Views from Sad Summer Fest-Philadelphia 2019

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            After the anti-climatic “end” of the Warped Tour last year, there was a gap left open for a touring festival that caters to a faction of teenagers that feel disenfranchised and adults that suffer from Peter Pan-syndrome.  Enter the inaugural year of the Alt Press-sponsored Sad Summer fest, a new touring festival marketed toward Millenials that went to Warped and Gen Z-ers who probably never got the chance.  On the Philadelphia date of the tour, Sad Summer brought a huge amount of nostalgia with a looming sense of irony that only a bunch of once-depressed teens could indulge. Continue reading

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Steady Hands-Truth in Comedy

     Supposedly, the ancient Persians would make laws, and then, they would get drunk to make sure they made the right law.  Looking through history, some of our greatest thinkers, writers, and figures have been drunks, and it’s makes you think maybe the Persians had something.  That’s not to say all important life decisions should be decided when teetering on a blackout, but sometimes brilliance can be whiskey drenched.  Steady Hands explore the inner workings of human nature, while downing a Pabst Blue Ribbon on their proper debut album Truth in Comedy.   Continue reading

The Wonder Years-Sister Cities

Philadelphia punks The Wonder Years have continually shown that they’re more than just punks.  Since the release of Suburbia, they’ve never really had an adequate match within the Warped Tour scene that they’re often lumped into, and they don’t really mesh with the artsy DIY punk scene that creates artists like Long Neck or Pinegrove.  This is all to say that even though Sister Cities isn’t their best, The Wonder Years are still in a class all their own. Continue reading

The Truffleist-Bryant Park,NY

 

Continuing our exploration of Bryant Park’s Winter Village.

Cheesesteaks are a reliable food.  They’re easy to do fine, but they’re difficult to make more interesting or better than they typically are.  Also, most people are sure to be more dismissive of cheesesteaks from outside of Philadelphia.  There’s no real reason for this, because you can get a solid cheesesteak pretty much anywhere.  Most are passable.  That being said, the truffle cheesesteak from Cheesesteaks by The Truffleist are excellent and a must-have from Bryant Park’s winter village. Continue reading

Waxahatchee-Out In The Storm

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John Darnielle made a name for himself recording simple songs into a boombox, mostly by himself, some people say that the Mountain Goats lost their touch once Darnielle brought in the rest of the band and began recording more polished albums.  Any good Mountain Goats fan knows that the band has only improved as they’ve gotten older, then why did I apply the former philosophy to Waxahatchee?  Katie Crutchfield’s debut album American Weekend was such a masterpiece that I ignored the following two albums, until Out In The Storm, which captures the lyrical essence of Waxahatchee, with wider, warmer production. Continue reading

Coffee Date:Tigers Jaw-Spin (Reanimator-No More Coffee For Tigers Jaw)

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Coffee Date is a new column that features discussions of beverages stemming from leaves and beans.  Whether you brew your own or need a hip barista pouring it in front of you, we’ve got you covered for brands to try at home, coffee shops with some personality, and what you should try or avoid from your regular coffee chains. Today, we also cross over into a review of Tigers Jaw’s latest album, and the coffee that came with the presale.

Tigers Jaw’s decision to pair with Reanimator Coffee for the release of their fifth full-length isn’t anything new.  Modern Baseball and The Menzingers have also previously paired with Reanimator, but Tigers Jaw seems like the best pairing.  They’re the musical equivalent to a nice cup of coffee on a rainy day.  Spin sees the band at their most fully-realized, and Reanimator made a nice brew to compliment it. Continue reading

The Menzingers-After the Party

menzingers-after-the-party1It’s been about 9 months since I graduated from college.  It may sound cynical, but I already feel old.  I can’t run on four hours of sleep or drink excessively without an unbearable hangover, and I tend to spend a little extra money on quality products instead of just getting the cheapest version.  I’ve also grown an appreciation for a bunch of dad rock records that I hadn’t previously enjoyed.  There’s certainly a give and take to my old man feelings.  The Menzingers’ After the Party has been released at the perfect time now with the band’s new found maturity and nostalgia.

