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They Came from Crabtown: A Review of Bumpin’ Uglies’ “Beast From The East”

They Came from Crabtown: A Review of Bumpin’ Uglies’ “Beast From The East”

Not enough people in the world appreciate the state of Maryland. I mean, think about it, in such a small radius we’ve got large cities, great beaches, and glorious mountains. Honestly, this little state has anything you could really want. We are highly underrated. We’ve got delicious blue crabs, plus the greatest seasoning known to man, Old Bay! Seriously, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One thing we’ve got over here in the diverse state of Maryland is a large population of modern reggae bands; bands like Ballyhoo, Joint Operation, Pasadena (RIP), and the focus of our writing today, Bumpin’ Uglies. Many a bunch calls this genre “white boy reggae”. Of course this stems from the fact that many of these bands are made up by members who are predominantly white. While this “genre” of sorts got its start in the 90’s from bands like Sublime, it was the Uglies who coined that particular term on their 2012 record, “Go Folk Yourself”. While I dislike the term for the sheer fact that people become disinterested in great musicians as soon as they hear it, it seems the boys have taken the line and grown with it.

Bumpin’ Uglies got their start about a decade ago in Annapolis, Maryland. They consist of vocalist/guitarist Brandon Hardesty, bassist Dave Wolf, drummer TJ Haslett, and the newly acquired keyboardist Chad Wright. They’ve been dropping “banger after banger”, as the kids say, and with the release of their fourth LP, “Beast from the East” I must say we’ve got another classic on our hands.

Beast from the East starts off with a bang with the first track, “Could’ve Been Great”. That opening guitar lick lets you know exactly what you’re getting: an ironically pissed off reggae track with soul. Hardesty croons about the importance of persevering after a failed relationship. Basically, listen I understand you were down for this…but that’s your loss, this could’ve been fantastic! The track culminates with guitars and keyboards dueling as harmonic vocals fill the air. This is how you start off an album!

From there the boys obviously wanted me to cry. “City by the Bay” is the second track of the album and it’s Bumpin’ Uglies tribute to their hometown of Naptown. No matter where we go, we’ll always have a home. I’ve got a city by the bay. Growing up very close to the Annapolis area, this track truly hit home for me; Glen Burnie born and Eastern Shore living.

We go from tears to “skanks”. Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m of course referring to the dancing you’ll be doing once the third track hits, “Crazy”. This track kicks in with those ska/fast paced rocksteady vibes. You’ll be dancing all around the room so clear the damn area!

Bumpin’ Uglies

Now listen, what was this album missing? A hip hop epic! Don’t worry, the boys have got you covered and they calling in all of their friends. Radio play be damned, this is the party anthem of the year. “Hard Liquor” features guest vocals from members of Ballyhoo, Sun-Dried Vibes, and Oogee Wawa. This is the track you’re gonna want to bump at those summer parties! Also great while cruising down the highway with the windows down.

Those vibes continue with the dispensary tribute featuring Gary Dread. “Budtender”. This is the Bumpin’ Uglies updated version of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It”, just a bit faster. While Hardesty does name drop a few of his favorite strands, the track focuses on the government’s uninformed laws on a certain plant and the progress we’ve made as a country on this topic.

The next few tracks bring in those chill vibes heavy. “The Waiting Game” is a tribute to those days where you just don’t quite want to get out of bed. “All In Stride” featuring the incredible Passafire is the bands thoughts on finding the good in everything. Bad luck will always follow us, but it also helps you find the great in all things. We get a bit political when the track “Officer O’Herily”. The band touches both sides of the corrupt law enforcement argument. While the first verse talks crooked, over powered cops, the second verse reminds us that we’re all pawns to a higher power’s game. Deep stuff that may fly over your head on the first listen. Especially with the heavy grooves being laid down by drummer Haslett.

There are few things I love more than a great bass line. Bassist Dave Wolf provides just that as “Radio” featuring the guys from Tropidelic kicks in. While it’s cliche to drop a track discussing your dislike of mainstream radio, Hardesty makes it seem so damn new. He’s passionate about what he writes about. When these two bands come together you can hear the honesty in their music. “I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it for my sanity”.

