful vocals and an overall focused and mature sound. And did I mention the grooving rhythms? Shit, their S/T comeback kicks your ass from the opening chords and hardcore tempo of Carte Blanche. Let the moshing begin. Yet the band tempers even this minute long song with a slower yet powerful second half and background vocal “oohs”.

Reset Position keeps the energy with buzzing guitars, a fast pace and Jay Littleton spitting his trebly vocals with grit. Ben Murphy’s bass and Shane Johnson’s drums set the groove for Ben Green and Peter Tsouras to lay their power chords and slashing solos within, and damned if your not banging your head and sweating already. Survival Is Not Enough sets a bigger groove, slowing the pace a bit, Littleton singing harmoniously, a hard rocking song with muscle and introspection. fairweather band photoMemoria opens with minor key guitar scratching and dramatic rhythms, Littleton singing about memories and secrets and drowning, inviting you to further interpret his lyrics as you close your eyes and nod your head to the beat.

Doubt the Doubtless is both tough and catchy, closer to their debut sound yet leaner and meaner. Johnson gives his skins and cymbals a beating on Kill the Silence, slowing down to build up tension then rocking out once again. Last Words brings out the beauty of a well-paced song, starting out slow and pretty then taking us on a roller-coaster ride up and down tempos and emotions. Still Waiting features some interesting percussive textures and searing guitar interplay between Tsouras and Green, Littleton’s vocals clean and unadorned, harmonizing with Green, creating emotional catharthis when the song slows down at the end only to rise up to a powerful crescendo of crashing cymbals and six-string flourishes. Fairweather wrap up their S/T album with No Flags To Fly. Beginining with a chugging verse the band build tension towards a thrilling and catchy chorus, the band surprise with a soulfullness in their instrumental interplay as well as a bare-it-all vocal performance by Littleton

(by Bret Miller)




nothing guilty of everything coverGuilty of Everything by Nothing (Relapse Records)

I am often interested in learning the past accomplishments of bands, especially when their current sound is vastly different than earlier in their career.  Domenic Palermo, vocalist for recent Relapse signees Nothing, previously fronted hardcore group Horror Show that put out a few albums/EP’s on Deathwish Inc. You can watch a set with Palermo and Horror Show from 2012 HERE.

Nothing is an altogether different endeavor in that Palermo and band are clearly enamored by such bands as Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine in their use of lush guitar textures and barely intelligible yet pretty vocals.  Searching back to their 2012 Downward Years to Come EP, you can hear the band’s evolution, involving the layered dissonant guitars in particular, the arrangements on Guilty of Everything are tighter and harder hitting emotionally.  Nothing‘s music is rich and subtle, songs to play loudly to catch all the melodic guitar interplay and keyboards swimming through the mix.

Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Opening track Hymn to the Pillory gets better after each listen, starting pretty and quiet,  Kyle Kimball’s drums come pounding in and the band gets epic on your ears, for maximum emotional uplift.  First single Dig takes the hardcore dissonance and puts it behind a wall of big drums, guitar fills and cavernous vocals.  Bent Nail is the most rhythmically propulsive song on the album, leading you to bang your head to the fast beat and distorted dual guitars.

The final third will have you blissed out at the beautiful noise Nothing blasts into the air.  Somersault‘s spacious mix helps showcase the dramatic guitar work of Palermo and Brandon Setta.  The song starts out all shimmery, a twangy guitar melody and drums kick in, Kimball sets his sticks to cymbals and the song slowly builds to a blistering climax, Palermo and Setta stomping on their pedals and pulling out some powerful chords to make your ears ring and your soul sing.  B&E goes all out in the thrash department, beginning in a pleasant mid-tempo, their wall of sound getting knocked down to an anxiously mellow segment reminiscent of Pink Floyd‘s Animals album before tearing into their instruments for a heart-wrenching finale that will leave you gasping for breath even as you’re reaching for the repeat button.

(by Bret Miller)



Reverend Horton Heat

rev cover_smREV by Reverend Horton Heat (Victory Records)

Get in, strap up and hold on tight for a kickass ride full of rockabilly and roots rock from the trio of singer/guitarist Jim Heath, bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla as they present REV,  their 11th album and first in four years.  REV warms up the engines with the instrumental Victory Lap, and peals out burning rubber with Heath recalling a tough girl named Betty back in high school who liked The Smell of Gasoline.  The boys play their instruments like that Chevy Nova rolling along at breakneck speed.

Zombie Dumb is the theme song for a fictional movie about surfing zombies that will get you shimmying and shaking in the sand along with those pesky brain-eaters.  Next up is a hard grooving reverendhortonheatrocker about a serial heart-breaker known only as Spooky Boots.  On Schizoid the band make insanity appealing, the trio keep up a fast beat and the guitars rave and wail, a creepy theremin crying in the background.  My Hat is a more traditional rockabilly song with plenty of smooth “go, cat, go!” guitars, punchy bass and drums.

On Let Me Teach You How to Eat, the Rev has more on his mind than watching the Food Network as he and the boys chant “Let me teach you how to toast/ make a bloody red roast/be the perfect party host” and when he sings about cooking tacos in the middle of the street and marinating meat you’ll laugh as you shake your ass.  Food porn set to a rockabilly beat!

