Posts Tagged ‘review’

Review: Frank and Earnest – Modern Country

After a long hiatus between albums, Lansing pop punks Frank and Earnest are releasing their new album, Modern Country, with a release show on Saturday Sept. 6 featuring Able Baker Fox, Summerpunx and Braidedveins.

On record, Frank and Earnest is Ben Hassenger (guitar, vocals), Paul Wittmann (bass, vocals), Ryan Horky (drums) and Nick Pierce (guitar, vocals).

Here’s a review.

"Modern Country" cover, with artwork by Craig Horky.

With their brand of gritty, witty Descendents-esque pop punk, Frank and Earnest hit another home run. There might be a few straggling moments, but they pass the finish line with another great record.

“Paul 5″ is an energetic, bar-room-brawl of an opening track. With a country twang — the intro’s squealing notes, Wittmann’s natural drawl of a vocal and lyrics dwelling on missing an opportunity to meet a girl — the pumping drums, churning rhythm guitar and shouted backing vocals make this a fist-pumping stand out.

“Body Parts” feels a little clunky to me.  The quick, choppy dueling guitars and the solo toward the end feels a bit chaotic. Everything else in the song works just fine.

The lone song featuring Pierce on lead vocals, “This is Why I Don’t Party”, is one of the album’s couple standout tracks. Strummed electric guitar chords lay the backdrop while Pierce sings “…Spent all night staring at the ceiling, toss and turn the night away” and it immediately hooks you in. Then the rimshots on the snare come in and it gets better and better. The shout-along chorus — “I remember shaking, all throughout the night/I remember dizzy eyes and crooked sights” is great stuff. Its quick pace and high energy will make you sing along.

“Drink About It” is also a great track. High speed, ringing guitars, tom-tom heavy drums, excellent, hook-laden backing vocals and lyrics about drinking make this a nice track. Good stuff.

“Take the Back Road,” which is musically no different than many of the other tracks (loud guitars, pounding drums, energetic vocals), has something about it that gives it an extra energy. I’m not sure what it is. I guess the quick, driving acoustic intro hooks me in. It’s just a classic F&E track on par with “Mr. Holland’s Otis” or “Addictionary”. I love it.

The album’s last few tracks take the band in a few different directions.

“New Traditions” has a storytelling quality about it. Lots of lyrics, relatively quiet verses with chugging guitars and pounding tom-toms. “I examined the pages of those history books/every speck on the timeline, all the heroes and crooks/but I found a missing figure, a relic overlooked,” Hassenger sings, effortlessly pulling off the first of many wordy verses. The chorus is great with high energy instrumentation and backing vocals. Another catchy, anthemic singalong.

“Paul 6″ is the most country song on “Modern Country” complete with piano, slide guitar, acoustic guitar and topped off with Wittmann’s drawl played up for full effect. The song has a hopping drum beat, lyrics about not going to work — “Bossman calls to see if I’d go to work/Let me think about it/I don’t think so jerk,” and others about drinking are espoused. On one hand, it’s a bit gimmicky but on the other, it’s really genuine. A left turn but a neat and experimental one at that. Thumbs up.

Overall a good LP. Lots of anthemic choruses, loud guitars and just generally good punk rock. If you’re a fan of Descendents or The Gaslight Anthem-like punk rock, this will be right up your alley.

Check this out via their Bandcamp once its released on Saturday Sept. 6.

Review: Cheap Girls – “Famous Graves”

Cheap Girls are back with a new full-length album, Famous Graves, out today (Tuesday, May 13) on Xtra Mile Recordings. They also have a few tours this summer too: one with Andrew Jackson Jihad and another with The Hold Steady.

Here’s a review of their newest LP.

The Michigan band's new album is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

Recorded in Grand Rapids, Mich. and Chicago, Ill., the simple rock ‘n’ roll format the band — guitarist Adam Aymor, singer/bassist Ian Graham and drummer Ben Graham — adopted over three previous LPs is in full effect here. “Knock Me Over”, about Ian’s knee surgery a few years ago, immediately starts the toe-tapping with the tapping of a high hat and a lightly strummed, crunchy electric guitar. The interplay between a chimey, ringing guitar cushioned next to a crunchy, riff-driving one is neat. This provides a melody to hum along to while heads still bob along.

