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Meet the others - Record Release Show song review #3 - WIG "Lucas #1"

Part 3 in this series (see part 1 & part 2), where I am reviewing one random song each from each of the bands playing with Drilling for Blasting at our record release show this SaturdayChicken HappenThe Brokedowns, and WIG. Today’s victim is WIG, and have randomly chosen "Lucas #1" from their debut 2019 release "WIG".

Remember how this review selection process was random? And thus "Lucas #1" came up. That's not a knock on the song in any way, but more a reminder of the arbitrary nature of a random song grab from an album. It's jarring to pluck a song out of the middle of albums, because as album creators, we work hard to make the flow of a record a thing. When that gets broken up, it can be strange (yes, that’s right, I’m coming down hard in the “listen to the whole album in order please” camp). It's almost as bad as if someone were to make four bands play one song at time in turn instead of being able to do play through a whole set. The point of this setup is that "Lucas #1" is the only instrumental track on the record - no vocals. It is also the shortest song. It features a loping, tom heavy drum track, and a minor key moody high-low bass part. The guitar has a ton of space to play around with some little high note noodling, punctuated by nice "dig in" hooks at the end of the phrases. The structure comes to end at the "choruses" with some full chords over double-time drums, but just briefly, then it is back to the groove.

In some ways, by itself, it feels unfinished. But listened to with the rest of the record (it is track six of seven, but this is not a full record review!) it feels like their most relaxed and confident song. I like when a band can put songs on a record where they still seem to be forming the idea. If done right, and this one is, it takes the listener along for the uncertain ride. The embrace of space, and not feeling so self-conscious that they have to fill up every corner with a note, hit, chords, or screaming, is one of the best things about WIG. It's what they do on their other songs so well (this is not an album review), and on "Lucas #1" they just open the space up more. WIG doesn't demand your attention, they create a deep mood and when you let yourself be taken by it, it's a great ride. And this song does that just fine.

That’s it for the review series. We hope to see you at the show on Saturday!


Meet the others - Record Release Show song review #2 - the Brokedowns "Sick of Space"

This is Part 2 of the series (see part 1) where I am reviewing one random song each from each of the bands playing with Drilling for Blasting at our record release show this Saturday, Chicken Happen, The Brokedowns, and WIG. Today’s victim are the Brokedowns, I have randomly chosen the title song from their 2018 LP "Sick of Space".

This is the longest track on their record, and is a mid-tempo driver. The bulk of the verses feature a punchy driving bass line, some solid vocal rants from Jon, all of it over some great, slightly ugly feedback and atmospheric guitar work. The chorus almost starts a feel good chant, but with that thing about the Brokedowns that I love the most, they pull away from a sweet end, and make it ugly again. The choruses end with a smart, quick little minor harmony - a detail I love. The track also has a "studio" soundscape ending, thematic with the lyrics, that dissolves the end of the song in a haunting chant of bland commercial jingles. Its haunting, then uplifting, then a little sour in the sweet, and goes around like that in a great combination. The theme? The "space" they're sick of is the dehumanizing, depressing blandness of mini malls and empty retail promises that con only be the suburbs. What's this? A punk song about how the suburbs are lame? Sure, we've heard that before. But why not again? So much of punk grew out of that very disappointment, and it is really one of the enduring themes of our modern American way of life: capitalism and consumerism will set you free. While you could point to that as one of punk's classic hypocrisies: whining about entitlement problems, it doesn't make it any less genuine. The suburbs represent our modern societies' ideal: a happy, shiny, clean utopia. But to grow up there, and if you were in any way cynical or self-aware, was to feel its emptiness and fakeness, and you learned that the it was more lie than truth, and you were stuck living in this fantasyland. As a kid, you were told it was so perfect, but all you saw was the shallowness of it all. Yup, depressing.

