Search Results for: bad religion

MUSIC REVIEW | Bad Religion – Christmas Songs (2013)

Bad Religion is possibly my favourite band of all time.  They’re definitely the band I listen to more than any other.  When I order my iTunes library by Play Count, Bad Religion takes up 6 of the top 10 spots.  It’s this love that made me so worried when I first heard about their latest release, Christmas Songs.  The name is not a joke or some subversive, punk rock comment.  This is Bad Religion, playing well known Christmas songs.  Was that worry justified?  Kind of.

Greg Graffin has never had the widest vocal range, although that has never stopped him creating some pretty impressive melodies and harmonies.  But now we’re in the era of a well and truly middle aged Graffin, changing up live arrangements because his voice struggles to hit some of the marks he set in the 80s and 90s.  So it’s an interesting choice to start Christmas Songs with an a Capella intro to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.  But then it’s given the flat out melodic punk rock treatment, complete with a guitar pick shredding down the strings to launch into the chorus, and I know I’m listening to a Bad Religion record.

Once you hear the Bad Religion spin on one of these songs, you pretty much know exactly how they’ll all sound.  But O Come, O Come Emmanuelle and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas sound like they’ve gone to the most effort to really add something new, instead of just upping the tempo and layering on the distorted guitars and palmed mutes.

God Bless Ye Merry Gentleman is by far the stand out for me.  If it wasn’t for the festive lyrics, I’d assume this was a legit Bad Religion tune.  Speaking of legit Bad Religion tunes, Christmas Songs wraps up with a completely non-Christmas song, a previously unreleased version of American Jesus form their awesome 1993 album, Recipe for Hate. Maybe I’m just too attached to the old version, but it didn’t sound that much different, and the small differences I did notice, I didn’t like.  Tinnier, slighter and thinner, why bother?

Is Bad Religion’s Christmas Songs inessential?  Completely…  Is it terrible?  Take away the familiar yuletide words and melodies and most of these would sound like, while not fantastic, at least totally serviceable Bad Religion songs.  The not so amazing ones that they bury in the last few tracks on any given album.  And if nothing else, you get 20 or so minutes of Brooks Wackerman proving he’s one of the greatest drummers in punk rock.

Bad Religion

MUSIC REVIEW | Bad Brains – Bad Brains (1982)


Bad Brains is a name I’ve always heard and always known I should give a go. They’re one of those punk bands who helped define a certain version of the genre in the late 70s / early 80s, and they’re still going hard today. That period was particularly strong for birthing long enduring punk bands. Bands like Bad Religion and NOFX, who have figured out how to age gracefully, while staying undeniably kick ass in their punk rocking ways. And it’s because I love Bad Religion and NOFX so much that I think it’s high time I paid tribute to their East Coast brethren with their self titled debut, 1982’s Bad Brains.

Bursting out of the gates, Sailin’ On is a two minute assault that definitely sorts the listener wheat from the chaff. Bad Brains make no attempt to ease anyone into Bad Brains. If this insane tempo and blistering sound is too much for you, turn off now. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I like every single song on here.  I just think it would take dozens of listens before I’d be able to tell them apart without the aid of a track listing.”

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There was time at the turn of the millennium when my music consumption had probably hit its most narrow.  Punk rock courtesy of Bad Religion, The Vandals and NOFX, ska thanks to Reel Big Fish, and throwbacks to my teenaged years of Pearl Jam, Primus and Aussie indies of the 90s would have represented pretty much the sum total of my listening.  I didn’t listen to any radio and I wasn’t interested in recommendations from anyone else.  This was also a time when indie rock was quietly being taken over by sensitive grandeur.  Bands like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend.  Bands I never gave a chance until long after the rest of the world.  Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, with records like Transatlanticism.

Souring, crunching guitars, driving drums and strong but vulnerable vocals.  It’s a combination I associate with all of the above mentioned grandly sensitive bands, and it’s a combination in full effect on The New Year.  The vulnerability is cranked up and the volume lowered right down for the dreamy reflections of Lightness, before reaching its most sensitively grand on Expo ’86. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Social Distortion – Social Distortion (1990)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I like all of these sings individually.  But ten Social Distortion songs in a row does get a little redundant.”

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80s and 90s Californian punk rock fills a fairly large section of musical library.  Bands like Bad Religion, The Vandals, NOFX, Guttermouth represented almost all of my listening in the early 2000s, and they still get a regular run today.  But it’s a time and region so rife with amazing music, there are bands I’m aware of and like, who I still have never really dedicated much time to their work.  Including Social Distortion.  Which is why I just listened to their self titled record, Social Distortion.