“Pure Hate,” recorded a few years ago for a split with New York’s Lemuria, reappears here. I loved the track the first time I heard it and I love it all over again here. Ben’s playing is driving yet smooth and great to air-drum to. Ian’s vocal of “I only want to stare you down” is a monster hook. Aymor’s guitar solo is simple and driven by the overall melody and chord progression. The palm-muted guitar ending is a great cap to a fantastic song, even if it’s already been recorded and released once.

Ian’s vocals — from being charmingly uncomfortable on their debut to being recorded in one take on Giant Orange — have become one of my favorite things about the band. Sure, I love a loud guitar and a pounding set of drums just as much as the next guy but the vocal melody and delivery are something the band and Ian don’t take for granted. As he sings “I’d do anything to lose the pain” on “Knock Me Over”, the sincerity and catchiness of his delivery is a subtle mark of how much he’s developed into his role as a singer. The same goes for “Man in Question”. He can take his voice from a middle register to a higher, more emotive one in an instant. The “Woah-ohs” in the bridge are excellent, too.

Again: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. In fact, they’re not only an accomplished, polished and working unit but are improving with each new LP they release.

REVIEW: The Swellers “The Light Under Closed Doors”

Flint’s The Swellers are back with a new LP, “The Light Under Closed Doors” (No Sleep Records) due out Tuesday Oct. 29.

The Swellers are: Nick Diener (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Diener (drums), Anto Boros (bass) and Ryan Collins (drums).

This is The Swellers’ strongest album to date, no doubt.

After multiple full-length albums and a few EPs in their decade-plus existence, the band has their instrumental style down pat by now with this 10-song LP. The guitars are loud, melodic and in-your-face (opener “Should” comes to mind). The bass is smooth and, along with the drums, bring a powerful, rhythmic and memorable one-two punch. Kicked into overdrive mode, the drums toward the end of “Designated Driver” give the song a final bright flash before burning out just a few seconds later. The melodies on this LP are super-catchy and a have pop sheen but not too glossy. Every song on this LP has some catchy hooks, some catchier than others.

Although the musicianship (topnotch as it is) is pretty standard for pop punk/rock, the band took a different approach to make themselves stand out.

The lyrical focus this time around pays off in spades as they’re the best the band has ever put on record.

Opener “Should” starts with a defeated mindset about a deteriorating relationship that ultimately comes to an end (“I gave up/I know things won’t get better” and “I went home/You won’t wait forever/I’ll go first/We shouldn’t be together”). Later on, though, the protagonist seems to come to terms with this and move on (“Now I see the light under closed doors/I’m better now”).

Diener’s lyrics are really relatable, understandable and, best of all, easy to sing (or shout) along to. Throughout the record, he’s done his best work at condensing his thoughts into as few words as possible while at the same time making them easy to sing along to. That’s quite a feat and an excellent one at that.

“Got Social” is a favorite for its lyrics too. Again, relatability is the reason why. “You’re blowin’ smoke in my face, again/I know you’ll never quit/You got social/and I don’t like it” he sings, with some clever wordplay. The literal use of blowing smoke (ie smoking at social gatherings, etc) and the idea of being social as a smokescreen to hide shortcomings (or something similar) is really shrewd. Well played, Mr. Diener. Also, the resentment toward someone else for acting social when the protagonist is not is interesting too.

More on the topic of social interaction (or lack thereof), “High/Low” tells the story of not being able to shake that uneasy always-awkward feeling, either by yourself or around others. “I’m locked in my room/and I’m not feeling human” and “Maybe in two hundred years time/things will finally feel right” Diener belts out.

