Friday, March 20, 2015

Saturday Night with the Dropkick Murphys

Hello readers!

Its been a few months since I last blogged but I am back and open for business once again.  Last weekend, I went to the annual hometown stand with the Dropkick Murphys as they played five shows in four days before heading off to Dublin.  As always, all the shows  stood out  because of the set list differentials, the energy of each night, and many other factors.  At this point in the weekend, the average fan who attends more than one or two of the shows tends to hit a haze at some point in the weekend, but the true fans know this weekend was one of the best.  Joining the Murphys,  Blood or Whiskey from Dublin, Ireland and the Mahones from Canada shared the stage with them.  Both bands played their hearts out with their irish influenced punk rock.  The Dropkick Murphys though, always set the tone for the weekend.

Once again, the house lights fade out and their intro, The Foggy Dew by the Chieftains Ft. Sinead O'Connor, filled the music hall.   As the music fades out, a spotlight hits behind the curtain and Jeff DaRosa plays the introduction to The State of Massachusetts and soon after, the curtain is dropped to see the band standing right behind.  After their opening number, the band played through a handful of songs including songs from The Meanest of Times, a favorite album for many.  Songs such as Famous for Nothing, Shattered, and God Willing set the night off on an energetic and unified tone.

Fan favorites such as Going Out In Style were included in the set but the Dropkick Murphys were not afraid to keep the old guard happy with Good Rats or later on, Boston Asphalt.  Newer songs from their most recent release, Singed and Sealed In Blood were included such as the upbeat Out On The Town as well as the catchy baseball themed, Jimmy Collin's Wake.  Midway through the set, three lucky contestants were selected to play a riotous game of darts.  On the video screen behind the band, a giant list of over twenty songs came up which included old singles, b-sides, covers and much more.  The deal was this: If you hit a number, the band played that song; if you missed, Ken slaps the person who missed and, if you were a girl, the guy next to you gets slapped!  Humorous, and all in good fun, especially when someone missed!

For those who were lucky enough to hit and win, Vengeance (By the Nipple Erectors), was played first followed by a rousing cover of Iron Chin, by the Bruisers (Shout outs to NH's own Iron Chin!).  Lastly,  the band played the drinking favorite Alcohol, originally by Gang Green.  Soon after, Ken Casey asked if the crowed wanted more "old school songs" and the crowd answered with a solid reply of "Yes!".  The band complied with the opening lick to Do or Die  and out came Mike McColgan (the Street Dogs/original Dropkick Murphys singer).  From there, the band tore through a third of Memories Remain and the second half of Barroom Hero.  It was simply one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  The rest of the set included The Auld Triangle, Never Forget and the two songs beloved by many of the newer fans, Shipping Up To Boston and Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced.  The encore included Worker's Song, Skinhead on the M.B.T.A. and ended with their cover of Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive.  Overall, The Dropkicks pleased all of their fans with a high energy set  with a fantastic mix of old and new.  Though all five shows were a blast, this show included a set that many fans of the band could enjoy. More importantly, the energy from the band was sky high, matched only by their diehard fans.

Band Info:
Dropkick Murphys
The Mahones
Blood or Whiskey

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Live Free or Die With Your Boots On" by Iron Chin

So in the last couple of years or so, New Hampshire has come out with some pretty significant Oi! and street punk bands.  Bands such as the Damn Garrison and Yellow Stitches quickly come to mind but more recently, Iron Chin has been taking hold of the New Hampshire scene and has stood out quite well.  As the name may sound familiar (taken from the song itself given to the Bruisers by Agnostic Front), Iron Chin comes with a hard hitting rock and roll sound for the masses.  Without going too far off the beaten path, the band really created its own sound while still giving the skinhead and Oi! scene something solid and stable to listen to.

