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Posts Tagged ‘Punk Rock’

2013: The Year in Pictures

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment

As you know well enough by now, I’ve already summed up what I thought were the best albums of 2013. Because, you know, some people still like albums. But 2013 wasn’t just a great year for music listening, it was a great year for music watching. Thanks to a great hobby and an even greater ‘better half,’ I was able to take in more shows this year than in any year since college. In the process, I started to try my hand at live concert photography. An amateur in every since of the word, I couldn’t tell you what an f-stop is with a gun to my temple. That said, I think I stumbled into what would be considered an “okay job” at times. I have learned a lot, and continue to do so. I combed through the several thousand pictures I took and posted some of my favorite moments in a gallery below. Check it out – clicking on one picture will open up the gallery in full-screen mode.

Hopefully 2014 will feature many more cool opportunities. Stay tuned!

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On The Passing of Tony Sly

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

On The Passing of Tony Sly

This is a post that I initially wrote for Dying Scene. I was sitting at my desk when I originally learned of Tony’s incredibly untimely passing, and was (and remain) incredibly taken back by the whole thing. While trying to process what was going through my head, I turned to what I know best: writing. Save for a couple minor edits, the post that ended up on Dying Scene was essentially written stream of consciousness. I didn’t quite expect it to take off the way it did; certainly the most “viral” original content piece I’ve written to date. I do take some pride in that my words (evidently) summed up what a lot of others were going through.

Face to Face w/Strung Out – Boston, MA

May 15, 2011 1 comment

For the first time in just about two years, Face to Face played within Boston proper last night (May 14th). The band are celebrating their twentieth year in business, and touring in support of their seventh studio album, Laugh Now…Laugh Later, which is due to be released this coming week (May 17th). Joining them for the duration of the two-plus month-long tour are fellow SoCal heavyweights Strung Out, themselves rounding the corner on 20 years (the band was formed in 1992).

As much as it pains me to say, I’m much less familiar with Strung Out’s catalog than I should be; this is certain to change in the near future. The band play a fast-paced, metal-infused brand of SoCal punk rock. I’m not sure how I never got around to seeing Strung Out before. Nevertheless, they put on a very enjoyable, high octane 40-ish minute set on this particular night. Their 7:50pm time slot was also notably earlier than anticipated; Brooklyn band Cerebral Ballzy (yes, that is their real name) were due to occupy one of the opening slots, but played in the UK the day before and didn’t make it back to the States in time for this gig.  Redondo Beach punk band The Darlings occupied the 7:00pm time slot, though admittedly, I missed their performance.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the Strung Out set…

Frontman Jason Cruz

Jake Kiley and Jason Cruz
Jake Kiley and Chris Aiken

Aiken and Cruz

On to the headliners. May 14th, 2011, would mark my twelfth f2f gig. Paradise is a fairly legendary rock club in Boston, so I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to see my favorite band there for the first time. The boys took the stage promptly at 9:10pm. Thanks to our spot up front between Trever Keith and Scott Shiflett, we had a pretty good view of the setlist ahead of time. Here’s how it read:

You Lied

You’ve Done Nothing

Struggle

Walk The Walk

It’s All About You

Ordinary

I Won’t Lie Down

Blind

Bill Of Goods

Pastel

All For Nothing

A-OK

Should Anything Go Wrong

Velocity

I Want

Complicated

Big Choice

Bombs Away

Resignation

Disconnected

——————–

I’m Trying

It’s Not Over

As you might imagine from looking at it, that right there is a pretty solid setlist. The band’s first three albums were obviously very well represented (five songs from Don’t Turn Away, six songs each from Big Choice and the self-titled album), while Ignorance Is Bliss (to be expected) and Reactionary (unexpected) were unrepresented, and 2002’s How To Ruin Everything had only one song featured. The remainder were from the forthcoming Laugh Now…Laugh Later. “Should Anything Go Wrong” and “It’s All About You” were fairly well-received and several people seemed to know the words already.  “All for Nothing” occupied the space that “Bombs Away” was slotted for, the latter song not actually being played, and was met with nodding approval (no ‘thumbs-down, middle-finger-up’ this time around), a good sign for a song that isn’t full-throttle punk rock song.

The mostly-capacity crowd was pretty chipper for most of the set, and seemed to get rowdier from about the halfway mark on. Pretty decent pit ebbed and flowed for the majority of the set, and the number of crowd surfers was unexpectedly high. Frontman and band founder Trever Keith acknowledged that his voice was a little off (“phlegmy” was the precise word he used) and it was noticeable in some places, but by and large he sounded great for an “old guy.” About a third of the way through the set, Keith commented on how Face to Face crowds have grown decidedly older over the years, but pointed out that they were, in fact, old men themselves (prompting bass player extraordinaire to pretend to shuffle over to his spot aided by a walker). Keith also repeatedly commented on how the Red Sox were beating the Yankees, which always pleases him due to his noted hatred of the Bronx Bombers. That met with applause from the crowd, and didn’t come off as typical front-man pandering.

Despite the band’s age, they played with their trademark high energy and precision. New drummer (since the 2008 reunion) Danny Thompson served as the rock steady gas pedal behind the kit, keeping things plowing straight ahead. While longtime guitar player Chad Yaro was back home tending to “real job” duties, touring guitar player Dennis Hill continues to serve as a formidable replacement. Sadly, the sound was not mixed all too well, so his guitar was almost inaudible from our spot. Keith and Shiflett continued to do what they have been doing best for sixteen years (Shiflett took over for Matt Riddle in 1995): Keith’s power chord rhythmic assault on guitar continues to interplay with the melodically nimble-fingered Shiflett’s swirling bass lines.

