250 word album review: Here’s To The Life! – Surviving Is My Best Revenge

Here's To The Life! -Surviving Is My Best Revenge


Here’s To The Life! is now fully amped up and doesn’t spare on the energy. This group of 8 songs is among their strongest, the songs are fun and fiery as they continue to be one of the Midwest’s most distinct sounding pop punk acts.

On the opening “Say It Like You Mean It” the chugging guitar licks set the tone early. Primary lead singer Patrick Rivera’s vocals are one of a kind with his up and down singing that helps give the music some extra bounce. The songs here are of a serious nature but in typical Here’s To The Life! style are portrayed with a wit and playfulness. The tone on numbers like “A Song For You” you get the idea that heartbreak is embraced and accepted. This redemption song finds the antagonist yearning for one more chance with someone but also singing “I don’t know what it is that I want from you,” how representative of true emotions in relationships is that? The honesty is refreshing. The take on The Marvelettes “Mr. Postman” actually blends right in here too. The only thing that sounds outdated are the snail mail references on the track. The pop-punk makeover fits the song well showing there really isn’t that big of a gap between classic R&B and Here’s To The Life! if it’s an amazing song.

It’s a typically loud and energetic affair here with brash guitar licks, thumping bass and drums. It’s just a fun album, repeated listens are a must. Also, the album cover is awesome.

Key Tracks: “A Song For You” “Mr. Postman” “Goodnight, I Think I Mean Goodbye”

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Coming Soon: Waxahatchee & Hurray For The Riff Raff live at The Blue Note in Columbia, MO

WHO’S PLAYING?  Waxahatchee (Birmingham, AL) Hurray For The Riff Raff (New Orleans, LA) and Bedouine (Los Angeles, CA)

HurrayWaxahatcheeTourPosterWHAT TO EXPECT? Strong female voices singing loud and singing proud.

Katie Crutchfield is essentially Waxahatchee. Crutchfield has now released 4 albums under the moniker and has continued to gain momentum and popularity. The latest Waxahatchee album was released in July of 2017 to critical praise, cracking many critics top albums of 2017 lists and is called “Out in the Storm.” Crutchfield’s sound has continued to grow and morph into it’s current incarnation as a full band sound. This is evident on the lead single from the album “Sliver” that is a driving indie rock anthem. This wasn’t always the case though, the project started as a solo acoustic venture. That sound hasn’t been totally abandoned though, as shown on the new albums delicate closer “Fade.”

Waxahatchee sounds like: Neko Case, Liz Phair and that song on the radio you want to remember on your next trip to the record store.

Like Waxahatchee, Hurray For The Riff Raff is essentially a one woman show. Alynda Segarra is driving force here and her sound has also reached new peaks with her most recent effort. “The Navigator” was released in March of 2017 also to critical acclaim and also cracked several 2017 top album lists. The ambitious concept album is largely political on the back of the transparently aggressive “Rican Beach” and several other politically themed songs. Other songs like the Dylan-esque “Living In The City” show Segarra’s knack for spinning deep, meaningful lyrics and pairing them with memorable hooks to make for radio worthy tracks.

Hurray For The Riff Raff sounds like: Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, the revolution starting in your back yard.

Also fitting the theme of the evening is Echo Park’s Bedouine. Another strong female voice leads this project with Azniv Korkejian from Syria steering the ship. Her soft voice accompanies dreamy instrumentation to create a perfect lead-in for the bands on this bill.

Bedouine sounds like: Mazzy Star, Iron and Wine and bedtime stories you never hear the end of.

WHERE IS IT?  The Blue Note (17 N 9th St., Columbia, MO)

WHEN IS IT?  Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 8:00 PM, $18


Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and Alynda Segarra of Hurray For The Riff Raff

Here is a link to buy your tickets right NOW.


  • Tickets are $18… That’s not bad for two very important bands
  • This tour displays some of the best and strongest women in folk/indie rock
  • Waxahatchee is one of the most exciting bands in the indie scene mixing 90s rock with early 2000s edge while adding irresistible pop hooks
  • Hurray For The Riff Raff is a powerful band that is focused beyond reproach and pushing political agendas while maintaining their great songs
  • The Blue Note is a classic venue, made for theater but perfect for music
  • Columbia is a central location for fans from Kansas City and St. Louis, it’s also the closest show for people in Des Moines, Lawrence, Omaha, Springfield and several other worthy markets.

You should RSVP on facebook to the event so you don’t forget and your friends know where you’ll be, here is the link: FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

Hurray For The Riff Raff and Waxahatchee with Bedouine tour poster

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250 word album review: The Allovers -Yer Guises

Allovers - Yer Guises


“Yer Guises” is nothing but simple fun. If you’re looking for deep content you probably won’t find it unless you dig really deep. At the surface level The Allovers just take a crunchy guitar lick, play is for two minutes and squeeze in a hook. The good news is it actually works.

The Buzzcocks made a career from short songs with a big hook, they didn’t let things drag on; play the hook and move on. The Allovers obviously were paying attention. Every song here has a killer hook, even though 10 of the 15 tracks don’t even hit the 2:00 mark. It’s simple, a grimey guitar lick like on “When Freddy’s Back In Town” along with a chant-worthy chorus and you’re gold, cut it and put it on the album. There’s nothing wrong with leaving politics to Billy Bragg and Neil Young. They add some interesting surprises like the goulish vocals on “Hitchcock Twist” and the Ramones inspired vocals on “Rinky Dink.” While you could interpret that lyrical content is absent here, it seems more so that it simply isn’t needed. The Allovers sound like if Green Day did music for lyrics written by Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America and they got Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age to sing them. What doesn’t sound awesome about that?

