Backyard Superheroes – Let’s Get Dangerous

Before I begin I want to give some back story on this one. The ska scene (like many other scenes in the world) is a small place. Pretty much everybody knows everybody else. Since I’m dating a ska musician, it means that at least half the ska reviews I do are people I’m friends with or are on friendly terms with. So yeah, I’m a little biased. I was specifically told to give constructive criticism on this one though, and that’s what I’m gonna try my best to do here.

BackyardSuperheroes

First thought with the intro (other than how much I love when bands do intros) is how it gives the album a big feel, like the band is getting a big introduction before they go play the hugest stage ever. When you think about it, that’s what happens when you put your music out into the universe these days. You are essentially jumping on a stage that the whole world can see, especially with the Internet as your major distribution platform. It makes me happy that these guys might not be headlining a stadium, but it definitely sounds like they put everything into the music they’re delivering to your eardrums.

Second thought, as I continue listening, is how tight everything sounds. The horns are ON POINT and all the songs seem to flow into each other really well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, folks: I love it when people make full albums and not just a bunch of songs that can be listened to on shuffle. I know that’s how a lot of people listen to music now, but I still like putting on an album and listening from start to finish. It makes me happy to see a band take the time to really think about song placement and how the album as a whole is going to flow.

I know a said I was going to try to give constructive criticism, but my only complaint is that the album is too short at 17 minutes long and flies by. I want more music! Still, this definitely got me pumped and made me want to go to one of their shows soon. If you feel the same way, you’re in luck! These guys are going on tour. You can find a complete list of tour dates on their Facebook page as well as ticket links to all the shows. And if you just want to listen to their music from the comfort of your own home (including this album) then Bandcamp is the place for you.

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Baked Potatoes Review

What I’m about to review I’ve been meaning to post for awhile now but things got so busy and other things got written due to urgency of how soon they had to go up and before I knew it I was apologizing to a really cool band that I hadn’t gotten around to their tiny little 4-song EP. In general I haven’t posted anything in two months, and I’m super bummed about that fact. In addition to this post, I also am tempted to do a Flash season finale thing but I’m also still wrapping my brain around that one. Maybe next week I’ll do a “best of” for all the finales of the shows I’ve been following. In the meantime, here’s a little review of a band called “Baked Potatoes” that found me through a Facebook group I’m part of called “Touring Ska Bands”. It’s something a friend of mine started that has grown to become quite useful for help with booking tours and crowd-sourcing and such. Anyway, enough chatter, let’s review this bad boy.

baked potatoes album coverImmediately upon starting my listen of this EP, titled “Waiting for the Weekend,” I was actually kind of glad I waited till now to listen to it. This is because the feel of the music makes me think of the beach and summer weekends in the sand, which is something we can look forward to now that summer is slowly starting to creep around the corner. There’s a very chill yet simultaneously upbeat vibe that is never better executed than with a solid reggae band. If only it were actually long enough to last for a longer portion of your beach trip, but I’m sure with enough support from viewers like you, we can get more tunes out of these guys to last through future summers and beyond. In the meantime you’ll just have to play these four songs on repeat, which I’m sure I will be doing over the course of the summer. And if my only complaint is that this EP left me wanting more, then I guess that’s a good problem to have.

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Pandemics + Pete Porker @ Characters

The Pandemics backed Pete Porker on a bunch of tunes back in January and in the final stages of me playing catch up, I finally uploaded all the videos to YouTube. Here they all are for easy consumption:

And here are photos from the show:

Your next chance to see The Pandemics will be playing with The Fad and a bunch of other cool bands at Hollis Woods Community Church this Saturday, March 28th. Details of that can be found on Facebook (of course).

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Jukebox the Ghost

A lot of great things have happened to my guys at Jukebox the Ghost in recent months, and I haven’t had time to mention any of it here. For shame! Let’s take a look:

They released a new album, went on a big tour, played on Conan (!!!), and released a new cover song with their tour mates Secret Someones. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff!

The big miss for me was not reviewing the album. It was released around CMJ crazy times, so I was super busy, then burnt out, then just lost track of time. I’m going by the motto, “better late than never” though because it was too good to ignore.

I feel like there was a lot more buzz with this self-titled album than past releases, which just goes to show that the universe is starting to notice what I realized the day I first saw them: that this band is something special. I honest to goodness cannot think of a single song that I do not like of theirs, and that continues to hold true with this new release.

The album starts with “Sound Of A Broken Heart,” an upbeat, dance-y tune right up their alley. Another great jam to get stuck in my head. Whatever will I do? My head may explode from all the songs stuck in it, but I seem to be doing ok so far, so let’s keep pushing on.

The album continues with about 35 minutes of pure happiness. It’s rare I don’t have at least a tiny criticism, one little thing I didn’t like, but I just can’t think of one here. The writing and music and general attitude of the whole album is superb. And with lots of catchy hooks to get stuck in my brain, I’m sure it will be added to the list of albums I play on repeat.

