Play It By Ear: Classics Of Love-S/T

The reason for my absence from this column is that...life has happened. Death in the family struck.  I’ve been fortunate they’ve  been few and far between.  I’ve been doing home nursing care for a friend for his dad, and he has spent time in the intensive care unit, so I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on what’s important. My conclusion is family is and always has been, and second comes music. I’ve also came up with a name for the column, and it’s Play It By Ear. So here we go…

Classics Of Love-Self Titled (Asian Man)
My review was supposed to be by a Minnesota-bred songwriter, but I tracked through the vinyl I got in the mail and was really disappointed.  Like, Metallica-Lulu/ Guns N' Roses-Chinese Democracy disappointed. So I’m getting back to my roots. And that is: fast paced, high energy, punk rock. And who better than to get this new year, and new column started off than Jesse Michaels and his new band, Classics Of Love. They released The Walking in the Shadows EP in 2009, and this Valentines day they dropped their proper self-titled full length on Asian Man Records.

From the opening track “What a Shame” the tone is set; they are fed up with the current form of government in this country. On track 2, “Castle in the Sky” over a frenzied early-'80s hardcore riff, Michaels' lyrics, about how those who speak out against the government are called socialists, really is what punk has always been about: freedom of speech, challenging authority, and having an open mind.  Some think it’s anti-American to speak of disdain towards the current and former administrations, but after listening to the thirteen tracks--clocking in under 23 minutes--you will want to start writing editorials into your local paper; calling them out on the millions they spent to renovate the mayors office bathroom. Backed by another local Bay-Area group called The Hard Girls, Michaels--with the help of local producer Jack Shirley (who is doing the new Joyce Manor album, who put out another of my favorite albums of last year) has returned to the roots that made him a legend with his beloved short-lived ska/punk band Operation Ivy. But this is different. It’s more focused, the music and production is tighter, and with age comes more knowledge.  It's clear Michaels has been keeping up with his studies. He has been known to disappear for a decade or so from music, but when he comes back it is with a bang; usually putting out plenty of material in a short amount of time.  (He also has a folk/country/punk thing called Passage Walkers, but so far only a few videos on YouTube have surfaced.) This is a must have album. I’ve got it on vinyl, and if I had the time and money, I would follow him on the road for every date they tour behind this.  Absolute punk rock classic; this album will be timeless in a world of Auto-Tune and computer generated gutter turds of albums.  Dave Grohl hit the nail on the head at the Grammys when he said it’s nice to know there are some people that still can play instruments and write songs, and sing, without worrying about imperfections. If Jesse and crew can break the mold, Classics Of Love have a bright future.  But I wouldn't be surprised if--like Blake Schwarzenback of Jawbreaker (and his current band, forgetters)--he scraps it after a while and starts a new project with a different name.  Either way, in the end Michaels' stuff will always be great.   
Next months review will be on punks from England; a band called Sharks and their new album No Gods. Go Wolves! Good luck to K-Love in 3 point competition and D-Will in the slam dunk.  (This was sent in before All-Star Weekend, but we're just getting around to posting it now. -Ed.) 

Take Care,  
-Friend of the Family  
We're always looking for contributors.  Send your stuff to: bnb@hotdogdayz.com


  1. Couple hot dogs says you're talking about Cragi Finn here: "My review was supposed to be by a Minnesota-bred songwriter, but I tracked through the vinyl I got in the mail and was really disappointed."

    Sorry to hear about your troublesome times of late. Hang in there.

    Nice work on this!

  2. FotF, thanks for hipping me to this, I always look forward to a Jesse Michaels project. OpIvy was the best though. Are you still going to write about how Nick Nolte and Gary Busey are basically the same person though?

  3. Good to see some new content up here. Have to check this out on Spotify.

  4. I can't believe that anyone's expections would be high enought to be dissapointed in a Metallica or GnR release these days. They have sucked for like, 20 years now.

  5. @Josh
    Kudos on the creative Spam.

  6. WTF I wasn't spamming?

  7. @(the real) Josh
    I was talking to the the fake Josh, the Spotify spambot.

  8. It was Craig Finn, I keep tracking through it at night before bed, but it's completely hookless, the whole album. I'm not saying it's as bad as Lou Reed and Metallica,but it's a tough listen. I'll be pumping out reviews faster now, I've got a few different labels that have gotten back to me and will let me stream advance copies as long as I don't leak. Damn you T-Wolves tonite!!! Glad the snownami is done up in Bemidji.

  9. Yeah, I haven't heard a lot of positive things about the Finn record. I won't get it either way. Not to get all I-liked-his-first-band-better elitest on you, but I never really got into the Hold Steady--mostly because of the music. I always like Finn's lyrics and vocals but I prefer the angular backdrop of Lifter Puller to the regulus bar rock of Hold Steady.

    I'll have to check out Classics Of Love. I don't think I have heard anything J.Michaels has done since Big Rig. (Oops, I did it again.)

  10. The last Common Rider album he did was great, definately check that out too! But yeah I can't stop listening to the Classics of Love. I've got five trillion albums and funny how I only go back to about five. New Lucero album "Women and Work" has to be this generation's whiskey drinking album in the veins of Hank Williams. Still waiting for new album access from labels. Once I get more reviews coming, But 2012 is shaping up to be great year. Re-unions all over, At the Drive In, Refused, and hopefully Jawbreaker possibly, or something new from Blake Schwarzenbach!!