Live from The Living Room by The Modern Three: A Review

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Artist: The Modern Three

Album: Live from the Living Room

Genre: Punk rock

Punk rock has changed a lot over the years. I feel like that is a redundant thing to say, but looking at the evolution of the genre and the other genres born out of punk rock and genre offshoots (there is a lot), it’s easy to get lost in the mix of hardcore, post-hardcore, ska punk, emo and folk punk. That not even the tip of the iceberg, but at the heart of all those genres is a desire for something intense and real. Punk rock has the negative reputation among some music circles as being simplistic, childish and a heavy de-emphasis on musicianship, but that is more to it than that. Born to the be the antithesis of progressive rock, punk rock spits in the face of indulgent guitar solos and time consuming rock operas that take hours to convey meaning. Punk rock seeks to distill that meaning into something raw, revealing a greater sincerity. It’s something that can be revealed in a music studio or a living room. The Modern Three went with the latter.

Live from the Living Room is eights songs of vicious, pure punk rock. The family trio of Austin, Kylie and Eric Sloncik show a great appreciation for the genre of punk and Live from the Living Room replicates to the joy of 70’s and 80’s punk. Lyrically, The Modern Three do a good job saying a lot with very little, particularly with songs like “Second Date”, “Trick Slut Bitch” and “Alcoholic”, showcasing the minimalist tendencies of the genre with ease.

Structurally, the record is fast and intense, but doesn’t feel repetitious. “Monsters Don’t Sleep” contributes a slight goth edge, similar to bands like T.S.O.L. or The Damned, but the album maintains its own identity. Tracks like “The Mall” add humor, which is always an important factor for good punk rock. There is always a level of cynicism and awareness that creates a fun juxtaposition towards bands and genres that tend to take themselves too seriously. Adding to the levity is a cover of “Blister in the Sun”, originally by the Violent Femmes, as the closer of the album.

Live from the Living Room is a local treat for anyone interested in more traditional straight forward punk rock. It’s loaded with energy, aggression and the rebellious attitude of punk music of the past.

-b.d. ponce

Buy the album here

Like The Modern Three on Facebook.

Delta Shade by Delta Shade: A REVIEW

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m losing the score system for a number of reasons. 1. I can’t find a system I’m happy with, 2. Scores are dumb and don’t really provide any kind of meaningful representation towards the quality of music and 3. It seems counter intuitive towards promoting life within the scene. I don’t want to discourage bands with bad scores (these are still developing performers after all) and I don’t want some band’s ego to inflate because they got a high score in some obscure local music blog. This is just my opinion; it means nothing.

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Artist: Delta Shade

Album: Delta Shade

Genre: Blues rock/Psychedelic rock

When I spoke to Chad Buchanan of Delta Shade last month, I learned a lot about the band’s background. Most notably, Chad and Drummer Andy Laich originally started out in punk rock, which is a stark contrast to Delta Shade’s self-titled debut. The shift in direction came with age and that certainly is the case on Delta Shade. The album is a mature throwback to the days of 70’s hard rock, but still maintains its own modern identity.

Right from the gate, “Dark Days” demonstrates the best qualities of Delta Shade. Having been practicing and performing together since the mid-nineties, Buchanan and Laich’s synergy is strong and provides an excellent rhythm section for Travis Prine, whose presence on the album rounds out the dynamic of the trio really well. The overall sound is a very straightforward approach to blues rock, which is refreshing.

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This energy keeps on rolling all through the first half of this album as “War is Over” and “Blue Sky Black” come packed with captivating blues riffs that break into bombastic choruses that really draw in the listener. The band does a really good job building their verses into really tight and powerful choruses. It’s not a mishmash of different elements piled together into one song, everything works well together.

This reaches its peak with “Valley of the Broken Hearted”, which builds on a high energy verse into a chorus that is easily the most fun to sing along on those lonely rides home, when you are absolutely certain no one is watching. I do it even if someone is watching. Dignity is overrated, and this song is one of the album highlights. It’s one of the shorter tracks, which is sensible given how clear the structure of the song is, so the band doesn’t drag it out too long. I like a catchy chorus as much as the next guy, but don’t kill me with it.

The album’s second half is more somber compared to the first half. “Hole in the Wall” still brings the energy we saw in the first half, but “Trouble” and “Call Me” slows the tempo down a little, especially on “Call Me”. It’s a pleasant change of pace that exhibits a wider range for the band. The album finishes strong with “Desire”, which oozes with pain and longing in the way it should, but manages to be powerful, ending the album on a very robust note.

