NEPA Scene Staff

Dirty Nil and James Barrett open for Menzingers at Scranton Cultural Center on Black Friday

Dirty Nil and James Barrett open for Menzingers at Scranton Cultural Center on Black Friday
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From a press release:

Announced back in August, Philadelphia-based punk band The Menzingers will be return to their hometown to play a special all-ages Black Friday show at the Scranton Cultural Center on Nov. 26.

Earlier this month, their current tourmates The Dirty Nil were added to the bill, along with Scranton indie rock singer/songwriter James Barrett and his new band.

Doors at the Scranton Cultural Center (420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton) open at 7 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $36.50, plus fees, are on sale now at ticketmaster.com.

The Dirty Nil kicked open the doors of 2021 with the release of “Fuck Art,” their new album via Dine Alone Records that has jumpstarted the “IDGAF” attitude, self-aware shamelessness, and uproarious energy of full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll.

The irreverent amp-blowing, Juno-winning badasses from Ontario, Canada – Luke Bentham (guitars, vocals), Ross Miller (bass), and Kyle Fisher (drums) – have injected classic rock heroism, pop punk horsepower, ’80s indie scrappiness, ’90s alterna-crunch, and speed metal adrenaline into this 11-track collection that balances its moments of astute emotional excavation with no-holds-barred joyousness.

When it dropped on Jan. 1, Bentham said, “Dear world, we proudly present to you ‘Fuck Art.’ Dreams, revenge, joy, and death – this is our purest glimpse of truth and beauty. Please enjoy and, as always, much love and hail hail rock ‘n’ roll.”

Before it was even released, Alternative Press named it one of their “Most Anticipated Albums of 2021,” calling the trio “glorious fuck-up savants capable of stirring our souls,” while Loudwire included album highlight “Doom Boy” in their list of the “Best Rock Songs of 2020,” recommending it for those who “delight in pop-y, punk-y, thrash-y songs about listening to Slayer in your mom’s Dodge Caravan.”

“‘Doom Boy’ is one of my favorite songs we’ve ever made. It’s an ode to chivalry and thrash itself, and yes, it’s my mom’s Dodge Caravan,” Bentham noted. “Crank the dial and enjoy, friends.”

The band also produced a music video for “Doom Boy” featuring the trio jamming in a literal van – and then proceeding to destroy it. Bentham said that it “was without parallel the most dangerous video we’ve ever made. When we were told that all we had to do was return the ‘shell’ of the van to get half our money back, all hell broke loose. Between the roman candles, vintage mini bikes, and minivan mayhem, I was quite surprised that we only had a few injuries by the end of the night. Do not attempt any of the antics performed in the ‘Doom Boy’ video – you’ve been warned.”

The album has a string of high-voltage tracks, including the aforementioned and hardcore basement ode to young love “Doom Boy,” the pop punk reflection on the vices we grow out of on “Done with Drugs,” and the pairing of “Blunt Force Concussion” and “One More and the Bill,” which take aim at the struggle to combat and avoid the limiting bullshit that clogs up our lives as we continue our journeys through adulthood.

“Fuck Art” is the the trio’s most eclectic collection of irreverently exhilarating and fully indulgent rock ‘n’ roll to date, which Kerrang has called “ridiculously infectious,” while their last album, 2018’s “Master Volume,” was praised by Vice Noisey as “the album rock ‘n’ roll deserves.” The band, who has opened for the likes of The Who, Against Me!, and The Menzingers, also received praise from Billboard, Stereogum, Pitchfork, and more. NME sums it up well: “If the guitar apocalypse is coming, this lot are going to be throwing the best end of the world party around.”

James Barrett’s “before” looks a lot like yours. After releasing his debut LP, “The Price of Comfort,” in 2019 via Honest Face Records, the young Clarks Summit native moved onto his next planning phase, stuck between eras labeled by plaintive acoustic tracks and the ringing clarity of a full band effort. In October of that year, he began writing what would become “A Series of… Mostly Nothing,” a modest name for his most realized work yet. It’s a love letter to the hushed splendor of The National and the spaced-out bombast of Angels & Airwaves, embellished with a theatrical identity boosted by live strings, horns, and good friend Amanda Rogan of Sweetnest lending vocals to many moments.

As 2020 grew more unpredictable by the day, “A Series of” could’ve imploded. Barrett, largely a solo artist with Jake Checkoway (Sleeping Patterns, Origami Angel) as his longtime producer, brought in an ensemble cast to flesh out the experience. Studio time became unfeasible, so the album was pieced together from drum tracks recorded in Los Angeles and sessions taken from a tiny house in Old Forge transformed into a creative epicenter.

Disjointed as it was, the final product never feels incomplete, instead seamless and layered. His stadium rock M.O. bleeds through most of the runtime, from the ironclad hook surging through “Love Song in 2020” to the urgent catharsis propelling “The Art of Letting Go.” He even gives equal time to softer reflections, citing piano-centric “Yellow Paint” and “U-Haul” as balancing out the album’s rockist posture.

“In my head, it feels like I am stuck in a play, revisiting the same thoughts continuously for months or years the same way Broadway players relive the same production every night for years,” Barrett said of the record’s hypnotic drama. Like its stage influences, “A Series of” finds time to include a reprise while circling around themes of heartbreak, isolation, and memory. But be warned, as Barrett explained, “emotionally, it’s all over the place.”

Put out by Refresh Records on Sept. 24, the album received a well-attended release party at the Scranton Cultural Center with his new band.

“I have never been more proud of anything in my life. This record feels like it is my life’s work. The amount of time and energy I devoted to it surpasses anything else I have ever done before. I would like to believe this is the one,” he told NEPA Scene in a recent interview.

“I am so unbelievably excited about my band. Tyler Barrett (drums), Chris Kirby (bass), and Vinny Amarando (guitar) have been in my lineup for a few years now. Adding Jesse Morvan (lead guitar) and Chelsea Collins (synth/piano) to the band has been a game changer for sure. Before, we were operating as a five-piece band, but I felt like I needed someone on synth full time. Chelsea has filled that role beautifully, and I am so excited to have her. Jesse and I became friends over the last few years and, during the pandemic, he helped me demo the songs for the album. After working together all last year, I realized we had fantastic chemistry and I wanted him to be a part of the band. I feel great about the people involved.”

Read NEPA Scene’s full interview with Barrett about his latest album here and learn more about The Menzingers and this upcoming concert here.