REV is full of heart and humor and songs that will be soon sang loudly by the band’s rabid fans.  The album is a fine introduction to anyone looking for honest and authentic American rock’n’roll.

(by Bret Miller)

Victory Records


Bad Religion

badrelixmasongsChristmas Songs by Bad Religion (Epitaph Records)

Fast and inspired, this is truly a Bad Religion sounding guitar punk record. The one special thing about it is that these are made up of some Christmas standards and some not so heard of all the time Christmas songs.  It really fits the theme for what a punk Christmas sounding time should sound. Just like any other Bad Religion there is always some political song on it and Bad Religion doesn’t disappoint you on here either.

Beside the spiritual songs, at the end of the CD is a political fast punk song about Jesus and Obama (entitled American Jesus). Now having both of those mentioned in the same song and appearing on a punk Christmas record on here will be a treat for all the punks to have. So Merry Christmas slamming around with there favorite jingles on here. The record times out at just around 20 minutes of guitar slamming, hard thumping bass lines and pounding drum lines. This make the CD a really fun one and a fantastic jolt for the holiday woes.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)


Less Than Jake

seethejake1See The Light by Less Than Jake (Fat Wreck Chords)

See The Light is Less Than Jake’s ninth studio full length record and second for Fat Wreck Chords. It should be noted that Less Than Jake has been a band now for 21 years and have seen and done it all and even have gone back again. High energy, reliable ska-punk and how fun this style is – definitely is something that this band strides for with each record they put out – and this one doesn’t disappoint either.

Right off the bat you get a blasting of horns and strong ska rhythms from the opening track Good Enough. For the rest of See The Light it plays out just how you might think with catchy hooks, horns and speedy guitar licks. One of the nicest things about this new album is it doesn’t sound overly produced. Some of the other stand out tracks are The Loudest Songs, A Short History Lesson and My Money Is One The Long Shot.  Those of you who like Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bostones and Goldfinger will really enjoy this. I bet they will be touring and dancing up a storm – or at least your CD player will with the new CD by Less Than Jake. See The Light already and go get his CD!

(Reviewed by Jonathan D. Wright)


The Suit

allalongep1All Along EP by The Suit (Self-released)

From Fargo, North Dakota, The Suit is ready to rock your world with a dynamic new four song EP entitled All Along.  Mixing up hardcore reveries with extremely infectious pop punk interludes, one size does indeed fit all when it comes to the musical presentation The Suit unleashes. The band ventured out on the Vans Warped Tour in 2011 and has been pretty much on the road ever since. And now with the All Along EP in tow, expect The Suit to gain even more recognition from both music fans and record industry types.

The EP kicks into supersonic gear with the thrilling strains of The Dominator, whose chorus “sometimes you’ve got to live for honesty” will relentlessly spin in your head for ages to come. Do You Need then follows, a powerful composition that is sure to move even the most fickle of listener – “Do you need a friend to hold your hand, do you need someone who understands, I could be the one to walk with you down to the end” the glorious refrain rings out with a wonderful sense of conviction.  A definite genre should-be classic that this band will be asked to perform live until the end of time.

Grunt Force Trauma may be short, but the spiraling keyboard work and sonic breakdowns really render this one a standout. And then closing out the EP way too soon is the irresistible title track All Along, a dynamic anthem complete with sing-along portions that should be an all-out hit when performed live.

Fans of acts such as Silverstein and New Found Glory are in for a date with destiny when uncovering the sonic delights from The Suit. The resourceful lineup consists of Dustin Carpenter on bass and vocals, Paul Olson on vocals, Greg Lindholm on keys and vocals, Joel Knipple on guitar and vocals, and Trevor Ferguson on drums. All Along is a definitive triumph from a hard working DIY band more than ready to slam into the big leagues. An exhilarating (albeit brief) collection of songs that will make you want to take on the universe.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

The Suit on Facebook


Bleach Blonde

Bleach BlondeBleach Blonde EP by Bleach Blonde (Rise Records)

From the smoldering ashes of Drop, Dead Gorgeous rises Bleach Blonde, an unexpected yet spiraling surprise that will leave the listener spinning with delight. Not at all in the post hardcore genre, Bleach Blonde present their own imaginative take on the glories of pop punk, and the results are supremely exciting. Fans of The Used and Hawthorne Heights are sure to find a heated attraction towards the dizzying tunes of Bleach Blonde. Their self-titled debut EP on Rise Records presents three absolutely outstanding anthems that, like a real life bleach blonde, leaves you wanting a whole lot  more.

Sea Mint Pastel is the first cut, showing the band means serious business when it comes to their bleachbl1music. One notices right away the passionate vocals of Danny Stillman, sending the lyrics into the stratosphere. Play Catch Up is dazzling and super infectious, a tune that should inspire rabid sing-alongs when performed live. And then ending it all way too soon is This Is Instrumental, an introspective song about a dysfunctional relationship set to a dazzling wall of sound.

