New Love

I’m currently leaving for vacation in the Siesta Keys, and the soundtrack to the freeing myself of responsibility this week is Allison Weiss’ new record, “New Love”. The record speaks of the pain we go through in life and how it makes us who we are. It sounds depressing, but this is possibly the most uplifting record I’ve listened to all year. Which is why I’ve been playing incessantly since it was released at the beginning of October.

With all of it’s 80s pop and dance sensibilities I think it would be a perfect summer album. Alas it came out now for us to enjoy. I’m going to the beach so it’s basically extended summer for me anyway so maybe that’s why it sounds so good. The album opens up with the intro song of “The Sound”.

“I’m a sucker for an aching heart
Gotta suffer for the sake of art
And I want you cause you make it hard
I want you cause you make it hard
It’s a pattern I’ve always found
I get messed up, I write it down
I like the hurt cause I like the sound
I like the sound

I am taken with the bitter end
And the breaking, the way we mend
And I want you, I just can’t pretend
I want you, we could just pretend
This spiral I’m headed around won’t mess me up, won’t get me down
And I like the hurt cause I like the sound
I like the sound”
– “The Sound”

Sounds a lot more poetic than Three Days Grace, “I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all”, right?

Allision’s voice is a little bit lower than most female vocalists. She’s got that rock singer type voice as opposed to someone softer like Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee. Both unique singers but suited for different types of music. This is not a rock album though. This is an 80s pop album written in 2015.

The album kicks into full gear at track four, “Golden Coast”. The first three tracks just teasing you at what’s to come. “Golden Coast” opens with an in your face synthesizer lead before pulling back for the verses. Waiting til the chorus to bring back the synthesizer to the chorus makes it that much more powerful. There’s a warmth to the song and excitement that makes you want to hop in your car and take off and find what you’re looking for out of life. The songs speaks of heading home. I believe home is wherever you feel most comfortable. Your little spot in the world that’s yours filled with what makes you happy. Whether it’s stuff or people. This can be anywhere, but everyone needs a figurative home.

“Back To Me” is the best Blondie song Debbie Harry never wrote. By now, you’re halfway through the album and there’s no way you’re not finishing the album. You’ve got a smile on your face and goosebumps on your arms. Maybe that’s just me, but whenever there’s something special about an album I randomly will get goosebumps on my arms. It’s happened with albums of all genres, but it’s a physical indication that I’m connecting with the album in some way. I believe music is so much more than something to fill dead air. It means as much or as little as you want it to, but what great movie didn’t have great music that helped you connect to the film?

I think my two favorite songs are the combination of track nine and ten. “Motorbike” is a straight forward almost Ramones-esque song that is more akin to her earlier work, but strangely still fits on this album. Allison really shines on songs like this when she just can belt out the lines. It’s a simple song, but it’s a showcase of how great a singer she is. “Motorbike” previously was about getting away from someone who’s been bumming you out and clearing your head. “New Love” finds Allison hearing her ex talk about finding their new love.

“I heard you fell in love again for the first time
And I heard you can’t remember when it felt so right

And you say you can’t believe you found it finally
And you whisper soft and sweet
The same old way you whispered it to me

I heard the stars shine brighter now than they used to
And I heard the pieces fit so well like they’re supposed to

And you say you can’t deny the planets all aligned
And you’re holding all you need
The same old way you held on tight to me

There’s no love like new love
You’re moving on and all I want is you, love”
– “New Love”

This could have easily ended the album. It sounds like a finale, but old Allision decides to throw one more song at us. It’s an acoustic song that finds Allison coming to some realizations that kind of sum up the album as a whole.

“Is anybody never really over anyone?
Is anybody lying when they say they’re having fun?
Does anybody feel like checking out and going home?
I can’t be alone

Does anybody feel like kissing strangers when they’re sad?
Does anybody wonder how it ever got this bad?
Does anybody wish that they could change the way they are?
It can’t be that hard

I’m not lonely like I used to be
I get older and I notice things
We all got feelings that we can’t explain
We’re all a little bit the same

Is anybody sleeping? Is it just me wide awake?
Is anybody dreaming of the changes they would make?
Has anybody felt like they can’t take it on their own
I can’t be alone”
– “The Same”

I think even though this album has only been out about three weeks, this is one of the best albums of the year. You can show your friends who like Taylor Swift and they’ll be into it. You can show your dad who plays “air keyboard” more than air guitar (maybe that’s just mine) and they’ll get something out of it. Those hardcore kids will secretly listen to it when their girlfriend isn’t around.

