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Album Review: Brian Fallon – ‘Sleepwalkers’


It was obvious to anyone listening to The Gaslight Anthem in 2007 that Brian Fallon was destined to not only make a name for himself in the punk scene but larger rock-centric circles. Sure enough, it was the release of The ‘59 Sound just a year later that cemented him, and the rest of The Gaslight Anthem, as the poster boy(s) for the scene-wide trend of blending a little bit of Americana rock and soul into basement drenched punk rock. (Is it still a trend if bands are still doing it ten years later?). Three Gaslight albums, a couple of side projects, and one solo album later, Brian Fallon isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Armed with his signature gravelly voice and broken heart, he’s heading into 2018 with his sophomore solo LP, Sleepwalkers.

Brian Fallon is nothing if not consistent and Sleepwalkers shouldn’t be full of surprises for anyone who has followed his career. For all of the experimentation found on Sleepwalkers, the album is still very decidedly a Brian Fallon album. Whether it’s the motown flavor of “If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven,” the Strummer-esque reggae rock of “Come Wander With Me,” or even the rock and roll saxophone featured on the title track- these aren’t things that Fallon has put to tape before- it’s done with the same style and confidence that he does with straightforward rock tributes and acoustic ballads, both of which he’s done plenty in the past, and both of which make appearances on Sleepwalkers.

Lyrics have always been a blessing and a curse for Fallon. No stranger to heartbreak, he knows how to put fears and worries into a three minute song, which is greatly appreciated by the hopeless romantics (or, just the hopeless). “Oh my Lily, if you only knew, I only want to be haunted by you” he sings on “Her Majesty’s Service” while on lead single “Forget Me Not” he laments not “[taking] the time to miss you.” Of course, many are just as quick to roll their eyes at having so little sleeve covering his heart (“And most of my sad life I figured I was gonna die alone” from “Etta James”), and they’re even quicker to scoff at the sheer number of borrowed lyrics (some examples: “I never knew [my father] so I bandaged the hurt, I pretended my daddy was a bankrobber” and “an English song by a band that you love, here comes the sun little darling”). Whether these Fallon-isms sink or swim depends on the listener, but it’s clear that Fallon knows his strengths.

Sleepwalkers never takes any great leaps forward, but much like Painkillers, it is a worthy addition to Fallon’s discography by adding some sonic variety. Mostly, though, it provides 12 new songs to sing while putting a positive lens on past loves and regrets. And that’s what people listen to a Brian Fallon record for in the first place.

4 / 5

RIYL: Dave Hause, Ship Thieves, Counting Crows



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10 Songs to Jumpstart Your Week (curated by DS editor Bizarro Dustin)


Ever wonder what the folks who run Dying Scene have been listening to lately?  We’re going to pretend you said “yes” to that question and feature a curated playlist from a different DS editor each week with the intent of exposing you to some new kickass punk bands.  This week’s playlist is brought to you by on-again/off-again Dying Scene reviewer Bizarro Dustin.

Discover some great new tunes, revisit some old favorites, and sing along with all of the anthems for the broken and defeated that make up Dustin’s personal picks below.

1. Green Day – “J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)”

The first thing I said to the DyingScene staff when I revived this weekly editor playlist feature was to not focus so much on well known bands or successful singles because I think this is a great opportunity to share new music. And the very first thing I’m doing with my playlist is breaking that rule. Hear me out though: “J.A.R.” is a great song. (Also, I’ve been listening to the Angus soundtrack a lot lately so I’ve been listening to this song more than almost everything else in the last week)

2. Booji Boys – “Ripper Too”

Where did this band come from and why did I only hear about them for the first time last December? In case you also missed the boat on them in 2017, Booji Boys play loud and fast lo-fi punk rock. They put out two LPs and an EP last year and their name is a direct Devo reference. I kind of hope I never learn anything else about them, because the music is so chaotic and beautiful that it speaks for itself. [Editor’s note: I’m not sure why Spotify lists this song’s title as “I’m a Ripper Too” but according to the band’s Bandcamp page, the title is just “Ripper Too”]

3. Worriers – “My 85th Rodeo”

I think that some of my favorite songs are the ones that worm their way into my head and I’ll start humming them without even realizing it. The entirety of Worriers sophomore effort, Survival Pop was full of songs like that. “My 85th Rodeo” has one of my favorite choruses from an album full of choruses I can sing to myself in my head but instantly forget the title the moment I realize I’m doing it.

