REVIEW: Sin Bad / Bad Wig – “Sin Bad Wig” Split

I have a bias. I want to say it right off the top. I grew up near Chicago, and I’ve been a Cubs fan for a long time. As such, it’s in my nature to talk shit on Milwaukee. It can’t be helped. But, hey, we’re not talking baseball. We’re talking music. To that point, this split record is fucking great. Sin Bad and Bad Wigs are both phenomenal bands who know how to write the hell out of a song. The split is a four and four gimmick, and it’s a great example on how goddamn hooky punk rock can be.

Sin Bad have the first half. Four songs in about 11 minutes. They definitely fall more towards the poppy side of the punk rock genre. Maybe Swearin’ by way of Dirt Bike Annie? I don’t know. Either way, the dual vocals of Audrey Pennings and Ben Woyak don’t mess around. The first inclination would be to call this pop punk, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Is it poppy? Absolutely. Is it punk? Yep. But I don’t think this band is too concerned about playing within that genre’s yard. Power pop, garage, it’s all here.

Bad Wig play have the second half. Their sound is much more rooted in garage rock. While these songs have a bit more grit to them, they sound positively shiny compared to the band’s 2015 EP (contrast this version of “Machinehead” to the one on there). The instrumentation is fantastic. Ryan McCrary’s guitar fucking kills. Their songs have a kind of retro sound. This band kind of made me think of the Gaza Strippers for whatever reason. I mean, I don’t know. There is a good helping of 90s garage punk in these songs is what I’m saying, I guess.

All in all, this is a great record. If one band does’t click with you, the other probably will. Both are great examples of what they do. Also, totally unrelated to sound, but I’ll always fuck with a record that can also be an answer on Jeopardy.

Sin Bad
Bad Wig
Kitschy Spirit Records
Bandcamp / Buy It

REVIEW: Long Knives – “The Subject”

It’s been a almost four years since Long Knives released their excellent debut EP, This Is Your Life. It showcased a promising band, and was one of my favorite records of 2015. It’s been a long wait to get a full length, but it finally happened. Long Knives initially stood out to me because they sounded different. A lot of the emo bands at the time kind of felt like Kinsella retreads. Long Knives didn’t. Not to me anyway. And now, years later, a lot has changed. The “emo revival” hype has long since tapered off. It’s now kind of do or die when it comes to the genre. Either you go for it, break up, or changed sounds to better ride the wave of gets the most hype. I’m glad to say that Long Knives falls in the first category.

The Subject is a record that really shows Kris Moya’s growth as a songwriter. They are able to tackle complex matters in way that, while emotionally heavy, is also engaging and inviting. Personal songwriting is always difficult to judge because, I mean, there is no benchmark to measure against. You are listening to someone express their experience. These songs. while speaking to an entirely different experience than I have, still resonate. It ultimately comes down to feeling. Kris Moya, via the band’s Bandcamp page, addressed the records as such:

“The whole process of writing and recording Long Knives’ first full length ‘The Subject’ took about 4 years to finish. It was a lot of work. It emotionally and mentally drained me. There were times I wanted to scratch the whole thing because I wasn’t happy with it, but I’m really glad I stuck it out because we are proud of the songs. During the writing process, I made myself vulnerable because I wanted to raise awareness about mental illness, gender dysphoria, homophobia, white privilege, abuse, and consent. I know that these things can be triggering to others and it certainly is for me as well, but I want my voice to be heard so thank you to those that actually listen to this album. It truly means a lot.”

To the musical end, The Subject Is certainly still inline with bands like The Anniversary or The Get Up Kids. Especially with keyboard. That is a bit reductive though, I suppose. Songs like “Normal” and “Golden Lady” definitely skew toward that kind of hook heavy pop stuff. On the other end, “Temporary” is crunchy as fuck. “Home” and “Anticipate” are on the more ballad-y side of things. There is a lot to offer, and this band absolutely nails it.

