Nevermind The Posers

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Alkaline Trio : My Shame is True May 5, 2013

Filed under: CD Reviews — NVMP @ 10:51 PM
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An Album Review by Alexander ‘Stigz’ Castiglione

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The 2013 release My Shame Is True by Chicago triad Alkaline Trio has nothing to be ashamed of.  Delivering a taste of days past; steeped in bitter emotion and new-age angst, this release gives die-hard Alkaline fans the flavor of the kick ass albums of yesteryear.

Frankly this album is broken up into only two categories tracks I like, and track I love.  Bringing back the upbeat yet aggressive pseudo-punk sound that I fell in love with many moons ago, this EP opens up with a foot-tapping, head bopping track, “She Lied to the FBI.”  From that point on in, I rarely found myself eyeballing the skip track button, and really started to get into the album when I heard “Kiss You to Death,” a song reminiscent of some of my favorite classics – “This Could Be Love” and “Private Eye” : Vaguely romantic and slightly disturbing lyrically, driving and warming melodically.

From there I got to a collaboration I really was looking forward to on “I, Pessimist” – a collabo with counter-culture-centric, post-punk front man Tim McIlrath of Rise Against.  However, I do wish it was longer than two minutes and change, as their call-and-answer vocal tactics and aggressive riffs I hoped would’ve ran out for longer.  From there is has some pretty solid tracks, closing with one of the best of the album, in my opinion – “Pocket Knife.”  This jam echoes the sound of albums past, namely Maybe I’ll Catch Fire with hints of Crimson.

All in all, their best release in years – which isn’t saying much if you gave a listen to Agony & Irony – not their best release by any stretch – and Damnesia ­– which only had a couple originals and was comprised mostly of re-cuts of old hits; making it a not-quite greatest hits album.  Regardless, if you grew up on staples like Goddamit and Maybe I’ll Catch Fire – I’d say go scoop up this release ASAP.  Is it the same vibe as earlier work?  Somewhat, but all acts mature, some in ways we like, and some we don’t.  One noteworthy “evolution” if you will, is bringing God into their lyrics.  Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night, I say, but this writer hopes we don’t go off the Jesus freak deep end and release an album like Brand New’s The God and The Devil are Raging Inside of Me.

That being said, the album is taking steps back into the right direction – that is the road which hooked thousands of fans like me with their simplistic song structure, introspective and damaged lyrics, and unpolished yet oh-so-catchy hooks.  Check it out, nonetheless.

 

A Walk Through Warped Tour- 7/18/10 @ Monmouth Park Racetrack August 13, 2010

Review by TNT

Bands I saw: AM Taxi, Face to Face, Left Alone, Anarbor, The Sparring, The Casualties, All American Rejects, Sum 41, The Mighty Regis, and Alkaline Trio
Bands I wish I saw: Reel Big Fish, Andrew W.K., The Flatliners, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Middle Finger Salute, and Riverboat Gamblers

It doesn’t feel like summer until the Vans Warped Tour rolls into town.  I’ve gone consecutively since 2003 and before I journey to the tour, I’m always convinced it’s Christmas morning.  Well, at least that’s what it feels like to me.  I describe it as one of the most exciting feelings in the world…knowing you’re going to see a festival that lasts all day with some of the greatest punk and rock n’ roll bands around (from legends to up and coming artists), knowing that you’re going to discover loads of new music, and meet some cool people who actually enjoy the same music as you.  Now, I know there has been an increase in posers at the Warped Tour, but if you think about it like that, you’re not going to experience the same overwhelming excitement-filled feeling.  There are posers everywhere, let’s face the fact that there isn’t much we can do about it other than try to set them on the right path (and perhaps introduce them to this website).

I’d also like to note that Kevin Lyman, creator of the Warped Tour, does not pick the bands based on what YOU listen to.  When you create your own US/Canada tour, you can choose whoever you want to play.  If the bands were the same every single year or there was a limited variety of genres or if unsigned bands weren’t given a chance, I think it would get pretty boring and repetitive.  I also understand that if he didn’t go somewhat of the corporate route (mainly finding such huge sponsors in addition to Vans), this tour would not be able to go so far.  If you have beef with the tour because you think it “went corporate” or “sold out” then you obviously don’t know how expensive it is to financially support a tour of this size.  I would also like to thank Lyman for keeping the price of a ticket as low as possible and getting the tour to think and act green.

