New Teen Paranormal Romance, Phantogram, PJ Franco and the Burnouts, Destroy Nate Allen, Social Studies


My band is playing at Ivory Jacks in Fairbanks AK on March 26.

We play Amy Winehouse covers, Black Keys covers, original Jazz cartoon zaniness and whatever we feel like.









PJ Franco and the Burnouts

Rage City House City Shit

Anchorage AK

Recorded by Kurt Raymin at Surreal Studio


I don’t know if people are still going out to see 90’s era punk ska acts like Less Than Jake, although, I suspect that NOFX fans have a certain “never say die” quality. Here is an example that proves there are still kids playing this exciting , angry music and it makes others get up and circle mosh. The elements are here, upstroke ska guitar through distortion, fast ryhthms- heavy on snare, snotty vocals and lyrics about getting wasted in a dead end town.


Evan is known for his eccentric charm, as he can’t help but gleefully bounce while he sings, and shreds. The guitar is hopelessly messy of course, but it doesn’t matter because PJ brings us such intricate and relentlessly pounded drum rhythms. I struggle honestly to  tell the voices of PJ and Evan apart from each other. I think Evan is usually in lead vocal duty, he sounds as if he is smiling, no matter how mean the lyrics are. The one screaming is usually PJ.

The trombone onYoung Rizzo vs. Fat Val from Toddy is a pleasant inclusion, though it’s on few of these 16 tracks. This song is about a zombie apocalypse and “people were literally being…. eaten alive” says the disembodied talking heads from the television samples in the intro.

Burn it has some skanky guitar upstrokes, and a wide variety of tempos. “Burn down the White house with the President inside!”

The Wasteland is a tribute to a notorious house in Downtown Anchorage, It was a trashed shell of an abode but managed to keep its occupants warm and dry and most weekends could be counted on to be the site of a show or two. They give directions to the place in the lyrics to the song, though its no longer housing malcontent punks who host underage shows.

The mix suits the material well, the guitar is suitably huge, vocals are always clear and the drums are done in such a way that PJ’s frequent subtleties aren’t missed. He throws in fills, drills his snare, and more high hat hits than you would think would be possible in a brief second. At parts where the guitar is playing loud power chords, his cymbal playing is almost enough to sing along to. Sometimes I wish the bass were louder, like on track 13.


The word is that their bass player is only 17 and her mother won’t let her tour. I remember being 18 and wanting kids in my band whose parents wouldn’t let them, perhaps because they had the assumption, that everyone in bands becomes alcoholics.

If you still like this kind of music, check out another Alaskan punk band, Whiskey Tango.


Eyelid Movies

Saratoga Springs, New York


Eyelid Movies may be a rather obvious metaphor for dreams. there are many psychedelic and science fiction moods conjured in these 11 tracks. At times it reminds me of The Knife, others like School of Seven Bells and Nite Jewel.

The lead single, When I’m Small is some kind of wicked trip hop beats and rubbery guitar that sound like a rainy night in a inner city. Pleasant synth arpeggios add to the mid half way through.  Sarah Barthel sings “Am I underground or am I in-between?”  with an innocence and  creepy conviction. The vocals have a breathy intensity that recalls the best of Blond Redhead.  When the screaming double picked guitar starts at 3:20, the piece picks up and soars.

10,000 Cats has some of the chamber pop charm that My Brightest Diamond and St. Vincent have popularized.  Bloody Palms is another clincher:  this jerky riff begins immediately and doesn’t let us know where we will be getting off, Now the vocals of Josh Carter are the one’s giving us a eerie confusion and pleasant sense of dread.

The chirping baby dragon sounding synth that begins at 1:50 provides further fascinating textures.

Mouthful of Diamonds has a pleasant new wave pop progression. This album rocks from start to finish.

Destroy Nate Allen

Until my Ankle’s Better

Portland, Oregon

Mixed by Tyler Hentschel at Psychedelic Media Circus. Mastered by Gus Elg at Sky Onion.

A collection of sing along acoustic punk anthems.


On Borthwick and Failing Nate sings about simple things. Homework, taking out the garbage and making his own bed.   He admits he doesn’t like the taste of alcohol or cigarettes, but enjoys staying up too late to get to know a friend better. A frequent topic of his lyrics is his faith, and sometimes he even communicates his fear of being rejected by those in the punk scene. Tessa Allen’s voice is a welcome addition in Math I Will Defeat You and Put your head on my shoulder. Nate’s voice is pleasant and free, friendly and warm;  he isn’t screaming, but singing genuinely and passionately. Drums and keyboard and bass appear sometimes, but usually the acoustic guitar is the only instrument. The music is never complex, it never distracts for the honesty and simplicity of Nate’s tender songs.

There are some great lyrics here, among my favorite is “Well I’m pretty glad we’re kinda free. Truth is we could be a lot worse off,” in Land of Opportunity. Small Town has some simple nostalgia about American life that would make The Boss proud. There are hints about the way America is changing, such as, ” They don’t sell records there no more,” in Gasoline.

Along with the lyrics in his zine packaging are essays about his songwriting process, his relationship with touring and school, how he juggles his faith and the experience of almost losing his wife to untreated appendicitis. These certainly help to fill in the gaps of the Nate Allen biography and give the audience a more complete experience.

None of these songs on their own would get someone particularly excited- but the whole album together makes a certain pastiche- a collection of moods and observations. This is best as a souvenir from the experience of a Destory Nate Allen show. He plays without plugging in, and somehow gets the jaded crowd to gather around him, clap, sing along, and follow him around the room.  It’s always impressive, compelling  and sincere.

This artist is currently on tour in Alaska.  Here is more about him in a write up in our local paper.


Social Studies

Wind up Wooden Heart

Antenna Farm Records

San Fransisco, California

Highly enjoyable and perky female fronted indie pop

Here is a fun album, with a mix of noises pleasant and unexpected directions. Natalia Rogovin’s voice displays a genuine variety of moods.

Run with Fever is a great way to kick things off. Synths and female vocals curveball around a straightforward driving beat.  Drag a Rake brings in a string section for sweeps and pouncing pizzicato passages.

Trapdoor Spider was the first song I heard, and it  made me say, “I need more songs from that crazy band!” Things get frantic, familiar Casio sounds, combine with math rock and sweet, irresistible vocals. This one is more in the vein of Deerhoof or XXVVWWZ. Jesse Hudson joins in the vocals for a sweet duet in The Good Book. It’s a great way to end a great album.

Highly recommended for fans of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and the Cardigans.



Coming soon: more comics! I promise. I will soon be published in a zine produced by Green Tara of Anchorage, I have plans to play at Clucking Blossom, to tour to anchorage, to finish my first book of cartoons and post more reviews on here. Coming soon- Caressa Starshine and Lawrence Arabia

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2 thoughts on “New Teen Paranormal Romance, Phantogram, PJ Franco and the Burnouts, Destroy Nate Allen, Social Studies

  1. Hey Issac. Thank you for this review. I really enjoyed it! I hope your show tonight totally rocked!

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