Friday, 31 August 2012
The Ducky Boys
“I ain’t ashamed to say, I’ve had a pretty bad year.”
Jesus… Where was I on this one?
I guess 2012 is the year that The Ducky Boys make up for the 6 year hiatus they took after The War Back Home. After already releasing a comeback LP at the start of the year with Chasing The Ghost, they dropped this four song EP back in May… and NOBODY TOLD ME!!! Nice job, The Internet.
Anyways, I maintain that The Ducky Boys have never put out a bad record. They have albums that I enjoy more than others. But at their worst, I still couldn’t call this band anything less than “solid.” There’s just something about Mark Lind’s raspy yet melodic voice and their ability to write vaguely aggressive sounding working class punk anthems that wins my heart every time. I mean, It’s not like the city of Boston is suffering from some crazy shortage of working class punk bands, but I’d put The Ducky Boys up against any just about any of them any day of the week.
So, what does this EP bring to the table?
Chemicals offers up 4 more tracks of polished, melodic punk rock. This band has been refining their sound for years now, and have tightened up to the point that they are really not like any other street punk band. I can’t think of any way to describe it other than mature. Which is good because there are plenty of street punk bands that are basically caricatures at this point. I’m thinking of The Casualties and other mohawked, day glo tinted bands like that. Nuttin’ wrong with that, but I’m a grown ass man, dawg.
I wanna give a special mention to the last song on this thing. “Pretty Bad Year” is a classic rock n roll tinged track with Lind on lead vocals. It features the kind of sing along type chorus that I love and would, I think, kill in a live setting. Besides which, it’s a fine example of the sort of introspective, beer swilling, blue-collar punk this band does so well. It’s really good.
Honestly, the fact that this band isn’t HUGE is a fucking travesty. With they way people jock bands like Gaslight & Dropkicks, getting into The Ducky Boys should be a goddamn no-brainer. But, selfishly, I guess I like the fact that this is a band that still feels special and unspoiled by idiots to me. They describe themselves on the Bandcamp page as “your second favorite Boston band.” It’s self-deprecating, but pretty much true.
That being said, I don’t want to wait another six years for another LP from these guys. To that end, everybody needs to toss these guys the 4 bucks they’re selling this thing for.
Totally worth it.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
01. Note to Self
02. Failed States
03. Devil’s Creek
04. Rattan Cane
05. Hadron Collision
05. Hadron Collision
06. Status Update
07. Cognitive Suicide
08. Things I Like
09. Unscripted Moment
10. Dark Matters
11. Lotus Gait
12. Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)
Let’s start with a brief recounting of my personal history with Propagandhi. I first heard them on some fat wreck comp and immediately dug their snotty-but-not-stupid brand of skate-punk. I quickly bought How to Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock. While I loved all the now-classics on How to Clean... (“Anti-Manifesto”, “Ska Sucks”, etc.) I was drawn to the sharpened wit and introspective nature of Less Talk. I was so enamoured that I actually played one side of the record every morning before I left for school for an entire year.
After waiting in line for HMV to open so that I could buy Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, I was confused and impressed. It seemed like this smart-but-silly punk band I loved had suddenly became a dark, driven, political, musical force to be reckoned with. The riffs were sharper, the lyrics more biting, and the songs more complex. In short, Propagandhi had grown up.
Ever since that day I patiently wait for new Propagandhi albums. I obsess over clips and songs that get released (I also apparently write reviews for single songs that they release) and I scour the internet for leaked copies while simultaneously pre-ordering the record as soon as possible. I don’t only do this because Propagandhi is arguably my favourite band of all time, but because ever since the days of Today’s Empires they have been constantly changing and evolving with each release. And to be honest, one of the reasons I wait so eagerly is because I’m always waiting to be disappointed. I figure eventually they will take a left turn off a musical cliff and, as a fan I won’t be willing to follow.
Fortunately, my fears have once again been put to rest. From the opening notes of “Note to Self” I realize that, while evolved, Failed States is a Propagandhi album in the truest sense of the word. The riffs are intricate, but catchy, the lyrics are meaningful but broadly political, and the song-writing is complex without being wankerish. I would also nominate the opening track as the best song on the album, but that is not an easy decision as the album never really relents or weakens in any real way.
While the title track and Devil’s Creek demonstrate why singer/guitarist Chris Hannah is arguably the best songwriter in punk today, “Rattan Cane”, “Hadron Collision”, and “Cognitive Suicide” help hoist Todd the Rodd into the spotlight as an eminent writer/front-man in his own right. His songs have always been, and continue to be heavier and more metallic, which is the perfect musical juxtaposition to lyrics that are acutely personal and revealing. That’s right, I used the words “musical juxtaposition”...that’s how you know this is a fancy music review.
Two more tracks that stand out are “Unscripted Moment” and the closer “Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)”. Both tracks show off the musical complexity that a group like Propagandhi is capable of, with several riffs reminiscent of guitarist David Guillas’ previous project Giant Sons.
In summation, there is nothing I would change about this album. It will please any Propagandhi fan without leaving them feeling like this is a rehash of older material. The band continues to outdo pretty much everyone by evolving into one of the most interesting, intelligent band to ever deliver face-shredding riffs. If I gave out ratings this album would get 5 masturbating dicks out of 5. I know that another review on the site listed the Masked Intruders’ record as his ‘Album of the Year’, but I think Propagandhi will likely take that honour for me.
Buy all of the copies you can right here.
Lost Tribe Ep. 8: Riot Fest/Criminal Minds
In this episode the boys talk about Toronto's upcoming Riot Fest, how awkward it can be to meet 'famous' band members, shitting in public, how good Hoax is, how sexy Shemar Moore is, the problems with Criminal Minds and other shows, and how good MI-5/Spooks is.
