Holy Shit its almost 2020 already? Where the hell have I been? Oh that’s right here writing album reviews till the cows come home. Well over 2019, CPRA has accomplished a shit ton. We wrote over 70 news, reviews and concert related items, started our own TV show, and started CPRA Skates! Don’t forget also our team up with AKA Just Miggy and The Kids Are Alright All Ages At Goosetown! On that note don’t miss the next Kids Show with the Potato Pirates on December 15, 2019, 2pm! Check out my Top 5 List of the year below!
The film features exclusive interviews with members of:
The Aquabats • Big D and the Kids Table • Bim Skala Bim • Blink-182 • Bomb the Music Industry! • Buck-O-Nine • Catch 22 • Cherry Poppin’ Daddies • Dance Hall Crashers • Desorden Publico • Fishbone • Five Iron Frenzy • Goldfinger • The Goodwin Club • Hepcat • The Hippos • The Impossibles • Inspector • The Interrupters • Jump With Joey • Kemuri • King Apparatus • La Resistencia • Less Than Jake • Let’s Go Bowling • The Mad Caddies • Maldita Vecindad • Mephiskapheles • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones • MU330 • Mustard Plug • My Superhero • New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble • No Doubt • The Nuckle Brothers • the O.C. Supertones • Oingo Boingo • The Pietasters • Pilfers • The Porkers • Reel Big Fish • Rx Bandits • Save Ferris • The Selecter • Skankin’ Pickle • The Skatalites • The Slackers • Smashmouth • The Specials • Spring Heeled Jack • Starpool • Streetlight Manifesto • Sublime • Suburban Legends • The Suicide Machines • The Toasters • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra • Voodoo Glow Skulls • and a bunch of other super rad ska related people!
Hey guys Skabones with CPRA here. Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Recently we received an advanced copy of Pick It Up Ska In the 90’s. Personally, I couldn’t help myself and dove in immediately. This film was directed by Tayloy Morden. Be sure to check out some of Taylor’s other movies such as, The Pick Up , The Last Blockbuster, Here’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments, Gotcha. We reached out to Taylor, so be sure to read his thoughts on the film below.
So before I go into more of the movie, Let’s talk more about your mom, I mean me Skabones. I grew up when Reagan was dropping bombs and Thatcher was invading the Falklands. Ska bands like English Beat, Madness, and The Specials were wrecking the UK charts. Given I’m only 42 now I was only about 5 or 6 years old then. So let’s jump back to the 90’s. I was an angry kid, hated my dad, we all hated our parents back then. As you can tell from my senior photo I was a real, “rebel”.
My friends and I were constantly going to shows around Denver. We even got tear gassed at the Propagandhi riot. For me personally I felt I belonged, but also that I didn’t belong. That something was missing for me. I was that square peg that never fits into the circle. I was a “Weird Kid”. So when a friend handed me a copy of “The Pietasters” by The Pietasters around 1994. Something in me finally clicked. I restarted my love for ska! As time progressed, my friends and I started going to more Ska shows like, Denver’s Five Iron Frenzy, Fishbone, Save Ferris, and many more.
So let’s actually get into the movie. When the film opens I felt this immediate ocean of nostalgia come over me. As Tim Armstrong began his narration of the film I felt thrusted back into the 90’s. Someone hit me with a Slap bracelet! The list of media and bands in this film is insane. From legendary DJ’s such as Tazy Phillips to bands you might have thought disappeared. They are some great concepts and schools of thought discussed in the film such as How do you define ska? Have you ever tried to explain ska to someone? Did you know the classic black and white checkered style was not about racial unity? Out of nowhere the weird kids had a place to go and best of all it wasn’t a fashion parade. And suddenly there were trumpets in punk rock.
One of my favorite discussions is Did Kurt Cobain’s death kick off the 3rd Wave of Ska? If you think about it Cobain’s death marked the end of grunge and the start of something new. I’d really love to sit down some time with legendary KROQ DJ Tazy Phillips and asks just why was Sublime so hard to work worth? I can only guess it was Bradley’s addiction or other issues? I’ve watched this movie 3 times now and still find things I missed the first time around. Such as did you know skapunk embraced punk’s DIY boots on the ground self promotion? There was a war between the West coast Vs East Coast ska? Wait wut? As the 3rd wave rose in popularity bands started having more control over their shows such as Skank N Pickle refusing to play non all ages shows
Another concept discussed, How does a ska band survive on the road? You have 5-10 members who have to sit practically on top of each other in the van. I found this part of the movie hilarious! Another personal favorite part of the movie is when gender was discussed and how female members were treated differently from their male counterparts. With venues sometimes thinking they were girlfriends, groupies, or wives of band members. Five Iron Frenzy’s -Leanor Inez Ortega Till discusses this issue in detail. Her section in the movie is a personal favorite. I scored an awesome interview with Leanor which you can read below. Guys I’m talking to you! It may be almost 2020 we may be getting better about inclusion, but newsflash, we are not there yet!