The last three songs on the album are a trio of heartfelt reggae tracks. “Show Must Go On” features another great bassline and lyrics about the bands hardships over the years. They’re playing for their lives out on the road, and they won’t take no for an answer. Anger strikes again on the political anthem, “Apathy”. This is the longest track of the album, and damn is it a good one. Hardesty drops knowledge about the world’s past and the current political climate. TJ Haslett’s drums play the perfect backdrop throughout the entire track. The rest of the band kicks in to what I can only describe as a “Type O Negative” type bridge towards the end of the track. It took me by surprise but it was a welcomed one! The album ends with an optimistic acoustic track appropriately titled “Optimism in F#”. It’s all going to be fine, and with this album, I can say the same thing to this band.

The reggae genre can be quite tiresome, specifically modern reggae. I can’t tell you the amount of bands I’ve gotten into only to discover that they sound like they’ve been playing the same song for an hour. Bumpin’ Uglies are not that band. While they stay relatively in the same realm, every track tells a different story, and the cohesion involved with this project is incredible. Every track belongs and easily flows to the next. You can truly tell that these guys had a blast making this record, and that always makes for a fantastic album. You’d be out of your mind not to add this album to your collection.

Visit the official website for Bumpin’ Uglies at www.bumpinugliesmusic.com.

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. Most importantly,vyou love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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Green Day Breaks New Ground With ’21st Century Breakdown’

Green Day Breaks New Ground With ’21st Century Breakdown’



Green Day found their way into the hearts and minds of America’s youth in the mid-90s with the release of the band’s third album, Dookie. It is hard to believe that 15 years have come and gone so quickly since the release of that landmark album. It is even harder to believe that the Northern California pop-punk trio responsible for that album, would have gone on to carve out such a niche for themselves, churn out a slew of monster hits and still continue to evolve musically.

The 2004 release of American Idiot blew the collective minds of music enthusiasts and the group’s fans alike. The album sold 12 million worldwide copies worldwide in an era where illegal downloading was at its peak and CD sales were plummeting. This was surely due to the fact that the band easily blended a radio-friendly sound with a powerful message that served as the voice for many who felt they had none in the era of the Bush Administration. 

Green Day’s eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown, is set to rock its way into stores May 15, 2009. The new release is one of 2009’s most anticipated albums and it does not disappoint as the band continues to explore new musical ground. At its core, the album is an ambitious rock opera that tells the tale of two characters, Christian and Gloria, over the course of three soaring acts: “Heroes and Cons,” “Charlatans and Saints” and “Horseshoes and Handgrenades.” Balancing both light and dark moods, the album serves as a manifesto of sorts for a generation still trying to make a sense of wars abroad, recession at home and the hope for a brighter day in America.

On the album, the music surges effortlessly with the raging guitar, tight drumming and vocal harmonies that fans have come to expect from the trio. However, the band isn’t content to simply dish out another serving of the same old sounds. With the legendary Butch Vig (producer for such monster acts as Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and Nirvana) along for the ride, the band introduces new elements, such as Beatles-esque strings, inviting piano work and even a glammed out guitar sound reminiscent of Queen’s Brian May. At no point on the album do any of these new elements from their ever-growing musical arsenal seem forced. Given this room to experiment and grow musically as they have on this album, one has to wonder what lies in store for future Green Day’s future works.

21st Century Breakdown is one of Green Day’s best albums to date and is proof that there is still much musical ground left for them to discover. Standout tracks include “East Jesus Nowhere”, “Restless Heart Syndrome”, “Know Your Enemy” and “American Eulogy.”

Curious to hear what Green Day has in store for you? Hear it for yourself! Stream the album here >

Check out the video for “Know Your Enemy” below:

 will soon embark on a full U.S. tour , it’s first in 3 years, beginning July 3rd in Seattle, Washington. For official news and tour dates, head to www.GreenDay.com.