I believe it’s the perfect mix of modern pop, 80s influenced rock music, and current indie music. Listen to it for yourself:

Hate Mail

I still remember the first time I received an angry comment on an article I wrote years ago. I don’t remember the specific of which article it was though. I’m sure I could look back and find it, but it’s not important.

The comment said something along the lines of, “Stop writing this stupid shit. Nobody gives a fuck about what kind of music you like.”

Harsh words. Maybe a troll attempt, but in this town, they were most likely speaking the truth as I can’t seem to find people with any kind of common interest when it comes to music. With the exception of the guy who ran my now defunct local record shop who was into some decent post-punk and garage stuff. I was surprised to see a few hours later some other people coming to my defense saying how, “Maybe some people like alternative music that’s different than you other. So shut up”. There was some banter back and forth about whether or not I wrote about anything worthwhile. Maybe they’re right.

I grew up at a weird age when the internet was just becoming a thing. It was there but you couldn’t do most of the things you do today. Streaming anything was out of the question, purchasing something was scary, and there were only a ways to connect to other people. The thing I found fascinating about the internet was all of the information readily available. I got all my information from magazines and newspapers, and now there was more knowledge and opinions scattered all over this vast utopia called the internet.

I read a lot about music and books. Those were the things I was most interested in at the time, and to this day probably still rings true. I read reviews. I read interviews with musicians and authors. I read music website printing information. It was all fascinating to see people having conversations that I found interesting. I found people whose opinion I could rely on and followed their recommendations. Most of the time I was pleased to find something new, sometimes it just wasn’t for me.

This was how I found out about music. Not through concerts coming to town, not through local shops, not through word of mouth. I already know what the people around me think and we’re friends, but sometimes I want someone else’s opinion on something. We don’t always agree, but the exchanging of information is what makes people better. People who know and experience more things are people I want to associate with. It helps give perspective to the world. We still might not agree, but we can see each other’s point of view.

I don’t really write reviews. At least I don’t think I do. I write about how the music made me feel or think. I relate music to most experiences in my life. I can tell you when I heard every album I’ve listened to and/or how it made me think about something. I think this is more helpful than whether or not the syncopation of the drums on this track really detracted from the guitar melody. Or that the production used on the microphones could have been better. Music is art. Let it be what it is. It will never be perfect, but art is subjective. I can tell you whether or not I enjoyed an album and why, but that doesn’t mean you will or won’t like it.

That’s why I write. To let that guy or girl in some small town find something new and interesting. It’s my way of giving back to those who wrote for years that I never spoke to. Whatever reason they wrote, it made a difference, so keep doing what you love.


Soul Man

I was raised on 50s/60s rock and roll. The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Chubby Checker, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, etc. They are considered classics for a reason. It’s because they are great musicians, not simply because they are old. It’s that nostalgia thing. When those songs come on I can’t help but be in a good mood. I listened to so much Sam Cooke this past winter. The snow here in Western New York gets pretty nasty sometimes, but old Sam Cooke is just feel good relaxing music that eases the nerves the weather can cause.

This takes me to a new artist who released his first record in June of 2015. Leon Bridges is the second coming of Sam Cooke. That’s not flattery. He’s got that soul in his voice you can’t teach. While he’s not on the same level, he’s clearly on the same path, and those are footsteps worth following. Leon’s album “Coming Home” is an homage to all that is 50s/60s music. He performs in vintage clothing as well to truly immerse the audience in his performance of a sound that is all but lost in today’s musicians.

If it’s a shtick, then it’s a damn good one. A lot of his songs seem to blend together. There’s not a lot of stand outs, but when you write a bunch of good songs that’s a problem you’re going to have. Upbeat tracks like “Better Man”, “Smooth Sailin'”, and “Flowers” mingle nicely with slower songs like “Coming Home”, “Brown Skin Girl”, and “River”. It’s a solid album that takes you back in time, and don’t we all wish we could hit rewind sometimes?


What Will the Neighbors Think

With all my trips to Buffalo as of late, I’ve been visiting Record Theater more and more lately. On a recent adventure, I found Volume 1 & 2 by Reagan Youth on LP. They are easily the best-least talked about 80s hardcore band. Like most bands of the era, their time was short lived. While this was largely due to their specific agenda, bands come and go, but the songs live on.

Volume One is by far my favorite of the two. Classics like “Reagan Youth”, “New Aryans” and “I Hate Hate”. Volume Two is where the band started to experiment with more metal tendencies (like a lot of bands in in the 80s). It’s not bad, but Volume One is the album I’m going to play if I don’t have time to play both. The youthful energy keeps this record driving forward no matter the genre they decide to play. They had some good ideas, but they also were just a bunch of kids looking to make some noise.