Despite the ups and downs of daily life Diener sings about throughout the album with an assured confidence, there’s always an upside as album closer “Call It a Night” demonstrates. “Regress and rewind/Find the peace of mind/When it all comes to light/We can call it a night/But some of this will stay/When the feeling fades away/When it all comes to light/We can call it a night” are just some of the lyrics. There are even a couple references to their previous full-length “Good for Me”. Some of this anxiety Diener sings about on this LP might never go away as long as he’s alive (like he sings on “High/Low”) but making the best of situations (finding the light under closed doors) by making music, like Diener and co. choose to do, is a viable alternative.

In short, the lyrics here are some of the best, most relatable, precise and shout-worthy I’ve heard in a long time. Also, being a native of Michigan, how could I forget to talk about “Great Lakes State”. Glad the band is showing pride in its home state.

Go preorder the record or buy it when it comes out Tuesday Oct. 29 and go see them on tour all over the country this fall.

Review: Flint Eastwood “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” EP

Detroit band Flint Eastwood released their debut EP “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” on their Bandcamp page a few weeks ago.

Check out a review of the EP below.

The best way I can accurately describe Detroit rock-meets-dance band Flint Eastwood is the exact moment before the bullet inside of a gun, spinning furiously, leaves the barrel and just as the gun lets out its ferocious and loud bang. Flint Eastwood’s new EP, “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” (self-released) and their explosive, confrontational (in a more inviting way than shying away) live show both are that exact moment personified. Featuring live staples “Secretary” and “Shotgun”, the four song EP showcases the best of the band.

The drums courtesy of Mark Hartman, bring out their trademark balance of crushing rock and roll heaviness (especially the cymbal crashes on tracks like “Secretary”) with a dance hall swagger that is undeniable and driving. Everything else builds off of this foundation, like Clay Carnill’s omnipresent bass, sometimes pumping (like on “Can You Feel Me Now?”) and other times fluid but always holding down the fort.

The textures on the record are pretty neat. The lead guitar sounds, via Bryan Pope, ranges from wild Whammy pedal dips (“Secretary”) to punishing White Stripes-esque riffs, sometimes all within the same song. The intro to “Shotgun” is a perfect example of this, with almost Tom Morello-esque heaviness and texture all within the same moment. The synth samples like on “Billy the Kid” are the hook of the song, especially toward the end with the broken up bits. It all bleeds into your memory so quick.

Lyrics by singer and rhythm guitarist Jax Anderson range from empowerment like on “Secretary”: “Boy I ain’t your secretary/I don’t please no one but me/Boy I ain’t your female dog/So quit bitching” to old western stories of survival: “Like a spark in the night/he’ll find you/With the blink of an eye/he’ll catch you”. There are even a few nods to cool dudes like James Dean like on “Secretary”: “Boy you ain’t no James Dean/Quit playin’ too cool for me”.

This band has a ton going for it: enough live energy to fill 10 stadiums, a great visual look and scream-along lyrics that you can’t help but oblige to.

Catch them Thursday Sept. 5 with Robert DeLong and Ghost Beach. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event is all ages. Visit for more information.

Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean review

So, I saw Allison Weiss at Bled Fest on Saturday. I didn’t know much about her or her music but when I saw her set with her full band, they put on an infectious, memorable and catchy show. I had to find out more about this band, so her LP “Say What You Mean” (released on No Sleep Records on April 16) was added to my Bled Fest merch bag (along with Tigers Jaw, Into It. Over It. and Kittyhawk LPs).

After listening to Weiss’ album over and over again, I thought I’d do a review.

After Bled Fest, I did a little research about Weiss and her musical career. She’s been doing the acoustic singer-songwriter thing for a few years now, releasing song videos on Youtube. She’s put out a few EPs, records and even toured with Lou Reed’s backing band in Europe. So, she’s got some impressive work behind her already.

Some of the songs are catchier than others but they all have a memorable quality about them. Opening track “Making It Up” has the most infectious kick drum-snare beat that will make you dance. The synth line in the song hooks you in. It’s a monster and will get stuck in your head for days. The bass is smooth yet anchors the song even more. Her vocal hooks draw you in too. “Tell me that I’m making it up and I’ll leave you alone” she sings with a confrontational confidence.

