Archive for September, 2014

“The Creeps are going, going to the gas chamber!” But before that, Skottie Lobotomy lead singer of Ottowa punk rock band The Creeps answered a few questions about his time in the band so far, which is pertinent since they are about to play a local show celebrating 15 years as a band. I will refrain from rambling on about the band and their latest LP Eulogies (I did that enough already here: https://keeptrackofthetime.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/review-the-creeps-eulogies-its-alive-records/), but safe to say I rate The Creeps up there with the best in contemporary pop-punk.

Hello Skottie! Can you introduce The Creeps to Keep Track of the Time readers?

Hi Dave. Sure. We’re a three-piece band from Ottawa, Ontario. We started playing together in 1999. This month is our 15th year anniversary as a band, which is kinda wild. I guess we play dark, melodic punk music. We grew up playing and listening to classic pop-punk, so there are elements of that sound in our songs but smarter people than me have noted that we’ve kinda shifted away from our roots to forge our own ‘sound’ in recent years, which is nice of them to say and I tend to agree.

Your new album Eulogies came out in July on It’s Alive Records. Are you pleased with how it turned out?

Yeah, we’re extremely pleased and pretty proud of this one. We hadn’t released a full-length since 2007 and I kinda wondered if we even had it in us anymore. All three of us play in a bunch of different bands now and the Creeps is less of a priority than maybe it once was, but once the songs started churning out it became an easy process. And there’s definitely something to be said for the ease of writing songs with people you’ve been doing it with for so long. We fell really easily back into things.

Eulogies cover art

It has been six years since your last LP Lakeside Cabin. We have had multiple 7”s during that time, but why did it take so long for an album to appear?

Part of it is the multiple bands thing and not practicing as religiously as we used to, part of it is being busier in our personal lives and part of it is just my songwriting process. I tend to like to write pretty compartmentalized records from a lyrical standpoint – not necessarily ‘concept’ records, though we’ve done some of those, but at least records with a consistent theme – and I’d kinda exhausted some of the old stories I liked to write songs around. It just took me a while to figure out what I wanted to sing about this time around.

How was the recording process for Eulogies?

It was pretty typical for us. We’ve been recording with our friend Paul ‘Yogi’ Granger at his Meatlocker studio here in Ottawa for the past few recordings we’ve done and we’re always happy with the results. He’s got a great ear for melody and is definitely a valuable fourth voice in the room when we’re working with him.

You also released the vinyl for Lakeside Cabin through It’s Alive Recs, as well as the Follow You Home 7”. How did you get involved with It’s Alive?

We did a split with our friends FEAR OF LIPSTICK from Moncton, NB, who put out some records on It’s Alive and I think that’s how we probably ended up on Adam’s radar. I think it was a mutual admiration thing after that – we liked his label and he liked our band, so it was an easy fit. He’s such an awesome dude to work with and such a positive supporter of our music that it’s been a no-brainer to keep working with him on subsequent releases.

Looking back on your early releases, it was 2003 that you put out your first album Gamma Gamma Ray. How do you feel looking back on that album now?

I think all three of us feel strangely proud..? I mean, it’s a juvenile effort in every sense. We could barely play our instruments and fell into the obvious “pop-punk” tropes of the time, but so what? We came by it honestly and loved what we were doing then and that’s the attitude we’ve taken towards the band ever since. Most people our age still playing in bands have the luxury of no longer being attached to the songs they wrote when they were 19. We just never broke up our band when everyone else did and at this point, I think that’s kinda cool.

How was it that The Creeps formed as a band?

We met in University. I was in first year and Ian was one of my frosh leaders (a role which he performed horribly). One day he came into my room and embarrassingly caught me wistfully listening to my old band’s CD and figured out that I played guitar and asked if I wanted to start a band with a “drummer” he knew (Jordy’s drumming qualifications were that he had access to a drum kit, more or less). The next week, the three of us met in Ian’s basement and learned a MOPES song together. That was almost exactly 15 years ago today.

Considering the early stuff, how do you think you have developed as a band over the years? For me, Lakeside Cabin seemed a pretty significant shift in sound.

I’ll leave it to others to try to describe the way our sound has changed, but I think you’re right that ‘Lakeside’ represented a sort of shift away from what we were doing originally. By that point, I’d become a much more confident songwriter and lyricist and we’d at least graduated from ‘comically ill-equipped’ to ‘not horrible’ at playing our instruments, so that helped. I’d like to think that those trends have continued since 2008, when that record originally came out.

Song-writing wise, the change seems to have been from a straight up sci-fi Lillingtons-esque style to recurring themes of murder and serial killers. How did these ideas/themes develop in your songwriting?

It was actually on ‘Back to the ‘Bin’ that I feel like I started writing lyrics based around stories I had kicking around in my head, rather than just regurgitating the lyrical content of our favourite bands at the time – the Lillingtons being an obvious one, local legends the Riptides being another. I can’t really describe why I write what I do, except to say that I find the subjects titillating, and sometimes genuinely frightening. Most people find it weird that I am legitimately terrified of horror movies and never watch them. I guess one of the things that I’ve always been aware of when swimming in those lyrical waters is how easy it is to fall into the realm of schlock and it’s something I’ve tried to avoid. All of this said, I think the lyrical bent on ‘Eulogies’ is a different beast altogether and kinda represents another shift for me.

What is like to be a part of the Ottawa punk rock scene? There seems to have been a ton of good stuff coming from there in recent years.

It’s been an incredibly exciting time to be writing and playing music in Ottawa over the past 5-6 years. There’s been a friendly competitiveness that I think has forced everyone involved to raise the bar for their own bands in terms of effort and quality-control that’s been amazing to witness and to be a part of. That, coupled with the genuine support that bands in this city show for one another and the small group of committed individuals, many of whom we count as great friends, who promote shows regularly, who run affordable rehearsal spaces, who manage awesome labels and distros, who operate awesome little recording studios and who organize incredible annual music festivals like the GAGA Weekend and its older brother OTTAWA EXPLOSION – it all makes for a pretty cool time and place to be in a band.

As well as The Creeps, you are also involved in The Visitors and Crusades. How do you manage to fit it all in? Do you tour regularly or semi-regularly with any of the bands?

We’re all involved in multiple bands – I’m also in CRUSADES and BLACK TOWER, with Erin from the VISITORS and Dave from CRUSADES on drums, Jordy also plays drums in CRUSADES and Ian also plays bass in a new band called the STEADY SHAKES, who are awesome. None of our bands tour with any regularity as we all hold down full-time jobs, but we treat the bands as more than just hobbies, with regular band practices and playing shows as much as we’re willing and able.

Finally then, what do The Creeps have planned for the rest of 2014?

