Articles for the Month of November 2015

“An Original Blend” from Choke Artist Records

 

 

Have you ever heard of Choke Artist Records?  I must admit neither had I until I was informed of the new (in September) compilation they released.  Let’s do this…

 

  1. “Dark Sun Setting” (High School Football Heroes)- Right out of the gait, the High School Football Heroes start this album out with a bang.  Mixing pop-punk and ska is nothing new, but the extra emo feel kicks this one up a notch.  I love it!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Hollowed Out” (Dead Rejects)- After what seems like a very long intro, the Dead Rejects drop a pretty aggressive punk number.  I’m not super stoked about the lead vocalist’s voice, so I will downgrade on this fact alone.  Grade: C

 

  1. “Deny” (Still Alive)- Another aggressive song, cut in with classic ska-guitar is found in “Deny.”  I dig the synth-pop feel in the beginning of the song and wish it was carried throughout. Grade: B-

 

  1. “Stay on Your Side” (No Such Noise)- As with the first song on this album, there is an excellent blend of pop-punk and ska, with a definite slant towards the pop component.  This is a well-polished song with vocals that are easy on the ears.  Amazing!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Secretly” (Murphy’s Kids)-“Secretly” sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the other songs on this album. It is a slower ska song with a mellow vibe which makes you want to kick back and enjoy a cold one.  Fantastic saxophone and organ here.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Banshee” (Atrocity Solution)- Musically, this song has a lot going for it, with its high energy ska guitar, cut in with an aggressive punk sound. After the vocals started it reminded me a lot of the Dead Rejects (see above).  I will give this a similar score.  Grade: C

 

  1. “Ignorance is Bliss” (Poor Jeremy) – Of course there is the punk element, but this song makes you want to want to dance more so than any other thus far.  Don’t miss this killer horn solos.  Grade: B

 

  1. “The Take Back” (Hub City Stompers)-It is undeniable that the Hub City Stompers are true veterans of ska-punk genre. This noted, I have never been a huge fan of theirs.  Vocally, I think they shine more in the first 2/3 of the song with more mellow vocals which pair nicely with the saxophone.  It is the street-punk yelling type vocals near the end of the song that I just don’t resonate with.  Grade: B-

 

  1. “Ode to My Willpower (Survey Says!)- Survey Says! is at the top of the pack when it comes to their polished ska punk sound, mixing just the right amount of pop element.  Think New Found Glory with horns!  Grade: A-

 

  1. “The Tale of Ramirez DePietro” (Chilled Monkey Brains)- Many band before them have tried (and failed) to get a foothold in the music industry, by mixing several different musical styles.  On paper, mixing ska-punk and thrash metal seems like a recipe for disaster, but Chilled Money Brains have perfected their sound to create the most unique band I have heard in a while.  Throw  Dragon Force, Mad Caddies and NOFX in a blender and you have Chilled Monkey Brains.  I love this song!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Ctrl+Z” (The Best of the Worst)-If I had to make a comparison, I would say that “Ctrl+Z” is a lot like early Hawthorne Heights; punk mixed with screaming vocals (emo-screamo?).  The screaming doesn’t add anything for me, but rather detracts from the overall enjoyability of the tune.  Grade: C

 

  1. “Tribe” (Mrs. Skannotto)- “Tribe” has almost a ‘90’s alternative radio with horns feel to it. Throw in some punk elements as well, contrasted with smooth vocals, and you have one killer song.  It reminds me a little of the Urge.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Flea Market” (The Hempsteadys)- This song is just okay for me.  I’m not sold on the lead vocals, not to mention, I’ve heard about a million songs that sound like this.  It sounds like a bunch of drunken guys “singing” in a local pub. The saxophone solo is pretty sweet however.  Grade: C

 

  1. “Blow up the Moon” (Corporate Fandango)- This has to be the most bizarre tune of the album thus far.  It is a pretty fantastic instrumental with a definite spacey, psychedelic feel to it. Grade: A-

