Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Prizefighters - Follow My Sound

Last week, this album was dropped into my inbox. There is always that moment before I hit play on a new record when I wonder what it's going to do to me when it starts. Where the music is going to take me. Am I going to cringe? Am I going to smile? Music is a lot like other beautiful things in the's appeal lies in the ears, the mind, and the soul of the person listening. It's a gleeful anticipation for me...that moment before the music starts. It's complete silence that I know will be broken by something that could be anything. Amazing or dreadful. Soothing or piercing. It's a delicious kind of anxiety...

I put in Follow My Sound by The Prizefighters, and I hit play. I let the music begin. Soulful. Soothing. But I am dancing where I sit. From the moment the second track kicked in, it's been on an almost constant rotation. Who the heck are these guys?! (and gal!)

They are the Prizefighters, from way out Minneapolis, MN. Started in 2006, they have been playing their brand of throwback ska on stages with everyone from The Aggrolites to the English Beat and the Toasters. Certainly no small fete in this notoriously fickle scene. This Friday night, they open for my beloved Slackers and the Green Room Rockers at Triple Rock Social Club in their home base of Minneapolis.

You can get tickets for that show HERE.

If you are within driving distance, I suggest highly that you get yourself to this show. You will not be disappointed. They are pretty damn fantastic.

The Prizefighters have a great blending of rocksteady groove and modern ska flavor layered with gritty, almost gravely vocals and harmonies. It's a really good sound. Addicting. I have been sitting here with the album in my headphones, and every so often I have to hit repeat on a song that moves me. The title track, Follow My Sound, has me in it's grips right now. It's a very soulful vocal heavy song that kicks in with organ and those raspy vocals I am loving, and maintains that groove all the way through with a quick break for a brassy solo.

This album is not all soulful vocals and swaying though. Second track Outside My Window is one of those songs where if you can stand still while listening, I don't know what to do with you and I think something inside of you might be broken or defective. Still with those sexy raspy vocals, but the upbeat tempo held fast by a thumping bass and drum beat gets inside of you and makes you dance. Peppered with brass and sing a long backup vocals, I can't help but crave this song in a live venue.

I can't help but crave this band in a live venue, in general. They have a traditional sound but it's simultaneously modern and fresh. It's fun. Truth and Lies holds my attention at the moment for favorite track on the album. Tapping percussion and powerful vocals layered over a horns and a beat I can't help but move's amazing. This is happy, grooving, driving ska that get's under your skin and into your soul. It's music for crackling vinyl, dark smoky clubs, and dancing with pretty girls. Or at least that is my vision, listening to songs like Before Tonight. Give it a listen and see what you feel...

I'm sold. Pick up this album. The Prizefighters - Follow My Soul. On a side note, the album itself was expertly mastered by my home state of New Jersey's own scene pioneer King Django. It's no surprise. This album will be in heavy rotation on my radio show starting this Sunday, and I can guarantee I will be getting e-mails of praise and request after one spin. It's that good. How did I not know about this band?

In addition to their show with The Slackers this Friday, the Prizefighters will be in Chicago on November 17th at the Mayne Stage backing the legendary Stranger Cole. That is going to be an incredible performance. If I was not 700 miles away, I would be there. I wonder how long that would take to drive...

You can find information about that show HERE.

You can get information on The Prizefighters and their album Follow My Sound HERE.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where the fuck am I? A Review of Rob's Pennsyltucky Birthday Show..., it seems I like Jameson a lot more than Jameson likes me.

Amanda, meet the kitchen floor.

As I sat there this morning trying to construct an accurate depiction of this past Friday's show so I could post a review, I realized that there were significant chunks of my evening missing from my recollection. For this, I blame whiskey, which I really need to learn to stay away from. It's like a bad boyfriend. You know it's just going to fuck up your life, but that bottle looks so damn sexy after a few pints of cheap beer...
I should have learned the last time Mr. Jameson and I tangled...the night my best friend and I were seeing a show in New York City and I wound up in a very bitchy heated debate with some Sirius radio DJ she knew about whether or not Metallica is still relevant. (my vote was no.) It's pretty much guaranteed I will never work in satellite radio. Thanks, Jameson.

Happy Birthday Rob!

So I dragged my Jersey ass out to the outskirts of Wilkes Barre, PA on Friday for the annual birthday show of my good friend, constant abuser, and promoter Rob Alapick, officially at the newly opened Rattler in Pittston, PA. A small club, but great set-up, side room with a pool table and space to set up merch, cheap beer, and a small stage set to the back. On the bill, local heroes and all around swell guys The Nonrefundables, New York City's own always amazing Rudie Crew, and the never disappointing New Jersey ska thumping Hub City Stompers. You really can't go wrong with the lineup alone...but add in the right venue, some good friends, and a bit of beer...and a night of chaos is sure to ensue.

Nonrefundables kicked it off, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by them. Not that I thought they would be terrible. I was not sure what to expect. The verdict was in after the first song though...they are a lot of fun live! Light hearted, not at all serious in even the tiniest little bit for this occasion...which was welcome. The sound is an alternative/punk rock blend reminiscent of late nights in dirty bars. It's a lot of fun, but it's good music too. Well written, well constructed songs.Plus I love any band that stacks free CD's and stickers on a table and tells the crowd to go at it. Free music is the greatest gift you can give.You can check their music out for yourself HERE.