First, we have our local record release/15th anniversary show coming up on October 24th at an incredible new venue in Ottawa called the HOUSE OF TARG, which is operated in part by Yogi, who recorded a bunch of our records and by Kevin from the VISITORS. We’ll probably play some release shows in Toronto, Montreal and other surrounding areas in the coming months and then after that, who knows. We tend not to plan too far ahead these days, which suits us fine.

Check out The Creeps latest release here: http://thecreeps.bandcamp.com/album/eulogies

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The Lemonaids are a surf pop punk band from Glasgow, Scotland. First off, The Lemonaids is pretty much a perfect band name, especially for a pop punk band. The album starts with the title track “Back to the Beach” and it has an interesting intro that sounds Hawaiian. Intros are where the band really excel, especially on the song “Beach leech”. There’s a song called “Horror on Party Beach” and it’s unrelated to the Sloppy Seconds song. The songs that stand out the most are “Wonky Wanda”, “Beach Leech” and “Wiped Out (Over You), “Wonky Wanda” has a cool intro and a chorus that gets better with time. I think it’s possible that, like the newest Masked Intruder album, this is an album that will get better for each listen.

The album has great production! I think musically, though very inspired by the Beach Boys, the band sounds very much like Green Day, at least when it comes to the drums, guitar and bass, maybe especially on the Uno, Dos and Tré albums. The album has nice guitar riffs, really tight drums and cool bass lines. The musicianship on the album is brilliant, and the vocal harmonies are (to my untrained ear) very good and close to something the Beach boys would do. I guess something that brings it down are the lead vocals that to me are a bit too standard and don’t bring any new impressions into the music. I think one of the things I miss on the album is good songwriting; most of the songs lack the catchiness pop punk songs need that has made bands like The Queers successful. I think this album suffers from something I see with a lot of very talented bands with amazingly skilled and harmonized band members that play pop punk, that the music becomes generic and homogenous. To me, The Lemonaids become generic and homogenous both in their sound and in their lyrics, something I feel like Masked Intruder also start to suffer from. When all the songs are about the beach and surfing, bands have a tendency to make a caricature of both themselves and the beach life. The album also waits till the last song before there’s a slower song, “Wiped Out (Over You)”, which is also the best song on the album and I like that song a lot! The bridge sounds really cool and I love the handclaps. The title is great too and here the surfing imagery works really well. In the future, if all the songs are as good as that song and they continue the great musicianship they show on this album and maybe expand their lyrical themes, I can see this band becoming very good

RH

Check out the album here: http://dyingscene.com/news/ds-exclusive-take-a-trip-back-to-the-90s-with-scottish-pop-punk-act-the-lemonaids-new-album-back-to-the-beach/

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work cover art

Specialist Subject’s newest recruits are a bizarre, yet strangely compelling band called Big Wow, featuring former members of The Dauntless Elite and Get Human. It is incredibly difficult to pin down exactly what Big Wow sound like, as they mix in post-punk fuzz with straight up pop-punk, but I suppose that at their root, they are a power-pop band, albeit one dressed in weird and wonderful colours.

Opening track “Boltzmann Brain” is fittingly schizophrenic in nature, sounding like a street-punk band trying to make it as a power-pop band, with boy-girl vocals to boot. The gruff, Yorkshire male vocals intersperse rather well with the cutesy, harmony-led female vocals. Following this, “Josephine” is more standard, straight-up Lemuria-worshipping indie-punk, albeit one that ends in an electronic interlude. And the opening two tracks kind of set the tone for the rest of the album with its jarring, experimental approach. Big Wow remind me a little of indie band Hot Club de Paris in their unconventional, yet ultimately melody-focused nature, particularly with standout track “These Rumours are a Disappointment”, which intersperses Cub with shout-y punk rock. This is certainly not an album for everyone, but if you fancy something different, that challenges the boundaries of how far you can take an indie/punk band, take a listen to Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork.

DB

Listen to the album here: http://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/teamwork-makes-the-dream-work

Pack Your Bags cover art

Ottowa: the place where punk rock dreams are made. Tons of awesome bands have emerged from the city in recent years, but relatively new band Finderskeepers offer something slightly different to their garage-pop/ pop-punk neighbours. The Pack Your Bags 7” offers a more primal, rock ‘n’ roll style of punk, with added oomph and edge. The vocals are reasonably gruff, yet soar occasionally. The guitars swirl about, and the odd solo here and there complements the vocals and the style Finderskeepers are going for. If somebody gave you it to listen with no other information, you would not think that it was a 2014 release; it sounds kind of ‘80s to me. There are gang vocals moments in the choruses when Husker Du springs to mind. I think that they could do with more variation in their sound, and perhaps more melody too (although this is probably more of a personal preference), as the rock ‘n’ roll riffs and the immensity of the guitar sound can be a little much at times, without deviation. Having said that, this is still a really decent 7”, and I would love to see them live (where I’m sure they shine the most) alongside the rest that Ottowa has to offer.

DB

Check out the 7″ here: http://finderskeepersband.bandcamp.com/album/pack-your-bags

The last pop punk pick was an unintentional 10th year anniversary pick. This one is an intentional one, an album that has always been there in my life: NOFX’s Punk in Drublic. I can still remember the first time I heard NOFX, it was eleven years ago in, in 2003. I had just been swimming and was in the car listening to a girl named “punk rock princess” picking her favorite songs on the radio. That day changed me; I would later go listen to the war on errorism at the record store and I liked 4-5 of the songs and that made me get their “Re-gaining unconsciousness” EP. It actually took me a year after that to get Pump up the Valuum and their compilation The Greatest Songs Ever Written (By Us). I got Pump up the Valuum along with other epitaph releases at a record shop called Avalanche in Edinburgh. This was the same trip that I decided at the T.G.I Fridays in Princes Street that I was an anarchist, and the queen was in town so I wanted to go and sing Sex pistols songs to her even if I wasn’t too keen on the pistols at the time. But a nervous foreigner as I was I couldn’t even tell a cab driver that the queen was a person just like everyone else and that she should get no special treatment. Maybe my silence was for the best, I wouldn’t want to raise a fuss. PUNX! My favorite NOFX albums are Heavy Petting Zoo because of its experimental, melodic and lyrical style and Ribbed because of its simplicity and sloppiness without being annoying (like their earlier records) and I think those are the records other like the least. I think though that I couldn’t have chosen another album than PID for this column. There’s simply too much to talk about when it comes to lyrics, music and personal impact on this album. It also has a 20th anniversary. So the choice was simple.

Punk in Drublic was released July 19 1994 on Epitaph records. The cover is two iconic early 20th century photographs put together. The colors of the background of the different releases differ. The CD version is red, the vinyl is more orange or gold while the cassette version is blue (similar to the “Leave it alone” single). The album is definitely viewed as a classic. It has sold over a 500.000 records only in the United states and way more around the world. It peaked at number 12 in the billboard heat seekers chart (even if it never hit the top 200) and that’s way lower than Heavy Petting Zoo and So Long and Thanks For All the Shoes. That means it has sold a lot of records with time and not just in the first week.