Punk rock rawness with a big, mainstream metal sound, So Far Away has a super slick, studio sound.  But the voice of Mike Ness is too real and gritty for any engineer to ever polish completely.  It’s such a great way to open an album, and announce its intentions.  They might be punk rockers, but Social Distortion never let that be an excuse for lazy song writing, structure or half assed execution. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Vandals – Fear of a Punk Planet (1991)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Sometimes, I just need something light and fun from my punk rock.  Sometimes, I just need the Vandals.”

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Picture it, Brisbane Australia at the turn of the millennium, a young Pete Laurie gets obsessed with Bad Religion, and very quickly sees that obsession spread to their So-Cal contemporaries.  Snot nosed teens in the 80s who kept their bands together long enough to perfect their craft and become punk rock elder statesman in the 2000s.  What that meant was literally dozens of records to catch up from bands a like NOFX, Guttermouth and The Vandals.  While Bad Religion tackled the big issues, Guttermouth focused on giving society an adolescent middle finger long after their own adolescence were over, and NOFX graduated from finger giving to tackling big issues.  But The Vandals focused more on keeping it light, fun and tight.  With a constantly changing line up over their first few years and albums, things began to solidify with Fear of Punk Planet.

The Vandals have always specialised in the mundanity of life.  They’re not system fighting, issue driven, machine against raging punk rockers.  They’re much more interested in giving the small moments of everyday life a kick of punk energy.  Like having a crush on a local Vietnamese pizza delivery girl in a song like Pizza Tran.  It’s A.D.D, frantic pace never gets in the way of its punk edge.  An edge that still somehow manages to shine through on the mix of glam rock, hair metal and disco that is The Rodge. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Dag Nasty – Can I Say (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says; “I have no idea how consistent their output stayed over the years, but Can I Say makes me really interested to find out.”

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In the early, early 80s, Brian Baker was a founding member of hardcore, punk rock legends, Minor Threat. Since the mid 90s, Brian Baker has been a core member of one of my favourite bands of all time, and by far my absolute favourite punk rock band of all time, Bad Religion. I may have listened to Bad Religion more than any other band in the last 15 or so years (I even stole the name for this site by bastardising one of their song titles), and Baker’s blistering guitar work is a big reason why. Which was I was stoked to discover that he had another band in between his two higher profile genre definers. A band called Dag Nasty, which released an album called Can I Say.

Straight away, Values Here makes me think Dag Nasty must have had a big influence on Pennywise.   The making the best of the limited vocals approach of Dag Nasty’s Dave Smalley can definitely be heard in the voice of Jim Lindberg from Pennywise. While Baker’s octave spanning, riff heavy guitar work makes this single guitar band so much bigger. A tactic employed by guitarist Fletcher Dragge in pretty much every Pennywise song worth your time. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Ramones – Ramones (1976)

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I’m a big punk rock fan. Mainly of 90s, Californian punk rock like Bad Religion, Guttermouth, The Vandals and NOFX. Which I’m sure traditional punk rock fans would think makes me a poser. I like The Clash, I find the Sex Pistols supremely over rated. But to me, my love of 90s punk rock has always made me a little scared to give the Ramones a go. I like what I’ve heard, but it sounds so simple and innocent. I also think it all sounds exactly the same. How many times can I hear the same song with s different name? And if I don’t like it, am I bad punk rock fan? With my fandom on the line, I took the plunge anyway, and listed to Ramones.

Opening with one of the songs I have heard plenty of times before and assumed represented everything else I’d hear on this record, Blitzkrieg Bop is a cool enough two minutes of poppy punk and gets the job done without ever outstaying its welcome. Which leads into an early pleasant surprise with Beat on the Brat. It’s not like every other Ramones song I’ve ever heard. Despite its simple guitar sound, it’s almost a little 80s new wave and pretty far from what I expected from this record. While still sounding exactly like the Ramones. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Rancid – …And Out Come the Wolves [20th Anniversary] (2015)

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Two decades ago, the mainstream was dabbling in punk rock thanks to bands like Greenday and The Offspring. While just to the left of the mainstream, there were watershed moments like Punk in Drublic from NOFX and Bad Religion’s Stranger Than Fiction. Now, the dust has settled and only the real classics remain. Classics like Rancid’s …And Out Come the Wolves.


MUSIC REVIEW | Blur – Parklife (1994)

Park Life

In the mid and late 90s, there was a battle for British rock supremacy between Oasis and Blur.  Apparently.  I’ve only heard about in the years since.  At the time, in Australia, I knew both bands and their hit singles, but never categorised them together in any way.  Oasis was the rock band with big, easily digestible singles that I really hated at the time.  Blur was the silly, novelty band that made quirky little songs.

