Reviews

Classics of Love – “Classics of Love”
5/5 Fingers Up
Reviewed by: Steve Heretik

Hey you know that band called Rancid? Well this is not them.

I stumbled upon Classics of Love completely by accident… Yesterday… The mp3 hard drive for my work place’s stereo was on ‘Random New Releases’ when this band came on the stereo. I immediately took notice as they destroyed the monotonous dub step and the shitty screamo and new hip-hop that had been rotting my brain all shift. They sounded like a band I should have known but I had no clue who they were. Challenge accepted. I threw on the entire album, much to my co-worker’s dismay, and came to the conclusion this MUST be Jesse Michaels singing and this has got to be his new project. When I got home I pulled up good ol’ Wikipedia and my suspicions were confirmed… Behold Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy’s new band.

Now to review this here album.

It begins with feed back and a drum roll – how punk rock. Immediately your ear drums are thrown into a visceral mosh pit. It’s loud, it’s smelly, and it’s awesome. However, as soon as you get your bearings and begin your finest slam dance the song is done and we’re off to the races. You’re then taken into the next track which is a catchy little ska-punk diddy called “Castle in the Sky.” Again, as soon as you get your skanking shoes on it’s over and then comes the next song. And so goes the album. It’s a very chaotic experience the first time through and it will leave you feeling used and abused but hungry for more.

It is incredibly difficult to escape the obvious nod back to the Operation Ivy days. In fact if you didn’t know any better you would think this was just another Op-Ivy album that had been 23 years in the making. You can clearly hear Michaels’ previous efforts in songs like “Castle in the Sky,” “Bandstand,” and “Stronghold,” but don’t get me wrong this is totally not a bad thing. I love Operation Ivy and anyone else who loves Operation Ivy will definitely be stoked about these songs.

Classics of Love are without a doubt a hardcore punk band, and to find a hardcore punk band in 2012 that still embodies what hardcore was in the 1980s is rare. You can hear the 80s in songs like “Last Strike,” “Dissolve” and “It Will Not be Moved.” It is oddly refreshing to hear music that sounds like it is 30 years old when in fact the album was released not even 2 weeks ago. Maybe it’s because I’m sick of the over produced-rehashed-melodramatic for profit insincerity that is being delivered to today’s youth on a continuous basis. Maybe I’m just a bitter 20 something year old who desperately wishes to be part of Generation X. Or maybe I just really like this album. Regardless of what it is it has been all love for Classics of Love.

Authentic is a word that can be used to describe this band. As a kid who never really got into the whole fashion aspect of Punk Rock (sure I’ve dabbled… I put patches on shit, I still occasionally rock a Mohawk and yes I do dye my hair unnatural colours) I have always thought that the whole idea of dropping a hundred bucks on a bullet belt and plaid pants was sort of ridiculous. To me punk rock will always be more so about ideas and how you live your life and playing music as hard and as fast and with as much heart as you can muster. Punk rock will never be about selling out venues and trying to convince someone you are authentic by showing how ‘punk rock’ you are on the outside. Uhh… Where was I going with this again? Oh right. Classics of Love is not Rancid. Take a look at a picture of these guys… unripped jeans? Plain t-shirts? Natural hair colours? NO VISIBLE TATTOOS?! Visually there is absence of the punk rock stereotype… And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, so why am I even bringing it up? I have a point, and the point is this: Classics of Love is just authentic hardcore; they play hard and fast and put an emphasis on meaningful lyrical content while keeping it short and sweet (but not too short and not too sweet). The album itself has a vintage quality to it as well which makes it sound like it is indeed straight out of the 80s. I get the vibe that the attitude they have is “fuck the politics of punk rock, we have a message and we’re going to tear through our instruments and vocal chords to make sure you hear it” and it is an attitude that is amicable.

The majority of the songs on Classics of Love’s self-titled debut run under 2 minutes long and the whole experience runs just over 20 minutes which is impressive for a 13 track album. Not uncommon for a hardcore band but impressive none the less. Listen to it once and I guarantee you will listen to it at least twice more before you call it a night. Is it anything overly original? Not really and I don’t think they expect you to find originality. What you will find is an awesome little hardcore punk album with lyrics that will make you think and will wake you up from the iHaze that society has placed you in.

You can stream their entire album online for free on Purevolume.com (whether this is thanks to the band or a kind soul who decided to share the album is not clear, but regardless it is awesome. But you should still go buy it like good boys and girls). Classics of Love is out on Asian Man Records and you can check them out on the interwebs at: www.facebook.com/classicsoflove or www.myspace.com/classicsofloveband.

The hardcore is hard, the ska is dirty, and the overall experience is just lovely. I give it 5 out of 5 fingers up. Now let’s just hope they tour to Toronto.

P.S. Throughout the course of writing this review I have probably listened to the album 5 times. It is still playing. Heretik out.

Posted 02/26/2012

Burnt Witch Survivors Group – “Support E.P.”
4/5  Fingers Up
Reviewed By: Steve Heretik

Alright where do I begin…? I guess the beginning is a good place. It has taken me awhile to get around to writing this here review because I didn’t know what to make of Burnt Witch Survivors Group at first. After a bunch of listens here is my review of their cleverly titled EP called “Support.” “Support” is a musical rash. What? a rash? Isn’t that a bad thing? Well I’m going to get to that… At first this album is a little tingly but nothing big… But the more you scratch it the more it spreads and eventually takes over your body. That was my first impression of this EP – at first I was like “alright this band sounds familiar;” you’ve got the scratchy garage rock vocals and noisy instruments with a hint of a punk rock influence (and considering all three members were once part of the Winnipeg based hardcore punk outfit The Caustic this doesn’t really come as a surprise), so what’s so great about it? Well there is more beneath the surface than what the first impression gives you.

Like I said this EP is a rash. The more you listen to it the more it takes over your body and will make you want to dance, rock out, tap your feet, etc. Having been a fan of The Caustic I was a little thrown off by BWSG as I was expecting something along the same lines. I have to say after multiple listens the EP gets better each time. There is so much going on that it takes a while to take it all in. The ultra-distorted vocals do get a bit distracting but once you get passed the distortion (which doesn’t take long trust me) the listener is offered one of the best audio treats you can ask for from a local band…err…independent band.

Take for example the heavily distorted track “Party with Ghosts.” The title doesn’t lie, what we have here is a definite party complete with a dance beat by Satan himself. Let’s check out the breakdown: You’ve got Jordsy’s distorted bass holding down the fort while Ryles keeps the tempo up with a frantic dance-punk-polka beat. Then come the up-strokes from Jer’s guitar and if the combination doesn’t make you dance you must have no soul. Of course there’s more to this track than just the breakdown but it is an element that definitely makes the song.

Other tracks worth highlighting: “Hey Man” – I haven’t heard a piano create such an eerie feeling since the first time I heard “Do Nothing” by The Specials. Overall “Hey Man” is just an eerie and manic feeling song which is refreshing when a lot of these post-punk bands get so repetitive. What this band has is character and a soul. Just by listening you can hear the guys giving it all they got, playing music the only way they know how – loud and back alley porn theatre raunchy.

Running just over 20 minutes it seems a little long for a 6 song EP but trust me it goes by fast and you will listen to it again and again. Their facebook page says they have been compared to bands such as Mudhoney and Bikini Kill and I would say that’s fair. You can check out  half of their EP for yourself on their MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/bwsgmusic. They also have a demo for a new track called “Cannon Ball” up there… pretty good. Heretik out.

Posted 02/15/2012

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