With all that being said, I did have a couple of gripes with the tour this year.  First of all, the NJ/NY dates were gypped out of seeing practically all the worth-while headliners: Anti-Flag, Big D and the Kid’s Table, The Dickies, Dropkick Murphys, Everclear, Street Sweeper Social Club, Streetlight Manifesto (they’re from NJ!) and The Bouncing Souls (also from the NJ/NYC area) were NOT in attendance.  What the fuck?  Without these acts, I feel like our ticket prices should have been cut in half.  Big freakin’ whoop; All American Rejects and Sum 41 don’t even compare to the bands I just listed.  I’m hoping some of them have upcoming concerts in the area, at least that would justify why they skipped NJ.  Secondly, due to an immense amount of traffic (half was from tour congestion and the other half was shore traffic), I was unable to see two of the greatest acts to play the NJ date.  Andrew W.K. and Reel Big Fish were the first acts to play.  I know I’m the only one to blame for this, since the acts are randomly picked for time slots on said day throughout the tour, but it still grinds my gears.  At least we snagged an interview with Andrew W.K. (will be posted soon).

Trying not to let the NJ line up bother me, my hungry ears and I were on the hunt for some new music.  The first band I stumbled upon was AM Taxi, a punk rock band from Chicago.  Let me explain filing AM Taxi under the punk rock category…they have both elements, in their natural form.  Punk lyrics are noted with simple chords and the guitar riffs are pure rock n’ roll, with driving drums beats that bring it all together.  There is also somewhat of a modern pop hook here, an edge that pulls you in.  I was impressed, especially with their lyrics and energy.  “The Mistake” is extremely well written with lyrics that stun you, (much like Brand New did for me back in the day) and the keys really bring this song together.  It’s hard to say punk music has a heart, but AM Taxi does, their music just hits home.  Right after their set, I made a personal note to pick up their latest album We Don’t Stand A Chance.

Coming back from an ever-changing line up and a long hiatus, Face to Face was the next band I sought out.  What a performance!  It’s been way too long and I was so excited to see them play.  I file Face to Face as one of the original Warped Tour bands, also included are Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, NOFX, and The Casualties.  Face to Face is fucking back and they’re releasing a new album this fall entitled Laugh Now, Laugh Later.  It was great to hear them play again and I pray they’re on the tour in 2011.  SoCal punk rock (F2F since 1991) will never die.

Left Alone was up next.  They remind me of Rancid so much; people look at me like I’m crazy when I say this, but that’s what I hear!  I guess Tim Armstrong and I have similar ears because after hearing Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts in 2004, he signed this band to his label, Hellcat Records.  Straight up, Left Alone is fast punk music with three chords and ska influences.  “Out of Tune Melody” made for a perfect circle pit.  I think I relate with Left Alone so well because they are a true DIY band.  Frontman Elvis Cortez started off as a roadie on the 2003 Warped Tour and when Lyman heard some music from the band, he appointed the band as the official Warped Tour BBQ band in 2004 and 2005.  I’m happy to see their hard work has paid off, as they officially played the tour this year.  See?  Sometimes all you need is good music and the rest will follow.

After Left Alone, I decided to check out what the hype was about with the band Anarbor.  Until today, I never gave the band a fair chance, but I’m glad I caught some songs.  I loved “You and I”; I feel that majority of pop rock bands would make this way more whiny and annoying.  Kudos.  I loved the lyrics in “Always Dirty, Never Clean” – ‘I’ve got bruises on my hands and knees/And a list of failures in between/Always dirty, I am never clean/Music is what you hear, and not what you see.’  When I get older and start doing needle-points and other old lady shit, I’m going to stitch this on a pillow.  “Gypsy Woman” has a great beat that makes it hard to stand still, but its not my favorite song.  I just hear Cage the Elephant and nothing else.  Anarbor released their first full length album on Hopeless records, 4/20/2010.