In all, Delta Shade is great debut. It’s a tight record that keeps the listener engaged while also very satisfying to die hard blues rock fanatics. Given the current climate of high production pop music, it’s nice to sit back and chill to some straightforward, well-crafted blues rock.

-b.d. ponce

Buy the album here on bandcamp

Check out Delta Shade’s Facebook.

Check out the video for “Blue Sky Black”.

livelearnlove by Stay Wild: A Review

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Artist: Stay Wild

Album: livelearnlove

Genre: Punk/Hardcore

Score: 4/5

                I’m not going to lie; this review will seem a little biased, but that is mostly because I adore hardcore punk. I love anything related to hardcore: plain hardcore, post-hardcore, metalcore, ska core, emocore, nerdcore (also known as Nintendocore as I am learning of now), jazzcore, etc. Hell, you can attach “-core” to polka and I’ll be all over it. That being said, I’m making a conscious effort not to overpraise or undervalue Stay Wild’s EP livelearnlove. I want to be fair while also not seeming like I’m just jerking off a band that melted my face off at ‘Thrasho de Mayo’ (I wrote a review of that show, check it out here

That disclaimer aside, the production on livelearnlove is crisp. Recorded at Buzzbombs Studios in Anaheim and running in at just under twenty minutes, Stay Wild delivers some of the most passionate,  intense hardcore that I’ve heard come out of the high desert in a long time. Released on June 24th of last year, I’m actually eleven months behind the curb on this one, but I hope there is shred of forgiveness as this blog is only three months old (better late than never).

livelearnlove is Stay Wild’s third EP and maintains the same level of ferocity as their two previous EPs, Pacemaker and the self-titled Stay Wild EP. Drummer David Fajardo gives a solid, commanding performance while bassist Jehiah Tonneson and guitarist Nick Riggs share the vocal duties with Riggs taking the bulk of the work. Together, the duo produces a combination of screaming, singing and near- spoken word performances that go from somber to chaotic in just seconds. Tracks like “Iconoclast” and “The Killjoy Luck Club” come packed with tons of energy, while the final track, “Blossom”, eases up on the tempo, but not the passion.

Lyrically, Stay Wild is not shy about their left-wing values and incorporates these themes heavily into their music. “Trigger Warning” serves as a great response to the criticism and stigmatizing of standing up against social issues. Terms like “Social Justice Warrior” and “Feminist” carry a negative weight in our current culture and Stay Wild tries to tries to knock this out by loudly proclaiming “I can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen”.

Given the current political climate, Stay Wild’s brand of hardcore is a perfect blend of the fury and emotion that helps combat any anger still permeating over the current presidential administration. After all, catharsis is a strong component in art and the making of art and punk rock, in general, has always served as a great platform for political anger. Stay Wild’s livelearnlove is a reflection of both rage and compassion that, I hope, serves as a great precursor of what to expect from emerging hardcore acts over the next few years, both in the High Desert and the rest of the country.

-b. ponce

Purchase livelearnlove and Stay Wild’s other music here

Stay Wild’s Facebook

Stay Wild’s Soundcloud

Ghosts in Pocket, Banana Daiquiris, and the “Barberton” Mountains

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By Mark Simpson

Barberton is the name of a unique and small town located in South Africa. The town was a gold mining town in the 1800’s and is surrounded by some of the oldest exposed mountains in the world. This improbable town also provides the name for the newest album by local Inland Empire indie rock band Ghost in Pocket. “Barberton” is the five-track stroke of genius that, with the help of kick starter and their fans, Ghosts in Pocket gave birth to on October 9th, 2015.

” It was important to us that we try to make “Barberton” feel like progress, because that’s also what the songs strive to do musically and lyrically.” – Keith

The album was produced, mixed, and mastered with the help of up-and-comer John Kunkel, who is a Los Angeles Native who owns Division 87 Records and performs with the group New Division. With influences such as Burt Reynolds and Carrot Top laying heavy on the band’s mind, they could go into the studio and lay down what may be, in my opinion, the best sounding local album I have heard in the last 5 years. The first track on the album is the title track “Barberton” which has an amazing video that gives you a look at the band and the lengthy recording process that goes with releasing an album.

