punk rock

CONCERT REVIEW: Hello Hopeless and guests, Nov 30 at the Boathouse

HELLO HOPELESSThe Boathouse (Kitchener Ontario, November 30 2018) with Another Crush, Pioneer Anomaly, and Antisocial Surf Club.

With a new CD in hand, Kitchener rock band Hello Hopeless introduced the Boathouse to a fistful of new songs in a velvet glove of rock.

Playing every song from their new EP Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures plus a couple oldies and covers, the threesome kicked ass from start to finish with nary a hiccup.  The band were tight, proving that their performance on CD was no fluke.

Hello Hopeless tick several boxes:  1) Great stage presence and stage-worthy rapport.  2) Strong original songs.  3)  Great vocalists.  4) Musical chops.  5) A clear love of what they do.  With a Toronto gig on the horizon, the band are ready for the next jump.

Standout tracks included “Hurricane”, “The Match”, and acoustic ballad “Broke”.  It was the first time “Broke” was played live, and its rawness was appealing.  Singer Garrett Thomson poured everything into it, and it paid off.  The set was otherwise upbeat, fast and fully electric.  The band played a couple covers:  “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers and “She’s Out of Her Mind” by Blink 182.  Remarkably, their originals were much better than their covers.

Opening acts were Another Crush (Hamilton), Pioneer Anomaly (Toronto) and Antisocial Surf Club (Kitchener).  Pioneer Anomaly suffered technical issues, including a downed mike stand during the first song.  Fortunately a hero emerged from the audience as Max the Axe (he’s kind of a big deal) ran to the stage to fix the microphone so the band could finish the song!  Max the Axe has earned the honorific title “Max the Roadie”.  Max will be playing at the Boathouse next week, December 8, for his own CD release.  Antisocial Surf Club were notable for a few catchy originals and covers though clearly aimed at a younger crowd than Max and I.

If Hello Hopeless come to your town, see them.  If they keep playing gigs like this and writing quality originals, you will be hearing about them one way or the other.

5/5 stars

 

 

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HELLO HOPELESS CD release tonight!

Local punk rock threesome Hello Hopeless will be releasing their new EP Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures tonight November 30 at the Boathouse in Kitchener!  This smoking hot release is well worth your attention and the measly $10 they are asking for it.  Support local music and go see Hello Hopeless.  Here are the details:

The Boathouse, Victoria Park
57 Jubilee Dr., Kitchener, Ontario
Show starts at 8pm

Featuring guests AntiSocial Surf Club, Pioneer Anomaly and Another Crush.

 

Come and meet me!

If I didn’t truly love this CD, I wouldn’t be plugging it.  Hope to see you at the Boathouse.

 

REVIEW: Hello Hopeless – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures (2018)

HELLO HOPELESS – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures (2018)

You have to admire a band that puts in 110%.  Hello Hopeless, a trio of punk rock upstarts from Kitchener Ontario, have spared no expense making their new EP sound perfect.  It’s verges close to punk metal if you asked me, but let’s not split hairs.  Whatever you want to call it, the production is surprisingly deep with loads of variety and small details.

It’s easy to compare Hello Hopeless to modern punk greats like Blink, but there’s more to it.  Opening instrumental “Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures” works things up with a Priest-like beginning (think “Electric Eye” going into “Screaming For Vengeance”).  The tension seeths into the next and best track, “Victim, Victim”.  Busy drums and a chunky riff back up a great, punchy song.  Garrett Thomson (vocals, bass) seemingly plumbs the depths of his soul when singing, but the simple, hammering riffs are what keep you coming back.  The drums (by Will Bender) are fast n’ busy, just like you want it.  Blasting on, “Save Myself” (guitar solo!) and “Inertia” continue in this direction.  “Inertia” is particular is a varied trip, and well worth it.  The dark lyrics are quite good, but the production just smokes.

An unexpected acoustic ballad called “Broke” boasts a raw, emotional vocal and excellent melodies.  It’s a good break in the action, because it’s pedal down from here out.  Thomson and guitarist Nathan Heald share lead vocals on “The Match”, and again I’m hearing a hint of Judas Priest (the opening to “Hellrider” specifically).  Catchy vocals paired with a groovy bassline, plus a guitar solo, riffs n’ drums…what more do you need?  The closing track “Hurricane” also features shared vocals, and goes out on a suitably powerful note.  There’s even piano for a touch of the dramatic.  Once again, I hear a lil’ bit of metal.  Savatage this time.  What a way to end it.