4. Cold Wrecks – “Therapy”

I share this song for two reasons: 1. If you are having a rough time dealing with any kind of depression, anxiety, stress, insecurity, or anything else I’m not smart enough to think of right now, maybe this song will help encourage you like it did for me. And 2. It’s super catchy and I think it should get stuck in everyone’s heads.

5. Sincere Engineer – “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7”

Have you ever thought you’d hear a break up song about sitting on the couch, eating corn dogs, and listening to The Brokedowns? If you answered “no” but also thought that hearing something like that might be pretty cool, then is this the song for you!

6. Slotface – “Try”

Sløtface’s debut album, Try Not to Freak Out was one of my favorite albums of 2017. The album is full of blasts of energy, catchy beats, and sing-along choruses- everything that I (and, I assume, most people) want and love about pop punk. “Try” is the de facto title track, and it screams everything that I wish I could.

7. Braincoats – “I Need a Doctor”

I admit that I don’t really know much about this band. I saw at the title of their latest album, 12 Reasons for Self-Medication, and decided it sounded like something I might enjoy. The moment I heard the chorus of “I Need a Doctor” I had to start it over and study the lyrics. I hope you have the same reaction.

8. Dance Hall Crashers – “Enough”

I really tried to not include any more songs from the Angus soundtrack, but I can’t help myself. I feel like Dance Hall Crashers never got their due, and this is a great song. If you’ve ever been hurt by someone who didn’t maliciously intend to, it’s not the worst to consider their side of things and how they’re feeling.

9. Brian Fallon – “Forget Me Not”

I fully admit that I’m a die-hard Brian Fallon fanboy and that I’ll forever be biased when it comes to new music by him. That said, I wasn’t too sold on this song as the first single from his upcoming album… something just felt off. But when I heard the line “I wish I took the time to miss you,” I realized that, at least lyrically, this is the same Brian Fallon I’d always known and loved.

10. Jawbreaker – “Do You Still Hate Me?”

Okay, here’s another older tune, but have you heard that Jawbreaker is touring again? Because they are. I still can’t believe that I managed to get tickets to see them but in celebration of that, I’ve been listening to 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and I’ve been going back and forth whether I think “Do You Still Hate Me?” or “Jinx Removing” is my favorite Jawbreaker song. I picked this one because I think it’s thematically in line with the rest of my playlist, but I think I like “Jinx Removing” more.

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DS Staff Picks – Bizarro Dustin’s Top Albums of 2017


2017 was not a great year for me. Between looming mental health issues, broken hearts (both breaking someone else’s and having mine torn), and a handful of failed attempts at restarting my life, I don’t even have to mention the state of the world to get into how bleak things were… I even stopped regularly contributing to Dying Scene this year! But I still got invited to share my 10 favorite records and since music is one of the things that helped me get through this year, here I am.

In years past I’ve gone all out when sharing my favorite albums: bringing attention to those that might not have gotten as much notice as the heavy hitting names in the scene, or giving each album a number one spot in their own category. This year I’m keeping it simple: my 10 favorite albums by artists that we cover at Dying Scene. You can check it out below.

