Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Prostitutes - Nineteen

I recently did a Facebook post asking people to name "the five greatest punk rock bands from the state of Pennsylvania". As far as those types of posts go, I usually let my friends do the talking and withhold my own opinions. I'm actually thinking about doing a full top ten list that I'll publish here. But I will tell you this: my #1 greatest Pennsylvanian punk band, without a doubt, is The Prostitutes. That might have even been true if the band had broken up 20 years ago. But I continue to be awed and inspired by the amazing music Kevin McGovern continues to turn out under The Prostitutes name - now 23 years after the release of the band's debut single.

Now based in Baltimore, The Prostitutes in their latest incarnation are a tight power trio also featuring JR Matthew on guitar and Barry Jewels on drums. The recent digital single "Cheap Highs" was a clear indicator that the 2019 version of The Prostitutes are a major force to be reckoned with! In short order, the band is back with another outstanding single that's available as a name your price download from Bandcamp. "Nineteen" is like the older, wiser counterpart to the band's classic song "Twenty-Two". It's a tale of aimlessness, dead-end employment, and rampant chemical abuse. Except in this case, the lyrics come from a place of perspective and reflection. I think most of us have those moments where we look back upon on our younger selves and think, "What in the hell was I doing?!". If you're a great artist like Kevin McGovern, you turn those thoughts into a song. This is exactly the kind of music you would hope to hear from a punk band nearing the quarter century mark of its existence. Lyrically and musically, it's informed by life experience and personal growth. Yet it still rages with a passion and purpose. Kevin doesn't rest on his past glories. Working with his new band mates and kindred spirit producer Tim Shock, he's moving forward! But don't for a minute think that means that he's fully retired his notorious nasty streak. "Not Around" is full of the blunt truth-telling and eloquent tongue-lashings that have been a Kevin McGovern signature for years. And it just straight-up rocks! "Now I'm leaving town/Low budget hearse in reverse" just might be the line of the year. This song is vintage Prostitutes, yet it feels updated for the musical landscape of 2019 punk rock.

If you had told 25-year-old me that I'd be reviewing The Prostitutes in 2019, I would have said, "No fucking way!" I certainly didn't foresee myself still writing about punk records when I was pushing 50, and I probably didn't foresee The Prostitutes making it out of the '90s alive. Yet here we are, and one thing that's become clear to me through the years is that punk rock is not something that people "outgrow". Over 40 is probably the median age of the people who read this blog and the members of bands I write about! I can sit here with a straight face and tell you I'm genuinely excited about The Prostitutes future. Whether you're a longtime fan or just hearing this band for the first time, "Nineteen" is essential listening.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Booji Boys - Tube Reducer

Having taken the garage/punk scene by storm with a pair of brilliant LPs in 2017, Booji Boys have returned with a third album that will disappoint absolutely no one. Tube Reducer is due out on vinyl on Drunken Sailor Records next month, but the digital tracks have been made available for your immediate listening pleasure. Your first response will likely be something along the lines of "This sure sounds like Booji Boys!". And there's nothing wrong with that! This Halifax, Nova Scotia based outfit has an immediately identifiable sound that it has clearly perfected on this outing. In case you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, I'll summarize: Booji Boys play pop songs at hardcore speed, with scuzzy lo-fi production and vocals so muffled that you'll swear they were recorded in another dimension (I hope I'm not giving away any trade secrets!). But don't let the budget fidelity distract you from appreciating some of the finest songwriting in today's punk world. Compared to its two predecessors, Tube Reducer is every bit as loaded with killer tunes. And the energy level of the band remains off the charts. Tracks like "Lucky Citizen" and "Berlinetta" are thrilling jolts of crackling melodic punk, while "Stevie Cool" is basically anthemic power pop if it were fired out of a missile launcher. While not exactly a cover, the title track is clearly an homage to a certain classic punk song. It's one of THE essential songs to rock out to in the summer of 2019. And while Booji Boys offer plenty of their signature sound here, they never let themselves become predictable. "Herky Jerky" and "Nervous Idea" find them revisiting their hardcore roots, while album closer "Moto-Hard" is precisely the off the rails noise rock anthem I've been awaiting for practically this entire millennium. There's no denying that the band's first two albums were going to be very hard to follow. But in Tube Reducer, Booji Boys have delivered a veritable masterpiece of lo-fi punk rock. It's their best album yet! LP will be out August 16th, so get your orders in now if you want one on silver or orange vinyl!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wild Zeros/Proto Idiot - Jukebox Serie split 7"

It's hard to beat a split 7" when you really like both bands. Well today I've got a split featuring two bands I like a lot! Out on the new French label Permanent FREAK, this team-up between France's Wild Zeros and Manchester's Proto Idiot appears to be the first installment in a series called Jukebox Serie. Sometimes with splits, bands don't always put their best material out there. But I must say that that is not the case here. Both bands contribute a strong pair of all-new original songs. Wild Zeros turn out the tracks "Don't Want It, Still Get It" and "First Floor Freak". This is already the fourth Wild Zeros 7" release in less than a year, and this effort is very much in keeping with the previous three. Think '90s-style garage punk rock and roll with filthy guitars and a beat that's sure to get you shaking your hips. I'm especially partial to the blazing "First Floor Freak". Given the partnership with Wild Zeros here, it's fitting that "Tell Me What You Want" is Proto Idiot at its "punkiest" (yet still plenty quirky/oddball). If you're looking for a song to inspire you to suddenly start vigorously jumping up and down for no apparent reason other than it would be tremendous fun, this track ought to do it! What a jolt of energy! "New Ways of Seeing" slows the pace a tad, exploring that poppy side of new wave/post-punk/art-punk that these gentlemen are so well known to occupy. And if you're left wanting more, you're in luck since Proto Idiot just released a new LP!