The Tour Dates Are As Follows:

July 3 – Seattle, WA
July 4 – Vancouver, BC
July 6 – Edmonton, AB
July 7 – Saskatoon, SAS
July 9 – Winnipeg, MAN
July 10 – Fargo, ND
July 11 – Minneapolis, MN
July 13 – Chicago, IL
July 14 – Detroit, MI
July 16 – Hamilton, ONT
July 17 – Ottawa, ONT
July 18 – Montreal, QUE
July 20 – Boon, MA
July 21 – Philadelphia, PA
July 22 – Pittsburgh, PA
July 24 – Hartfo, CT
July 25 – Albany, NT
July 27 – New York, NY
July 29 – Washington, DC
July 31 – Nashville, TN
August 1 – Atlanta, GA
August 3 – Tampa, FL
August 4 – Miami, FL
August 5 – Orlando, FL
August 7 – New Orleans, LA
August 8 – Houston, TX
August 9 – San Antonio, TX
August 11 – . Louis, MO
August 12 – Kansas City, MO
August 13 – Omaha, NE
August 15 – Denver, CO
August 16 – Salt Lake City, UT
August 18 – San Jose, CA
August 20 – San Diego, CA
August 21 – Las Vegas, NV
August 22 – Phoenix, AX
August 24 – Sacramento, CA
August 25 – Los Angeles, CA

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The Vacancies – ‘Tantrum’ – CD Review

The Vacancies – ‘Tantrum’ – CD Review

The Vacancies - 'Tantrum'By JASON PRICE

Cleveland-based punk band The Vacancies are back with their?latest album, Tantrum.?This is their second?release on?Blackheart Records, and it picks up right where the band left off on?the last record, A Beat Missing or a Silence Added. What I always?loved about the band’s earlier releases was the that they were?truly inviting to the listener by being so raw and distinctly punk.?What makes the band’s music so accessible is that they write of?social issues from a common man’s point of view, the same issues?that?effect us all. This release is no different.

The band pulls no punches from the opening track onward and forges?ahead with?the punk rock spirit that started the genre years ago. The?Vacancies continue to grow as musicians on this release, taking steps?forward musically and sounding tighter than ever. This marks the?second time the band has worked with Blackheart Records and producer?Kenny Laguna, who have managed once again to capture the high energy?and streetwise sound of the band. The opening track, “Compound”,?starts the album off right, proving that the energy of the band is?still there and more ferocious than ever. This leads in to “Below Merlot,” which keeps up the pace and provides a beer-drinking,?street-punk anthem for the band’s?repertoire, which is something every good punk band needs! “Pride” and “Sick Modern Era”?are representative of the band’s social consciousness and well-crafted tunes that bring to mind some of punk’s early pioneers. Other standout tracks include “Funeral”?and?”Savior,” which are two of the most melodic songs on the record, showcasing the talent of these punks.

From start to finish the album is a gem. Tantrum is a breath of?fresh air from what is being force fed to kids today by the major?labels. No frills, nothing over produced, just raw energy with well-written hooks and lyrics. In short, it is Warped Tour tested and Joan?Jett approved. You don’t get much better than that.

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Throwing a ‘Tantrum’ with The Vacancies’ Billy Crooked

Throwing a ‘Tantrum’ with The Vacancies’ Billy Crooked

The Vacancies' Billy Crooked

The Vacancies' Billy Crooked

Getting Joan Jett’s stamp of approval on your work is no small feat. To do such a thing twice is even more of a testament to a band’s punk prowess. Well, if that sounds like a shining endorsement to you, look no further than Cleveland-based punk band The Vacancies. Their latest outing on Blackheart Records is being praised by critics and landed the band a spot on this year’s Warped Tour. Live-Metal.Net’s Jason Price checked in with vocalist Billy Crooked about the the evolution of the band, the new album Tantrum and what it is like sharing the stage with some of his influences, which just so happen to be some the genre’s biggest names. 

Live-Metal: For people not familiar with the band, The Vacancies, how did the band come about?


