March 29, 2017

Less Than Jake – Past, Present, and Future

LTJCasual Punk Fan was recently given the honor of interviewing legendary ska-band Less Than Jake on their latest tour throughout the mid-west. Our guest writer, Sean McGrath, has been a Less Than Jake fan for over 15 years. He hopped on the phone with vocalist Chris DeMakes to talk about their new EP, Sound The Alarm.

Casual Punk Fan: You guys have been at it for about 25 years. A lot of bands in the scene don’t make it nearly this long, especially considering you’ve had the same lineup almost this whole time. How do you pull off this kind of longevity as a band?

Chris DeMakes: Just learning how to tour smarter (laughs). We’re not doing the things now that we were doing in our 20s. (more…)

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February 22, 2017

Less Than Jake – Sound The Alarm

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Less Than Jake doesn’t have to do this. As they enter their 25th year as a band, (almost my entire lifetime) they don’t have to continue touring night after night; playing terrific sets. They certainly don’t have to keep making music; adding to their already massive catalog. They don’t have to do any of it anymore. They’ve earned the right to take a break and no one would think any less of them for it. So rather than following up their 2013 full-length album See The Light with another LP, they decided to gift their fans with a 7-song EP that is fantastic front to back.

Sound the Alarm is a brief, yet nearly perfect window into what a complete Less Than Jake package might be. The singing duties are nearly evenly split between guitarist Chris Demakes and bassist Roger Lima and as usual, they complement each other so well. (more…)

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February 20, 2017

Cardinals – Aftertaste

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Cardinals is a two-piece acoustic rock outfit from Boston, MA formerly known as Tighticus Finch. Their newest EP, Aftertaste, features acoustic renditions of their earlier work with some new blood as well.

I’ve always been a fan of hearing the native accents of vocalists standing out in their work. This is incredibly apparent in the opener, “When I’m Gone” when vocalist Emily Ronna sings the second verse: “And thanks for all the funny jokes, but you should know I never laughed that hard.” It adds a dose of authenticity and allows Ronna to proudly show off her Bostonian roots. The vocals are the key element in making Cardinals work. They are at the forefront of every track and drive the rhythm and tone of each track. (more…)

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February 9, 2017

As It Is – Okay

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As It Is is the latest pop-punk band being pushed as the next “big thing” in the scene. Their sophomore release Okay is their second album under Fearless Records.

The title track “Okay” is the epitome of the band in a nutshell: hooks you from the start with a catchy lead guitar riff, a slow buildup in the verse, and a booming chorus. It’s a solid and proven formula that has served them well. Adding a dash of variety, “Hey Rachel” boosts some impressive lyrics as vocalist Patty Walters reflects on his sisters depression growing up. Even in a more personal song, Patty has a knack for writing hooks and this track is no different. “No Way Out” offers a bit of experimentation with the spoken-word bridge. (more…)

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January 31, 2017

Summer Wars/High Wire Split

Summer Wars Split EP Art

I first caught wind of Summer Wars when they released their Acoustic EP in early 2016. Up until that point I only knew of their acoustic renditions and wasn’t sure what to expect with their full line-up. I back pedaled and found myself really enjoying their earlier works.

With this new split, Summer Wars has fully embraced their inner “I Call Fives” and released two non-stop action packed tracks. Once “Something To Call My Own” gets going, it doesn’t let up. “Tear Me Down” feels like a brother to the opener. The simple guitar riff throughout the second verse and into the chorus is the perfect backdrop to keep the beat grounded. (more…)

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January 16, 2017

Top Albums of 2016

A little late to the party, but here’s our Top Albums of 2016 by myself (Patrick) and my new writing partner (Adam).

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With Confidence – Better Weather

I gotta hand it to Australia this year. They produced two of my absolute favorite pop-punk records of the year. With Confidence made their debut with Better Weather, released from Hopeless Records. Hopeless has been doing an admirable job at recruiting new and exciting pop-punk bands and With Confidence is another successful investment. Backed by a crisp production, With Confidence’s debut album is chalk full of everything that makes a genre album exciting: strong vocals, catchy melodies, exciting riffs, and most importantly, staying power. (more…)

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