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Lagwagon Tour

Lagwagon / Useless ID / Versus The World

Club Academy, Manchester, UK

19th July 2016
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Lagwagon 2016Summer has made it’s belated arrival in Manchester as Lagwagon, Useless ID and Versus The World roll into town, it’s hitting boiling point in the city and everyone has spilled outside the pubs and bars that populate the area, regardless of this temptation we are headed into Club Academy. Thankfully the venue lies in the basement of the University, which at least offers some respite from the heat. The music being played prior to the first band seems to be an odd choice, we get a selection of 70s and 80s disco, but to hear a, slightly drunk, member of the early evening crowd hollering It’s Raining Men almost makes it tolerable… almost. 

Versus The World 2016Versus The World, the only band on tonight’s bill who aren’t signed to Fat Wreck Chords, open tonight’s proceedings, sadly they open to a sparse crowd. Versus The World, whose line up includes members of Lagwagon, The Ataris and Antifreeze, play their set regardless and they start to bring in a few stragglers. The Californian five piece play their hard edged variety of pop punk to those who have forsaken the early evening sunshine. Versus The World play an energetic set that is a fine opening to tonight’s show, whilst their sound may not be original concept it is delivered with an admirable level of commitment and enthusiasm.

Useless ID July 2016Prior to Useless ID taking the stage the random selection of music continues, for some reason we get treated to Lynard Skynard‘s Freebird before Useless ID take the stage. Useless ID are touring in support of their impressive, and in my opinion their best album to date, State Is Burning. The Israeli quartet wake up the venue with their intense brand of melodic hardcore, they play a set that, whilst mainly culled from their latest release, is interspersed with a selection of songs from their past glories. Apparently Manchester is as “hot as Haifa” tonight, despite this Useless ID play a energetic set in the now oppressive heat.

The harmonies that inhabit their material areUseless ID July 2016 present live, and everything about this band just screams commitment, impressively they sound even better live, and believe me I loved State Is Burning. Useless ID leave the stage and you can see the sweat dripping from the microphone which underlines just how much they’ve put into tonight’s short set. The only issue I have with Useless ID tonight is that their set just isn’t long enough, a band of this calibre deserve more than half an hour, and their set is over in an impressive, but all too short instant. On the basis of tonight I would recommend catching Useless ID live if you get the chance.

Lagwagon 2016The crowd has swelled during Useless ID‘s set, whilst by no means sold out the Club Academy now has a healthy and enthusiastic crowd that are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Lagwagon. The Bonanza theme tune rings out from the PA and this signals that their arrival is imminent, tonight they are playing their classic Hoss album in full. A small but enthusiastic mosh pit immediately forms, and more impressively remains in place throughout the set. Even the Californian’s are struggling with tonight’s unrelenting heat, Joey Cape informs us that this is the hottest stage that Lagwagon have ever encountered in the UK.

WhilstLagwagon July 2016 the crowd tonight is smaller than Lagwagon are used to playing to, I doubt they’ll encounter a more dedicated crowd on this tour, the mosh pit expands throughout the set until it occupies most of  the floor, with sweaty die hard fans throwing themselves around with admirable abandon. Once Hoss has been played in full we get a crowd pleasing encore or two including two of my favourite Lagwagon songs, May 16, and Falling Apart. What really comes across during Lagwagon‘s set is that they clearly love what they’re doing, this is just as well as they have now been around for more than a quarter of a century.

Lagwagon 2016On the hottest day of the year in Manchester, in a venue that resembles a building site, where the main bar was shut and despite the truly awful selection of songs inbetween the bands, a respectable crowd still attended on what was a very close, sweaty and humid night. For those who opted for an evening outside the pub and a few cold beers instead of attending tonight’s show, I understand your reasoning, but you made the wrong choice. There’s nowhere I would have rather been in Manchester tonight, although I will admit that some air conditioning would have been a welcome addition.

Lagwagon 2016You can visit the Versus The World bandcamp here and their facebook page here

You can visit Useless ID‘s website here and order the State Is Burning LP here

You can visit Lagwagon‘s website here and order the Hang LP here

You can visit Fat Wreck Chords here and  Kung Fu Records here

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, he will be launching his website soon, you can visit his Instagram account here

You can read thepunksite.com‘s reviews of  Versus The World‘s Homesick/Roadsick LP here, Useless ID‘s State Is Burning LP here and Lagwagon‘s Hang LP  here

Tsunami Bomb To Play Warped Tour

 
 Tsunami BombThe newly reunited TSUNAMI BOMB has officially announced they will be joining this summer’s Vans Warped Tour for select dates in the Pacific Northwest, they feature the original core line-up of bassist Dominic Davi, keyboardist/vocalist Oobliette Sparks, drummer Gabe Lindeman, and guitarist Brian Plink along with new vocalist Kate Jacobi, TSUANAMI BOMB is supporting “Trust No One”, a collection of early and out of print E.P.’s into a 14 track LP released by Kung Fu Records. Dominic Davi commented on being back on the Warped Tour
 
“It’s awesome, and I’m stoked to do it… I’ve done it with different bands before, but it’s significant to be back with TSUNAMI BOMB this time. We are grateful to Kevin Lyman to make room for us, because it’s kind of a safe place for us to come back to. TSUNAMI BOMB has always done well on Warped Tour, and so many of our friends will be there.”
Gabe Lindeman commented on returning to the Vans Warped Tour after 10 years with the original line-up and a new vocalist, how different will the band be to longtime fans? 
 
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel any different from the first time around… It’s almost like we didn’t miss a beat. You’ll see.”
 
Trust No One” is available here for purchase here.
Danger Friends Zeros

Danger Friends

Zeros

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Danger Friends is a synth punk rock four piece from Ventura, California; and Zeros, their debut EP released through Kung Fu Records is a breath of fresh air in the land of synth music.

This isn’t a band that goes all in on the electronics to deliver a super polished or poppy sound like we’re used to. In stead, they don’t give a crap and do the opposite. You could describe Danger Friends as a punk rock band in the veins of PUP that plays synths in stead of guitars – and a band should definitely be credited for even trying that.

