Tegan and Sara – The Con album review

Tegan and Sara - The ConThis album upon the first few listens seems to be a very lateral movement for Tegan and Sara. As always there are a few shining tracks on the album but they almost serve to contrast some of the lesser songs. As a whole “The
Con” is lacking more bright spots. After a few more runs, if you’re really looking for it, depth is discovered in some elements here and there. Mainly lyrically and vocally, the trademark double layered, spitfire vocals are a pleasure to listen to, accented by the poetic, smart lyrics… this album should have been produced with an 808, I would probably like it more. In fairness I could see “The Con” being the type of album that grows on you over time and somewhere in my ears garnering a cult following, but it will
always have those tracks that are left off playlists or have me reaching for the skip button.

Now I don’t want to come off sounding like its all bad, in fact its not bad at all, its just that, when someone asks how this album is one would shrug and sincerely say “its not bad”. “The Con” and “Back in Your Head” (coincidentally the two songs released off the album first) are the strongest and best songs on the disc, quick, smart, clever, and catchy. “Hop a Plane” and “Nineteen” are a close second, with the former being a fun and toe tapping pop song, and the latter full of the swell and emotion Tegan and
Sara fans are used to. (In retrospect four days after I wrote this review I have decided “Nineteen” is probably the best song on the cd)

When I heard Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie fame was producing the disc my hopes for this album were very high. Well you can definitely hear his touches drum production, the keys, and the guitars, both sounds and layering… and maybe that’s part of the flaw of this disc. I firmly believe you should be able to hear a producers influence but not identify his fingerprints clearly in the songs. It almost sounds like a Death Cab Tegan and Sara mash up, maybe a little Gwen Stefani thrown in there on the track “Like O, Like H”. You think with all the guest players one sound wouldn’t have so dominated this disc.

I very much enjoy the quirky weirdness of the girls songwriting it guarantees that this album will be a grower not a shower so give me a few months and keep an eye on the blogs and eventually I will probably be professing my love for this record, if I can aurally separate Chris Walla from its DNA

Let me suffice this review by saying dedicated TNS fans with love this album but I am a music fan not a fan of musicians so this review is unbiased from someone familiar with their music who has seen them live a few times and actually really likes them don’t hate me or hit me if I am out at a show.

– 6/10 – JKE Dean

press releases reviews

OFFICE To Release A Night At The Ritz On September 25

Scratchie/New Line Records
September 25, 2007

AUDIO: The Ritz

Scratchie/New Line Records are thrilled to announce the debut release from one of their newest signings, OFFICE. Due out September 25th, A NIGHT AT THE RITZ is full of the irresistible and sophisticated pop songs that have made this band one of the most popular acts in Chicago over the past year.

Recorded over the Winter and Spring of 2007, A NIGHT AT THE RITZ was produced by frontman Scott Masson, who, along with the band, did the majority of the work on the record at his apartment. Final touches and mixing took place at New York’s Stratosphere Sound.

Over the past year and a half, OFFICE has built an enormous organic buzz at home, through steady gigs in Chicago (including a performance at Lollapalooza ’06) and Masson’s native Detroit, as well as through their two self-released demo albums. Though featured in nearly every publication in Chicago, the band also caught the attention of such national outlets as Billboard, who featured the band in their “Now Hear This” column; Magnet, who reviewed the band’s 2005 self-release, Q&A; NPR, which gave the band a “Song of the Day” feature; and, who included OFFICE as one of 32 contenders for the 2007 Artist of the Year.

Born out of a series of conceptual art pieces at the turn of the century, OFFICE is the brainchild of Scott Masson. Masson would fill galleries with cubicle displays, Xereox paper, boxes, pop culture items. As he recalls, “They were all very minimal and blank-looking, but it was the start of some thematic dialogue within myself.” After about a year, Masson turned his attention to music, recording numerous demos with various friends. In these songs, Masson dealt with similar themes to his sculptures: OFFICE imagery, city life, pop culture, work environments, love, social structure and money. A few years later, OFFICE became a full-fledged band, with the current lineup of guitarist Tom Smith, bassist Alissa Noonan, drummer Erica Corniel and backup singer/multi-instrumentalist Jessica Gonyea, and put out a self-released album of infectious new-wavey pop tunes entitled Q&A.