Billy Crooked: Well, our guitar player Michael James, and I are the original members from 1998 and at that time I wasn’t singing, I was playing guitar. Our singer at the time left to do his own thing and we parted ways. Then we just kind of got the right people together and we just hung out in Cleveland, playing our asses of for a very long time. It really wasn’t until 2004 when we hooked up with Blackheart Records, Joan Jett’s label, that we put out our second record. So that is what started getting us out. We started touring and actually doing press. Basically, that is how it came about. We just met through mutual friends and we had been in bands for a long time before that. Even our new drummer and rhythm guitar player are from a band that we used to play with all the time called Dead By July. There are not a ton of bands in Cleveland that play this kind of music. So the people who are dedicated and work hard just seem to find each other.

What inspired you to get into music and to go this route?

I actually started kind of late. It was just after high school. That’s when I really started to go to shows. So I was a late bloomer. I am 31 now, so it feels like I have been doing it a long time! I was always really into music, but it never dawned on me that I could pick up a guitar and be in a band until I started going to shows. At that time, I was really naive and the only punk music I knew about was the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Clash. That was the extent of my knowledge. I didn’t have an older brother or older friends who were handing my records. So once I found it on my own, I decided that this is what I want to do.

So what are some of the other bands that influenced you?

It was a lot of that early ’90s California punk that was out at the time. I was like, “Wow, this is really still happening.” So it wasn’t just the old stuff. At the time, I associated punk with being old, but when I saw bands like Pennywise and Rancid, it was really cool to see that this stuff was still going on. It was fun to look at the bands and see that they were guys that were my age, going out there and doing shows. It was everything about the music, it was something that I just latched onto. Then I was spending every other day in a record store just absorbing it.

Now that The Vacancies have been around for a number of years, what has been the biggest milestone for the band?

Hooking up with Blackheart Records was definitely a huge stepping stone for us. We had one record out before on a really small label in 2002 called Gutpunch. Around that time, we had all these songs written and we didn’t know what to do with them. We had no interest coming from labels and we basically played in Cleveland and a few weekends in Pittsburgh or Detroit. We would catch up with any show that we could and latch on to any band coming through, that was a national act. We were opening for everybody! [laughs] But we just couldn’t branch out. When we opened up for Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and they took notice of us and wanted us to do a record, that is really when we started to develop and started to make us more of a professional band. Then we were able to record, all these songs that we had written from the past  two and a half years and go into the studio in New York. Joan produced that album and we were finally able to present all that material that we were so anxious to get out. 

Where do you draw inspiration to write lyrics for the songs?

I think a lot of our songs take on a lot social issues. We just write about them from the prospective of the average guy or girl. I don’t think that we are overly political or that we preach. We just talk about things are frustrating. It seems that the things that you and I are frustrated with are the same things that a lot of people out there are frustrated with. It’s watching the news or just walking down the street and seeing people being rude or prejudiced, you see all these different things. I think we are just level-headed, normal guys that don’t like to see someone get bullied. That goes for the kid on your street to the politicians. I think that our music comes from a very real area. I guess we are just trying to give a few ideas or to enlighten a little bit. Even if it is something is simple as having common courtesy to your neighbors to touching on poverty. There are no sad love songs not that there is anything wrong with sad love songs! [laughs] There is always a time in everyone’s life for a moody love song!

You mentioned Gutpunch earlier, how has life for The Vacancies changed in the time since you released that first record?

Gutpunch didn’t have a lot of distribution and no one really knew about it. It was basically a record that we took to shows and we sold to give people an idea of who we were. The difference of being able to play shows we can play now, liked Warped Tour, is like night and day. We are now able to reach people all over the country instead of just playing shows in a small city where everybody knows each other. It is really a good feeling when you go to another state and a kid comes up to you and they have that passion in their eyes because your music touched them in some way. 

For the people who are just getting into the band, how would you describe what you guys do?

Well, I think we do our own thing and that we definitely have our own sound. I don’t think that we try to fit a genre. Sometimes I don’t think some people even consider us a punk band because there are so many subgenres and so many different ideas of what punk is. You ask one person what punk is and then ask another, and each one has a totally different idea of what punk is. We really just try to do our own thing and like John Lennon said, “Mean what say and say what you mean.” There is honesty in what we do and we work really hard to write the best songs we can. 

What do you hope that people come away with after listening to your music or seeing your live performance?