"Daily Aftermath" opens the seven track record which is an upbeat and relatively hard hitting tune. This is followed by "Survivor".  What does really stand out is the vocal switches between Doug (Bass/vocals) and Joel (rhythm guitar) plus paired with Joel Paul's lead guitar solos.  In the back of my head, thats what makes this band stand out is the musicianship and how they are not afraid to go and give their own sound to their songs.  There is also an essence of story telling in "Hard Luck Chuck" which sounds like a tale of booze filled aggression and hooliganism while being chased by the New Hampshire police perhaps.

Song's such as "Bomber" and "Before The First Punch" provide an aggressive and and fast paced sing along that stand out for tracks that are in the middle of the album.  These are followed by the anthem "Live Free or Die" which is fitting for not only a band from New Hampshire but for their album, as well.  The Granite State streams through their blood which is clearly shown through this track.  I have found it to be the most catchy and easy to sing along to.  Their last track, "Slideways" ends the record in a hard hitting manner, with heavy guitar riffs and thundering drums.  This may be a shot in the dark but the guitar riffs are heavier than usual which throws the listener off in a sense.  I would say this track stands out more than others due to the heavier nature with the guitar work and more.  Other than that, the band shows consistency through out the album.

If you're looking for a hard hitting punk rock and roll album, this album could be for you.  I also highly recommend their live show as they show as much energy as their album gives off, as well.  If you're into the Bruisers, the Anti Heros, or any street rock and roll with a kick in the ass, check these guys out and listen to them with an open mind.  They aren't your everyday street punk band, they are something much more than that.

Iron Chin Band Camp- Buy the record here.
Iron Chin Facebook

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A review of "Ghost Town Rockers" by Stray Bullets

The Stray Bullets, man I can't say enough about their new album, "Ghost Town Rockers" out on Dying Scene Records.  The album is chock full of catchy, and socially conscious ska and punk rock songs packed with a heavy punch that makes you think and want to move your feet!  It's been sometime since they released "...The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Misfortune" which was simply a fantastic album but "Ghost Town Rockers" just may top it.

Track one, "Knife For The Pusher Man" opens the album with a kick.  Before I continue, have you ever wanted to kill a drug dealer?  Perhaps one who was selling in front of a rehabilitation facility?  Thats what this song is about.  Jon Cauztik (singer/songwriter/guitarist) has no problem stating his thoughts on what he found as an epidemic many years ago.  Of course, he didn't initially kill him but wrote a song about his frustration and aggression toward someone who participates in such behavior.  You can also find the video for the song, here.  Track one kicks right into "New Prisons", a socially conscious song about society's lacking of valuing education over the criminal justice system.  A line that is pointed out, "They built a new prison when clearly they needed a school..." really sums it up well.

Other tracks such as "Peace Signs" give a more ska and reggae feel which the Stray Bullets are known for as well as a punk rock twist. Alongside that, the musically upbeat "Keeps Me Down" really keeps the energy flowing on the album, too.  The song really has an optimistic feel to it in a sense regardless of the title.  As we all know, the police department has been in the news lately with several different incidents and "Sirens" touches on that issue, as well.  Not only that but the lead guitar work done really adds a lot of layers to the songs and keeps the listener very interested. Another anthem that has been well circulated since the album came out is "Public Enemy #1" as well as "Chicago Gallows".

Towards the end of the record, it wraps up with "Pro Patria Mori" (translation: "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.") You also have "Walls Come Crumbling" which is a personal favorite and "Campesino Blood" which has a historical twist to it.  Lastly, "Ghost Town Rockers" is simply an anthem which fits fine at the end of the record and the acoustic and melodic "Rocket Ship" ends off the album nicely.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

A review of "Wildfire" by the Dirty Mugs

Hello everyone,

Its been a little bit since I updated this page!  I recently started doing reviews, interviews and more for Dying Scene and amongst other things.  I recently reviewed a really cool band  called the Dirty Mugs who has a new album out called "Wildfire".  If you're into roots music with some punk rock and rockabilly thrown in the mix, this just may be your band.  I originally wrote the review for Dying Scene and got the go ahead to throw it up on here.  For those whom are interested, the you can find the original review I wrote for "Wildfire" by the Dirty Mugs, here!