Zeros includes songs with catchy hooks, gripping riffs and powerful verses. The tune with the biggest hit potential is the title track. At first glance, it appears chaotic but in reality, it’s just a good old punk banger: verse, chorus, verse, chorus and done.

It’s not alone as all the other songs on this EP have catchy hooks underneath various layers of synth madness. Carousel is a tad slower, which leaves more room for the synths to surface. It also features a rhythmic pause, which is a funny thing to do with keyboards. It’s So Safe is the perfect ending to this crazy ass EP. A catchy song – again – you can easily sing a long too if you just repeat “It’s so safe” 39 times (I counted). There’s a few other lines in it as well but who cares for those?

I’m not a big fan of synths, this EP didn’t change that. I’m old fashioned or something. That doesn’t mean the songs aren’t worth discovering. So by no means let my phobia of electronics be contagious, check out this EP by your new Danger Friends.

Tsunami Bomb

Tsunami Bomb

Trust No One

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

More than a decade has passed since Tsunami Bomb called it a day. Now the band have reunited and have plans to tour and have released a collection of rare tracks and demos from their early years. The band will be supporting the release with new vocalist Kate Jacobi taking lead, but these songs all feature the much beloved Agent M at the forefront, who is no longer with the band.

The 90’s were a time where skate culture was at its peak; elevated by Tony Hawk video games, the X Games and the love which both showed for punk and ska music. Teens across the continent were watching Blink-182 drop corny videos recorded in movie theatres and watching their counter culture awkwardly hit the mainstream. As the decade ended, the Warped Tour exploded and gave kids from remote rural areas an opportunity to spend the day with teens who loved the same bands as them. At some point, every kid into the music saw The Vandals, Tsunami Bomb and The Ataris on the stage, as Kung Fu Records became one of the more prominent of the second tier of independent punk labels (Fat & Epitaph claiming the almost major indie label status).

Those who were fans of the band in the 90’s will find much to love here. The raw production adds to the rugged punk rock sound. If you still spin Nitro Records’ samplers on occasion, this collection should appeal to your nostalgic tendencies. For a band that was so prominent on samplers and toured extensively, they released only a couple of full length albums, so this is a welcome treat. The lyrics are occasionally corny, which only adds to their charm. On the wonderful “Mushy Love Song,” Agent M awkwardly sings For our first day, we went to Dennys. We saw my grandma there and she said she liked your spiky hair. I was so shy cuz you are such a handsome guy. Like the recent revival of SLC Punk, it is a glimpse into a very specific time in punk music. Sure, your crusty uncle might rightfully claim it lacks the political punch of Exploited and your son might roll his eyes at the lack of pizza in the lyrics, but it encapsulates everything that was great about hot summer days singing along with friends at Warped Tour. Some of these songs have been heard before on EP releases, such as “Lemonade,” although this is an earlier recording of the song. For the most part, however, these songs will be unfamiliar to all but the most vigilant fans of the band. This is a new collection full of songs pulled from the vault, unheard tracks with an old school vibe. 

The vocals transcend the skate punk scene though. The howls are occasionally reminiscent of the powerful vocals in the Riot Grrl scene, owing as much to Sleater-Kinney as NOFX, which adds some depth to their sound. The garage level production sets this release firmly apart from much of the punk releases today. “…Not Forever” is a fiery blast of punk fury and howling vocals. The goth punk “Rotting Vampire Eyeballs” and “Cantare del Morte” are humorous tunes which come from their early Mayhem on the High Seas EP and have more in common with The Cramps than any of their peers.  

Trust No One is a rough collection full of likeable punk jams that could have been huge in the late 90’s. While the punk scene has been a little more open minded in recent years, there were only a small handful of prominent bands with female members back in the day and Tsunami Bomb were undoubtedly one of the greatest. This collection is a great reminder for fans and introduction for the next generation as the band plans to tour again. 

Video: Versus The World – Homesick/Roadsick

Versus The WorldSanta Barbara punks Versus the World have dropped a new music video.  The video features the song “Homesick/Rocdsick” from their latest full length of the same name, released back in June via Kung Fu Records.

Watch the video here courtesy AltPress.

Danger Friends Announce EP; Stream New Track

Danger FriendsKung Fu Records continues their recent streak of activity with the announcement that the label has signed Danger Friends.  The band plans to release a new EP entitled Zeros on September 11, 2015.

To mark the announcement the band is streaming the title track here.

Versus The World

Versus The World

Homesick/Roadsick

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Now on their third full length, Homesick/Roadsick, pop-punk supergroup Versus The World has demonstrated possessing legs beyond that of a one time collaboration.  Composed of members of Lagwagon, The Ataris and lesser known acts like 40 Cents Short and Antifreeze, the Californian four-piece has made a name for themselves by combining these familiar brands of melodic pop-punk.  The result is a predictable combination of well-executed and clean pop-punk that satisfies the soul like a warm dish of your favourite comfort food.

Opener “The Santa Margarita” sets Versus The World up in confidence.  Vocalist Donald Spence belts his heart out with a high flying, rough-but-polished altrock sensibility that while very clean never lacks expression.  Landing somewhere between Anberlin and Authority Zero, Spence has a knack for spouting out at least a few attention-grabbing lines per track.  Take the leading invitation on “Sight For Sore Eyes.”  Setting the scene for an underdog, runner-up uprising, the band dedicates the song “to all the would be stars, who are stuck in karaoke bars… to all the second guessers, and assistant managers.”  Enhanced by a rich onslaught of forceful riffs and a well balanced, drum thumping bridge, they land their hopeful message well.  While lyrics aren’t necessarily Versus The World’s strongest suit, when they hit the mark their imagery leaves a lasting impression.