1. “Linoleum”: If you go to a NOFX show, the chances of not hearing this song are very slim. And there’s a reason for that. The intro is maybe the most iconic thing they ever did. It starts off with El Hefe doing an opera impression or something and goes into an E power chord riffing and building up till it reaches a climax and all the punks starts moshing. The song tells the tale of someone who doesn’t have much, except a guitar and a dog named Dog. I think the song is about the power of music, but also identifying with those who doesn’t have anything, where music might be the only thing they can hold on to. Later in the song Fat Mike sings that he’s the one with violin under his chin, playing with a grin. Identifying with a street musician, showing us that maybe the most talented people might not the fame and fortune as their fellow musicians, but they still have the music. I think the “I” person in the song could be the song itself, because that song could be anyone that’s mentioned in the song from the person on the beachside and the person on the back of the bus. And the song gives us the catchy conclusion. “That’s me inside your head”

2. “Leave it alone”: Another staple from the live set (even if wasn’t played that much back in the day) and the song that is often seen as their “hit”. It charted nr 30 in Sweden and the music video was in heavy rotation on TV especially in Europe, in spite of the band refusing to let MTV play it. The video looks like a real punk rock barbecue. The song satirizes the way people refuse to progress or enforce social change and that they just want to go on with their lives and leave it alone. This is also emphasized with the catchy “Dananananana”’s that to me seem like a huge inspiration for songs like “All the Small Things”.

3. “Dig”: “Dig” is a quick little critique on reckless capitalism and sketchy business in the market. A bleak view into a frightening business world where everything is about making profit and not caring about who one will hurt or step on to make that profit. The line “The Henry Ford tradition preys on idle minds” might be a finger pointing towards America’s proud 20th century industrial history. Fat Mike also makes the clever pun “camped outside the Laissez faire” Laissez faire is a French capitalist term that means “leave it alone” and I see that as an allusion to the preceding song.

4. “The Cause”: This is a catchy pop punk number, I feel like this was the inspiration for their own “Whatever Didi Wants” from Heavy petting zoo. I think the song satirizes idealism in music and trying to create a homogenous punk rock community, and equally satirizing people only making music for money. Anyways, I’m doing this for the food, what is the cause again?

5. “Don’t Call Me White”: I think the lyrics to “Don’t Call Me White “are some of the greatest lyrics ever written (by Fat Mike). A common critique of the song could be that it’s a result of privilege and ignorance. The lyrics are written by a Jewish person, which kind of excludes the idea of the song being written by a privileged WASP male (even if it the lyrics might sting!). The lyrics serve as a parallel to anti-racist African American hip hop lyrics coming from a “fair skinned” person. The English language (and I’d say most languages) have more negative connotations for the color “black” than the color “white”. Fat Mike gives in the song the negative connotations related to the color white, like soap shoved in your mouth and the majority of sheep. How the white stereotype has just been the sheep on the animal farm, faceless people who are a majority and just go by the majority, simply a product of the tragic history that the pigs have caused. What’s great about the song is that any group of people or label could replace the word “white”. The song isn’t necessarily about ethnicity of racial differences, it’s about individuality. As soon as an individual is put in a label or generalized for a group they willingly or unwillingly belong to, it is oppressed. I don’t know how the song would be perceived if it was called “don’t call me jew” or similar and if white people in their fan base who praise it now would be stoked on that, but it would still have the same message: “Go ahead and label me and asshole cuz I can/accept responsibility for what I’ve done, but not for who I am”

6. “My Heart is Yearning”: Fat Mike, Smelly and Melvin started the band in 1983 and have played together ever since, they’ve had other vocalists than Fat Mike and several lead guitarists. On S&M Airlines and Ribbed, a metal dude named Steve played the lead guitar as well as singing the novelty song he wrote called “Together on the Sand”. He quit in 1991 and was replaced by El Hefe. After “The longest line” EP and the reggae song “Kill all the white man” (an opposition to “Don’t Call Me White”?) made Hefe take charge of the novelty songs. On White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean he both did a jazz cover of Minor threat’s “Straight Edge” and their original Charleston number “Buggley Eyes”. And as the Mexican in the band he did a song in Spanish on Wolves in wolves’ clothing called “Cantado en Español”. On PID Hefe sings “My Heart is Yearning” accompanied with brilliant reggae and ska music he sings high opera-esque vocals about something as romantic as his heart yearning for a loved one and something as bizarre as ejaculating in his own mouth.

7. “Perfect Government”: Before joining the band Hefe used to play with folk singer/songwriter Mark Curry. Curry wrote the protest song “Perfect Government” that NOFX covered on the album. A song about heartless fat cat politicians that don’t see the problems in the world in a humane view and have the same capitalist values as the business folks in “Dig”. Curry also sings on the NOFX version. It has some great musical work and fantastic harmonies. I do also like the original a lot. It’s become one of the band’s best known songs in spite of being a cover.

8. “The Brews”: I can’t remember what the first NOFX song I heard was on the radio that day back in June 2003, but I’m pretty sure it was “the Brews”! I remember it was about drinking and “the Brews” is usually the song that gets played on the radio in Norway. The song is a classic mash up of Jewish culture and the skinhead culture. The song gives us the greatest puns in Drublic. The cleverest one might be mashing up the Yiddish exclamation “oy” (or “Oy vey” with the Cockney exclamation “oi!”(meaning “hey!”) that is a genre of music that often gets loved by skinheads. There are also lots of references to Jewish culture like being the “chosen ones” and separating milk and meat.

9. “The Quass”: The start of side B of the LP version (and the cassette I presume), it sounds kind of metal and the only words are “the QUAAAAAAS”. It’s called “the Qwässitwörsh” on the vinyl and cassette. It’s not a very good song, but it builds up a climax to the next song: “Dying degree”.

10. “Dying Degree”: A great song with a catchy chorus. The song is about the elderly. It’s a bleak look of a lower class pensioner who purchases a deluxe cemetery plot. The chorus is a pun which could have three meanings, the original “dying degree”, “Die and agree” and “die in degree”. The guitar solo is also pretty neat.

11. “Fleas”: Another classic about the hypocrisy of parents. The song tells the tale of someone grows up with his father telling him what to do and if not he’ll have to live like a dog and he never disobeys him. His mother wants her son to have a good life and be good, even if his parents weren’t, giving the advices “follow what I say not what I’ve done” and “shower, scrub and shave/cleanly boys don’t misbehave” Nice alliteration there.