I would imagine that if you're a fan of one of these bands, you're probably a fan of the other. And if not, maybe you will become one now! I hope this is just the first of many installments of Permanent FREAK's Jukebox Serie. It's limited to just 300 copies, so get cracking!


Monday, July 15, 2019

The Dialers - self titled

Those of you who come to this space in search of quality power pop are in for a treat today! Mick Fletcher sent me a link to The Dialers' self-titled LP the other day, and it was immediate music to my ears! The Dialers, now based in both Sacramento and Houston, feature ex-members of BOATS!. Out now on the illustrious and ever-dependable No Front Teeth Records, the band's debut album is ten tracks of textbook power pop. These guys have that classic skinny tie era sound down pat with a touch of punk-pop influence on a couple tracks. This really hits the sweet spot for me: good, punchy guitars, melody-driven songwriting, big hook choruses, and lyrics about love and heartbreak. What could be better? Digital album is a $5 download from Bandcamp, while No Front Teeth is offering three different versions of the vinyl. This thing really scratches my eternal itch for power pop. Good call, Mick!


Saturday, July 13, 2019

NECK - You Don't Think It's Evil

Today NECK. On deck: Booji Boys and The Sorels. I've often thought that my coverage of Canadian bands could turn into a blog of its very own! But that would be kind of wacky for a guy from Pennsylvania to be blogging exclusively about bands from Canada. Speaking of wacky, we have this new album from the almighty NECK. There's not much that needs to be said of these guys other than that they're true legends and ought to have a hockey team or at least a tasty pilsner named after them. You Don't Think It's Evil is the follow-up to their 2015 classic Hate To Read, and it adheres strictly to all the central tenets of NECK-dom. These gentleman continue to carry on like they're HEAD's goofier Canadian cousins, and they take care to limit each track to a minute-and-a-half or less. On this set, NECK weighs in on topics such as online dating, the fear of dying in a sinkhole, the scourge of self-righteous joggers, murder for hire, the effects of excessive beer drinking, and joining the skyforce "just because". It's as if they peered into my soul and wrote an album that would speak to my life experience. This is brilliant stuff, but of course you knew that already if you're a fan. Ramonescore at its absolute finest!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Suspect Parts - "You Know I Can't Say No" (Video Premiere)

I am deeply honored to premiere "You Know I Can't Say No" - the new music video from Suspect Parts! It has been released in conjunction with the powerpop/punk supergroup's new single of the same name. Following the band's tremendous debut album from 2017, "You Know I Can't Say No" is Suspect Parts' first single in nine years and fifth overall. It's out today on Dirt Cult Records in the USA and Wanda Records in Europe.

Made up of Justin Maurer (Clorox Girls, Maniac), James "Sulli" Sullivan (Ripchord, More Kicks), Chris Brief, and Andru Bourbon (Radio Dead Ones), Suspect Parts represent the union of three countries and several complementary musical aesthetics. The group's brand of buzzsaw powerpop/punk has roots in '60s pop, early UK punk, and the melody-driven punk rock of '70s California/early 2000s Pacific Northwest ."You Know I Can't Say No" is vintage Suspect Parts - a bittersweet pop song with a whole lot of guitar crunch. There are times when I think that Sulli is the new Pete Shelley, and this is one of those occasions! The video was shot at Smail Shock's recording studio in Kaulsdorf, East Berlin. Shock (from legendary Berlin punk band The Shocks) recorded this single as well as the band's LP. You can see him in this video walking down the stairs and watering plants in the control room. I consider myself a big Suspect Parts fan, and this is my favorite track from this band to date. That melody is something else! Accompanying "You Know I Can't Say No" on this release are another brilliant heart-wrenching pop tune in "Song For Sadie" and a really fun cover of "Hundsgemein" by Berlin new wave band Ideal. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you need this record and this band in your life. This is how you do powerpop/punk! My friends in Europe can order the record here! If you're in the States, order here!


Monday, July 8, 2019

Johnathan Pushkar - "The Girl Next Door"

Marty Scott of the legendary JEM Records first heard Johnathan Pushkar only last week. He signed him immediately and has very quickly released the single "The Girl Next Door" on JEM. Scott says of the Nashville-based Pushkar: "He's the new kid on the Power Pop block, but I think he is going to own a lot of property very soon." I'm in full agreement. Ya gotta love a guy whose musical philosophy is "Writing songs for today's audience like it's 1965"! Armed with a 12-string Rickenbacker, Pushkar is a power pop classicist drawing his primary inspiration from the British Invasion and '60s pop in general. He's got the hooks, he's got the style, and he clearly understands the timeless art of the three minute pop song. "The Girl Next Door" is his third single, and it arrives in advance of his debut album (recorded by my favorite music producer, Wyatt Funderburk!). Enjoy - and stay tuned!