As I said before the lists of bands and media personalities in this movie is incredible. Some of my favorite moments are with Angelo Moore, Ben Carr, Coolie from Pilfers, Moniqe Powell and Mike Park. Oh and Aaron Barret from Reel Big Fish, stays true to his name as over confident sell out. I guess hes’s the Aaron we all know. Haha! As the movie nears the end, the downfall and over market saturation of the 3rd wave are mentioned. Soon Emo and EDM began to take it’s place. The popularity here in the states may have fallen, but 3rd Wave continues to thrive in other countries.
Overall I give Pick It Up – Ska In the 90’s a 9.5 out of 10. This movie is a perfected tribute to ska and in particular to the third wave. The little things you didn’t know, made a huge impact, not only in the ska scene, but the music industry in general. The only downside to the movie is no Op Ivy interview, but it’s really the least of my concerns.
Ska will never die, it will continue to evolve from it’s early Jamaican roots. So pick it up now at www.skamovie.com, via download, and now on DVD and Blu-ray! So let us know down in the comments below your best memory from the 3rd Wave! If you think Ska is dead, read more here, https://coloradopunkrockarmy.com/category/ska/
Morden: Pick It Up! was the biggest project for me in terms of scope, there are over 80 bands featured in the movie, and we filmed in 4 countries over the course of a year and a half. It was also a very personal project for me. I’ve played trumpet in ska bands for over 20 years now and this music has been a huge part of my life. Getting to talk with all the bands I’ve been a fan of for most of my life about the music that means so much to all of us has been an amazing experience. In a way I got to tell a part of my own life story with the help of some of my all time favorite bands.
CPRA: What was the most difficult part in directing this movie?
Morden: There were a lot of challenges along the way, but one of the hardest parts was trying to clear so many songs for the soundtrack, there’s a ton of music in the movie and for every song you hear there are a lot of hoops to jump through. The other difficulties were things like scheduling the interviews around the availability of touring bands and digitizing huge piles of VHS tapes and scanning hundreds of photos, then trying to keep track of all the footage and archival materials and put together a story out of all of it.
CPRA: Was there at any moment you felt it was just too hard to make the movie and what pushed you to overcome if so?
Morden: Somewhere, about half way through editing, we had a 5 and a half hour long rough cut of the movie… I wasn’t really sure how to get past that stage and down to something that people could actually watch. The main thing that kept us going on this project and helped us overcome obstacles like that was the support of the ska community! The bands and the fans have been a huge help in motivating us to to try and make the movie as comprehensive, fun, and informative as we could.
CPRA: We know you can’t really play favorites with any scenes. However; what is one scene that really makes you nostalgic for making the film?
Morden: Not sure if you’re referring to scenes in the movie, or local music scenes… in the movie, there’s a part titled: the horn section that means a lot to me, as a horn player, that part is really autobiographical and I feel like that’s the kind of thing that maybe another film maker would not have included. If you mean music scenes, that’s a tough one, since we learned so much about so many ska scenes making the movie, and our local scene in Eugene Oregon doesn’t really feature in the film, I’d have to say that the stuff about the Japanese ska scene is my favorite.
CPRA: What advice do you have for independent filmmakers trying to get their names out there?
Morden: I’m not sure I’m in any position to give advice, but as an independent filmmaker, I really believe in the DIY work ethic that it often takes to get anything done. That often means long hours and difficult obstacles to overcome. So the advice I would have is: choose topics that you really care about. You’re going to be stuck working on a movie, especially a documentary, for years. So if you aren’t really invested in the subject matter that can get tedious. But as the cat hanging from the tree says ‘hang in there’.
CPRA: Thanks Taylor that’s some great information!
Mastered – Ira Dechter (Over Time), Dog Gate Mastering
Favorite Tracks: Wasted Summer (AKA Endless Bummer), ExSka ExSka Juicy Bits, Millennial, Anonymous, Destroyer, Me, My Hand, and I, and What a Way to Spend a Night
Sounds Like: Madaline, Buck-O-Nine, RBF, Goldfinger, MMB, Younger Than Neil, The Holophonics, No Authority, and Deals Gone Bad
I have a confession. I am a giant slut. A slut for some kick ass skapunk. I place the blame purely on the likes of Dance Hall Crashers, Fishbone, Op Ivy, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. After all a friend gave me the nickname name, “Skabones” so I guess it makes sense. So last week my slut senses were going off the charts and Denver based, All Waffle Trick released, “Second Breakfast”.