12. “Lori Meyers”: “Lori Meyers” is one of the best songs Fat Mike has ever written, both lyrically and musically. It’s a fast pop punk song with Smelly’s signature beat and, along with that, comes some guitar fills that are simply beautiful. The vocal melody is also rad! The lyrics are about pornography without being moralizing on either side; it’s simply a conversation between two childhood friends. The female character is being sung by guest vocalist Kim Shattuck from the Muffs, who definitely deserves a pop punk pick of their own. The male character in the song doesn’t seem to be an opponent to pornography, but he does seem to have a generalizing view that people (maybe especially women) who work in pornography are being degraded. This is not something he seems to have a problem with except when it comes to his childhood friend, Lori Meyers. It can sometimes be harder to accept something when it’s going on with someone you love, but what you might see as demeaning, could be empowering to the other person. Lori Meyers herself seems perfectly content with being a porn actress. She gets her money and she gets to live her life the way she wants and she felt more degraded in the regular job she had. She ends with the open rhetorical question “Where’s the problem?” and if I was to be really intellectual and analytical, going to the depths of pornography, maybe I’d have to answer that or see what the problem with her being a porn actress is, or if there even is a problem. I’m not gonna be really intellectual and analytical though.

13. “Jeff Wears Birkenstocks”: A song about hippies. More specifically, about a guy named Jeff (who I believe works for Epitaph) who wears Birkenstocks to work. The song is a rock n’ roll style and is incredibly catchy. The harmonies are brilliant too. Jeff is also mentioned in their “hippie” classic “August 8th” from Heavy Petting Zoo.

14. “Punk Guy”: A short little number. It’s a sarcastic jab at the stereotypical punk. Someone who is both “voted biggest asshole” and “role model of the year” and both politically correct and offensive. Lots of famous punks are referenced and this guy represents them all; GG. Allin, Ian Mackaye, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Colin Jerwood and David Springa. There’s a different version of the song on the CD, the LP and the cassette. On the CD he says “Hell, he’s even more punk than me” in a redneck voice, on the LP he says “Blow me down, he’s more punk than me” in Popeye’s voice. I believe the CD also had different versions depend on label on the CD. On the Cassette, he says “Heavens to Murgatroyd, he’s more punk than me even” with Snagglepuss from yogi bear’s voice. There’s also a version on the “Don’t call me white” 7’’ where he says “Hello? That guys more punk than me” with a burger king worker’s voice. There are also more impersonations on the hidden track on the album.

15. “Happy Guy”: Along with “Lori Meyers” I also think this is one of Fat Mike’s best songs lyrically and musically. It’s definitely one of my favorite NOFX songs, and I saw them live when they played it for the first time ever. Even if it was shocking that they had never played it before. The song is about a born again religious person who finds happiness in his beliefs. Religion is something that Fat Mike’s lyrics have lately been more and more critical of. In “Pods and Gods” the protagonist finds the opposite view of the happy guy “It’s not that I don’t believe in Jesus Christ, it’s that I care ‘bout other things/This world could certainly use some miracles, until then I put my faith in human beings” to “The best God in Show” where there is no mutual respect for people who suffer from “rational thought neglect”. In “Happy Guy”, the religious guy is being appreciated, the song sees his hopes as “maybe false” but his happiness being real, and should we really judge people who have different beliefs than us when it makes them happy and doesn’t hurt us? It’s definitely something to be aware of when religious groups try to effect politics or force their religious beliefs on others, but if it’s a personal belief someone has that they follow, that’s their thing and really none of our business. And it doesn’t really matter if they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Scientologists or fucking Mormons. In fact the song might seem like the Mormon episode of South Park and the basis for their “Book of Mormon” music, the belief may be unscientific, but it makes them happy. I think everyone can learn something from this song, from people with religious views (regarding other religions), atheists and agnostics and Fat Mike himself.

16. “Reeko”: Another Reggae song, a song with a rad bass line. Melvin actually plays the bass when they do it live, because it’s hard for Mike to sing and play it, like Hefe sings another reggae song “Eat the Meek”(which also happens to be one of their best songs) live. Fat Mike uses a party as a metaphor for politics in this song, and the image of a trashed party where the toilet is over floating and the fishes are out of the fish bowl and everyone has left makes one think about how the earth is really being treated. Later the metaphor is cut and he starts addressing the president instead of Reeko, then it also goes from reggae to punk rock. Another metaphor of a sinking ship is introduced. The song also serves a continuation of “Dig” and what that kind of society of greedy capitalists will turn the world into; “The things we never tried to disallow have come back to haunt us now” His “Lay dies and gentlemen” pun is also classic.

17. “Scavenger Type”: The album couldn’t really be seen as a concept album or an epic, but the first and the last song (like “Dig” and Reeko”) has a clear connection to each other. “Linoleum” tells us of a musicians who doesn’t have much and someone with a violin just playing music while not having the riches a lot of musicians have. “Scavenger Type” is about someone gigging alone and playing music like it’s his only escape from a world of abuse and homelessness. The song is a tribute to all the musicians who have nothing, nothing but talent, some of them might not even have talent, but their passion for music may be all they have. In the end he reaches a zenith, the highest point, and finds perfection and then dies. This perfection could be ambiguous, either that he reaches his highest point or that no one saw him die. If he was found he’d be just a homeless person with a guitar, a tragedy for the world. Now he’s a legend because he lived on in NOFX’s song. Which gives the song a Meta aspect as it’s a tribute to this fella; it’s also a tribute to every struggle musician that can’t get a break or artists who aren’t discovered.

Punk in Drublic will always be a classic. They played it live in its entirety both at Groezrock and Punk rock bowling. Next pop punk pick will be the notorious Destroyed! by Sloppy Seconds.

Women are having an increasingly influential role in the punk/indie underground, and I am reminded of this every couple of weeks or so that I discover a new female band. This is awesome for gender equality and giving women a voice in the traditionally male dominated scene of punk rock, but also for more selfish reasons: women in indie/punk bands kick ass. Whether this be Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl, Unlovables’ cute brand of pop-punk in the early 2000s or Waxahatchee’s reflective, yearning indie-folk records, I love 90% of girl punk/indie rock.

So, the new discovery is Philadelphia indie/pop-punk all-female trio Cayetana and their first full-length Nervous Like Me. Although I had heard good things, I had not checked out their demo or the Hot Dad Calendar 7”, so it hit me like a ton of bricks how good this was. Nervous Like Me is direct and hooky, and while it has its pop-punk moments could not really be described as a straightforward pop-punk album, in the same way as Swearin’ and Lemuria. The band alternate between slow-fast songs (“Serious Things are Stupid”; “Animal) and mid-tempo, jangly hits (“Hot Dad Calendar”). Consequently, the band that they most remind me of is Laura Stevenson and the Cans, particularly considering the similarity in vocals between Laura and Cayetana singer Augusta Koch.

