Seven Absolutely Rocking Albums From January and February 2023
This year has been a busy start of the year for Powered By Rock, and as always, we are not only bracing for the 2022 Powered By Rock Music Awards, and the launch of the 4th Season of The Powered By Rock Podcast, we also put together a training program for indie rock musicians (The DIY Rock Career) that has put a lot of other elements on the back burner for a bit.
With that said, I wanted to take time to review some albums all at once today to showcase some absolutely stellar albums that are worth your time to check out.
Bass Drum of Death - Say I Won’t - 4.8 out of 5 stars
Bass Drum of Death’s 5th album, Say I Won’t, is as catchy and rocking as anything they have put out. There is something about their ability to not just make a heavy guitar-riff driven song, but also to SAY something with the words without overcomplicating a song’s meaning that is highly admirable.
A band that could do that really well was Nirvana, though I would say that sometimes Cobain’s lyrics got a bit muddy or meaningless (intentionally at times), but with Bass Drum of Death, you just get that punch you in the face rock music with a lot of singable hooks that help even brand new fans jump in and sing along to.
The best song on the album, in my opinion, is “Say Your Prayers” which is a self-reflection song about being haunted by both guilt/regret and by a bit of success as well. Lead singer Jon Barrett says, “It is about temptation and succumbing to it, and the consequences of that.”
The song was created in collaboration with Mike Kerr - drummer, Royal Blood. It explains the sound of the song in a lot of ways, but still keeps their own style.
The whole album is just absolutely fantastic, and if I had more time to write a full review, I would praise probably every song on this album for both the craft of creating incredible rock songs, but also to dig into the songs’ meanings as well, because they are worth the time and effort of the listener to learn more about this whole album.
Recommended Songs: “Say Your Prayers”, “Wait”, “Find It” and “Swerving”
White Noise - Neapolitan - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Remember when rock music was loud, punchy and shot lightning bolts into your face? Well, that’s the best way I can describe White Noise. Their debut album Neapolitan both brings back that heavy late 70’s crunch rock sound mixed with a new age slant that makes the album fresh and familiar at the same time.
It’s absolutely unexpected from a trio that are all in their mid-20’s as well. Most musicians in that age range seem to be gravitating towards shoegaze, hardcore, or a more singer/songwriter approach that is trying to break free from the sounds of the past.
Some of the best work on this album can be heard in songs like “Gimme Out” and “Get Mine” (cowbell, anybody?).
I will say, I think that, for the record, the grammar of the title “Gimme Out” is incorrect, which both jumbles my brain as a journalist/writer, but also maybe makes sense, because the song has about 20 “fuck yous” layered throughout. For reference, the word “gimme” usually refers to “give me” not “get me.” So, to say “Give me out” isn’t what I would think is the intention, but what do I know? Ha ha
Singer/guitarist Kaesen Samson can absolutely shred too. The leads never seem forced, and they come off as effortless. Truly incredible stuff.
My one knock on this album is that Samson’s vocals at times are not as strong as in other songs. But here’s the thing, his voice is also a strength of the band. For example, in “The Way It Is” the vocals in the chorus are great, but during the verse, the vocals tend to falter a bit as the melody doesn’t quite hold up as well as many of the other songs and even the chorus in the same song.
I can’t say much of anything else as far as constructive criticism here though, because the album rocks hard.
Recommended Songs: “Get Mine”, “Gimmie Out”, and “We Are All Gods”
White Reaper - Asking For a Ride - 4.8 out of 5 stars
The new album from White Reaper, Asking For a Ride, was one of my most anticipated albums of 2023, and this is one of those times where I was NOT disappointed.
I don’t know how they do it, but White Reaper manages to take heavy metal riffs and create a more punk rock sound than anything. It is one of the best combinations of sounds that I hear in any modern rock band.
In my opinion, with bands like White Reaper creating the music that they create, rock music has a very bright future ahead, because not only do they create great music, but they are absolutely high energy on stage too.
If you want to hear just a dose of what White Reaper offers on this album, go check out their first single “Fog Machine” and have a good 3-minute dance party wherever you are when you hit play. It’s an absolute banger.
I am not sure there are many bands on the planet that rock harder than White Reaper, and I just don’t have too many other ways to state that.
Sure, there ARE bands that might be more popular and have crowds that go harder, but note for note in music, whew, I don’t know. White Reaper holds their own with anyone.
Recommended Songs: “Fog Machine”, “Pages”, “Asking For A Ride” and “Crawlspace”
Boss’ Daughter - Bouts With Bummers - 4.6 out of 5 stars
Let me first just say that the ONLY negative that I can say about the new album from Boss’ Daughter (called Bouts With Bummers) is that the production value is not as totally polished as the high end bands put out.
