Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Review of "Til Midnight" by Chuck Ragan OUT TODAY!

Chuck Ragan is a big name around the punk rock and hardcore scene world wide.  With his hardcore punk outfit known as Hot Water Music, he has truly made a name for himself but that isn't the only defining product that has given him some serious attention.  His taking of americana and folk punk has given a fresh sound to the ears of many. He has gained critical attention with his Revival Tour (performing with acts Dave Hause of the Loved Ones, Tim Barry of Avail, Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and many more) which has taken him and several artists across the globe.  My first and only  experience of seeing Chuck play was at Fenway Park with the Dropkick Murphys.  Ken and the boys had a side stage set up for some smaller acts to perform and Ragan was one of them.  Though I have missed a handful of performances in Boston since then, Chuck Ragan has struck a chord with me like no other singer song writer has.  Today, March 25th, he releases his brand new album, "Til Midnight" and is simply one of his best.

Opening with Something May Catch Fire you can tell he has very much he has expanded from the standard acoustic guitar as his musicianship and back up band has developed tremendously.  I have always enjoyed the upright bass and fiddle (Jon Gaunt and Joe Ginsberg) that Chuck has incorporated into his sound as well as a drum player.  This opening track leaves the listener wanting much more as its the perfect opener.  This falls right into Vagabond which follows the trend of his last record (Covering Ground 2011) which was the song, Nomad By Fate.  Though it may be a rather similar concept and timing track wise, the musicianship is quite different and catchy as hell.  One of the first tracks that was released by Chuck and media outlets was Non Typical which was instantly a fan favorite.  The catchy and upbeat rhythm behind the song kept the audience intrigued.

The rather stripped down track entitled Revved is descriptive lyrically as he belts out, "To the wind she stood as her hair blew back, testing the waters on a one way track…" which gives it away as a story teller type song.  I have always appreciated Ragan's abilities to tell a story about the people he has come across in his travels and in life.  Another favorite track of mine is Bedroll Lullaby which has been previously released but on this recording, it has a much more lively sound to it.  The opening line "Have you ever wondered far from home, far from what was safe and comfortable…" instantly gives the listener goose bumps as they question their ethic to go out and take a risk in world that chews you up and spits you out.  Bedroll Lullaby is simply one of my favorite tracks.

The tune Gave My Heart Out shows Ragan doing simply that.  Its again, a high energy track that gives the listener something to relate to if someone has given their all to something.  A slower and melodic track entitled Wake With You gives away that he is singing about his wife or partner which he has written about before.  It talks about the things that happens in relationships but his loyalty given to his other half all the time.  The next track, You and I Alone has a similar love song vibe as the one before but is simply more stylistic and upbeat.  It also has a poetic feel to it lyrically, as well.  Next is Whistleblowers Song which has a darker and more pessimistic feel to it.  At the same time though, it shows Chuck's instant critique of the world and human race around him.  In tradition, Chuck Ragan closes out most of his studio full lengths with a slower, and longer track.  The song For All We Care is an introspective look that makes you listen in.  I feel his goal with ending the record this way is for the listener to make their own conclusions.

Overall, "Til Midnight" by Chuck Ragan is an album worth checking out whether or not you are familiar with his previous musical work. Chuck's perspective on the world around him simply goes hand in hand with his social critique, and not to mention the people and relationships he sings so passionately about. You also cannot forget about his life experiences that turn into poetic songs that constantly win over fans and draws back listeners each release.  Whether you are a fan of punk rock, hardcore, americana and everything else in between, "Til Midnight" is worth checking out.

Sidenote: Chuck Ragan and the Camaraderie will be performing with White Buffalo and Jonny Two Bags (Swingin' Utters) on April 20th at the Paradise Rock Club.  The show is 18 and over.  More info here

Artist Info:
Chuck Ragan Facebook
Chuck Ragan Official Website


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