From bandannas, to Nick cutting a good rug, to empty Rolling Rock on the floor, you can get a sense of how much this album met to the group. As someone who has found myself in padded room for hours on end listening to the same song over and over, I can tell you that the studio process, though amazing, can be quite lengthy.

“I think I speak for the group in saying it took us a lot longer to finish this project than we would have hoped. I suppose it’s all a part of the learning process.” – Zach

The group’s song that is a personal favorite of mine is “Make it Break” which shows off Chris’ unique drumming style. As a fellow drummer, I love that the song consistently keeps it’s energy and drive while Keith sings moving lyrics that, by the end of the track, have us all saying “Lovers, Lovers, Lovers”. When asked about the track Keith gave us some interesting perspective on what makes it such a hit with fans:

“My music interest has always been guided by meaningful and intentional lyrics, regardless of genre or style, and so, especially with the EP, I wanted the songs to resonate with a theme. I think the song that does it best is “Make It Break,” which I also think is one of the more basic songs structurally.” – Keith

I pictured myself sitting with the group listening to “Make it Break” and sipping on a Banana Daiquiri a favorite of my main man Nick… you read that right, a Banana Daiquiri. As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder about the group that got its start from playing a pancake dinner for elementary children. As Keith put it, the song has a mood to it that is quite hypnotic and, as you can see from the video, the song may have a darker meaning than one might expect.

As I listened to moving songs like “Separated by Ice” I got a feeling that this album is much darker than their first album Shadowbox. I could see where a bit of studio magic had happened on the track; originally the track was slated to be electric but at the last-minute John Kunkel asked Keith if he might try it with the acoustic. As Nick put it, he is forever grateful for John’s quick decision and went on to say that, to this day, the track still gives him chills.

“Keep the Heat Coming” may be something of a dark horse on the album as it fits in perfect with the album but, on it’s own, shows a much different side of the group. It is a song that shows the most pressing of steady, high energy and ends with Zach playing a very powerful solo while the group seems to explode in different directions that work together simultaneously.

The album comes to close with what may be their most powerful song to date, “Statues Pulse,” which features a cool assortment of horns courtesy of Zach’s good friend Sean Portanova. The band, who gets their name from the haunting work of Dave Eggers, really shows their strengths in this song as singer Keith lays down one of my favorite lyrical lines:

” There’s nothing to prescribe I’ll trade my nerves to help you feel alive.”

As I finished the album, I could see why the group has been so successful and able to open for groups like We are Scientists. It is, to me, the way that the group can write such moving music while staying objective about their art. The group is a tight-knit group who can be a lot of fun to hang out with. They are bit witty and comical, but when they take the stage, much like Shaq when he hits the court, they rise to the occasion. If you would like to see these guys rock the desert make sure to come out to their show at Frogee’s on April 14th. As a closing, for this album review Id like to leave you with some information on the group as well as Nick’s 3 things that will help you conquer the world. Cheers!

“First, chip clips are poor substitutes for nipple clamps. Second, a tri-tip should rest for at least 10 minutes after you pull it off the grill. And finally, if California marijuana farmers aren’t called “ganjapreneuers,” they should be.” – Nick

Buy an Album $5 right Here –> https://ghostsinpocket.bandcamp.com/album/barberton-ep

Website: https://www.ghostsinpocket.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ticket2ridepromotions

GhostinPocket

Catch their next show at Frogee’s Apple Valley with Rustic Wild and Heavy Door on Friday, April 14th 2017 at 8pm.

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Red Relic announcement and EP review

Red Relic is an alternative rock band residing in Victorville, CA that popped up in 2015. They quickly became a favorite among the high desert locals playing at popular venues in the area such as Frogees, Hilltop Tavern and the Desert Rocks Film and Music Event festival located in Hesperia, CA. We are sad, however, to announce we were recently notified of the bands departure. The band members have moved on to pursue their own life passions. We will update our readers as we are notified of new bands the members may join. Derek McEntire has joined the local Inland Empire punk metal band, Dead Reckoning.

With the departure comes Red Relic’s first EP release available for listening for free on SoundCloud. It brings you a mid-nineties alternative punk sound along with today’s alternative rock vibe. Their main single release, “Pump Up The Volume” makes you want to jump up and down while wearing your vans sneakers in a MTV Spring Break video in hopes they might be playing with Green Day. It’s a fun EP to get people moving at any event. I personally enjoy it and enjoyed watching them live. Their tunes will be missed. Please check their Red Relic SoundCloud profile to listen to their EP and past songs.
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