You can get it on iTunes or here.
Monday, 27 August 2012
Birds in Row
You, Me, and the Violence
2. There Is Only One Chair In This Room
5. Walter Freeman
6. Last Last Chance
7. You, Me, & The Violence
8. Grey Hair
9. Cold War Everyday
10. The Illusionist
11. Police & Thieves
12. Lovers Have Their Say
I’ll admit it: When it comes to hardcore I’ve always been extremely North America-centric. Although there have always been exceptions, many non-American/Canadian hardcore bands have often seemed behind the times, awkward, or odd derivatives of what was happening in N.A. at the time. Fortunately, Deathwish Inc. has helped clear up my misconception about European hardcore bands. As you might have seen here, Lost Tribe quickly fell in Love with Belgium’s Rise and Fall’s latest release, and the new Birds in Row album proves that France should also be taken seriously in the hardcore realm.
After picking up Vitriol’s amalgamation of Birds in Row’s first two EP’s called Collection, I became enamored with the band. What I was hearing was definitely hardcore, but it had pronounced metal, punk, and rock influences which were expertly blended and helped give the album a dynamic quality that many hardcore albums lack.
Needless to say, I had high hopes for Birds in Row’s first proper LP (and first Deathwish release), entitled You, Me, and The Violence. Right off the bat, Birds in Row proves they aren’t fucking around. “Pilori” and “There is Only One Chair in This Room” hit like a goddamn freight train. Noisy hardcore done right from the first note. They continue their ability to mix distorted mayhem with stripped down/clean tracks, with softer tracks like “Last Last Chance” and “Lovers Have Their Say”. While I often get bored with hardcore bands’ attempts at clean/soft songs, I never find Birds in Row’s forays into these quieter moments forced or unnecessary. They always add a pleasant break and momentary shift in musical direction. In other words, it’s a nice and well-placed break in the album.
The final thing I love about Birds in Row is their actual sound. So many hardcore bands are so distorted and overdriven that it’s hard to make out what is actually happening musically, let alone discern different notes or instruments. Fortunately, despite being heavy as all hell, this recording allows for a musical clarity that isn’t often present anymore. I would describe Birds in Row as “Cacophonous” more than anything, but in all of the sonic chaos there is still a coherence and clarity that I think sets this band apart in many ways.
Do yourself a favour and pre-order the album here.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
"When you're right, you're right.
And I know it cause I've seen it all my life.
That you're right, that you just can't charm a lady with a knife.
But that sucks, cause it's all I know how to do..."
2012 has been a pretty solid year, music wise. Tons of bands, from rookies to veterans have put out tons of amazing releases. If you're into to punk, in all its myriad forms, you've had an absolute embarrassment of riches to choose from since January.
Unfortunately, it was all for naught. I have found my goddamn record of the year.
Masked Intruder, straight outta Madison, WI, play pop punk in the Ramones worshipping, Screeching Weasel/The Queers sense of the word. They add to the formula a dose of 50's style pop vocal harmonies and serve the whole thing up polished to a glistening shine. Musically, the band is more than competent. I'd go so far as to call them exemplary, in fact. This isn't a style that strikes me as particularly challenging, but it's always good to hear and band that has it down as well as MI.
Where this band makes a leap from "solid and respectable" to "staggeringly awesome" is in there songwriting and presentation. You see, Masked Intruder are bunch of creeps, stalkers and armed robbers. They take the stage in brightly colored balaclavas and adopt color coded pseudonyms. They're just as likely to wait for you down an alley to steal your wallet as they are to wait outside your house to sing you a love song. Whether you want them outside of your house is really none of their concern. They just throw on their multicolored ski masks and spill their love all over your lawn.
Of course, this is all very tongue and cheek. The weird disconnect between the fast, poppy sound of the songs and the darkness of the lyrics is jarring. But once you get on board, it's about the most fun you can have without duct tape and a tire iron. And that's where shit starts to get a little bit meta. Pop punk songs about unrequited love are always a wee bit creepy. All Masked Intruder does is push the whole thing to its logical, but outlandish conclusion. And they do it in the most infectious and endearing way possible.
Consider the a capella opening to "Wish You Were Mine:"
"All I want to say to you,
Is I wish you were mine.
All I want to do to you,
Is everything all the time..."
That's a creepy as shit thing to say. But when you back it with doo wop style vocal harmonies and have Intruder Blue sing it longingly and passionately, its more or less impossible to resist. And that is the trick, really. This is a record you need to hear to truly get your head around. That's not because it's super complex, but because it's undeniable charm lies in its simplicity.
I also want to give a shout out to "Stick 'em Up," witch is less about being a creepy stalker weirdo and more about, well, robbing people. It has probably the best sing along part on the record:
"Stick 'em up!
Stick 'em up!
Stick 'em up!
I got a knife motherfucker!
Stick 'em up!"
Now that’s a chorus!
If I have a complaint, it's that my favorite song from the 7", "ADT Security," didn't find it's way to the LP. That EP is still out there to be heard though. So check that out as well. It’s totally worth it.
Bottom line, if you have any affection for pop punk. And I mean pop punk in the BEST way possible. You'd be cheating yourself to not give this band a shot. I just caught them opening for Teenage Bottlerocket a few nights ago and it was instantly one of my top five live sets of the year. In fact, I'm gonna leave you with a paraphrase of my favorite piece of stage banter of 2012:
"If any of the ladies of Toronto are looking to fall in love, we'll be waiting for you in various alleys around the city. It's like an Easter egg hunt! Except the eggs are looking for you!"
Like I said: Record of the year.