punk rock

VIDEO: Max the Axe – Oktoberfest Cheer (2021)

Today is the last day for Oktoberfest…but “Oktoberfest Cheer” goes on and on!

From the new EP Oktoberbest Cheer, written by Mike Koutis, here is the video for “Oktoberfest Cheer”.  Have a schnitzel on a bun and a frosty cold one, and get your copy at Encore Records in Kitchener, or by dropping us a line here.

  • Mike Koutis – guitar
  • Eric Litwiller – lead vocals
  • Mike Mitchell – bass
  • Dr. Dave Haslam – drums

 

  • Accordion by Catherine Thompson

 


Notes:  Since Eric deleted the only rehearsal footage of “Oktoberfest Cheer”, I was forced to use the video for “Randy” live at the Boathouse somewhat ham-fistedly.  However this works perfect with the punky off-the-rails nature of the song.  Speeding things up and slowing things down hides a multitude of sins in the edit, and the Keystone Cops flavour of the high-speed footage lends a comedic profile to the video.  Which is necessary for any song that contains lyrics like “don’t crush my smokes, don’t spill my beer.”

VIDEO: Max the Axe – “Pygmy Blowdart” – vertical video performance !

“Pygmy Blowdart” (2021 Koutis)

  • Mike Koutis – Guitar
  • Eric Litwiller – Lead Vocals
  • Mike Mitchell – Bass
  • Dr. Dave Haslam – Drums

From the brand new EP Oktoberfest Cheer.

VIDEO: Last Summer Weekend at the Lake 2021 / Max the Axe – “Pygmy Blowdart”

Now that the new Max the Axe EP, Oktoberfest Cheer, has been released, I am happy to present to you their new never-before-heard original “Pygmy Blowdart”.  Lead singer Eric Litwiller stressed to me (more than once) “I did not write the lyrics”.

Video footage was taken the last weekend of August, but held on to until I could use some fresh new Max music.  Check out “Pygmy Blowdart” and let Max and Meat know what you think of this new tune in the comments below!

 

Available at Encore Records.

REVIEW: Max the Axe – Oktoberfest Cheer (2021 EP)

MAX THE AXE – Oktoberfest Cheer (2021 EP)

Pandemics suck, but last year Max the Axe began working on a remedy.  Three new songs — one cover, two originals — and a new EP called Oktoberfest Cheer!  With this year’s Bavarian festival just around the corner, Max is ready to rock your beerhallen.  It’s the second release with the same lineup:  Mike Koutis (Max the Axe) – lead guitar, Eric Litwiller (Uncle Meat) – lead vocals, Mike Mitchell – lead bass and Dr. Dave Haslam — lead drums.  It’s a much more punk rock affair than the last album Status Electric.  Perhaps it’s even a concept record about intoxication!

Opening with the original “Pygmy Blow Dart”, Max sounds like Queens of the Stone Age jonesing for a smoke.  Litwiller is in full Homme mode with the groove of the Axe behind him.  “I think I’m going downtown, looking for some dope.”  Ah, the quaint pre-legalization setting!  By the end, the band is in a singalong, looking for some smoke.  “Round and round, and round and round…”  Hey guys…check the local dispensary!  There’s one on every corner now.  Great bass solo in the middle, right before Max rips on the six string.  Fans of the last album will love it.

The Black Flag cover “Thirsty and Miserable” is outstanding, full-on punkfied Max.  Definitely some influence from Lemmy’s version of “Thirsty and Miserable” too.  This track kicks and Litwiller sounds legit.  They could play it two or three times in a row and you wouldn’t get bored.

Finally the punk-inflected EP ends with the title track “Oktoberfest Cheer!”, a song destined to be a seasonal hit.  Feather in cap, beer on tap…October is here so raise up that beer!  You can picture the festhallen going mad for this October anthem.  This is the clear hit, frantic and haggard as it may be.  Adorned with festive accordion, it’s punk rock unlike any other.  You can play it year after year…or in August.  Don’t crush my smokes, don’t spill my beer!

The great thing about this EP is that it’s under 10 minutes in true punk fashion and perfect for repeat plays.

Kitchener knows.

5/5 stars

 

 

REVIEW: D.A.D. – No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims (1989)

“And when the night comes to the city I say…I’m sleeping my day away.” – D.A.D.

D.A.D. – No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims (1989 Warner)

There we were sitting in Bob Schipper’s basement after school on some Thursday in late 1989.  Suddenly Bob’s attention was caught by a music video. We always had our eyes open for unique guitars. Neither of us had ever seen a two string bass before. The neck was insanely thin. The song was called “Sleeping My Day Away”, and the band was D.A.D. — Disneyland After Dark. They already had two albums out in their native Denmark, but this was their first North American single.