During the Summer of 2006, the band caught the ear of Scratchie Records owners James Iha and Adam Schlesinger, and the heads of parent company New Line Records, and by November, OFFICE had signed a deal with the label.

A NIGHT AT THE RITZ contains brand new material, as well as select gems culled from five years worth of demo recordings that have been re-worked and re-recorded. All persons involved with OFFICE and THE RITZ felt that these older songs were simply too good to not be released on a wider level. About the album, Masson muses, “This album has easily been the most grueling recording project I’ve ever been a part of, but also the most rewarding. It’s not like this was setting up a band in the studio, and pressing the record button. There are tympanis, keyboards, concert percussion, electronic flourishes, machines, studio tricks, tape machines, choral vocals, and acoustic moments. It was years of revision, reworking, rethinking, subtracting, adding, and re-recording until it got to where it is now.” He adds, “I feel like we live in completely surreal times, and this album is a reaction to that sensation.”

1. Oh My
2. If You Don’t Know By Now
3. The Ritz
4. Company Calls
5. Wound Up
6. The Big Band Jump!
7. Plus Minus Fairytale
8. Paralyzed Prince
9. Had A Visit
10. Q&A
11. Dominoes
12. Possibilities
13. Suburban Perfume

music videos reviews tour dates

Bits And Pieces

Need good information? Hit up the rumor mill…it may not be accurate, factual or otherwise credible, but it’s always entertaining.
Rumor has it, that NOFX (Fat Wreck Chords) is putting together a new live album (their second), slated for an early 2008 release. It should tide over fans who haven’t seen anything new since 2006’s “Wolves In Wolves Clothing.” The new album should be content heavy considering the band has been globe trotting as of late, playing far away venues in mystical lands(Japan, South Korea,China, South Africa). It will be NOFX’s second live release, the first, 1995’s “I Heard They Suck Live” was well received. Rejoice.
“Rise To Your Knees” the latest offering from proverbial psychedelic-punk rockers The Meat Puppets provides listeners (and bandmates) an unexpected twist. The brothers Kirkwood together again. Following a hiatus of little more than a decade, brother Cris (on bass) has rejoined the line-up alongside brother Curt (on guitar) in creating the legendary bands newest release. Once refered to by his brother (Cris) as a “suicide in progress” Curt has seemingly overcome his struggles which have included a stint in jail, drug abuse, and best of all a gun-shot wound. Oh the irony.
Gearing up for the start of their North American tour; Strung Out (whom I’m still undecided on). The band will return from Europe and kick things off August 31st in California. They’ll follow up with a second leg (primarily East Coast and Mid West dates)starting in September. While supporting their latest effort “Blackhawks Over Los Angeles” the boys will tour with Evergreen Terrace and I amGhost.
Fuse T.V. aka (MTV 3, the network you love to hate) has been doing some cool things as of late. Warped Wdenesdays’…your weekly Vans Warped Tour wrap-up is fun a couple hours of relatively good music. I love the idea, but would like to see better excecution. Also on the air “Crusty’s Dirt Demons” the first reality show worth watching. Heavy Metal, motorcycles, and mayhem! How much do I have to shell out for tickets to that party? For those of you not in the loop, The Crusty Demons is a group of tight -knit riding buddies (FMX/Motocross) who pioneered the FMX video scene in the mid-nineties. The group includes O.G.’s the likes of “Mad” Mike Jones, Larry “Link” Linkogle, Seth Enslow, Mike Metzger, the loveable redneck Bubba, and of course multi-media magnate Dana Nicholson. Contestants are brawling for a spot on Team Crusty and the chance to take their career to new heights. Hey I ride, and I have more tattoos than resident loudmouth Sean Highland…I want in. Additionally check out for a cool contest link to Fuse TV (it’s also a great site), where you can win your very own Nintendo Wii. Sweet.
And although the news is over a week old, people love to wax intelluctual regarding the Horrorpops recent line-up changes. Get over it! In Geoff Kresge’s case it was inevitable. Viva Hate was his dream. It was half the reason he left Tger Army in the first place. Good for him, even the band supported his move. But in regards to Naomi and Kamilla Vanilla, are you f@#*ing kidding me? People these are dancers, last time I checked NOT an important ingredient. Besides threesomes rule. On the subject, what is with Psycho-Billy? Great style of music, so why should the fans ruin it, old dudes with six inch Vanilla Ice pompadors died black, busty Bettie Page wannabe wives. Scenesters. It’s not f-ing Halloween!
And last but not least Rants and Raves!
Rave: The Aggrolites newest self titled release. Only lately has the groups music become “main stream” music store accessible (doesn’t hurt to be Tim Armstrong’s backing band). Think true, dark, dance hall reggae with a pinch of Cali attitude thrown in for good measure. Full length review coming soon.
Rave: Rock of Love With Brett Michaels’ the offering from the folks over at VH1. Let me just clarify, I hate Poison, always have, always will. The only things real about that band were their sexual escapades and drug problems. Musically they were never innovators, or particularly talented but they were pretty. And at the time, American women 15 – 30 years of age liked their men pretty, the possibilities were endless; hairspray for two, huge makeup collections, and double dates with the hair dresser. Huh now that I think of it, kinda like todays Emo generation. Distaste aside, I love Brett Michaels, he’s rude, arrogant, and honest. Besides he’s been placed in a room full of chemically polluted, silicone enhanced toys (strippers and porn stars) and given carte blanch. Keep an eye on Tiffany, possible split personality/substance abuse problems…She should make for some quality entertainment.
Rant: New School big-label A&R guys who think every band with a pop-punk sound should dress in black and wear eyeliner a la Davey Havok (sell out extraordinaire). What the f#@%? You take great bands and ruin them. Go back to booking Maroon 5.
Rant: “Honest Goodbye” the new Bad Religion single. First I question the bands judgement. Then I see it performed live a few weeks ago, it grows on me, and I begin to dig it for what it is. Then my son loops it 9,000 times for 4 straight days, and every “alt-rock” radio station in the good ole U.S. of A. blasts’ it every hour on the hour. Alas I don’t blame them, I blame the band. Why did you release that song as a single? Brett you’ve got Epitaph and Hellcat, Greg you’ve got your P.H.D., what gives? You really need more dough? Try touring more (not on the Warped Tour) write books, shine shoes, anything just please N0 MORE SHITTY SINGLES!
And finally…Serius Punk 29, satelite radios’ “edgy” channel. You started so strong. Original playlists’, cool hosts’ we’d been waiting for a channel like you. Now just repetative and boring. While getting tattooed yesterday (July 18) I heard the same Bad Religion tune 4 times in 4 hours. Ok the song is classic, but 4 times in 4 hours? On the same page, does Jello Biafra (egomaniac du-jour) own a large stake in Sirius? Jello and The Melvins, the D.K.’s, his spoken word garbage, it goes on and on and on and on. Enough already. With a catalog as thick as W’s record of wrong doing, originality should be the focal point. Hey Sirius, I’m available.