Here is the review:

"East Grand Record Company do an amazing job releasing a diverse amount of bands and music whom are relevant to the punk rock scene. The band I am covering today is a fantastic folk and punk act out of the back woods of Eastern Oklahoma called The Dirty Mugs. Their fusion of punk rock and folk music is like none other as they they make an effort to create their own sound while staying true to their punk rock roots. What automatically comes to mind is a mix of Chuck Reagan, and rockabilly greats, the Cramps, and you can certainly hear some inspiration from the Pogues, as well.
“Wildfire” brings a certain breed of energy that you seldom hear these days. For example, the first song off the record, “Dance With Me” is a high speed folk punk track that starts the album off with a fantastic tone. The anthemic “SGAF” is another gem that is accompanied by a melody you would here from a punk rock band. As I stated earlier, the Dirty Mugs are no stranger to trying new things and expanding their musical diversity while in “O’Death”, the intro sounds like a gospel song which is eventually followed by catchy guitar licks that you would hear in a band such as the Kings of Nuthin’ as well as an accordion. I really can’t complain about a band who goes out of their way to add different elements of music to keep the listener surprised and in suspense of the next song.
A personal favorite, “Row” is a pick me up type song that makes you want to put on your dancing shoes, and dance in a circle at one of their shows. If you are interested in more roots based songs (plenty of which are on this record), I would suggest hitting the track button to “Woodsfolk” or “As close as It Gets”. The explosive “Bomb Caravan” is a socially conscious track that makes you want to pump your fist with, as well. The album ends with “Expect Resistance” which is a perfect ending to the sixteen track powerhouse known as “Wildfire”. Its a short but sweet song that gives “Wildfire” the edge it needs. Overall, this is great album with roots based influences mixed with the energy of a punk rock band. I highly recommend this album to anybody who is a fan of true folk punk."

Originally submitted on on October, 3rd, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

An interview with Craig Lewis - The Author of "Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Workbook"

Back again!

Recently, I wanted to do something a little bit different and out of the ordinary and decided to interview someone who perhaps is a part of the scene but makes interesting and insightful contributions in their own way.  I interviewed Craig Lewis is the author of Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Workbook as well as You're Crazy: Volume 1.  Both stories focus on helping those who suffer from mental illness or in recovery of such while giving them useful tools on how to improve their quality of life for good.  Craig also gives a glimpse of his background, his experiences, as well as how he got to where he is today as a Certified Peer Specialist at Boston Medical Center. Consider giving Craig your support by checking out his work and his books plus the open discussions and spoken words he takes part in across the country in major cities.