I guess I want the same thing that happens to me after I walk out of a good show. Whatever music it is, I want them to walk away with the same thing that I expect from the band and that is “No Bullshit.” Audiences aren’t stupid and they can read right through that. I think that is the thing that I have seen a lot of bands do. They underestimate the intelligence of the crowd. Granted, some people do get fooled by the bullshit. When I see a band, I can tell that they mean what they are doing. They are up there because they love it and that there is no stick and is real. That is what we try to do. Whether we are playing for four people or 400 people, it’s the same show. We have fun doing it and the day that I get up on stage and it isn’t fun anymore is the day I will stop doing it. It’s not about trying to be famous or trying to get paid or trying to get laid, it’s about the music.

Your latest release, Tantrum, is your second go-round with producer Kenny Laguna and Blackheart Records. Was there more pressure this time around?

This time there was definitely less pressure. The first record that we did with Blackheart, Kenny and Joan, was and I’ll be honest, nerve-wracking as hell! I grew up a big fan of Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. I had their tapes in my car and we knew a little bit about Kenny Laguna. So once we had played with Joan and met Kenny, we realized that he was from the old school and has been around and we were like, “This guy is the shit!” So when they flew us out to New York to record the record, we had only done a couple of shows with them, so we really didn’t know them and I was starstruck meeting Joan. So, all of a sudden we are going to spend two weeks with them. It isn’t like we are the most confident, cocky band, so I am thinking, “I hope I can sing alright” and “I hope we don’t fuck up our songs” and “What if they think we suck?” But at the same time, they made it really comfortable for us. By the second day, we were like old friends, which made the record that much easier to do. But this time around, they backed the record and they were supportive. They listened to our demos and thought that it would be a great record, so go for it. We did everything in Cleveland. Kenny came out and checked out some tracks and this time it was much more laid back. The fact that we were able to do it at home was cool. We would work all day and then go to the studio at night. So it was really tiring, but it was a different vibe. The first time we were in New York to record an entire album in a week. On this one, we took our time and were able to relax more to do exactly what the songs needed. Definitely a different vibe this time around.

So I take it that you are pleased with the way it turned out?

Oh yeah. I mean, I am proud of all of our records. This one I am especially proud of because it is the new one, so it is the songs that I am least sick of! [laughs] We really are proud of it and happy to be able to be out on tour so people can check it out. So far we have gotten nothing but great response on it, and the majority of people are saying that it is our best one yet. I feel that Tantrum is our best record yet.

How is life on the Warped Tour treating you?

Good! Not bad! I can’t complain, and it is fun. I’m not at work, slinging a paint brush around and climbing 32-foot ladders, you know what I mean?

So this is a summer vacation of sorts for you.

This is vacation! I just people watch and I like to meet random people. Talking to some of the kids’ parents is a blast. They are some of the most fun people to meet because they are so into the fact that their kids are into the music and they are so proud! So that is cool. It’s been good. This is our first time on Warped and it is really cool.

What is it like touring with some of the bands that have influenced you?

Last summer we toured with The Adolescents (www.theadolescents.net) and Street Dogs (www.street-dogs.com) and those are two great, great bands! They are some of the nicest people in the world. It is one of those things where we became an instant family and everybody watched out for each other. It doesn’t get any better than that, people that share a livelihood and a passion for music. The guys from The Adolescents were just so incredibly nice and generous. I can’t describe how cool of an experience that was for me. Last fall we went out with Circle Jerks (www.officialcirclejerks.com) and Pennywise (www.pennywisdom.com), we only did a week and a half, but to watch those bands every day and studying them, makes me feel like I am continually getting an education about what can make a band great. Watching Keith Morris on stage for a week and a half is something that I won’t forget. So I try to take a little bit of that and let it sink in and try to give back that intensity that he gives the crowd. 

Is there anything else you want to add?

Well, like I said, I think that Tantrum is our best work to date. I think that if people pick it up and really listen to it, that they will enjoy it. I’m not going to give any money-back guarantees because I am broke! [laughs] But seriously, give it a chance. I think if you are someone who hasn’t heard of us but is into the bands that I mentioned, it is definitely worth giving it a listen.


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