Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Everything Earned" by the Hex Bombs due out April 15th on East Grand Record Co.

I am back with another review for one of my favorite bands that I have been backing, the Hex Bombs from Michigan.  These fellas are back with a brand new full length entitled "Everything Earned" due out April 15th on East Grand Record Co.  This brand new release encompasses so much more than your standard three chord punk rock.  The subject matter ranges from the struggle of the working man, the band's own life story, and so much more that you will have to discover on your own. The musicianship is unparalleled as its simply diverse and it clearly combines the bands influences ranging from Oi! to your stripped down americana acoustic piece.  "Everything Earned" by the Hex Bombs is a no bullshit account on daily life and takes no prisoners what so ever!  Keep reading on if you feel so inclined!

L-R: Jake Carrick, Michael Mann, Greg Stevenson, Nathan Glenn Garman, and Darryl Arning 

Photo by East Grand Record Co.
The opening track is the title track of the record and it speaks for it self.  It is a simple ode to the working man which is the life they live.  The catchy sing along chorus is simple to latch on to in so many ways and its the type of song you want to hear after a long day at work.  The second track should be familiar to the followers of the band and its called "None Shall Be Forgotten" and features Mike McColgan of the Street Dogs.  The track was released on a seven inch release this pass summer and is an ode to those who serve our nation.  The track is followed by "Death Squad", a number that threw me off but I truly appreciated.  It shows off the musical diversity the Hex Bombs display that cannot be described with words.  It was an interesting approach for a punk rock band and yet, came off really well.  Its one of those songs one will have to listen to for themselves!

For all the Oi! fans, there is always a little something for you and thats the bands version of "New Age" by Blitz which they put  their own spin on.  Not many bands can take a classic Oi! song and do it as well as these guys did.  The Hex Bombs have found the balance of covering a classic and putting their own spin on it without over doing it.  At the same time, the band also keeps the sound that Blitz used on their original release.  One of my personal favorite tracks is "Killing Time" which is an upbeat street punk anthem accompanied by some top notch guitar licks. It forces you to take a look at society at large.  One somewhat satirical yet serious number called "Our Scene Is Not Your Scene" is a giant proverbial middle finger to those who come in and act as if those who put their time and work in owe them something.  Most of us know, anybody worth their salt has put their time and effort in to make a positive effect on the punk scene as a whole.
"Everything Earned" out on East Grand Record Co. on April 15th

If any of our reader's is looking for an irish type tune, "Closing" is for you.  It is easily comparable to "The Torch"  or the more recent "End Of The Night" by Dropkick Murphys yet with the electric guitars but the sentiment is simply still there.  In true form, a somber song is followed by an upbeat anthem called "Worker's Song".   Before you get critical and say, "…But there is already twenty songs called that", think again.  This song looks within as it comes across as an introspective view from a working man's stand point.  Another tune called "Defiance" is a meaningful jingle about just that and being true to oneself.  Lastly, the album ends with an acoustic/americana song called "We All Fall Down" played and sung by guitarist Jake Carrick.  Again, its an introspective track that allows the song writer to display his own life with hopes of the listener being able to relate in return.  Its top notch song writing in its finest form.

Overall,  "Everything Earned" by the Hex Bombs is an honest look on life and everything in it.  As stated earlier, its a no bullshit account on what these five guys have been through in their time spent here thus far.   The events of work, life, loss, and their perspective of everything in between is displayed on this album for all of us to see.  In a world that is dominated by popular culture, reality television, it is hard to come by real, humble, and honest music for the every day man or women to listen to.  If you enjoy true punk rock and roll that takes no prisoners yet offers a heartfelt approach on playing music, I suggest you buy this release on East Grand Record Co. on April 15th or order the pre-order in which comes out today in the label itself!  The pre-order comes with a full download of the album via email when you purchase it!

Artist Info:
Hex Bombs Facebook Page
East Grand Record Company

Friday, February 14, 2014

Street Dogs live at the Blarney Stone- A Campaign Party for John O'Toole

Last Saturday, February 8th over two hundred Boston area punk rockers, union members, and community activists gathered at the Blarney Stone in Dorchester, MA.  About a week and a half prior, an announcement was made by Mike McColgan that he, Matt Pruitt, and Lenny Lashley would be performing at the bar.  This wasn't only a regular acoustic set, this was a free of charge campaign drive for Mike's cousin, John O'Toole who is running for state representative of the13th district in Suffolk County in the hopes of registering voters and increasing political activity in their local neighborhood.  Overall, the turnout was astounding as how many people came together to show support for local politics and local music which has been a core ethos in the city of Boston.  Not only this Street Dogs trio played, the band's own Lenny Lashley started the afternoon's festivities.

All photos taken by Nick Gold
Lenny performed three acoustic songs while being backed up by local musician, Matt Charette on mandolin.  The two busted out the entertaining and catchy "JFK" which is a funny jingle which talks about the delays on the MBTA's redline.  Lenny also recently started covering the Clash classic, "Spanish Bombs" from their famous "London Calling" album which sounded absolutely amazing.  Before wrapping up, they played a song from Lenny and the Gang of One's debut, called "Happily" which is a personal favorite. Whether Lenny is playing with a full band or in an acoustic and solo setting, he never ceases to amaze the crowd. People always keep on coming back for more! 

