Friday, May 25, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 268 - Bad Religion - Stranger than Fiction

Album – Stranger than Fiction
Artist – Bad Religion
Key Players - Jay Bentley – bass and backing vocals. Greg Graffin – lead vocals. Brett Gurewitz – guitar and backing vocals. Greg Hetson – guitar. Bobby Schayer – drums and percussion.

Produced By – Andy Wallace and Bad Religion

Release Date – September 6, 1994

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Honestly not sure. Stare at the cd rack every now and then and it comes to you I guess.

Overview – This is the 8th full length studio album from Los Angeles, California band “Bad Religion”.
Formed in 1979 the band blends punk rock but uses multiple vocal harmonies not common within the genre. The socially responsible band would write, record and tour before having slight commercial success when they jumped to a major label. This album would be their highest charting (#87) and would be certified “Gold” (500K sold) by 1998. Gurewitz, one of the founders of the band also founded and owns the record label Epitaph Records, left the band soon after this record citing the label needed more of his time. He has since rejoined the band, which has remained largely intact after all these years. They have sold over 5 million albums worldwide and the album was re-issued in 2009 to coincide with the album's 15th anniversary.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – We are in and out of this15 track album in a breakneck 38:26. The full band opens up as “Incomplete” gets rolling. The lead guitar comes from guest Wayne Kramer (MC5). Graffin is quick to the punch and the bass of Bentley is right up on the mix. The chorus finds that great multilayer harmony which is really refreshing. The full band just is on a roll and sounds to be having a lot of fun. Hetson, Gurewitz give even more of the guitar wall and Schayer keeps the timing spot on. Before the second chorus Bentley seems to take off and then steps aside for Kramer's solo. A bit over two minutes is the norm and we are right back at it on “Leave Mine to Me”. Here the drums from Schayer are really punched up. He fires along with Gurewitz and Bentley before Graffin begins to sing. The band does a solid job of mixing up the break downs and time signatures which is great. The “big” single (for me at least) comes in the frantic “Stranger than Fiction”. Graffin pushes himself right along as Schayer seems to find a very comfortable place on the snare. The guitars are kept to big the riffs and again we get the nice harmonies (for a punk rock song) on the chorus. Coming out of the second verse the band shifts gears and has Schayer takes the lead but Bentley has some big bass fills as the guitars all swell and we get another great attack of the chorus and it wraps up. Stand out track. The pace is really up as “Tiny Voices” takes off. The guitars from Gurewitz and Hetson battle while Schayer continues to attack his kit. Graffin has that perfect “punk rock” voice. Just the great blend of range with a gruff sound that gives it that even more urgent feel. This is another good example of the bands strong harmonies on the chorus. “The Handshake” has the dual guitar attack before Bentley and Schayer join. Graffin is focused on the lyrics and the guys are always eager to help on the backing vocals. Gurewitz takes the first lengthy guitar solo, but it is hardly 20 seconds long, but its a guitar solo none the less. The band comes back around and the song wraps up. Schayer is quick on the kit as “Better off Dead” starts. Graffin is still “urgent” but seems a little more hushed, or as hushed as you can be in a punk rock song. Clocking in at 4:08 the track “Infected” is the longest track on the record by over a minute (or very close to). The single buzzy guitar intro is met with a second and then Bentley and Schayer come in. Hetson and Gurewitz seem to know each other very well on the record and never seem to step on each other. One takes the choppy attack and the other gives the chords. Graffin begins to sing and the track is a little “mellow” for the feel of the record, but the structure and just presentation of the track are solid. Showcasing the band is able to do far more than one might expect. Tim Armstrong (Rancid) sings the lead vocals on “Television” The song was co-written by Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano and Gurewitz. The track is a punk rock attack on the ears, this is fast and furious. “Individual” follows suit, with the breakneck beat dropped by Schayer. Hetson and Gurewitz continue to shine, but Bentley seems too hushed on this track. All that aside, it moves right along. It sounds a bit like and extension as “Hooray for Me” just comes right out at the listener. The listener will be exhausted just listening to the tempo that Schayer puts down. The guitars and bass are right there, really getting the listener to move along. Bentley has that nice punk rock bass “ring” you get from time to time and Graffin sings at a machine gun pace. “Slumber” opens a far slower than any tracks. After the first verse is sung the bass and drums seem to come up more, but until the chorus its pretty held back. The bass sounds great on the track and Schayer seems okay with sharing being the key instrument during the passes on the verses. There is another short guitar solo on this track as well. We get right back to the punk rock urgency as “Marked” goes. On this track Jim Lindberg of Pennywise helps out on backing vocals. By this point we get what the band can do, and they do it well. This is another example. We hardly feel in to that song when it ends and “Inner Logic” takes off. Bentley is a bit more of the leader on this along with Schayer. Gurewitz and Hetson come in at the right time and we get another great set of harmonies on the chorus. “What It Is” feels similar to the prior track with the solid bass and drum work. Closing out the album is “21st Century (Digital Boy) a slow builder of a track. Schayer attacks his cymbals and tom toms. Bentley gives big single bass notes as Gurewitz and Hetson also find their place. The chorus is a solid example yet again of how they handle the vocals. A very solid album closer.