In the years since, I’ve softened on my hatred of Oasis and come to know that Blur were revolutionary, influential and anything but a novelty.  But I only know that in theory, because so many music fans and critics I like have told me that.  I’ve never actually bothered to experience Blur for myself.  Which is why it was high time I finally listened to their chart topping breakthrough, Parklife. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)


When the whole Odd Future crew started to blow up a few years ago, I was determined to like them.  I needed to know why the kids liked ‘em so damn much, and convince myself that my own tastes were still relevant.  I listened to Tyler the Creator, he was young, dumb, homophobic, too cocky and his rhymes were awkward.  I tried to listen to Earl Sweatshirt, but the shitty sound of his mix tape stuff was too much for me to still give a shit when he finally made a real, studio album.

So by the time Frank Ocean broke, and broke big, I was over the whole Odd Future thing in general.  No matter how many times I read someone declare Channel Orange one of the greatest albums of 2012, the Odd Future stank was too much for me to get past.  Now, that stank has wafted away, and it’s time to find out why so many music writers declared Channel Orange one of the great albums of 2012. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014)


Weezer have spent almost two decades under the very long shadow of their first two albums. Their debut Blue album was a nerdy oasis in a flood of 90s grunge. They proved you could keep the overblown guitars, but replace the drizzle soaked Seattle angst with a poppy geek aesthetic direct from Sunny California. A couple of years later, they released the then-ignored, since-revered Pinkerton. When I wrote about Pïnkerton, I said, “Weezer is one of the most consistent bands to emerge from the 90s. I’d never give their best album anything higher than an 8/10, and their worst is probably a 6/10. Pinkerton’s right in that range too.”

Well, it seems the band also disagrees with me and sees Blue and Pinkerton as their clear high watermarks, because their latest long player, Everything Will Be Alright in the End has one of the most literal, in your face mission statements I’ve ever heard on an album. Back to the Shack, the first single from the album opens with Rivers Cuomo declaring, “Sorry guys I didn’t realize that I needed you so much. I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks. I ended up with nobody and I started feeling dumb”.


MUSIC REVIEW | At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

At the Drive In
I know this is probably going to sound completely ignorant to anyone who likes At the Drive-In, but they seemed like a bit of a novelty to me back in the day. They came out of nowhere, hit Australia big when they did a Big Day Out tour at the turn of the century, then kind of faded away. They didn’t disappear. Even after breaking up, the aftermath bands of The Mars Volta and Sparta got plenty of alternative media coverage.

But to me, At the Drive-In always felt like a bit of a flash in the pan. Another loud, angry band spouting some message I couldn’t give less of a shit about. Sorry, it’s not the message I couldn’t give less of a shit about. I don’t know what their message was. It’s a band’s desire to spread a message that I couldn’t give less of a shit about. I’ve said it before, even if I love your band, love your music and totally agree with your opinions, I still don’t care about your opinion. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Minor Threat – First Two 7s (1984)


When I wrote about Fugazi and their album Repeater, I said the band and “Ian MacKaye, are discussed with such admiration and reverence, that the thought of being a punk fan and not already knowing everything about them is embarrassing”.

If you want even more admiration and reverence, you just need to go back in time to McKaye’s pre Fugazi outfit, Minor Threat. Which is exactly what I did when I listened to First Two 7s. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014)


Weezer have spent almost two decades under the very long shadow of their first two albums. Their debut Blue album was a nerdy oasis in a flood of 90s grunge. They proved you could keep the overblown guitars, but replace the drizzle soaked Seattle angst with a poppy geek aesthetic direct from Sunny California. A couple of years later, they released the then-ignored, since-revered Pinkerton. When I wrote about Pïnkerton, I said, “Weezer is one of the most consistent bands to emerge from the 90s. I’d never give their best album anything higher than an 8/10, and their worst is probably a 6/10. Pinkerton’s right in that range too.”

Well, it seems the band also disagrees with me and sees Blue and Pinkerton as their clear high watermarks, because their latest long player, Everything Will Be Alright in the End has one of the most literal, in your face mission statements I’ve ever heard on an album. Back to the Shack, the first single from the album opens with Rivers Cuomo declaring, “Sorry guys I didn’t realize that I needed you so much. I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks. I ended up with nobody and I started feeling dumb”.