After a quick changeover and a performance from three local irish step dancers, McColgan, Matt Pruitt, Lenny Lashley and again, Matt Charette took over.  Mike started off their set with "In this world, there are two kinds of people: There are people who who talk, and there are people who do…" and from right there introduced his cousin and
All Photos by Nick Gold
close friend, John O'Toole.  John made a quick appearance and gave thanks for the crowd showing up and rallying behind him!  The boys quickly launched into an acoustic set and started with "Savin Hill" (pretty fitting for the occasion!) which instantly drew the attention of those at the bar.  The room full of scally caps, townies and punk rock fans sang along to every word that afternoon!  The band then launched into Billy Bragg's classic, "There Is Power In A Union", "Two Angry Kids", and the introspective crowd pleaser, "Free".  Mike demanded by a show of hands of how many people love(d) their nana which was pretty much everyone!  He dedicated "Elizabeth" to his grandmother which simply called for a round of applause.  The band also brought out friend of many, the very talented Kelley Costello to sing on the number, as well.  She also performed just two months ago at the band's annual, Wreck The Halls.  

All Photos by Nick Gold
Some of my favorites that were performed that afternoon also included, "Yesterday", and the rarely played, "Stagger" from the band's 2005 release, "Back To The World".  Anybody who is old enough to remember the now defunct (Closed in 1997), Rathskeller in Kenmore Square absolutely could appreciate the nostalgic, "Poor Poor Jimmy".  They also performed the sentimental, "Final Transmission" for those who serve in uniform past or present.  Anybody would simply agree that it wouldn't be right if the boys performed in their own neighborhood without playing the crowd rousing, "In Defense of Dorchester" which instigated automatic sing along for most of the crowd.  

All Photos by Nick Gold

For those who are not so much in the loop, the band is gearing up to release a split with the band, "Noi!se" from Washington who are simply one of the best Oi! bands out today.  On that note, the band covered Steve Earle's, "Johnny Come Lately" which will be featured on the split coming out on Pirates Press Records.  The band ended their set with "Oh, Father" which Mike dedicated to his father.  Overall, I must say this is one of the tightest acoustic sets I have seen the Street Dogs perform.  The band sounded really great for the environment they were in and they really drew the crowd in, as well.  The Street Dogs are simply a band for the people, by the people which was displayed that Saturday afternoon.  I very much enjoyed their acoustic performance and I look forward as always to seeing them perform again!  

All Photos by Nick Gold

Artist Information:

Friday, February 7, 2014

A review of Bryan McPherson's "Live At The Milestone" (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Just yesterday, Bryan McPherson released his first solo live album entitled "Live At The Milestone" in Charlotte, North Carolina from his last United States tour with Tim Barry and Cory Branan.  This seven song record is an essential for any fan of Bryan McPherson or fuck it, for any fan of real good music.  Anybody who has been lucky enough to catch Bryan's live performance knows that his performance is full of energy, vigor, and honesty and this recorded set captures just that and then some!

Opening with "Dangerous Friends", its haunting yet energizing intro is a perfect opener for any show. Like any good and well sought out musician should, each of his songs tell a story. In this case, where he grew up and the things he experienced are thrown at the listener (or audience in this case).  Tune number two is the uprising and rousing, "Worker's Song" in which he exclaims, "I wrote this song at the end of a very bad day at work…" What I really appreciate about Bryan's stage presence and performance is his approach to less banter and more music which is fading I feel in music today.  The guy gets up there, and plays his heart out. What more can you ask?  Bryan McPherson walks it.

Photo by John LaCroix

One of the more longer songs that comes out excellent live is "No Creed, No Class, No Nation" which flows perfectly no matter what.  Most people might think, "Wow, what a short album" but when some of these songs clock in around five minutes, you get a lot more than what you bargained for.  Bryan's emphasis of quality over quantity shines through very well on this live album which makes him one of the best folk/punk musicians on the road today.  My personal favorite, "Lonely Streets" is added mid set, as well as the fast paced, "Poor Boy" which appeared on his debut full length, "Fourteen Stories".  The slower yet honest "Me, I Am Anger" is added in which is easily the standout track on the entire live album.  Finally, Bryan ended with "Black Man" (per request by a fan) which is a great closer and ends on a powerful and positive note that always leaves the crowd begging for more.

Overall, this album shows the quality, sound, and excitement Bryan McPherson possesses live.  As stated earlier, his mentality of quality over quantity simply puts Bryan out on the map as a top notch musician and performer that you do not want to miss.  If you like Bryan's work displayed here, go check out his other two releases, "Fourteen Stories" and "American Boy/American Girl" (listed below) and more importantly, check him out when he comes to your city/town.

Artist Info:
Bryan McPherson Facebook Page
Bryan McPherson Bandcamp Page (Buy Music Here!)
Bryan McPherson Official Website