10. Direct Hit! / PEARS – Human Movement

I’ve been critical of splits in the past when they don’t offer anything new, but when you get a whole album’s worth of new material, I’m all for it. Direct Hit! and PEARS are, in my mind, two of the most exciting bands today and I knew this split would be, at the very least, entertaining. However both bands delivered nothing but ripper after ripper. It blows my mind that Direct Hit! is only getting heavier over time, and given the never-ending touring schedule of PEARS, it’s amazing they have any time to hit the studio.

 

 

09. Lemuria – Recreational Hate

(I’m sure this one is going to cause some minor controversies as the album won’t be given a wide physical release until next year but the digital release was mid-December and digital music counts for a lot more than we’d like to admit these days)

The exact moment that I found out Lemuria was selling “Mystery LP” bundles, I went ahead and ordered one even though I was trying to watch my spending. I was fully expecting the bundle to be some sort of rarities or demos compilation, so when they revealed it was a brand new album instead, I rejoiced. Then I listened to it, and I was even more excited. My only regret was not ordering the large bundle that (if I’m not mistaken) also came with a shirt.

 

 

08. Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Warriors

I’ve never disliked Bad Cop/Bad Cop, per se, but like a lot of 90’s Fat Wreck pop punk, I also never thought of them as a band that I might one day consider to be an all-time favorite. Warriors comes out swinging and effectively changed my stance on that. Combining politically charged and vicious lyrics and sickeningly sweet harmonies, Warriors is one of the biggest surprises of my year.

 

 

 

07. Nervous Dater – Don’t Be a Stranger

Nick Hornby once asked by way of his fictional character Rob Gordon (or Fleming, if you prefer the original novel): “Which came first: the music or the misery? […] Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”. I don’t know how much I can contribute to any philosophical discourse about the nature of music vs. the human condition. Also, who has the time for that? However, what I do know is that I felt miserable this year, but listening to Nervous Dater’s Don’t Be a Stranger made me feel less miserable.

 

 

 

06. Freya Wilcox & the Howl – Tooth & Nail

I feel like I’d been waiting forever to hear this one. And it was a long wait, but the payoff was worth it. The album’s first half rips through so quickly that it hardly leaves room to breathe, but it’s “Leaving,” the album’s heartbreaking, powerful centerpiece, that makes sure you’ve got no breath left. I’ve heard Freya Wilcox & The Howl perform all of these songs live countless times, and I’m glad that I can finally carry them around with me to listen to whenever I want.

 

 

 

05. Sincere Engineer – Rhombithian

I hadn’t ever heard of Sincere Engineer before this year, but the moment I saw that they were signed to Red Scare I knew I’d like it. All it took was a single listen and I was sold. For the lack of better terms, Rhombithian combines the overly confessional lyrics of modern Midwestern punk rock with the near-mathy technicality of the emo revival scene (a la Triple Crown / Kind of Like Records), and the result is a collection of upbeat downers that you can easily sing-along / cry-along / drink-along to.

 

 

 

04. Cayetana – New Kind of Normal

I almost moved to Philadelphia this year, and I think that this album had a lot to do with that. Okay, so that’s only half true- I wasn’t in the greatest mindset around the end of the summer and I thought that maybe moving would solve all of my issues. I just so happened to be listening to New Kind of Normal on the bus ride to Philly and it felt like Cayetana were speaking to me directly, or at least about me, through these songs. I ended up not moving, but the future is unwritten and the door is always open. (For the record, I didn’t pick Philly because Cayetana hail from there, but it is a funny coincidence.)

 

 

 

03. Iron Chic – You Can’t Stay Here

Usually it takes me awhile to fully appreciate new Iron Chic material. Not Like This came out in 2010, but I didn’t really “get it” until about 2013- coincidentally around the time The Constant One came out, while that record didn’t enter my regular rotation until 2015 or so. With that in mind, it feels weird to not only rank an Iron Chic album as one of my favorites of the same year that it came out, but also to rank it so highly. And yet, here I am. You Can’t Stay Here is more of the same, and unlike a lot of my other favorite records, Iron Chic don’t seem to necessarily be looking for any kind of closure or way to put a positive spin on things. It’s depressing, and not exactly comforting, but life can be that way too, and sometimes you can do nothing but accept that.

