Asian Man Records – Release Date: 6/10/16
Last month, Asian Man Records celebrated its 20th anniversary and also released a new compilation, titled Asian Man Music for Asian Man People Vol. 2. It features artists on the label’s roster covering other Asian Man bands, and primarily showcases up-and-coming acts. One of the first noteworthy tracks comes from Scotland’s Murderburgers and their cover of the AJJ tune “Self Esteem.” It’s a decidedly pop punk take on the song and is filled with hooks and well-placed backing vocals. If it’s any indication of what’s to come on their upcoming full-length, then fans should certainly be excited for the record’s release this fall. San Francisco’s Great Apes provide a blistering, lightning-fast interpretation of “Last Strike,” originally by Classics of Love. It emphasizes rawness and ferocity despite being precisely arranged, and is yet another example of how talented this seriously underrated band is. Chicago’s Dowsing delivers an inspired and distinctive take on the Alkaline Trio classic “San Francisco,” which is sure to remind old school fans of why they fell in love with the band in the first place. Laura Stevenson selected another renowned Chicago band to cover in Smoking Popes, contributing a compelling, stripped-down interpretation of their fan-favorite “Do Something.” Additional highlights include covers by Kevin Seconds, Modern Baseball, Jeff Rosenstock and Spraynard. This compilation is recommended for those wanting to relive some of their favorite Asian Man memories, as well as those looking to become familiar with several of the label’s emerging and talented bands.
In March of this year, Chicago’s Textbook collaborated with Paper + Plastick for the release of their album called On the B-Side. Containing 16 tracks in total, the record features songs from Textbook’s entire catalog and serves as a celebration of the band’s 15th anniversary. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Dave Lysien and bassist Rick Uncapher to discuss the album in detail. We talked about how they teamed with Paper + Plastick, as well as the distinctive format that the record’s available on. We also conversed about the band’s experiences touring the UK, some of their favorite memories from the last 15 years, future plans and more. Be sure to check out a video for the song “Just One of Those Things” after the interview. Continue Reading…
Next month, The Falcon is set to release its first album in nearly a decade. We met up with singer/guitarist Brendan Kelly at the GMan Tavern to discuss the record in detail. We talked about the band’s new guitarist, Dave Hause, and how his contributions helped to shape the album’s sound. Original members Dan Andriano, (Alkaline Trio) and Neil Hennessy, (The Lawrence Arms) are of course still onboard for the ride. We also spoke about how the record was written, what it was like recording with Dan Tinkler at Atlas Studios and how the album’s cover came to be. Additionally, we conversed about the record’s dark lyrical content and how it mirrors the style of the music. Longtime fans will be eager to find the band exploring new sounds, but at the same time retaining the characteristics that they’re best known for. By all accounts, Gather Up The Chaps finds The Falcon sounding very much revitalized and ready for take-off. Continue Reading…
For its inaugural year in Douglas Park, Riot Fest continued to grow and expand, while still retaining its formula of legacy acts mixed with eclectic and emerging artists. Despite the change of location, Riot Fest felt right at home in its new digs, taking advantage of an open layout that made for easy navigation from one stage to another. There was a little rain and a fair amount of mud, but those that weren’t deterred by the elements were treated to a surplus of memorable sets from a genuinely diverse collection of bands. We recapped some of our favorite moments and observations from what was an eventful, action-packed weekend. Written by Jamie Ludwig, (JL) and Bill Denker, (BD). Photos by Katie Hovland.