It wasn’t just the bass. Even the song was unique. Anchored by a simple three-note lick played on a fat hollowbody guitar, the song had an edge we were unfamiliar with. The singer, Jesper Binzer, had a cool rasp. He wore a tie in the video and the bassist (Stig Pedersen) wore a medic’s helmet! Bob loved ’em. So did the music magazines. It’s a shame that didn’t translate into North American success.

When the bassist’s medic helmet erupted with fireworks during the guitar solo, I didn’t know what to think about D.A.D.  Were they serious?  Were they a joke?  I should have just listened to the music, but it wasn’t easy to find their album.

D.A.D.’s No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims is made up of 12 sparky rock tunes.  They range from 2:04 at the shortest to 4:36 at the longest.  If guessed that punk rock must be an influence, you would be correct.  No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims has that energy and sneer, crossed with the melodic sensibilities of classic hard rock.  Also a knack for a memorable lyric; not the easiest task when English is your second language.

“Jihad!  I’m gettin’ mad!  And there’s no fuel left for the pilgrims,” sings Jesper, somehow stretching the word “mad” into two syllables.  “Jihad” is an adrenaline-fueled blast, revealing the band’s punk rock roots.  But they slow it down to a strong beat on “Point of View”, a melodic bright spot with more of that catchy hollowbody echoing hooks.  “Rim of Hell” slows it down further, turning up the menace.  “They throw the best damn parties at the rim of hell,” goes the hook, and you’ll be ready to jump in by the end.

“ZCMI” brings AC/DC to the table, adding to the stew of influences.  Iggy is definitely in D.A.D.’s record collection too.  “Girl Nation” is another catchy highlight, with Jesper imagining an interstellar “female civilization”.   Elsewhere, the chorus “I win with a Siamese twin!” tells us where Jesper’s mind is.  It’s certainly a unique lyrical theme in music.   “Wild Talk” edges into Kiss territory; but it’s Kiss when Bob Kulick was secretly playing guitar!  Closing on “Ill Will”, thrash metal is the final genre to be conquered!

No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims contains no duds, and has nothing to skip.  Though “Sleeping My Day Away” is clearly the best song, it is among a very strong batch.  D.A.D. have that punk rock sense of humour that runs through the album.  A reckless, who-gives-a-shit attitude that hints this band will do anything so long as it’s fun to do.  It’s a great little album that didn’t particularly fit in with any of their peers coming out of Hollywood.

4.5/5 stars

Sunday Screening: “I Hate You” from Star Trek IV

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) is remembered for many things, all of them good.  People call it “the one with the whales”, but I call it “the funny one”.  It really was the closest they got to doing flat-out comedy.  (Don’t forget:  director Leonard Nimoy also directed the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby.)  As the second-best Trek (behind The Wrath of Khan), The Voyage Home was successful by utilising the old reliable time travel gimmick.

Sending the crew of the USS Enterprise HMS Bounty back in time to 1986 set up numerous fish-out-of-water sequences.  One of the funniest involved Spock and Kirk on a bus, annoyed by a punk rocker playing a song called “I Hate You” on a boombox.

Just where is our future, the things we’ve done and said!
Let’s just push the button, we’d be better off dead!
‘Cause I hate you!
And I berate you!
And I can’t wait to get to you!

The sins of all our fathers, being dumped on us the sons.
The only choice we’re given is how many megatons?
And I eschew you!
And I say screw you!
And I hope you’re blue, too.

With a single-fingered gesture, the punk refuses to turn it down.  Spock makes the point moot with an ol’ neck pinch.  It’s a brilliant scene.

“I Hate You” was written and performed by associate producer Kirk Thatcher, who also played the punk in the scene.  The full song was never heard in the movie, only a few seconds.  Now you can hear the whole thing on Youtube.  Enjoy!

Sunday Screening: The Queen Haters – “I Hate the Bloody Queen”

I haven’t been posting Sunday Screening videos for the last couple weeks. If I’m asking you to watch me for several hours every Friday night, the last thing I want to encourage is even more screen time.

However I’ve also been watching a lot of classic SCTV lately, and this one always comes up.  A spoof of “God Save the Queen”, this is “I Hate the Bloody Queen” by the Queen Haters!

