pre-order today over at the magnificent Moms Basement Records. I gotta tell you that this thing is gonna have smoke coming out of your ears! Lean and mean at eight tracks with only two of 'em daring to eclipse the mostly forbidden two-minute mark, In-Cog-Neat-O brings on the next phase of street rock - the one that will bring hope to humanity and have young and old alike pledging allegiance. While by all means inspired by/allied with the HEAD/NECK/Vapids axis of Ramones worship, the SUCK very much has its own thing going. Packing such explosive power that its membership had to be spread across three contiguous states, this gang really brings the rock on this debut long player. For real: these dudes aren't afraid to make a punk record that actually sounds good! Those guitars pack a mega-punch, and you'll swear they enlisted an army to record some of those backing vocals. And while this album obviously owes a great deal to the Ramones and pop-punk, it also earns high marks in the originality/uniqueness department. Given that my stance on humor is "the darker, the better", the SUCK and I are definitely on the same wavelength. The closest thing to a "love song" on this record is about a guy who gets catfished. "#youredead" is a feelgood hit about threatening murder over social media. "Death Machine" is literally about building a contraption for killing people. "The Vape Store" concerns the plight of unemployed grown men who hit on teen girls. These songs are so very wrong - yet somehow so right! Elsewhere the band addresses some of the burning topics of our time: Mexican bogeymen, the ruthlessly competitive sport of flip cup, and the tangled web of love interests complicating the plot of the Twilight franchise.
Coming off a massively acclaimed self-titled EP and the instant classic web single "Party Town, USA", the SUCK had the pop-punk and Ramones-loving communities pumped for an absolute ripper of a debut album. I am confident in guaranteeing that nobody is going to be disappointed! The SUCK has come out and crushed this one. You've got The Dunk and The Alien cranking up the guitar thunder, The Basement knocking the snot out of his drums, The Problem laying it down like Dee Dee, and The Cola bringing a voice to this band's unique sense of humor and unwavering pursuit of fun. And as for the short running time...that just gives you more chances in a day to listen to the album! While leaving little doubt about its influences, In-Cog-Neat-O finds the SUCK carving out plenty of territory for itself. It's a little bit Ramonescore, a little bit party punk, a little bit pop-punk, and a whole lot of street rock! Your prayers have finally been answered. East Coast, represent!
Friday, February 15, 2019
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Internal Credit is the best new punk group I've heard in a good while. After twenty-some years of writing about music, I still get excited hearing punk music stripped down to its essence and played with maximum gusto. Listening to Internally Credited, I can't help envisioning what the band's live performances are like. I imagine kids dancing like crazy, shouting along, and just having a generally wild time. Those of you in southwestern England can find out for yourselves when Internal Credit plays with Youth Avoiders in Bristol on April 18th. Might as well familiarize yourself with the songs now!
Friday, February 8, 2019
Like always, The Cavemen have come out swinging on "Lowlife". This is just one of several 7-inch records releasing on Slovenly today. But I figured I ought to start with this one since I know it's gonna be a fast mover. You better be a fast mover yourself if you want a copy on purple vinyl!
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Levity was recorded back in October 2017 at Westmont Station - Pete Donnelly's home studio near Philadelphia. Taking Donnelly up on a long standing offer to record Beach Patrol, Domenic and drummer Preston Ely made the long drive to the East Coast and knocked out the album in just two days. With Donnelly producing and filling in on bass, Levity was recorded entirely in single takes with no overdubs. At a lean eight tracks, this easily stands as Domenic's strongest collection of songs to date. The irony is that if you heard Beach Patrol back in 2006, that is when you might have suspected Pete Donnelly was producing! Here Donnelly's influence is more limited to his recording expertise and always-stellar work on the bass. Beach Patrol has honed its own style and sound over the years, and Levity is the work of a seasoned rock n' roll band at the peak of its craft.
