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The Dags have a reputation for being one of the noisier blues-punk bands on the local Tampa music scene. Sympathetic and political, The Dags have played several Occupy events in Tampa and have been known to be politically outspoken. TBT Soundcheck has compared their sound to Primus and The Toadies. The Dags are not strangers to Bulls Country either, playing Bulls Radio's Local Live music festival in 2012.
After releasing their debut LP Noise last year, The Dags are releasing their sophomore LP Modern Art today at New World Brewey in Ybor City. We discuss their new album with lead singer Ash Dudney earlier this week.
What inspired your new album?
Our desire to put out something new, fresh, and more refined inspired us to release a second album as soon as possible. Noise was a good album, but left plenty of room for improvement. The production of the album was actually largely inspired by The Pauses' album A Cautionary Tale. I loved the flow and unity of every song, which in turn inspired me to exercise the utmost patience in selecting which songs would make the final cut to get on the album, and to pay close attention to the track order. We wanted a real album - a sound - and I think we got that here.
What can you tell us about the new album?
The title [Modern Art] combined with the stick figure painting was derived from my personal irritation with the art & music world in regard to how frivolously the title of "artist" is thrown around. Sometimes it feels like everyone who's ever put a pencil to paper or touched a guitar is magically transformed into an "artist", which simply isn't true. One important note here is that we aren't claiming to be artists ourselves; honestly, I think history will let you know if you're an artist or not. Especially for musicians. Hendrix? Hendrix was an artist. Innovative, talented, revolutionary - Hendrix was an artist. Nickelback? Justin Beiber? Who wants to explain to me how they are artists?
You band has been very outspoken politically (anti-Romney song, protesting during the RNC, playing Occupy events). Are there any political songs on the new album?
Several. This album is a solid addition to our political resumé. From the socially political lead track "Art" to, as you mentioned, a remastered and remixed version of our anti-Romney "$", this album certainly won't disappoint anyone who digs our sarcastic/angry political fire.
Any particular political issues that are affecting you right now?
Ha. Minimum wage.
How do you think the RNC affected Tampa Bay?
Well, I know the Columbia in Ybor had their biggest day ever. Over $100,000 in a day. I'd say the RNC was definitely a good boost to our local economy and a big unnecessary scare to law enforcement and their families. Things were supposed to get ugly with protestors, but it seems they couldn't or wouldn't put their anger where their mouth was.
I saw your cover picture on your facebook page has a psychedelic fish with Uncle Sam inside. What inspired the drawing? Is it going to have a presence with the new music?
That's actually a piece by my good friend Gina Alonso. I asked for a t-shirt design, gave her the concept of the album, and told her to go crazy. That was what I got. She used the stick figure idea and Uncle Sam, which I thought gave it just the right amount of political undertone for us. I love it. That girl? That girl is an artist.
As this is your sophomore EP, do you feel the band has grown or matured in any ways since the first album?
[These are actually both LPs.] Yes, we've grown tremendously. The songs are more complex, the project was well thought out, and we've really been tightening up as a band in general. We've got our first tour this summer with plans to release two EPs this year and tour several times - things are really shaping up. While Andrew's upcoming departure from the group is unfortunate, things are moving along in an amazingly positive way.
Do you have a favorite song of the new album?
Hmmm... I really don't know. Maybe "Death Cult Johnny", which afforded me the opportunity to sing alongside my fiancé, Melissa. That was a first and pretty incredible experience, not to mention a bad ass song.
Not many bands have made a creative switch to turn from punk music to create mariachi, and it seems like it would be impossible for any band to return to its punk roots after a five-year hiatus of punk music. But this is the story of The Bronx, and they are not any ordinary band. The band recently returned to the studio to record their fourth album which they simply named the Bronx IV, one has difficulty believing they played mariachi music. The album possesses tracks that combine a gritty sound, especially the case with lead singer Matt Caughthran, and combines it with a hard pop sound with strong hooks and easily memorable guitar lines/choruses. It doesn’t take a long time to be absorbed by the tracks of the album, it draws in listeners from the opening chords of opening song “The Unholy Hand”, but it also doesn’t require listening to the entire album to get the message. It keeps both new listeners just as entertained as the devoted fans.
The album does contain some negatives though. The album tends to lose steam and slows down as the album progresses; it’s like watching a downward slope in terms of speed. There are also little variations when it comes to the vocals as the gritty sound remains consistent throughout the album, with the exception of the second to last song on the album “Life Less Ordinary”. There is little variation to the formula of the songs as the album progresses which make it difficult to discern between certain songs. The creativity of the album tends to wear thin by the end. The song “Life Less Ordinary” also seems to lack a creative direction and although it is a welcome change of pace to the seemingly androgynous surrounding songs, it feels like a rocket that fails in the middle of launch and fizzes out.
Overall, it’s refreshing to see the Bronx where they belong with the mariachi songs safely put away in the closet. They seem to be right where they left off when they made the switch. They also emulated their first album’s success without simply regurgitating their debut album, which I’m sure all fans can feel a bit of relief over. The album shows a new direction the band wants to take their music and possess a few memorable tracks. I give the album a 7/10 because I feel that the band is using this album to get itself back into the game and launch itself from this starting point. Ultimately I feel as though there will be many things to look forward to from this band and is something to watch in the coming years.
Fake Problems used to be one of Florida’s best kept secrets. The punk band, originally from Naples, mixes rough vocals with smooth retro harmonies. The band formed five years ago and has received national acclaim.
As their band developed and came out with several LPs, Fake Problems have been asked to tour with the likes of Say Anything, The Hold Steady, Frank Turner and fellow Florida punk rockers Against Me!.