Instrumentally, Homesick/Roadsick isn’t afraid to reach for grand heights.  Take the ambitious, Strung Out meets No Use For A Name back and forth of “Seven. Thirty One” and “Bullet Train.”  With a rambunctious, skate-punk tempoed intro and furious finger flying guitar solo, Versus The World prove that their talents extend well beyond just a solid mid-tempo harmony (not that stand-outs like “Retox/Detox” don’t also pull their weight).  Homesick/Roadsick isn’t mind boggling by any means, but Versus The World‘s technical proficiency definitely gives them a leg up.

Homesick/Roadsick demarks a very confident and capable continuation of Versus The World in their return to Kung Fu Records.  And while the band hasn’t changed all that much since their debut, Homesick/Roadsick continues to frame Versus The World as capable and confident songsmiths of the pop-punk trade with a penchant for approachably substantive tunes.

Tours: Versus the World (UK/Europe)

Versus The WorldSanta Barbara punks Versus the World are hitting the road with punk legends Strung Out later this month. The quintet are out in support of their latest full length, Homesick/Roadsick, due for release on June 23rd via Kung Fu Records.

Check out the full list of dates below.

Read More…

Versus The World – A Brooklyn Rooftop

Versus-The-World.Sanata Barbara alt-rock outfit Versus The World is streaming a new song from their new album, Homesick/Roadsick which due to drop June 23, 2015 via Kung Fu Records. 

Listen to the song below.

Read More…

Tours: Versus The World / Strung Out

Versus-The-World.Sanata Barbara alt-rock outfit Versus The World have announced that they will be touring in the UK and Europe with Strung Out.  The band will be supporting their new album, Homesick/Roadsick is due to drop on April 7, 2015 via Kung Fu Records. 

Tour listings can be found below.

Read More…

Versus The World Announce New Record ‘Homesick/Roadsick’

Versus-The-World.Sanata Barbara alt-rock outfit Versus The World have announced that their new album, Homesick/Roadsick is due to drop on April 7th via Kung Fu Records. Ahead of the official release, the band, featuring members of Lagwagon and The Ataris are streaming The Santa Margarita, the lead single featuring a guest vocal from Dave Hause. 

Check out the stream of The Santa Margarita here, and the band’s upcoming tour dates and track list for Homesick/Roadsick can be found below.

Read More…

Versus The World - Self titled

Versus The World

Self Titled

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Reading this band’s biography, you get the feeling as if you’re reading the “who’s who” of the punk community, or more accurately, the “who’s who” of the Kung Fu Records former roster. With Mike Davenport of The Ataris on bass, Trevor Lewis of Antifreeze on drums, Donald Spence of 40 Cents Short on guitar and vocals along with Nic Matsuda on guitar, you know the members of Versus The World are far from being juniors; and immediately, depending on your view of their other bands, their self-titled CD seems to be looking upwards in most people’s mind. And in all honesty, it never seems to dip downwards.

With a set of bands including The Ataris and Antifreeze, you are sure to immediately start picturing a easily accessible pop-punk band; and while that description is a fairly accurate and straight forward description, as you listen to it more, it’s obvious that Versus The World has something different. In every song, you feel something familiar, that certain attraction which makes any good pop-punk band so memorable and catchy, but they are still creating a certain sound of their own. The vocals aren’t your classic whiny, poppy, boyish vocals, but rather more harmonious and enjoyable.

Versus The World‘s Self-titled effort features all the must haves to make a memorable pop-punk album like the catchy Ghost In The Bottle, the acoustic song full of intelligent and moving lyrics with Love Every Scar and then, as a bonus song, the Tenacious D wannabe No Where Fast. They even do the Fall Out Boy thing and throw in a scream every once in a while to add to the backbone of the song structure. Lyrically, they aren’t anything ground breaking, but they don’t come off as trite or obnoxious either. Instead of being over loaded with amazing lyrics, they keep it fairly steady with enough to keep you entertained and then throw in one or two amazing verses or choruses to really make the song stick out.

Versus The World have constructed a solid debut album. It;s not ground breaking, but it has set up a sturdy platform for the band to grow on top of. It’s something familiar, with a little tinge of individuality thrown in there to make it more memorable; but the fact remains that most pop-punk fans will enjoy it.

 

Punk Rock Is Your Friend #5

Various Artists

Punk Rock Is Your Friend #5

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

Kung Fu Records is packed wit their fifth low priced CD sampler, Punk Rock Is Your Friend #5, and just like they did with their Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 2 DVD sampler a while back, they are experimenting a bit with this sampler. The twenty-nine track album features a variety of songs. They have some rare and unreleased songs, a couple demos by their newest band Undermined, some live recordings from their The Show Must Go Off!! series, two dance remixes, and then some short sound bites from the Kung Fu feature film Cake Boy. All of this makes for a interesting album.

The first thing that needs to be talked about is the nine sound blurbs from Cake Boy. Although they are somewhat funny, there is no need for them, they are basically just fillers. Next let’s talk about Undermined,Kung Fu‘s newest band. They are a hard-core/screamo band, which really doesn’t fit into their normal roster, so its more then surprising to hear their two demos on this compilation. But don’t worry you soon get past that surprise as they move onto The God Awfuls and Audio Karate, both of which are bands that I enjoy. Punk Rock Is Your Friend #5 gives you a preview to two upcoming releases too, Tsunami Bomb and Useless I.D.; and if theses tracks are any indication, those two albums will be good ones. The live songs don’t really stand out as live songs, they blend into the album seamlessly which makes it so that the album flows easily. Unfortunately, there are two songs which really stick out on the compilation. They are dance remixes of Tsunami Bomb‘s Roundabout and The Vandals‘ Lord Of The Dance byShingo. These ruin the songs and don’t really belong on the compilation.

Punk Rock Is Your Friend #5 isn’t an amazing compilation. There are tons out there which are a lot better. But since it is for less then 4 bucks, you can’t expect to find a classic. If you like Kung Fu Recordsand their bands, then I suggest picking it up if you have two toonies laying around somewhere.