But enough of my words. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment…

“You’ve got brains in your head…feet in your shoes…you can steer yourself…any way you choose…”

Scott doing the “duck face,” probably unintentionally…though, knowing Scott…

Scott either showing that playing bass is hard work, or trying to keep his dinner down

Danny, Trever and Dennis

Trever Keith

Scott, Trever and Danny. The banner behind them was designed by the one-and-only Corey Miller

I’m pretty sure Scott posed for this one…

I love this picture. Who says “old guys” can’t rock?!?

The man does have a thing for the Les Paul Studio, doesn’t he?

Danny, Trever and Dennis, seemingly enjoying themselves

Just sorta like the coloring on this one

“Whaaaaa?!?”

A considerate crowd member shares a beer with mini Dennis

I have a tough time photographing drummers, I’m not gonna lie

More Dennis

In closing, I would say that my twelfth Face to Face show left me looking forward to another twelve, but I’m not that naive. Still, a boy can dream, can’t he? At least there’ll be New Haven on Thursday!

“Ramones” turns 35

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

The title of this one says it all. April 23rd marks the 35th anniversary of the self-titled, debut album by the Ramones. As such, it also marks the 35th anniversary of punk rock. To commemorate the occasion, I wrote a (fairly lengthy) revisit/review of the album for Dying Scene. Check it out here and leave some love!

Revisiting “Ramones”

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the things that has been most interesting to me about writing and reviewing for Dying Scene over the last month has been getting a firm grasp on just how truly out of touch I am with the modern punk music scene. It is a scene that I was so into for so long, but in hindsight I was really just focusing on the same couple of dozen bands that were out in the mid-late 90s.  Turns out there are a lot of great bands out there, and that it can be much easier for a lot of them to get their music out there due to the rise of the Internet and sites like Bandcamp and Facebook.

Anyway, as out of touch as I have been about new music, it is also true that there are a lot of “kids” in the scene now who are equally as out of touch about the old stuff.  As a result, on of the original content ideas that we are going to work on at Dying Scene is revisiting some of the albums that really formed the scene and paved the way for the bands that are just now cutting their teeth. The first such album to get a new work-up will be the Ramones debut album, Ramones, released in April 1976. Figured we would start there as it is the 35th anniversary of the album credited by  most as being the first “punk rock” album. I’ll expound on this in some length letter, but I’ve gotta say, it has been quite fun giving Ramones a lot of thorough listens for the first time in a long time.

If you are/were a fan of any of the Ramones stuff, post some comments and I’ll gladly use them (and credit you, of course!).

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Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

January 18, 2011 1 comment

We are currently eighteen days into the new year, and already an album that will be on my shortlist of “Favorite Albums of 2011.”  “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” is the seventh studio album (their first on Epitaph Records) from legendary (a term that I do not use loosely) SoCal rockers Social Distortion (stream the album by clicking on their name).  Almost thirty years after the release of their seminal debut album “Mommy’s Little Monster,” their first new album in seven years finds “Social D” firing on all cylinders.

Don’t be confused; this is not your father’s punk rock album.  Actually, on second thought, perhaps it is your father’s punk rock album.  Unlike fellow elder statesmen Bad Religion, who dropped the blistering  “Dissent of Man” last year to coincide with their own thirty-year anniversary, Social Distortion has mellowed their sound over the years with great results.   Frontman Mike Ness has released two countrified solo albums (1999s “Cheating at Solitaire” and “Under The Influences”) that focused less on his gutter punk background and more on the Hank Williams/Bob Dylan influences from his youth.  “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” finds Ness skillfully combining both worlds into one dynamite rock record.

The first chords of the instrumental opening track “Road Zombie”  highlights the signature Les Paul/Marshall cab sound that Social D fans have come to know and love, and segues nicely into “California (Hustle and Flow),” which features Ness’s trademark vocal stylings (which I guess can best be classified as a whispery whine)  a Stones-y groove and a gospel choir (you heard me right…a gospel choir).  “Gimme The Sweet and Lowdown” has a traditional Social D hook and a chorus that will get stuck in your head for hours (but in a good way, not like a Barney song).  Other highlights are “Machine Gun Blues” and “Bakersfield,” the latter of which checks in at well over six minutes; that’s practically half an album of traditional punk songs.  The album’s closer, “Still Alive,” has a classic rock feel that will have you playing air guitar in your kitchen (just be careful to tone down the Townshend windmills when others are in the room).

Social Distortion has taken some flack from “old school” fans who claim that the band “isn’t punk” anymore.  Those are many of the same fans who chastised Face to Face for going soft on 1998s “Ignorance is Bliss.”   Apparently some people would prefer to continue living in their parents’ basement while safety pinning “Casualties” patches and anarchy pins to their faux leather jackets without realizing that musicians grow and change and develop artistically.  Ness, who is rapidly rounding the corner toward 50 years old, has been hanging with Bruce Springsteen a lot in recent years, and “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” would find a comfortable home in the rock album collections of many Springsteen fan.  All of the ‘bottom of his heart’ lyrics and intense vocal urgency that you would expect from Social Distortion are there, but the years have left Ness sounding more hopeful and optimistic than ever.  In my opinion, their best album since 1996’s “White Light, White Heat, White Trash,” and maybe their best album hands down.

Listen to “California (Hustle and Flow)” above.