Not sure what else there is to say except tell you to go snatch this one up if you haven’t already. Also, sorry to the boys for taking so long to review this beauty. I really love it though and am now incredibly bummed I had to miss the NYC date of your tour. It’s been very satisfying watching you grow as a band, and I look forward to continuing that journey with you for many more years to come.

I’ll end this massive lovefest for Jukebox the Ghost by giving you some behind-the-scenes video footage of the Conan appearance and new cover song. Hope you enjoy all the Jukebox-y goodness, and have a great weekend!

 

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Arkells – High Noon

From the very first moments of listening to Arkells new CD High Noon I was hooked. It’s been awhile since I had something new excite me, but these guys definitely grabbed my attention. Their album is full of energy to get you pumped. Whether you need some motivation to finish that project, have a long drive ahead of you, or just want to have a dance party in your living room, Arkells have got you covered with an album chock full of jams that will get you revved up and ready to face another day. I am not kidding you when I say that three songs into this album I was checking my calendar to see when my next chance to catch them live would be (it’s May 5th at Rockwood Music Hall).

Clearly I’m not the only ones excited about this band, since this past weekend they won Juno awards for Rock Album of the Year and Group of the Year. Good for them, because it’s rare I get to see a band like this get noticed in a meaningful way. Rock music in general usually has to take a back seat to the pop artists and other Top 40 celebs. Even when a rock band does get mainstream attention, you’ll see plenty of posts on social media asking “who the hell are these guys?” (Arcade Fire’s big win in 2011 comes to mind). I don’t know if we’re going to be seeing Arkells with a Grammy nod, but the Juno is a good start and I’m happy for them.

If you want to check the album out for yourself, you can do so at Amazon or iTunes. I’m also including a song off Soundcloud, which was my introduction to these guys and what made me want to review the album. I have a feeling it will invoke a similar reaction from you

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Arrow: The Offer

Yesterday I promised a review of the return of Arrow, and I always do my damnedest to keep my promises. While last night’s episode may not have blown me away like the return of The Flash did, it still made me smile enough to be worth a brief post. There are some spoilers in this one but not nearly as bad as my review of The Flash from yesterday (although based on previews for the next episode it looks like none of that awesome stuff will have happened because timey whimey, which will be simultaneously awesome and infuriating if that becomes true). Still, if you haven’t watched yet you might want to hold back on reading this until you do.

Last night’s episode of Arrow picks up where the last one left off: with Oliver being offered the honor of becoming the heir to Ra’s al Ghul and taking over the League of Assassins one day (which Nyssa finds out about and doesn’t like one bit). I love the relationship with Ra’s and his daughter, how badly she wants his approval and her constant struggle to balance that with the love she feels for the now late Sara Lance vs how much her father disapproved of that relationship).

Here is one difference with the returning episodes of Arrow vs The Flash: Where Flash started off like a typical episode and cranked things up at the end, Arrow had a strong opening and closing but the middle was just another Wednesday for our team. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the episode and the middle part of the story made the ending possible, but I definitely was looking for a more constantly tense episode than I got. I will say that I liked the fact they had Arrow consider Ra’s al Ghul’s offer throughout the episode and made Oliver question why he still does the hero thing. I assumed after his struggles he would accept the offer and live to regret it, but instead they’re going to make him deal with the consequences of denying Ra’s something he wants. I doubt many people can get away with that without some consequences. I assume the rest of the season (or at least a good part of it) will be about Ra’s convincing Oliver to reconsider his decision until he finally relents. Oliver thinks he’s lost a lot in his journey as Arrow, but I have a bad feeling he’s going to see how much he has left to lose still. We’ll just have to wait and see…

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The Flash Blasts Back

The Flash returned to our tv viewing schedules last night, and boy did it come back with a bang.

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS POST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

 

 

At first last night’s episode was just like any other. You had the usual tension caused by Iris and Barry’s dynamic, plus the meta-human villain of the week. Except this villain has a personal beef with Det Joe West. While this fact alone causes added tension within the episode, things really get cranked up to 11 by the end. Within the last few minutes we get

  • Joe being captured and Iris being told “come alone or daddy dies”
  • Cisco finding out the truth about Dr Wells and being killed by his mentor and father figure
  • Iris confessing her love to Barry and the kiss we’ve been waiting for since episode 1
  • Iris finding out Barry is the Flash in a way that does not involve an awkward conversion or added cheesiness (I assume that comes later)
  • A giant wtf ending that will leave you wanting more

So to conclude: The Flash cranked things up to the next level with last night’s episode. Here’s hoping 1) they can continue with this momentum through the end of the season, and 2) Arrow brings a similarly badass opener for their return tonight. If they do, you will be hearing from me again about our other costumed star tomorrow.

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Murphy’s Law play last Trash Bar show TONIGHT!

Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!