“Nothing Left” has a huge chorus too that sinks in quickly. It’s got a indie-synth pop vibe. It, again, makes you want to dance. “When you’re next to me, you get what’s left of me” Weiss harmonizes alongside an acoustic guitar and punching bass drum. It makes you feel like there’s something bigger coming and there is: the harmonies on the chorus are amazing and the drums go into uber-dance mode. So awesome.

“How to Be Alone” has vibes similar to Atlanta, GA band The Wild. The guitar tones feel a bit similar, particularly the power chords. Maybe it’s a coincidence that The Wild are from Atlanta and Weiss went to school at the University of Georgia but the sounds just cross pollinate, I think.  The end of this song is so sad. Weiss sounds like she’s going to breakdown crying as the repeated refrain of “all the time”, complete with great harmonies, comes in. Gets me every time. Later tracks “Don’t Go” and “Hole In Your Heart” (which Weiss calls her “mean song”)  draws more on the indie rocking side of her set. On the former, more jangly guitars pop in during the chorus as light chugging during the verses keeps the electric guitar in check. This woman has an excellent ear for harmonies, as again, they creep into your head. On the latter, the guitars are quiet during the verses but they burst in the chorus and bridge. The fuzzed bass helps add to the rough-around-the-edges feel too.

“Wait for Me” is a lyrical standout. Drawing on a lush and fitting arrangement of weeping orchestral strings and acoustic guitar, she sings with her heart on her sleeve (as she does throughout the entire album). “I’m missing out on all the places I could go, the people I could know, the nights I’m not alone/We’ll never make it and it wasn’t meant to be/But I’ll wait if you wait for me” she sings during the chorus. The ending refrain of “bye, goodbye” is heart-wrenching, honest and full of emotional power.

“Say What You Mean” is another incredibly yet simultaneously sad and upbeat song. A driving acoustic guitar strum dictates the pulse of the song. The sparse electric guitar line and sputtering drums add to the song’s quirk. The chorus is another monster with an great guitar line and harmonies. This is a masterpiece; it takes all of the elements up to this point (loud, memorable instrumentation, bubbly harmonies and personal-as-hell lyrics) and lets it rip. Best line of the album: “Too young to give a f*** and too young not to care and I’m fine with having fun but this is just unfair”. Raw honesty.

Album closer “I’ll Be OK” shows despite all the despair of a break up and roller coaster emotions, things will be alright. With hints of spoken word, Weiss lays it all out there. “I’ve got my guitar and you’ve got your space/I’m stuck in this place/I kind of don’t mind it/I’m losing my mind/Put off what’s important if it’ll buy me some time/Time to get braver/Time to postpone every failure I can’t seem to disown/And I’m still alone”….and that’s just the first verse. The ending refrain of “I’ll Be OK”, complete with an almost trip hop feel and choral harmonies and synths is the perfect ending to this album. For Weiss, it seems, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s so resonate and bright you’ll definitely go back and listen to the album over and over again.

Next time, she is in Michigan (either by herself or with her full band) I will see her play.

Do yourself a favor and buy this album. You won’t regret it.

Cavalcade “Dear Entrails…” review

After almost two years of languishing in development hell after being recorded for release on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, Lansing’s Cavalcade have finally released their second studio album “Dear Entrails…” on their Bandcamp page.

Cavalcade, on this release, is: Zachary Warren (vocals), Cale Sauter (guitar), Craig Horky (bass, backing vocals), John Bruce (drums) and Brad Van Staveren (guitar).

Here’s a review of their long overdue sophomore LP.

An album about failure never sounded so successful in its vision. The self-described “weird metal” band have been combining disparate genres like avant, jazz, sludge, doom and even traditional instruments like tuba and saxophone since at least 2006 and here, after releasing their debut album a few years ago, finally show what their twisted vision is capable of.

“Agents of Bolivian”, with a backwards guitar effect in the intro, puts Cavalcade’s sound in an angular, skewed template. Guitar solos that could fit on a modern day thrash inspired-metal record clash with tuba and glockenspiel, although the latter is minimal while the overall tempo here is sludge and doom-inspired but maybe a little bit faster.