 

The Vandals - Shingo Japanese Remix Album

The Vandals

Shingo Japanese Remix Album

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

If you’ve been following the steady flow of Kung Fu Records compilations and DVDs, then I’m sure you’ve seen one of the many Shingo remixes. He’s been doing Vandals remixes for the label for over a year now and has seen many compilations. And I guess they got some good feedback regarding the remixes because the label has enlisted the help of the DJ to do an entire eleven track album of Vandals remixes – cleverly entitled Shingo Japanese Remix Album. But really, this isn’t for the hardcore Vandals fan.

The main thing that sticks out is the fact that Shingo has only taking songs from their two most recent releases, Internet Dating Superstuds and Hollywood Potato Chip. So right away, it’s clear that they are missing some of the band’s better songs – but even if the album did have the band’s highlights, its still not an album for most of their fans. Shingo has taken all the songs and really mixed them up. They are no longer the quick, catchy pop-punk tunes they used to me. Instead, they are now dance songs that could easily be played at any rave. There’s unique beats, the vocals are chopped up and repeated, there’s new, weird, funky sounds added to the background and spliced through the vocals. And to top it all off, there’s even the occasional Japanese vocals thrown into the mix.

It’s clear that Shingo knows what he’s doing, and the songs are mixed well. It just is no longer a Vandals song and that hurts the album badly. It’s not like you really feel the need to skip any songs or throw the disc into the air like a frisbee, it’s just that its no longer a pop-punk album. It is now a dance album and won’t appeal to most of the readers. Although, if you were one of the people who liked any of the remixes in some of the recent compilations, then you’ll probably like the full album of remixes.

 

The Vandals - Hollywood Potato Chip

The Vandals

Hollywood Potato Chip

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

I love The Vandals. Whenever I hear their songs I get excited. Their songs like JackassMy Girlfriend’s DeadI Have A DateIdea For A MovieI’ve Got An Ape DrapePeople That Are Going To Hell, and Anarchy Burger have all become instant classics in my mind. The songs were catchy, fast, hilarious, and the band never got boring. When I heard that the band was coming out with another album, their twelfth studio album, I was obviously excited. So as soon as I got my hands on Hollywood Potato Chip, I ripped it out of the wrapping and slammed it into my CD player; and I must say that even after though the CD is still quite good, it was a little disappointing.

Hollywood Potato Chip rips though 13 tracks in under 34 minutes, and each one of them is in classic Vandals form. Dave Quackenbush’ signature vocals come flowing through your speakers, and its nice to hear that, even after all these years, he really hasn’t lost anything in his vocals. Unfortunately, the lyrics aren’t as good as before. After eleven albums, they are slowly running out of content and the songs seem to be watered down a bit, not as funny or as captivating as before; and definitely not as catchy. This is really disappointing as I have always loved the Vandals‘ lyrical content before hand, and on this album there are only a few tracks which are really up to par. The musical portions are still good, like any Vandals song is. Warren Fitzgerald rips through song after song on his guitar with amazing riffs and fast chords as Joe Escalante backs him up with great bass melodies and then of course, the always phenomenal Josh Freese is behind the kit. What else are you looking for?

The Vandals‘ latest album, Hollywood Potato Chip, is a good album for fans of the band. It does lose some of the power the band is known for though. I wouldn’t recommend it to be the first album you get by these guys. Pick up one of their older ones like Hitler Bad, Vandals GoodLive Fast Diarrea, or Look What I Almost Stepped In first, as those are all classic Vandals albums in my mind.

 

Tsunami Bomb - The Definitive Act

Tsunami Bomb

The Definitive Act

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

I’ve always been a casual fan of Tsunami Bomb. Whenever they were mentioned in an article, I would read it; and I liked hearing their songs on compilations, or streaming the odd track from purevolume. So when they passed through here a couple months ago as part of the Grind Tour, I jumped at the opportunity to see them; and they didn’t let me down. To this day, I still don’t own a copy of The Ultimate Escape, the band’s 2002 release; but after having listened to The Definitive Act, I think I may just head out to the store to pick up a copy of their previous release.

Anyone who has ever heard a song by Tsunami Bomb should remember that they are fronted by the one and only, and extremely talented, Agent M. Her powerful female vocals bring a breath of new air into a slightly saturated scene; and unlike many female vocalists, she doesn’t hold anything back in her vocals. She goes full force and changes from nice soft, to screaming at times, to just a wide range of vocals harmonies throughout the songs. This time M takes the album in a slightly darker area with dark lyrics covering everything. Dawn On A Funeral Day is about being buried alive, 5150 is about being depressed but getting out of it (“If we all took our lives when living was troublesome, we’d all be dead!“), while safety song starts off with them digging their own graves. Changing the tone a bit, they have songs about the musical scene, Four Robots And An Evil Scientist depicts the story of a band being forced to do what they don’t to do to make their label happy, A Lonely Chord has M comparing herself to a chord without a song, while Negative One To Ten talks about the power a song can have on a person.

M always has a way to pull you into the song, and when Matt and Mike join in, you can’t help but get energized (take Safety Song for example). The Definitive Act is a great punk album. It is one that I will listen to quite often. Although, in all honesty, there are a few fillers here and there that you will feel like skipping everyone in a while. But overall, there are some classic songs on this album that will only help to further their band’s popularity.

 

Useless I.D. - Redemption

Useless I.D.

Redemption

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Marketing pop-punk bands is always difficult, because you never know what the fan’s reaction will be. Sometimes they’ll eat it up like a hungry dog getting his first plate of food for the day, while other times they will shove it off to the corner and bury it underground. But every once in a while you get a band that is sincere about what they are doing. There’s no misconceptions, they are playing for the sake of playing, to have fun and to forget their troubles at home. Useless I.D. is one of those bands, and the Israeli punks are back with their newest album Redemption to prove that pop-punk can still be fun.

And fun is exactly what Redemption is. Its twelve catchy, upbeat, melodic, poppy songs that gets the listener singing and bouncing along with them. Its old fashion pop-punk singing about cliche subjects with harmonious vocals and just a real feel good feeling to it all. The songs aren’t depressing or saddening, but rather fill the listener with joy as they sing along. You also know the album is going to be good after The Blasting Room‘s Bill Stevenson gets his hands on it, he even plays the lead guitar on the catchy Kiss Me, Kill Me. He’s not alone in helping the band out as Chris Fogal, singer for The Gamits (RIP) lend his vocal talents on Deny It too.