The album is dreamy and contemplative, and is simultaneously hard-hitting and emotionally explicit. Indeed, lyrically, Cayetana are intensely personal, in a similar way to Waxahatchee, despite a more direct form of songwriting. The best moments are when Koch’s voice cracks or squeals; when the emotion just cannot do anything but flow out. I’m talking about moments like on “Busy Brain”, when Koch confidently declares: “I don’t wanna change for the world/I want the world to change for me”, or the vulnerable pleading on “Hot Dad Calendar”: “And I know you really wanna make it out alive”. And while we are talking about lyrics, opening the album with “I came here alone/ And I plan to leave that way” is the best I have seen in a while.

DB

Stream the album here: https://soundcloud.com/tinyengines/sets/cayetana-nervous-like-me

Image of **PRE-ORDER** Mikey Erg/Warren Franklin & the Founding Fathers split 7"

With its retro 7’’ cover that parodies old school haircuts and gives a nostalgic touch that takes us back to the 7 inch singles of the 50s and the 60s, the Mikey Erg/Warren Franklin and the Founding fathers split has a lot to offer. The two sides have one original track and one cover of the other artist. The split starts off with Mikey Erg!’s “You’ve never heard “my aim is true”’ which is a cover of Warren Franklin and the Founding fathers. Mikey Erg interprets the song in a very Elvis Costello inspired style which is quite fitting because the title of the song is a reference to Costello’s classic debut album. And there’s something extremely touching about the lyrics “You’ve never heard “My aim is true”/ you could care less what Brian Wilson sang”. The original is great, but this cover is really Mikey Erg! at his best. There’s a great piano part in the song, and the song also shifts away from the Elvis Costello style in the beginning and goes more into an alternative rock sound. Mikey’s original song is “Three cheers for the liberty bell” which is the same song he recorded for the Barrakuda McMurder split. This version is different, VERY different. The Turkletons also did a version of this song. It’s a pretty good song, it’ not Ergs! Quality, but I requested in my “Dorckrockcorkrod” article that Mikey should focus more on songwriting and I feel like this is a good step in that direction! I enjoy this way more than the version on the Barrakuda McMurder split.

Prior to this, I had never heard of Warren Franklin and the Founding fathers. “Please return” starts off with a catchy intro and, to my enjoyment, my favorite instrument, the tambourine, also comes in. Franklin has an interesting voice. The song has a nice melody and there’s something soothing about it, yet it’s not extremely catchy. There’s something fall-like about this song and it will probably get a lot of listens from me while I drink a cup of cocoa and turn the oven on full this autumn. I almost feel like it’s getting colder just by listening to it! The split ends with Warren Franklin’s cover of “See Him Again”, and the most significant difference is maybe the voice. “See Him Again” is one of my favorite Ergs! Songs, and singing such a great song, I think Warren does a great job on it. What stands out for me with this cover is the gruff vocals by the end and the percussion track is marvelous. The split is good overall, and even if it’s by two different artists, it has a similar alternative rock sound that they both master well. I have nothing bad to say about it, and I think it’s something both Ergs! and Warren Franklin fans will enjoy!

RH

Stream the 7″ here: http://countyourluckystars.bandcamp.com/album/mikey-erg-warren-franklin-the-founding-fathers-split

Interview: Fraser Murderburger

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Small Talk

The Murderburgers are one of the best current pop-punk bands going. This is undeniable. I have obsessed over their last couple of records during the last six months or so. I go back and forth on which one is better, but it doesn’t really matter: they’re both brilliant in their own ways. It will be pretty exciting to hear what comes next from The Murderburgers. So, I caught up with Fraser Murderburger to hear about that, as well as well as embarrassing first albums and near-death tour experiences. It’s burger time!

Hello Fraser! Can you introduce The Murderburgers for us?

Hey, Dave! Sure. We are a three piece pop punk band from Scotland. I sing and play guitar, Steve plays bass and does backing vocals, and our drummer Stuart just left so we currently have people standing in for us until we find a permanent replacement.

The Murderburgers formed in 2007. How did you guys meet/form as a band? Where are you from in Scotland?

When the band started I lived in a small town on the west coast of Scotland called Alexandria, which is right next to Renton, the place where I grew up. I started the band right before finishing up at college when I was 20. The original line-up is pretty different than it is today. I was singing and playing guitar, my brother was on 2nd guitar, my friend Brian was on bass and my friend Sean was on drums. Obviously me and my brother had been introduced a long ago, and I grew up with Brian and Sean so we all know each other really well already. Since then the line-up has changed about 15 times or something ridiculous like that. Before Steve joined the band I knew him already through our old bands crossing paths over the years and from hanging out at shows, so before he joined we had already been friends for 6 or 7 years. That seems to be what’s happening nowadays, or at least it seems to be happening in the Scottish punk scene. The people that are still working away at playing in bands all end up in bands with each other.

Your first release was “Bitches, Blunts and Pop Punk”, back in early 2008. How do you feel about that album looking back on it now?

Personally, I think it sucks. Like, really sucks. But hey, most bands start out shitty. It’s cool having a history to look back on and see how much the band has progressed over the years though. I never thought back then that this much would have changed. At the end of the day, back then it was just 3 drunk morons trying to be offensive and play as fast as possible, so I guess we got the job done.

Bitches, Blunts And Pop-Punk cover art

There is a gulf of difference musically and lyrically between your first two releases and last year’s “These are only problems”. How do you think you have changed as a band since the early years?

We’ve changed a lot since back then. I kind of view “How to Ruin Your Life” as our first proper album, really. That’s when we finally had a solid line-up, got our shit together, recorded properly and actually spent time and money on it. All of the stuff we recorded before that album is all pretty much demo quality and not as much time was spent on the song writing process as there has been in recent years. In the early years we had more of a mix of stupid songs about nothing and serious songs about anxiety and depression, but we don’t really do the stupid shit anymore, simply because we weren’t that good at it. Lyrically our last couple of albums have been mainly about life, death, depression, mental illness, poverty, all that sort of shit. I feel way better getting it out of my system and getting it off my chest, even if it does make people think that I’m a psychopath.

After having three albums on Monster Zero, you released “These are only problems” with Asian Man records in the US. That’s pretty cool. How did it come about?

We played with Joyce Manor at King Tut’s in Glasgow in September 2013. It was a great show and we got on well with the guys, so we kept in touch. I mentioned to Barry that we were recording a new album, and he offered to talk to Mike at Asian Man about it. Mike was into the record and wanted to put it out, and the rest is history. We grew up listening to Asian Man bands, so being one now is pretty insane.

These Are Only Problems cover art

Are you pleased with how the new album turned out?