 

  1. “Litwop” (All People)- Sure there are horns, but I’m not sure this is a ska song per se. None the less, this is a pretty interesting instrumental, which starts out as a slow burn.  I dig it.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Their Them” (Stuck Lucky)- A creepy song that should ring through the hallways of your local haunted house.  This song is kind of a train wreck and my least favorite on the album.  Grade: D

 

  1. “I’m Getting Too Old for this Shit” (Kill Lincoln)- The horn section reminds me a lot of Less than Jake.  There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this is a great closing track.  Grade: A-

 

First off, I am a huge fan of compilations albums, as I have discovered many great bands this way. At a price-point of only $5 for 17 tracks, the newest release from Choke Artist Records will certainly not choke your pocketbook.  Although I am not a huge fan of every song on this thing, this is a very enjoyable listen which is packed with great  tunes from start to finish. Even within the sometimes narrow confines of the musical genres featured here, each band brings their own flavor, each varying the ration between ska, punk, pop, hardcore and others.  I personally enjoy bands that sway a little more to the poppier side of things, with such standouts as the High School Football Heroes, No Such Noise, and  Survey Says.  Other bands not found in the pop-punk group still received high marks based on pure enjoyability of the tune (Murphy’s Kids), ingenuity of sound (Chilled Monkey Brains), and flat out uniqueness (Corporate Fandango).  If I had to site one downfall with this album it would be including both ska and hardcore on the same album.  While some listeners may “swing both ways” musically, this listener does not.  I do not particularly resonate with screaming, yelling or growling vocals, but hey, to each their own.  To wrap up, this is a great album that you need to get your paws on, right now!

 

Overall Grade:

B+

 

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Found this one in the ‘Bargain Bin!’

Formed from members of After the Fact!, Undead Idols and Remedy X, is the Bargain Bin Heroes!  This Florida-based 5 piece have dropped a new self-titled EP.  Let’s check it out…

 

  1. “Scattered”- With punchy horns and classic ska-guitar riffs, “Scattered” is a fun, fun song that will get you off your seat for sure! Grade: B

 

  1. “Get Off My Lawn”- A bit more aggressive than the opening track, “Get Off My Lawn” still lets the horn section shine through. The “Oh-Oh’s” in the background are reminiscent of old Less Than Jake( think Pezcore and Losing Streak).  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Miles Ahead”- I’m really digging the vocal harmonization in this classic pop-punk number.  If the Proclaimers did ska-punk, this is what it would sound like.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Full House”- The Bargain Bin Heroes have laid down a scorcher with this next track.  There is a perfect blend of punk and pop elements to create one hell of a song.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Walking Away”- Musically speaking, “Walking Away” is an upbeat, danceable number, much in the vain of “Scattered.”  This song seems a little bit more polished on the vocal side of things.  Great song!  Grade: A-

 

  1. “My Day”- The horn section takes center stage in this closing track. Despite being all over the place musically and a bit disjointed at times, this is still a pretty solid number. Style-wise,  “My Day” reminds me a lot of the A-Oks.  Grade: B+

 

While my taste for ska has certainly blossomed to many different styles of the genre, I still enjoy the bands that play the ska-punk variety that got me hooked in the first place. Thus, I am very excited to have discovered the Bargain Bin Heroes and their debut EP.  While there is nothing here that will redefine the genre of ska-punk, this band sticks to what works for them.  This pays off in a big way as there are no slouches or “filler-songs” on this album.  Also, there is enough variety here that will keep listeners happy for many o’ listens.  Great guitar and horn parts are found on every single song that will surely keep you skankin’ all night.  Vocally, they seem to finish stronger than they started as the latter 3 songs seem a bit more polished than the first three.  Overall, I enjoyed every song and I am confident you will as well. If you are a fan of the Taj Motel Trio, Survey Says  and Behind Deadlines that give these guys a listen as well.   Great stuff!

 

Overall Grade: B+

 

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