November 10, 2017

The Puck Stops Here (Knuckle Puck and the Art of the Album)

I’ll admit it: the first time I decided to give Knuckle Puck a listen, I only did so because of the reference. You might already know I’m a little obsessed with ice hockey. Plus, Mighty Ducks is easily one of the greatest film franchises to portray the sport. Shooting a knucklepuck is not that easy.

“Strung out and biting on the back of my bottom lip / I’ll tell you everything is copacetic.” - from their single, ‘Untitled

They came up several times in my Spotify shuffle prior to my first true soundcheck. But I don’t really count that. A true listen encompasses hearing an entire album all the way through. From beginning to end. No skips or shuffles.

This is a lost art in today’s music-streaming-biz.

And listening to Copacetic straight like that not only hooked me, but reminded me of what it takes to make a truly great album. Placing each song perfectly in order is not easy - and often overlooked these days. So you’ve got to appreciate when an artist puts thought to it. What an appropriate title for their first big debut.

I remember sitting on the beach back in 2015 when I threw their then latest release on. It was hot. August. And the waves were shit. I had a book and there were way too many people sitting within my personal space radius. (Beach etiquette, folks. Summer in NJ.)

Knuckle Puck was in my recommended cache because I’d been listening to a lot of The Wonder Years at the time. Those guys dropped an album later that summer too: No Closer to Heaven.

After spinning Puck’s record on repeat for a few days, I found myself nostalgic and falling back in time to one of the first bands to get me into pop-punk. New Found Glory.

NFG’s self-titled album was given to me between the summer of 7th and 8th grade. Jeff, a friend of mine from summer camp, had burned a copy and given it to me on the tennis courts between whatever lame activities were scheduled. I still have it. 

“I know you like Green Day,” he said. “I think you’re really going to like these guys.”

Same thing. I listened to that album straight through for several weeks. My mom wouldn’t let me dye my hair blue in middle school, but in high school, I made it pink after getting hooked on AFI. 

Back then, ripping CDs was the only way to spread good music without actually buying it. There was no shuffle or recommended artist algorithms. We shared the analog.

Knuckle Puck recently released their latest album, Shapeshifter, which is just as great. I’ve been spending my commute to/from work with it (hence my impulse to write about it).

Come to find out, one of my high-school-pop-punk buddies, Brian, his wife did the marketing for it! I sent him a Snap of their concert in Asbury Park, NJ on November 9th, at House of Independents, and he replied with said information. What a small world!

When things come together on my timeline existence like this, I feel as if it’s the universe giving me some sort of sign. An omen. A message. Whatever you want to call it. And I’ve been more cognizant of listening, so it only felt human to blog about it.

So there are two takeaways here: 1) the musical process of creating an album that flows together in a specific, powerful order is a seemingly lost art these days. And 2) music distribution is not what it used to be. Word of mouth can be digital.

Do yourself a favor and check out them out if you’re into pop-punk. They are an upcoming band who I have no doubt will be finding massive success soon. Keep killin’ it, boys! 

Check out “Double Helix” off their new album, Shapeshifter. Brian's wife is doing some great work for them. eNJoy!

November 5, 2017