R&R:: Indie Review:: “Astoria” by the Hellfreaks

TL; DR Haiku Review:

“loud and fast punkrock, with anthemic choruses, Nitro fans rejoice”

For this week’s dip into indie bands we have “Astoria” by the Hellfreaks.  This album was released in 2016, but I recently stumbled upon them on Spotify.

The Hellfreaks come from Hungary but they are spiritually rooted in Southern California’s punk rock sound of the 90’s and 00’s.  Fronted by Shakey Sue, the band describes themselves as a combination of “punk rock, psychobilly and metal.”  However, at the risk of genre pigeon-holing them, I think you can call them a punk rock band that can play their instruments.


Not-so-careful listeners will hear a lot of early Davey Havok and AFI in Shakey Sue’s voice, intensity, and delivery.  (That is a compliment, not a diss).  Listen to “I’m Away” and try not to imagine Davey singing that chorus fifteen to twenty years ago.  Not only that, but musically, the Hellfreaks would be at home on Nitro or FAT Records with plenty of catchy fast-paced riffs.

What makes this band a good, and quite frankly tolerable, listen (for those of us who have aged-out of pop-punk music for the most part) is the intensity of the vocals and the way they are integrated into the music.  This band isn’t just some chords and a moody singer with a haircut.  Also, despite their catchiness of their songs, the Hellfreaks have enough “edge” to stay away from sounding too much like the bands who ruined the genre years ago.  In my opinion, “Burn the Horizon,” “I”m Away,” “Sid and Clyde,” and  “Why do you talk” really stick out for their punk rock intensity and make me want to get back into a circle pit again.

The bottom line: you should definitely stream and/or download this album if you are a punk rock fan, and especially if you grew up with AFI and other California punk rock bands.

The Hellfreaks won’t be in the U.S. anytime soon, but check ’em out if you are in Germany or Hungary anytime soon.





R&R:// Outrage! is Now by Death From Above 1979

TL;DR: Haiku Review:

“when i hear that sound, some high energy thrashing, I’m all out of rage.”

The Band:

For the uninitiated, DFA 1979 is just another great band hailing from Toronto, Canada.  (Canadian musicians are killing it right now.  Forget all of the Canadian jokes you’ve heard, they are our betters.  Get over it.)


Its not everyday that I get to dive into new music from one of my favorite bands doing it right now.  If you can catch these guys live, you really should.  With that obvious bias out-of-the-way, let’s get to Outrage! is Now.

Aside from the title itself, this album is not overtly political or preachy.  There are discernible themes, but importantly they are addressed subtly in the title track, and”Holy Books” to name a few.  There are hints of a particular (and let’s face it the right point of view) in “All I C Is U & Me” with references to undercover racists in the streets and other terrible things.  This is 2017 after all.

The first single “Freeze Me” has made the rounds on mainstream radio and you have probably heard it already.  It is catchy, but don’t let that one song define the album for you.  Most of the rest of the tracks are standouts in their own right.

DFA 1979 starts out with some hi-hat and a rhythmic bass riff on “Nomad.”  If a lot of post-punk bands use angular or staccato riffs to get crowds moving, DFA 1979 gives you pounding drums and da-da-da-dadada style looping bass lines.  It sounds simple, but the noise created is compelling and powerful.  “Caught Up” starts out slowly but eventually reaches a crescendo that is full of noise and fury, and it is another highlight

The title track’s chorus hits you hard and might be my favorite song on this album.  “Statutes” comes at you with distorted vocals and the familiar looping bass riffs with a much more experimental sound quality.  I also like the last track “Holy Books” because at times you can re-imagine it as a punk-rock anthem and then all of a sudden it drops into a short piano-aided bridge that sounds like it came straight out of Ok Computer.

I come around, when I hear that sound:

Yes, you should definitely stream/buy/borrow this album if you are into DFA 1979 or just good music in general.



R&R Rehash: Generator by Bad Religion

TL; DR Haiku Summary:

“Classic punk-rock songs, like a rock, like a planet, it stays relevant”

For my first R&R Rehash post on this site, I present to you: Generator by Bad Religion.

This is one of my favorite BR albums from top to bottom.   I know, I know: No Control, Suffer, Against the Grain etc.  All great choices from the original Epitaph records era and I wouldn’t fault you for overlooking Generator.  But seriously, it deserves more love than it gets if only for more appreciation for Atomic Garden, the title track or the Answer.

Speaking of the Answer, find me a better song about man/woman-kinds’ existential need to find an answer to the meaning of life.  Find me a better song that takes on this issue and juxtaposes it with our destruction of this planet in less than 3 and 1/2 minutes…I’ll wait…

It may not be 1992 anymore, but BR’s particular brand of political alarmism still rings true in 2017.  In fact, now that we are living an absurdist remake of 1984 that George Orwell would find a bit much, it couldn’t be more important.  With the sad! decline leadership in the United States, handwringing about George Bush or Ronald Reagan seems almost quaint.  Nevertheless, if you like punk-rock music, if you are into intelligence and social awareness, this album should be in your collection digital or otherwise.

Nevertheless, if you like punk-rock music, if you are into intelligence and social awareness or just if you aren’t a fascist jerk, this album should be in your collection digital or otherwise.

On a more personal note: For me, nothing brings back college quite like this album (shout out to UC Davis).  I remember torturing my suite mates (a few decades back now) with my punk-rock and hardcore music collection (I was the worst).  Although I mostly failed in converting them, this is the album that most of them copied (or bought) for their own private consumption.