sunset shipwrecks community

The Sunset Shipwrecks


Lugosi Records

Rating: 3.5/5




The Sunset Shipwrecks are a new project from two members of American Steel, Ryan Massey and Scott Healy, who are joined by Brian Miu and Sean Reilly to complete the quartet. It has been superbly produced by Kevin Army and was recorded at Ryan Massey‘s Sharkbite Studio. If you’re expecting an extension of American Steel then you’re in for a shock, this is rock ‘n roll, and what a damn fine slice of rock n roll it is.

The opening track Leave Me In The Grove recalls the spirit of The Animals with a haunting bluesy number, it is immediately clear that this is quite a musical departure, the title track only goes onto confirm this, the track Community is a piece of foot tapping boogie woogie influenced political rock. Community switches between roots Americana influences throughout the ten tracks and once you’ve gotten over the shock you quickly warm to it’s charms. The Tide Will Rise is the closest thing to an American Steel number on Community, but only if you can imagine they forgot to take most of their effects pedals into the studio. The closing track No Justice is the most political track on here, it’s a raised fist of defiance against the current state of the political landscape and it’s inherent corruption.

This is an album that is going back to the roots of American Music, the album is a blend of blues, rock ‘n roll and there’s even a touch of country thrown into the mix. Whilst this is a change of direction musically, the lyrical content remains as hard hitting as ever. This is a surprising and rather wonderful side project, rather than recreating the sounds of the band half of The Sunset Shipwrecks are better known for, they have made something that keeps the spirit and attitude of their punk roots, but branches out musically, and that is something to be applauded.

You can download Community from the usual sources or you can order the vinyl directly from Lugosi records here

Mild In The Streets

Fat Wreck Chords

Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged

Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: 4.5/5




Who doesn’t love a Fat Wreck Chords compilation, they were a great way to hear new bands, and tracks from upcoming releases, for next to no money, as a bonus there were always a few exclusive tracks thrown into the mix. Along with Epitaph Records Punk-O-Rama series they were responsible for introducing a new generation of fans to some amazing bands. This time round things have changed as this compilation has been done with a different approach, Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged is, in case you hadn’t guessed, a collection of songs from bands and singers from the Fat Wreck Chords stable who have traded in their amplifiers and distortion pedals for acoustic guitars.

This sixteen track compilation is a lengthy affair and content is so varied that you can’t summarise the album, so i’m going to a whistle stop tour of Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged. Tony Sly, of No Use For A Name, opens the album with a soulful piano led version of Under The Garden and The Swingin’ Utters deliver an excellent foottapping country version of Fruitless Fortunes featuring slap bass and violin. Stacey Dee delivers a melancholy number, Everything Is Beautiful, this is one of the songs that is exclusive to this album and to anyone familiar with Bad Cop/Bad Cop this number will come as something of a surprise, this is juxtaposed against Sam Sadowski, of Closet Friends, who delivers some sore throated acoustic blues.

Going acoustic won’t come as a surprise from everyone on this compilation, for Old Man Markley it’s practically second nature, they deliver a mellower version of Guts ‘N Teeth. For others the acoustic approach doesn’t change anything apart from the volume, it clearly doesn’t matter if you take Anti-Flag’s electric guitars away as they remain as angry and political as ever, Israeli punks Useless ID retain their own sound, they keep the character of their hard edged pop punk intact and Matt Skiba delivers a sinister version of Alkaline Trio‘s Continental. Karine Denike bring a touch of fifties glamour to proceedings, this couldn’t be further away from the Dance Hall Crashers upbeat ska if it tried and Get Dead deliver some stripped down punk rock

We’re on the final leg of the tour now, Lagwagon‘s Joey Cape delivers a mellow acoustic number, American Steel bring some upbeat acoustica that features a mournful accordion break and Laura Jane Grace brings a great number that carries a restrained version of the fury that inhabits Against Me‘s output. The closing trilogy of songs continue to deliver, Russ Rankin brings us a heartrending tale of the loneliness of the road and the toll it takes on relationships, Uke-Hunt do a cover of Olivia Newton John‘s Xanadu, this is rather excellent, like an unplugged Me First And the Gimme Gimmes, and for it’s grand finale the album ends with an epic symphonic version of one of my favourite NOFX tunes, The Decline, personally I wish Fat Mike had done vocals over this rather than just an instrumental but it’s a faithful and bombastic end to an excellent compilation.

Compilations are usually a mixed bag but there is little to dislike on here, the versions are all original and unique takes on songs we have come to know and love, the original tracks don’t feel like they were ideas that were rescued from the wastepaper bin. This, as with every other Fat Wreck Chords compilation, is an essential purchase, if you’re a fan of any of the bands that appear on here I doubt that you’ll be disappointed with new versions or the original material. Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged brings something new to the table on almost every track, the album spans so many genres and styles that it never gets dull, buy this and mellow out for an hour or so.

Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged is available for download and on CD, Vinyl and Coloured vinyl here

Death To False Hope Fest Announces First Bands

DeathToFalseHopeAmbitious free digital punk music label Death To False Hope Records has announced the first selection of bands for their annual music festival, Death To False Hope Fest. Announced bands include American Steel, Blacklist Royals, Mixtapes, Banquets, Red Collar, Luther, Arliss Nancy, Hold Tight!, Gunner’s Daughter, Worship This!, The Scandals, Downbound City, Old Flings, This Is Your Life, Almost People, Drag Your Chains, Museum Mouth, The Radio Reds, and Ascetic Parade.

The event will take place in Durham, NC on May 10th and 11th at Motorco Music Hall.