Run Don't Walk: For starters, tell us a little bit about yourself! Some of the readers would certainly be interested in who you are, what you do, and perhaps your story? Lets start there!
Craig Lewis: My name is Craig and I am a 41 year old punk rocker, author and peer mental health counselor. I live in Salem, MA with my loving and supportive family. Life was not always so good though. As an adolescent, I spent years living in mental hospitals and residential group homes. I was put on all sorts of medications and told that I was mentally ill and this was what my life was going to be. I got into punk in the spring of 1988, mere months before I was put in the mental hospital for the first time. My first show was WRECKING CREW in 1989 and my life was changed forever from that point on. Punk rock, hardcore, metal; whatever it was, and for me it was often an amalgamation of all three. Once I turned 18 I was more or less turned loose into the city of Boston, completely unprepared for life and society. I was immature, socially inept and my life was a disaster. I started doing drugs and hanging out all the time yet my life only got worse and worse, not to mention that I was still taking tons of psych medicine that I now know was a main cause of the degree of dysfunction I was experiencing. I spent the 90’s booking tons of shows, putting out ‘Upheaval Fanzine” and playing in a bunch of bands. Things became drastically worse toward the end of the 90’s into the 00’s. The next few years had me hitting rock bottom and wanting to be dead. I wanted to die. I hurt so much and life was never going to get better and I was worthless. Yet somehow I pulled through and got my life on track for the first time ever. I had always hoped for a better life but had no idea of how to achieve it. Over time, I got a new therapist, who was wonderful, got into school to become a peer mental health counselor, fired the terrible psychiatrist I had been seeing since 1991, became certified to work as a Peer Specialist, got a job at a group home, I hated it and resigned, then got a job at a peer led program (it was disaster) and then got laid off, started having girlfriends, went to college, got the job I have today that I have kept for almost 5 years, had more girlfriends, went off of the terrible psych drugs  I had been taking all these years at the urging of my new psychiatrist who said that it was the medication  that was making me sick and that I had trauma (PTSD), felt a million times better, then became extremely angry having realized that I took psych meds for 25 years for conditions that I never had and that in fact it was the medication that caused me to be so unstable and out of control, which throughout my life led to horrendous social issues and conflicts, then I learned to deal with my anger through hard work on developing coping skills, I graduated with an associate’s degree in human services,   I began giving talks in the community called ‘Punk Rock, Mental Illness and Recovery’, then I decided to put a book together of a bunch of work I had done in the past facilitating support groups, the book is called “Better Days – A Mental Health Recovery Workbook’, then  I started traveling all over the US and Canada giving my talk, found a new girlfriend who I have been with since and love and cherish very very much, compiled an anthology of first-hand accounts of punk rockers who deal with mental health struggles, addiction and trauma called ‘You’re Crazy’ and now I am speaking a major mental health recovery conferences throughout the country giving workshops about the ‘Better Days’ workbook. Life is great on most days and sometimes I struggle. I do my best and that is all any of us can do. Every sun rise is a new beginning and I take those reins and live life to its fullest.
RDW: You wrote a very well received book called Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Work Book, which may help those who deal with mental health issues such as depression, and more. Tell us about that, how you started it, and why you wrote it? What types of advice could one benefit from in that book?
CL: ‘Better Days – A Mental Health Recovery Workbook’ began as a requirement of my internship when I first went to school in the late 00’s. I began to give support groups that I developed based on my personal struggle to learn coping skills so I could have happier, healthier and more satisfying life. Over time I facilitated the group at different jobs that I had and then on a volunteer basis, each week creating a new passage and worksheet based on whatever it was I was struggling with at that moment. I then stopped giving the group as I became too busy and all the pages sat in a drawer unused. I then decided to try to put it into book form. It was edited, a wonderful cover was designed and I then self-published the book. ‘Better Days’ teaches people how to better manage the situations in their lives that have been causing them trouble. When we use effective coping skills to handle all the stuff life throws at us on a regular basis, this stuff no longer keeps us from being happy, healthy and well. ‘Better Days’ honors each person as being the best expert on themselves. The workbook empowers people to help themselves and puts them in charge by empowering them to make choices for themselves that will result in outcomes that they prefer and desire and thus experience less disruption and unhappiness.