I may be a little biased since these guys are from my home town, so let’s get that out there.  I truly think Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures is one of the better releases of 2018.  You’d do well to check it out.  So go ahead and do it, it’s on Spotify!  For those who demand a physical product, the CD is out November 30.

4.5/5 stars

Check out Hello Hopeless at the Boathouse in Kitchener on November 30 to get your CD.

Interview: HELLO HOPELESS – November 2018

HELLO HOPELESS CD release – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures – November 30 2018

At the Boathouse in Kitchener (57 Jubilee Drive, Kitchener, Ontario)

Sunday Chuckle: Homeless Honey?

There is a new local punk group I’m excited about.  They’re a trio; fans of Blink 182 will dig them.  Their tunes sound like the album Blink should have made instead of Neighborhoods.  I’ve heard most of their new album which will be out mid-November.  Great production, and even a couple guitar solos.  Good tunes.  Good singer.  I like them

In November, I’ll be showcasing them here on this site, so watch for a great new band called Hello Hopeless.  Of course this afternoon when I was writing this, I had a brain fart and couldn’t remember their name.  I asked the singer, “What’s the name of your band again?  Homeless Honey?”

He just stared at me.

Fortunately he’s not mad!

Fucking embarrassing, though!

REVIEW: Sultans of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (2018 expanded edition)

SULTANS OF PING F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (Originally 1993, 2018 Cherry Red expanded edition)

What an odd situation, when an extremely obscure album you spent years and years hunting for is reissued in a 2 CD deluxe expanded edition, and is sitting there in stock on the Canadian Amazon store.  17 bonus tracks (16 of which I’ve never heard before in my life) now sit alongside the core 12 album classics in my collection.  The world is a better place for it.

We reviewed Casual Sex in the Cineplex by the Sultans of Ping F.C. back in 2013, but it deserves another look now that it’s been expanded.

Casual Sex boasts a fun but snearing punky side, accompanied by hilarious shrieky lead vocals and lyrics to match.  Top this confection with an Irish accent and loud guitars!  Opener “Back in the Tracksuit” is a perfect example of this recipe: a blast of punk guitars & drums with the bizarrely catchy lead vocals of  Niall O’Flaherty.  Half the time, we couldn’t figure out what he was singing.  “Indeed You Are” sounds like he’s singing “Konichiwa!”  So that’s the way we sing it.

The relaxed poppier songs are just as good.  “Veronica” is a cute serenade with strings and harmonica.  Perhaps it’s inspired by early period Beatles, filtered through the Sultans’ own bedraggled lenses.  “2 Pints of Rasa” is in a similar spirit: a stroll through the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon “drinking with the guys”…and with strings!  In the lyrics, O’Flaherty proclaims to his girl of interest, “but I still like you, you are my ice cream.”  Write that one down for the next time you’re with your significant others.

A broadside shot of breakneck guitars kick off “Stupid Kid”.  The infectious chorus goes on for days.  “You’re stupid, S-T-U-P-I-D kid!”  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more entertaining combination of snark and melody.  “Stupid Kid” is among the best tunes on the album.  “You Talk Too Much” is its twin brother, shrieks and surf-rock drums notwithstanding.

A rollicky bass intro kicks off “Give Him a Ball (And a Yard of Grass)”, and the body surfing begins!  You can’t hear what O’Flaherty is singing for most of it, but it hardly matters.  You can sing along as if you do, and nobody will notice.  The party has only one lull:  “Karaoke Queen” is OK, a little slack, but it is quickly followed by “Let’s Go Shopping”.   It’s another one of those sentimental Sultans numbers about, well, going shopping.  We always found the jubilant lyrics quite mirthful:

Put on your flip-flops and we’ll go shopping, dear
Put on your flip-flops, we’ll go flip-flopping, dear
You can buy crisps and I can buy jam,
You push the trolley, I’ll push the pram.

The sentiment stops there, since the next song is entitled “Kick Me With Your Leather Boots”!  That means you can count on brisk, boisterous shenanigans.  As a bonus, the lyrics planted the seed for me to seek out Schaffner’s bizarre conspiracy movie The Boys From Brazil.  “Clitus Clarke” approaches being skip-worthy, but who cares since the final song is our favourite, “Where’s Me Jumper?”

My brother knows Karl Marx
He met him eating mushrooms in the public park
He said ‘What do you think of my manifesto?’
I like your manifesto, put it to the testo.

This album would be worth buying just for the one song.  “Dancing at the Disco, bumper to bumper,” but then disaster!  “Wait a minute — where’s me jumper?!”  Niall goes on to complain that “It’s alright to say things can only get better.  You haven’t lost your brand new sweater.”  True, true.  “My mother will be so, so angry.”  But it’s impossible not to grin ear to ear like a gleeful hooligan by the end of it.

