We Were Pirates – “Matter”

WhenWe Were Pirates - Matter We Were Pirates puts out new music it gets me excited for a few different reasons. One is that Mike Boggs, the mastermind of We Were Pirates (WWP), is talented yet completely unassuming–the lack of pretense in his approach is refreshing in this day and age when many artists think that since they can record their sounds and have a social media account that they and their music should somehow be magically famous.

Where they miss the point, Boggs totally gets it. He makes the music that he likes, keeps the songwriting tight and puts it all together in a cohesive package. The lack of posturing, irony and whining gets two big thumbs up from this old-school music lover; it’s what also makes me respect him as an artist and musician. The good ones never need to resort to millenial-esque self-infatuation, they realize that the product will either be good enough to stand on its own, or it won’t.

For those unfamiliar with WWP, Boggs is the singular musician behind the band, recording every part of the songs he writes himself. On Matter, Boggs brings indie rock and synth-pop sounds together neatly, hearkening back to a warm and gauzy 80’s feel that smartly pulls off sounding familiar and new at the same time. Not sure what I mean? Try this on for size: when Hollywood gets around to remaking the brat pack movies (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, etc), they need look no further than Matter for the soundtrack.

That’s not to say that the strength of this album is limited to pure nostalgia and throwback goodness. For those that like the lyrics in the music they enjoy to have meaning–true, real-life meaning, not insipid catchphrases that pander to the disengaged and simple-minded, Matter delivers strongly in that way. It’s not so much that Boggs weaves ornate tales or comes across too intellectually for some, but it’s the straightforward honesty in his lyrics that grab my attention and hold it there. There is something very refreshing about the reflective nature of the songs on Matter, which I wish more musicians would pay attention to. Truly no single song can solve the woes of our planet, but when real, honest lyrics cut through the mindless clutter surrounding our everyday lives to make us really think, that is when a musician becomes an artist. In my opinion, Boggs was already there with We Were Pirates. Matter just solidifies that feeling, and it makes me relieved to know that Boggs and We Were Pirates exist.

Give Matter a listen to hear what I am talking about. No need to give me credit when you feel these songs in your gut, wondering what personal tempests led Boggs to create them. They’ll make you pause and think, and the album is solid all throughout, cutting through the clutter and noise that make up so much new music to clearly stand out.

Get Matter for yourself:
iTunes: http://apple.co/1QuRrVH
Spotify: http://spoti.fi/219XSlV
Physical CD: http://bit.ly/1SlAEZP

Bumpin’ Uglies new EP has best title ever: Sublime With No One

BU-SublimewNoOneYeah, they went there with that title. Aren’t you glad they did? I am, because they just set the reggae/punk/rock scene back closer to a state of normalcy than it’s been in a loooong time.

If you listen to Bumpin’ Uglies enough, several things will hit you, perhaps unexpectedly to the uninitiated. First will likely be but that name! You may ask yourself, do they take themselves seriously? Is it a gimmick? What type of characters make up this band? Second will be the direct and from-the-gut lyrics lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Brandon Hardesty throws down. Third will be the characteristic humor and charm you find in him and his band, realizing that they make grooves that are immediately recognizable, memorable and loveable. Which I suspect is exactly how Brandon wants it.

Stream Sublime With No One  on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/0r8mVEt4LpixMYsrI5Ml8X

That’s not saying that Brandon doesn’t take his music seriously; he certainly does, however he holds nothing back in poking fun at himself and life in general, but it comes out right when it’s the true words boiling out. It’s just Brandon and Bumpin’ Uglies. See the final track title and lyrics for what I mean.

So it came as no surprise when Brandon contacted me to ask my thoughts about naming the next Bumpin’ Uglies release Sublime with No One. In my opinion there is no other band out there that could do something like this and have it make complete sense other than Bumpin’ Uglies. There will never be another Brad Nowell, we will never have Sublime again, especially the brutally honest and at times gut wrenching lyrics. It is something Brandon shares with the late legend, and it’s something that I applaud. Be who you are, be true, and own it. Brandon has never tried to be anything he’s not, nor has his music ever veered into places that were of questionable intent. In an age where everyone is becoming hypersensitive to words and speech they deem un-PC, Brandon flips them all the proverbial bird. And for that I am grateful.

