Mike Knott at The Viper Room

Two things I’ve heard.

You should never meet your heroes in person and The Viper Room is crazy loud. Fortunately, meeting Mike Knott a couple times never once diminished my love for his incredible discography. The Viper Room is ridiculously loud for sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there to see Mike Knott with Andy Prickett, Eric Campuzano, Ed Benrock and Robert Meyer. Post-major label letdown with Aunt Bettys and pre-vagabond wandering, this show is pretty slick and controlled because it was a label showcase.

Rather than suck all the guts out, that makes for one of the best bootleg listens I’ve heard in ages. Recorded directly from the soundboard, this is a must for fans of Knott and The Prayer Chain, and everyone else tired of soulless auto-tuned radio drivel.



Brand New – single and tour

I actually believe that middle-aged angst is more genuine and immediate than the early-life variety that most of us leave behind sometime after college.

Brand New, a band well-versed in the disenchantment of Gen X nihilism, returned last year with a caustic new single “Mene” and dropped an official release of the long-circulated Leaked Demos 2006 earlier this year.

Now, on the verge of a tour with Modest Mouse, Brand New unleash “I Am A Nightmare” on an unsuspecting world busy debating about Donald Trump, Blake Lively and other innocuous entertainment drivel.

3:20 of romantic miscreantry.

“I am a nightmare and you are a miracle.”

“Shake your zen out and give me pure energy.”

Yes! Indeed.


06-01-02 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theatre
06-04 Edmonton, Alberta – Union Hall
06-05 Calgary, Alberta – Macewan Hall Ballroom
06-06 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – O’Brians Event Centre
06-09-10 Toronto, Ontario- Sound Academy
06-11 Montreal, Quebec – Olympia De Montreal
06-28 Magna, UT – Saltair *
06-29 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
07-01 Bonner Springs, KS – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre *
07-02 Chicago, IL Firstmerit Bank, Pavilion *
07-03 Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre *
07-05 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE *
07-06 Cary, NC – Koka Booth Amphitheater *
07-08 Miami, FL – Bayfront Park Amphitheater *
07-09 Tampa, FL – MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre *
07-10 Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park Amphitheater *
07-12 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion *
07-14 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden *
07-15 Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center *
07-16 Philadelphia, PA – Mann Center for Performing Arts *
07-19 Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater *
07-21 Tulsa, OK – Bok Center *
07-22 Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Field *
07-23 Del Valle, TX – Austin360 Amphitheater *
07-25 Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theater *
07-26 Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre *
07-27 Inglewood, CA – The Forum *
07-28 Berkeley, CA – Greek Theater *
07-30 Seattle, WA – Keyarena *
07-31 Portland, OR – Moda Center *

Hammock – Everything and Nothing



I stumbled upon the meaning of adult life 9 years ago.

Not that I actually figured out much about what it all means. But my daughter, the one who’s unloading the dishwasher while I write this, was born and I was struck with the sudden epiphany of accountability.

hammock-600-4No excuses.

Lots of regrets.

Relentless pacing and emotional inventory.

Fierce belonging.

Explosive kindness.

Surprising mercy.

Hammock has spent the last 11 years soundtracking those kind of moments for thousands of completely unrelated stories from completely divergent individuals. J Edward Keyes writes “one of the most remarkable things about the Nashville duo Hammock has been their ability to almost uncannily translate the pulse and fiber of human emotion into actual chords and melodies.”

I couldn’t ever hope to improve on that sentence. http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4067613091/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

I don’t want to go into the details… The music tells the story. Throughout our body of work, we’ve lived with ghosts, not disembodied spirits, but the ghost-like memories of those who disappeared.  We’ve composed and sung songs to the dearly departed, passed over into oblivion with hymns of finite longing.  All the while inhabiting our own impermanence… in endless distraction from the whole catastrophe… Until it all became too much.  It was time to face life on life’s terms. – Marc Byrd


Bazan's Trouble With Boys

David Bazan is back, he never really disappeared but the man has such a finely tuned pop culture calendar, that just when you start wondering if he’s going to come out with a proper LP, the announcement drops.

Since 2011’s excellent Strange Negotiations Bazan has been releasing music directly to fans through limited edition releases, now he’s compiling ten of his best compositions for the label-issued Blanco.

“Trouble With Boys” is the first single from the forthcoming Blanco, and it’s vintage Bazan. Observational, heartfelt and almost cute …. if it wasn’t so heartbreakingly damn sad.