Where are they now? Graffin, Gurewitz, Bentley and Henson are still with the band. In 2011 the band stated they'd record a new record for 2012 but have hinted that this will be their final album.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – Surprised to admit, I haven't seen them live.

FDF Overall Take - When one thinks punk rock they think 2 minute songs, with a lot of yelling and not much else. Bad Religion is just the opposite. Sure they attack it, and attack it hard, but the solid mix and harmonies of the band members are really solid. We can have a music fast, and seemingly “angry” but why not have it be a little complex and interesting. If the band is really “done” I need to get my act together and see them, and so should you. This record is easy to find and if you listened to “alternative” radio you'll know at least 2 of these tunes, and probably more.

Official Site

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Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction Live.

21st Century Digital Boy

Infected (Live Version)

Buy It!!!

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copywrite infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.

Friday, May 18, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 267 - Fishbone - The Reality of My Surroundings

Album – The Reality of My Surroundings
Artist - Fishbone
Key Players - John Bigham – guitar, keyboards. Phillip “Fish” Fisher – drums. Kendall Jones – lead guitar, vocals. John Norwood Fisher – bass guitar, vocals. Walter A. Kibby – trumpet, vocals.
Chris Dowd – keyboards, trombone, vocals. Angelo Moore – saxophone, vocals.

Produced By - Fishbone

Release Date – April 23, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - The documentary on the band “Everyday Sunshine”. Watch the trailer for yourself - here

Overview – This is the third full length album from Los Angeles California band Fishbone. The band, who blends funk metal with alternative rock and ska are known for their wild stage shows as they are for their social commentary. Formed in 1979 the band has had their shares of ups and downs and this record was the bands most successful record peaking at #49 on the Billboard charts and allowing them to preform on Saturday Night Live and The Arsenio Hall show. Line up changes and issues with label as well as some internal struggles found the band fractured at times but they continue to make records and tour.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – (since there are 2 Fishers I'll call Phil “Fish” as he goes by and John by his first name).

