Album Reviews: The Why The Hell Are The Flyers Just Now Playing Game 1 Edition

Austin Lucas – A New Home in the Old World (iTunes Link)

If I were to briefly describe Austin Lucas’ first major release Somebody Loves You I would say that it was a somber and beautiful work of sparsely arranged folk music. One of the most wonderful things about the album was Austin’s stellar verse and it’s country twang. In Austin’s second effort A New Home in the Old World his voice is still the sail that carries the album, but the music that supports him is a wonderful change.

This time around Austin is burgeoned by a full backing group of guitars, fiddles, banjos, and a slew of additional instrumentation. These additions lift up and away from being an acoustic folk record and towards a traditional country sound that still firmly maintains the earnest and earthy approach carried by all of Austin’s solo efforts. With the fleshed out arrangements we also get to hear Austin expand his lyric writing skills with hooks and energy.

Despite these changes A New Home in the Old World still features several tracks that would’ve felt perfectly at home among Austin’s earlier works. “Nevada Country Line” is perfect example of Austin playing to his roots and showing new listeners that he doesn’t need to hide behind a bunch of instruments. The track just features a duet backed with soft acoustic and slide guitars.

It is difficult for me to not gush about the sheer beauty of the entire album. As a whole Austin Lucas took what he does best and whipped it up into something even better. I also love that this is an album that I can later share with my family that doesn’t quite appreciate my eclectic taste in music.

Amateur Party – Truncheons In The Manor (iTunes Link)

The first thing that leaped to my mind when listening to this album is that this is not traditional punk rock album. The very next thing that happened is that I realized that the minds behind Amateur Party must be huge fans of Ted Leo’s old band Chisel. More often then not singer Mike McKee just seems like he’s channeling Ted Leo and Chris Noborg or he tapped into their collective minds circa-1995. This might sound creepy, but being possessed by Ted Leo would have to be the single best person by which to be possessed.

Amateur Party does maintain more of a classic punk edge with some shouted choruses and fuzzy guitars. Track six “Even They Would Move Against Us” is a harsh track with shouted female vocals that harkens back to a simpler time in the world of punk rock.

Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still (iTunes Link)

I think writing a blurb about Red City Radio is obligatory. If you love the music championed by Punknews.org then you’ll love Red City Radio. Hell, Peter from Up The Pucks likes Red City Radio, and that means something!

If that didn’t sell you, I can tell you exactly what to expect from Red City Radio. The Dangers of Standing Still is filled with driving punk rock filled with melodic gravely vocals and lyrics about life and drinking rather than politics and social protestations. It is the sort of album that makes you want to drive around town with your windows down just so that you can force other people to listen how good your taste in music is. The major weakness of the album is that unless you’re paying attention, the album can blend together a bit. It isn’t a major problem and doesn’t make the album less enjoyable, but you can’t help but notice that similarities in song structure.


Round 2 Playoff Predictions: Royal Zombie Wedding Edition

I'm proud of myself. I watched a lot of hockey games and managed to accomplish almost nothing in the meantime. Typically I'd feel bad about that, but Playoff season is all about shirking responsiblity in favor of watching grown men in colorful clothes skate around on the ice. So... I guess the NHL Playoffs are strikingly similar to Olympic figure skating.

Also, if you didn't check out my 1st Round predictions you can take a look at them HERE. Since the predictions I made are totally irreverent the content remains amusing.

Anyways, I did pretty damn well in my Playoff Predictions. But you might find yourself saying, "Link, you made all that stuff up and seemed to pick winners totally arbitrarily." My reply to this sentiment is, I can't hear anything your saying because you're not in the same room with me and you don't have my phone number. Some of my highlights were picking Tampa Bay to win in 7 and picking Philly in 8. I consider the Flyers prediction successful because they are handicapped with the three stooges: Brobovsky, Boucher, and Michael "AWOL" Leighton. Overall I went 6 of 8, which reduces to 3 of 4, which means I only got one wrong. Yay me.