The Menzingers are part of a long tradition of punk bands that keep their heartland rock influence on their sleeves.  On the Impossible Past was a record that occupied a Venn Diagram space reserved for the likes of The Gaslight Anthem.  It is an essential modern pop-punk record that draws equally from the canons of Springsteen and Against Me!  Still, the band stepped more in a straightforward pop-punk direction for 2014’s Rented World, but on After the Party, the Scranton quartet show a revitalized interest in classic rock.

Despite The Menzingers taking a step toward their roots, it isn’t always an obvious regression.   The Springsteen-isms aren’t always prevalent, and takes such as “Lookers” or “Thick as Thieves” seem to look more towards different flavors of rock.  “Thieves” feels more like heartland rock, but the intro screams AC/DC.  “Lookers” looks back to the likes of the Four Seasons and Elvis complete with it’s “Sha-La-La-La” chorus.  Vocalist, Greg Barnett even referenced Meat Loaf when describing the title track.   Still, for those that are dying to hear some heartland rock, “Your Wild Years” and “Tellin’ Lies” both capture the essence of Springsteen or The Gaslight Anthem. Barnett even adopts a bit of a country twang in his voice in bluesier numbers like “The Bars” and “Black Mass.”  Still, there’s plenty of straightforward punk, if A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology was more your speed.  “Bad Catholics” and “Charlie’s Army” are ripping punk tunes with similar themes.  Even the songs that sound more like classic rock, like “Midwestern States” or “Lookers,” have the same pedal-to-the-metal, American muscle car pacing as earlier Menzingers tunes.
Above all, After the Party is a record about coming to terms with growing up.  This is perhaps best illustrated in “Midwestern States,” which illustrates a young couple through financial problems and dreams of escapism.  Even as things get bad, and they’re asking friends for a place to stay (“I hope this isn’t a burden/Thanks for having us over”), there is some hope during the chorus as Barnett sings “You said LA’s only two days if we drive straight.”  Even the opening chorus of “Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over,” is sung with such gusto and enthusiasm that it sounds more like a celebration rather than a death sentence.  The closing track echoes the same sort of sentiment with a chorus of “Only a fool would think that living could be easy,” where Barnett sounds pleased with the final line “The life I’ve painted, I’ve sold for a quick twenty.”
Both positive and negative nostalgia run throughout the album.  There’s always a fondness for the past perhaps best described during “Lookers:”  “I was such a looker in the old days.”  Songs like “Bad Catholics” recall the sweetness of being a problematic kid: drunk driving and skipping mass, and the feeling of seeing your old fling from the church picnic years later: you realize that you really miss those stupid, old times.  Even “Charlie’s Army” sounds like he’s triumphantly recalling a past sexual romp over beers with some new friends.  “Your Wild Years” is probably the closes the Menzingers have come to writing a true love song, and Barnett thinks back to driving home after shows and family vacations with his girlfriend, but there’s still a tinge of guilt:
You’re the kind of girl that deserves the world
I’m just the kind of guy that promises the world
So I fix a drink nice and strong in the kitchen
Something quick that’ll cure my conscience
Creep back to bed and I kiss your forehead
Maybe everything is fine and it’s all in my head
Even a song like “The Bars” is framed like the kind of bar song to throw your arm around a buddy singing about the old times even though it’s a much sadder song.
The sad nostalgia certainly ought to be familiar for any Menzingers fan: booze soaked heartbreak and regret.  “The Bars” shows this well with lines like
No good’ll come from stumbling home with the sun.
I used to care.
Now I stare into the sunken eyes and strangers’ faces.
I fall asleep in the strangest places.
What the hell am I doing?
Where have my friends gone?
Even though the Menzingers are still “Drinking like they do in novels,” it now comes with a bit more pain than before.  The pain peeks its head into the bangers like “Tellin’ Lies” or “Bad Catholics,” but After the Party is never depressing for long.  You’re going to get old, and you’ll wish for simpler times.  Living might not be easy, but you just gotta enjoy the ride.