By: Nick Manduley
New Jersey punk outfit Pheller independently released their latest EP, No Blood, on July 27th. Diving into the 6-track effort is “The Ballad of Bobby Briggs,” which starts with some crunchy palm-muted guitars backing guitarist Matthew Piserchio’s passionately punk vocals. The track has a lot of energy; the pounding drums, dirty guitars, and larger-than-life melodies had me thinking “Alright, this EP is about to melt my face off.”
To my surprise, however, “Bobby Briggs” is followed up by the somber and rather mid-tempo track “Down.” Though it wasn’t the continuity I was expecting, the track won me over with its cheeky lyricism: “You watched my fall from grace / Just as the floor met my face.” This track features an acoustic guitar which, in my opinion, really rounds out the song, especially when that heavy chorus kicks in. “Down” is an almost anthemic tune, good for anyone who feels they “can’t seem to catch a break.”
The release pushes forward with “Vlog #2 Soaked on Splash Mountain,” which re-captures some of that initial momentum that was set by “The Ballad of Bobby Briggs.” This song feels like a party; the soaring harmonies and and catchy guitar riffs will have the listener hooked, and just like any good party, it flies right by. The song is a brief 2 minutes, and leaves the listener feeling like it ended almost as soon as it started. Luckily, this isn’t a party, it’s a song, and I can simply play it over and over again.
The album charges into its second half with “The Bottom” and “Dual Suns.” There is a lot of duality between these tracks, but I think they just might be my favorites from No Blood. “The Bottom” is an explosive, upbeat track, guaranteed to open up a push pit in your DIY basement venue. “Dual Suns” chases it with a 6/8 tempo and a catchy chorus to boot. As Piserchio belts “What’s the point anyway? Everything changes,” against that monstrous chord progression and spacey lead guitar, it’s clear that this track is the emotional powerhouse on No Blood. The album draws to a close with “Wounds,” which acts as one last upbeat, power-punk hoorah. Guitarist Nigel Pierson along with Piserchio offer some great lead guitar work; Corey Granese provides some soul-pounding unclean vocals as well.
No Blood is currently available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can download it for the “name-your-price” option on the Pheller bandcamp page.
By: Nick Manduley
New Jersey rock trio Shred Flintstone independently released their newest record Lois on June 21st. Lois showcases the band’s groovy, psychedelic take on gritty garage punk. The release opens with “The Flood,” which starts gently with a reverb-laden guitar riff before a jangly drum beat picks up the track as fuzzy vocal melodies begin to paint the mix.
The record picks up the energy with the tracks “Nemo” and “Dit Urself.” “Dit” is what’s known in the local music circuit as ‘straight fire’- the infectious, nasty guitar riff immediately grabs the listener’s attention. This song is a textbook example of how to get a crowd moving. “Nemo” is a fun track that brings some pop flavor to the garage rock style, not to mention some super sweet harmonies courtesy of vocalist and guitarist Dan Barrecchia. Tracks such as “Bad Art!” is an anthemic, fuzzy punk song that will bring a rebellious vibe to any basement venue in the country. “What Luck” cheekily pokes fun at those who habitually opt out of attending gigs on account of being “kinda tired.”
“Kirby” takes us into the final leg of this eight-track journey with a wall of harsh feedback before breaking into an oh-so-danceable guitar riff. As noisy guitars and reverby vocals paint the tune, it’s clear that this track is a standout powerhouse of rock. The title track “Lois” shows the band’s funkier side; the track opens with an infectious bassline courtesy of bassist Jack Walbridge before Barrecchia joins in with some funky-fresh lead guitar. Drummer Joey Giambra effortlessly clicks away with Walbridge’s bassline as the track enters a wild guitar solo that slowly descends into a cacophony of noise, before breaking into one final chorus of straight-up punk goodness. The track ends with the hazy high-energy jam “Where’s My Dog?” Clocking in at a whopping six and a half minutes, this fuzzy punk ballad serves as the perfect ending to Shred Flintstone’s Lois.
Lois is now available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can catch Shred Flintstone on stage at The Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey on Halloween night. They will be sharing the stage with Jersey rock heroes America Part Two. Tickets can be purchased via the event page on the official Shred Flintstone Facebook account.
