toyGuitar - In This Mess


In This Mess

Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: 3/5/5




toyGuitar and their early 2015 release In This Mess is surfy and youthful, at times even nostalgic. The unlaced skates on the album cover tells you all you need to know about the band made up of west coast vets. Fun with a taste for retro rummaging through personal piles of refuse. Summer’s in the dust, but the need to keep living…or something…comes through clear as day.

Swingin’ Utters own Jack Dalrymple and Mike Peck are joined by Paul Oxborrow and Rosie Gonce to create another side project from the west coast. It mixes a garage rock sound with bubblegum aesthetics that is 20-years stale. It has an edge in its vintage on tracks like “Static Attraction” and “In My Head.” “Let’s Talk In The Shower” sounds like The Hellacopters or The Hives. It hits you like an old man with a cane. Damn kids. Surfer rock exposed with “Sliver of Sun” and would go great on a surf compilation. Gonce compliments the vocals of Dalrymple and is probably my favorite part of the album. 

With its grit and energy, In This Mess should be a solid fourth liner in my record collection, yet it feels like a fling. A mid-season call up for a vet from the minors. It feels like a date you where you are unsure if you wanna leave halfway through or just bang in the bathroom before the apps arrive. Either way, you know you had some good company for a fleeting moment. 


Darwin & The Dinosaur

A Thousand Ships

No Panic! Records

Rating: 4/5




Norwich, England natives Darwin & The Dinosaur have returned with the spring thaw to deliver A Thousand Ships on No Panic! Records. For fans of The Menzingers, At The Drive-In, or The Get-Up Kids; Alan Hiom leads his merry musical misfits into the high tide of hi-fi. D&TD will take to Europe for tour dates at the end of March and through April.

Churning out music since 2008, A Thousand Ships explores the emotions of breakups and the stitching of broken hearts on the high seas. Everybody sounds like The Menzingers these days, but these lads take the emotion of those Philly fanatics and put it behind melodic and dream-like guitars.

Life at Sea is a great instrumental interlude that breaks up the first part of the album. Make Believe has the best chorus of the album: Satellites in flight/bid you all goodnight/and empty skies/There’s nothing there/There never was/between the ground and the gods/ just make believe. Hand in Hand is like chamomile tea on a rainy day, soothing and relaxing among the tumult of modern life. The album’s closer Change of Heart brings it all together nicely.

This ain’t your typical pleasure cruise, but it is a pleasure.


Screaming Females

Rose Mountain

Don Giovanni Records

Rating: 4/5/5




On their sixth LP, Screaming Females enlist the producing power of Matt Bayles of Mastodon and Don Giovanni Records to create the hike that is Rose Mountain. A geological landmark that is an igneous rock of metal and pop punk bases. They envelop each other–heating and cooling each other into new materials that are both porous and light. Plus, the album drops just in time for the New Jersey crew to head out to tour the UK in April.

Rose Mountain is hard to not like–it has a balance of violence and the erotic. Marisa Paternoster is equal parts Sleater-KinneyHeartMetallica, and Pulp. Her guitar frakking howls in the opener “Empty Head”–a track that melds effortlessly into “Ripe.” “Wishing Well” changes the pace of the album, but show the range of Paternoster and her band mates. “Rose Mountain”  acts in a similar way three tracks later. Changing the pace and feel of the album again that is schizophrenic and yearning–“I’m nothing like the others–I was made just for you.”  Rose Mountain  meanders between thorny patches and grey clearings on the way to the treeline of your head. Paternoster wants to be taken seriously–holding back immature screaming of youthful pain in favor of mature responses to a broken heart. “Hopeless” has an immediacy to it, you can hear Paternoster holding back. Holding onto something too raw to expose to the open air. 

“Criminal Image” closes out the album with powerful guitars–Paternoster renewed at the summit. “Crimson red paint on my door/you skipped over me before/criminal image of you.” Rose Mountain reflects on the emotions we hold most dear–and burns them in effigy.