Really, there’s not much to say about Redemption because the entire album can be summed up quickly: it is fun, energetic, catchy, pop-punk. No more, no less. Its a damn good album that will get played over and over again. And plus, the album comes with the music video for Turn Up The Radio too, so there’s another reason for you to buy it! Any pop-punk fan should get this, or else they are missing out on a lot.

 

Stiff Little Fingers - Guitar and Drum

Still Little Fingers

Guitar and Drum

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

In the late 70s, and early 80s, punk started becoming a reality. Bands like The VibratorsThe Sex PistolsThe Clash and The Ramones started popping up and forming the style of music we have come to love. Another band from that era is Stiff Little Fingers, a quartet from Belfast, Ireland. It’s been five years since their last release, but these punk veterans are back to deliver you Guitar And Drum.

The album starts off incredibly strong with the album’s title track, Guitar And Drum. The song, is the best song on the album by far. Guitar driven, pop-punk topped off with catchy, old, accented vocals. The song, which takes a look at today’s soulless music scene, has catchy and powerful lyrics, albeit simple. “I believe in the power of guitar and drum. I believe is the hope held in a song. I believe that the music makes you strong. I believe in the power of guitar and drum” Jake Burns sings during the chorus. You can’t help but sing along. Next we get to Strummerville, a loving tribute to Joe Strummer; and this is yet another good song that gets you singing along. So we’ve past two songs and are thinking “wow, this looks good”. But then it goes downhill. The rest of the songs are somewhat boring. Sure, they have a few good tracks like Who Died And Make you Elvis?Achilles Heart, and Can’t Get Away With That; they even throw in a ska song with Be True to Yourself, but it still seems boring. There isn’t a punch or something that really grabs you other then the first two tracks and then tracks 11 and 12. It tends to be the same format, and at times the vocals are just a little weak. You can listen to it multiple times, but only the beginning will really get to you.

Stiff Little Fingers have been around for a long time. They can still make a few good hits, but some of their songs on Guitar And Drum just seem watered down. You don’t like seeing bands end, but these four fellows might want to start thinking about hanging up the mics in a couple years.

 

The Vandals to Release New EP

the vandalsSoCal punk legend The Vandals will be releasing a new EP in ‘the near future’. The band originally wrote and  recorded the songs for the Soundwave festival in Australia (and was reported to be Australian themed) but they have now confirmed it will be packaged as a proper EP and released digitally and on vinyl. According to a statement from Kung Fu Records:

“It’s true! What was originally written by the Vandals as an Australian targeted tour E.P. for the recent Soundwave Festival, will now be expanded and improved as a proper worldwide release… Producer Warren Fitzgerald is finishing the tracking right now and 4 to 5 tracks will be mixed by Andy Carpenter (Dwarves, Zebrahead) and released as soon as possible digitally and on vinyl.”

As soon as more details are available we will be sure to report them.

Underminded - hail unamerican!

Underminded

hail unamerican!

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

Take a moment to think of Kung Fu Records. What come to your mind? Probably bands like Blink182, The Ataris, The Vandals, Tsunami Bomb, God Awfuls, Anti-Freeze, Useless I.D., and Bigwig; you know, those pop-punk type of bands. You wouldn’t think of harder bands like AtreyuA Static Lullaby, Comeback Kid, or Misery Signals. But thanks to the label’s latest signing, maybe you will now…

So here enters Underminded with their debut full length entitled hail unamerican!. The San Diego quartet definitely bring a new sound to the Kung Fu Records roster. Their hardcore sound is thunderous, with blazing guitar riffs, biting bass lines, and heavy hitting drumming. The spectacular guitar breakdown onBurn The Metropolis always catches me off guard and forces me to look at the booklet again for the track name. The vocals are strong and power, very similar to that of Alexisonfire and Atreyu. They aren’t so much sung as screamed, in fact, it’s pretty much impossible to decipher the lyrics without the booklet; and even then it is difficult. This is a bit of disappointment, cause if you read over the lyrics, some of them are really good. Take one look at the lyrics for Burn The Metropolis and you’ll see what I mean.

Underminded‘s hail unamerican! is a hard hitting, hardcore, album. Featuring eleven short tracks that blast through your speakers, the album will make any hardcore fan go crazy. But for someone who isn’t a hardcore fan, and more of a Kung Fu Records fan, then this will be a surprise to you. A lot of the songs sound somewhat similar to those around it, although you can pick out a few differences here and there; there never is anything incredibly mind blowing (other then Burn The Metropolis once again). It is somewhat difficult to imagine why Kung Fu would sign these guys, I personally hope they don’t sign too many bands of this genre and change the sound that the label is so well known for.

 

Righteous Jams - Rage of Disciplines

Righteous Jams

Rage of Discipline

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

Kung Fu Records is known mostly for releasing both high class live DVDs in their The Show Must Go Off!! series along with catchy pop-punk albums from some of the nation’s top acts. Rarely do you think ofKung Fu has anything else. But they are well on their way to changing that. First they released the hardcore hail unamerican! by Underminded and now they are about to re-release Righteous Jams EP,Rage Of Discipline; making it so that you won’t always know what to expect from this Californian label.

The ten song EP (which could easily be classified as an album with ten tracks on it) is full of mid-tempo in your face hardcore songs that last between one and two minutes long. There’s no metal, no screaming, and no bullshit here, just straight hardcore songs topped off with Joey C’s crisp, strong vocals. Heavy guitar riffs, that actually have a slight sense of melody, with constant drum beats come through with every song.