Will join múm, Bloc Party, Chromeo, Of Montreal, !!!, Bonde do Role and more for a glorious five days of music!

Critical darlings Deerhoof (US), Swedish pop-sensation Loney, Dear and indie wunderkind Khonnor (US) are among the latest additions to Iceland Airwaves 2007. Other recent acts include Danish electro sensation Trentemöller, Canadian next-big-things Plants & Animals; not to mention horde of Icelandic performers such as Mínus, Singapore Sling and Ghostigital. All of them will join previously announced attractions that include Bloc Party (UK), !!! (US), of Montréal (US) and Icelandic legends múm and GusGus for a five-day party in downtown Reykjavík during the week of October 19-21.

Iceland Airwaves: A five-day festival, Iceland Airwaves has been steadily growing since its inception and is now widely considered to be among the highlights of the annual music-festival calendar – with hundreds of journalists and music industry people flying in every year from Europe, North America and rest of the world. As per usual, this year’s bash looks to surpass the previous ones in terms of sheer intensity, with an approximated 170 acts competing for the festivalgoers’ attention.

Reykjavík’s proximity to a plethora of geysers, waterfalls and other natural phenomena that are unlike anything found elsewhere in the world helps earn the festival some of its merit, although it’s main attraction has always been the music. Making a point of always showcasing a healthy mixture of local and international talent, the festival often features bands on the brink of it-dom well before they gain international notoriety (cases in point: The Rapture, TV on the Radio, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). Iceland Airwaves’ location – in the numerous and infamous bars and clubs of 101 – adds a final touch of charm to the world’s northernmost music festival.