The Nonredundables

The Rudie Crew never disappoints me. Singer Roy Radics was constantly off the stage, dancing with myself, himself, and everyone else while chatting out the lyrics to show staples like SUV, Pretty Girl, and T.R.N.C. Radics has a wonderful way of connecting with the audience, both from the stage and off, and the audience responds. It's one of the reasons they are such a great live act. That and the talented musicianship of each segment of the band. These gentlemen have been blowing me away since I first caught them at the Stanhope House in Jersey in February. I wrote about it HERE. If you have the chance to check them out, I urge you to do so.

The Rudie Crew

And to finish off the evening (before I completely blacked out), straight out of New Brunswick, NJ...Hub City Stompers. I have been meaning to do an actual write-up on these guys since I started this blog, and usually find myself far too distracted when around any of them to actually get a real interview done. Eventually. I promise. In the meantime, when I get the chance to see them live they never disappoint me either. They haven't since I first saw them at the now defunct Connections in Clifton, NJ about ten years ago. I was much younger and much blonder then. But they were just as good, each individually as musicians and as a whole. Their music is 'dancable. Between the bass lines, the drums, and the sax work and combined with lyrics that are mockingly amusing, smart, and relevant, it's no wonder there is usually a crowd chanting along in front of the stage every time I see them. Singer Travis's stage presence...even when he is directly making fun of magnetic and addicting. They are a personal favorite of mine.
You can get more information on them HERE.

Hub City Stompers

All in all, it was a great show. Great music, a lot of dancing, great friends, and a pretty fun club. A taste of the tri-state area scene, smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. I passed out face first in my clothes and my Converse on my dear friend's bed...which is better than the floor where I would have had he not moved me. Could have been the front lawn for all I know.

Jameson, you are a sexy bitch...but we are breaking up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

...Summer ends, Fall begins...SHOWS! REVIEWS! DANCING! Oh my!

The summer has finally come to an end...and in some respects, I am not complaining. I gleefully put away the few pairs of shorts I own, and slide those bins of sweaters and hoodies out from under the bed. I look to the wall and say "see you in the spring" the the *cool* setting on my central air. My night jogging seems a little easier. I delight in pumpkin coffee, pumpkin beer, windows open, long walks at night in cool air, sitting on the porch, and not having to mop sweat from my cleavage every time I step outside the door.

But it means an end to summer ska show going. Not that these bands hibernate or anything, but there is something deliciously summery about this wonderful genre and those nights spent dripping with sweat and cooling off with beer after hours of dancing. The music scene in general seems to slow down a little as the leaves turn pretty colors in the North East. My e-mail is filling with show announcements from my usual venue haunts of metal bands and Halloween parties. A quick glance at my calendar however assures me that it was just an illusion. My favorite season plans to be just as active with music, dancing, and general mischief as any summer ever was. And thank fucking goodness for that.

Starting it off, my dear friend, promoter, and fellow show hopper Rob's super birthday extravaganza out in Wilkes Barre, PA is this Friday with NJ's own Hub City Stompers, The Rudie Crew from NYC, and WB hometown favorites, The Nonrefundables. I expect this show review to be as much of a mess as my night probably will be. Between the bands, the friends, and what I imagine will be an unhealthy amount of beer should make your way there if you can.

Get your venue/ticket info here!

Also coming up are the Skalapaooza shows, which I have been looking forward to since I first got wind of their planning with a REALLY fun lineup. The always incredible Pietasters, the reunion of The Pilfers, Spring Heeled Jack playing acoustic, and more have filled out this sure to be amazing series of shows being presented by Asbestos Records. The series kicks off October 19th in Philadelphia, finishing off in Boston on October 28th, with stops in New York City, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. I have feelers out for both the DC and NYC shows. I will be headed back from my vacation in North Carolina the day of the DC show so if I can find it in my schedule (and my wallet) to be there, I will be. Either way, get yourself to at least one of these.

SKALAPALOOZA dates, venues, ticket info here!

This one almost made me swallow my tongue. I have this new found love of boat shows. Booze cruises. Ska on the water. Between the Slackers and the Pietasters this summer, I have become a devotee of dancing on a tipping, floating vessel. I had been looking for some way to celebrate my birthday (which has a history of sucking something terrible every single year) and I was alerted to this show that week. That Friday, no less. MEPHISKAPHELES, INSPECTER 7, STEP2FAR...on a boat. On a mutherfucking boat. Friday, October 26th. Happy birthday to me!!! Expect a review, and probably a lot of really blurry pictures.

Ticket and event info HERE!

In addition, I have some pieces in the works that will find their way up here for your reading enjoyment ...or criticizing. I have a TON of great music reviews that I am working on thanks to a rapid influx of submissions after my piece on The Shifters. I have my hands full of great music, and this makes me deliriously happy. Stay tuned...and get out there...