The energy rips through this song. The lyrics are catchy as hell. How many summers did you have a checklist of things to do, but never did anything? I do it every year. I’d love to grab wave off Laguna Beach again. Yet work and life always seem to get it in the way.
The second track is, “Songs That We’ll Sing”. The intro rips in with some heavy shred. I actually had to make sure I wasn’t listening to the Bouncing Souls. The production alone on this track is killer. All Waffle Trick may have just composed another punk rock anthem right here. Jeff Giles spoken word like vocals really send this track home.
“Tongue Tied”, has Alex Mark showing off his kick ass drum skills. Battraw and Giles are spitting out hooks that make you sing along like a happy fool. “Exska Exska Juicy Bits” follows up with a pick it up sound. This is my favorite track on the album, and those are really starting to mount up. “Millennial” is next up and another favorite. The track speaks of millennial woes, hopes and dreams.
As a Gen X baby I have never really thought of the major differences between generation gaps. For that matter I have never labeled anyone “Millennial”. They were the first generation to witness a mass terror attack on live tv. Cut them a damn break! This song will get you dancing. The guitar work is excellent.
“We don’t care what you’re saying, and I don’t think that you’re listening The context of your content is getting drowned in all the lies The one thing that we can hope and pray is that the dream is still alive”
“Millennial” – All Waffle Trick
“Anonymous” is on hardcore/street punk side with perfectly placed, “Whoas and OI’s”. This track reminds me of another sadly now defunct band called, Jerkswitch from Canada. The hardcore rolls on with “Destroyer”. If you are in the pit during this song prepared to get destroyed! I personally didn’t expect a track like this, but I LOVE it.
“Joyride” is next and swings to a pop punk sound. This track is filled with hope. You will be singing along and don’t say I didn’t warn you. My 5 year old is running around the house singing, “We can take a joyride” over and over again. “Me My Hand And I”, follows and is hilarious. I never thought a song about masturbation could be so much fun!
“Screws loose” combines some hardcore and pop, while reflecting on mental illness. The drums standout while Giles sings his heart out. “Doctors Orders” has a great street punk sound. This track has a serious tone, dealing with medical issues. It’s sad, and that emotion is easily expressed through the song.
“And I swore, I swore I was getting better, and they said the same fucking thing And now I, I need a gallon of whiskey and a bucket of ice just to sleep, sleep at night Just to sleep, sleep at night”
“Doctors Orders” – All Waffle Trick
Let’s return to some happiness with, “Falling Down”. I really dig the guitar at the intro. Battraw’s bass lines are phenomenal. Giles vocals push that smile straight into your face. We all need a track like this in times of self doubt. My last favorite track on the album is next, “What A Way To Spend A Night”. Here’s another anthem with a tribute to Denver. Our punk rock family in Denver is bigger than we all think it is! Sure we have some splits, put that shit aside and grab a brew or joint. I love the ska reggae chorus.
If you stayed this long it’s time to wrap things up. All Waffle Trick’s, “Second Breakfast” is an excellent album filled with everything I love about ska and punk. In fact it’s so good, you’ll want to pass this one off to those dipping their toes into punk rock. Sure it might not be legendary, but it’s one helluva of a good ride. Be sure to check it out now on all major music providers, or purchase it here, https://allwaffletrick.bandcamp.com/album/second-breakfast
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Favorite Tracks: Awakening, Stray, Burn, Taken, Shimmer and Valkyrie
Sounds Like: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, The Room In The Wood, Mazzy Star, Gary Numan, The Damned (Darkwave Era), and Dead Can Dance.
As old man winter enters Colorado. Everything seems to slow down. It’s pitch black by 5pm, the pumpkins from Halloween are beginning to rot. The temperature is a constant 45 degrees. It’s great weather for some Gothic post punk tunes from Denver’s Married A Dead Man. They are set to play Goosetown Tavern on November 22, 2019 for their new album release, “Awakening”. Tickets are moving and are limited to only 100!
I have always felt a good album contains a story line. This story line may be deep and meaningful. Or maybe a group of musicians having a great time making music? Every song has its own story. Denver’s Married A Dead Man is one of those bands. With each release a story line is set. We reviewed their last release here, https://coloradopunkrockarmy.com/2018/10/12/married-a-dead-man-haunt/
The first track, “Overture”, provides a dark, grimy, and haunting introduction. This is a beautiful and haunting song. The movie is set to begin. “Awakening” is next with synth sounds reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, “Dead Souls”. Kelley’s voice is energetic, yet blends well with the amazing drum work, and excellent guitar. This is a buildup to a pure, awakening from the depths.