That said, there is a TON of charm in that, and the overall sound of the album immediately reminds me of the late 90’s of underground punk music.
In fact, if you had never heard of Boss’ Daughter, you can put this album on, and you would SWEAR it is a reasonable facsimile of putting on a Punkorama album from back in the day.
The band jumps styles and even genres throughout the album which makes it an incredibly fun experience.
Love skate punk? Ska? Pop punk? Hardcore? Post punk? A dash of indie rock?
Well, you’re in luck, because this album has it all.
The Reno, Nevada trio is not trying to fit in with any particular genre. They are just playing the songs that they like, and it works really well.
At times you will hear influences like NOFX, The Vandals, Millencolin, Lagwagon, Fugazi, Less Than Jake and many more (yeah, a bit all over).
Recommended Songs: “Theme From Maximum Party Time”, “Extinction”, “Singing About Drinking”, and “Away”
Colorsfade - Built From The Wreckage - 4.4 out of 5 stars
Fast, frenetic, high-energy and kick ass - that’s about what you can expect from the new Colorsfade album, Built From The Wreckage.
Right from the start of this album, you will be banging your head and punching the air even if you are just sitting in your bed or at an office chair.
In the same vein as a band like Rise Against, you get a lot of anthemic songwriting on this album as well, and yeah, guitars galore with lightning quick drum beats.
Now, the 10-song album has one drawback for me personally. As much as I love to go apeshit for 20-straight minutes at a live show, I do get fatigue from the same fast pace both literally as it’s pretty difficult to keep rocking out for that long without being winded, but after a few songs that have the same pacing, and, even somewhat the same songwriting formula (count how many songs start with a guitar intro), your ear starts to wander and you find yourself spacing out when the songs are all absolute fire individually.
Therefore, while I can’t point to any single song and say, “Oh, that shouldn’t be on there,” or “Nah, that one’s not great,’ what I can say is that as a whole album, I feel like there should be some sort of a break in the chaos of how fast these guys can play.
If 10-straight fast-as-hell songs are your thing though, then you will LOVE this album. It really is a great collection of songs, but as someone who really listens to whole albums, I find that something is missing.
In the modern music landscape, I am probably in the minority here though because most people only ever listen to singles.
So, if you throw this whole album into your punk playlist, and you get just single songs mixed in with your collection, you will rock out every single time one comes on.
Recommended Songs: “Complaining”, “Your Remedy”, and “Our Time To Shine”
One Of Us - One Of Us - 4.6 out of 5 stars
Speaking of fast skate/melodic punk, One Of Us, brings a ton of the genre to their more fleshed out sound which fits a bit more into the post-hardcore sound that bands like Haste The Day and Chiodos sort of fit into back in the late 2000’s decade.
Chaos is definitely part of the plan with their music, but it is harnessed into pinpoint timing that will blow your mind. See the song “Complete Fire” (a clever name because the song is what it is called).
The flow from one song to the next is also a nice touch for someone who listens to a full album like myself.
If you like a band like Clutch, I think you would really enjoy this album which is just a cocktail mix of anger, frustration and loud music.
Also, you will hear a few familiar quotes used as samples in the background of songs. One such is in the song “Stuck In A Ditch” which uses the classic line from Billy Madison where the principal (James Downey) does not accept Billy’s (Adam Sandler) answer as valid by explaining, “At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
A helluva way to go into a guitar solo.
The vocals on this album are incredible as well. It’s actually the main reason I don’t really consider this as a straight up skate punk album. It blends that skate punk sound with the emo and post hardcore bands that make it incredibly interesting to listen to front to back.
Recommended Songs: “Wait & Fall”, “Hundred Years” and “Four A.M.”
Another Joe - Ready Or Not - 4.5 out of 5 stars
For fans of Screeching Weasel and the late 90’s punk rock sound that came from the Midwest, I would highly recommend the new album from Another Joe titled Ready Or Not.
The first song off the album “Missed Fits” is not just a great homage to the Ramones-core sound, but it is also a really good song that doesn’t have that air of trying too hard to revive an old sound. It works really well.
That sentiment could be said for pretty much this whole album, because instead of trying to recreate that old sound, Another Joe really do find a way to propel that subgenre forward.
“Mexico” and “T-Bird Tattoo” which are the next two songs on the album give you that familiar sound with a “new and improved” twist.
The album isn’t just 8-straight songs of trying to find clever ways to make more songs out of the same melodies either. A good example of that is the song “Inside Voice” which has a lot of variation within the song itself.
With Another Joe, the strength really comes from the melodies. Regardless of what happens within the song, it always comes back to the fact that with both backing vocal harmonies and the overall tones from the guitars mixed with the lead vocals, the end result is just really solid punk rock.
Recommend Songs: “I Don’t Wanna”, “Missed Fits”, "NSF" and “Sound Advice”