Last month, the second full-length from Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room was released by Asian Man Records. Entitled Party Adjacent, the album is much more of a collaborative, full-band effort than the first Emergency Room record. We spoke with Dan about how he brought together this group of musicians and what it was like working with producer Jeff Rosenstock. We also talked about how this project compares to Dan’s principal gig as the singer/bassist for Alkaline Trio. Also discussed was the album’s writing and recording process, the meaning behind some of its songs, future touring plans and more. Continue Reading…
The Bigger Empty traces its origins back to 2007, when Mike Felumlee, (current/founding Smoking Popes drummer, former Alkaline Trio drummer) began playing solo shows. He called upon some friends to assist him in playing live, and after a few years of playing shows together they’d grown to become more of an actual band than a solo project. As of last year, they started calling themselves The Bigger Empty, with a lineup consisting of Felumlee on vocals/guitar, guitarist Jim Steinkraus, bassist Reuben Baird and drummer Kevin Baschen. When asked as to what inspired the band’s name, Felumlee said “We have a song called ‘The Bigger Empty’ about my dog that runs away quite frequently. It’s about him going out into the world and discovering that it’s really not that great out there and he’d rather be back home. We loved that song title, so we decided to use it as our name. The lyrics and title were written by our friend Brian Birkland. I team up with him a lot when I’m stumped on writing lyrics.”
This Saturday, 7/25, The Bigger Empty is playing Subterranean with Spitalfield and Daniel Wade. The show starts at 6:00 PM, is 17+ and costs $17. They’ll have copies of their debut EP available at the show, though it officially comes out on 8/08 via Artistic Integrity Records. The EP is called vs. The Cloud and was recorded at bassist Baird’s studio, Chicago Sound Lab. Check out a song from the record below, called “My Great Escape.”
Superball Music – Release Date: 6/02/15
For their second album, Matt Skiba and the Sekrets forgo the melodic punk influences that dominated their first record in favor of power pop and ‘80s synthesizers. And that makes sense, as their first effort was comprised of leftover song ideas from Alkaline Trio, (Skiba’s primary band). This time around, Skiba wrote specifically for the Sekrets, and once again enlisted bassist Hunter Burgan, (AFI) and drummer Jarrod Alexander, (My Chemical Romance). The result is a much more collaborative album that’s brought to life with great success by producer Rob Schnapf. The record kicks off with “Lonely and Kold,” a radio-ready song that evokes hints of The Cure and is propelled by a catchy guitar lead courtesy of Schnapf. Skiba’s voice sounds clear and confident as he sings about breaking old habits and moving on to better things, a theme that emerges several times throughout the album. “She Wolf” comes next and it’s a danceable, Bowie-like tune that’s loaded with keyboards, vocal effects and the masterful bass playing of Burgan. “Krashing” is another prominent entry and features a layered arrangement, creative drumming and a memorable, monster hook. The record concludes nicely with the vulnerable, piano-laced track “Never Believe” and the nostalgic, atmospheric charm of “Vienna.” KUTS is a cohesive, listenable album that’s both inspired and well-written. Longtime fans of Skiba’s work are sure to enjoy this, as are those interested in hearing him effectively experiment with synthesizer-driven rock.
Last month, Alkaline Trio drummer Derek Grant released his debut solo album via Red Scare Industries, called Breakdown. We caught up with Grant just before his recent show at Beat Kitchen to discuss the details of the record. We talked about what inspired him to start writing songs, the personal nature of his lyrics and the various musical influences found on the album. We also spoke about how Breakdown was recorded, the fact that Grant played all the instruments on the recording, his partnership with Red Scare and more. What’s apparent after listening to the LP is that Grant is not only an especially talented musician, but also an engaging lyricist who just began a very promising solo career. Continue Reading…
Fat Wreck Chords – Release Date: 10/29/13
Last year, No Use For A Name singer/guitarist Tony Sly passed away unexpectedly at the age of 41. No Use’s longtime label, Fat Wreck Chords, has responded by releasing this 26-track compilation, with proceeds benefitting Sly’s wife and two daughters. The resulting album features some of the biggest names in punk, with bands covering both NUFAN songs and music from Sly’s solo career. By all accounts, Sly was a truly gifted songwriter and this record does a phenomenal job of not only showcasing his talents, but also celebrating his life. Karina Denike, former Dance Hall Crashers singer, opens the album with a haunting, almost a cappella rendition of “Biggest Lie” that emphasizes Sly’s powerful lyrics. Strung Out provides a fast-paced, metallic version of No Use’s biggest hit, “Soulmate,” and it’s simply one of the best entries on the record. Conversely, Rise Against offers a stripped-down, acoustic take of “For Fiona,” which strikes an emotional chord when singer Tim McIlrath concludes the song by echoing Sly’s words of “I’m always here.” Bad Religion, NOFX and Lagwagon all contribute strong and sturdy covers, with the latter sounding particularly spirited. Snuff adds a reggae-tinged song, while Old Man Markley supplies some bluegrass influence, illustrating that Sly’s songwriting transcends genres. Frank Turner and The Gaslight Anthem also present quality interpretations, as do The Bouncing Souls, Teenage Bottlerocket and many additional artists on this compilation. In short, the album very much succeeds in honoring Sly’s memory. He was respected by an array of musicians and will always be remembered for being an especially talented lyricist. If you ever enjoyed any of Sly’s work, there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy this as well. Lastly, check out Alkaline Trio’s unique and chilling cover of “Straight from the Jacket” below.