Summer Cannibals

Show Us Your Mind

New Moss Records

Rating: 4/5/5




Summer Cannibals sophomore album Show Us Your Mind has become the soundtrack to my job hunt as of late. The retro pains of Jessica Boudreaux refresh me as I edit automated resume forms and template cover letters. It is a broody and bubbly “fuck you” to the eight-hour work week we all strive to put ourselves through–deny the pain of ambitious and sadistic bosses. Sadistic lovers. The milking of ego that is a black widow listening to The Hives or Sleater-Kinney. Plinking and pummeling guitars pulsate from Portland on the track “Something New”: “I’ve been looking for something new to keep my hands busy as I get over you.” Summer Cannibals adopt a stance that is a west coast equivalent to Screaming Females–Show Us Your Mind is erotic and tight. Bound in modernity.

“Yeah, you give them what you want/another learned social cue” sings Boudreaux on the title track. The oohs and ahhs are a glue that bridges thoughts throughout the album, keeping  the culturally-sanctioned schizophrenia of a trope-tastic rock and roll woman at bay. “It’s that feeling deep inside/when she walked into the room I just broke down and cried/ but that’s alright/ that’s just my own way of self-sabotage.” “That Feeling” is gross in its anxiety. That painful sweat covers you, knowing you’re not the one, once again. It’s partly not your fault, you’re just following cues given to you at a young age. You’re not a rebel with a cause, you need goals to orient yourself, prepare yourself for the next task.

“Don’t Make Me Beg” sounds like an inexperienced fetishist. It’s always alluring, but might kill you when you forget your safeword. “I’m a little less patient than I was yesterday.” Throughout the guitars of Boudreaux and Marc Stewart define a trail of pulp fiction and hard-boiled beats. This is a dame for drunken, whiskey-soaked greys and pill-popping starlets. It’s queer, too, in a way that most may miss–“Summer” sounds like a sexual fantasy unfulfilled.

Summer Cannibals is west coast rock that regrets being pinned down in the past. Show Us Your Mind opens up long-held thoughts into the world. Better duck.

Home Street Home

Fat Mike & Friends

Home Street Home

Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: 4.5/5/5




My god I was not optimistic when I heard that Fat MikeJeff Mark, and Soma Snakeoil were teaming up to produce a punk rock musical. I sneered, I was…angry. Angry at the very idea of a punk rock musical. Here I am cursing myself for doubting Fat Mike and his wonderfully beautiful Home Street Home. Fuck me, right?

This album is devastatingly good.

Home Street Home is a soon-to-be-real musical based on real life experiences of youths on the streets and the culture that surrounds them. Home Street Home is also a punk rock musical recording that, gods, is everything that you would want from a punk rock musical. Like Quadrophenia on crack. Tommy giving rimjobs for smack. No, really, there are songs about rimjobs, blowjobs, safewords and love. 

It’s an album about love and the obstacles that are too often in the way.

Getting away from the dangerous and hetero-normative life structure that restricts and hurts us more than squatting ever could. Finding love outside the boundaries, finding other people hurt and pushed out into the open, wild world. Home Street Home is built around empathy for youth. The feeling of isolation and safety found in bedrooms and basements, only to be violated by those you hold dear.

Sue, the teenage protagonist of the record, runs away from a sexually abusive father and into the subcultures of the streets. Exploring drug use, sexuality and living in the gutter, Fat Mike paints a rough but utopic image through Sue and the cast of characters he employs. This all happens on the album with a little help from his friends. Frank Turner, Old Man Markley, Lagwagon, Dance Hall Crashers, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and the Descendents are all represented in one various form or another. Lena Hall and Jeff Marx bring the Broadway cred. Marx in particular is well suited for the frank subject matter–winning a Tony for his work on Avenue Q. The album is full of punk rock legends that both make you cry and laugh (Frank Turner is oh so very British on “Bad Decision” and “Another Bad Decision”).

“Monsters” leads off the album and kicks you right in the chest. “Fecal Alcohol Syndrome” reminds you we are the sum of our parts and have to make the best of our lot in life. “Gutter Tarts” explains the seedy capitalism of sexuality on the edge. “Missing Child” is devastating in its realty. Same for “Three Against Me.” The line between abuse and love is a reoccurring theme throughout.  There is a lot of heartache on Home Street Home but there is also a lot of hope.

Fat Mike I love what you did here. You and your friends brought to life the real world struggles of youth on the streets. Punk is about questioning the status quo, about finding a better way to live for yourself. Home Street Home is a testament to what punk can say and do for a better, weirder world.