MUSIC REVIEW | X – Los Angeles (1980)


As much as I love punk rock from the 90s and beyond, I’ve never really done my history homework and listened to the bands who really kicked it off. Sure, I’ve heard plenty of the biggies, like The Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Saints. But when bands like Bad Religion and NOFX have more than a dozen great albums each, it’s hard to find time to look back further. X is a band I’ve known I should listen to for years, but I guess it wasn’t that high a priority, since I got to things like Anthony Callea and Falling in Reverse first. At the risk of too little too late to ever recover from such a credibility blunder, I listened to X’s Los Angeles.

It may have come out in 1980, but this sounds like punk rock in its infancy. Your Phone’s Off the Hook But You’re Not, Johnny Hit and Run Paulene and Soul Kitchen are all direct descendants of 50s rock, just sped up and turned up. It was also a great surprise to hear an ealyish punk band with a woman taking on half of the vocals. Punk in general is so masculine, and even more so in those earlier days. A female singer gives Los Angeles a dimension you don’t hear enough in the genre. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Pennywise – Yesterdays (2014)

Along with Bad Religion and NOFX, Pennywise have endured long enough to make sure that teenage punk fans of the 80s and 90s have never had to resort to ever listening to any new bands ever since. These guys have all been cranking out albums on the regular for upwards of three decades. And for the most part, they never seem very interesting in surprising anyone. I, for one, love that. These bands all do what they do really well, so if they can stay consistent, I don’t need any huge leaps in evolution or experimental genre hopping.

Technically a new album, Yesterdays is almost entirely made up of unrecorded Pennywise songs from the band’s sessions from A Word From the Wise in 1989 and Unknown Road in 1993.   But to any Pennywise fan, this isn’t just a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut the first time around. With the majority written by the band’s late bass player, Jason Thirsk, Yesterdays is great tribute / goodbye to Thirsk, who’s shadow has hovered over the band for almost 20 years now.

Like I said in the opening paragraph, Pennywise isn’t the kind of band who has changed all that much over the years. Which means they’re in a better position than most bands to record songs written decades ago. If they sound dated, it would only be because you find the entire Pennywise aesthetic dated. Luckily, I dig what they do, so another album of solid, tight, Californian punk rock is OK by me.

Old or new, these songs are Pennywise songs. After taking a break for 2012’s All or Nothing, it’s great to have Jim Lindbeg back behind the mic, and the guitar of Fletcher Dragge is as fast, as distorted and as palm muted as ever. And really, not to sell the contribution of drummer Byron McMackin or bass player Randy Bradbury short, but that that Linbderg / Dragge combo is all any Pennywise fan could ask for.

Closing their live shows with the originally Thirsk penned, later reworked as a tribute to the bass player, Bro Hymn Tribute is a nightly reminder to Pennywise fans that the band has never forgotten him. And now we have Yesterdays as another memorial. I’d say that Yesterdays is for Pennywise fans only, but at this stage in their career, I’d say that about any of their albums. Either you’re going to be into what they do, or you’re not. Which album you choose to base that decision on doesn’t really matter.


MUSIC REVIEW | Black Flag – Damaged (1981)


I love punk rock. I love Henry Rollins. So why have I never taken the time to listen to Black Flag and presumably love them too? A few times a year, I’ll ask myself that question and listen to a random track or two. Then, something will distract me, and I’ll forget all about Black Flag for another month or two. At 35 minutes long, it’s a travesty that I’ve never found the time to listen to Damaged in its entirety until now.

Opening fast, loud and as in my face as I hoped a Black Flag album would, Rise Above is a great combo of disgruntled anger and positivity. Henry might be singing about being sick of the world around him and how it’s run, but he’s also singing about overcoming it and doing his bit to make the world a better place. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Descendants – Milo Goes to College (1982)

Ah, to be a punk rock fan in California during the 80s.  Being able to see bands like Bad Religion, The Vandals, NOFX, Social Distortion and Guttermouth, all just starting out, playing in tiny clubs.  I probably wouldn’t have been cool enough to know they existed in those early years.  Even if I was, it would have been hard to get into those sorts of clubs when I was 6 or 7 years old.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t nostalgically remember a scene I was never even a part thorugh rose coloured glasses.

The bands listed above probably only prove my own surface level appreciation for the big bands who made it through to main stream success, which is why I know I need to dig deeper.  With no better reason than the fact that I have often seen NOFX’s Fat Mike wear a shirt emblazoned with this band’s iconic logo, I decided to listen to The Descendants’ 1982 outing, Milo Goes to College.

Early on, Parents is a great example of what I associate with this time, this region and this version of punk rock.  When vocalist Milo drops a line like, “Parents, why don’t they shut up”, it’s a kind of ill-informed angst and self-unaware naiveté that only makes it more endearing more than 30 years later.  Or is it so self-unaware?  Because when they returned to a similar snot nosed, middle finger flip for When I Get Old on their album Everything Sucks almost 15 years later, it makes me think there was more deliberate irony in Parents then I initially expected.

