Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Music Reviews: POOR ME - "Cosplay"

With so much crummy music being stuffed down the throats of the general public in recent memory, it's really hard to imagine a time when REAL music was being created in bedrooms, basements and garages. So when I see a young band with some actual potential, I get all giddy inside. And that's exactly how I feel when I hear POOR ME, who just released their second album "Cosplay".

Hailing from Denver, CO, POOR ME are giving a much needed kick in the ass to the same old same old we've come to expect from new bands on the scene. Gone are your typical Blitzkrieg Bop rip offs and your Green Day wanna be's. In its place there is an album that showcases a band ready to make you stand up and take notice with frantic rhythm and monsterous riffs that make this listener wanna tear shit up. Songs like "Clean My Head" and "Smash It Out" make me glad I'm still in love with our scene. And it's refreshing to see a new generation of punks that GET IT!

At the end of the day great bands are are not manufactured, pre packaged and sold to the highest bidder. They're working at their craft, fine tuning it and making a difference in the way we hear music. And POOR ME are well on their way to being one HELL of a great band!

4/5 stars

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Interview with Darren Chewka from Teenage Bottlerocket

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, Darren. I know you're a busy guy, so I'll just jump right on in. You're officially the new drummer in Teenage Bottlerocket. How did this come about? Did the band contact you about trying out? Or was there an open audition process that took place?

Darren Chewka: Thanks for having me. It's been a crazy couple weeks for me but I still remember Ray contacting me on a Monday afternoon. I knew it was a Monday because I was still in my underwear lying in bed watching TV or playing video games. Mondays are my only day off from everything... My job and the 4-5 local bands I'm usually in. He asked if I wanted to come down and see if it'd work. This all came about as I think every time TBR rolled through Edmonton Old Wives would open. We just became friends from that.

CM: With the tragic passing of Brandon in November, TBR fans worldwide wondered if the band would ever regroup and perform live again. Now that its official, how have the fans reacted to the news of your hiring?

DC: The reaction I've gotten from people everywhere has been amazing! I've felt the love from all over the world. Edmonton has been great, everyone has been so supportive. And without them, I wouldn't have any of these opportunities given to me now. It's been so overwhelming, but in a great way.

CM: Now you guys already have new show dates scheduled for March. Will we be seeing a full blown TBR tour in the near future? Or are these more warm up gigs than anything?

DC: Yeah, we got a Two'ur in March that I think are gonna be bananas. Laramie on the 11th and Denver on the 12th. Both shows with Gamits and the Nobody's. Not sure how to label these shows... Ray has a solo record coming out soon and he may get busy with that for a bit and we need to see what we got before things get hairy. Look for an announcement in March regarding on what's up for the summer with TBR... should be a ton of chances to see us.

CM: You also play in the band The Old Wives who are based out of your hometown of Edmonton Alberta. Will you continue to play with TOW as well as TBR? And if so will it be difficult to not only juggle two band's, but two band's in different countries?

DC: Shaun and Ryan are my two best friends. I'm going to try to do my best to juggle both. Like I mentioned, I'm usually juggling a pile of bands in Edmonton... I've only screwed up scheduling a few times so I'll just have to be on top of that a little more. The whole Edmonton to Laramie thing was pretty easy for the first weekend. It's a quick flight, and then a couple hours drive to Laramie. Compared to playing shows in different cities in Canada that's pretty quick.

CM: I understand the new Old Wives album is complete and the band is shopping it around looking for a label. How's that coming along? And is there a possible street release date for the new album?

DC: We literally just got back the masters so we haven't shopped it around quite yet. It's the best Wives record yet. We have a couple labels in mind but we'll see how that pans out. With the delays with vinyl lately, I don't see it coming out till summer.

CM: Who were some of your musical influences growing up? And how have those influnces helped shape your style and sound over the years?

DC: Oh man, that's a loaded question. I was and still am all over the map when it comes to music. Dave Grohl was probably my first huge influence but once I started finding music (which was hard growing up in a small town in Alberta) it really expanded. I had a friend who started ordering all kinds of shit from the SST catalog and that got me into Black Flag and Descendents. I remember hearing the drums on "ALL" and going "Whoa... they are so loud, and huge sounding..." and they were up front and in your face. I had another friend who started diving into the Lookout! catalog and I think the first record he got was "My Brain Hurts". The drums were so simple but so perfect at the same time. I had to get everything Dan Panic ever played on. That spun off to Aaron Cometbus from Crimpshrine and Pinhead Gunpowder. Looking back now, I can't believe how much of a nutbar I was over Screeching Weasel. I even flew to Chicago with my then girlfriend to see a one time only Weasel show at the House of Blues back in 2000. I froze up when I saw Dam Lumley after the show, he probably thought I was going to attack him with a knife or something. Anyways, where was I? Oh, yeah I really got into that Lookout! stuff. And Dinosaur Jr. Oh yeah, and a friend of mine also had Fugazi's "In on the Kill Taker" that I think I borrowed off him more than he had a chance to listen to it. I could go on and on... I'm just rambling now. Atom Williard for president.

CM: As of right now have you and TBR even started tossing ideas for new songs? Or will that be a work in progress?

DC: No new songs in the works as of yet, but there is talks of something... That's all I can say about that .

CM: Any chance of a Bottlerocket/Old Wives tour in the future?

DC: Maybe? Who knows! Anything is possible.

CM: Now its time to let you plug away any and all projects you're currently involved in. Are there any band's, websites, pages or online stores you would like to plug?

DC: Look for the Old Wives album in the early summer, I didn't think we were ever going to get it done and we faced a lot of adversity in the process. I'm really proud of it and the guys I got to do it with.

CM: I can't wait to see you guys in Chicago! All the very best to you, TBR and The Old Wives. Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass, Darren. I greatly appreciate your time.

DC: Thanks for having me. Maybe I'll see you July 23rd!