Nixon's The One

Watergate EP

Added Warmth Recordings

Rating: 4/5/5




I never thought I would hear Richard Nixon on a punk release, let alone see the use of his slogan against Hubert Humphrey during the 1968 presidential campaign as a band name. Yet Denver, Colorado punks Nixon’s The One have brilliantly done both on their Watergate EP. Brought together from the spare parts of The Blackout PactThrowaway Sunshine, and SlatwallNixon’s The One is no nonsense mile high punk mixed with subplots from The West Wing Aaron Sorkin misplaced. 

Only three songs long, Watergate EP is fleshed out with three recordings of Tricky Dick engaging in various PSA’s and private conversations about the state of the union. “V” in particular caught my eye (and ire) with its recording of Nixon describing the dangers of public presentations of gay men and women on television and All In The Family (those were the days…). It is a jarring thought put down by a president that reminds you how far  we have truly come as a nation (aside: I know this is a Canadian punk site, but give us a break here guys).

Enough about lying politicians and more about punks from the Centennial State. “Watergate” and “Seven Thousand Chemicals” are my two favorites out of the three songs on the EP. I love “Seven Thousand Chemicals” the most, however. It hit me hard. It is near perfect. A tape recording of Nixon denouncing gay men and women paired with a song that is filled with loss and regrets of the ones closest to you is rough. I read the pairing as a lament of a loved one who was openly gay and struggling with dealing with their absence later on in life. “Seven thousand chemicals fill my lungs/not one of them was you.” Never forget those close to you, and remember that even at the worst times they are never a burden. 

Nixon’s The One and the Watergate EP leave me ready for more. I like the experimentation with the sound clips, and the mixture of personal and political is always something I will strongly vote for.


Red Hot Rebellion

The Mission

Red Hot Rebellion

Rating: 3/5/5




Red Hot Rebellion has a lot of things going on. They like comics books and music so much they decided to combine them into a multimedia experience. The Mission is both a rock and roll opera and a 60-page comic book written by bassist Jim Tramontana and drawn by the artists at Studio Akumakaze

The story revolves around the lackluster music of Earth and the threat of forever being a backwater in a universe that has embraced the power of rock and roll. Red Hot Rebellion, like a good-natured GWAR, are dispatched to Earth in an effort to pump up our power ballads and guitar solos. The comic has been coming out one page at a time since December, and the Dayton, Ohio natives have played a hometown throw down to promote the album in the new year.

The Mission is deceptively catchy. “The Seething Horde, “Black Magic Dynamite,” “You Bring The Thunder” and “Dirtbags and Halfwits”  get stuck in your car stereo like a bad cold. The guitar riffs cling to the speakers and have to be banged out as you drive 110 mph on the Garden State Parkway. A sci-fi Tenacious D or, better yet, Motley Crue mixed with Judas Priest smashed into a copy of Heavy Metal circa 1978. 

My only critique of the album is that some of the solos have a sameness to them. The breakdowns are genre-centric for metal. It’s fresh in its breadth of media they use to engage with fans–the same way comic-centric bands like Kirby Krackle use comic fandom as a basis for their music. Good for fans of interstellar heavy metal, Jack Kirby two-page spreads and hi-fi sci-fi.


Spraynard / Modern Baseball / The Weaks / Hurry / Marietta / Beach Slang

Strength in Weakness: A Lame-O Records Split

Lame-O Records

Rating: 4.5/5




Whoever said punks don’t care about other people was an asshole. Lame-O Records has a six way split entitled Strength In Weakness that brings together a wide variety of punk-pop players in Philadelphia to make cerebral palsy pay. All proceeds from the split will go towards United Cerebral Palsy–an organization dedicated to educating, advocating and supporting those with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

Six Philly bands–Spraynard, The Weaks, Modern Baseball, Marietta, Hurry, and Beach Slang–created a new song for the split. Each single melds into the next wonderfully, though each comes from disparate places. Spraynard is jarring with “Haulin’ Oats” and its call to be a better man. The Weaks shred like Rivers Cuomo on “Call Me Away”–though its probably better than WeezerMarietta‘s “Old Joe” is fantastic and perfect for a snowy night. Beach Slang holds down the final position with the eeire and melodic “Too Late To Die Young.” As varied as they are–one jumps from emo to thrash rock to fuzz pop in a few short tracks–each of the bands on this Lame-O split came together from a sole purpose–cerebral palsy sucks.