Yeah, really pleased with it. That’s the longest we’ve ever spent working on an album, so we are glad that it was worth it. People seem to be into it as well. Steve designed the album art and took all the photos that ended up on there. I was keen on the album art relating to the song content and Steve did a great job. Jamie Ward, Matt Allison and Collin Jordan all did a great job with making it sound awesome well.

So, you have just been on tour supporting Alkaline Trio in the UK, how the hell was that? And how did it come about in the first place?

I emailed Mike Park towards the end of 2013 saying it was probably a longshot but wondering if he knew if Alkaline Trio would need another support band on their UK tour dates in April this year as we were touring around then as well, so Mike said he would ask them for us. Not thinking it would happen, I went ahead and booked some dates in Germany and Austria around then as part of our 2 month Euro tour. Then when we were in France in March I got an email from Mike saying Alkaline Trio would have us along on the UK dates, so we rescheduled most of our German shows for September. Luckily everyone was really nice about it and understood how big a deal if was for us. The tour was amazing. Bit of a change of pace going from playing to like 30 or 40 people a night to playing to sold out crowds of a couple thousand for a couple of weeks. We weren’t too sure how well we would go down in front of an Alkaline Trio crowd but every night was great. The guys in Alkaline Trio and Bayside as well as their crew looked after us and made sure we had everything we needed. Hopefully we’ll get to tour together again at some point.

And before that, you did a huge Euro tour. What was your favourite stop on the tour?

We played a lot of places in France and Italy that we had never been to before, so we’ve discovered a bunch of new favourite stops really. We did 3 shows with our good friends I Was A Teenage Alien from Toulouse when we were in France, so that was awesome. We had a great time hanging out and drinking whiskey at Will from Lunch/Panda Records’ place in Aix-en-Provence. He’s one of our new favourite people now. The whole Italian run was great this time. Played some familiar places again like Milan and Genova, as well as a bunch of new places. We did a few shows with Dan Vapid & The Cheats while we were there, which was amazing. We are massive fans of all of Dan’s previous bands and love the Dan Vapid & The Cheats records, so we were really happy we got to spend a few days hanging out and getting drunk with them. We’ve been talking about doing some more shows together in the future, which is something we really hope comes together.

Outside of that tour, what’s your favourite ever gig you have done?

We’ve done a lot of great gigs that I could talk about to no end, but there’s one that will always sticks out in my mind. I had a really shitty time towards the end of 2011 with depression, anxiety, all that head frying shit. I’m doing pretty good now, but back then I was having a really rough time of it. Around summer 2011 was when it started kicking in real bad, right before 3 months of touring. Having dealt with anxiety and depression since I was 17, I figured I would just continue to deal with it on my own again. Huge mistake. To cut a lot story short, it all blew up in my face and everything turned to shit. I ended up getting so bad that my girlfriend at the time couldn’t deal with it and kicked me out, so I end up without a place to stay and no job, and I was pretty much losing my mind. We had to cancel our upcoming shows until I got my shit together. After finding a place to stay in Edinburgh and after a few weeks of therapy I started feeling way better, so when we were asked to open for our good friends The Queers in March 2012 as warm up show before hitting Europe with The Copyrights a month later, we figured it would be a great way to start things up again. It still sticks out as one of the best nights of my life. Playing live again and seeing so many friends in the same room was exactly what I needed, and then seeing The Queers play was the perfect way to top things off. That night really did restore my faith in pretty much everything.

It’s written on your website about a “near-death experience” when touring in 2012. What’s the story behind this?

We actually had two that year. When we were on tour in Europe with The Copyrights in April 2012 our old drummer Stuart wasn’t feeling so good the morning after a show in Germany. We just assumed that he was hungover, but after a while it was clear that he was genuinely ill. We took him to a hospital and it turned out his appendix was about to blow up, so he got it removed there and then. He had to fly home afterwards so Luke from The Copyrights ended up drumming for us for the rest of the tour. Stuart had already been to a doctor in the UK about his appendix but they told him he didn’t need to have it removed even though he was in pain. We pretty much got to the hospital just in time. The other near-death experience happened when we were on tour in the US with Dear Landlord a couple of months after that. After a really shitty sleep I wanted something to keep me awake during the drive from Denver to Salt Lake City since it’s meant to be a really nice drive, so I picked up some stuff at a gas station which I assumed would be like caffeine pills or something. To cut a really long and horrible story short, they were more like capsules of speed for truckers and taking all four of them at the one time was a really bad idea. I spent the next ten and a half hours sweating, puking, coughing up blood, having nosebleeds, my veins were popping out and hands were cramping up, I couldn’t breathe properly and I spent the whole time trying not to pass out. The general consensus was that I was going to die. Luckily that didn’t happen, but it was definitely the worst ten and a half hours of my life. Never again.

You appear to tour an awful lot. What do you like to do when not touring?

When I’m at home I spend a lot of the time dealing with the band as well, booking and writing mainly. I thought for a while there that doing absolutely nothing between tours was the best thing ever, but after a while I started thinking I could be making better use of my time when I’m at home, so I started a record label called Round Dog Records in May this year. I’ve always loved the idea of putting out records for other bands and running a distro, and now seems to be a good time to do it. I put out The Walking Targets’ debut album in June, I’ve got Roboter’s debut E.P coming out in late August, then The Lemonaids’ new album in mid-September, then Black Volvo’s debut album in late October. I’ve got 4 more releases coming out this year that I can’t really talk too much about yet since I’m still working out the details with the bands but it’s looking like it’ll be a pretty productive first year for Round Dog. I see a lot of good bands when I’m on tour, so it’s pretty cool now to be able to work with them as well as be friends with them. It’s a lot of fun. Apart from that I put on the odd show here and there and work whatever job I can get so that I can still afford to be a moron in a punk band.

Moving back to home, how would you describe the Scottish punk scene these days? The Kimberly Steaks are another awesome band from around your way.

The Scottish punk scene is amazing right now. So many great bands and people involved and everyone is pushing in the same direction. We’ve got great bands and solo artists like The Kimberly Steaks, Walking Targets, UNIFORMS, Black Cop, Clocked Out, Lachance, Billy Liar, The Lemonaids and Mark McCabe to name a few. We have great promoters and collectives like Punk/Rock Rammy, Struggletown, Make That A Take, House Of Crust, Walk The Plank and Anti-Manifesto that put out records and put on shows. We get a lot more touring bands actually wanting to come to Scotland now. It really is exciting times and things keep getting better and better. We’ve all got a really good thing going here and I’m proud to be part of it.

I remember when we started out how different it was. Trying to book Scottish shows was a nightmare, and so was getting anyone to come along to them. A lot of touring bands missed out Scotland because it didn’t seem worth the drive, and back then no one could blame them. There was a lot more of this pay-to-play bullshit as well, so you were getting ripped off by promoters all the time and every other band that played those things saw everyone else as competition, so it was difficult to make friends with other bands. Thankfully things have changed drastically since then. I actually met The Kimberly Steaks at a pay-to-play gig about 10 years ago. They did a cover of “Ashtray” by Screeching Weasel and I thought “Shit! Someone else in Glasgow likes Screeching Weasel! We should probably be friends!”. That’s probably the only good thing that’s ever happened by doing a pay-to-play gig.