“Fight the Youth” opens the 59 minute 18 track album with some big guitars and fast runs played. The keyboards from Dowd work with the guitars before the Fish gets the drums. Fisher is up in the mix on the bass which stands out. The vocals are all shared and it has a nice big full sound. The guitars have some solid bursts, but the horns are silenced until later in the track when there is a great guitar solo that fires off the Fisher bass fills and horns ring out with it. The solos are short and the full band comes back in for another run at the chorus. Fish loves his ride cymbal and it gets a solid workout for the duration. The tempos change often and the track is very entertaining showcasing many of the bands talents with a fun Kibby and Dowd session at the end of the track before the lengthy fade. “If I Were A I'd” is the first of a series of less than one minute tracks (this one is 0:54). One this one it is a short (appears to be culled from a live show) horn bass and drum interlude and then Moore sings at breakneck speed until it ends. “So Many Millions” has Fish starting it all off and Moore, Dowd and Kibby blast the horns. It lays in the funk groove with the guitars from Bigham and Jones chopping over the top. There is more than one singer again, most tucked towards the back for call and response type verses. Dowd has the keyboard in piano mode and Fisher offers a very solid bass line. Once more the band is very tight. Seeming to start and stop on a dime, then coming back full bore. Jones starts his guitar solo late in the track but it comes off strong and is just the right length allowing Fish to take control and wrap the track up with the full band smoking along. “Asswhippin'” is an instrumental clocking in at a short 40 seconds. Heavily percussion based it just has whip sounds and screams otherwise. Dowd gets the ska feeling “Housework” underway. Kibby offers the trumpet and your toes start tapping. The pace is quick and it is hard to sit still with this fun, tropical feeling track. Fish and Fisher are the solid as expected back beats and then the horns all get their turn. The trombone from Dowd is strong while Moore and Kibby each wait their turn. It all comes together for a big swelling finish. “Death March” is 30 second track that sounds like an old record and some horns playing, largely saxophones. Dowd has an elaborate keyboard intro on “Behaviour Control Technician” and it just erupts. Everyone is in on this. The horns chop through the bass and drums. The two guitars find the funky groove. The vocals are once more largely shared with the guys. There is a lot to listen to on the track, you want the horns to play even longer and louder, the bass to somehow even be more funky and the guitars to really battle it out. The good news is you won't be upset, it is all going on. Excluding the instrumental tracks this is the shortest “song” up to this point and you do wish it went on longer. We get another “If I Were A..I'd” to follow (29 seconds this time) and again it culls from a live track with stage banter before the burst of music. Moore sings “Pressure” right at the start of said song a few times over. The band works to get rolling and it blasts forward with a punk feel. The pace is quick with Fish really rolling the drums quickly. After a bit it settles down some and Fisher is tight on the bass as it seems to be chaotic elsewhere. It is the most erratic song on the record. We take a poetic approach as “Junkies Prayer” begins. Two voices work through a rhyme as random sounds phase from one side to the next. It gets confusing with the two lines going (one is on the left, other on right). The full band is once again all in as “Pray to the Junkiemaker” begins. The track seems to be a little less focused but the rap a tap from the drums pushes things forward. The horns are once again full bore which is nice. One of the biggest songs from the band comes next in “Everyday Sunshine”. Opening with a blast of horns after a Fish lead drum attack. Bigham and Jones have some great effects on their guitars. The song gives you a great warm/sunny day feel. Fishers bass continues to really stand out. When the band is all going, on tracks like this, you get to full appreciate them. As the track speeds up and gets some cool time signatures towards the'll get it. The third of four “If I Were A...I'd” tracks is much of the same, short live stage banter and a jam (29 seconds this time). Poppin off the bass “Naz-Tee May'en” lays down the funk and you get the power of the horns. The band all takes turns singing and its a deep funk track, really really solid stuff. Fisher is the focus here, and you'll notice, he rips it. “Babyhead” has a bit more of the slow build with Dowd and Fish slowly getting things going before the vocals begin. The song gets rowdy at times, but seems to maintain an even keel for the duration. The final of the four “If I Were A..I'd” (53 seconds) and its much the same.
“Those Days are Gone” has Bigham and Jones battling at the start and Fish getting things back in order.. Fisher sets the bar and Fish taps out the simple time. There is a lot of vocal blending with hushed backing vocals to the push of the lead. The song that had be get the album in the first place is the song that wraps it all up. “Sunless Saturday” opens with a quickly played acoustic guitar and then it all rumbles together. Dowd has a lot of keyboard work and they set in to almost “metal mode”. Fish hits the drums like they owe him money and Fisher is just in top form with some deep tones. Once we hit the guitar solo, the first and really only stand out guitar solo on the record, Jones runs some cool effect that has his guitar seemingly triplicate the note and phase them all at once. I haven't a clue what effect is used, but it rules. It makes it sounds like he plays a mach speed. As the solo concludes its back to the races and the band is locked in for a thunderous conclusion. See for yourself in the clips below. The acoustic guitar from the intro returns and Kibby blasts out a ringing trumpet and it ends.