American Steel - Destroy Their Future

American Steel

Destroy Their Future

Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: 3.5/5




When American Steel announced their reunion after a six year hiatus that was toppled by a random house party performance, I couldn’t care less. It’s not that I didn’t like the band, it’s just that I had never heard of them before. However, I soon became excited to hear what they’d come out with. Why? Simply because of the pure excitement everyone else was feeling about the reunion. The internet was abuzz with anticipation which just ignited my hopes for the release; so much so that the instant I had Destroy Their Future in my hands I threw it into my CD player. From that moment on, I understood what all the excitement was about.

Opening up with the raucous Sons of AvariceDestroy Their Future jumps right into the action with a folk punk tune reminiscent of Against Me! and a tinge of The Clash and they never let up until the end. The songs are energetic and compelling. The vocals are harsh and agitated, a echoey mixture of Tom Gable and Matt Skiba while the music pulsates with a rough pop-punk vibe that fits perfectly into the Fat Wreck roster. On top of that, Destroy Their Future features some of the best back-up vocals on a CD in a long time. Back-up vocals so enticing that songs like Dead and Gone and Razorblades jump at the listener and force them to sing along.

Some may worry that the album will become too complacent, that each song follows in the same vein as it’s predecessor, luckily for us, that is not the case. Instead, the songs are surprisingly varied while maintaining a constant flow throughout (the sole exception to this is Mean Streak which sticks out at first but soon falls into place with a enticing chant of “I like you because you’re like me: we both act miserably). Old Croy Road is a personal retelling of a father’s death in a way that sounds like The Briggs while To The Sea and Or Don’t You Remember? is a dark song that brings visions of olderAlkaline Trio material. Other songs keep that mid nineties vibe by following the Jawbreaker structure of punk and Hurtlin’ is a stripped down acoustic track that bears repeating.

The album merges all the best aspects of punk; whether it be an Alkaline Trio eerie pop-punk or the clap-along folk punk of Against Me!American Steel carries on the tradition of punk that people like Joe Strummer started so many years ago.

Fans of the Chicago punk scene will dig the record and everyone, whether they know the band or not, should be excited about their reunion.

American Steel - Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts

American Steel

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts

Fat Wreck Chords

Rating: 4.5/5




I’m not fluent in American Steel history. They broke up before I got into the whole punk rock scene and while I did get some CDs from their spin-off bandCommuniqué, I was never much of a fan. I never had any connection with them until they announced their reunion and release of Destroy Their Future. There was something in that CD that I really enjoyed. With no expectations placed on the record, Destroy Their Future impressed me and despite a few weaker tracks here and there, it was a generally solid album and one that I still occasionally pull out.

After that, I had expectations for the band and their follow-up, Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts had to be better than its predecessor to meet my expectations and impress me.

Quite frankly, it did. It surpassed my expectations ten-fold and Dear Friends has been on repeat for weeks now. It seems that American Steel has hit their stride onDear Friends and blown Destroy Their Future out of the water. Does it compare to their older stuff, like the famed Jagged Thoughts? No idea, all I know is that Dear Friends is good; like damn good.

The Alkaline Trio similarities are still present, with the vocalist displaying some blatant Skiba techniques in the title track, the chant-along ballad Finally Alone and The Blood Gets Everywhere. Doing more than simply using the dark pop-punk formula, American Steel creates jubilant and energetic pop-punk song after pop-punk song. Smart choruses with call-and-repeat chants entice the listener to sing along as their infectious melodies dig into their soul and get them dancing too.

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts fluctuates between energetic and chaotic anthems, like the one-two punch of Emergency Party House and Tear The Place Apart, and more reserved efforts like From Here To Hell. It creates an album with varied tempos and momentum that somehow work together seamlessly. They only time they tempo change feels out of place is the pop-heavy closer Meals and Entertainment, which would be better suited for a Communiqué album than this.

The entire record is tight and cohesive. It’s simplistic in its honesty but complex in its delivery. It’s upbeat and energizing but controlled enough for it to not wear thin after only a few listens. Instead, Dear Friends seems to grow on you and becomes stronger with each passing listen. It may not be quite as gritty as Destroy Their Future but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, as their bio so rightly states, “it is truly one of those rare recordings that insights the longing for the cramped and carefree confines of a sweaty, jubilant house party.”

Ryan Massey (American Steel) To Start Record Label

lugosi recordsRyan Massey (American Steel and Communique) has started a record label called Lugosi Records.

The first releases from the label include the re-release of American Steel‘s album Rogue’s March  and Reckless Kind‘s debut Golden Age Thinking which are both available now. The decision to start the label came when he found himself in possession of the master tapes of his former bands (American Steel and Communique) following the dissolution of Lookout Records. With the masters in hand, he decided to re-release them himself. He explains:

 “Lugosi Records is an idea that has floated around for years, and was finally made a reality when Lookout Records saw fit to disband, returning all rights to master recordings back to the artists. We are fortunate that a number of labels friendly to our cause (such as it is) would have been happy to re-release the old Amsteel and Communiqué albums for us. But I have always wanted to have a venue for putting out records by bands that I really enjoy. So, distribution was secured, funding scoured for, and now we find ourselves in business (such as it is).

Video-American Steel-Rogue's March

A video has recently surfaced featuring Oakland, CA’s American Steel performing their entire 1999 album, Rogue’s March.  The band last released Dear Friends And Gentlehearts in 2009 on Fat Wreck Chords.

Watch the video (in seven parts), below.

Read More…

American Steel Release Skate Deck

American Steel have released a new skate deck based on the artwork for their Destroy Their Future album which was released in 2007 on Fat Wreck Chords. The skate deck can be bought for thirty dollars here.