The latest additions: Deerhoof’s latest opus, “Friend Opportunity”, was released to great critical acclaim last January, with many a noted publication awarding the trio full marks for their adventurous, yet melodic sonic ventures. They remain a live favourite for the indie set and their legion of devoted fans grows by the day. Those might also fall prey to the irresistible charm of fellow American Khonnor (Connor Kirby-Long), who’s home-grown 2004 début “Handwriting” saw him lauded as a bona fide genius by the NME among others. His reputation certainly precedes him, and with new music in the works his Airwaves performance is highly anticipated.

Comma enthusiast-slash-one man band Loney, Dear’s fourth long-player (and US début), “Loney, Noir”, hit North-American shelves last winter via SubPop. A hefty, still-ongoing world tour followed and will see the lovely Swede sing his “adorable and fragile” songs for new crowds throughout the year.

Iceland Airwaves has always aimed to present the best and brightest of Iceland’s acclaimed music scene, and 2007 will prove no exception. Festival staff are currently in the process of reviewing the 300-strong pile of musician applications for Airwaves 2007, and will leave no stone unturned in the quest to showcase the best things Icelandic music has to offer. <3 Svanhvít!, Esja (featuring members of Airwaves favourites Mínus and Gusgus) and Motion Boys are among the very promising "Airwaves-virgins" selected to play this year, to name but a few. For full listing of the 77 acts now confirmed for Iceland Airwaves 2007 please visit

Iceland Airwaves is produced and promoted by Mr Destiny, in collaboration with Icelandair and the Reykjavik City Council.

Festival website:

For package deals (flight, festival ticket + optional hotel) visit your nearest Icelandair outlet ( or find out more on the Airwaves website.


Type O Negative – Dead Again album review

Type O Negative Dead Again album reviewwritten by Mike Cox

Heretic? Misogynist? The devil incarnate? Nah, just Peter Steele; death obsessed, self-loathing front man of the Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, N.Y.) based Goth rockers Type O Negative. Laugh at them. Go ahead. They actually enjoy it.

Formed in demise, and doom, the band is (in my opinion) solely responsible for starting the whole Goth/Metal genre. Argument is futile. Your fight will fall upon deaf ears. Accept this as the word of God himself.

Almost two decades deep, T.O.N. is still churning out some of the darkest, lyrically provocative music in the world. Evidence lays in the bands seventh studio release, 2007’s “Dead Again.”

Musically the band never saw themselves as, well “talented”. Steele and the others constantly used self-deprecating humor, to sort of justify what it was they were doing. What they never realized, was that no justification was needed. With guitars tuned so low, the hands of the dead could well reach from the bowels of hell to assist in playing, and lyrical content so politically incorrect were it not put in an artistic (theatrical and sarcastic none the less) light, it may well have endured constant protest. Fans adore them. Parents despise them. And with the release of “Dead Again”, I’ve never heard more life.

Musically the band has peaked. The line-up has been stable as an E.R. flat-line for sometime now. “Dead Again” the title track, begins with sludging guitars, and a ghostly choir, quickly ascending into a bass driven hardcore breakdown eventually keeping the tempo at a punk rock pace. All the while Steele harmonizes, melodic and soulful, never really needing to scream. With lines like “No excuse for drug abuse”, “Chemical enjoyment turning thee paranoid”, and my personal favorite “There are some things worse than death” his depression and anger come au natural. Shades of emotion that turn “Dead Again” into a heartfelt sentiment on drug addiction, coming off a stern warning. The joy of temptation leads to the evil of indulgence, and Steele’s own story seems to serve as one dark lesson.

Wallowing in the same shades of depravity comes “Tripping a Blind Man” the albums number two track. The combination of tracks one and two is T.O.N. at their best. Again fans are treated to a meat grinder style guitar intro that quickly morphs into a full speed self-serving tyrannical rant. The track breaks and changes several times, allowing Steele to experiment with every vocal range known to man. Addressing the condemned that serve to judge…taking the low road all the way “Want to play god, and I know you will, but if that’s the case I’ll be the devil.”

As for the album’s rotten core, it’s classic Bella Lugosi with modern mental depravities. “Profits of Doom” incorporates more of the horror movie style fans have come to know and love. Grandiose Goth Rock at it’s best. Picking up on a serious note, “These Three Things” is a ranting ode on the evils of abortion (obliviously this topic struck a chord somewhere in Steele) clocking in at 14 minutes and 21 seconds; it’s the albums longest track and possibly the most thought provoking. The track is confrontational on several levels, stemming possibly from Steele’s shocking spiritual conversion (he’s a devout Roman Catholic).