Unfortunately, this type of album isn’t really for me. I’ve never understood the attraction of most hardcore bands. Nothing really makes the songs standout among one another. They tend to just mold together and feel like one long thirteen minutes song rather then ten separate ones. Although, I will say that what Righteous Jams is doing, is done well, and better then half the hardcore bands I’ve heard recently. It’s just not my thing. I like the old fashion Kung Fu sound rather then this new direction they are slowly going towards. The band may be better suited at a label like Bridge 9 or Deathwish Inc. rather then Kung Fu, but when it comes down to it, the labels don’t really matter. If you like in your face hardcore, then you’ll most likely like this. But if you’re like me, then this thirteen minute album won’t be that attractive.

The God Awfuls - Next Stop Armageddon

The God Awfuls

Next Stop Armageddon

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

The God Awfuls seemed to have jumped out of nowhere and landed right onto Kung Fu Records‘ radar. They quickly signed them and the world started hearing the name everywhere. Their single, Watch It Fall, of their debut album, Next Stop Armageddon., was an instant classic in my book. It was one of my favorite videos on Kung Fu‘s Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 2 DVD, and one of the best songs onPunk Rock Is Your Friend Vol. 5. But that was the only song I had ever heard by the band, so I decided to check out Next Stop Armageddon., but when I did, I was a little disappointed.

The best song on the album is still Watch It Fall. The sing along chorus is very similar to that of Anti-Flag, and you can’t help but sing along with them as they yell “We are the ones with the power to devour one and all! Tear down the old foundation brick by brick and watch it fall!“. And even when they aren’t at the chorus, you still sing along, although you need some help by the booklet. But the rest of the album misses that punch. There are a few songs which has you singing along with them, but none are ever as catchy. Sure, there are a few songs, like Tonight and N.R.A. which are able to stay in par withWatch It Fall; but other then that, a lot of the songs tend to blur together. Nothing really makes them standout or really make you want to sing along like the single did.

The songs are all very political and fast paced, which are reminds me of Anti-Flag. I can listen to this CD quite a lot, but nothing really grabs you other then a few odd tracks here and there. Which does make for a somewhat forgettable album.

 

Audio Karate - Lady Melody

Audio Karate

Lady Melody

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Audio Karate are set to release their follow-up to 2001’s critically acclaimed release, Space Camp. Released on June 1st 2004, Lady Melody displays the band’s growth perfectly with tighter melodies and harsher vocals; of course, with Bill Stevenson producing it , you can’t go wrong.

From the opening track and first single, Jesus Is A Live And Well (and Living in Mexico), to the closing track, Who Brings A Knife To A Gun Fight, the band’s unique sound is unmistakable. They take aggressive melodies and harsh vocals and combine them together to create an escape from today’s pop-punk overflow. The sound is really like most bands you’d find on the Kung Fu roster; Bigwig, oldBlink182 and old Ataris all come to mind. They have the same gruffy vocals with great punk hooks and melodies.

There are still some similarities between this, Lady Melody, and their previous release, Space Camp, but you can’t miss the distinct improvements. The songs are faster, but unlike most bands of their genre, they are still able to prolong them without taking away from the tracks. Art Barrios’ vocals are much stronger and more powerful then before; baring a striking resemblance to that of Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms.

But it does take time for you to enjoy it. My first listened, I hated; as with my second try too. But I gave it one more and voila, I fell in love.

antifreeze

Antifreeze

The Search For Something More

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Hailing from Appleton, Wisconsin, Antifreeze are back with their new album, and second on Kung Fu RecordsThe Search For Something More. Now Kris Roe of The Ataris not only discovered the band and produced their first Kung Fu album (Four Letter Words), but he also manages the quartet. So right away, people will start comparing the two bands together. With in all fairness, this can be done quite easily. They play the same style of pop-punk music topped off with vocals which are very similar. So it’s safe to say if you are a fan of The Ataris, you will be a fan of Antifreeze.

The Search For Something More is most likely not on the top of your Christmas list this year, and that makes sense. Now a days many people have been branching out and trying new things; creating new sounds and breaking free of genre titles; Antifreeze have decided to play it safe and stay in the pop-punk category. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this and it is very enjoyable to hear. But at times, you wish that they brought something new to the table.

Having two vocalists give Antifreeze a little extra depth. Although both vocalists sounds very similar to one another, when molded together, they create something very powerful. Dialogue displays that best with both singers combining their talents to make one catchy song. Other stand out songs would be Tell Me, a catchy pop-punk song with great lyrics and bass melodies; Holding Back, a faster paced song which gets your feet tapping; and then the bonus track which I am uncertain of the name. The bonus track is the most surprising off it all. Mixing emo, pop-punk and rock all in one, they speed it up and slow it down constantly with great guitar riffs and drum melodies.

The Search For Something More by Antifreeze is an album which most pop-punk fans will enjoy. It may not go above and beyond many boundaries, but it is still there for you to enjoy.

Pistol Grip - Live At The Glasshouse (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Pistol Grip

Live At The Glasshouse (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Pomona, California isn’t one of the most exciting towns in the world. But when you get one of the most known local punk rock acts in one of the best venues in Southern California playing their CD-release show, you know your in for a treat. Kung Fu Records have brought that treat home to you to view in the comfort of your very own home. They captured Pistol Grip’s CD release show for their latest BYO Record’s album, “Another Round” on multi-camera 24P digital video and packaged it all into one little DVD package for your enjoyment.

Being the CD release show, half of their 18 song set-list were new songs off “Another Round”, which were all well received by the crowd. The band flew through them very efficiently, providing energy for the crowd, and for you the viewer at some times too. The camera men/women do a good job at showing the full concert. Showing all five members fairly evenly. They really portray the band in their real form.

The audio quality, like most of the “Show Must Go Off” series, is once again superb. Even when they are simply talking to the crowd. The DVD also has some good special features, like a full band commentary on the performance for all the real big fans and 28 pictures from the show for everyone’s enjoyment. Overall, the seventh installment to the series was a good one by Kung Fu. It captures a good live performance and brings it to you efficiently without missing out on much. I know I’m going to go see Pistol Grip if they come by here.