Where are they now? - The last studio record by the band was “Crazy Glue” released in October of 2011. Moore, John Fisher and Kibby (who left at one point) are still with Fishbone.Dowd left the band in late 1993 after the band was dropped by Sony. Read more about what he has been up to (and is up to) and his thoughts on getting back with Fishbone here  Bigham left the band in 1998 to work on his own material and formed “The Soul of John Black”.  Philip Fisher also left the band in 1998. He has played drums with Justin Timberlake to Les Claypool. He is currently in the band Wicked Wisdom. Jones has/had and interesting story. Though to be suffering from mental issues he appeared to have been brainwashed by a family member and was a devout person of god. John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and was charged with kidnapping, all a very bizarre and sad story. Jones, at least in the documentary had come back around and played with the band again.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – The only time I saw the band live was part of the Lollapaloosa tour. July 17, 1993. It was a rowdy and fun set from the band during the peak of the day so many couldn't keep up in the heat.

FDF Overall Take - This record has aged very well.  It is a very heavy funky record.  It really has something for every taste.  I could do with out the short stage banter tracks, but they do break up the album pretty good.  Watach the documentary and then grab this cd, really..its okay.  Do it.


The bands  site

The Soul Of John Black

Phil Fisher

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Sunless Saturday from Arsenio Hall

The same tune but this is from Saturday Night Live

Everyday Sunshine (Official Video)

You can still find the record here

Friday, May 11, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 266 - Asia : Asia

Album - Asia
Artist - Asia
Key Players – Geoffrey Downes – keyboards and vocals. Steve Howe – guitar and vocals. Carl Palmer – drums and percussion. John Wetton – lead vocals, bass guitar

Produced By – Mike Stone

Release Date – March 1982

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I heard the tail end of “Heat of the Moment” on satellite radio.

Overview – This is the debut album from the UK super group “Asia”. Formed in 1981 the bands four members each game from veteran bands. Wetton was Roxy Music and King Crimson (to name a few) Howe from the band “Yes”. Downes was also in “Yes” as well as “The Buggles”, while Palmer is most well know as part of “Emerson Lake and Palmer”. The band was formed after the demise of bands like Yes and ELP so there were many musicians qualified for this super group that was the idea of an A+R man. It was released to mixed reviews with the critics but rock fans took to the album. The album would sell over 10 Million copies worldwide and the album would go to #1 in the US and was the best selling album of 1982. By the end of 1983 Wetton was forced out of the group and the band continued on with limited success. By 1986 the band folded...or did they?