As amateur and aggressive as Milo Goes to College is, there’s no denying that there was a more accomplished band waiting to happen.  Bikeage and Jean is Dead show the poppier melodies were always inevitable. By slowing things a down a little, it also shows the musical ability of the band, smothered by the speed of so many of the other songs.

15 songs in 30 minutes is a good indicator of what to expect from Milo Goes to College.  Over all, the production is exactly what you’d expect from a fledgling punk band of the time.  Somehow completely locked to its time of recording, yet completely timeless and vibrant all these decades later.  It’s very DIY, very raw, very tinny and you can hear every band member almost figuring it out as they go along.  And all off of that is what makesthis albumreally, really great.

The Descendants

MUSIC REVIEW | Husker Du – Zen Arcade (1984)

As a punk rock fan, I’ve always known I should have dedicated more time to Husker Du.  But when the bands I love, like Bad Religion and NOFX, keep releasing new stuff so regularly, it’s hard to find time to look back and do your civic duty of appreciating what came before, what lead punk rock to where it is today.  One half of Husker Du is also responsible for this lack of time.  Every time I listen to a Bob Mould solo song, or something from his post-Du outfit, Sugar, is time I’m not listening to where he started.  So out of equal parts curiosity, a feeling of responsibility, and just because I really, really wanted to, I finally listened to an entire Husker Du album from top to bottom, Zen Arcade.

Even with my limited Husker Du experience, I know they started as a pretty full on, noise and attitude based punk rock mess.  The melodies and song writing prowess of both Mould and co-lead singer / songwriter Grant Hart, came later, Zen Arcade sounds like the bridge between both.

There’s still plenty of screaming, plenty of messy for messy’s sake guitar work and the production values have that signature thin and tinny 80s punk rock sound, but Mould and Hart can’t contain their growing melodious sound.  Plenty of catchy hooks and earworm pop progressions creep through the feedback and anger.

Husker Du’s conscious decision to move away from their punk roots, or at least redefine what it means to be punk band, are obvious in the album’s length.  A double length, concept album of 23 songs telling one continuous story isn’t exactly common in the genre, but Zen Arcade mostly lives up to its ambition.  Every track feels necessary, and the story element is as evident through the sonic flow as it is in the lyrics.

This concept album structure also means it’s a lot less about looking for stand out individual tracks, and more about the big picture (although The Tooth Fairy and the Princess could have easily been dropped).  Having said that, if I had to choose a couple of tracks to listen to in isolation, without the context of the rest of Zen Arcade, I’m partial to Chartered Trips, Beyond the Threshold, I’ll Never Forget You, What’s Going On, Pink Turns to Blue and Turn on the News.

I was already me well and truly in the Bob Mould camp.  And the limited exposure I had to Husker Du before this meant I was pretty confident I was going to like this album, which I did.  The only downside of having finally listened to Husker Du’s Zen Arcade is the increased guilt over how long it’s taken me to finally get around to it.

Husker Du

MOVIE REVIEW | Elmer Gantry (1960)


“Mister, I’ve been converted five times. Billy Sunday, Reverend Biederwolf, Gypsy Smith, and twice by Sister Falconer. I get terrible drunk, and then I get good and saved. Both of them done me a powerful lot of good – gettin’ drunk and gettin’ saved.”

Burt Lancaster was awesome. He was the kind of man’s man that existed in the Hollywood of the 50s and 60s, and just doesn’t exist these days. You believe his characters are hard drinkin’, hard brawlin’, hard lovin’ tough nuts, because Lancaster himself seems like he was capable of some hard drinkin’, hard brawlin’, hard lovin’ tough nuttery. I’m not saying that’s the kind of thing men should aspire to in the modern age, I’m just saying it lead to a certain kind of leading main back in the day that I think Hollywood misses in 2014. And I don’t know if that side of Lancaster was ever put to better use than it is in Elmer Gantry.

He loves his booze, he loves his women, and he loves riding the rails, but none of that stops Elmer Gantry (Lancaster) from preaching the word of his lord and savior. Initially, he parties hard at night, while using his gift of the gab to sell dodgy appliances by day. Christ and consumerism is the combo he exploits to make a buck. Then, he stumbles across the tent revival church of Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons). Talking his way into her inner circle, Elmer becomes an integral part of the organisation. While he preaches the fire and brimstone that scares everyone into thinking they’re doomed, Sister Falconer is there offering the comfort salvation. (more…)