John Jackson

Rainforce – “Lion’s Den”

 Posted by on March 25, 2017 at 22:58  No Responses »
Mar 252017

Straight from Switzerland comes Rainforce, bringing back a straight ahead hard rock sound from the late 70’s and 80’s.

Rainforce is the brainchild of Andy La Morte and Matt Brand, both from the Swiss doom metal band Pÿlon.  They picked up Benjamin Mann (Power of God) from Germany and Maltese singer Jordan Cutajar, who also spent some time in Pÿlon.

Some albums transport the listener to another era and Rainforce seem to be aiming at that on their debut album Lion’s Den.  Given the number of ex- and current Pÿlon members in the band, one might think this will be another doom metal project, but that is not even close to what is going on in these songs.  Think late 70’s and 80’s hard rock like Nazareth, Sabbath, and AC/DC with a heavy dose of bands like Petra and Whitecross, and you have a pretty good idea of what Rainforce sounds like.  Starting out with a group shout of “We are living in lion’s den” in full 80’s hair metal style and then the band comes in.  Unfortunately, the production and some of the guitar overlays do not sound very good at all and even the lion roar to kick off this track seems like it was added from several rooms away.  Lyrically, the band’s Christian beliefs come through loud and clear but to the point it seems a bit forced, but in that respect as well, this album reminds me of those older bands and the early days of “Christian Rock”. Continue reading »

Pleading Guilty – “Defacto”

 Posted by on March 9, 2017 at 18:46  No Responses »
Mar 092017

Over the years, Thumper Punk Records has brought out a good bit of California-esque skate punk bands and their latest find is Pleading Guilty, perhaps ironically, not from California but Colorado.

Anyone familiar with Thumper Punk Records roster will certainly recognize their emphasis on melodic punk rock with a Christian message brought out by bands like False Idle, True Liberty, Metanoia, A Common Goal, Heart Like War, and the list goes on and on.  Many of those bands do have that Southern California punk rock vibe to their sound  that includes bands like NOFX, Dogwood, Craig’s Brother, Pennywise, and so many others even though most of the aforementioned bands are not at all from Southern California.  Pleading Guilty fits in that same grouping as they have the sound but actually hail from the Denver/Aurora, Colorado area.  The four-piece would fit right in on a bill with any of the bands mentioned previously. Continue reading »

Flatfoot 56 – “Odd Boat”

 Posted by on March 8, 2017 at 23:34  No Responses »
Mar 082017

With St. Patrick’s Day coming soon, this is turning out to be quite a good March for celtic punk with first The Tossers and now Flatfoot 56 releasing great albums to get you moving and singing along.

The family effort Flatfoot 56 with brothers Tobin, Justin, and Kyle Balwinkel, can trace their roots back to the Southside of Chicago much like the Tossers.  With Odd Boat, the band is on technically their seventh album since 2000 although most know of only the five releases since 2004’s Knuckles Up, which served as my introduction to Flatfoot 56’s brand of infectious celtic punk rock.  I can still remember the first time seeing them live at Cornerstone Festival…the energy and passion was infectious and in subsequent years, catching the special late-night theme shows at Cornerstone was a highlight of the festival even for those not big fans of the music. Following Knuckles Up in 2007 was Journey of the Midwest Sea and then in 2010, Black Thorn came out and the band’s exposure grew immensely, leading even to things like having a song featured on Sons of Anarchy.  Toil followed in 2012 and for Odd Boat, the band chose to go the independent route and went to Atlas Studios in Chicago to work with Matt Allison. Continue reading »

Fantosh – “On the Verge”

 Posted by on March 7, 2017 at 19:19  No Responses »
Mar 072017

Dutch band Fantosh started out as a two-man project comprised of Steff and TimQ who toured across a good bit of Europe playing unplugged shows and longing for the intensity of being a fully amplified rock band.  In 2014 Leo joined as a bassist turned drummer and the band was complete.  Pulling out all the stops, the band began working with Travis Wyrick (POD, Pillar, Nice Lashes) who had encouraged the band to put everything into their performances and pushed them each near to their breaking points in order to get the best performances.  The end result is the band’s debut, On the Verge

Ok, so I admit, I watched the video for “Dirty Stars” first and I was thinking Fantosh was kind of a cross between Europop and someone like Skillet, then I was able to hear the first track “The Bullet”.  It does start out similar with some keyboards/sound effects but then this dirty, raucous guitar riff comes in and my first impression is blown.  Shouted, gruff vocals do take a bit of the front part of the mix but they work within the context of the song.  The guitar riff punctuated by the keyboard accents works very well in this song and now they remind me a bit of Blindside but not to the point that anyone would confuse the two bands. Continue reading »

The Tossers – “Smash the Windows”

 Posted by on March 5, 2017 at 22:37  No Responses »
Mar 052017

Straight from the South side of Chicago, the “world’s loudest folk band” is back with their ninth album, nearly an hour’s worth of celtic-punk tunes paying homage to the band’s  Irish roots and the Irish-American experience.

Hailing from Southside Chicago, the Tossers have been performing as a band since 1993, predating some of the other, more well-known celtic punk bands, like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  That being said, to their credit the Tossers have shared the stage with a plethora of great bands, including the likes of Mastadon, Sick of It All, the Pogues, and the obvious Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.  Interestingly, the Tossers were also granted the honor to play the Kennedy Center in May of 2016.  All in all, it’s a pretty good story for a band that got its start playing pubs in the south side of Chicago.  As a bit of trivia for the curious, the name comes from a slang term for British coins that became worthless when the southern Irish Free State won independence from Britian .  For Smash the Windows, their ninth full length and sixth on Victory Records, the band worked with longtime producer Andy Gerber at Million Yen Studio in Chicago.

The Tossers have certainly not scrimped on this album as it has 17 tracks and runs nearly an hour in length and to make things clear, every song is solid on this release.  To make things easier, there are several types of songs on the album: the upbeat, story-telling songs; the loud, raucous, pub singalongs, a couple instrumentals, and the slower, somewhat melancholy and bittersweet tracks that often have a more traditional celtic feel to them than the other tracks. Continue reading »