The album was mastered by Pig Destroyer and AxCx’s Scott Hull and the results fit the band’s sound perfectly. “Bury Sanders” pulls Warren’s vocals into the middle of the mix while guitar effects and pounding drums swirl around his raspy barks. “Cancer Fantasy”, one of my favorite tracks on the album, features guest vocals from The Break Ups’ Francesca Pierce, adding a beautiful, calming effect to the guitars and vocals, which are farther back in the mix. The drums here are fast, driving and fierce; they even have quiet a groove, showing groove metal’s influence here. You can probably dance to it if you wanted to. The mastering fares well, too, on “Untie These Vines” where acoustic guitars in the intro and distorted, white noise-layered guitars later on mix perfectly. Warren’s vocals later take on a spacey effect at points and the bass is punchy yet smooth. The guitar solo is loud and clear.

This band never shies away from horror movie and gore-inspired imagery and sounds. Instrumental “Poltergeists on Motorbikes” is no exception with a zombie groaning “I want your brains!” as sounds of a man being eaten alive by the zombie play before the encounter. The band also never shies away from sheer experimentation, as on “Big Sack of Tspiders” has the most danceable groove on the album. It’s fast, cathartic and even has hand claps, as guitar tones from previous songs make their way back here.

After a few more tracks of similar sounds, vocally and otherwise (“Walk Like a Magician” and “A Lifetime of Sick”), the experimentation takes a turn on the Russian-language titled “Призрак Захария”. With acoustic guitars, brooding synths with sounds recalling “Poltergeists on Motorbikes”, the second instrumental piece gives me the vision of wandering through a 13th century village in Transylvania at night (or something like that, and hey, that’s just me).

The latter third of the album really picks up in intensity and catharsis. “Michigan Winters” has pounding, fist-pumping power chord strikes with more power provided by a tuba in the chorus. That’s my favorite part of the track. “Bolivia Tremor Control” has some of the most powerful guitars on the album. They sound brutal and drenched in death metal fuzz and crunch. Bruce’s cymbal crashes sound bright and powerful and his bass drum kicks add a heavy weight to the song.

The album’s final two tracks showcase a lot of what the album has been about up to this point: bright instruments (bells, tubas, shimmering guitars, etc) and the contrasting, brutal vocals by Warren working together and sometimes clashing (but I think sometimes that’s their point). “A Jillion Years” has a cathartic chorus as Warren belts out the title of the song in only the way he can, then after the chorus, instrumentals take charge. Ringing guitars and bells close out the song to a sort of anti-catharsis.

“Cursing in Binary”, featuring Small Brown Bike’s Mike Reed during the chorus, pulls everything the album has achieved into one song. The guitars are the most powerful they’ve been so far, the drums are powerful and the bass is heavy. The chorus is drenched in layers of guitars as Reed’s yell of “This failure feels familiar” lays across Warren’s rasps of “Cursing in Binary”. The song ends with familiar brass instrumentation heard before and the backwards guitar heard at the beginning of the album.

I said earlier this album is about failure. The band stated in an interview with The Impact 88.9 FM a long time ago that this sentiment carried over the album. “Losing all desire. Losing, losing and losing some more” go some of the lines in “Bury Sanders”. Granted, a lot of Warren’s lyrics are hard to make out due to the rasps but from what I can pick out, there’s a lot of despair here. “What if those stories were right about me? What if those tales were as true as they seemed? What if I’m hating myself in a dream and what if it’s all a lie” Warren asks amid radio-like static coating his voice. “This Michigan winter chills me to the bone,” Warren screams on the track of the same name. The failure and despair culminates on “Cursing in Binary” with the already mentioned, and audible, audible chorus of “This failure feels familiar” by Reed.

Now that this album is out, it’s finally a contender for LMTV Album of the Year. If you’re a fan of sludge bands like Down, Eyehategod or Superjoint Ritual or even experimental bands like Mr. Bungle (or any of Mike Patton’s experimental projects), check this out.

The Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus announced for Commonground; Jahshua Smith – The Final Season review

The Avett Brothers have been announced for the Commonground Music Festival held in downtown Lansing this summer and Frontier Ruckus have been announced to open for them.