That’s what Strength in Weakness: A Lame-O Records Split is all about. Cerebral palsy isn’t going away any time soon, but maybe some punky, emo kids can stand up and make a difference in their scene. It has always been about community, hasn’t it? 


California X

Nights In the Dark

Don Giovanni Records

Rating: 3/5/5




California X have released their second album Nights In The Dark. It is just that. You run out into the vast openness of the shadows, free of all the penetrating stares found in the light of day, until you are finally…lost. Lost in your thoughts, lost in the myriad of human questions that divide us from the animals.

And then you are physically lost, too. Walk far enough from the beaten path and you diverge into a new void. California X (from Massachusetts!)  did that. The first half of this album is tight. I blame Dinosaur Jr. and Speedy Ortiz‘s Justin Pizzoferrato engineering skills for that one. It opens up with a title track that kicks your teeth in…but slowly peters out. The album meanders about after “Blackrazor (pt.1)” and really shows the 70’s rock influences for the band with long guitar solos and distortion taking over.

I’m bored by “Garlic Road” and the two part “Summer Wall” doesn’t hold my attention at all. “Blackrazor (pt. 2)” has a Hot Water Music vibe to it, so that rules. “Red Planet” helps get the album started off in the right direction and I would like to see more like it. Vocals seem to take a backseat to guitar solos on the back end of the album and sounds a lot like a later Coheed and Cambria album to me.

Darkness makes meandering about an escape from the everyday. Finding a path, or making a new path out of old byways makes one sound like they are on a Led Zepplin binge rather than poet laureates of punk rock.


City Lights

Acoustic EP 2


Rating: 3/5/5




Columbus, Ohio’s City Lights  is not completely dead yet. There is an acoustic spring in their step a year after announcing their breakup. Acoustic EP 2 is a quick five point plan for retirement. A quick walk through the death throws of a band, brought to you by InVouge Records

For a band that has been dead for a year, Acoustic EP 2 has a clean production value that is enhanced by the crisp harmonizing between band members. “Truth Is” is a great example. Harmonies are pure pop punk, pure youthful angst. “Cold and Grey” is vindictive in a men’s rights sort of way–though it might as well be a call to the rest of the band as well. 

Jeremy Smith can be interpreted in two ways: one, he has some relationship issues. Two, he has some relationship issues with his former band mates. Seeing as these songs are acoustic retoolings of earlier tracks, it might be easy to write off the vitriol as old and used–yet there are new demons to excise in this ep. “The Dark Side”  uses Star Wars to ask for positivity. “Jeremy’s Song” is better stripped down–“Why is it that the closest of friends sometimes are the first to lose faith/ and the first to betray.” A moot point, in the end, it seems.

Acoustic EP 2 should satiate City Lights fans. It is nothing groundbreaking, nothing that will shock you, but it is a late season yield to a band that walked into the sunset of winter long ago.

On Life Bandit


Of Life

Broken Circles

Rating: 4/5/5




Released on Broken Circle, Bandit‘s inaugural LP Of Life is dreamlike in tone and pays homage to rock of the past 30 years. Reminiscent of emotional hardcore classic Sunny Day Real Estate‘s Diary, Angela Plake’s project is also cousin to many contemporaries like EisleyNow, Now, and Land of TalkOf Life is that- a viscous and convoluted thesis on the everyday. Childlike ambiance (xylophones!) with a mature grasp of their surroundings (and xylophones!). It is cautioned calm. A reminder of what has come and gone.

Angela Plake started playing as Bandit back in 2011. Since then she has worked as a trio alongside Dan Bishop and Charles Miller. Recorded in 2014, Of Life is 90’s grunge rock with a purpose. It feels like 80’s new wave at times, too. Grungy and violent–“The Divine Home” opens the album with force of guitars and Plake’s sobering voice. “Pushing” is demanding and proud of its physicality: “This isn’t anger, this is pain/ and it sits on her insides/pushing everything.” Immediacy woven within sharp guitars. “Losing My Sense” could indeed be emocore. The cover of “Where Is My Mind?” would make the Pixies proud. The first few keys in are unmistakable, but Plake makes it her own. “Dragon” is a late fall trip that takes place on a windowsill with tea spiked with whiskey. Its beautiful but thorny. 