On December 11th, Dead Ending will release its second EP, the aptly titled DE II. It was recorded at Million Yen Studios in Chicago, contains a total of five songs and will be available through Alternative Tentacles. The band’s lineup of course consists of singer Vic Bondi, (Articles of Faith) guitarist Jeff Dean, (The Bomb, Noise By Numbers, All Eyes West) bassist Joe Principe, (Rise Against) and drummer Derek Grant, (Alkaline Trio). We’re excited to present an exclusive stream of one of the EP’s songs, called “Ayn Rand Chicken Sandwich.” When asked about the song’s meaning, Bondi said “I was beside myself at the stupidity of the Chick-fil-A nonsense. As though the highest expression of your ‘moral values’ was to buy a chicken sandwich. But it’s always like that with that crowd, dumb on dumb, undergirded by crazed homophobic panic. So the song kind of wrote itself, in about five minutes.” Check out the song below and be sure to catch Dead Ending on the road in 2013.
Slapstick was one of the definitive ska/punk bands of the ‘90s. They were together from ’93 to ’96, and after disbanding its members went on to either play in or form bands such as; Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, The Honor System, Tuesday, The Broadways and more. They reunited briefly in ’97 for a pair of benefit shows, but didn’t perform again until the summer of 2011, when they headlined the opening night of Asian Man Records’ 15th Anniversary Festival in San Francisco. Last month, the band played Riot Fest in Chicago and we spoke with singer Brendan Kelly a week or so later. We discussed Slapstick’s recent reunions, their relationship with Asian Man, future plans and more. The band’s lineup is completed by guitarist Matt Stamps, bassist Dan Andriano, drummer Rob Kellenberger, trumpet player Dan Hanaway and trombone player Peter Anna.
Superball Music – Release Date: 5/08/12
Babylon marks the debut of Matt Skiba’s latest solo endeavor and the results are surprisingly positive. It’s definitely his best solo release yet and arguably the most memorable record he’s made in the last ten years. Also appearing on the album are AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander, both of whom do a skilled and dutiful job, but thankfully don’t get too flashy. This is imperative because they don’t overshadow what’s most important here, and that’s the exceptional songwriting. Babylon kicks off with of “Voices” and “All Fall Down”, which represent two of the record’s strongest tracks. Both are hyper-melodic and very much in the vein of Alkaline Trio’s From Here to Infirmary. They feature inspired lyrics and a renewed vocal strength from Skiba, and fortunately those characteristics are present throughout the album. “Haven’t You?” first appeared on Skiba’s 2010 full-length Demos, but here the heartfelt ballad is enhanced with the addition of keyboards and a rhythm section. Other high points include the haunting anthem that is “You” and the huge, infectious chorus of “How the Hell Did We Get Here?” Babylon concludes with a somber acoustic number called “Angel of Deaf”, and it ranks up there with Skiba’s best stripped-down closers, like “Sorry About That” and “Blue in the Face.” All in all, this is a catchy summertime record that doesn’t lose its appeal with repeated listens. Skiba’s voice sounds great and his writing is in top form, and hopefully that carries over to the next Trio album. Those searching for quality new music shouldn’t delay in checking this out.