Finally, what plans do The Murderburgers have for the rest of 2014? Is there a new album in the works?

We’re opening the main stage at Hevy Fest in Port Lympne this coming Saturday (16th Aug) which should be awesome. Then we’re touring Europe from Aug 25th to Sept 16th. The first week of that tour is with our lovely criminal friends Masked Intruder, then we have a few days on our own, then a week or so in Germany/Czech Rep with States and Empires. We are playing Fest in Gainesville again at the end of October, so we are currently booking October/November US dates around that. Then we are finishing off the year with Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee in late November and probably an Edinburgh show in December as well. Our split with Billy Liar should be out before the end of the year, just need to put the finishing touches to the songs. We started working on a new E.P for Bloated Kat Records earlier this year, but due to the fact we haven’t had time to finish the vocals I’m guessing it won’t come out until next year now.

We haven’t started properly working on a new album yet but we’ve been talking about doing one at the start of next year. We’re most likely going to take a break from touring from the start of next year until March/April to get it done, unless we get offered a ridiculously good tour that we’d be stupid to turn down, then we’ll probably just have to stress out and do them both. But yeah, we’re going to record a new album at the start of next year.

Cheers, Fraser! Any final words?

Thanks for your time, and sorry for taking so long to get my answers to you!

Listen here: http://themurderburgers.bandcamp.com/

dorkrockcorkrod cover art

Now to the pop punk band that maybe in later years have had their biggest success outside their New Jersey scene, The Ergs!! A band that not only write great pop punk songs, but also incorporate jazz, country and 90’s alternative rock in the mix. Heavily influenced by The Descendents, they have made some of the greatest punk records in recent years, until they broke up in 2008. This was around the time I got into them. Like many bands at the time, what really got me liking them was hearing “Introducing Morrissey” on the great Canadian Rocket to Russia show. After that I ordered their compilation Hindsight is 20/20 my friend from No idea records. This was a start of a new infatuation for me, before this I had never gotten what the Ergs! Fuzz was about, but now I got it! What I really liked was all their different styles, jazzy songs, country songs and hardcore punk songs. And covering anything from the Steinways to the Beatles to Nirvana to the Neurotic outsiders. They put out two full length albums: Dorkrockcorkrod and Upstairs/downstairs. I think the latter is a way better album when it comes to individual songs, it has a great pop punk song like “Trouble in river city”, and Dorkrockcorkrod does not have songs even close to “Books about Miles Davies” and the country jam “Stinking of whiskey blues”, but as an album it’s way more consistent and you can get many different genres and styles just in one song. It’s also an album that gets better every time you listen to it; that’s why this column’s pop punk pick is Dorkrockcorkrod.

Dorkrockcorkrod was released in 2004 on Whoa oh records and in August 2005 on Don Giovanni records. The cover has a pair of sunglasses (symbolizing “dork”) a rock, a cork and a rod. The band consists of Jeff Erg (now in Black wine) on guitar, Joe Erg (now in Night Birds) on the bass and last, but not least Mikey Erg on drums and lead vocals. Every member of the band sings lead vocals every once in a while, in spite of Mikey, the drummer, singing and writing most of them. Mikey is famous for playing drums in several bands including House Boat, Star Fucking Hipsters, Measure SA, The Parasites, Dirt Bike Annie (which definitely should appear in this column some day), Short Attention and The Unlovables, as well as playing guitar in the Dopamines. Obviously as well as being a great and talented musician, in my opinion where Mikey really excels is in songwriting, and I’m still anticipating a band where Mikey sings lead vocals and writes the songs like he did in the Ergs!

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  1. “First Song Side One”: A short introduction to the album. It clocks in at 22 seconds. But it still gives the listener a glimpse of what’s to come. The first line in the song, and on the album for that matter, are “I’m in love, I’m in trouble” which is a clear reference to the Replacement’s song “I’m in trouble” which the band covered on a Replacements tribute, and also appears on hindsight is 20/20, my friend. Westerberg yells out “You’re in love and I’m in trouble”, while in “First song side one” Mikey Erg! Sings “I’m in love, I’m in trouble” showing in a different way how love means trouble for the protagonist, but the protagonist in the Ergs! Song claims it’s the girl of his dreams’ fault that he is losing sleep; while Westerberg is troubled by the infatuation someone else has for him.
  1. “A Very Pretty Song For a Very Special Young Lady Part 2”: While it could be a continuation of the last song, this song touches on the all familiar pop punk theme of unrequited love. What really makes this song great is the background vocals in the pre-choruses. Again the protagonist is losing sleep over his infatuation like in the first song. These are some of the best lyrics ever:

“And I love you more than I could say
And probably more than you’d ever wanna hear anyway
But I’m sure you get that an awful lot
And I miss you more than you could know
And no matter how I try I just can’t let it go
I’m hoping you feel the same way, probably not”.

The last chorus is a lot slower than the earlier ones and almost shows a Spanish influence.