I might not agree with the statement “Everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day,” but I can agree with the fact everyone can have fun at Trash Bar tonight. Well, everyone who can squeeze through the door will have fun, anyway. It’s Murphy’s Law at Trash Bar day! Since Trash Bar will be closing soon, this is the last one of these you’ll be able to go to, so get your butt out for a fun night of music. The lineup for tonight is pretty solid:

  • Murphy’s Law
  • CJ Ramone
  • World War IX
  • Inspecter 7
  • Wombat in Combat
  • Gangway

There’s also the usual open bar from 8-9pm. So show up early and party all night. And remember that while you’re having fun DON’T BE A DICK. Nobody likes a drunken asshole killing their buzz.

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The Interview: A review and commentary on digital media

I’m sure we all remember the big news surrounding “The Interview” and how it got pulled from theaters because of a terrorist threat. The movie was eventually given a digital release and is now currently available on Netflix Instant. I originally had no desire to see the movie. I was mildly curious but didn’t care enough to go to the theater or rent the DVD when it came out. Having instant access to it, however, I decided to give it a try. Worse case scenario the movie sucks and I turn it off if I get bored.

To say my expectations were low would be an understatement. True, Seth Rogen is funny enough, but the premise of the movie seemed so incredibly stupid I didn’t want to waste my time with it. I mean, I like movies that are stupid in a funny way, but that is not how the trailers presented this one to me. Boy was I surprised…

“The Interview” turned out to be a surprisingly funny and thoroughly enjoyable comedy experience. Yeah it’s about two guys trying to kill the North Korean leader, but there’s so much more to it than that. The character development was stronger than I would’ve imagined, and the actual jokes were honest to god funny.

I laughed.

A lot.

At this stupid movie that I had very low hopes of grabbing my attention or amusing me. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe sometimes you need to let go of expectations and see what happens.

Now, if “The Interview” had been given a more traditional release it might have done okay in theaters, but I doubt it would’ve done great. Plaster it all over the Internet though, and now you have something. I know the terrorist threats attached to it definitely gave them some buzz, and there are even some who believe this was all planned for just such a purpose. Regardless of what you believe, I think movies like this in general would do better if they skipped the theater and just got released online. With how expensive movies have gotten, it’s no surprise that people have started saving the trip to the theater for the big blockbusters. I know the last time I went was probably the last Thor movie to come out, and I don’t remember the last time I went for anything other than an action movie. It’s not that i don’t like comedies. I just usually save them for home viewing. Maybe I’m in the minority on this one but I definitely enjoyed being able to watch “The Interview” while it was still relevant and not two years later when it finally made it to the top of my Netflix queue. If more movies did it like this then I would be one happy movie consumer. I might not want to pay $15 to see a movie in theaters, but I’ll pay half that to watch it instantly at home. The experience of theater-going has changed. Why not change with it?

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Murder by O’Death @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Some background before I begin this one: I work at a music venue and have a musician boyfriend. This means that my entire life is spent getting paid to go to shows (oh no, my life is so hard!). Seriously though, it’s a blessing and a curse because since the above fact is true it means I rarely go to shows that I’m not working or my boyfriend is playing. Which is why this past Sunday was such a treat for me.

This was the first big show I went to in forever where I got to go back to being just a person going to a show. I remember walking into the room with the feeling of excitement at seeing two big acts and having no responsibilities other than to have a good time. The band started playing almost immediately after I arrived. I slowly weaved through the crowd towards the front of the room, where I found a friend of mine who was also attending that evening’s performance. I stayed firmly planted in that same spot up front for the entire night, only moving when Murder by Death’s crowd started to get slightly rambunctious up front and to my right. I was so engrossed in the performance that I barely noticed it happen. All of a sudden I was getting pushed to the left. I didn’t care; it was all in fun. It was all part of the experience.

And what an experience it was! O’Death I have seen before several times and they have never disappointed me. The first time was opening for one of my favorite bands of all time, The World/Inferno Friendship Society. I remember not knowing what to expect that night, and being absolutely in awe of them by the time their set was over. This time I was there mostly to see them, and barely knew any of Murder by Death’s music. Obviously I’ve listened to them before, but I’ve never been to see them live and had no idea what to expect. Despite not knowing all the words to the songs like what seemed true for the rest of the kids in the front, I still had a fantastic time. The band held a captivating performance, to the point where I had forgotten how long I had been standing and had fun trying to get my legs to move again at the end of the night. It was a great show, and I highly encourage you to catch them either during this tour or in the future. Bonus points if you can get both bands to play on the same bill again. Individually they are both great, but the pairing makes it even better.

Both bands are at Union Transfer tonight, which is a fun coincidence since I will be in Philly seeing World/Inferno. (I love it when life comes full circle like that). The rest of the dates are as follows:

  • March 7 – Black Cat – Washington DC
  • March 8 – Kings Barcade – Raleigh, NC
  • March 10 – The Orpheum – Tampa, FL
  • March 11 – The Social – Orlando, FL
  • March 12 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA
  • March 13 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
  • March 14 – The Bluebird – Bloomington, IN

All dates are with O’Death

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