More on the new record from the official website:

“Blanco” will be released world-wide on May 13, 2016 by the fine folks at Barsuk Records! Blanco is made up of songs that were previously available in a very limited edition 7” vinyl series called Bazan Monthly, Volume 1 and Volume 2. David picked ten of those songs to update, remix and flesh out into a cohesive album format that’s easier for fans to collect and bring home.


Both Hands (Over My Eyes)
Kept Secrets
With You
Trouble With Boys
Little Landslide
Someone Else’s Bet
Over Again
Little Motor

JMM – The Borderland Sessions pre-order

John Mark McMillan is set to release an alternate version of his excellent Borderland. Featuring guest appearances from Ray Dalton (of Macklemore/Ryan Lewis fame) and Needtobreathe vocalist Bear Rinehart among others, The Borderland Sessions is not a b-sides/outtakes collection but rather a complete work in it’s own right.

You can preorder The Borderland Sessions on iTunes for only $7.99 and get an immediate download of “Monsters Talk” (Feat. Bear Rinehart). It also includes full commentary from McMillan, sharing his thoughts and stories behind each song. The Borderland Sessions LP officially drops on Sept. 30.

To hear more from Ray, visit http://raydalton.com.

Review: The Gaslight Anthem w/ Against Me! Live at 930 Club

20140910_201938Attending two live shows in three days at the same venue definitely gives you a unique perspective. As I sit down to write this review, I find myself comparing the shows. This would be unfair even if the artists were similar. In this instance, they aren’t, so I am ardently to look at last night’s show in a vacuum.

Last night’s show featured two bands that share relatively similar genres…and not much else. At this point in time, Against Me! has become an elder statesman on the punk circuit. With six albums and over a decade of touring under their belts, they have built up a relatively small but diehard following. Known primarily for combining fast, punchy guitar riffs with pulsing drum beats and lyrics that are overtly political, Against Me! knows what they are good at, and they execute.

But what made last night’s performance so intriguing was the widely publicized subject of lead singer Laura Jane Grace and her gender dysphoria.  Born Tom Gable, Laura Jane Grace announced she would be transitioning to life as a woman in a powerful and extremely poignant article published in Rolling Stone in 2012. This was the second time I had seen Against Me!, but the first since 2012. I’m unashamed to admit that I was curious to see what, if anything, might be different about the band and its lead singer.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the answer: very little had changed, and a lot had changed. Against Me! was the same in-your-face,  unapologetic whirlwind of punk that I had enjoyed as a younger version of myself, when their songs about subjects such as teenage anarchy, disenchantment with the military industrial complex, or drinking too many Guinness resonated most deeply. With their new album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the whirlwind is still there, even if the subject matter has changed. With the album title setting the stage, the new Against Me! isn’t shy about attacking head on the issues that Laura Jane Grace has faced in her transition to being a woman – fear, rebellion, hatred, desire for acceptance, and many others. The album is powerful because it’s personal, and that comes through even more live. In many ways, Against Me! is as good and relevant as ever.

The headliner of the night was The Gaslight Anthem, a band that has now released five albums since 2007, the most recent being Get Hurt in early August, 2014. This show was the opening act of a tour for the aforementioned record, a tour that will take them all over North America and Europe.

20140910_214537I don’t secretly like The Gaslight Anthem – they have been one of my favorite bands for over six years. This was my second time seeing them live, while also seeing a solo acoustic show a few years back with lead singer Brian Fallon. But coming into last night, that favoritism had begun to wane. Get Hurt takes Gaslight in a new direction. Gone are the days of uber-catchy, vivid, punk-inspired, heart-broken, modern-day Springsteen tracks. In place are grungier, arena-sized rock anthems that leave a lot to be desired. And the change is just as evident live as it is on the new album. An over-the-top light show attempted to distract from the fact that they played very few songs from their previous four albums. This didn’t feel like a band wanting to proudly unleash new tracks to the world – but rather, a band that was hiding from its past. As if their fans had forgotten where they came from.

Admittedly, the show was entertaining throughout. But what it more readily accomplished was to defend my pre-conceived notions that the band had changed, and in my opinion, not for the better. No single moment better portrayed Gaslight’s attempt at transitioning to serious rock band than their choice for final song of the night – The Who’s “Baba O’Riley (Teenage Wasteland).” This, apparently, was a page ripped directly from their primary inspiration for the new album – Pearl Jam. Unfortunately, it came across as far too contrived, and left a lot to be desired until The Gaslight Anthem (hopefully) goes back to their roots.

Set List