Winding through, we have the staple (and often misinterpreted as misogynistic) rants on the evils of women. A common theme in Steele’s writing, we find it toned down this time. “September Sun” and “She Burned Me Down” come closest, both slightly vindictive tales dealing with loss and infidelity (consider these my personal interpretations). Both tracks are done with a softer touch than say…”Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity” as heard on 1991’s “Slow Deep and Hard.”

Alas I find myself going track by track, and that’s not what I’m about. Take the time to soak this album in. Love it for all it does and doesn’t have to offer. Sit like me in a pool of self inflicted pain; agonize over love lost, wasted time and mental illness. Drink heavily and wear a heavier heart. Type O Negative is half empty, yet still full of anger, guilt, shame and sincerity. An appropriate choice considering toady is Friday the 13th of June 2007.

music videos reviews

Bad Religion – New Maps Of Hell

Bad Religionwritten by Mike Cox

P.H.D. toting punk –rocker Greg Graffin has done it again. Fans rejoice. Critics be silenced! 27 years and 14 full-length albums into it, Bad Religion has rekindled the fire burning in the moral minority.

“New Maps of Hell” the bands first studio release since 2004’s (mostly) disappointing “The Empire Strikes First” showcases the bands depth and resilience. Baptized by fire and armed with a six man front including a three guitar arsenal, listeners are treated to a ferocity reminiscent of late eighties, early nineties Bad Religion. Evident just a few bars into the albums opening track “52 Seconds”, the band lets loose a sonic tidal wave that goes on to flood almost every track on the album.

Long fueled by Graffins’ lyrical proselytizing, 2007 finds the band breaking new musical ground, fusing their traditional melodic skate punk sound with a little hardcore, producing the darkest sounds to date in a long celebrated career. Lyrically Graffin stays true to form, highlighting social inequity and political injustice. His conviction remains just as powerful as his command of the English language, solidifying his reputation as one of the more intelligent songwriters of our time.

So deep is the lyrical content, that trying to interpret each individual track could amount to writing a senior thesis sure to enrage Theologians and Poly Sci professors around the world. Bad
Religion is vehement in chastising our overbearing, judgmental society. “New Dark Ages” a blistering track warning the unnamed and aforementioned of some metaphoric Armageddon really hits hard. Like brick to skull hard.

Though the first single “Heroes and Martyrs” was ill received true fans will appreciate it, which may not be the case with the likely second single “Honest Goodbye” a radio friendly rant full
of the signature Oozin Aah’s…lets just hope an accompanying video is NEVER produced.

Love it or hate it, Bad Religion is back, punkin’ the government, condemning the puritan masses, and invigorating the moral minority. RESPECT.


Boys Night Out – Boys Night Out review

Boys Night OutMaybe it was some lineup changes, maybe it was getting that concept album out of their system, maybe it was deciding to self-title the record. Whatever it was Boys Night Out have created an incredibly solid record. It rises and falls in a natural progression, the tracking and consistently great songs really make it a beginning to end success for the band. Connors hooks, the group vocals and harmonies, layers and layers of guitar, and songs that you can listen to again and again, and still notice something new give the release from Burlington Ontario rockers a longevity and quality rare to find in the pool of bands BNO usually finds themselves swimming.

The album opens with the infectiously catchy “Get Your Head Straight” and sets the pace for the rest of the disc. Honest lyrics immediately bring you in and make you feel like part of the family. Clever and conversational the song is an anthem, a quick introduction to the sound of Boys Night Out for those unfamiliar. The next two tracks let the band flex their muscles a little more. “Swift and Unforgiving” a track more on the technical side of things with swerving tempo changes held perfectly together by melodies and vocal patterns. “The Push and Pull” seemingly straight-ahead but with the
subtleties of the guitar work it becomes a song with real depth.