Irreverence? Check. Humor? Check. Honesty? Check. Integrity? Check. Five new tracks of punky-reggae-dirty-rock-ska goodness from Bumpin’ Uglies? Yes please. These guys are slowly yet steadily developing legend status, mark these words: They are never going away. Sublime With No One just proves that they’ll never change, and obviously they’ll never sell out and try to be something other than Bumpin’ Uglies. Not many bands can say that…hell, not a lot of people can even say that.

Brandon and Bumpin’ Uglies approach is decidedly old school in a new school world. No pretense, no made up facade, no over-inflated sense of self-importance from them, ever. There was only one Sublime, and it should be said that there is only one Bumpin’ Uglies.

Sublime With No One track list:

  1. Warning
  2. Social Ladders
  3. Nostalgia
  4. Maturity
  5. Fuck It

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/bumpinugliesmusic

http://bumpinugliesmusic.com/

Charlotte, NC reggae-funk rockers Of Good Nature release new single “Life Worth Livin”

Of-Good-Nature---Album-ArtEmaildisclaimer: Of Good Nature is a Montauk Music client. This is the press release for their new single. 

Hit Play:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Of Good Nature unveils the premier single, “Life Worth Livin” off of their forthcoming album of the same name, which is set for a October 23 release.

Four years have passed since their well-received debut album Just Add Water, with the band expanding from three to four members, introducing trombone into their new material. Lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Cameron Brown is confident this lineup has the right dynamic and talent to exceed the success of their debut album, which garnered Nashville’s Indie Ville TV Reggae Album of the Year.

The lyric video for “Life Worth Livin” is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoLE7cSkeyU, and the track is available for purchase at http://ofgoodnature.bandcamp.com

Brown grew up learning piano from his grandmother, then picked up a guitar at 14 when he saw his brother learning to play and decided that he had to learn as well, lest he be outshined by his younger sibling. Brown and his guitar have been more or less inseparable since then, initially playing the music that strongly influenced him growing up–mostly Hendrix and the blues, but as he got a bit older reggae music made a big impression on him, to the point where Brown says, “Reggae always felt right.”

“Life Worth Livin” has the feel of a tried and true reggae jam, though Brown’s skillful blending of influential styles is evident.  The song was an easy choice for the band to choose as their first single because they feel that we as a nation have changed, and that the message will resonate with Americans who feel and see this every day and wonder what has happened. The lyrics allude to this collect shift, and that what we stand for is slowly being lost.

The song came to Brown during a writing session at his favorite spot on Lake Wylie in Charlotte, NC last summer. Ruminating on the state of our nation, the lyrics “We used to be, we the people, unity,” were written to reflect that the changes so many of us feel contradict the Constitution of the United States.

Howi Spangler, lead singer of Ballyhoo, gave the song strong praise: “The intro guitar/bass riff has that 311-shuffle vibe that I like. I dig that lazy trombone there too. I also like how the song goes more uptempo in the bridge, almost like a jam band. Then they bring it back down to finish it out. Nice to hear a solid American reggae rock song from an East Coast band. It’s very easy to get cheesy with it and these guys don’t go there with “Life Worth Livin”.”

 “Live Worth Livin” was recorded at Ocean Industries Studio in Charleston, SC, which is owned by Shinedown bassist Eric Bass. It was produced and engineered by Eric Rickert and Jeff Leonard Jr. (A song they engineered,”Cut The Cord”-Shinedown, just spent 12 weeks at #1 on the Billboard rock chart–It’s now #2.) It was mixed by Eric Rickert and mastered by Michael White.

The title track single “Life Worth Livin” is available for download 9/25 and on 10/23 the full length album will be available on iTunes and other platforms.