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The nine song 44 minute album opens with the bands biggest single
“Heat of the Moment” (peak at #4). Howe plays the big arena rock chord riffs before Downes Palmer and Wetton hit on the downbeats. Wetton has a powerful voice that pulls your right in. The vocals are just sung over the lone guitar and some hi-hat strikes. After the second verse the band has a breakdown with Downes running across the keyboard and Wetton on bass strikes before the final verse gets underway. The chorus' have a nice blend of the backing and lead vocals with Palmer often thundering across his drum kit. Howe takes a second short solo as the song starts to fade out and Palmer is quick on his drum rolls and even the bass seems to come back up in the mix. They take a final run at the chorus and it fades out. Another charting single for the band follows in “Only Time Will Tell”. Downes has a keyboard intro then Palmer comes in and it all builds like a big 80's stadium rock song. When the vocals being it all calms down and has a bit of a ballad feel. Wetton once again is in fine form and his voice is perfect for the band sound. As the track hits the chorus the full band comes together and then there is a choppy instrumental burst before the band comes back together for the second verse. The song continues with the same formula foregoing any lengthy solos by the band members and with that the track fades out. The whole band clamors together as “Sole Survivor” gets underway. They seem to step aside or Palmer and Downes to take the track in the melody direction. Howe has a few short bursts on the guitar before Wetton begins to sing. Early on Wetton hits a pretty high vocal note and seems to handle it well with out much wavering. The mix seems to be keen towards Palmer and his cymbal strikes and Howe gets to show off some on the guitar. “One Step Closer” also has Downes at the intro and for the first time the band does seem to have have “prog rock” feel with some great drum work from Palmer. The vocals seem to be a lot slower and the band more focused on the delivery of the vocals. The keyboards feel a bit dated here and you'd be reaching for your jean jacket and lighter for the encore. Downes seems to rotate to piano at times as well taking some of the electric feel off it. Howe has his first lengthy solo on this track as well. “Time Again” finds the three opening up strong and then fading some with a colossal gong from Palmer. It takes a moment then it seem to really “chug” along. Hate to use that word, but again we are getting in to the mid section of the record and the prog influences are flowing. The track remains vocal free for over the first minute. After the second verse the band gets a good run. Seeming to jam and be open to taking the track outwards. Howe has a decent solo with Palmer really keeping a tight hold on things. Downes rotates between piano and keyboards and back. “Wildest Dreams” finds Downes and Palmer locking horns with Howe playing the guitar over it all. The vocal chant at one point is different for the band, but Wetton still shines. Palmer then gets his turn rumbling across with kit with Downes giving big booming notes to accent the drum hits. “Without You” starts of quiet and slowly with Downes the lone player. Wetton begins the vocals and Palmer seems to back off from the kit some, but then it all crashes down. The big moment doesn't keep the tempo up, it just is “louder”. Downes seems to be the focus on this track with the heavily accented keyboards and Palmer is up to the challenge keeping the track tight. Howe solos and Palmer finds his tom toms compliment the same lengthy run that Downes does.“Cutting it Fine” finds Howe on acoustic guitar and then Downes matching him note for note on a sound that harkens to mid evil times. The drums get it back to the prog feel and the everyone seems to be on board. Palmer is an outstanding drummer using his drum kit to the full potential. Howe and Downes come back around with the same progression as the intro and there are solid backing vocals and harmonies. Wrapping up the album is the track “Here Comes the Feeling” which finds Wetton tossing out big bass notes, and this is first time I've really noticed the bass. Palmer, Downes and Howe all seem to gel early and the track is a good representation of what they are about in the prog rock breaks and big keyboard runs. The harmonies are strong as expected. A solid closer.

Where are they now? - Okay...I'll do my best here. There ended up being two versions of the band. One was lead by Downes and new singer/bassist John Payne. They'd see a revolving door of musicians help in the studio and on tour. Wetton and Downes had another version of the band but that dissolved by 2006. There are two versions as noted, Asia featuring John Payne and then “Asia” (they go by “originalasia” on the web). With all that, the “original four” have reformed. They have recorded a new album to coincide with their 30th Anniversary. Called “XXX” it is due in stores on July 2nd (Europe). You can check out the extensive list of performers and time lines on their very well maintained wiki page.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I have not seen the band live.

FDF Overall Take – There is no lack of talent in this band that is for sure. One needs to remember it was released at the time of “arena rock” with Journey, Styx etc. It feels campy at time, but the skill set is there for some shining moments. A “best of” collection might suit most, but this is a perfect time capsule capture of the music of the early 1980's to me personally.


Get caught up using the official site here

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Heat of the Moment official video

Live version of Heat of the Moment

Only Time Will Tell

You can track down the record 

Friday, May 04, 2012

FDF Volume 3 - Issue 265 - Paw : Dragline

Album - Dragline

Artist - Paw
Key Players – Charles Bryan – bass. Peter Fitch – drums. Grant Fitch – guitars. Mark Hennessy – vocals.
Produced By - Mr. Colson and Paw

Release Date - 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I was actually in a local record shop and saw this cd just sitting at the end of a section. I was pretty sure I had it, so I made a mental note..and sure enough.