Neil Hamburger - Live At The Phoenix Greyhound Park (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Neil Hamburger

Live At The Phoenix Greyhound Park (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 0.5/5

 
 

 

 

Kung Fu Records has recently been releasing live performances onto the world through “The Show Must Go Off” series. The fifth installment in this series is a unusual one at best. It is no live punk rock show, it is instead a stand up comedian by the name of Neil Hamburger doing his set at the Phoenix Greyhound Park.

Being a fan of stand up comedy, I was looking forward to seeing this. But it didn’t come close to my expectations. It was, in fact, worse then I could’ve ever imagined. He walks onto the stage with three drinks cramped between his arm and chest wearing a fancy suit and big glasses giving an incredibly annoying fake cough every couple of minutes. Almost all of his material was of the question and punch-line genre, like “Why did God invent Britney Spears?”. His finale was even worse, he asked people to give movie titles and he would somehow relate it to the word “Shit”, anyone could come up with “Shitfinger” or “Shit T: The Extraterrestrial”.  Even the crowd was unimpressed with his performance, it was completely quiet excluding a few people who laughed. After the performance Kung Fu went around asking the crowd what they thought, 3 out of the 5 people said it sucked and hope that he never comes back.

Kung Fu Records made a horrible choice by displaying Neil Hamburger in this series. The show really does need to go off for him.

The Matches - Live From The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off)

The Matches

Live From The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Anyone who knows me or comes to this site then probably knows that I am a huge Matches fan. They were my favorite self-released CD of the year last year, and will be in the top 3 of my top 10 list this year with their re-released E. Van Dahl Killed The Locals. So when I heard thatKung Fu Records would be filming their live show and release it in their famed The Show Must Go Off!! DVD series, I was extremely excited, and I’m glad to say the DVD didn’t let me down.

Now, Kung Fu Records normally tries to focus on bigger bands with a lot of history behind them for their Show Must Go Off!! series, but for The Matches, they decided to be a part of the history and record their young band as they are just starting. It will end up being a DVD seeked by thousands when the band’s skyrocketing career finally takes off, and for good reason.

The band plays a forty minute set with eleven songs mostly from their debut album. They play Dog-Eared Page, Audio Blood, Chain Me Free, Borderline Creep, The Restless, Eryn Smith, Say 18, Jack Slap Cheer, Destination: Nowhere Near, Sick Little Suicide, and then the rare December Is For Cynics from the Christmas compilation that came out last year. The sound is flawless, they sound perfect and exactly like the CD. The band are, like the two times I have seen them live, extremely energetic. I believe that the fact that they are playing on a bigger stage really helped them, as it gave them more room to jump around and swing their instruments; just take a look at the bassist Justin San Souci that runs around everyone like a maniac the whole show. Shawn Harris, lead vocals and guitarist, along with Jon Devoto, vocals and guitar, don’t have the opportunity to run around quite as much since they sing more and need to be by the microphone; but whenever they can, they leap from behind the microphone and play like crazy. Their live show is amazing and very energetic, and you definitely don’t want to miss the great guitar solo by Jon during Sick Little Suicide.

But onto the filming of the DVD. They have definitely improved since their last few which were filled with little mistakes here and there. Goldfinger‘s DVD looked to be grainy, and Bleeding Through‘s was always tinted blue; but this time the image quality is really clear. At times, it does seem to get a bit dark, but not too much that it effects your enjoyment. You also rarely see any of the cameramen in the frames either. I remember there was a recent episode that you would always see a cameramen in the frame, and that got annoying. You see them a few times, but it is very rare.

Like all of the DVD, they also have a bonus feature section. They have of course, the necessarily band commentary and links, but they also have the best extra footage they’ve had throughout the entire series. It was filmed by the band during their tour with Matchbook Romance and has them goofing around backstage, signing autographs, and even doing an acoustic performance of Scratch outside a venue to a small crowd. That acoustic song makes the extra footage that much more enjoyable. The pictures are good, and have some from the acoustic performance, and then others from the DVD performance. There aren’t too many, so its easy to watch.

Overall, this is a great DVD, and any Matches fan should pick it up.

Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 3 [DVD]

Various Artists

Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 3 [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

Samplers are a good thing for labels to release. For a cheap price, their fans can pick up a collection of new songs from their roster and let them catch up to what the label have been releasing and introduces the fans to the label’s newer signings. But when a label has slowly started drifting towards releasing more and more DVDs than before, it is smarter for them to release a DVD sampler rather than a CD sampler (or some this case, release one of it). That is what Kung Fu Records. At the same time as they released their sixth installment in the highly successfulPunk Rock Is Your Friend series, they are also releasing their third installment in the slightly less known Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu DVD series.

Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 3 features seventeen videos from the label’s releases, but looking through the track list you can see two major categories. The first is live videos. Out of the seventeen videos, eight of them are live and out of those eight, seven of those are from the label’s Show Must Go Off! series. Then, to add more live videos to the mix, out of the nine remaining videos, three of the filmed music videos are live videos too. These are more interesting than the strictly live videos, but still could do better with a stronger story line. All of this has its ups and downs. For people who love the Show Must Go Off! series will like it, and will be excited to see previews for the upcoming videos from The Bouncing Souls (who’s video for True Believers is one of the better ones of the DVD, with half the crowd climbing onto the stage to sing along) and the female fronted band, Dance Hall CrashersStrung Out‘s addition of Deville adds a little bit to the DVD with a preview for Fear Of Punk Planet Vol. 2 movie while Righteous Jams‘s video is just plain horrible. Its one camera mounted to the back of a live concert with horrible sound and a bad view. Really, not worth the time to listen to it.

The other category of videos found on this DVD is videos from The Vandals. Out of the seventeen videos, six of them are from The Vandals. There’s one of them performing And Now We Dance for the troops in Iraq (which will soon be released as a live DVD). There’s a weird remixed version of five or six songs by Shingo and the video of Warren pretending to be Freddie Mercury singing Don’t Stop Me Now. The last three Vandals videos come from fans. Two are for I Am Crushed, one of which follows the heart ache of a child’s toy and is a very inventive and well shot video while the other is kind of boring. And the last one is from the “I swear i’m a director” contest of some guy singing My Special Moment.

