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Sharp/Shock Release ‘Troublemaker’ Video

Sharp Shock UETroublemaker is the third video from Sharp/Shock‘s debut album, Unlearn Everything, that was released earlier this year on Alkaline Trio‘s label, Heart & Skull Records. Sharp/Shock‘s sound is exactly what you might expect from a band who grew up on bands like The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers, and now are submersed in the California sun and the sounds of The Descendents and early Green Day. Sharp/Shock are currently on tour supporting The Interrupters and SWMRS. Unlearn Everything can be ordered here and via digital platforms

You can view the video for Troublemaker, and Sharp/Shock‘s US tour dates below Read More…

Alkaline Trio - This Addiction

Alkaline Trio

This Addiction

Heart and Skull Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

Out of the thousands of bands I have on my iPod, Alkaline Trio are one of the few bands that I can put on shuffle and sit and listen to every single song I have of theirs in a single day. It’s a feat I’ve done on several occasions, where I hit shuffle and play over one hundred Alkaline Trio songs without getting bored and switching to another band. That says something about the consistency of the band; because even though some of their CDs are better than others; collectively Alkaline Trio’s catalogue works together and rarely offers any sort of disappointment.

With This Addiction, I now have eleven more tracks to add into the rotation for when I next sit down and listen to the Alkaline Trio catalogue in its entirety; and these eleven tracks are quite possibly some of the best tracks the band has ever recorded.

Stepping back to the basics, the Chicago trio entered Atlas Studio to record with Matt Allison again for the first time since their 2004 split with One Man Army. Keeping it closed to only the four of them, the recording process of This Addiction saw no outside input and, after playing the Chicago Riot Fest with bands like Screeching Weasel, Pegboy and Naked RaygunAlkaline Trio allowed more of their punk rock roots to show up in the songs than they have in a long time.  This transforms This Addiction into one of the strongest, dark pop-punk records in recent years – and that’s exactly what they wanted.

The production quality is slick, but it’s meant to be that way. It’s not overly polished like a few of their recent albums (Crimson, I’m looking at you), but instead shows a band that is maturing and creating a punk rock sound that is intentionally polished.

Matt Skiba’s vocals see him digging into his signature style once again as he sings of death, drugs and loss.  For some, this can be drag as Skiba hasn’t expanded his lyrical content and is unable to reach the genius that he displayed in songs like Radio, Clavicle, Hell Yes, or I Lied By Face Off; however, Skiba still remains ahead of most lyricists and songs like Eating me Alive, Draculina, This American Scream and Lead Poisoning show why.  Dan Andriano’s three cuts offer a nice complement to Skiba’s darker tracks with a poppier edge that turns tracks like Dine, Dine, Dine My Darling into a perfect example of what makes Alkaline Trio such a staple in this ever changing punk scene.

The album becomes Alkaline Trio’s most cohesive album to date, with every song working with one another, pulling it forward until it’s done before you know it with Andriano’s soothing swan song Fine.  This Addiction, the title track and lead single, may be one of the best pop-punk songs ever written with strong power chords, thundering bass lines and a mammoth sing-along chorus that begs to be played over and over again.  Lead Poisoning features an upbeat tempo and NOFX-like horn section in the bridge that comes out from left field and knocks the listener away. Eating Me Alive begins with a synthesiser introduction and has the best two-line couplet on the album: And you can’t sit there and tell me that I didn’t try / And I can honestly tell you that I never lied.

This Addiction is a high contender for album of the year as it’s clear that Alkaline Trio have found their stride once again here; and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Alkaline Trio - Damnesia

Alkaline Trio

Damnesia

Heart and Skull Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

In today’s musical climate, “best-of” releases are generally useless. It’s nice to have all the best songs in one collection but with playlists and iPods, you can easily make your own “best-of” for any band with the songs you, personally, prefer.

To celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, Chicago’s Alkaline Trio have release a unique “best-of” that breaks away from that problem as Damnesia sees the band re-recording semi-acoustic versions of their favourite songs from their lengthy career. Stripping down everything to a soft combination of acoustic guitars, piano and percussions, Damnesia is an acoustic album in the same vein of Dave Hause’sResolutions.

Unlike Resolutions though, only three songs on here are previously unheard. Olde English 800 is a high energy, minute-and half acoustic number about drinking malt liquor with Skiba and the gang upping the tempo for the first time in the album. They follow that up with the one of the album highlights: a cover of The Violent Femmes’ I Held Her In My Arms which makes me think that I’m missing out on the awesomeness that The Violent Femmes must be. Dan Adriano takes over the vocal duties for the final new song, I Remember A Rooftop, that follows in the footsteps of Blue Carolina and Blue In The Face (which, coincidently, is redone here as well).

The remaining twelve tracks span their career, with re-imagined versions of Nose Over Tail, Every Thug Needs A Lady, Private Eye, Radio and more. In general, the band has added an extra layer of darkness over everything, creating more ominously driven songs. Some remain in the same up-tempo pattern as their original, Calling All Skeletons and Mercy Me for instance; while others see them slowing it down. This Could Be Love is darker than ever before, more brooding with thunderous drums and haunting keys to add extra depth to the already eerie chorus.  The American Scream is pushed forward with the same adjustments yet We’ve Had Enough takes a serious step back in this unfocused acoustic rendition.

Still, the biggest shock comes from the realization that despite being culled from albums spanning fifteen years, Damnesia is extremely cohesive. The songs work together, whether they be from 1998 or 2010. As a whole, most of the original versions still stand strong and are oftentimes better; nevertheless, avid Alkaline Trio fans like myself will be pleasantly surprised with the results as this is far from your stereotypical “best-of” money grab.

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio

Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano

Heart and Skull Records
By on July 14th, 2012 at Plaines D'Abraham - Quebec City, QC

 

 

Fresh from their sound check overlooking the empty Plaines D’Abraham in Quebec City, Chicago’s favourite punk rock trio Alkaline Trio sat backstage to discuss the event that brought them back to the city for the first time in a decade. Of course, it was the Festival D’Ete de Quebec – an eclectic, eleven day festival that sees more than a million people pass through the gates, savouring every minute of music possible.  It was this type of recognition that convinced the band to come out and do the one-off show in the first place and as Alkaline Trio soon found out – the hype was not unwarranted.

For while the fields may have been empty a few minutes prior to the interview during their sound check,  that was not the case when they took the stage that evening in front of close to ninety-thousand people. A packed house from front to back, the show was vastly different than when they were last in Quebec City and had to spend the night on someone’s couch. It was, as Matt Skiba announced at the end of their set, “the best show they’ve ever played, ever.”

That’s saying a lot considering the band has been touring heavily for sixteen long years. We talked to them about their touring schedules, festivals, their writing process and their plans with Heart and Skull Records all the while Dan sat trying to come up with the set-list for the evening’s performance, a set that will be remembered by the band for years to come.

Photos by Renaud Philippe. Read More…