top ten albums of 2014. It would probably rank even higher if I had to re-do that list today. That's how much I like Maniac. For the uninitiated, this is the band featuring singer/bassist Zache Davis (Cute Lepers, The Girls) along side Andrew Zappin, Justin Maurer, and James Carman (all currently in the great L.A. Drugz). Maniac had the unenviable task of having to follow such an amazing LP. But new single "Chola Queen", out on No Front Teeth Records, does not disappoint. It's an absolute crackler - and probably the best release yet from this fantastic band. Maniac takes that '77 punk/powerpop thing I'm so into and totally makes it is own - infusing frenetic, new wavey guitars and pushing tempos that will leave you breathless. Few other bands could cover '70s Swedish pop star Harpo and make it sound like one of their originals. "Chola Queen", featuring Davis on lead vocals, is a scorching reinterpretation of Harpo's 1974 single "My Teenage Queen". Oddly enough, this cover tune is the perfect introduction to what Maniac is all about. It's pure energy from the jump, propelled by super-punchy guitars and Carman's exuberant drumming. "Calamine", featuring Maurer on lead vocals, somehow kicks the pace up another notch. There's a cool Clash-y riff at the heart of this tune, and Zappin's guitar solo is sheer perfection. If you're having a lackluster day and need a quick jolt of awesome, this song will be good for whatever ails you. It's like aural Red Bull!
Before I sign off, I must mention how incredible "Chola Queen" sounds. It was recorded by Mark Rains at Station House Studio in L.A. and mastered by Daniel Husayn at North London Bomb Factory. If someone ever asked me to describe the way a punk rock record ought to sound, I'd simply advise that person to go listen to anything that's ever come out of the NLBF studios. This Maniac record would rule no matter what. But that Daniel Husayn magic mastering touch takes it over the top. This is one of your prime contenders for single of the year. It's right up there with the latest from - you guessed it - L.A. Drugz!