As I was getting read for Warped Tour this year, pre-listening to the bands, I came across The Sparring (Old Shoe Records) and knew they could not be missed.  Lead singer Joel Bourne cleared a space for himself to perform in front of the stage, stopping festival goers to stay for some music and pouring Monster Energy Drink on fans waiting in line for some meet n’ greet.  He stated that you can’t enjoy live music if you’re waiting in line for an autograph.  I say right on brother!  Borne had much to say, screaming his sarcastic punk lyrics.  This trio is powerful and I predict a solid future for them in the DIY punk rock community.  I recommend catching a live show soon.  Fair warning, the pit will be dangerous so be sure to bring it!

Being crunched for time, I was only able to catch one song from The Casualties.  Watching from the side of the stage, I felt like I was experiencing The Casualties (and the tour) for the first time all over again.

All American Rejects and Sum 41 performances left me with one question: Why?  I love the singles by All American Rejects, but never listened to the rest of their music.  Their big hits were of course covered; “Dirty Little Secrets,” “Swing, Swing,” and “Gives You Hell” were all played.  It was a good performance, but I felt like the members were distant, didn’t feel a connection.  It wasn’t an absent of energy, that was there, it just felt a little forced.  Perhaps the weight of touring has gotten the best of them on this particular date.  Lead Singer Tyson Ritter was promoting the campaign “Don’t Hate on Haiti”, spray painted on his white suit, with a clear mission statement being that if you forget about this disaster, its hatred.  He stated that he was touring to help raise money to build clean water wells for the people of Haiti.  Very noble.

With Sum 41, it felt like they were trying to relive their glory days with hits like “Fat Lip,” “All To Blame” and “The Hell Song”.  Their latest album, All the Good Shit: 14 Solid Gold Hits 2000-2008, was released in November 2008 and rumors of a new album in 2011 are buzzing around too.  Honestly, I miss Dave Baksh.  He brought a heavier punk sound to the group with his guitar style and it is missed.  I was less than thrilled with Sum 41.  I do wish Deryck Whibley a speedy recover though.  In Japan, where the band was set to play the Summer Sonic Rock Festival, Whibley was attacked on 8/6/10 in a bar by three men (and police) and aggravated a slipped disk injury in his back from 2007.

I wanted to like The Mighty Regis, but I just couldn’t.  They had a great performance, but for me it felt too much like they were impersonating Flogging Molly.  Both bands have seven members (6 male, 1 female), play the same instruments, and are both Celtic punk rock bands from Los Angeles.  It’s similar to the great debate of The Grateful Dead vs. Phish.  I was never able to get into Phish because I’m a deadhead and never saw (or heard) the point of getting into practically the same band.

Finally!  It was time to check out Alkaline Trio!  What a stellar performance, as usual!  I was happy to hear “Armageddon” and “Private Eye”, as From Here to Infirmary is an all-time favorite album of mine.  Personally, I haven’t seen Alkaline Trio live in some time, so every song was amazing to me; tons of energy, guts and love.  Also, the crowd was huge.  On their speakers, they stenciled on “Free the WM3” and “WM3.org”.  I am so touched that bands today are still supporting the West Memphis Three but furious that they’re still in jail.  Please visit WM3.org to find out what you can do to support and free the WM3.

In final summation, here are my thoughts on the tour this year:  Although I missed the majority of the bands I was excited to see, I made the most of the day.  I understand that set times are randomly selected every day of the tour, but it still stinks that I missed out on a few great acts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  I discovered a lot of new music and look forward to checking out more music by said bands.  Nevermind the Posers has attended Vans Warped Tour since 2003 and we’re looking forward to the lineup in 2011.

Don’t forget, to check out the bands mentioned in this review simply click on their names; they are linked to their MySpace pages.

 

This Addiction Leaves Alkaline Fans Fiending for the Past April 27, 2010

Filed under: CD Reviews — NVMP @ 1:49 AM
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By Alexander “Stigz” Castiglione

The 2010 release of This Addiction by Alkaline Trio will not have you hooked.  It will not have you fiending.  It will not have you tweaked out and hitting the repeat button like a lab rat on speed.  And no, it won’t have you tearing out your hair looking for it when you misplace it.