By: Nick Manduley
Emo math rockers Origami Angel released their latest EP Gen 3 at the end of May. The two-piece from the greater Washington, D.C. area packed their newest release to the brim with twinkly guitar riffs, indie pop hooks, vicious drumming, and cheeky pop culture references. Though Gen 3 is only a brief four tracks in length, there is not a single dull moment on the release.
“Ruby” starts infectiously with a memorable vocal hook that builds into an avalanche of upbeat drums and twinkling guitar riffs that weaves seamlessly through guitarist and vocalist Rylan Heagy’s melodic vocal sections. “Sapphire” is an unapologetically fun track which offers some memorably cheeky lyrics; if you find yourself at a basement show and hear kids shouting “I know you more than I know anything about Pokemon, or Star Trek, or Twin Peaks, or even Rocket League” then you just might be at an Origami Angel gig.
From the first second, “Emerald” is easily the emo punk powerhouse on this EP. It comes right out of the gate with an infectious guitar riff that’s bound to get crowds moving. The dance beats and math rock riffs on this track easily make the song into party fuel (as if the whole EP wasn’t party fuel to begin with; the album cover itself is a hilarious parody of a Pokemon video game cover). Drummer Pat Doherty brings the heat on the funky closing track “XD Gale of Darkness” as Heagy spits those fast-paced verses. “XD” takes a very a heavy shift as the drums begin to almost pulsate behind Heagy’s screams before the track descends into an aggressive beatdown, effectively ending the EP with a bang.
Gen 3 is available on all major streaming services. Fans will be able to catch the band in Fallston, Maryland at the DIY venue Grateful Acres. The venue address can be found by direct messaging @smmyhck on Instagram. They will be sharing the stage with other up-and-coming artists such as Sammy Heck, Monster Bad, Jack M. Senff, Bad Heaven, and Morning Dew.
By: Nick Manduley
Soul, rage, rock; these adjectives only scratch the surface of the black feminist powerhouse that is Seattle’s Bearaxe. The four-piece punk act blends progressive rock roots with the raw, emotive stylings of soul. Vocalist Shaina Shepherd delivers a mind-blowing vocal performance on their debut EP Last Call, fusing her biting soul voice with explosive jazz and funk influenced proto-punk.
On Last Call, the band doesn’t beat around the bush for one second; the opening track ‘Buy You’ immediately graces the listener’s ears with a devilishly nasty guitar riff courtesy of guitarist Matt Williams. Shepherd enters the mix with a maniacal laugh as the track explodes into an unstoppable full-band freight train of sound, bound to have the dancefloors of rock clubs everywhere shaking with vigor. Shepherd’s seamless vocal belts give way to her zero-bullshit message to the proverbial ‘gentleman-with-the-crew-cut-in-the-back-of-the-class’: “you don’t own me!”
‘Uber’ is the next the track up to bat, and opens with bassist Jon Lemmon delivering a percussive yet soulful bassline, accompanied by Shepherd’s powerful vocals. As the band enters the track full-swing, Williams and Shepherd go almost back and forth with vocals and guitar. Shepherd sings a line, and Williams replies to her with a positively scrumptious guitar lick. ‘Ready or Not’ pushes the release forward with an angry, upbeat rock progression. Shepherd doesn’t hold back on the high notes, proving once more the strength of her vocal prowess. It’s clear that ‘Ready or Not’ is one of the band’s magic hat tricks to get any crowd to maximum levels of hype.
‘Brown Liquor’ keeps up the pace set by ‘Ready or Not’ with crushing mid-tempo riffage and fat bass lines. Posing itself as a hard rock tune reminiscent of the classics, ‘Brown Liquor’ is easily fan favorite. The next track, ‘Undertow’, opens with a sweet bassline before Williams joins in with some clean-toned guitar noodling, with Shepherd giving a soulful and perhaps more pop influenced vocal melody. The laid-back vibe on this track rounds out the band’s sound, and gives an excellent dynamic to Last Call. The closing track ‘For the Kill’ is an aggressive, funkalicious mid-tempo track with excellent guitar work reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. For one last time, Shepherd graces us with her powerful high notes before the song shifts to a more upbeat feel, solidifying the EP as an album that goes out the same way it came in: with a bang.
Last Call is now available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can catch the band performing these epic numbers live on September 21st at the Vessel Taphouse in Lynwood, WA, and then again on September 29th at The Sunset in Seattle.