Be on the lookout for more performer announcements in the future.

In other news, Lansing hip hop artist Jahshua Smith has released a new album called The Final Season.

Check out a review here, via Central Michigan Life:

Lansing emcee and BLAT! Pack member Jahshua Smith (formerly JYoung the General) released his new album “The Final Season” last week, and with almost an hour-and-a-half musical journey, the listen is a bit long but well worth it.

With cameos from a who’s-who of Michigan artists from Joe Hertler (on lead track “Seven Year Itch”) to fellow BLAT! Pack members Philthy, The Amature, Yellowkake and Red Pill, the diversity shown in the featured artists is just as diverse as the production on the tracks themselves. “Seven Year Itch” features Hertler’s soulful crooning on the chorus, while “Carry On/The Ark” features Philthy’s lisp-laden flow.

Smith’s lyrics range from the political to the personal, with a party track thrown in here and there. On “Censored,” he raps about making it to college “but still had to wait for Uncle Sam to split the bill.”

It’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness, pointed diatribe with a bit of hope tied to it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.

“The Ghosts of Medgar Evers” is another political track drawing on the mindsets of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

“They take up 130 words to sum up a black life,” Smith raps over a synthesizer and snare beat.

Smith’s flow is confident and powerful. Able to draw upon personal experiences, he channels a pent-up anger on his political tracks, while his laid-back style comes through on “Butt/Don’t Hold Back,” with its soulful guitar lead and interchangeable sample of the word “butt” with “but” cleverly implemented. It’s a party track “for the ladies,” as he says in a skit before the track.

He also takes time to dissect love and relationships with songs such as “Lylah’s Song.”

Smith’s travels down a few different avenues with this record and can cater to different groups. Including a few different bonus tracks, the album is a bit too long to listen to at once. The singles are where this album shines, but listening to the entire album helps the listener learn more about Smith: his triumphs, struggles and life. Regardless of what you listen to, you should pick this up. It’s got a bit for everyone and has Michigan roots.


Language “Self-Titled” EP Review

Language is a new band from Lansing, MI, recently making their live debut (as well as releasing a self-titled EP) alongside The People’s Temple, Racket Ghost and Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts at Mac’s Bar.

Here’s a review of said EP.

On first listen, a few different things come to mind from the self-described “post-art-pop” band. Although I’m not really sure what their stated influences are, I can tell they have a love for ’60s style rock and roll (similar to Lansing band The People’s Temple). Bands I can think of off the top of my head that they share sonic qualities with include The Velvet Underground (for their steady, repetitive rock and rough tones), the Beach Boys (for their harmonies and a pieced together feel somewhere near a similar sound) and Joy Division (for the vocalist’s droning style that actually carries a lot of melody behind it). Sonic Youth comes to mind too.

With all of these varied influences converging at a new point with Language’s music, I can’t say it’s something that’s entirely new in the large scheme of things. For the Michigan music scene, it definitely is. It’s a refreshing sound that I could get used to. Maybe there are other bands beyond Language as well as The People’s Temple who are doing something like this but probably not as exciting or interesting.

A lot of the instrumentation is really cool. “Indian Giver” has a dance-New Wave beat to it. The last song on the EP, “Lake Effect”, has a guitar tone very similar to The People’s Temple song “Sons of Stone”. Kinship indeed. The rhythm section is solid and spot on. It really drives the songs and helps them reach new heights as they progress. The drum fill into the chorus on “Koch Party” pulls you in.

The opener, “Sault Marie”, reminds me of a Joy Division or Velvet Underground song fronted by a singer who is gargling mouthwash. I can’t really understand him (beyond clearly hearing the chorus). Maybe that’s some of its charm. The guitar tone is fluid and trance-like. Good stuff.

They definitely don’t forget how to craft a good pop song among an overall washy mix. Songs like “Sweet Randy” have an overall dreamy tone to them but you can still tell where the verse ends and the chorus begins. It never drifts off into something unintelligible. They know where the songs are supposed to go and end where they naturally should (even if it’s a little abrupt like on the opening track and a couple others too).