“Up With Me” is the best example of the songwriting abilities within the band. Musically intriguing with vocals full of hooks and emotion. One of the stand out songs on the album full of little different parts to enjoy not to mention the fact that I cannot get this song out of my head! Next up “The Heirs of Errors” the roots of Boys Night Out start to show. Fast and direct, palm muting, octave work and riffing all pull together to make this song a wake up in case you weren’t paying attention. With the addition of the heavier vocals and group sing along parts this track is one I have to see the band play live. “Let Me Be Your Swear Word” and “Hey Thanks” again both let the band experiment a little. With more elaborate guitar work and arrangements these songs really stress the inability to categorize Boys Night Out into a particular genre and sets them apart from the bands they occasionally get lumped in with.

For the fans of Trainwreck the bands previous release “Fall For the Drinker” all of the elements that worked so well on that album return here refreshed and capture a staple of the Boys Night Out sound. It also seems that the more familiar song on the album is followed by the real departure of the record, “Apartment 4” is in the ballpark of the BNO sound but has a wonderful collection of pop and even post-hardcore touches thrown in. This song almost feels like its looking forward to the next album, with a chorus
that is goose bump worthy for those who really appreciate the complications of writing a good hook.

“Reason Ain’t Our Long Suit” is a semi-closer a power track to finish of the record really pulling together parts of older and newer Boys Night Out. The line “now were better than ever” pretty much sums up the idea here and my feelings about the band after hearing this record. The album finishes with a perfect closing track, the lyrics tell a story and usher you to the end of
the disc. This is a great encore track midtempo and building to a grand sing along finish, closing the CD in fantastic boys night out style.

8/10 – JKE Dean


Vans Warped Tour review

written by Mike Cox

Date: July 1, 2007

Venue: Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, Ca.

From the dust it had risen, and into the dust it would fade. On July 1st 2007, Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View California was home to the 13th annual Vans Warped Tour. Take time to note, that of all the music festivals conceived in the early 90’s the Warped Tour is one of only two still clinging to life’s breath, a true credit to the “underground”.

That being said, it’s important to recognize just how much the festival has evolved over the last decade.

Once a mere spotlight for the Punkers, the tour is now brand central, with representatives from every hipster clothing line and record label between here and Timbuck Two, shamelessly promoting their wares by any means possible. Not necessarily a bad thing, the consumer microcosm created offered many the chance to sample sounds ne’r heard at the local Sam Goody. Though most were no more than new school “Monk”(mock punk) bands trying to jump on the Emo/Screamo/Teeno bandwagon being paraded on the airwaves these days. Still there were a few standouts.

The So Cal based Street Drum Corps (S.D.C.) were well worth the time and effort it took to see them. An audience of well over a hundred packed into an amazingly small tent where temperatures easily reached the century mark to enjoy the sights and sounds of this so called “Punk Rock Stomp”. Founded by Bobby Alt (S.T.U.N.), Adam Alt (Circus Minor) and Frank Zummo (The Start), S.D.C. unleashed an all out auditory assault, arming themselves with anything and everything they could get their hands on. Look for the new record “We Are Machines” in stores this summer.

Conscious of the tours continued evolution (success?) the powers that be again offered another first, the combination of athlete and artist. Mike Vallely (Mike V. to the rest of us), host of Fuel TV’s “Drive”, pro Skater extraordinaire, and all out punk rock madman, on board skating and singing. On tour for the summer with his band Mother Revolution. Unfortunately as his set coincided with the Vandals I was only able to catch the last few songs. Alas the sound and accompanying vision provided by Mike and his band on stage was nothing short of refreshing. With the day and age of eyeliner and emo upon us Mother Revolutions’ hurricane like zeal for fast loud rock was certainly one of the day’s high points. Hardcore fans rejoice, this album is for you.

Added bonuses aside, I was here for the meat and potatoes of the line-up. Conveniently, every band I specifically came to see were set to perform on the Lucky stage one after another starting at 3:00 P.M.

The only scheduled exception was New Found Glory (whom I find nothing glorious about) taking the stage at 5:00 P.M. This gave me a chance to check out “The Brothers Grimm Sideshow” which amounted to nothing more than a K-Mart quality rip off of “The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.” Don’t bother. Spend the 5 on a beer instead.

The Tiger Army set kicked things off with the brand new “Prelude: Signal Return”, stirring the crowd into a frenzy and in the process creating what was to become a day long dust storm in front of the parking lot stage. Suffering through some technical problems (Nick13’s amp lost power a few times), T.A. offered a blend of new and old, pulling out a few crowd favorites while mixing in tracks from the recently released “Tiger Army IIII, Music From Regions Beyond”. T.A. finished the set with F.T.W. – dedicating it to everyone who had been at B.F.D (where rumor was, they were told not to play it).