RDW: What has the feedback been thus far from those in your circle or just in general who have read it?
CL: The feedback has been overwhelmingly awesome. ‘Better Days’ has been embraced by punk rockers, social workers, psychiatrists, peer specialists and adherents to radical mental health care and many others. I suggest that anyone who wants to have a better idea about what people think about the workbook to google ‘Better Days Recovery” on Amazon; the reviews are awesome!!!
RDW: Tell us about your job as a Certified Peer Support Specialist. Would you consider your job ordinary day to day or something as no ordinary day? You also travel across the country to speak and much more about your life experiences. Do you find the feedback you get from others rather helpful after doing so?
CL: I work as Certified Peer Specialist. I have been trained to use my personal lived experience for the benefit of those I serve in a professional capacity. However, without being glib; I do all the same things an outreach worker, case manager or social worker does, but better, haha!!!! My days at work are never ordinary. I love having a job where I can be myself and I don’t have to hide that I have had mental health struggles myself.  To be able to tell a person who is suffering that I have been in a similar place of struggle and I can relate to a similar sort of pain and share with them that although it was very difficult, that I got through it and that over time, my life got better; there ain’t much better than that for me in this world. I get to make a difference in the lives of very worthy people, many of whom have slipped through the cracks of the system, just like I did, and never were told that people like us can get better.
RDW: How has punk and hardcore music played a part in your life and your story? Have you found it rather beneficial to you and the things you have dealt with in your life? Do you recommend musical therapy of some sorts to other people?
CL: Hardcore punk has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. For many years, going to shows was one of the only things that made me feel alive. Throughout the 90’s, booking shows for bands from all over the world provided me with a crucial sense of meaning and purpose that I otherwise would not have had, which would have been dreadful and most certainly would have resulted in me taking my own life. I love punk to this day. I listen to music as much as possible and I am still am obsessed with foreign and obscure punk bands, but, truth be told, way before it became cool, haahahaah!!! I hope that most people out there have an appreciation for music of some sort. I ain’t no critic – listen to whatever makes you happy or helps you feel better; that is music therapy and it is beautiful.
RDW: That’s it for questions from me! Do you have any final words? Feel free to add any links, web pages, etc. for what you do! Thanks again, Craig!
CL: Thank you very much for doing this interview with me Nick. I appreciate having the opportunity to spread the message of recovery and that we get better to my peers in the punk scene and beyond. In order for people like us, people who struggle, we need to talk about this stuff. We need to talk about our mental health; our substance use; and our trauma. The more we talk about it openly and the more we understand about ourselves and others, and the more we support each other and offer each other empathy and non-possessive love; the more stigma decreases and the happier all of our lives can be or become. Please remember, we get better and I am living proof of this. Keep fighting for the life you want! Keep trying to live a healthy and happy life, you can do it! Recovery is real! We get better!!
Please check out the ‘Better Days – A Mental Health Recovery Workbook’ here: WWW.BETTERDAYSRECOVERY.COM
 Please check out ‘You’re Crazy – Volume One” and other punk rock stuff here: WWW.PUNKSINRECOVERY.COM
 To contact Craig directly go here: 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Review of "The Scars We Hide" by Noi!se

Tacoma, Washington's premier street punk and Oi! counterpart, Noi!se have been gaining serious recognition the last couple of years.   From sharing the stage with the likes of Rancid and Cock Sparrer, to more recently, releasing a split with Boston punk rockers, the Street Dogs, they have been constantly raising the bar for themselves in every way possible.  In the last week, they have released their second full length, The Scars We Hide and all I can really say was that I was blown away by it.  As I stated, Noi!se is a street punk band but they play their own brand of the genre with a take no prisoner's mentality plus adding some serious balls to it, as well.  It has been said time and time again that Noi!se only sings about what they know and how they see life itself, like any good band would.  I had high expectations for this release and those were met and then some more.

The record opens up with Rank & File which is a socially charged anthem that grabs the listener.  It simply talks about the current state of political and social affairs yet encourages the listener to make their own conclusion.  The band also tap into their personal experiences on tracks such as The Glass Half Empty, Silenced Voices, and Pawn In The Game which is a personal favorite.  The guitar work also comes through amazing with the rhythm section tightened town by Nate and lead guitar by Jesse, whom both really sounds fantastic on this record.  You could tell they put a lot of hard work and effort into it.  You also can't forget how catchy the song writing is by Matt Henson who is also on bass as well as the talent that comes through by Kenny Dirkes on drums.  You can really tell that they constantly step their game up as musicians to make the band better each and everyday.

The vocal variations between Nate and Matt plus adding in the extensive back up vocals blend in really well with their sound.  This is definitely displayed well on So I Drift Away, The Truth, and several more.  To include variety, Noi!se  has really fast back to basics songs such as Plastic Friends, Statistic and Bottom Of The Barrel but give you a kick to the head with the thundering drums and lead guitar work. They don't bullshit around the bush, they get straight the point. This also band does a great job with connecting to the listener as I said earlier as How We Made It Through gives you something to relate to.  We all have had to trudge through hard times in life and this song holds that to be very true.  The last two tracks, A Different Road and The Futures Waiting are the perfect ending to an amazing record.  A Different Road delivers hard and fast as an in your face street punk song while The Futures Waiting gives an inspirational turn as it tells you to get up and make a change in your life to get where you want to be.  My personal favorite line would be, "If you want to change the game, you got to change how you play" sung by Nate in the middle verse.