For years the original 12 tracks were all we had.  Later Sultans albums could be found in the wild, but T-Rev always said the fun wasn’t there.  He even found the single for “You Talk Too Much” which had “Japanese Girls” on the B-side.  Nothing to him was as essential as the first album, which is easy to listen to end-to-end and then do all over again.  Which is usually the way we listened to it.

How does adding 17 rarities change the listening experience?

Not badly, as it turns out.  The bonus CD is only a punky 42 minutes long so it never becomes an exercise in testing patience.  Seeing that information about this band is scarce already, it’s impossible to know how “complete” the bonus CD is with rarities.  It seems to compile Sultans EP and single B-sides from 1991 to 1993.  Other Sultans deluxe editions are out there comprising the later albums.

None of the bonus tracks are as indispensable as disc one, but that’s not the point.  A blast of a time will still be had, with more of the same sound that endeared us to the band in the first place.  There’s an early version of “Stupid Kid” from a 1991 EP, and a live recording of “Indeed You Are” from a 1993 EP called Teenage Punks.  “Miracles” (from 1991) adds a hint of the Ramones to the stew.  B-side “I Said I Am I Said” is fun like the album and makes a fine addition.  Check out “Robo Cop”, and the live track “Football Hooligan” for a couple more songs that are hard to resist.  Some, like “Turnip Fish” are just weird and more like early Alice Cooper.

Great to have more early Sultans, all in one place.  Get yours.

 

4.8/5 stars

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Amherst Drive – “Breakdown” / “Better Way” (single)

AMHERST DRIVE –  “Breakdown” / “Better Way” (2017 single)

What happens when an experimental avante-garde multi-instrumentalist goes punk?  You get Amherst Drive.  Derek Kortepeter is best known for his multi-genre solo music in which he plays all the instruments.  Naturally with Amherst Drive, he also plays and sings everything himself.

Like all of Derek’s music, Amherst Drive is memorable but challenging.  Punk rock?  Sure, but “Breakdown”, the first track on his new single, has none of the traditional punk rock melody.  Derek has taken his unusual stylings and amped them up.  “Better Way” is a ballad, but not an easy pill to swallow.  Neither of these songs are easy to digest.  Derek may have simplified some things and punked them up, but he has still fucked things up just enough to keep them edgy.  Unusual rhythms and melodies are mixed together in very un-punk-like fashion.

Good little debut punk single here from Amherst Drive.  Hopefully Derek will assemble a band and give these tunes a stretch live and see where they can go.

3.5/5 stars

Bandcamp:  amherstdrive.bandcamp.com/track/better-way

REVIEW: Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking (2011)

Bought somewhere in Taranna in a forgotten sale bin.

DUFF McKAGAN’S LOADED – The Taking (2011 Armoury)

Duff McKagan is one of those guys who is always doing something.  He is not predictable except to be always active, usually in the context of a band.  Loaded is one such band, featuring three of Duff’s Seattle buds.  This is their third LP, a tight and focused affair with short and heavy songs.  Duff’s sloppy punk roots come forth, crossed with a healthy slab of heavy-as-fuck riffin’.  Duff’s shout-singing has never been more apropos, and there are even a few moments of guitar solo nirvana.

The music is all well and good; nothing in particular will rival Guns N’ Roses or even Velvet Revolver, but some tunes are pretty cool.  “We Win” has a simple anthemic quality, Leppard-like, that endears it well in the memory.  Better still is “Dead Skin”, a scorching punk rocker that would have set well with another of Duff’s bands, Neurotic Outsiders.  “Lords of Abaddon” and “Follow Me to Hell” which open and close the CD are fierce numbers that could cause speaker damage if cranked loud enough.

You really can’t throw enough praise at Duff McKagan, but The Taking is not one of his must-have efforts.  Save for a look in the cheapie bin.

2.5/5 stars

This was a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge.

MOVIE REVIEW: Mad Tiger (2016)

“When you create something, it doesn’t matter if it’s art or music…there is always suffering attached to the creative process.” — Peelander Purple (Akiteru Ito)

mad-tigerMAD TIGER (2015 Film Movement)

Directed by Jonathan Yi and Michael Haertlein

Peelander-Z is a Japanese-born punk band, via New York City, sort of a cross between Gwar and Japanese science fiction.  In their own words, they are a “Japanese Action Comic Punk band hailing from the Z area of Planet Peelander”.  They have been releasing music to a cult following since 1999.  Their hits include “Mad Tiger” and “Ninja High School”.  Music is only 10% of what they do, with elaborate stage shows, stories, monsters and characters to go with it.  Like many Japanese super-teams, they are all completely colour coordinated.  Their founding leader is Kengo Hioki, or Peelander Yellow.  His partly-shaved head is always dyed yellow, and his costumes match.  According to his wife Peelander Pink (keyboards), Kengo first had to learn how to play guitar standing up in order to form a real punk band.