Next up, playing their only date on the tour, So Cal career goofballs, The Vandals. For some odd reason, the Vandals started the set several minutes early causing many to miss the first few songs. Not to fear as most of their tunes seem to clock in around 90 seconds apiece. Tardy fans were still treated to classics along the lines of “I’ve Got An Ape Drape” (if you actually have to ask, don’t) and “Happy Birthday to Me”. Closing with “And Now We Dance” a sing-along that conquering punk hordes might have used in ancient Rome. At this point in the day it was safe to say the Vandals had set the crowd standard, performing with an almost seismic energy.

Picking up where the Vandals left off, the Circle Jerks assaulted the crowd with deafening decibel levels. Keith Morris and company did not disappoint. The ‘Jerks, attracted a largely older crowd, most paying tribute to a group amounting to punk rock royalty. The kids in attendance were treated to a blistering set dating back to 1979, offering them a glimpse of what life was like for us old guys. Suffice it to say I think the ‘Jerks swayed a few new fans their way. Thanks Keith.

Pennywise took the stage at six o’clock to a mind-blowing crowd. Seemingly everyone in attendance made a concerted push upon hearing front man Jim Lindberg’s classic call, “Hi we’re Pennywise, from Hermosa Beach California.” The ensuing set was a fans’ dream come true. PW stormed out of the gates with high-energy classics that moved the crowd so forcibly the dust had reduced vision to a blur. At one point Jim gave up the mic to Fat Mike (who was backstage with wife and child), treating everyone to an impromptu NoFX tune. Pure electricity! It must be said that although true punk zealots Bad Religion followed them, Pennywise stole the show. Never was it more evident than during “Bro-Hym” an emotional ode to Jason Matthew Thirsk, the bands original bassist lost to suicide in 1996. Watching my son worked over by the energy was moving. Instantly I remembered my introduction to PW. Not much different than today’s high schooler, riding in the back of a minivan en route to Ocean City, New Jersey. Cranking the newly released self- titled album “Pennywise.” I love the bond music has offered my son and I. We owe it to people like Jim Lindberg, Fletcher Dragge and our brother Jason Matthew Thirsk. Jason may you rest in peace with the eternal comforts of brotherhood and music.

Finally the act scores had patiently waited for, Bad Religion. Following Pennywise would prove a difficult task, Greg Graffin and company played a set heavy with tunes released on 1994’s “Stranger Than Fiction” and few too many from 2004’s disappointing release “The Empire Strike First” much to the dismay of older fans chanting “No Control.” Though the set list was less than ideal the Band made up for it with a razor sharp performance including tastes’ of the soon to be released (July, 10th) “New Maps Of Hell” which seems to stray from the concept of the last few releases and is more reminiscent of 1993’s “Recipe For Hate”, a direction longtime fans will be pleased with. Having closed the set with “Sorrow” the band exited the stage to chants of “One More Song”, which proved futile due to the powers that be. Just like the man to fuck up a good thing.

Call it corporate. Call it a sell-out. Hell call it whatever you want, but The Vans Warped Tour is still the best opportunity to see the best of the best do what they do.


Tiger Army IIII – Music From Regions Beyond review

Tiger Armywritten by Mike Cox

“Music From The Regions Beyond” may be Tiger Army’s fourth full length offering, but it’s their first attempt at a radio friendly album. Oblivious only seconds into “Prelude: Signal Return” (track one) “Music From Regions Beyond” is just that, music from regions far beyond what has become the trademark Tiger Army style.

Prelude: Signal Return is IIII’s version of the recurring intro fans have become accustomed to. Gone is the black streaked Psycho-Billy style, replaced with a dark neo-disco pop sound that seems to be all the rage these days. Suffice it to say the track is saved by the dark thumping of Jeff Roffredo’s bass and the omnipresent group shout out: “Tiger Army Never Die!” followed by a bass laden track just oozing punk ferocity. The second cut “Hotprowl” starts full bore and never backs down. Highlighted by Nick13 showcasing his vocal talent, these two are the closest anyone is getting to vintage T.A. on IIII.