I love the artwork they used. Incorporating Nazi and KKK imagery to not only shock but show how evil wears all different kinds of colors. I also appreciate people who are willing to push the envelope. It gets people talking about things which is the only way things change. I admirable people who stand for something. That unbridled passion for something you stand for can be used for good or for evil. Choose wisely.

Now rock out to some of the best 80s hardcore you’ve never heard of. Maybe it will make you think, maybe it won’t, but it will make you bang your head.

Sikes and the New Violence

I don’t like to write about things I don’t know about. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time I don’t think at any point  I mention rap or hip hop music. (Hey! Stop moving that mouse near that X) I wouldn’t be attempting to write about an album if I didn’t think it was that good and worth spreading the word about it. There’s so much music out there, a negative review doesn’t help anyone. Let’s share things that are worth talking about, rather than those that we don’t like in the first place.

I started listening to the Start the Beat Podcast when Chris Stowe posted that he was interviewed for it. I don’t know how Chris keeps popping up in this blog (Chris, if I ever see a dime from this, I’ll toss it to ya). The interview was good, but I was more interested in the man doing the interview. Brian Howe aka, Sikes, is a Pittsburgh native. He also seems to be a jack of all trades. He sings, raps, draws, interviews. The man does it all. I started listening to his podcast from episode one after listening to the one with Chris. I always try to start things at the beginning. You can’t really understand something or someone until you find about their roots. Turns out we share a lot of common interests and feelings on things. I’m twenty something episodes into his podcast, and eventually will catch up to present day. I’ve got a couple hour flight next week so that’ll help.

Sikes recently released an album titled, “I’ve Seen Better”. I’m not familiar with his other work, nor indie hip hop as a whole, but figured out why not? My experience with hip hop is the same way I view art. I don’t know what I like, but I know it when I see/hear it. Because of this I don’t invest a lot of time into searching out more of it because I don’t know where to start. Sikes backs up on his love of all different kinds of music on this album. The word fresh keeps coming to me when I try and describe this album. It sounds new. So many artists try to sound like someone else. Whether it’s paying homage, straight ripping off, or honestly wearing your influences on your sleeve. It’s refreshing to hear something that stands all on it’s own.

From my understanding this is his first album with a full backing band. I think this is what makes the album stand apart from his counterparts. There’s so much he’s able to do with the combination of live instruments and electronic manipulation. There’s so many nuisances and sounds happening that keep it interesting.

His lyrics speak about being in your 20s and generally unhappy when observing the things around you. Yeah…I can relate to that.

” watching all my grown friends go and get their lives right
fucking married having babies with some steady 9 to 5
while i’m still on my check to check – barely making rent
because before i get paid you know that shit’s already spent
always biting off way more than i can chew
no worries wash it down with a couple of brews
yeah, i used to not drink but now i kinda do
it’s been a couple years now – that shit’s old news
so will i ever grow up? i’m thinking not ever
spend all my money on pizza and vinyl – whats better
this downward spiral ain’t really that bad
cuz if i didn’t have problems tell me what would i have? ”
– “Low Expectations”

Maybe it’s because I can relate to most of these songs that I enjoy it so much. But I think it’s the delivery of these ideas that keeps me coming back. Most of the hip hop I’ve listened to either I can’t relate to or I find musically uninteresting. Just a personal preference. There’s some good beats, quirky electronic bits, punk attitude, and a good honest dude behind the mic telling it how it is.

I think the fact that Sikes does pretty much everything on his own when it comes to his work is honorable. It’s that respect that makes me want to support him. This may be out of your wheelhouse, but I thought it was out of mine too. Give it a listen.

Favorite tracks: Low Expectations, Solitaire, Just Swim

If the music’s not your thing, his podcast, Start the Beat, is a good listen. He interviews musicians and friends from in and around Pittsburgh. While it does get kind of niche at some spots, I don’t think you need to be from the area to enjoy it. I have not known any of the guests on it and still enjoyed each episode simply based on the conversation.


“Twelve Houses” by Roger Harvey. Whew. This is a beast of an album. I’m a Roger Harvey fanboy. He creates the music that speaks to me. I love me some hardcore. I love a good punk record. I even love bad punk records. But I really love good songwriters. Roger Harvey writes in the vein of Neil Young, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel). I know you’re thinking who is this guy? Take notice because his music can stand up to records by any of those musicians.

He released three 7″ leading up to this record that’s been in the works for what seems like years. The 7″ were demos of some of the songs that ended up appearing on here. Only 50 of each were made, and I bought them all because I couldn’t get enough. I even bought the Halloween 7″ last year from a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona while on vacation with my wife because there was a pretty good chance I’d miss out on getting it because they were leftovers from the Fest only release. (I really need to go to Fest again).