Blasting through the material of their discography, the band played hits like “ADT”, “Soulless” and “Songs for Teenagers” from Real Ghosts Caught on Tape.
Fake Problem, also debuted new material, presumably off of the split that they are coming out with this winter under Topshelf Records with Orlando’s You Blew It!.
Bridging a gap, Fake Problems is one of the few bands to dub their music ‘indie punk’. As these are normally two very distinct and clashing subcultures, their culmination in Fake Problems music makes the band even more distinct.
What do Australia and Vermont have in common? If the dancefloor garage punk music came to mind, that is correct! Vermont based King Tuff and Australia’s Total Control both dropped non-album tracks on a joint-released single from Sub Pop Records.
King Tuff is nothing new to the music industry, with two albums under his belt and many more to come certainly, this is his second release with Sub Pop. With an upbeat guitar and deep lyrics, Screaming Skull brings back garage punk with a dance friendly tone. With a sound similar to Foxboro Hot Tubs, King Tuff doesn’t save his retrospective sound for concert fillers. The two tracks will make you want to get up, clap your hands, and vibe.
Moving to the land down under, Australia’s Total Control released their two non-album hits. Lead by Daniel Stewart (Straightjacket Nation, UV Race) and Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas), Total Control brings post-punk and garage rock away from The Black Keys perspective, giving the listener an opportunity to hear the rawness of the music in its true punk glory.
This EP is refreshing from a lot of the music out now. Its just pure music intended to be listened to, no subliminal messages or politics.
Danko Jones is a Canadian rock band from Toronto, Ontario. The band consists of Danko Jones (vocals/guitar), John Calabrese (bass) and new drummer Atom Willard. The band was formed in 1996 and toured consistently for two years refusing to release an album preferring to let fans hear about the live reputation shows through word of mouth. Eventually putting out their own E.P. “My Love is Bold”, they received their first nationwide exposure and a nomination for best alternative album in 2000 for the Juno award. Since then they have released a total of eight albums, including their latest Rock and Roll is Black and Blue.
The simplicity of Danko Jones’s songwriting is uncommon in much of today’s popular music, it appeals to people through its simple chord progressions, catchy choruses, and classic song structures. It draws inspiration from punk and alternative matched with blues and classic rock form a sound that easily creates mass appeal. The concise and barebones style of it allows it to easily be appreciated by new listeners as well as mirror common tunes we all know such as an interesting take they made on a military march in the song “Legs”. The lineup change in the band with Dan Cornelius having been replaced by Atom Willard has not at all changed the sound beloved by the hardcore fans, which may surprise some skeptics.
Danko Jones’s sound mirrors that of Volbeat or Fu Manchu. Rock and Roll is Black and Blue holds true to previous albums gritty rock sound while maintaining harmonies and lyrically hilarious hooks. The blues rhythms matched with the sonic ferocity of punk creates the sound they have been holding on to since the 90s. This may be a double-edged sword however, as it seems to be with this album that it is a regurgitation of their past releases, making few attempts to experiment with a new spin or influence.
Overall Rock and Roll is Black and Blue will entertain both the new listener and the fans. As to whether or not the style will continue and stay relevant if the band refuses to leave its safety zone remains to be seen. The humor within the album combined with the music influence switching from the Misfits like riffs of “I Believed In God” and the Led Zeppelin-esque of “You Wear Me Down” show that quality musicianship is not lacking nor is catchy songwriting.
When browsing through local concerts and the local music cd section at a local record store, it is often easy to pass over several diamonds in the rough on the search for sonic nirvana. But there is one band that needs mentioning in particular that is daring to challenge the mold and put forth their unique sound that cannot be simply missed. In September of 2010 the band Sons of Hippies (now known as Black Eyed Angels) released their second studio album A-morph. This album showed a more developed and refined sound as it show’s they’ve been hammering out all the kinks that plague any independent band trying to break through to a wider audience.
Sons of Hippies was created during the 2008 Bonnaroo festival during friendly conversation between Brazilian native Jonas Canales (drums; synths; backup vocals) and Florida-bred Katherine Kelly (lead guitar; lead vocals). After speaking on the subject of family, they both discovered that they actually were children of hippies. They released their debut album Warriors of Light in March of 2009, produced by their mentor Tom Klimchuck. Since then they have begun a cycle of touring recording and touring again. Although based in Sarasota one can find them touring through Tampa known as regulars of local festivals such as Antiwarpt and WMNF's Tropical Heatwave. Sons of Hippies has recently changed up its line-up and now is known by the name Black Eyed Angels.
What makes Sons of Hippies unique is its own musical brand. It can only be described as a combination of psychedelic and punk rock with Brazilian rhythms with lyrical content of apocalyptic and abstract poetry. Sons of Hippies uses a full and trippy vocal arrangement, often with both Katherine and Jonas singing together.Her wailing adds accents to the sound, combining with a large array of foot pedals at her command and Jonas’ ferocious drum skills. Although armed with several effects, they keep a high standard of musicianship and focus throughout every song they play. They draw influences from bands such as Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and a touch of the White Stripes.
What sets this album apart from their previous album was the fact that they brought in more radio-friendly principles but kept their hard edge, not sacrificing anything to bring this album to life. The album starts off with very space-y intro with an esoteric feel. As the first song hits, so does a wave of energy as the tempo picks up drawing the listener in, one also begins to notice some ska influences as the album progresses. The album hits periods of high energy and euphoria, but also somber and slow notes with wailing. As the album closes, the listener will recall the intro and realize the album has come full circle and closes strong.
Overall the album proves that this band can attract a larger audience and can maintain their chops with their instruments. With this album it has also sealed itself as a major local band that can hold its own. This album also showcases the range of musical styles found here in Tampa, from the blues to psychedelic music to punk rock.