I have to admit the next song, “Stray” hit me very hard. This anti-gun track is emotionally charged and left me pondering this. How many have to die at the hands of gun violence? How many more children will be gunned down like lambs to the slaughter? This song is incredible and has very strong potential.
“Shaken by bullets all flying around Pick up the bodies that lie on the ground With thoughts and prayers as we sink in despair Twenty years past yet we still look elsewhere”
Married A Dead Man – “Stray”
“Burn” follows with a beautiful piano introduction. This track has an awesome industrial sound. It’s almost as if there’s a full orchestra behind Kelley and the band. The buildup towards the end of the track is unexpected, but done brilliantly. “Bleed” is the next song. A relationship over, yet an awakening has begun to reclaim the soul.
The drum work on the song is excellent. The synth dances as a playful witch explores her new surroundings. I love this song! The band fully displays each of their own mastered styles. There’s an impressive guitar riff that blends seamlessly with the track.
“Taken”, gets dark and mysterious. The song progresses the story line while bouncing between self reflection and taking action. The imagery in this sad tale is deep and I felt it was best to reach out to the band for comment. I spoke with Vocalist/Keyboardist Megan Kelley.
CPRA: Can you go into more detail about the song “Taken?”
Megan Kelley: Absolutely. This song is somewhat painful to discuss and is very personal. It’s about rape. The lyrics are two fold: they discuss the victim begging to be freed and let go by the rapist, “stop/not that/this, please free my wrists. Choke/spit/hit/piss, I want to live” while toggling between the victim having an out of body experience to cope with the assault as it occurs “I’m floating high above. What should I think of?”
It also makes the point of how victims feel after getting assaulted: how they feel completely unattractive, detached, scarred, and how they view being seen differently by others. “Played out your fantasy, tied to my canopy. I was a bride-to-be, now no one touches me.” The song explores the fight-flight-freeze response to getting attacked in the first verse.
When we play this song live, often times I will discuss the personal nature of this song and always stress that it’s never the victim’s fault. I hope that with open dialogue about sexual assault it will help more victims find a place of healing. Rape is about control, and the best way to take back your control is to talk about your experience when you are ready.
I hope that our music can help anyone who has experienced anything like this. I have often feared being pitied or seen solely as a victim. My public “face” is not one to show or admit vulnerability, but writing about these experiences and feelings truly has helped me in many ways.” Thank you Megan for sharing your story!
“Shimmer” follows and slows the album down. It’s calming, as it explores the sub consciousness. The bass shines on the track. This is another track where I felt it would be great to hear Kelley’s thoughts.
CPRA: Can you go into more detail about the song “ Shimmer ?”
Megan Kelley: “Shimmer is about floating away in the ocean. The suicide aspect is a metaphor for self acceptance and peace within yourself; it’s not necessarily about suicide, but it’s also inspired by how Virginia Woolf killed herself (which was by drowning herself in a river after weighing herself down with rocks in her pockets.) That kind of self acceptance really comes from making absolute peace with oneself, so I thought that the beach setting was fitting for this kind of peaceful acceptance. I grew up on the East Coast.
Being near the ocean is something that I’m very accustomed to and love. The initial inspiration behind the song was the beauty of the ocean, and how much a beach scene is so peaceful and quiet. “I dip my toe in, dreaming of floating. I swim the ocean, the salt is cleansing. Feeling absolution, I can go peacefully.” Another big WOW from this writer!
“Keening” follows up with some edgy drums and guitar. By far one of the darkest tracks. It sounds like it could’ve been written by Bauhaus, yet retains that amazing MADM sound. This is another track where I felt it would be great if the band could offer some insight.
CPRA: Can you go into more detail about the song “Keening?”
Megan Kelley: Sure! This one was really fun to write. The band writes all the music collaboratively, and I write most of the lyrics and melody. Travis (bass) also writes some of our lyrics and melodies. We have a song about witches. We have a song about the Valkyrie. We really wanted to write about banshees. This was nice for me to research because I am half Irish…and really went deep into the folklore rabbit hole during the research process.
Like a lot of our music, it has a theme about women. Some songs are personal, like “Taken,” “Bleed,” or “Run,” and some songs are about strong women in mythology/history that we find interesting.There is a common misnomer that a banshee could put a curse on you if she came to visit. Really, the banshee is simply the messenger, visiting you to warn you that someone in your family will die soon…even as soon as the next day.