Either way this album is a short spurt of fun, the songs come at you quick and the tempo is fast. They even got the punk album cover right, you have nothing to complain about here.

Key Tracks: “Rinky Dink” “When Freddy’s Back In Town”


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250 word album review: The Center State – Wilderness

The Center State - Wilderness



The Center State’s second full-length album “Wilderness” is a sentimental affair that shows the band’s abilities. The group compiles a focused group of songs here where they test their comfort zones and take another step forward.

The opening track “Wilderness” pushes their own sound as it’s an uncharacteristic upbeat romp. The mood is wistful still but the erratic song shows it’s not business as usual here. On “Sunrise” (cowritten by Stephen Wilson and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer) McKenzie Davidson takes vocal duties on the sweet pop song with big hooks, making it one of the stronger earworms here. The tone of the album remains pensive most of the time though, like on “I’ve Been Through The Fire” sang by Jeremy Sharp, who shoulders most of the vocal weight on the album. The graceful music fits the reflective nature of the songs, on tracks like “Culprit From Within” it’s not hard to see how much thought and interpretation was considered here. On the more transparent “Average Joe” bassist Brad Davidson makes the bouncy tune one of the most memorable of the record with smooth vocals and the swaying violin keeps you reeled in. The conclusion, a cover of the Ray Lamontagne song “Shelter” makes perfect sense here too, it fits perfectly and seems to sum up the album well.

“Wilderness” shows how talented the musicians are here and that as a band they are pushing themselves, this sophomore album has more range than their first and still maintains its cohesiveness.

Key Tracks: “Wilderness” “Average Joe” “Sunrise”

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250 word album review: The Breeders – All Nerve

The Breeders - All Nerve


The Breeders are a jagged band. They love broken things, they always have. Their songs are unique because of this, it is both what makes them great and what makes them troubling to listen to at times.

On their latest record “All Nerve” you get to see the same old Breeders with scowling guitars and a fear to drop into a groove. The band will forever be defined by “Cannonball” and all time classic groove it has, the band seems to steer away from that direction for the most part here. On “Archangel’s Thunderbird” they make and exception to this and it quickly stands out as the best song on the album, the preceding song “Howl At The Summit” also stands out as one of the stronger moments here.. On other tracks like “Wait In The Car” and “All Nerve” the rhythms are disjointed, I realize this is no accident it makes this album sound like it is lost between alternative and art-rock. Slower, ambient songs like “Dawn: Making An Effort” and “Spacewoman” fail to hold interest well as they fade into the background.

Chances are if you love all of The Breeders other 4 records you’ll probably like this one too because not a lot has changed or progressed. This isn’t a bad record, it just fails to be thrilling or at times even interesting.

Key Tracks: “Archangel’s Thunderbird” “Howl At The Summit”


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250 word album review: The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl

The Decemberists - I'll Be Your Girl


If you’re reading this you probably know what The Decemberists are all about, they have a well established catalog defining the band which makes an album like this challenging. Once you define yourselves as a band you spend the rest of your days trying to prove that ISN’T you; The Decemberists have found themselves in this phase of their career.

Their last album “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World” was their most disappointing since their breakthrough “Picaresque.” The record sounded like a K-Tel version of Fleetwood Mac and felt flat. They have done wonders to recover those feelings here though, “I’ll Be Your Girl” incorporates some fresh sounds, just see the heavy duty synth on “Severed.” That song has all the pop sensibilities that make the band great along with the leadoff track “Once In My Life.” Like all Decemberists records it has an incredibly dark tone flowing beneath the surface, the song titles alone on “Sucker’s Prayer” “Everything Is Awful” and “We All Die Young” attest to this. All of those tunes are masked with a not so dark sound though, the same can’t really be said of the lead single “Severed” though. The children sing-along on “We All Die Young” is irresistible and the astoundingly bouncy “Everything Is Awful” is so infectious it’s hard to ignore.

The good news is The Decemberists sound fresh again, the band’s music doesn’t suffer a huge shift but it is just enough to keep you crawling back for repeated listens.

Key Tracks: “Everything Is Awful” “Severed” “Once In My Life”

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250 word album review: Middle Western – When Your Demons Are Under Ground and You’ve Got To Dig Them Up

Middle Western - When Your Demons Are Under Ground and You've Got To Dig Them Up


Middle Western is a lesser known band from the Iowa area featuring banjo wielding badass William Elliott Whitmore and key tickler David Zollo as the two headed monster singing songs. The two established singer/songwriters split the duty here with 4 songs each.

Don’t let these facts lead you to believe that this sounds like a split EP or album though. Make no mistake about it that this is a band effort and sounds as such. For both writers the group provides a little different presentation for their songwriting which makes it unique for fans of each artist. Whitmore keeps to his standard topics on songs like “Help Me” and “Put Your Hands Where I Can See.” The latter being a slower burning tune that will make you grateful he has a full band backing instead of his standard more stripped down style. On Zollo’s “Off The Rails” you’ll hear a hard driving 70s style groove filled with raunchy guitar. Zollo scowls into the mic “Just because you’re young, don’t mean you’re innocent” dialing up the intensity of the rocker making it one of the best songs on the album. On the far more relaxed “These Pills” you’ll find Zollo sounding like he was displaced from The Band in their heyday as the keyboards guide the song. More vintage Whitmore follows with a rumbling “Creature of Habit” and a drawn out reflective, piano driven “Byron Leftwich” eclipses 8 minutes of Dylan like lyricism for Zollo closing out the album.

The album is a fun listen, sometimes you can hear the mood of the recording sessions in the music and Middle Western’s debut album is definitely one of them and is without a doubt worth seeking out.

Key tracks: “Put Your Hands Where I Can See” “Off The Rails” “Help Me”

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