 

 

02. Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues

You know the broken hearts I alluded to in my intro? Back in July I ended a seven and a half year relationship. Yeah, that was really rough. Coincidentally, Katie Ellen released Cowgirl Blues that very same week, and not only did I listen to it for the very first time after it happened- it was the first music I had listened to at all after the breakup. Lyrics like “It’s hard to know when you should leave,” “I miss getting excited picking up the phone,” and “I hope you’re happy, I think you’d want the same for me” summed up everything that I was feeling (I’m sure I’m contorting their meaning so it fit my specific situation) and this album ended up becoming the soundtrack to the rest of my summer- within a month each individual track had a play count of at least 50.

As these things go, I can’t listen to it anymore. I tried at the beginning of December, and It only brings up too many painful memories. But for a few months, Anika Pyle’s lyrics helped me more than anyone else ever could.

 

 

01. The Menzingers – After the Party

Whereas Cowgirl Blues spoke to me on a deeply emotional level, After the Party encapsulates every fear and self doubt I have that isn’t related to romance. As someone who is going to enter their 30’s next year, I’ve been feeling a lot of societal pressures to present myself as a “real” adult, and- like many other people in the same position as me- I have no idea how to do that. And while this is a tale as old as time, or at least it’s as old as whenever human life expectancy began to regularly reach 40 and up, The Menzingers have written the latest “How To?” guide, in which they carefully explain that they don’t have a clue. After the Party does a lot to ask how to exit the period of arrested development that so many people these days are stuck in, but does little in the way of answers. Yet, they make it so fun that it almost becomes bearable that the true answer (there is no one way to be an adult) isn’t such a bitter pill to swallow after all.

 

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Album Review: Limp Wrist – ‘Facades’


Facades is Limp Wrist’s first collection of new songs in almost a decade and their first full length album in even longer- if Discogs is to be believed, they released their self-titled LP in 2001(!). It’s everything that you would want from a new Limp Wrist album. If you’re unfamiliar with the band (particularly if you’ve only been involved with punk rock for a handful of years), they, and I’m quoting vocalist Martin Sorrondeguy here, “put the ‘-core’ back in ‘queercore.’” Their brand of hardcore is similar to the way that Void and Cülo play hardcore: loud and vicious. Mix in the current political climate in America, and you’ve got a recipe for a great album.

Lyrically, Facades is just as sharp as the music, hitting topics that range between generational gaps (“experiences so old, what could old queens possibly know?” from “Wrap Yourself In Me”) and sexual identity (“men talk about my maleness and how I tamper with the line” from “They Tell Me”), to closeted politicians (“pass laws that harm and destroy / filthy mind- pretend to be straight / closeted you’re falling apart” from “Don’t Want You”) and the privileges of hetero culture (My Spanish is rusty, but I’m pretty sure that’s what “Como Vos” touches on). In one of the album’s more uplifting moments (if you can call it that), “Thick Skin” features advice to any young LGBTQI listeners.

In an abrupt twist, the album’s B-side takes a complete tonal and stylistic shift. The album’s final three tracks, “In My Mind,” “Dead Artist,” and “Systems in Place” are electronic-driven tunes, more akin to what you might expect at a rave in the early hours in the morning. They’re slow burners (if you’re throwing a dance party, don’t start with these tracks), falling somewhere between techno and maybe industrial? I don’t actually know, I’m very much out of my wheelhouse here. But that’s what makes the inclusion of these tracks great- it provides the listener, likely some dumb punk kid such as myself, with a way to see- err…hear- a different aspect of gay subcultures that can’t be expressed through Limp Wrist’s usual style.

Regardless of the genre that Limp Wrist decide to play, Facades is the type of punk album that we need in this day and age. We’re lucky that they’re back.

4.5 / 5

You can stream Facades below.

