Monday, September 17, 2018
Alien Snatch Records has been setting the standard for what a punk rock label ought to be for 20 years now. From assembling a roster including the likes of the Kidnappers, Real Losers, Fevers, Yum Yums, Minds, and Leg Hounds in its early 2000s heyday to releasing brilliant music by current-day bands such as Freak Genes and The #1s, Alien Snatch has remained a go-to for any fan of garage-punk and power pop. Moncton, New Brunswick's mighty Phone Jerks could not be a more fitting addition to the Alien Snatch family. Their debut LP hearkens back to countless beloved garage-punk LPs of the '90s and early 2000s. And I gotta tell you the thing is absolutely KILLER! Upon hearing "Nothing There", you just might find yourself convinced that The Rip Offs have gotten back together! Alien Snatch honcho Daniel has astutely pointed out that he could have released this album in any year of the label's history. These tunes are that timeless. Of course Phone Jerks sound like a band that could have been peers with Loli and the Chones, The Metros, Teengenerate, etc. Yet they also align perfectly with modern-day greats like Gino & The Goons and Sick Thoughts. This, my friends, is garage-punk the way it ought to be: trashy, lo-fi, and intentionally devoid of originality. Why are there not more bands like this in 2018?!
Being four upstanding Canadians who value your hard-earned dollar, Phone Jerks have delivered almost entirely brand-new material for this debut album (along with covers of "Revolution" by Australia's X and "Violence, Anarchy, Baby, Mother, Daddy-O, Dig" by Newfoundland punk legends Da Slyme). No tracks from the Goodbye Boozy 7" have been repeated, and only two songs re-appear from the band's demo tape. The instant you dig into "Bitchiker", you will find yourself fondly recalling a time when every new Rip Off Records release was an event worth celebrating. And come on: how can an album that begins with a song about killing someone not be the best record of the year?! These songs are all so ripping and catchy and tremendously fun to listen to. This is an album that you just have to crank super loud. And half the fun of this record is going through it track by track and asking, "Who are they ripping off here?"! The fact that Phone Jerks have three different lead singers makes it all that much cooler. Emily, Tyler, and Brian each bring something unique to the table (and you know, they all seem intent on smashing that table). The production (kudos Dave Belliveau and James O'Toole!) is spot-on for what budget rock ought to be. You know how modern-day reviewers are so fond of using "crackling" as an adjective? This album is crackling. Literally.
So why aren't there more bands like Phone Jerks in 2018? I don't know, but maybe there will be after their debut album makes the rounds! Canada is ahead of the curve as always (especially in Moncton, where they observe the Atlantic Time Zone). With me poised to name an Alien Snatch release album of the year, it sure feels like old times!
Friday, September 14, 2018
Even in their early days, Swingin' Utters were far more than the '77 punk/"street punk" revivalists that reviewers pegged them to be. Their musical and lyrical depths were generally under-recognized, and people going back to those old records may be surprised by how well they hold up. If you've passed on recent Utters releases because you assumed they would suck, now might be a good time to check in on one of our greatest American punk groups. I've never really bought into the cliche that recent political events are going to inspire some great new wave of political punk bands. But in the case of Swingin' Utters, it's hard to deny that a newfound political purpose has sparked some of their strongest music in years. Peace and Love indeed!
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
reviewed Sore Points' demo tape, I knew this Vancouver trio was destined for great things. Now in 2018, we get a proper debut album from Sore Points on the legendary Deranged Records. You could not find a more perfect match between band and label! And I gotta tell you, this album does not disappoint! The band powers through 12 fast & blistering punk tunes a la Vancouver greats DOA and Subhumans. What's not to love here? This is urgent, powerful music played with conviction and fury. Only one track sneaks past the two-minute mark, and it barely makes it! And how killer is that production?! If you fondly recall a time when hardcore and punk were basically the same thing, you need Sore Points in your life. A classic debut!
Sunday, September 9, 2018
If you long for the glory days of garage-punk, long no more and enjoy the fact that bands like The Control Freaks and Ruler are around and kicking all kinds of ass. Honestly you need to own The Control Freaks' complete catalog. But "I Am Crime" would not be a bad place to start!
Friday, September 7, 2018
Coming off a brilliant sophomore LP Stars In The Night that cracked my 2017 top ten, Indonesian Junk keeps the momentum going with this fantastic EP. This is some of Daniel's strongest material yet - touching on his numerous influences yet still bearing his distinctive style. Highly recommended!
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Given that we usually get new music from The Dahlmanns in very small doses, six new songs at once feels like a tremendous gift. Frôberg and Kiesby have written a cohesive set of songs about the pain of lost love, and Line Dahlmann sure is the perfect person to sing them! She can inject a tune with the purest melancholy, and then she can turn around and and make a bummer love song sound totally upbeat. The result is a great mix of tender tearjerkers ("I Know You Want Me Back") and straight-up rockers ("Get It Right"). And then there's the title track, which is nothing short of power pop perfection. Of course the songwriting shines here, but the guitar work, arrangements, and production are equally majestic.
As always, The Dahlmanns leave us wanting more. But with a little help from their friends, they've given us a little more to chew on this time. Whether you're a fan of The Dahlmanns, Nomads, Sator, or (most likely) all of the above, American Heartbeat will fill you with delight. Get the vinyl from Beluga Records!