Broadcaster, Tightrope Walker, 2012
Man, am I stoked about these guys. Since I first heard of Broadcaster a while ago, I’ve really gotten to like all their stuff. Their upcoming EP Tightrope Walker is no different. The opening track, aptly titled the same thing, is the best song on the EP if you really want to know. The catchiness of front man Jesse Litwa’s melodies and everyday lyrics are refreshing. Broadcaster has always reminded me of an upbeat, punky Weakerthans (how could that be a bad thing?). Vocal harmonies run rampant and the tambourine makes a few cameos on this 3 song record, which only adds to the simple, yet respectable musicianship of these dudes.
The band has a lot coming up this year; playing a bunch of fests, summer tours, and the release of this bad boy next month! With the help of Jump Start Records (who are doing a lot of rad things right now), these guys are doing it right and they deserve all the recognition. This ‘review’ is pretty much just a praise-piece, but I can’t get enough of Broadcaster. Listen to the jams and support them!
Review by Jeff Hersch | 2/4/12
Spraynard, Funtitled, 2011
I drop the needle onto the vinyl slab with anticipation. “This is going to be sweet,” I think to myself as the noise begins to build up. A powerful bass guitar accompanied by a fantastic drum beat complete with well-placed cymbal work. And then the vocals come in. ‘Are we dreaming? ‘Cause we know we’re not awake.’ I must be dreaming, but fortunately, I am not.
This is Spraynard’s Funtitled LP, and the above encounter does not describe what happened during my first listen, but during the second, the third, the fourth, and even the fiftieth listen. Hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania, Pat Graham, Mark Dickinson, and Pat “Dos” Ware are the brainchildren behind this gem of a record that has not left my rotation for quite some time now. Everything about this album is perfect, from the music and lyrics to the production. It is also very well-rounded in terms of musicianship. Songs like “Ah Gun” showcase a driving, balls-to-the-wall rhythm, while the track “Not Good Enough, Gary” proves that these dudes also know how to kick back and groove if they want to. Speaking of grooves, dig those drum beats! I am a drummer myself, and Dos’ playing leaves me blown away. His fills are unique and tasty, but they also maintain the business that is common in punk rock. The lyrics are heart-felt and relatable, with topics like friendship, growing up, loss, and living life to the fullest. Besides being great musicians, these three are very cool dudes…possibly the coolest dudes. They have a new 7” coming out this year, and I’m very excited for it. Go see Spraynard and tell them how much you love their music, because you will…if you got any brains in your head!
Review by Joe Brendel | December 2011
Andrew Jackson Jihad, Knife Man, 2011 | 4.8/5
Andrew Jackson Jihad has really proved themselves this time around. With the exception of 2009’s Can’t Maintain, I could never say that one of AJJ’s albums was really great from front to back. Knife Man blew my ears (in a good way) and with songs of social awareness, I was extremely impressed. The musicianship and arrangements are unique and just plain awesome. The sounds and tone work as a perfect pair and the addition of the kazoo gives respect to the instrument.
Unlike previous releases, a majority of the jams are full band and electric, which is a perk all of its own. It’s a great sound and a great direction for the band. A few songs bring us back to an acoustic Andrew Jackson Jihad that we fell in love with (see songs “Zombie by the Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad”).
Let me just say, the songs “American Tune” and “People II: Still Peoplin” may just be some of the best songs of the decade. AJJ has stepped up the lyric-writing and these songs give great commentary on America today. Such issues as gender, race, and hard times we currently face as a country are a addressed.
Cut a few songs and you’ve got a perfect album. Not to say you won’t like the songs I don’t, but some just seem like fillers. The last song blows the hair of your neck and the whole record really makes you think as well as laugh, which is a nice balance. Andrew Jackson Jihad rules hard and by the looks of their current tour selling out from city to city, they can only go up from here. This album is definitely vinyl-worthy: put it on and just chill. Much respect.
Review by Jeff Hersch October 24, 2011
By Surprise, Mountain Smashers, 2011
I have been obsessing over this album, quoting it and singing it and hearing it in my sleep. This is By Surprise’s first full length and damn, these bearded men with glasses can fucking rock. Seriously, front to back it rules. I’ll admit I enjoy the [sometimes] goofy vocals, but the music and instrumentation could stand alone as a rockin’ indie record. This band is fond of harmonious chants and fun backups and I can’t get enough. The lyrics are creative, superb and personal. Mountain Smashers has a great flow from fast upbeat tunes to mellow jams and musical goodness providing natural body highs throughout.
For most of the record, both guitarists are playing different riffs/leads and I envy that so much. It’s hard enough writing one lead, let alone two varying guitar parts for almost every song, for most of the song. Kudos to you duders.
These guys definitely have talent but maybe more importantly, obvious passion. This is a kickass record. So get toasty and comfy, put on some nice headphones, and lay down in the dark and enjoy Mountain Smashers by Jersey’s own, By Surprise.
Standout Tracks: Realometer; Mostly Harmless; Last Chance to See; Fountain Splashers; So Long and Thanks For All the Shark Jaws; Hanging Out With Wendy In Sulikland; Direct Loans. PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE ALBUM.
Review by Jeff Hersch | May 24, 2011