The Brokedowns come from this world (as does your humble reviewer), and most of them are still there. "Sick of Space" brings those feelings right back, and they've never left. But the song isn't coming from a full-of-rage 15 year old (or trying to sound like it), its coming from the weary anger of middle-aged men still coping with the let down of this fake dream. I can feel the emptiness of the car culture and McMansions that drove neighbors and communities into today's isolated and lonely little islands, surrounded by growing mountains of meaningless possessions. It's all here, but somehow hearing the Brokedowns try to make some sense of it gives me a little reassurance - it's nice to know I'm not alone in trying to keep my sanity in spite of the world gone mad. I can't listen to any music without relating it to some other music else, and this song has a solid connection to the sound of Chicago's own Canadian Rifle. CR and them have been playing together for years, so there's no surprise at some cross pollination, and this track brings that out in a great way. I don't think either band would mind me making that connection.

Next, and last, on the review firing line is WIG.


Meet the others - Record Release Show song review #1 - Chicken Happen "Misery"

Don't you hate it when someone takes one song from your album, and goes on to review it as if that's what all your songs are like? Well, that's what I'm doing to the three other bands who are playing with Drilling for Blasting at our record release show this Saturday, Chicken Happen, The Brokedowns, and WIG. I have randomly...

iMac:~ dczward$ echo $RANDOM % 13 + 1 | bc
iMac:~ dczward$ echo $RANDOM % 7 + 1 | bc
iMac:~ dczward$ echo $RANDOM % 13 + 1 | bc

... chosen one song of each of their latest releases for my reviews, and will post one each day until all the (three) songs are gone through! If you haven't had the joy of hearing these bands before, I'm honored to be the one introducing you to them. I hope to explain a little of why we wanted them to be on the show in the first place, and to give you a little taste to whet your whistle.

First on the firing line: Chicken Happen, with "Misery' from their recently released Burn in the USA album.

I swear this was a random selection (see the nerd code above), as it just so happens to be one of my favorite songs of theirs. "Misery" is their most unabashedly pop tunes on the record, and it is their least "punk". But there is something exhilarating about hearing a band stretch, powered by their own determination to do something outside their musical upbringing. Maybe I'm assuming but I see Lilly, Zac, and Mark as punks and garage rockers at heart, and this track sees Chicken Happen trying to land some sweet melodies and a catchy pop structure in a genuine way. This isn't the lame, saccharine "imitation" pop song that way too many pop-punk bands dash off over and over again. Nope - those attempts are "ironic" and are merely aping "pop", all while hiding behind distortion and the endless strum-strum-strum of bar chords. I find that stuff tedious (can you tell?) because it is inauthentic - it tries to hide a glaring truth about a good pop song: singing one well and playing one well is HARD. Punk bands that try to do "a pop one" are pretending they can hide from the hard stuff; singling well, hitting the right notes, and being good at your instruments.

But here we have Chicken Happen stepping up to the challenge, because they want to try to pull off a song like this, sincerely. And they do. And I hate to try to keep brining this back to some "punk" scorecard, but in their way, they're manifesting the very "fuck you, we'll do what we want" spirit by not being afraid to reach out and land this one. The performance is great, and it is embodied by singer Lilly Choi's vocals - she's smooth enough with enough vocal chops to hit all the notes well, but she can't (and shouldn't!) outrun her mid-range rock vocal grit that gives it expression and edge. She and the band are having a blast with this song, and that what makes it a joy to hear. To confirm that they're all in on this, they throw in a full bore rock'n'roll saxophone solo that hits all the marks. A band that might be feeling self-conscious about a song like this would have avoided a solo like that, or perhaps have gone overboard and made it silly & exaggerated (see, we're just jokin'!), but Chicken Happen step up and own it, nestling it into the mix right where it should be. I can't close this review by remarking on how much this song reminds of another song called "Misery" by some guys called the Beatles ("Schend her back to me..." It's not a copy in any way, but there's a spirit there where the two Misery-ies could be cousins. I don't think Chicken Happen mind that association at all. And nope, this isn't what all their songs sound like in any way - they're all over the place with shredders, stoners, singers, and rockers.