I was so happy to get my hands on the LP, “Twelve Houses” and gave my first listen on a night drive on the way back from a trip to Pennsylvania with my wife. You can tell from the first track, “One Night as an Astronaut”, that a lot of work has gone into it. It’s lush, building, and expansive. His distinct voice draws you into the lyrics.

“I tried my best to act my age,
but I couldn’t stomach it.
I tried so hard to dance through days,
but I lack the confidence.
The interstate is endless,
so we’re stopping for the night.
And let all that is beautiful die.”
– “One Night as an Astronaut”

Just when you think that there’s too much musically going on, and Roger’s rather quiet voice is being covered up, the punching riff of “City Deer” reminds you that Roger is as confident as he is poetic. It’s a good bare bones rock song of reflection.

“I wonder if you’re happier?
You’re gentle and you’re beautiful,
So i don’t wanna bother you.
Know how you always make me smile,
When i think of you out on my roof.
Underneath an outline of the stars,
Way down in the Valle de Ameca.”
– “City Deer”

The album flows between these restrained songs and more experimental pieces. The album never feels over bloated, everything has it’s place. It feels good to just hit play and let the album go. It provided a good background on the drive home as we talked because it’s not too harsh but if you listen there’s so much to it that you can pop in at any point and find a lyric to connect with or a riff to just vibe out with. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit and it blends together so well. It’s such a cohesive album, that you can’t listen to just one song. It doesn’t feel right.

Please check this album out. The album was a long time in the making and does not disappoint. This is one of those times I’m telling you guys, trust me on this, don’t sleep on this guy. I’m excited to get the chance to him play some of these songs live in December.

“Halloween” Demo Version

“City Deer” Live




Reunion shows I’m told are almost always a bad thing. I never understood this because why would I not want to go watch a band that I never got the chance to see when they were active. Not to say this was a bad show, but I let my expectations get too high.

I don’t usually travel to Pittsburgh for shows. It’s usually Buffalo or Cleveland for me. For some reason that extra hour to Pittsburgh is a killer. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually take days off of work and am exhausted by the end of the show and just want to sleep. Not drive roughly 3 hours home. Howler’s is a nice little dive bar. The beer is cheap, it’s cozy, and not gross. My good friend Chris Stowe from A-F Records put on the show and it was good to see him again. I talk about Chris at length in a previous post so check that out because he does some great stuff himself. Oh, and A-F Records has been killing it as of late with releases. I’m just throwing money at them at this point.

World’s Scariest Police Chases (who Chris currently plays guitar in) were up first. They play obnoxious skate punk and put on a good show. The music isn’t really my thing anymore, but it’s fun to watch people just not get the joke. Their new 7″ that’s going to come out called “Adolf Hipster” is sure to upset some people. I think it’s hilarious.

Reverse the Curse were up next. I don’t know how to describe them. Maybe a more experimental Nirvana, and I don’t even like Nirvana. I really liked this band though. You could see passion and the strain the vocalist put into hitting different notes. The music was droning, distorted, and almost lulled you to some type of sleepy haze. I imagine those that partake in certain substances make get even more out of the music. Sadly two PBRs weren’t enough, but like I had to drive home in a couple hours. Soberness aside, Reverse the Curse is a band playing music I don’t hear often, and that’s enough for me to be a fan.

Edhochuli are a beast of a band. The crowd was definitely here for their hometown band. They are a rock band in all sense of the word. Loud, intense, and despite where the song goes you can’t help but bang your head to their mighty riffs. I was familiar with their music, but seeing them in their element made me truly understand what everyone was raving about this band. Their LP, “Dream Warriors”, comes out at the end of October on A-F Records, and it is going to absolutely rip by all indications. Don’t sleep on this band.

Planes Mistaken For Stars were one of those bands I never got to see growing up. They put out their material during my teenage years and help bridge me from my love of punk music to heavier music in general. I don’t think I could have appreciated bands like Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Neurosis without hearing Planes Mistaken For Stars at a young age. When I heard they were touring again, I knew I had to make the trek wherever it was. Let me start out by saying, they played a great show, and if they were phoning it in…they fooled me. I think I was disappointed by the fact that at least 50% of the crowd left before they went on. I was confused. They were the headliner on a reunion tour. Maybe it says how much time has passed in roughly 10 years since Planes Mistaken For Stars has put out music. Maybe it says how great Edhochuli were. It was good to see a band I loved play some really great songs. The new ones they played sounded really good, and hinted at a possible album in the works. Whatever their intentions are for touring again, I’m glad they are so at least people like myself who never got the chance to see them could.