The Queen Haters:

  • Martin Short – lead vocals
  • Eugene Levy – lead guitar
  • Joe Flaherty – bass guitar
  • Andrea Martin – rhythm guitar
  • John Candy – drums

This performance is from Mel’s Rock Pile hosted by Rockin’ Mel Slirrup (Eugene Levy)

“I Hate the Bloody Queen”

I’ve always had a dream
I’d like to meet the Queen
I’d punch her in the face
Yeah, that would make me laugh

I’d love to kick her in the teeth
And then I’d make a picture of it
In lovely Ektachrome
And then I’d give it to the Prince

(Chorus)
I hate the bloody Queen
She made me go to school
I hate the bloody Queen
And all her bloody rules

I’d like to drown the queen
Off the coast of Argentine
Throw her off a battleship
With her Falkland war machine

She taxes me to death
I can’t afford me dope
I’d like to get her high
Yeah, that would make me laugh

(Chorus)

I feel sorry for you Lady Di
Havin’ a mother-in-law like that

MOVIE REVIEW: Five Bucks at the Door – The Story of Crocks N Rolls (2020)

FIVE BUCKS AT THE DOOR – THE STORY OF CROCKS N ROLLS (2020)

Directed by Kirsten Kosloski

When she was a kid, it was director Kirsten Kosloski’s job to spend the weekend taping albums for her thrifty dad, who was always borrowing records from friends.  With a floor full of tapes and cases, Kosloski grew to love music in that intimate way that only true music fanatics can relate to.  She felt like a bit of an outsider in Thunder Bay Ontario, but her love of music helped her bond with some local punks.  The place to be was Crocks N Rolls.  She walked up to the entrance.  Owner Frank Loffredo sat in the booth.  Five bucks at the door.  Kirsten had empty pockets.  Loffredo gestured for her to go in anyway.  A life was changed that night.  She became a music journalist.  The dream job she didn’t know existed until Crocks N Rolls opened up her world.

Five Bucks at the Doors – The Story of Crocks N Rolls is a uniquely Canadian documentary.  You quickly realize that Crocks N Rolls could only be the result of Canadian geography and personalities.  We joke about Thunder Bay being isolated (though it is said that their landfill hosts a treasure trove of 80s cassette tapes), but the truth is far deeper than simple stereotypes.  Yes, Thunder Bay is eight hours’ drive away from the big cities, but it also occupies a unique crossroads on the Canadian roadmap.  Touring bands from Ontario and further east had to go through on their way west.  Western bands also had to pass through the crucible.  The only place to play was Crocks.  Most importantly, it was the right place to play.

Sook Yin Lee (Bob’s Your Uncle) calls it a “wonderful enclave of freaks and weirdos.”  Frank Loffredo was just a music fan.  He’d drive to Toronto to see a show. He dreamed of being in the New York or London scenes and drinking up the rock and roll.  Instead he did something better and he brought that vibe to Thunder Bay for everyone to share.  Bands started coming through.  Great bands, bad bands, mediocre bands.  Even if they didn’t sell tickets, Frank would book them a second time.  It wasn’t always about the bottom line.  He would live and sleep in the bar to make it work.  It was about Canadian rock music.  It was about making life bearable for the kids of Thunder Bay who dreamed of getting out.  To Frank it was like “one long day,” but to the kids it was another home.  There were no fights.  It was a melting pot of acceptance and ideas.

Bad Brains, 13 Engines, Razor, Sacrifice, DOA, Henry Rollins…Rollins on a spoken word tour no less.  Five Bucks at the Door is loaded with stories and the best has to be about Henry Rollins and being short changed $10 by Frank Loffredo.  Hank didn’t notice, but Frank had to make it right. He asked a friend to repay the $10 that Frank accidentally owed him.  He also insisted on photographic evidence of the transaction, and that evidence is part of this smorgasbord of punk rock history.

Dave Bidini (The Rheostatics), Bob Wiseman (Blue Rodeo), and many more Canadian artists have acres of stories to tell.  A bunch of tree planters and a canoe?  From Frank’s mom’s home-made spaghetti dinners for the tired band members, to the name of the place.  It looked like an Italian restaurant and the logo looked like it had a bowl and a spoon.  “It was a dumb name,” says Frank.  But the important thing was that “the audience was as much of the show as the band.”  That’s clear by the testimonials and amazing black and white photos.  Scratched and unretouched.

Crocks closed in 1996.  It was no longer sustainable, and then as if adding insult to injury the original place burned down.  But in 2007, Loffredo gave it another go.  Naming it Crocks N Rolls flat out indicated this was to be a continuation of the original.  As before, it’s all still in the family, with a new generation now working with Frank in keeping the rock rolling in Thunder Bay.