Visiting at night, and typically portrayed as a shrouded, older, skinny, kind of scary faced woman with straggly hair, the banshee shrieks her way through the darkness to deliver her message. In Ireland, there is a belief that a certain banshee is assigned to a specific family, and that your assigned banshee would stay with your family forever”. Such a great story! Thanks Megan for the awesome information!
The last track is, “Valkyrie – (Offerings To Odin) Remix. Prepared to be straight up blown away by this kick ass remix. While the original is a bit slower, this remix offers a dance version. This track would fit well in any action movie where a person is bent on revenge. This track seems to culminate the story line of “Awakening”. Fans of 90s house music will love this track. Denver’s Rock Island days are still with us.
In reflection, “Married A Dead Man’s, “Awakening” is a gothic post punk trip through intimate, storytelling, and fascinating composition. Several tracks on the record have great potential for commercial success. EDM may be taking the airwaves, but MADM is proving post punk is still alive and kicking. This album is definitely a nominee for CPRA’s Best Of 2019. You can pick it up on all major platforms after the release show at Goosetown Tavern.
Thursday Oct.24th 9pm/ 21+/$5 Join us for a great night of music with The Blue Kings (unique blend of Soulful Psych Rocksteady and Ska) The Pollution Post Hardcore “punk” “rock”, and Music support your host and selector AkA Miggy
Favorite Tracks: Sweetly, Punk Rock Frank, Chardonnay Shakes, Everything To Me, Sounds Like: Nova Kicks, The Lillingtons, Alkaline Trio, and The Flatliners
A few weeks ago I ran into a local band member.. We discussed how the Ft Collins production company the Blasting Room is putting out a ton of great local music. Check out our tags from Blasting room posts here. In our discussion in became way too apparent that CPRA must have a Blasting Room show here in Denver for our bands that have recorded with the company.
Let’s jump to today. I get word that Denver’s Vegas Valley Drive has dropped a new album, “Kentucky Lawnmower” and it was recorded at the Blasting Room! So we’ve been around a few years and watched some bands grow like Bury MIA, Stray The Course and Vegas Valley Drive. It fills this writer with pride when the albums they produce come out. Let’s check out the new Vegas’s record!
The record begins with, “All The Difference”. It comes in with some great chord strikes on guitar. I love how the guitar drifts out into a few notes alone. Lyrically this song is catchy and fun. The next track is “Sweetly”. This is by far my favorite track on the album. Have you ever had a huge crush on someone and turn into a mumbling moron when they talk to you?
I’ve been there too many times to count. I see huge potential for this track. Don’t be surprised if this track ends up on the radio. It definitely needs a great music video to accompany the wonderful story line. Up next is, “Brake Park Reverse”. This track really reminds of Big Head Todd and The Monsters, although much faster and harder.
Do you have a friend who claims his punk cred to everyone every 5 minutes? “Punk Rock Frank” is that guy and that song. The singer sounds like, Les Claypool from Primus. Not sure if that’s what they were going for, but I love it. In one word the song is hilarious. “Holding On” follows and takes on a more serious tone. This track has potential as well. The lyrics are catching, hooks are strong, and the melody addicting.
“Wake Up Call”, sounds very comparable to The Lillingtons. The message is conveyed by some great vocals and a great bass line. Another favorite track is up next, “Chardonnay Shakes”. The song is introduced with a famous quote from Neverending Story. Already I kind of want to cry just thinking about the Atrex. Anyhow we shall proceed!
This track is one small step away from going metal. The extreme power chords, mini guitar solos, bass edge provide a ballad like atmosphere. If this track becomes popular. You read it here first! Let’s slow it down and go acoustic. “Everything To Me” is next and you will be sure to hear this one at the next wedding you attend. It’s beautiful. Yet another hit?
Let’s speed things back up with “Anesthetic Paramedic”. This song has a sweet skate punk edge to it. The bass is strong with some sweeping guitar hooks. The drum work is excellent. “Powers”, follows again following a skatepunk like sound. I could be wrong, but I think this track refers to the Power Rangers? Haha I have no idea, but this track kicks ass.
“Sober Elbow” is next. This one is super catchy. This track is for all the people when drunk think they are superheroes. They think they can leap tall buildings, but usually land on their face. The chords are remarkable. The last song on the album is “Punk On The Radio”. It has some great pop punk melodies, lyrically simple, but so much fun.
Well there you have it. Vegas Valley Drive’s, “Kentucky Lawnmower”, is a trip through some fantastic music with all right hooks and guilty pleasures pop punk. Fans of alternative in general will definitely want to give this one a listen. This record should be hitting all major streamers here soon. You can purchase the record here, https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/vegasvalleydrive.
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