This album may seem out of place, out of the purview of punks at first. It is right up the alley of classic emocore enthusiasts and post-punk prodigies. Melodic in its masochism, Of Life will broaden your horizons, dude. 

Sundae Bloody Sundae

The World is a Beautiful Place/Rozwell Kid/Kittyhawk/Two Knights

Sundae Bloody Sundae

Skeletal Lighting

Rating: 3.5/5




Why do I suddenly feel like I am back in high school as I listen to Sundae Bloody Sundae? The new sampler out by Skeletal Lighting has four bands on four different tracks miming my junior-year Limewire account (if that doesn’t date me at all).  

Fat Heaven by  The World Is A Beautiful Place sounds like Cursive but morbid and more suburban in its critique of consumption. The Weather Chart (Spirit Night) by Rozwell Kid is about mundane romanticism ala Weezer or The Rentals, and has guitar riffs to back up that comparison. Softserve by Kittyhawk is probably the best tune on the collection, mixing a Straylight Run vibe with a bit of Tegan and Sarah. Beji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz”by Two Knights is classic emocore, squeaky chorus and all. It gives the Kittyhawk track a run for their money, but only by half a length. It is short and feels incomplete. 

Sundae Bloody Sundae sound a little incomplete and has me asking for more from Skeletal Lighting.  Dessert and dissent before tea and all that. 



Hello Hello

Party Damage Records

Rating: 2.5/5/5




I have been told two things over the years by teachers and editors alike: 1. write what you know and 2. find your voice.

The first point is easy enough. Writing about what you know, be it water filters or punk rock, is easy if you know the topic well enough to chuck out 500-words in 15 minutes. The second, finding your voice, is pretty rough. You gotta think about who you are with regards to the topic, your space within the community, your critique and its legitimacy with what has been written before. Most importantly, you gotta build on what came before and be differentYou never want to be Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac or any other white dudes who are dead in your writing. You gotta be different and poignant. Never be your heroes, you gotta branch out and find out what you are about.

Portland-based Divers replicates the sounds of many rock and roll vets in an amalgamation that is their debut album Hello Hello. It’s nothing groundbreaking–it sounds like Arcade Fire crashed into Bruce Springsteen on a back road deep in the Pacific-Northwest. Then The Gaslight Anthem fell off a cliff and into the mangled mess of “whoa-ohhs” and guitar solos.

It is not that I dislike Hello Hello, it is a perfectly good debut album, but there is nothing surprising about it. Very clean and well produced. The guitars really drive the album in a way that is reminiscent of The ’59 Sound. “Lacuna” would fit within the purview of Brian Fallon. “Tracks” has an Arcade Fire feel and I hear Bloc Party of all bands in the drums.

See what I mean? It’s a mixture of great bands before them, but Divers needs to find their own voice.  The musical influences are there, but I want to know what it means to them. Like they say on “Breathless” “We are who we think we are.” Now it’s time to tell everyone else.


Light & Motion


Deep Elm Records

Rating: 4.5/5/5




For me, post-rock is a great thing to fall asleep to. I used to use  Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Rós to drone out my roommate’s snoring in college. Elfish is better than a boat horn created from small sinus cavities anyway.

I guess that’s why I find it surprising to hear that Light & Motion came out of a time in Christoffer Franzen‘s life where he couldn’t sleep. On his third release, Chronicle , the Swedish composer goes for “a big canvas sound” according to a release from his record company Deep Elm. Is it good? It’s fantastic, but all post-rock sounds the same to me after a while.

It is the soundtrack of teenage girls with hope in their hearts and advertising agent overlords who know they can make a buck off their candy coated dreams. That isn’t to say Cronicle isn’t good. It is very good. Franzen has been featured in movie soundtracks and in Google ad campaigns. Odds are that you heard him at some point in the past two years. He is the sound of a particular space and place in a post-modern design aesthetic.  Give “Reborn” a listen-it has waves of sound and high definition blasts of orchestras and guitars that would make Brian Wilson blush. It is overproduced post-rock.

But it is damn good overproduced post-rock.