Long Knives
Bandcamp/Buy It

REVIEW: Overo – “Cold Concrete​ / ​Shattered”

overo

Overo is a band that I was stoked about the minute I heard they existed. The band is made up of Lindsay and Mercy from Football, etc., Brendan from Perfect Future, and John from Rose Ette. I’m not going to bore you with a lot of introduction and bullshit. Suffice to say, that is a goddamn line up.

The release here is a two song demo/single. The two songs featured are solid post-hardcore, but they also embraces the emo and punk connections. Both have a strong quiet/loud dynamic, but in notably different ways. “Cold Concrete” nails that dynamic with the vocals. “Shattered” with the music. Lindsay Minton and Brendan Stephens have very different vocal styles, but they work really well together. “Cold Concrete” has the former’s singing delivery going head on into the latter’s more yelling/screaming delivery. “Shattered” features more vocal interplay, with both singing at the same time.

I really enjoy how the song play with the post-hardcore style in different ways. “Cold Concrete” has a punk aggression to it. It’s a short song that drives to it’s conclusion. There isn’t a lot of posturing, but there are great riffs. “Shattered” is more jagged and angular. It starts with a minute of delicate guitar work before it crescendos into a mathy kind of jam. The guitar lead is fantastic and the shift at the midway point is a thing of beauty.

The long and short of this is simple. You’ve got a band with a killer lineup making two of the strongest genre songs I’ve heard in a minute. If there was a release more in my wheelhouse, I sure haven’t found it yet. Here’s hoping we get more stuff from this band.

Overo
Bandcamp / Buy It

REVIEW: The Flips – “Exactly Where I Should Be”

I’ve spent a lot of time playing the genre purity game. Especially with punk bands, but especially with emo bands. I’ve overlooked, or written off, a lot of bands because of this. I never really trust bands who sound too clean, or too close to whatever “mainstream” sounds like. I mention this in passing because, despite being local, I probably wouldn’t have ever listened to The Flips. That said, I’m glad I did.

The Flips have been kicking around since 2011. They’ve got two full lengths, two EPs, and a split under their belt. In order to do my due diligence, I went back and listened to everything. There is a lot to like, and the band has shown a lot of growth. Their previous releases were raw and loud. Based on their latest EP, Exactly Where I Should Be, you probably wouldn’t expect it. The band had talent and heart though. It’s what stood out to me. They were still finding their voice, but they had potential. The first EP kind of had a Knapsack vibe going through it. The two LPs both had a darker, riffier sound. But, starting with Better Days, you could see the band starting to shift. Then the split with Pelafina took it further. It was, up to that point, the poppiest the band had sounded.

Anyway, that was a long walk to get here. Long story short, Exactly Where I Should Be is a shiny slab of emo influenced alternative rock. You know exactly what you’re getting as soon as “What’s the Plan?” starts. This is a record that is full of hooks. And that is exactly what makes a slower song like “Sadder Days (For Gene & Jo)” stand out. The former being a guitar jam that has a Jimmy Eat World vibe. The latter is built around the keys, and takes it’s time to reach the end. They are both definitely standout tracks. They also serve as great bookends. This isn’t to say the remaining three tracks are filler. In fact, I’d throw “Right Now” up near the top as well. It, along with “Promise Ring” and “The Point,” all propel the record forward with a great mix of emo, alternative, and pop punk. On a technical side, I love the production and the mixing. Everything sounds crisp, and nothing gets lost.

So, I mean, let’s wrap things up here. Exactly Where I Should Be is probably my favorite batch of songs The Flips have put out. I like bits and pieces of the older stuff. My main criticism, outside of a few lyrical missteps, was that the songs were all too long. That isn’t the case here. Even with a six minute song, this record fucking goes. Give it a listen if you haven’t already.

The Flips
Bandcamp
Buy It

YEAR END! – Top Records Of 2018

Hey, 2018 sure was thing. After almost a year away, I brought this blog back a few months ago. I plan on actually updating on a more regular schedule in 2019. But, that is a problem for 2019 Joe. Anyway, here are my top records of 2018. In alphabetical order, because it just makes sense.