Overall, The Scars We Hide by Noi!se is a fantastic album.  Whether you are into street punk and Oi!, hardcore music, and the like, I recommend this album.  If you're into fast and honest street punk that is refreshing from what is coming out today, this album is also for you.  With that being said, go support Noi!se and The Scars We Hide.  You won't be disappointed.

Info for Noi!se:

Noi!se Facebook
Purchase the new album at Durty Mick Records

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A review of "Non-Rhotic" by the Blue Bloods (Due Out: Oct. 14th on East Grand Record Co.)

When I first saw the Blue Bloods, it was March 2005 as they were opening for the Dropkick Murphys on a Saturday night on Lansdowne Street.  I was probably fourteen or fifteen years old and I saw them a handful more into my high school years with a line up that was much different than it is now.  They always remained one of my favorites and I was extremely curious as to why they dropped off the map up until a few years ago.  They're back now with three new members, Jim Burke and Tom O'Connell (Pug Uglies) on guitars and Marc Cannata from Far From Finished on drums while the remaining two is Tim Baxter on vocals and Greg Genovese on bass.  When word initially spread they were in the studio at the Outpost recording a new album, it gave plenty of us street punk fans, something to look forward to.  I must say, it really exceeded my expectations.

Some of these newer songs they have incorporated in their setlist such as On Your Own which opens up the album.  Its one of those songs you can take and relate to it anyway you would like but in the end, its about those that we know that have to make the best out of a tough situation.  With that being said,  you can expect some more personal songs on here. Track one is followed by the explosive, If It Leads, It Bleeds which is a fast and hard hitting street punk song.  What I was really excited to hear was how the re-wrote the music to a couple of old demo's that were on their myspace page from way back in the day.  One is called The Click and another is called Under The Influence which the music was completely different but I was excited to see done.

In life, we all come across those people that don't entirely know when to either stop talking or realize when enough is enough when it comes to their bullshit.  In hindsight, thats what Better In Silence is about. Sincerity, track seven is also a favorite which questions people's ability or lack there-of to be genuine and real. Another stand out part of this song (and the record in general) is the catchy guitar hooks that Jim Burke, Tom O'Connell and even Paul Christian (Far From Finished/Cradle To The Grave) stepped in on for lead guitar work.  Thats one part that really makes this record fantastic, is its musicianship. The Blue Bloods have found away to not lose touch with their street punk routes but also have the ability to add some additional work into the music.  As you have noticed by now, there is plenty of social commentary on the human condition in general through their perspective. At the same time, nothing beats Deaf, Dumb, & Blind which takes a jab at the simple minded state of people.  In other words, their lack of ability to see the big picture of what is happening to our society.  Its simple, to the point, and there is no preachy political banter at all.  Just the truth.

You find an ode to the 9-5 workers with Doppelgänger which opens with "The alarm clock blaring its six am, I am wondering how this happened again..." which many can easily relate to (especially after a night at the bar).  Another fast street punk song is Mercenaries which I really looked forward to because Jim Burke does lead vocals on this song and the upbeat and fist raising, Drawn and Quartered which again shows their ability to write catchy street punk songs.  Toward the end, you have a more sentimental and introspective type song called Let It Go which is a personal favorite. Lastly, they also put in some great humor with this record with She's Into Malakas, Dino and quoting a little bit of the movie, Weird Science which is something the older crowd may appreciate.  Overall, its great to see a band such as the Blue Bloods come back with a powerful record.  Even though it may have taken awhile, quality over quantity is what I always say!  If you are interested in a hard charging Boston street punk record with catchy riffs, insightful lyrics, I highly recommend this album.  There is something in here for everybody!

Band Info:
Blue Bloods Facebook
Pre-Order "Non-Rhotic" on BandCamp here:
East Grand Record Company
Full album stream of "Non-Rhotic" on New Noise Magazine