REVIEW: Dikembe – "Broad Shoulders"

I know there has been a lot of people (myself including) hyping this supposed “emo revival” stuff. Dikembe is one of those bands that shithead bloggers like me will champion. The reason is because everything you want in this genre is right there on the record. Run a checklist on Broad Shoulders, everything is there. Gruff, melodic punk filtered through 90’s emo sensibilities? Check. Yelled, off kilter vocals? Check. Fantastic lyrics delivered in an engaging way? Check.

This shit rules, ok? Honestly, the review could end there. After the fantastic Chicago Bowls EP from last year, Broad Shoulders is one of those rare records that lives up to the hype. Damn near everything works here. Steven Gray (guitar/vocals) has a voice that, while not technically “great”, is perfect for this. He can go from sounding pretty straight forward to almost unhinged without skipping a beat. Rounding out the rest of the band is Ryan Willems (guitar),  Kenny Jewett (bass), and David Bell (drums). Goddamn if they don’t play the hell out of this shit.

I kind of wish this record was longer. With 10 songs coming in just this side of 30mins, it is certainly over pretty quickly. But, you know, fair enough. Every member of this band is in another band (isn’t that just a like a Gainesville band?), and two of those bands both put out full lengths last year (Wavelets and Senders). This record is a no brainer for being one of the best of the year

Tiny Engines
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It

REVIEW: The Copyrights – "North Sentinel Island"

The succinct way of reviewing this record is to say that if you liked The Copyrights before, there is no reason not to get this.

The more wordy and drawn out way of reviewing this is this: If we’re going to talk about pop punk, one of the bands that has to be mentioned is The Copyrights. Being from Illinois, I have a bias. I have managed to see The Copyrights more times than I can count. Probably more times than I have seen any other band (except maybe The Lawrence Arms?).

There are a lot of pop punk bands in the world. Some are great, some are terrible. But, none of them are like The Copyrights. They are a band that punk rock fans in Chicago can look at as our own (despite them being from Carbondale [which, if you don’t know Illinois, is nowhere near Chicago]). Sure, for pop punk, we had Screeching Weasel. But, they were at their best (in my opinion, their first reformation from 1991-1994) while I was in elementary school. The Copyrights started putting out records in 2003. That was the year I got out of high school. Their second full length came out in 2006. And, with that, they served as a soundtrack to my early 20s. It was just the right time.

So, North Sentinel Island is the first full length from The Copyrights since 2008. And, you know, it is pretty fucking great. Basically, it is building on the template that the band has been fucking around with since Mutiny Pop. Every song is deliberate and forceful. The songs avoid the trap that a lot of pop punk falls in. The trap is, of course, reheated Ramones riffs. Yeah, things stay pretty simple, but the use of real (re: not power) chords expands the sound. Nothing on this record would sound out of place on  any of their previous records. Well, except maybe the riff on “Hard-Wired,” which are more than a little Blink-182ish and the acoustic closing of  “Bow Down.” Overall though, it is exactly what you would want (and expect) from the band.

If Learn The Hard Way was a record that expressed a certain level of frustration, North Sentinel Island is the opposite. It is optimistic, but still cynical.

“Expatriate Blues” is great at describing how people get about their home towns once they leave:

“I’m not home sick, I’m sick of home.
Now I know when I’m back home I’ll just be visiting.
Now I know that my return won’t be for long.
When I’m gone this bedroom town just keeps on sleeping.
The same sleep every year just like when I was here.
I hate it with a smile, I miss it with a sneer.”

“Worn Out Passport” is one of the best songs. It maintains the theme of just living life the best you can. and I can’t refuse a song that has lyrics like:

“And I want my body filled with more alcohol than blood.
Don’t take this as self destructive, because this wish is filled with love.”

Other than all that, this is just a fun record. It has some of the best sing alongs I have heard in a while. Yes, it can maybe get repetitive, lyrically. Yes, it sounds a lot like everything this band has done before. But, it is far from stale. People often mistake simplicity for laziness or stupidity. Fuck those people. Sometimes, the simple stuff says the most.

The Copyrights (Bandcamp) (it is the only non-Myspace/Facebook site I could find)
Red Scare Industries

REVIEW: Spraynard – "Funtitled"

Yes. Fuck yes. This is a strong contender for punk record of the year. It is a blast of melodic punk, in the Latterman (lazy comparison) type style. But, this a review. No one cares how stoked I am. So, down to business.

Spraynard is one of those bands that you are either going to like, or you are going to hate. While they are great at what they do, what they do is not super original. Ever since Latterman got huge in the scene, and then broke up, there are no shortage of this type of punk. No one is reinventing the wheel. In the end, some bands just do it better than others.

I was very on the fence about checking this band out from the get go. You have them taking there name from a Tim And Eric sketch, which rarely bodes well. You have the fact that this style of punk is saturating the market. It just seemed like another band on the bandwagon. Finally, I decided to listen to their first full length, and was impressed. They seemed like one of the bands doing this whole thing for the right reasons. Something about it was earnest, and so fucking positive. Their split with Paramedic was also great. The fact that Asian Man Records picked this band up speaks volumes about them. Asian Man is a label that has been more hit than miss (by a wide margin) for as long as I can remember.

This record continues that trend. This is, technically, a split release by Asian Man (physical) and If You Make It (digital). In the same way Bomb The Music Industry does their releases (also with Asian Man). Generally, this record is great. The stand out track for me is “O.R. They?,” which is just one of those song to raise your spirits when you need to posi up a little. Also, “We’re Pretty Nice Guys” and “Spooky, Scary” deserve mention as well.

Yeah, I know this was not much of a review. It is just hard to say anything bad about this record. It is a fun release that is perfect for summer. Great energy, great songs, great vibes. And, they posted it online for free. Go get it, and if you disagree with me, make sure to tell me how much I suck. Get stoked.

Official site
Buy it @ Asian Man Records
Official download @ If You Make It