Billy + Joe is comprised of Smoke or Fire singer/guitarist Joe McMahon and Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Billy the Kid. The recently formed duo began 2012 by covering one song per day for the month of January. They created both a Facebook and a YouTube page to document their work, and have since covered songs from bands such as: The Descendents, Rancid, Jawbreaker, Face to Face, Hot Water Music, Samiam and more. The pair has also written some original material and played a few shows, and plans to continue doing so in the future. Take a look at one of their videos above, a cover of Billy Bragg’s “To Have and To Have Not.”
Asian Man Records – Release Date: 2/14/12
Classics of Love started in 2008 and is of course fronted by former Operation Ivy vocalist Jesse Michaels. The band’s lineup is rounded out by the members of a group called Hard Girls and this debut full-length is their first release since a 2009 EP called Walking in Shadows. What’s evident after only a few listens of the new album is how much Classics of Love has developed over the last three years. The music and lyrics flow together seamlessly, showcasing four individuals that have grown quite adept at playing together. There’s also a definite and genuine sense of urgency found throughout the record, which is something that simply can’t be manufactured. It’s reminiscent of one of the characteristics that made Operation Ivy so great, but make no mistake, Classics of Love is indeed a unique band with its own distinct sound. Their influences include ‘80s West Coast hardcore, ska/punk and frenzied, fast-paced rock, but perhaps most impressive is the band’s ability to frame these various genres into one cohesive style. The production, courtesy of Jack Shirley, is raw and energy-packed, and really complements the songs. The lyrics speak of disenchantment, corruption of power and an opposition to various injustices, all of which are things that most can likely relate to nowadays. By all accounts, Classics of Love has made a comprehensive and highly impressive introductory album. Its songs are passionate and to the point, and in the best possible way, they leave the listener wanting more. Check out one of them below, called “Dissolve.”
Cassette Deck Media – Release Date: 10/21/11
When bands do split records it always comes off as a bit of a competition. Despite the fact that we know the bands involved are probably all friends, it’s still fun to see them go head to head, three songs each, no holds barred. Here we have two apparently worthy Chicago bands, a funny cover concept, (The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds take off) and some pretty, mixed grey vinyl. But, you might ask, who wins? The Sky We Scrape starts the whole thing out with “Southern Hospitality”, a mid-tempo grinder in the vein of Iron Chic or Hot Water Music. Catchy, sing-along chorus; I like it. Nice, clear, but not over-produced production too, (courtesy of Corey Wills at The Bunker). Second and third songs “Albatross” and “Fatima” add some heaviness and more intricate guitar work to the mix, but still remain catchy as hell. All in all, three very solid songs. Hawkbit, (is that a Watership Down reference?) kicks off side two with “Working in the Dungeon for the Light”, a ragged, Lawrence Arms-esque shouter with some nice bass playing. “MLK” adds some dissonance to the gang vocals, making for a more distinctive sound. In “No Folk Lies”, it seems Hawkbit saved the best for last. Kind of a Planes Mistaken For Stars/Iron Chic hybrid, catchy and driving, good stuff. So, you’re probably asking, who won, Marc? I dunno, why don’t you listen to both of the damn bands for yourself and decide? What do you think this is, The Voice?
– Marc Ruvolo
Eastland Disaster is a new Chicago band that features singer/guitarist Dan Knapik, (Textbook, Venom Lords) singer/bassist Gina Knapik, (Venom Lords) and drummer James Farn, (Kamikaze Eyes, Duress). They’re playing this Friday, January 13th at Beat Kitchen, along with About the Mess, The Heat Tape and Dan Vapid & The Cheats. The show starts at 8:30 PM, costs $10 and is 17+. Last summer, Eastland Disaster recorded several songs with Matt Allison at Atlas Studios, some of which will appear later this year on a seven-inch for Underground Communiqué Records. Check out one of the band’s songs below, called “Still Not Over You.”