As a massive fan of their earlier work, having to say this…hurts me.

Any true Alkaline fan will tell you that despite this three-piece ensemble usually using the same chords and progressions, they still manage to come up with hauntingly simple tracks with the most poetically disturbing (and often relatable) lyrics.  But with This Addiction…they better find something else to hook us, because the dosage on this album is weak.

Don’t get me wrong though, if you are a lyrically based music fan, you’ll love this album.  Flipping through the liner notes and reading the lyrics, I was super-stoked to put this CD on and rock out.  Then I hit play, and it was downhill from there.

In their previous release, Agony and Irony, they started to get more lyrical and not the unpolished, grimy, almost spoken word meter they had to their earlier work.  Either they hooked up with a vocal coach, or they just worked on their vocals more because a more sing-song type style emerged in this album.  There are a few songs on Agony and Irony that I love, and the CD is pretty damn good now that I think about it.  The true judgment of an album is the question:  “do I ever need to hit ‘next track’ because I can’t stand a song?”  If the answer is no, the album is good.  If you hit “repeat all” the album is great.  And if you burn out buttons on your I-pod, the album is amazing.   However, there are only two or three songs on This Addiction I really enjoy.  The rest I simply tolerate.

“Dorothy” and “American Scream” are about as close as you’re going to get on this album if you vibe with me and love their earlier work.  If you love the classic tracks I do, like “Private Eye,” “Armageddon,” “Radio,” “Stupid Kid,” ”Cooking Wine,” or “Queen of Pain,” this album will royally piss you off.  Consider yourself warned.

I’ll say it again: I love this band.  They are in my Top 5, and it depresses me to have to say this.

But I have to.  If you’re reading this, I got to be honest with you:  Some songs on this release  confused me as a listener and slightly agitated as a fan.  Songs like “Dine, Dine My Darling” make no sense given their earlier work and “Off the Map” is way too catchy in a bad and commercialized way; this scares the shit out of me.  Alkaline Trio was always one of those rare musical gems that few people knew about, and the ones that did were rabid fans.

From a lyrical sense, strictly the words they use, this album is in line with their previous work: Absolute poetry for a disillusioned and distracted generation.  But the delivery and chord progressions and overall composition leaves a devout fan wanting more old and less new.  This Addiction will not have you strung out in any sense, and if anything will make you want to drink and try to figure out “What the fuck were they thinking.”

Two months later, I’m still on the fence about some tracks.  “Eating Me Alive,” has classic elements that I totally dig, but there are some symphonic, lush, orchestral elements that confuse my ears.  “This Addiction,” the title track, also rubs me the wrong way.  It sounds like Alkaline Trio, but it doesn’t sound like Alkaline Trio.  Excuse the tautology, but it’s the best way to describe it.  There are several points on this album that evoke that same emotion.  It’s like listening to one of my favorite bands in an alternate universe that is worryingly different yet strikingly the same.

In short, if you’ve loved Alkaline Trio way before Agony and Irony, I’d bet you wouldn’t dig this.  If you’re not too familiar with them, check it out-you may like it.  I’d recommend tracks that I mentioned like “American Scream” or “Dorothy,” if you like things a little edgier.  If you like something catchy and moderately upbeat check out “Off The Map.”

And if by the off-chance Matt Skiba or anybody else in Alkaline Trio is reading this: Please, please, please – can we get back to how you sounded on Remains, Crimson, and Good Mourning? Or dare I ask put us back in the hospital with an album like From Here to Infirmary or Maybe I’ll Catch Fire?  I’ll settle for covers that kick ass; like the bands take on Berlin’s “The Metro” or “Bye, Bye Love.”  Can we get more songs like “Warbrain” and “This Could Be Love?”  Can you rock out like “Donner Party (all night long)” or “Tuck Me In” for the love of all things holy?  Can you rebroadcast jams like “Radio”?  And all I want for Christmas is more tunes like “We’ve Had Enough” that I can use as a soundtrack for heavy drinking.  Please.