Although this DVD gives a good idea as to what Kung Fu is releasing these days, it is pretty disappointing. There’s not many actual music videos, most of them are live and from The Show Must Go Off!. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just would’ve been better with music videos.

 

Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 2 [DVD]

Various Artists

Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu 2 [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

If you have been following Kung Fu Records lately then you will know that they have been very busy putting out various DVDs, mostly in the forms of live DVDs in their The Show Must Go Off!! series. They have continued their stream of DVD releases with this, Secret Weapons Of Kung Fu #2, a cheap DVD sampler featuring any type of videos that the label has rights to; all for less then seven bucks.

Watching this DVD, its very obvious that Kung Fu Records doesn’t have a very high budget for music videos. There are two reasons for me saying that. The first is that most of the music video features the band playing live, which is good, but sometimes you wish there was a bit more of a major plot involved in it all. The second is that they don’t have a ton of actual music videos. This DVD is layered with clips from the label’s successful series, The Show Must Go Off! There is actually a total of eleven tracks from those releases, including a very disappointingNeil Hamburger bit. Even that small section of his standup act is painful to watch. Sometime in the near future Kung Fu Records also plan to release a Warped Tour 2003 DVD. They have two clips from that release, The Ataris and Poison The Well. So 13 out of the 23 videos are in fact live ones.

Now the remaining ten videos are, like I said, mostly live shots too, but they do use some amazing that I have never seen before. Take Ozma‘s video for Eponine for example. The entire video is live, but they are like glowing 3-d figures in a solid black background. The effect used in that video is one I have never seen before, and it makes for a great video. Other good music videos would be those for Useless I.D.‘sBring me Down and The God Awful‘s Watch It Fall. Those videos I can watch over and over again and never get bored.

Overall, this DVD sampler isn’t horrible and isn’t amazing either. It features a few good videos, a few good live songs, and some that aren’t so good. But if your a fan of any of the bands on here, or of Kung Fuin general, then I suggest you pick it up. Its only $6.98 and will provide you with some bits of entertainment when you are bored.

 

Guttermouth - Live At The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Guttermouth

Live At The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Kung Fu Records is back with their sixth installment in their “Show Must Go Off” series and are desperately needing a comeback from their less then semi-good release, “Neil Hamburger: Live At The Phoenix Greyhound Park”. Guttermouth helps them get that needed push back into the swing of things with this DVD/CD (or CD/DVD combo depending on what packaging you prefer) combo.

This is the first time in the series that the good people at Kung Fu have supplied the fans with a CD format copy of the show. The CD itself has one extra track then the DVD does because the song (“A Perfect World”) had to be removed from the DVD because of a outrageous fan on the stage. The fact that is comes with a CD is really helpful for it makes it so you have one more option to hear the performance. This way you can listen to it a lot more often if you really enjoy it.

The show itself is quite good. The band puts on a very good energizing show which was well received by their home-town fans. Additionally, it was Clint (the guitarist)’s last show in the band, so this is a nice little memory for him and the fans. The vocalist (of which I currently forget his name), is constantly full of energy and is bouncing around the stage, singing and crowd surfing.

One thing which I found slightly annoying was the places where the cameras where placed. Most of them were up high and showed a view of the performance from a height pointing down. This does give you a better feel of the overall performance and a good view of the whole stage, but there is a less intimidate feel to it as there are less close-ups and is just from more of a distance then the series normally has.

Overall, the DVD is pretty good. A nice live performance backed up with some good bonus features like band commentary, 20some pictures and some fine dining with the band. Plus, the live CD is a nice added bonus.

Goldfinger - Live At The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Goldfinger

Live At The House Of Blues (The Show Must Go Off) [DVD]

Kung Fu Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

I am a big Goldfinger fan, so when I heard that Kung Fu Records was recording a live DVD of the band for their The Show Must Go Off series, I was ecstatic. But as soon as I started watching the eleventh installment in the series I was disappointed. Right from the start, lead singer John Feldmann’s vocals were much weaker then I expected. They were harsh and sounded tired and exhausted. I guess after playing shows for nearly a decade, it makes sense that your voice would degenerate a bit, but I was still taken aback from it. Secondly, the film quality wasn’t nearly as good as the previous episodes in the series. It was much darker and somewhat grainy at times, which disrupted my viewing pleasure several times.

Even though they only play a small set of only 14 songs, they are able to hit on many of their classics like Superman, Open Your EyesMable (where everyone got the chance to join the band on stage), Fuck Ted NugentCounting The DaysSam SimeonMiles AwayWayne Gretzky, Here In Your Bedroom and more. Hearing these songs again reminded me of just how good this band really is. I mean, I haven’t listened to them in well over 8 months but I am still able to recall 90% of the words and sing along with these classic songs. Closing the set, they play their most popular track, 99 Red Balloons, and left everyone wanting more from the band. By that time even I had forgotten about the video quality and vocals.

Goldfinger knows how to entertain their fans and give them their money’s worth. John starts the show of in a suit and ends it topless and drenched in sweat after running around, singing crazily and crowd surfing numerous times. Keeping the tradition alive, Dangerous Darrin let one lucky fan member eat a twinkie out of his ass and then went on to share the treat.

Having a short set enabled Kung Fu Records to put a lot more extra features into the disc as well, something which has been lacking in recent episodes of The Show Must Go Off. Like all the shows, they have a band commentary, links, credits and a photo gallery; although this time the photo gallery is from a mixture of shows, not just the one shown on the DVD. But they don’t stop there, they also have information onPETA with a very disturbing and mind-opening video for their animal rights song, Free Me. Finally, there is also the extra part, where they have some more live footage from various concerts over the past years and has the band just messing around doing stupid things. This is very amusing to watch and easily makes up for the short set.

Despite a few quarks in the vocals and image quality; Goldfinger Live At The House Of Blues is a great DVD. They are more then able to make up for the little glitches by adding more extra features, something which has been missing from previous releases in the series.