Link to live performance video:

Other links:

www.ofgoodnature.com/

www.youtube.com/ofgoodnature

www.facebook.com/ofgoodnature

www.instagram.com/ofgoodnature

About Of Good Nature: While touring the East Coast, Of Good Nature has rocked festivals such as Shamrock Fest (Washington, DC)…sharing the stage with Rock/Reggae powerhouse Sublime with Rome. During this time, the band also focused on creating and getting back in the studio to capture the new sounds and additions to the group. Their lineup is: Cameron Brown – Guitar/Vocals; Joey Vachon – Drums/Vocals; Brandon Hucks – Trombone; Jon Reed – Bass.

Slightly Stoopid: Everything Is Awesome 2015 Tour Review

“I hope you weren’t planning on taking any drug tests soon, because you sure as hell won’t pass!”

*This was taken last year. Jeff Schad was busy falling of his bike in the Swiss Alps and couldn't make it this year. He said, "What other band besides Stoopid lets you get so close, and is so cool to work with in every way?

Slightly Stoopid Review Concert Pier Six

The setting for our show, Pier Six Pavilion located in the Inner Harbor.

On Thursday, July 16th, I was able to see Slightly Stoopid with the Dirty Heads play at the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, Maryland. Continuing my efforts towards catching big local shows, something that was on a tiny bit of a break, I was very excited to see my first, real, big venue surf reggae show, and it paid off. Playing at the Pier Six Pavilion across the Inner Harbor from the Aquarium, I don’t think there could be any better venues for a show like this, save a California beach that each one of these groups is all too familiar with.

Before I physically got into the concert, I was notified by the beneficiary who was able to get me the tickets that I should be on the lookout for a very awesome energy. Slightly Stoopid and the Dirty Heads, despite the slightly similar geographic influence and paths to stardom, have never toured together. This was the first time that most, if not everyone in the area would have been able to see both bands playing together on the same bill. It was apparent from my first steps in that the energy my boss spoke about was already rising. One could even argue that the energy was… high.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid Review

A candid scene as the show starts.

The first thing I noticed getting in was how pretty the physical backdrop of the concert was. A beautiful day on the Inner Harbor set the scene for youthful festivity. It seemed hard to believe that this same city, beaming in the summer sun, was tearing itself apart at the seams and burning itself to the ground only a few months ago. Everything felt safe. Security guards joined in with the elevated fun that swept over the crowd like a haze. The overwhelming presence of youth at this concert, with the majority of audience members looking like they be anywhere from high school to college aged, was another very different energy that I had never felt before on such a wide scale.

While the absence of locally brewed National Bohemian was apparent and missed, the setup for the night was fine. Crowds on the lawn and in the seated areas with two easy access points made the trip in a walk in the park, all the while being able to look out and enjoy your time on the water.

Slightly Stoopid Pier Six Review

The concert progresses and more people fill in.

Kicking the night off was The Expendables, based out of Santa Cruz, California. Considered a reggae rock band, I was able to hear more influences than just basic reggae and rock. Noted, it was classic surf reggae, but the heavier based distortion coming through the guitars and out the amplifiers made for a very special tone that accompanied the rhythmic beats. While too much being tied together could give anyone a headache, The Expendables were able to put it together. Playing hits such as “Down Down Down”, “Sacrifice”, and “Bowl for Two”, a definite crowd favorite, The Expendables were able to kick off the night with high energy. Almost too high. For the time of day with the sun shining down, pretty much ruining any chance at stage lighting, this band was seriously ready to amp it up. And I personally do not think that the crowd was ready be so amped up quite that much.

Combining the efforts of two guitars, a bass, and drum kit, this high octane set was not willing to let any sound go unnoticed, from what seemed to be heavy metal shredding to an island jam. This kind of “island shredding” was technically very cool. But, the surrounding atmosphere may not have been the best for it. If you are into party rock, I would highly advise to check out some of their work around the internet. But this group definitely seemed much more primed to play a darker, closer to night time, arena, or even big bar gig. While their music was not bad at all, I think that some liberties could have been taken by the group to play more in the mood. I am not defending having different sounding opening acts by any means. For example, without Van Halen completely blowing Black Sabbath off the stage every night they opened for them back in the late 70’s, would they have been so big, so quickly? While that discussion may be for another article, I definitely think that keeping up with the reggae hits that The Expendables did so well to begin with, as well as being able to keep the crowd going with, would have made for an even better opening than the one they had.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid

Once it got dark, the party really started.

