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FRANK IERO & THE PATIENCE - Parachutes (Vagrant/BMG)

Now replete with new bassist, Alex Grippo (a bandmate of Evan Nestor’s in Science,) replacing departed stringman, Rob Hughes, right out of the gate, I noticed how much more METAL this album is than this band’s first incarnation, frnkiero andthe cellebration’s freshman effort, “Stomachaches” was. Another surprise was the gang vocals – a newer development on an Iero project; an ambition perhaps achieved due to the prolific presence of legendary producers Rick Ross and Steve Evetts (who have worked with the likes of Korn, Sepultura, and Incite, just to name a few.) However, casual studio moments are also incorporated in between songs –a nice way to bring down the pretention of high production, reminding the listener that we’re all just human.

This album is the band’s first truly collaborative effort, and it absolutely shows. “Parachutes” feels like a cohesive band project. These dudes have always performed live with passion, but now, for the first time, listeners get to hear this passion at the studio level. “Stomachaches” was meant to be solo exorcism of, well, stomachaches, hidden away in the dark depths of Iero’s closet, maybe to be found in a decade or two by one of his children.

The lyrics do follow Iero’s aesthetic of self-deprecation, while the album art maintains his mystique by featuring his infant self on the album covered flanked by two painted ghosts (a trademark of artist Angela Deane http://angeladeane.com/home.html.)
The heavy bass lines, particularly in opening tracks, “World Destroyer” and “Veins,” invoke crossover bands like Black Flag. The titles themselves seem a bit more suited to a Slayer album than a hardcore one.First single, “I’m A Mess,” with its catchy refrain and head-bobbing speed, Iero has said was inspired by a button given to him at a show, while “They Wanted Darkness” gets just a little bit funky. “Betting Man” is a swayer. Second single, “Remedy,” sounds like might have once have been a “Stomachaches” holdover, but a much more polished reincarnation. “Dear Percocet” brings the pace back up, while “Miss Me” is a wistful, pretty little acoustic number. “Oceans,” with its commercially-friendly sound, ironically laments “I hate everything that waits outside my door.” Floaty jams, “Existential Crisis,” and “Viva Indifference” sound very much like something one would blast when they’re struggling with life that day – their cadences a passing nod to another one of Iero’s hugest influences, Jawbreaker. However, it’s closing track “12 September 6th” who pays tribute to Iero’s greatest influence of all: the grandfather that he lost last year.

Says Iero about the album title: “The act of living can be random and strange, beautiful and ugly at the same time and the only thing that is undeniably certain is eventually we are all gonna hit the ground. Some of us plummet at an incredible rate and it’s over in a flash, but some of us get saved and are able to enjoy the view for a little while. This album is one of my parachutes.”

Here’s hoping that it will become one of yours as well.

(Note: The band was recently involved a bus accident while wrapping up an Australian tour. While Iero himself was not injured, a couple of unidentified band/crew members were, but are reportedly in stable condition. Due to this incident, the band was forced to cancel their North American tour. Here’s wishing them all a speedy recovery!)

Read up on all of Iero’s various projects here: http://frank-iero.com/


Descendents, Fucked Up, Night Birds - Live at PlayStation Theater, NYC - Oct. 8, 2016

There are a few things that you await eagerly in life as a music fan: An anniversary performance of “Dear You” by the original Jawbreaker (provided that Blake can stay out of trouble long enough,) the hologram version of a Nirvana reunion, or Descendents coming to your town, just to name a few.

I was pretty stoked about this lineup, but, alas, I got completely screwed out of Night Birds’ set entirely, and half of Fucked Up’s set thanks, in part, to shitty NYC traffic and Playstation Theater’s airport-like security setup. However, I heard that they fucking tore the doors off the place. Punk News also gave NB a really nice write-up this summer - you should go check it out here.

I reached the pit just in time to see Fucked Up’s lead man, Damian Abraham, leaning into the crowd with a mic chord wrapped around his neck, as the band’s road crew desperately attempted to feed him enough wire to keep him singing. The joint was JUMPING, I can tell you that. Fucked Up was enjoying a full capacity crowd, and working the hell out of it too. Having put out a product a year to date (2014’s “Glass Boys” and 2015’s installment of the 12” Zodiac series, “Year of the Hare,”) Fucked Up played their set with buoyancy, as the band backed up Damian’s frenetic front stylings. It was kind of a bummer to see them go, quite honestly! I’ll definitely have to catch one of their headlining gigs the next time they’re in town.