Bleach Blonde performs with a vibrancy that really set the songs in flight.  The kaleidoscope of sound is courtesy of the aforementioned Danny Stillman on vocals, Danny Cooper on drums, (both Danny’s formerly in DD,G) Michael Payne on guitar, David Barella on guitar and vocals, and Coty Eikenberg on bass. With an EP showing this much promise, it will be exciting see what the future has in store for Bleach Blonde. The group plans to record their debut full length with Kris Crummett, whose own impressive credits include Alesana, Dance Gavin Dance, and of course Drop Dead, Gorgeous.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

Bleach Blonde on Facebook


Less Than Jake

lessthangreetzGreetings & Salutations by Less Than Jake (Fat Wreck Chords)

From Gainesville the ska quintet known as Less Than Jake are back with a CD on Fat Wreck Chords. This collection was originally two EP’s that the band were selling while on tour and then they added a couple new songs to make it a new full CD package deal.

Greetings & Salutations has some good songs for example The New Auld Lang Syne, Younger Lungs, A Return to Headphones and Can’t Yell Any Louder. Just remember that this is a combination of two EPs mixed in with a new song or two. The first EP was released in 2011. But listen to Harvey Wallbangers, and Finer Points and you’ll find yourself in great spirits.  Of course, drinking a Harvey Wallbanger is a cool idea as well.  Just don’t be driving and drinking alcohol at the same time.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)


The Used

Vulnerable by The Used (Hopeless Records/Anger Music Group)

The Used are back with their fifth studio album Vulnerable. Vocalist Bert McCracken delivers great vocal contributions to Vulnerable – his screams can be heard, but deeply felt as well.

Opening song I Come Alive shows a literal representation of the band returning to a strong form to be reckoned with.  The song Hands In Faces introduce a new side of The Used with including a dub style drum ‘n’ bass rhythm section, bringing the band into the current modern age of sound.

The next song is showing off yet another side to the band as This Fire uses strings and keys and a memorable hook that gets you humming for days. If the guitar is your flavor then check out Put Me Out, Kiss it Goodbye and Now That You’re Dead. These songs showcase Quinn Allman’s outstanding talents.

The album does have one balled on it Getting Over You which sounds like a commercially produced pop song.  Getting Over You also shows of Bret McCracken’s vocal control through this lighter side of the album.

Vulnerable will make it easy for all of The Used listeners to give the band a big thank you and a huge welcome back to the music scene. This record is not to be missed. This was worth the wait for the listen.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)


Freshman 15

Here’s To Feeling Good by Freshman 15 (Standby Records)

Based out of Atlanta, GA, Freshman 15 have endured lineup changes as well as participated in countless cross countries tours supporting their 2009 release Throw Up Your Hands For One Night Stands.  Now in 2012, the band returns with an all out vengeance, presenting a second collection of infectious tunes entitled Here’s To Feeling Good.  With many of the lyrics dealing with heartbreak combined with a musical sense of exhilaration and triumph, Freshman 15 is sure to connect with fans of all ages.

Here it is, the sophomore attempt by us. Will this fail or be a success for us?” conveys lead vocalist Davey Fortner with a sense of urgency on the opening cut Secret Of The Oohs// Wizard Of Ahhs. The confessional continues: “Are you sure you’re ready for this? I’ll never be anything but honest with you.”

Mistake Ex-Girlfriend then explodes right into your face, an instant pop punk classic that would certainly serve as the perfect sonic antidote while pondering a hook up with that past ex-relationship.

Everyone is searching for happiness anyway,” is the rallying call for Drink To That, another memorable track about triumphing over that meaningful liason gone wrong. Anywhere But Here is the Freshman 15 sequel to Our California Song, with a bright and glorious chorus that should inspire live sing-a-longs.

Getting Weird is a getting even with an ex-girlfriend song that many heartbroken dudes all across the world will claim as their own anthem of revenge. Harder Than Mine is a dynamic power ballad that shows a wondrously effective edge to the Freshman 15 sound. Close To Me follows with its vibrant melody and fist-pumping chorus.

Come Back For Me has a terrific gang vocal and is sure to be another Freshman 15 fan favorite. Incidentally, the song was co-written by ex-Freshman 15 member Rob Felicetti, now in Patent Pending.

Goodnight At Daylight will make you want to jump up and down and all around – especially when played loud! And then My Bad will want to make you launch headfirst into the nearest slam pit. The conclusions arrives with a colorful techno-style remix of Our California Song.

Here’s To Feeling Good meshes cathartic lyrics with rambunctious melodies, and it’s destined to catapult Freshman 15 to the next level. No dreaded sophomore slump here, as Freshman 15 really deliver the good with this one!

Freshman 15 is Davey Fortner on vocals and guitar, Davey Hoogerwerf on bass and vocals, Leo Teran on drums, and Mike Baker on guitar and vocals.  Fans of melodic punk acts such as Blink 182 and New Found Glory are to find a brand new favorite band when encountering the instantly memorable pop punk anthems presented by Freshman 15.  Be sure to catch the guys on tour with Bowling For Soup!  Highly recommended!!!

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

Freshman 15 on Facebook
Standby Records Official Home Page