Overview – Formed in 1990 in Lawrence Kansas and blended “grunge” and southern rock at just the right time. A+M Records singed them to a three record deal after they were billed as the “next Nirvana”. The hype would be decent on the first record (this one here) and even though the second record was considered “better” by critics it fizzled and the band was dropped before their third album of the contract. They'd disband is 2000 but have since done a few shows in 2008.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Since two members share the same name I'll use their first (Grant on guitar and Peter on drums). “Gasoline” is a slow build track but then it takes off. Hennessy has a rough howl to his voice and Bryan and Grant seem to feed off each other. Peter wants to get everyone moving and they tend to join in and push it forward. They have a bridge after the second verse before the chorus which is a good change from the straight rock fee. The vocals fit the music style and the grunge/heavy metal of the time. At one point there is another breakdown and Hennessy speaks the lyrics before the band comes back in and Grant gets a solo. “Sleeping Bag” has another big intro. Hennessy is quick on this vocals. The bass work from Bryan is a bit more up in the mix. The track moves along nicely and then there is a longer acoustic guitar interlude where everyone takes a step back, but the band comes roaring back in at the bark of Hennessy. The single that most would know comes in the track “Jessie” a guitar buzz fest that chugs along like a train. Hennessy barks the vocals, but cuts back some when the chorus comes around. The track has a unique twist when there is a slide guitar section that is brought to the forefront. Even when Hennessy is singing at his most aggressive you can still hear it clearly. The tracks continue to be on the short side. Quick and to the point with “The Bridge” being no exception. Grant and Peter work together as Bryan is quick to be included and the vocals begin. Hennessy doesn’t have a remarkable range, but per the norm the style of this vocal is fine for the music that is played. There is a phased out guitar section that is played a little quicker after the final verse is sung, before the chorus comes back. Grant holds the sustain over the chorus and it is layerd with a second guitar for an even bigger conclusion. Things seem to be the same on tracks like
“Couldn't Know” and “Pansy”. Couldn't Know has a longer guitar solo on the back and Pansy has a rumbling drum intro from Peter. Grant doesn't want to be out done so he comes in and Bryan wants to play too so the track takes off. You are in full rock mode. Bryan stands alone at the start of “Lolita” with a bass line that has a nice punch to it. Grant and Peter join in and Hennessy seems to be a little more laid back when he is singing. The verse is sung and even before a chorus arrives the band comes in full, but it takes the chorus for them to take off. The band has found a good mix of quiet and loud on the track and it has a good full feel and pointed sound, “Dragline” has a far more erratic chopping intro before the band gets rolling. It is not long to get rolling and Hennessy seems to be full of angst on the track and there is a good wall of guitar used, but the mix of the acoustic guitar later in the track is a solid touch. The guitar is a bit more subtle at the start of “Veronica” that is until the chorus arrives when Bryan, Grant and Peter all meet in the middle and hit it down hard. Once again the band seems to be willing to mix it up with the quiet to loud approach but still having it feel and sound good. “One More Bottle” is more with the feel of other tracks, a straight forward rocking number while guitars once again reign supreme as “Sugarcane” rumbles from the headphones. Peter gives his drum kit a good work out and he seems to find a solid pocket with Grant. The album concludes with the track “Hard Pig”. Bryan takes the lead on the bass before Grant gives short bursts on the guitar. This sounds and feels like a grunge tune with the big guitars and the strong vocals from Hennessy. The band does a little bit of the spoken lyrics again, but the band is a bit too urgent and noisy for that to last too long. A decent closer with a longer drawn out wall of sound.

Where are they now? - Grant Fitch and Peter Fitch still write and perform music under various monikers.. Grant in a band called “The New Franklin Panthers” who have a release out. Peter works out of Las Vegas. Hennessy still performs music and has released a book of poetry. In the wildest “who would have thunk it” moment Bryan became the “the fastest human in suborbital freefall” hitting a speed of 327mph in 1997.
(Read about the dive)

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I actually saw the band live. The Paradise on May 4, 1994. I recall “Jessie” being a real strong stand out and the hype machine was rolling. The band appeared to be pretty buzzed on stage, but I don't recall them floundering much, if at all. Also I realize that this was review was posted 18 years to the day of the show. Hot diggity!

FDF Overall Take – After listening for the first time in a long time I found I hadn't missed it all that much. Sure there are some moments but it feels very much the same for the duration. Perhaps that is the case with the genre but barring a few bursts here and there the album as a whole didn't take me back in time, or have me longing for their other records. Not a terrible record, but it hasn't aged the best.

The band on myspace
Facebook page

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Buy from amazon