At this point things change. Now the catalyst for change could and should be attributed to several things. The slick “put me in rotation” sound comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Producer Jerry Finn’s work. That’s right, the same Jerry Finn credited for
thrusting AFI into the national spotlight and jacking up Alkaline Trio’s Sound Scan. Finn really exerts his influence on tracks like “Afterworld” and “Forever Fades Away” the former even featuring AFI front man Davey Havok. Loyal fans may reject both tracks, but expect them to get some heavy airtime. And speaking of rejection, one has to question Nick13’s departure from the normal T.A. lyrical content. Gone are the days of evil anthems and b-grade blood and guts. Bye, bye Bram Stoker hello Anne Rice. When did Psycho-Billy become “emo” sensitive?

Musically the band has switched things up as well. Take for example track eight, “As The Cold Rain Falls” a confusing rant on some love lost supported by an eighties soundtrack that just reeks new wave revival. It’s almost contradictory. Listening to numbers like “Lunatone” and the Spanish take “Hechizo de Amor” (Spell of Love) will make loyal fans grimace with pain, yearn to grab T.A. II and play F.T.W. at full volume. Alas we are saved, “Where the Moss Slowly Grows” the albums eleventh and final song is a thought provoking Rock-a-Billy classic. The perfect medium for Nicks newer writing and softer vocal styles. Stirring chilling visions of a graveside outpouring with a lover no longer of this world.

Complaints and criticism aside, Tiger Army IIII amounts to a mediocre album from an excellent group. Even so fans should still be thankful. Nick13 is the sole reason T.A. exists. Having released four albums, the band has seen four different drummers and three count em three bass players. Nicks vision and dedication have never been more evident. So werecatyouth give thanks and send the evil shout out to Nick. Remember critical acclaim comes and goes with the moonlight, but loyal fans remain…like zombies in the night.

Original Article


Tim Armstrong – A Poet’s Life

Tim Armstrong - A Poets LifePunks’ not dead! It’s just aging. No matter how you look at it, whether a roots revival or the evolution of style, Tim Armstrong’s new solo venture “A Poets Life” reeks with that disillusioned inner-city seediness that has for so long defined punk rock.

Straying from the true to form definition of punk, Armstrong seems to have revisited some of the more important roots. Mixing true ska and classic Jamaican dancehall with a little DIY punk attitude, gives “A Poets Life” that truly gritty heart wrenching sound. Backed by the L.A. based Aggrolites (one of the few true American dancehall bands), who seem to lay down the perfect beats. Be it party anthem or political banter, these cats are right on.

Now punk purists and pre-teen posers are gonna bitch, the former simply because it’s different, the latter due to the fact that they know what punk looks like. They can save it. Punk always has been and always will be about being different. If you’re too scared to try new things, (obliviously
Armstrong’s not) then leave this one alone.

Keep in mind no-one’s saying every track is great, that’s just not the case. Take for example “Oh No” an ode to Armstrong’s love for Los Angeles. It just doesn’t show the lyrical prowess he’s graced us with over the years. ” Lady Demeter” is another tired example. A rambling roost revolving around some wannabe gangsta club girl that just comes up empty.

On the flipside, we’re still treated to the rebellious party anthems we’ve come to know and love. “Into Action” showcases Armstrong’s undying love for the East Bay and the entire Golden State. Regardless as to my locale, every time I listen to it, I’m prime for Saturday night, rollin’ across the Bay Bridge, top down and spliff burning. “Take This City” is another anthem venturing back to the old days. Rolling around aimlessly in the Caddie, nowhere to go, nothing to do and lovin’ every minute of it.

Fun and games aside, we do have the obligatory political banter. What’s respectable here is that Tim’s not trying to come off as a martyr. He’s just trying to pen everyday life. “Inner City Violence” though full of modern propaganda directed at conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, could just as easily describe daily life in many American cities. Metaphorically describing the sense of hopelessness and oppression so many inner-city residents are forced to live with. Growing up impoverished and under privileged has been a constant theme in Armstrong’s music over the years. Gutter Punks from San Francisco to Seattle and out to N.Y.C. will no doubt connect with the tragic tone that “Among The Dead” sets. Waxing sentimental, Armstrong spotlights the blight of young homelessness in the East Bay, having been one of the many whose only roots stem from the once blossoming Berkeley scene. The final verse resolute: “Lets’ give a try, Give it one more run”.

– Mike Cox