BEST RECORDS:

  • Dessa – “Chime”
  • Dogbite – “True Lofi Will Find You In The End”
  • Drug Church – “Cheer”
  • Gouge Away – “Burnt Sugar”
  • Headlines – “MMXVII”
  • Heavy Mantle – “Weights & Measures”
  • Hop Along – “Bark Your Head Off, Dog”
  • Krimewatch – “Krimewatch”
  • La Luz – “Floating Feature”
  • Lala Lala – “The Lamb”
  • Late Bloomer – “Waiting”
  • Lilith – “I’ll Come Over B/W In Real Life”
  • Miranda Winters – “Xobeci, What Grows Here?”
  • Miserable – “Loverboy”
  • Mitski – “Be The Cowboy”
  • Mothers – “Render Another Ugly Method”
  • Nectar – “Knocking At The Door”
  • Ogikubo Station – “We Can Pretend Like”
  • Open Mike Eagle – “What Happens When I Try To Relax”
  • Restorations – “LP5000”
  • Tancred – “Nightstand”
  • Tanukichan – “Sundays”
  • There’s Talk – “Bathed Water Moon”
  • V.V. Lightbody – “Bathing Peach”
  • Worlds Greatest Dad – “Get Well Soon”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Absinthe Father – “Jane”
  • Ivy Sole – “Overgrown”
  • Petal – “Magic Gone”
  • Roy Kinsey – “Blackie: A Story By Roy Kinsey”
  • Smol Data – “Smol Data: An EP”
  • Snail Mail – “Lush”
  • Steady Holiday – “Nobody’s Watching”
  • Swearin’ – “Fall In The Sun”
  • Tony Molina – “Kill The Light”
  • Young Animals – “Disposition”

All things considered, Be The Cowboy was my favorite record this year. Or, at the very least, the one I listened to the most.

So, yeah. There you go. Here’s a Spotify playlist

REVIEW: Ogikubo Station – “We Can Pretend Like”

The best thing about punk rock music is that the artists you love get older with you. And the artists who maybe grew up before you are going to be there when you finally catch up. Ogikubo Station is a mix of two different periods in my life coming together. Mike Park represents the stuff that got me into the music to begin with. All those Asian Man Records bands that were so vital to me getting into underground music as a teenager. Maura Weaver is that punk rock I listened to in my mid/late-20s when I was still fucking up a lot, but finally getting around to being an adult. Ogikubo Station, as a whole, feels like I finally caught up.

All things being what they are, We Can Pretend Like is an amazingly solid indie rock record that still has punk rock in it’s blood. I know it’s a weirdly specific phrase, but the singer/songwriter side of the band really shines through. The songs, though simple, have a lot of heart behind them. They are enjoyable, even if the subject matter is a bit heavy. If I had to spotlight some specific songs, I would definitely have to talk about “Drowning At The Watering Hole” and “Strong As You.” The former because it’s just a really great song. Honestly, there is a really sad song hiding behind the new wave synth line and the poppy guitars. You’ve got a tale of loneliness, dependency, and co-dependency. The latter stands out to me for more personal reasons. Hearing a song about a parent dying snuck the hell up on me at the laundromat. That is such a specific feeling. It’s one that you forget is still raw, even after time has passed. Other standouts are “I’ve Been Thinking Of St. Louis” and “The Prettiest One.” Both have a kind of twang to them. It really adds a dimension to the whole record.

I kind of question the need to write up this record. All the big sites already covered it back in August. I’m two months behind as usual. I just really like it. But, of course I do. My love of Asian Man Records has been well documented here. Bias aside, I think this is a record that has something for everyone. If you like indie rock, you’ll like it. If you like punk rock, you’ll like it. If you like Mike Park and Maura Weaver in their previous projects, you’ll like it. Just give it a listen if you haven’t already.

Ogikubo Station
Asian Man Records
Bandcamp
Buy It