If I was going to compare the songwriter Domenic Marcantonio was back in the earlier 2000s to the songwriter he's become today, that would be easy to summarize. Back then, he wrote great power pop songs. Now he just writes great songs, period. He can still write a hook like nobody's business, and he remains faithful to the timeless art of the three-minute pop song. Yet what is most impressive is how he uses this musical form to truly say something. He never writes a throwaway. Every song offers something clever or insightful or pertinent to his life experience. On this release he comes off a little like a modern-day counterpart to the Elvis Costello/Graham Parker/Joe Jackson triumvirate. Except he's not so much angry as he is full of practical wisdom. "Don't Panic" is upbeat rockin' pop serving essential life advice. The Parker-esque "Get It Together" is a reminder that complaining about our problems often blinds us to our many blessings. Domenic revisits a similar theme on the self-reflective "Nerve" - the ultimate statement of a band that has come to accept and truly appreciate its place in the world. And the music on this album proves to be every bit as engaging as the ideas. Opening track "Clown" pairs an instantly classic lyrical couplet ("I'd be a clown for you, baby/But please do not mistake me for a fool") with a melody you'll be humming for weeks. "Just As I Suspected" ought to have you lookin' sharp and heading for the dance floor, with Donnelly ably playing the Graham Maby to Domenic's Joe Jackson. Donnelly even pulls out the standup bass on the dramatic and soulful ballad "Hands At Love". This is the album's high point - a showcase for just how far Domenic has come as both a songwriter and a singer.
Listening to Levity, I'm somewhat stunned that it was all recorded in single takes. It doesn't sound rushed, and the band could not be any tighter (there are certainly advantages to a guitarist and drummer playing together for nearly half their lives!). I've never found a Beach Patrol recording to be lacking energy, but Donnelly's recording approach probably gave the band even more punch in the studio than usual. This was the first record where I really noticed what incredible chops Domenic has developed on guitar. Just about every song on this record is driven by a unique and memorable guitar riff. I just love how the rockin' and melodic sides of Beach Patrol work in such perfect harmony here. It's not every day that a band has the chance to make a record with one of the greatest pop/rock n' roll minds of our time. Clearly these guys seized the opportunity. Hands down, this is the best Beach Patrol album yet! Credit to Paula Mortimer for allowing the band to use her "Beautiful Lake Winnie In Quinney American Flag Sunset" photo on the cover. Isn't it amazing?!
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Sunday, February 3, 2019
I was a big fan of Natalie Sweet's previous band The Shanghais, and I was kind of bummed that that they were no more. Thankfully Sweet's solo debut retains a lot of the qualities of The Shanghais (and some of the songs as well). For this solo release, Sweet has assembled a veritable power pop/punk all-star team. Ramin produces and plays drums, Morten freaking Henriksen (!) plays guitar, and Devin Clark Jorgenson (Color TV) plays bass. Sweet, so impressive as a snotty punk vocalist on the Control Freaks album, returns to a more pure singing style on this release. She's really the perfect singer for this kind of music. A la a Debbie Harry or Holly Beth Vincent, she's the ideal combination of tough, tender, and just straight-up cool. You believe her tales of heartbreak, and you want to join her when she's out there having fun. Her collaboration with Ramin on this project is so strong that you can hear both of their signature styles all over this record. And that's no surprise considering their long friendship and many shared influences (new wave power pop, girl groups, '50s doo-wop and rock n' roll, the Ramones). Comparisons to previous Ramin productions like Candygirl and Tina and the Total Babes are not unwarranted, yet this could equally be described as the great Shanghais full-length that never was. Production-wise, this album sounds like a million bucks (although I feel like that number may need to be adjusted for inflation). It is tailor made for radio airplay, or at least radio airplay in 1980. Seriously: are those backing vocals not to die for?!
Kicking off with the best new wave pop song in decades, "Lip Service", Natalie Sweet's debut album is a must-own item for any fan of punky power pop. Shanghais fans will recognize "Good Love", which has been given the old TravoRamo makeover for this release. I'm usually not one for trying to fix what isn't broken, but damn if they didn't find a way to make this song even better! "I Still Want You" exquisitely channels the pure pop side of the Ramones (Dare I say more Road To Ruin than Rocket To Russia?). "I Don't Want To Need You (Tonight)" takes on the always welcomed Shangri-Las gone punk theme and totally knocks it out of the park. "Do The Shanghai" would not sound out of place on the Nikki and the Corvettes album. "Pizza Man" is a cover from National Lampoon's Lemmings (penned by Christopher Guest!). Yet in the hands of Sweet, Ramin, and co., this song doesn't mock the silliness of '50s teen tragedy songs so much as it fully embraces it.
Is it too early to hand Natalie Sweet album of the year for 2019?! This one's gonna be hard to beat! Probably the only person who freaked out more than me upon hearing this album was Carlo from Surfin' Ki Records. So it's hardly a surprise that Surfin' Ki will be releasing it on vinyl. The CD is coming out in Japan on the legendary Wizzard In Vinyl - rebooting a label that has been inactive for over a decade! Pop people, rejoice!