So that’s one of the reasons we wanted to have them on the show - they’re a great band that doesn’t paint by numbers. They’re stretching themselves and pulling it off, and that what makes a band exciting. Thanks Chicken Happen for being on the show (!

Next on the review firing line, the Brokedowns.


Technical White Paper: The "4-way show"

As the date of our record release show at the Chop Shop on June 8th approaches, it has come to our attention that there is still some confusion out there about the exact nature of this “4-way show”. The questions and misconceptions are generally of the following types:

  • “Is it just a cute marketing words for four bands on a bill?” (NO)

  • “I guess the bands will play a full set, and the next band is ready to go!” (NO)

  • “The bands are going to share equipment and change members back and forth on the (single) stage” (NO)

The answer is that the 4-way show, or show “in Quad” is none of those things. While any of those could be good ideas in their own ways, none of them are what the 4-way show is like, and none approach the majesty and daring-do nature of what this show really is.

To define it, let’s start with this simple diagram (Fig. 1)…

Fig. 1

Quite simply, there are four bands (Drilling for Blasting, WIG, Chicken Happen, the Brokedowns) and FOUR complete PAs. The PA systems are set up around the outside of the room, each band completely set up and ready to go, and the audience will stand in the center of the room. When the music begins, one band (Band A) will play one song, and when that song is finished, the next band (Band B) will play one song, and this pattern repeats until, as the whimsical, but accurate poster states “…all the songs are gone through”.

The beauty of this format is myriad. First, it eliminates the standard hierarchy of "“who is the opening band? Who is the headliner?”. The 4-way is almost the purest expression of egalitarianism - no band headlines, and no band opens - all are equal! We love this idea as it embodies our “we’re all peers in the music scene together” ethos.

Second, it makes for a truly unique “one continuous set”. We love music, and we love the bands, and we love variety. While this format works against the intro-development-clmax-denouement structure a single band might weave when playing a single set, it works towards having all the bands songs being responsive, reacting to each other, making a fluid and many textured immersive experience. Besides, NO ONE HAS EVER TRIED THIS BEFORE*, and you can go see the old set-after-set format at every other show you’ll ever see for the rest of time - THIS is something new.

Third, uh… fun? Yup. this is going to be fun. And unique. And a great time.

The reason this hasn’t been tried before is because it is expensive (there has to be 4 PA systems, 4 sets of lights, etc!), and because it requires a room that is more or less square, and can accommodate the format. A regular long rectangle room can’t do this.

We hope you’ll join us on June 8th at the Chop Shop for this awesome extravaganza!

— Drilling for Blasting

* Any posts or responses stating facts about someone having seen something like this once before will be promptly deleted!



It’s a radio week.

This past Saturday, I appeared as a guest on the Pop Punk Pizza Party on Chicago’s WLPN being interviewed and spinning some tunes. It was a good interview, and I spun a few old gems, as well as a track off the new record. To hear it, you can stream it at

Learn more about the show at

This coming Saturday we’ll be on the radio again, this time being interviewed by the “Running on Punk Rock n Roll” show on WLUW 88.7 FM in Chicago from 6-8pm. We will spin a track or two from our soon-to-be-released LP “Fingers Are The Best Eyes” . Listen live or stream it. More at and the stream is at


Finally, an album

After talking about it for a few years, we're finally getting around to recording and releasing a full length album. Recording dates have been scheduled, and artwork has been commissioned, and we're talking to nice folks at a couple of labels to release it. More details soon, but for now, here's the title and track list:

"Fingers are the Best Eyes"

  • Earless Monkey Urn
  • Hooray for Hickory
  • Fake
  • Butter
  • Run Out
  • Dignity
  • Pumpkinseed (It's a Fish)
  • Slide Rule
  • Cast Iron Pot
  • Lemon Cake


A news section

No promises, but we're going to have this page to post news or updates on stuff we're doing, or just comments and thoughts about us, music, and stuff. Don't hold your breath for anything regular - we'll post when we post.

©2014-2019 Drilling For Blasting