Their music is meant to be fun, to bring happiness.  The music itself is not serious, but Yellow takes his band very seriously.  When original drummer Peelander Blue left the band in 2008, he was replaced by Peelander Green who helped bring the music to a more professional level.  Bassist Peelander Red (Kotaro Tsukada) was the lynchpin, being the member who was the most physical on stage and able to do the stunts that Yellow could not.  A new stunt involved him riding a unicycle in a squid suit and crashing into the stage.  He’d often be the member who was climbing on top of things, and hanging from the ceiling by his legs.  Other gags include human bowling a-la Jackass, and chair fights like WWE wrestling.  Red’s physicality was essential to this.

The atmosphere around Peelander-Z is bubbly and celebratory, but inside, there is tension.  Red has decided to leave the band and open a bar in New York.  A final show for Red is a big deal, an emotional event for the members — each one changed colours to red for this special show.  For Yellow, it means not only losing a close friend, but having to create a new character for a new member to play.  Another friend, Akiteru “Eatman” Ito, is flown in from Japan to play bass.  His musical style is different from Red’s, and different from what Yellow is used to.  He becomes Peelander Purple, a rhino-headed bass behemoth, and they prepare for their first show together.

While this movie is ostensibly about a unique punk band with a 15 year history, it is more so a look at Kengo Hioki, a born entertainer who was facing a crossroads in his life with the departure of Red.  We get to visit his family in Japan, his devoutly Christian father and his siblings.  We get a sense of what friendship and commitment means to Kengo, especially in regards to the tensions between his partners in Peelander Z.  Watching the band seemingly fall apart while he was working hard to build  it back up is poignant. Filmmakers Jonathan Yi and Michael Haertlein chose to leave in raw, emotional footage that Kengo wanted to sum up in animated form.

The songs are silly and fun, but the passion is genuine.  Check out Mad Tiger.

4.5/5 star-z

REVIEW: Derek Kortepeter – Cataclysm (2016)

For Aaron’s review at the KMA, click here!

cataclysm-coverDEREK KORTEPETER – Cataclysm (2016)

We live in uncomfortable times, and Cataclysm is an uncomfortable album.  In the liner notes, Derek explains that he wanted to do an album reflective of the current political and social climate.  Far reaching issues like mass surveillance and personal trauma.  The importance of the message, says Derek, necessitated vocals.

Derek’s an experimental artist that skips gleefully from genre to genre.  The first track here “We Are a Lie” begins life as a spacey ambient synth piece, before abrasive layers of guitars assault the sense.  Derek moans of painful things in what sounds like possibly the largest echo chamber in the state of California.  No prisoners are taken.  Derek doesn’t pander or make his music easy to listen to.  You have to work for it.

The thought police are on the patrol on the ambient second track “They Tell Us”.  Derek mentions Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as two major influences, and you can hear that on “They Tell Us”, sort of a morph of the two bands.  “The thought police tell us we’re safe,” but I don’t think Derek believes them.  On “Outcome”, the drums are in the echo chamber too, but it’s stuttery tremolo guitar that I dig.  That’s how you have to listen to this album.  Find a hook to grab onto, and hang on!

The album is most successful in its ambient synth moments.  These are truly beautiful, but I suppose it the contrast between this beauty and the harsh guitars that is part of Derek’s message.  On “My Life” he says “I’m controversial, hypocritical.”  Then there’s the powerful “Do Not Question”, a seriously emotional collage of historic sound bites.  “Every nation has to be either with us, or against us” says Hillary Clinton.  “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” — Robert Oppenheimer.  Heavy shit.  This merges into “It’s All the Same” an angry rant with an industrial backing track.  Continuing the contrasts, “For the Fall” reeks of punk rock with a hint of metal guitars.

Best track:  “Respite” which is exactly that.  It’s similar in style and function to “A Warm Place” from Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral.  A similar track is the beautiful “Nuclear Winter”.

The album will be available via indiepush.  If you want to support a daring young artist, this might be the album to buy.  It’s sincere and the most direct album that Derek has made to date.

4/5 stars

But it at bandcamp:  https://derekkortepeter.bandcamp.com/releases