Next up, the dudes about whom I loved to annoy my crust punk friend, Josh, by reminding him that they are considered to be one of the first pop punk bands in American history, fucking Descendents! With their high-energy, brand spanking new full-length, “Hypercaffeinate Spazzinate,” under their belt, these dudes could easily have played a four-hour set by themselves and never bored their audience, who bounced along to every tune that they pulled out (even the normally subdued sidestage crowd was fist-pumping and singing along to the newest and oldest jams alike.)

The pit was so raucous that shoes, hats, and even a bra (which wound up on Milo’s head) were flying everywhere. A statue of liberty foam hat made its way through the bandmembers, as did way too many jokes involving the word “pussy.” Descendents blasted their way through a 37-fucking song set, which included two encores (always wait for the houselights to come up, newbies!) The crowd was so dense that folks were having difficulty getting themselves raised up to surf (although they managed nonetheless.)

Classics such as “Everything Sucks,” “Clean Sheets” and “Bikeage” happily intermingled with rarely heard jams such as “No! All!” “Van” and “Coffee Mug.” Newer jams blended so well with the older ones that you could barely tell which era of Descendent’s grand era you were in.

But, of course, all good things must come to an end, and this evening eventually did, but everyone went down swinging.




Bad Religion, Against Me!, Dave Hause - Irving Plaza, NYC - Oct. 3, 2016


There are few lineups in a punk enthusiast’s life which can be enough of a show-stopper to warrant unblinking ticket site watching, rapid viral recovery techniques, time off of work and school in order to arrive at the venue by doors, and limited PBR consumption so as not to squander the better part of the evening in the restroom. This effort would normally be reserved for epic punk festivals such as Warped Tour (in its heyday,) Punk Rock Bowling, and Riot Fest. However, the irresistible lineup of Bad Religion Against Me! and Dave Hause (of Loved Ones fame) fell firmly into that category for this chick. Dubbed the “Vox Populi Tour” (meaning “the opinions or beliefs of the majority,” this month-long traveling punk show dug its roots into the soil in our home state of New Jersey on September 30 and ends its run in Hollywood on November 4 and is selling out QUICKLY.

Fortified with some quality vegan grub and red wine, my friend, Jaimie, and I set out to plant our tootsies firmly on the barricade to check out Dave Hause and his brother, Tim’s loving tribute to Hause’s critically acclaimed 2013 effort, “Devour” (I adore that damn thing – you should do yourself a favor and pick up a copy) while new release “The Falcon” percolates until next year. Happily for the security detail up front, the Brothers Hause kept it low-key (for once,) sticking firmly to their mellow keyboard and acoustic guitar vibe for the entirety of the set. The crowd received the jams eagerly, with many mouths singing along to every note. It was a nice beginning to an impressive evening.

Next up was one of my all-time favorite live bands, hands-down, Against Me! Fresh off their killer new release, “Shape Shift With Me,” this band’s energy is so legendary that even my son, who abhors concert settings in most cases, really wants to check them out. As the openers for a renowned band proudly sporting a tremendous thirty-inch (er, SONG) setlist, AM was forced to cut down their classic discography down to just ten songs, (all of which were received enthusiastically by the crowd, The set was a nice mix of old and new, performed to the screaming masses with AM’s usual vigor. The audience even burst into an impromptu re-rendition of “Sink, Florida, Sink!” as the band left the stage.

As one of the undisputed godfathers of punk, Bad Religion, still riding the high of their intensely awesome 2013 full-length, “True North” and planning an as of yet unnamed 2017 release, hit the stage with confidence and ease. With new faces on guitar (Mike Dimkich) and drums (Jamie Miller,) BR owned their crowd like the pros that they are. Loyalists were treated to both the standard fare (“Modern Man,” “21st Century Digital Boy,” “Infected,” “Sorrow,”) as well as some very welcome surprises (“Television,” “Robin Hood Reverse,” “Streets of America.”) The place totally blew the fuck up, and the formerly relaxed security detail of Dave Hause’s yesteryear were no more: tossing bodies quicker than they could catch them.

No matter how long a BR set is, it never feels like enough, and the evening wound up much too quickly for me – even though it was midnight and a workday for most. Crowd-singing “Modern Man” as we exited the building, Stage Right, I can state with no hesitation that this was absolutely a gig worth waiting for to any self-respecting punk rock girl (or guy.)

 

 


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