RIYL: Cülo, G.L.O.S.S., VOID

Facades by Limp Wrist



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Album Review: Rayner – ‘Disasters’


Even if you’ve only seen their name in print beforehand and Disasters marks your first run-in with Rayner, this EP will make you feel like you’ve been listening to Rayner for years. In just under 20 minutes, Rayner have crafted a comfortable and inviting listen.

Much like many other bands are doing these days, their brand of pop punk trades in the blistering speed and anger of their 90’s forefathers for slower, more inwardly introspective tunes. With familiar sounds and lyrical themes that can be easily recognized by anyone attempting to make sense of living in the modern age, it’d be easy to call them jaded but there’s also an underlying hint of optimism in these songs.

Life is a struggle, that’s for sure. But it’s less so when you’ve got bands like Rayner on your side, composing a soundtrack to help form some sort of structure to get you through it.

3.5 / 5 Stars

RIYL: The Bouncing Souls, The Menzingers, Iron Chic

Listen to Disasters here .

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Album Review: Rise Against – ‘Wolves’


Hey look, Rise Against released a new album. Wolves is the band’s eighth full length studio album, and if you haven’t accepted the fact that they’ve settled into a very specific sound by now, you’re in for a world of disappointment. It’s been eleven years (!) since the band put out The Sufferer & the Witness, and other than switching out one guitarist for another, very little else has changed since then. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up to the listener.

Wolves is full of melodic-punk songs that could easily be interchanged with tracks off The Black Market without anyone noticing. That sounds like an insult, but it’s not meant to be one. Much like many of their Fat Wreck and Epitaph contemporaries, Rise Against have found their comfort zone and are sticking to it. Sure, Tim unleashes his scream here and there, like in the title track or “Too Many Walls” and there’s a hint of ska in “Bullshit” but the album is largely filled with 3 and a half minute songs that coast the line between societal politics and personal politics and are loaded with plenty of harmonizing “whoas.” Sometimes it pays off (“House on Fire” and “Mourning in Amerika” are catchy enough to satisfy anyone who enjoyed past singles “Tragedy + Time” and “Audience of One”) and sometimes it doesn’t (“Far from Perfect,” and “Politics of Love” aren’t terrible, but they’re certainly not memorable either).

Megaphone” and “Broadcast[Signal]Frequency” are among the best songs on the album and it’s a shame that they’ve been relegated to bonus track status. Both are fast and aggressive- two traits that are often missing from the band’s current output. If you’re only going to listen to a handful of songs from the album, make it these two. They don’t accurately reflect the album proper, but to put it bluntly, these two songs are to Wolves what “Grammatizor” and “Voice of Dissent” were to Appeal to Reason.

Wolves might be Rise Against’s safest album yet. If you can get past that, however, Wolves isn’t all that bad of an album.

3 / 5 stars

RIYL: Anti-Flag, Pennywise, Bad Religion



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Album Review: The Dopamines – ‘Tales of Interest’


Quit your job, shred your bills, and toss out all that Perrier in your fridge. The Dopamines are back with a brand new full length album to remind you that maybe life isn’t all that great but at least alcohol exists. After a five year wait between albums, Tales of Interest carries a lot of weight on its shoulders, but in true Dopamines fashion the band doesn’t really seem to care for the expectations that others have set for them.

Tales of Interest is a darker album. While The Dopamines’ lyrical themes have always struck a chord with the jaded and jobless, the glossy production and brevity of the music added an air of humor to them before. Here, the guitars are heavier than they’ve ever been before, and though it’s not uncommon to hear tones like this coming from a midwestern punk band, it’s new for The Dopamines and it lends a more sinister feeling to lines like “I’ve got so much more drinking to do, mistakes that I’ll consequently blame on you” (“The King of Swilling Powers I, II, III”) and “Sometimes I just want to pull out a gun and shower you all in my brains” (“Business Papers,” a re-recording of the band’s contribution to The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore).