  1. “Extra Medium”: A straight up pop punk number. It’s about modern age paranoia and escaping from the cruel, cruel world in a shower with hot water and tile, and hiding away from the news and every other terrifying reassurance that the world really is a terrible place. The song also shows that to some degree hiding from reality, trying to find places to go, music to listen to, things to do, makes us escape things that worry us, but the protagonist in the song just takes it further by absolutely trying to be isolated from the dreaded world. The title is also quite witty.
  2. “Fishbulb”: A song sung by Jeff Erg, it’s maybe not one of his best, but it’s really different to Mikey’s songs. The lyrics are almost surreal and seem to tell a story of love, loss and strange dreams. Maybe the song on the album with the most jazz influences.
  3. “Most Violent Rap Group”: The Ergs! With their weird titles! This song really doesn’t have much (as far as I can see) to do with hip hop, rap or any violence related to it. The song seems to be about being far away from someone, either in a different time zone or a different time. Apparently the other person is 7 days behind the protagonist, but I’m sure that’s just a clever use of hyperbole. Hopeless and self-deprecating like pop punk should be!
  4. “Pray for Rain”: Again this is most likely a continuation of the last song. The song seems to be about being far away from a lover, which also ruins the relationship, but the sample at the end of the song could also have been misplaced and suited for more “Most Violent Rap Group”. “Pray for Rain” it’s a classic pop punk song. It gives the bittersweet feeling of love; “I’m sore from the smiles that you’ve given to me”. The song seems like a break up song, but is mostly because of the protagonist’s imagining the inevitable break up. The song reminds me of the Everly Brother’s “Crying in the Rain”, where the dreadful image of rain hides the actual tears and sadness the protagonist feels. The protagonist claims he could write the love of his a perfect song, and maybe he did!
  5. “Saturday Night Crap-o-Rama”: A song I heard first on Hindsight is 20/20, my friend and one of my favorite songs off of that. I think this is one of the first Ergs! Songs that was were recorded. Like many other pop punk songs, though being catchy, deals with sadness and heartbreak and seeing someone you love having a relationship with someone else. The song also has a meta-aspect of it, like the song before, of singing about writing a song, this time a broken hearted love song. The title is also lovely in this song.
  6. “Running, Jumping, Standing still”: This was the first song that really caught my attention on the album. It starts with Mikey singing “It’s been sometime and I don’t know what to do with myself these days” and later show his longing for not wanting to be alone. The song gives the picture of a lonely protagonist calling his former love or someone he is secretly in love with in his mind and them never answering the phone. Maybe one of the Erg’s cleverest lyrics is “you’re the one and I’m the zero”
  7. “It’s Never Going to be the Same Again”: I think sometimes everyone has a day where they feel like from this day on nothing’s gonna ever be the same again, so this title always gives me chills down my spine. It has the great lyric “No more innocence, a sense of fear has taken hold/Or maybe its uncertainty of a brave new future untold” and I also love how the first chorus says he doesn’t know if it’s a bad thing (that it’s never going to be the same again) and he doesn’t know if it’s a good thing in the second.
  8. “August 19th”: Another song that also appeared on Hindsight is 20/20, My Friend. The song seems to be about some kind of anniversary that is special to the protagonist, but the receiver of the song doesn’t seem to give a fuck, or maybe it’s the opposite! I love the line “you’d better not miss the last train to Loserville”.
  9. “Maybe I’m the New Messiah”: This song seems to be a reference to the 90s British sitcom “Bottom” where recently deceased Rik Mayall (R.I.P) believes he is the new Messiah; he also has songwriting credits to the song and Joe tries to impersonate him.
  10. “Rod Argent”: Rod Argent is famous for his work with the awesome 60’s psychedelic pop band the Zombies as well as his band Argent having the original to “God Gave Rock n’ Roll to you”. “Rod Argent” is the catchy pop song on the album with a suiting “Fuck you” by the end. It also has a strange guitar that pulls the song away from the popside.
  11. “Everything Falls Apart (and More)”: One of the most classic Ergs! Songs is “Kind of Like Smitten (itself is a reference to the folk rock band Kind of Like Spitting) and its line “When I see you tonight it’s gonna be so cool, we could watch TV and maybe listen to some Hüsker dü”, I really liked this line when I first heard it in 2008, because I had just gotten into Hüsker dü. The name means “Do you remember?” in Scandinavian languages; it’s apparently a Danish board game. I had always wanted to check them out, with the Scandinavian band name and all. I got an album of theirs at an airport in February 2007; the album was Everything falls apart and more and it was one of my favorite titles ever. I liked the image of everything falling and there was more too; it was almost surreal. I was a bit disappointed when I realized the album was actually just called Everything falls apart and it also included bonus tracks from 7”s ( AKA “more”). However, when I saw this Ergs! Title I realized that someone else thought the same as me. I think “See Him Again” from Upstairs/downstairs is very similar to “Everything Falls Apart (and More)” both in style, melody and lyrics. Both songs has a protagonist that prefers being lied to instead of facing the hurtful truth. They are both great songs, and they are among the slowest the Ergs! have recorded.
  12. “Vampire Party”: One of the songs a lot of people seem to dislike on the album, but I like it a lot. It’s a cover of 90s rock band Crimony. The Ergs!’ version is way better. “They’re a jolly bunch and they’re coming after you!”
  13. “I Feel Better Tonight”: Like I’ve said earlier, Upstairs/downstairs was the album that really had the different songs like “Books about Miles Davies” and “Stinkin’ of Whiskey Blues”, and on this album “I Feel Better Tonight” might be the song that sticks out most. It’s another Jeff song and it might as well be a punk song from the 80s. While Dorkrockcorkrod doesn’t have a country song like “Stinkin’ of Whiskey Blues” on Upstairs/downstairs (the Ergs! Really show their country abilities on their “Cotton Pickin’ minute” 7’’ with songs like “On the interstate”), but “I Feel Better Tonight” does have a little country-ish moment by the end. If I have a bad day, I often listen to this song the day after and it feels better.
  14. “180 Emotional Ollie”: An Ollie is a skateboard trick! I remember that shit from Tony Hawk’s pro skater! A 180 Ollie is an Ollie that goes 180 degrees, I believe. The trick involves the skater leaping themselves and their board into the air without using the hands. The song uses the trick as a metaphor for the emotional tricks someone has pulled on you: “Cuz I’m not falling for your double tricks again”. The protagonist in the song clearly states that they won’t touch the ground and will not be walked on anymore. A skateboarding metaphor seems suitable and clever in this postmodern punk rock world.

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As I wrote this I realized that the album is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Ergs! are releasing an anniversary edition of the album on vinyl. So this unintentionally was an 10th anniversary article! Next pop punk pick will be an intentional 20th anniversary article: NOFX’s “Punk in Drublic”.

 

Mediumship cover art

So, this emo revival thing then. We have heard a ton about it on blogs and Buzzfeed in the last year or so, but is it actually a thing? And more pertinently, is any band in that scene any good? As in, can they touch anyone from the original ‘90s emo scene? Into it. Over it. are pretty good. Everyone Everywhere’s recent album was decent. But I’ve yet to hear anybody from the revival who is at the level of say Braid or Sunny Day Real Estate. And unfortunately Dikembe are not an exception.

That is not to say that Mediumship, Dikembe’s second full length, is not decent though, because it certainly is; it’s just nothing to write home about. How to describe it? Well, it’s broody, contemplative and is spacious enough to give the music to breathe. It’s more melodic and hook-filled, and consequently less noisy, than anything Dikembe have previously done. It’s also slower in tempo and moodier in nature than former album Broad Shoulders, recalling Brand New circa 2001. In Sunny Day Real Estate style (albeit in a less grungy fashion), there is also a soft-loud dynamic going on throughout Mediumship, which works to greatest effect on “24 Karats”. It certainly has the feel of an emo record, but Dikembe lack the urgency and energy of classic ‘90s emo (Indeed, the standout track here is “Donuts in a Six Speed”, which bursts into a speedy and lively chorus). All the necessary elements are evident (noodly guitars, pained vocals, titles like “Hood Rat Messiah”), but they don’t produce anything particularly special. Despite best efforts, Mediumship fades into the background of a scene which is already rather musically homogenous.

DB

Listen here: http://dikembe.bandcamp.com/