This is a “play by play narrative or score of certain events of my life,” says Franzen in a Deep Elm release. Chronicle and it’s magnanimous  sound reflects the desire of the composer to engage his love of cinema. The soundscape on “Particle Storm” is wonderful. So is the opener “Glow” and “Antlers” a little later in the album. Northern Europeans definitely know how to pull at heart strings in their music. Post-rock is like their Jazz. Or something.


The Adolescents/Svetlanas

Hot War 7" Split

Altercation Records

Rating: 4/5/5




The Hot War 7″ Split between The Adolescents and Svetlana is simultaneously both militant and eco-friendly. It mixes like Russians in the NHL or vodka in your Coca-Cola. Hot War is aggressive, sugary-sucrose fallout from a pop punk war that never was.

Banned from Russia, Svetlanas are sarcastic and brash in their eastern fronting. “Tales From The Alpha Brigade” sounds like GWAR translated through Google withe bloody, bloody violence on the track. Olga strangles the words as they leave her lips–“Fuck, Kill, Rape!”–so violent, yet so feminine as she hisses at you. Like Drago’s wife/manager in Rocky IV. Oh yeah, they went there on the album art. Rad.

The Adolescents sound like eco-terrorists as they bookend Svetlanas’ two track attack. “Fukushima Lemon Twist” is damnation of nuclear power in under two minutes. “Forever Summer” too, is blatant in its fear of nuclear powered summer on the west coast. The harmonies are beautiful on the final track–you hear the history of west coast punk coming out of a short and stiff set on the split it’s, Gods, amazeballs. The Adolescents  are still doing the good work overseas in Europe (their last two albums were released on Concrete Jungle over there), and Hot War makes you fall in love with them all over again. Plus, fall in love with Svetlanas–their new album is set to be produced by The Dwarves own Blag Dahlia.



All Messed Up

Torture Chamber Records

Rating: 4/5




There are those times in a friendship where bridges get burned. The best intentions are pitted against bad breakups and misinformed frustrations, futile to the fears of the future that eat us up inside. Textbook gets that. All Messed Up is the kind of crushing blows we all meet at some point or another. Can’t look back fondly and hope for those same good times to come back around . “I guess I forgot to tell you everything I’m not” yells Dan Lysien on the opening track.  There are things you never tell those closest to you–holes in stories that even the sharpest private eye would miss. It’s the small cracks that bring people down. You wanna do good by everyone, but not everyone wants you do to good by them. 

You look back fondly on the past, you see the roadblocks that have been put up by compatriots. Lysien sings a song for every hopeless romantic on the Great Lakes. “If You Don’t Know By Now”  is a mixture of The Replacements and the Get-Up Kids in a brilliant and simplistic way that reminds me of the shorts, surefire power behind the Spitfire of WWII. The song was made to fill a purpose lost on bombing raids over the English Channel. Dread and fear sucked up into a heroism in the dark night sky that says “why the hell not?”

God, it feels so awful that it’s true on “Never Meant To Be”: “I’m glad to know you’re alive/and let this fairy tale decide/ if we were meant to be/let this fairy tale decide.” It patters out with “decide” ringing through the air. When you see your friend hurt, your significant other in pain, and you try to help and signals get crossed it feels exactly how it should feel on “Call You Up,” or “Missed You First.” What is it with Chicago bands and my heartstrings that they always seemed to be tuned exactly the same way? I guess I could blame Matt Allison, the producer on the album, but it has to be more than just that. Maybe I just find them at the same time I lose someone important in my life. Who knows. The guitar of Lysien and Dan Knapik shake my bones and boil my blood from my cold-blooded veins in the new winter winds of 2015 I wonder what they would have done back in October when this album was first released. They brush out my cobwebs and the pickled desires of my past on “Change My Mind.” 

Textbook pushes me onto my next move–its a tough world out there, my interpersonal skills lack from time to time, my negativity will be the death of me–but I know that wounds happen, and friendships may fall apart, but they can all be fixed in time.



The Brokedowns

Life Is A Breeze

Red Scare Industries

Rating: 4/5/5




I am oscillating between the feeling of being inside a pipeline of a tsunami and being smashed around by a bunch of overweight 16-year old dudes in a pit. At a very, VERY small venue. Since I can speak to only one of these experiences (the being pushed around by 16-year olds, not the surfing) I am  leaning towards the latter.