That’s not to say that Tales of Interest is a completely new version of The Dopamines. The album’s second half contains a handful of songs with the classic Dopamines structure (“Pavlovian Fixtures,” “Open Letter,” “Expect the Worst”). They’re just played by a band with more experience and confidence in their abilities, and willing to experiment. “Kalte Ente” is an instrumental tune, “The King of Swilling Powers (Part I, II, III)” is three and a half minutes long, and “083133” contains a harsh breakdown, all things that the Dopamines haven’t done before. The band even recorded the album as a four piece (although they’ve toured and played shows with a second guitarist in the past, they officially added Rad Girlfriend Records founder / Raging Nathans guitarist Josh Goldman to the lineup a few years ago)- another first for the band.

Change isn’t something we might not have wanted from The Dopamines, but it’s certainly something that they needed. Another Expect the Worst or Vices this is not, and Tales of Interest is all the better for it.

4 / 5 stars

RIYL: The Copyrights, Dillinger Four, Rivethead

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DS Exclusive: Manic Pixi premieres music video for “Bad Blood”


We’ve teamed up with Brooklyn pop punk act Manic Pixi and today we’re bringing you an exclusive first look at the video for their new single, “Bad Blood.”

If the song’s title sounds familiar to you, then you’ve probably already figured out that the song is a cover of the Taylor Swift single. Rather than playing a straightforward cover, Manic Pixi infuses heavy riffing with the song’s already upbeat pop hooks.

You can watch the video, which was recorded by Phil Duke and Josh Ridley at Continental Studios, below. You can also download the single for free here.

Manic Pixi self-released their second album, Iron Heart, on July 22, 2016.



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DS Exclusive: Manic Pixi premieres music video, offer free download, for new single “Bad Blood”


We’ve teamed up with Brooklyn pop punk act Manic Pixi and today we’re bringing you an exclusive first look and listen of the band’s new single, “Bad Blood.”

If the song’s title sounds familiar to you, then you’ve probably already figured out that the song is a cover of the Taylor Swift single. Rather than playing a straightforward cover, Manic Pixi infuses heavy riffing with the song’s already upbeat pop hooks.

You can either stream the song or watch the video, which was recorded by Phil Duke and Josh Ridley at Continental Studios, below. You can also get a free download of the single here.

Manic Pixi self-released their second album, Iron Heart, on July 22, 2016.

Bad Blood (Live Cover) by Manic Pixi

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Album Review: The Isotopes – ‘1994 World Series Champions’


Ah, baseball. The classic game that brings families together. Is there anything more iconic of America’s more positive aspects? Perhaps The Simpsons, depending on which seasons you’re talking about. Fittingly enough, The Isotopes (who hail from the Great White North, it should be noted) bring these two American pastimes together. Named after Springfield’s minor league team, The Isotopes write sweet and catchy pop punk tunes about one thing, and one thing only: baseball.

Imagine if the first two Riverdales albums had the same glossy production as Masked Intruder, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Isotopes’ latest album, 1994 World Series Champions (for those who are too lazy to look it up: the title is a reference to the fact that there was no World Series in 1994, thus there was no team to win the championship). Only one song on the album passes the two and a half minute mark, with only a third of remaining nine tracks breaking two minutes at all. There are several references to the Sandlot, former major league players, and not wanting the season to end. On the punk end of the spectrum, the album begins with a slight Germs reference (“What We Do Ain’t Secret”) and ends with a Black Flag-like chant, if Black Flag weren’t so rigid (“Sandlot Party”).

Is it gimmicky? Yeah, it most certainly is. But that doesn’t stop it from being any less fun. Pop punk is rarely about reinventing the wheel, and is more about catchy sing-along tunes. The Isotopes know exactly what they’re playing at, and they don’t hide it at all.

4 / 5

RIYL: Riverdales, The Hextalls, Masked Intruder

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