Ever When – EP
I have to hand it to The Char, this is quite possibly the most fun punk rock band in town, and Ever When, the band’s second EP, is a joy to listen to. Although I called the band “Folk punk” a few months ago in the review for the single “Derby is Love,” The Char’s sound is more in line with late 70’s/early 80’s punk bands such as Dead Kennedys, Buzzcocks, and Television, along with a solid Violent Femmes vibe as well. More than anything, their sound is a throwback to Louisville’s first wave of punk rock bands like The Endtables, No Fun, Your Food, etc. This isn’t surprising though seeing as how The Char’s vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Chuck Baxter was part of that early Louisville punk scene as a member of ModernHeirs (1981– 82) and Poor Girls (1982 – 86). Chuck’s quip: “Punk wasn’t a sound but a willingness to try anything to get that…something” certainly comes into play here; whether it be the energetic old-school pogo punk of EP opener “Be Still,” the early Talking Heads-esque “Wanna Hang Around With You,” the Violent- Femmes-meets-Dead-Kennedys sound of “Derby is Love,” the improv jam “Starship Whores,” or the slow build of “Murders in the Hearts of All Lovers,” The Char seem willing to explore whatever their fancy is in that moment of songwriting. And it’s just fun being along for the ride, wherever they’re going.
D Boone Pittman
“East of Ravenna” – single
Dealing with the tragic Eastern Kentucky flooding of July 2022, “East of Ravenna” is the first single from Lawrenceburg, KY, singer/songwriter/guitarist D Boone Pittman’s upcoming third full-length album Resurrection Noise, and is meant to project hope to those still dealing with being displaced and/or grieving the loss of loved ones affected by the floods. The song and video serve to redraw attention to the recovery efforts, said Pittman; “Natural disasters happen every day and our attention span chases the next new thing. I wanted to do something to redirect or focus to the area while also honoring the victims.” The song and video both hit their mark on every aspect of that goal. The song opens with the sound of a ratchet being adjusted and a hammer-to-anvil in harmony representing the rebuilding efforts, setting the pace for this mix of traditional bluegrass and country with a flare of Southern rock. Pittman does an amazing job lyrically of capturing the tragedy and despair while simultaneously focusing on the strength and pride of the people and towns affected to rebuild and overcome. The music video is particularly powerful, showing very little of Pittman himself, instead focusing on news clips of the disaster and recovery efforts. This song is truly a bright beacon of hope and confidence amidst the tragedy. The song can be downloaded through the non-profit playitforward.com. All proceeds go to the KSR Flood Relief Fund.
“501c3” – single
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that Louisville bands bring their own style and flare to whatever genre of music they’re playing. Hardcore is certainly no exception, and FALL brings it on a level all their own. There is so much to their latest single “501c3” (their first new music in over three years) that I have to break it down by parts. 0:00: Melodic yet heavy through the first minute. 1:02: First breakdown. The aggression swells then explodes. If your adrenaline isn’t spiking right now, you’re either not paying attention or you’re dead. 1:26: Early Snapcase style riffs with a “Sick of it All”- type breakdown. 1:56: It suddenly became a really heavy Sunshine song. 2:10: Blast beat, you’re about to die! 2:25: Heavy, old-school beatdown hardcore. If you’re not delivering a windmill kick to someone’s face right now, then you’re on the receiving end of one! 2:53: Melodic breakdown. 3:18: Brutal, punishingly heavy bridge and chorus. 4:36: The calm before the storm. 4:55: Absolutely fucking crushing hardcore through the end; your neck is gonna hurt tomorrow! And THAT is how you do hardcore! This is one of those tunes you’re going to need to catch your breath afterwards. Bands like Terror, Strife, and Knocked Loose come to mind, as do Hatebreed and Earth Crisis before they both became metal. This is in-your-face, aggressive, fist-swinging, nowhere-safe-to-stand-because-the-whole-crowd-is-one-big-pit, true hardcore!
Eye of the Skull – album
Having gone through a rough fight to reclaim his band name, Brian Omer returns with undoubtedly Stonecutters strongest album to date. That signature Stonecutters sound is still intact, but on this, their sixth full-length album since 2005, the songs sound more focused and direct than ever before. I think a lot of this can be attributed to the incredible lineup that Omer has put together: guitarist Chris Leffler, bassist Jayce Wraley, and drummer Johnny Wooldridge. It’s not hard to tell that there was a lot of heart behind writing and recording these songs, as all band members play them as if they’re trying to sonically crush the listener. Coming through like a combination of early 90’s Death and Obituary mixed with Acid Bath, Damaged-era Black Flag, early 80’s Iron Maiden, and a bit of Cro-Mags’ The Age of Quarrel, calling this a powerful record is an understatement. Tracks like the hardcore stomper “Scowlers,” which is pretty much Omer’s battle cry, the grinding dual lead guitar assault of “One of Us,” the sludgy title track “Eye of the Skull,” and the old-school death/thrash punch of “Worms Will Feast” are only a few of the highlights here. Boasting excellent production by guitarist Chris Leffler and insanely great cover art by tattoo artist Tim Lehi, “Eye of the Skull” is easily one of the best metal albums to come out of Louisville in a very long time.