Moving on.

The Brokedowns album Life Is A Breeze is a hoot. It sounds like early The Bronx mixed with one of their melodic cousins. Maybe Fugazi a bit? Rollins Band? Sure. Either way, it makes me sweat and look around at the periphery for some kid to come spiraling into me, legs wobbling, as he leaves the inner circumference of a circle pit.

The Brokedowns make me comfortable in being uncomfortable. They are that not-so-fresh feeling you have after pounding a sixer of Pabst and two shots of Jamo at a show. It isn’t the worst feeling in the world, it is definitely not a feeling of regret. It is a feeling of being beat, and it feels great.

The Brokedowns are the sound of a good drunkenness. They sound like a good time. I wanna put on some Black Flag and bounce around to Henry Rollins, dammit. I wanna puke, I wanna give up the worldly possessions of my stomach for paradise eternal. It is a rare feeling, the peaceful puke, but that is the only way I can explain Life Is A Breeze. I wanna crash onto a long couch with big soft pillows and let the world spin around me for a few minutes. Just listen to the title track “Life Is A Breeze”“Cause life is a breeze, at least its always for me.” I feel ya, boys. You got bad feelings but they go away soon enough, or at least for a few hours. Just repeat after The Brokedowns: “life is a breeze…”

Life sucks, but man, you can’t let it get you down. That is what I get from this sound. Yell about it, get it out of your system. Life is a breeze after you realize all the bull that is thrown at you on a daily basis.

Life Is A Breeze is an album that keeps kicking. “Cash For Gold” sounds like a louder Minutemen song at its core ( “This Ain’t No Picnic”), a little of Rise Against in their politics as well. Junky sounding guitars, like a rabid rottweiler on “DIY Space Program” and “The End Is Not Near.” “God Hates Math” is eerie because, for a second there, I thought I was listening to a Shins album. Then the Shins were fucking murdered. It was a good day.  

The best summation of this album comes in its closer: “A Child’s Guide To Black Metal.” These are not dark dudes. Naw, these dudes are having massive amounts of fun raising hell. I feel like I just got beat up by the cousin of Direct Hit! Kudos.

chumped_tr_cover ILD


Teenage Retirement

Anchorless Records

Rating: 4/5




Imagine if Milo from the Descendants married Sheena from Lemuria and then decided to form a polyarmorus think tank with The Menzingers and Japanese noise act Polysics…and you would probably end up with Chumped as the offspring.

Anika, Dan, Doug and Drew recently put our their first LP–Teenage Retirement –and it is as fresh as…okay, well, it came out around Thanksgiving 2014 and has been lauded around the internet as far as I can tell since its release. Rightly so! This album is awesome in all the right ways. Its poppy, funny, abrasive and just a tinge dark in the right ways.

Chumped is good–Anika and the three D’s (Dan, Doug and Drew) are the kind of punk band you grew up with. It reminds me of the first time I heard How I Spent My Summer Vacation by The Bouncing Souls or Chamberlain Waits by The Menzingers. Apt it should be called Teenage Retirement because it makes me feel like I am 19 again. The songs hit me right in the head, instead of the heart, when it recalls feelings I had for classmates and crushes long gone. Teenage Retirement is about thinking, and living and with some regrets within the blank spaces.

“And we drank, and talked shit and I was happy/Tried so desperately to hold onto the feeling/of being young, of being sure, of being lucky,”–Anika gets it. Christ, there are so many people in my life that need “Name That Thing” in their lives right now. I am always relieved when I hear punk bands from the east coast that are so fucking real about their feelings. “Hot 97 Summer Jam” is so true for the nerdy and geeky of us. That feeling of isolation, of being overlooked, that isn’t particularly bleak or dark but among the shadows of youthful summers. “I would wait for you all summer long/ and you would turn me away.” It’s weirdly comforting  to hear Anika belt this one out. It says “hey, we’ve all been there, maybe rockers more than anyone. It’s okay.” 

I like Chumped. Teenage Retirement is an album to put next to On The Impossible Past, Masked Intruder, or Get Better. It’s fun, and its what punk is supposed to be: about the weird ones among us speaking up for themselves. Making us all dance in the process.