The second group of the night was none other than The Dirty Heads. Another reggae – rock fusion band coming from Huntington Beach, with the current line up being active members since 2003, there is not much to say other than these guys absolutely killed it. With the sun beginning to set to allow the light show to kick in as well as even more people filling in to begin the festivities, this was definitely a notable point in the night in which the music matched the mood masterfully. Playing songs like “Lay Me Down” and my new personal favorite for the night, “Medusa”, The Dirty Heads were able to pump some amazing jams and blow the collective minds of the audience. With a great crowd energy, I can safely say that I will be catching these guys if they come around again. Big venue, small venue, they put on a great show.

Dirty Heads, from a previous show at Pier 6. Our photographer was out of town. Sorry.

At this point in time, I feel it is only appropriate to talk about one of the most memorable observations I was able to take away from this specific show.

I have never seen so much weed being smoked in one place, at one time, as I did that night.

Sweet lord.

There must have been a piece of something for every four or five people that were in attendance, all of which had to have been snuck in. And that absolutely did not go unnoticed by the performers on stage. It’s like the bands were amping all of the herbal based debauchery up, making people go even crazier than they would already. I think I should probably be pleading the fifth on this whole topic, but it is just too good not to bring up. It was clear that for every four or five people attending, there was something to go around. Even some security guards were getting in on the action. I thought that the guy vomiting at the Skynyrd show I saw earlier in the summer was funny, but the security guard trying to hit something way too aggressively while crouched in the middle of a circle of people? Easily topped that sight.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid

You think I was J.J. Abrams or something with all of this lens flare. I blame Siri.

By the end of The Dirty Heads’ set, as the sun was setting into darkness, the haze that had spread over the crowd meant everyone was ready for one thing – for the highest (get it?) billed group to begin their performance. Pre gaming the crowd with 90’s hip hop accompanied with a modern bass, presumably from one of the musicians in the band, it was very clear that people, including myself, were ready to party. I don’t think anyone could have come up with anything better than playing early rap, such as 2Pac’s “California Love”, to get the final leg of the party started. With a great crowd energy and who knows how many musicians, from guitarists, bassists, singers, percussionists, keyboard players, and most importantly the horn section, coming on and off, joining the jam, Slightly Stoopid, the top billed performers of the night, played a great set. With every song’s melodic and rhythmic structure blending in almost feeling like one big jam, the waves of music pouring over the crowd made for a great Thursday night concert on the water.

Slightly Stoopid, also from a previous show at Pier 6. Damn photographer was falling off his bike in Switzerland.

Based out of Ocean Beach in San Diego, Slightly Stoopid, along with the rest of the groups for that matter, were able to bring the California state of mind to the East Coast. From the use of reggae, to rock, to ska, and anything else in between, the combination of party music and the youthful atmosphere for a nice night. It’s no secret that I want to end up in that area before I die. I talk about it all the time. The seemingly biggest center of industry for hard rock and surf reggae alike and everything in between, the West Coast seems like one of the places to be right now. Gigs like this are instrumental into bringing that California soul out of the one place where it comes from, and the one place that is incidentally, running out of water.

Pier Six Slightly Stoopid

Boaters catching the show on the water. Pretty nice set up.

All in all, another great night. I consider myself a pretty lucky guy, but being able to go to events like these, party to great music, and meeting awesome people, is making this summer one I will remember. Personal quips aside, anyone looking for a great time with big time surf reggae music this summer is doing a disservice to themselves by not catching this tour. Seeing big concerts like this is always a pleasure, and with the tour only going until September, the opportunities to catch the one band second only to the progenitors of this whole genre, Sublime, accompanied by other hands down, amazing acts, is going quickly.

Coincidentally, the show they play in Colorado is already completely sold out. One could only imagine why.