Check this band out when you get a chance. They’re a refreshing sound in mid-Michigan that shouldn’t be taken for granted.


Little American Champ “Nothing Forward, Nothing Backward” EP review

Lansing punk band Little American Champ released a new EP last week entitled “Nothing Forward, Nothing Backward”.

Here’s a review.

Courtesy of the Little American Champ Bandcamp page

Little American Champ is Jonny Janis (guitar/vocals), Alex Janis (bass/vocals) and Danny Petrilli (drums/percussion).

This three piece has a ringing resemblance to other bands (Lemuria, Against Me and The Riot Before come to mind) while holding true to their Midwest roots. Sometimes the lead vocals have a Tom Gabel-esque approach in their melodic shouting ways. I really like them but they’re not really original. Heard it a million times but that’s OK. I could say the same for the guitars, drums, bass…everything about this band is something I’ve heard before. Not a bad thing at all.

For some bands, they play a style other bands also play down to a tee but what matters with a band like Little American Champ is the amount of heart and soul they put into their music. When they play their songs, they play the hell out of them. They love what they do. That energy is apparent all over this four song EP.

On a song like “We’ve Been On a Roll Lately”, with its distorted, feedback-laden intro and powerchords aplenty, Jonny sings the chorus of “relax and repeat” as the powerchords follow his vocal lead. The breakdowns are melodic and have room to breath with a rotating drum pattern, leading to a breakdown then a build up of cymbal crashes and droning power chords. Good stuff from this three piece.

The rhythm section is extremely tight and concise. Not a note or drum hit is wasted. The bass doesn’t have the hardcore punch but it’s not wimpy either. I like this rhythm section. I like this whole group as a musical unit. Sometimes even with a three piece the members can drift off into their own worlds but here, they act as one toward their goal of playing the best they can as a unit. Again, not a note is wasted.

“What’s the Secret, Max?” has the Gabel-like vocals I hinted at earlier. Jonny sings “I don’t have anything to report” and later “thank fucking God that you stayed home”. Although, I will say, it is a bit hard to understand his voice. I hear the lyrics correctly here and there but not the whole way through (maybe it’s just me and maybe my hearing’s going downhill worse than I thought).

Everything about this four song EP is essential Midwest punk. Honest, blistering, quick. The whole thing lasts about 15 minutes. Go check it out and download it for free. Do that here.

Rants by Ryan Horky: “Self-Titled” by Edible Intention

Edible Intention: S/T
(Good Time Gang records/Silver Maple Kill records)

Ryan Horky comes back to LMTV with a review of Edible Intentions’ posthumous self-titled release. Check it out!

This is a posthumous release from a Lansing, MI band that was active from roughly 2007-2010. Once they got outta the practice space they were basically the house band for the Lansing art-space/all-ages show collective Basement 414. If you lived in Lansing at the time and were remotely plugged into the local punk scene you probably saw these guys a thousand times. I’m not sure they ever got outta town. They played a pretty intense mix of free-jazz informed Stooges wail and Minutemen anything-goes stomp. This album was recorded near the tail end of when they were active and sat on the shelf for a while until the all-around good folks at Good Time Gang Records decided to release it (and Lansing label Silver Maple Kill records pressing it up). I was pretty curious to hear this. As much fun as an Edible Intention show was, they could turn into a hot mess of noise pretty quickly. (Not an insult, by the way….) I wasn’t sure their sound could be translated to disc. Producer Tommy McCord did a great job of making them palatable without sacrificing the noise quotient. The vocals are definitely an acquired taste (and they’re mixed suitably low) but I dig ‘em anyhow. Even if you can’t take the caterwaulin’, the guitars are pretty raunchy in a Melvins/Nuggets kinda way and the songs are short and varied enough to hold your attention. The cover artwork totally reminds me of an early 90′s SST release. (You know, it looks sort of awesomely terrible.) I don’t think this CD would necessarily have the same impact on anybody who wasn’t around to catch ‘em in their prime, but it’s still well worth checking out if you’re into more adventurous (but still way rockin’) sounds.-

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