Five Bucks at the Door is a refreshing reminder that there are some crucial things we need in life.  Connection, belonging, and music.  Frank brought all three to the teenagers of Thunder Bay that longed for it.  It’s a story that needs to be told, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.  It’s available for streaming for free until September 20, 2020.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity – “Seven Days” (1995 promo single)

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – “Seven Days” (1995 Sony promo CD single)

COC’s landmark album Deliverance spawned three singles, the least known of which was “Seven Days”.  The promo CD single contains a rarity that makes it worth tracking down.  It’s not expensive, and thanks to online stores not hard to find.

Deliverance is a heavy album even with a few slower songs on board.  “Seven Days” is one such track.  A slow, heavy dirge can often make for a good single.  This CD has two versions, the full-length album cut and a shorter single edit with a truncated fade-out.

The special track here is a “jam box tape” of “Fuel”, a track that was as yet unreleased.  COC recorded it properly for their next album, Wiseblood.  This early version is an identical arrangement, but way way more ragged.  Pepper sounds like James Hetfield on this one, but it has far more balls than the Metallica song of the same name.  Total smokeshow.  This is the proverbial “song you buy the single for.”

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity – Deliverance (1994)

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – Deliverance (1994 Sony)

Gre-ea-easy!  That’s how the molton hot guitars sound on this landmark album.  Greasy, in the most complimentary way.  Six-stringers Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan have a way of making their guitar licks sound slippery and heavy at the same time.

Corrosion of Conformity (“COC”) did something really smart when they set out to record this album.  After the departure of bassist Phil Swisher and singer Karl Agell (who both turned up later in Leadfoot), they promoted Pepper Keenan to lead vocals, and brought back founding member Mike Dean on bass.  Pepper scored a hit for COC last time out with a lead vocal on “Vote With a Bullet”, so it was a logical move.  As for Mike Dean, his punk roots and busy bass are important to the sound of this band.  Dean was also COC’s vocalist from time to time in the past, and gets a lead vocal once again on the title track.

The resulting album Deliverance is 14 tracks (give or take an instrumental or two) of heavy, dirty metal they way they make it in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Pepper’s vocals lent them a southern edge.  Metallica are fans — Pep auditioned for them on bass when Newsted left the band.  (What a sound Metallica could have had, with James Hetfield backed up by Pepper Keenan on vocals!)

Regardless of who’s singing or playing, COC nailed all 14 songs.  None of the proverbial “filler”.  This is one hell of a trip, an album that demands to be listened to from start to finish, no skipping.  John Custer’s crisp and chunky production brought out the metal side more than ever.


“Help me Jesus, help me clean my wounds. He said he cannot heal that kind.”

Check out the choppy riff on the single “Clean My Wounds”.  The song is a tour-de-force, a textbook example of all the right ingredients.  The riff is outstanding, but the verse and chorus melodies slay.  Drummer Reed Mullin has a spare groove, but he knows exactly when to accent it with some heavy hitting.  The multi-tracked vocal in the chorus (“Knock it down!”) is the perfect fit, but the Lizzy-ish guitar solos are an additional layer of perfection.

Another key track, “Albatross” is too heavy to be a ballad so let’s call it a dirge.  You can hear what Mike Dean brings to the table — a slinky, Geezer style of bass that provides subliminal melody.  “Albatross” flies on the wings of a strong melody and heavy performance.  It has a vibe similar to “Outshined” by Soundgarden but more mournful.

The aforementioned instrumentals are integral parts of the album.  Remember how a Black Sabbath album had key instrumental bits, usually introducing another song?  That’s what COC do here.  “Without Wings”, a dark acoustic guitar figure, leads into the heavy-as-fuck “Broken Man” exactly like a Sabbath song.  Later on, “#2121313”, an electric guitar piece, is joined directly onto “My Grain”.  “Mano de Mono”, another acoustic piece, is basically the front end of “Seven Days”, a mid-paced groove single.

Speaking of “My Grain”, it’s the most punk rock track, but even so it features a kickass bass solo!  Other noteworthy tracks include the wah-wah inflected title track (Mike Dean on vocals).  Jittery, jumpy riffs dominate “Señor Limpio”, another blistering blitz.  Finally there is “Pearls Before Swine”, the slowest and bluesiest of the tracks and a seriously heavy closer.

Corrosion of Conformity have made some good (albeit very different) albums over the years, but like many bands they have a clear peak.  That is Deliverance, the one perfect album they made.

5/5 stars