Let's move on to my second round predictions


State of My Albums

I’ve been pretty lazy when it comes to writing about music for the blog. School got busy, hockey got busy, and I was slow about getting around to giving new releases the attention that they deserved. What I would like to accomplish is to devote some of my energy towards mentioning some early 2011 releases that have stood out to me so far. We all need a break from endlessly staring at playoff stats, arguing about predictions, and throwing nails in the face of logic in the hopes of appearing knowledgeable.

Lemuria – Pebble
I’ve been a bit frustrated with album. I’ve listened to Pebble more times than any other 2011 record. There is a really good album here, but it has taken me real time to adjust to the sound. For me, I can see Pebble doing for me this year what Fake Problems' Real Ghosts Caught on Tape did for me last year. Real Ghosts grew on my slowly and now, looking back, I know that I underrated what is a fantastic album.
Music (MySpace)

The Cute Lepers – Adventure Time
The Briefs were an intensely fun band with a great live show, so I was disappointed when the band decided to take a break from new material. After hearing Adventure Time I also am disappointed that I didn’t chase after the Cute Lepers. Steve E. Nix’s new band combines the classic pop punk sound that the Briefs were known for, but mixes in power pop elements and 50s era rock & roll. The whole album is fun and infectious and is a good start for putting together a great summer soundtrack.
I can't find any recent music... so here is their website 

The Heat Tape – Raccoon Valley Recordings
I’m generally not a fan of lo-fi bands. If Jeff Rosenstock can record an incredible sounding album in his bedroom using his macbook, then why would a band intentionally want their music cheap and fuzzy? It’s like people who are part of the cassette tape movement, the logic is broken. But, none of that matters because The Heat Tape made a good album in Raccoon Valley Recordings. Each track bleeds punk rock nostalgia, with simple song structures, reverb, easy to follow lyrics, and plenty of attitude. It also helps that the supremely talented Brett Hunter of The Copyrights and Dead Landlord fronts the band.
                                                      Video: Oh, Camilla

Old Man Markley – Guts ‘n Teeth
Folk-punk was the big thing for some time, then the Gaslight Anthem ushered in punk mixed with Americana rock & roll, and now we’re starting to see a lot more punk fused with the sounds of raw country and blue grass. Old Man Markley certainly found a way to shine through the mud, and their popularity is probably partially due to being signed by Fat Mike and Fat Wreck. Guts ‘n Teeth is the kind of album that branches away from its punk rock roots and appeal to audience that will be all that much happier for having heard the music.
Video: For Better, For Worse

Here’s a list of some other records I’ve enjoyed, but haven’t gotten their due as of yet:
Let Me Crazy – Contraflow
The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still
Zoey van Goey – Propeller Versus Wings

All together it is looking to be another big year for music. There are still two things I am missing so far. The first is the ultra catchy pop punk album that is going to spend many long hours in my car. The second is the first truly excellent ska punk album of the year. I currently have high hopes for Have Nots and their sophomore release.


Playoff Predictions are Dead, Long Live Playoff Predictions: Round 1

First of all, some quick notes:  As you can see there are some new design elements to the blog.  I'm proud of how everything turned out, and I would love some feedback, especially if something doesn't look right to you.  You can e-mail any comments to puckandpunk [at] gmail [dot] com.  Also, the new Puck and Punk logo was created by forgivable Rangers and Flames enthusiast Cait over at HockeyN3rd.  So big thanks to her for the contribution.

At the start of every NHL season, bloggers and journalists bombard us with pointless predictions as to the performance of the teams in the league.  These predictions are then mostly ignored until they can be used to either deride someone or so that someone can talk about how awesome he or she was at predicting the final outcome of the regular season.  And then we hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  For the next week hockey fans are bombarded with predictions and analysis and outlines from every corner of the web.  After some time it just got annoying, but I still wanted to share my predictions and analysis of the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs