Monday, July 29, 2019

The Sorels - self titled debut EP

What could be more exciting than a double debut?! This one in particular is worthy of an international celebration! Here we have the debut 7" from Winnipeg glam rock and roll trio The Sorels as well as the first-ever release from exciting new label Reta Records. This single is a co-release with the always fantastic Surfin' Ki Records, so you ought to know to expect something pretty great! The Sorels immediately become my favorite band from Winnipeg and perhaps even all of central Canada! "She's In The Gang" is an instant smash of '60s girl group pop by way of the Ramones and New York Dolls. I can't get this song out of my head, and I wouldn't want to even if I could! It's got an infectious beat, a whole lot of rockin' lead guitar, an irresistible sing-along hook, and even some killer piano to boot. And how about that bad-ass lead vocal?! This is just great rock and roll that follows in the footsteps of everyone from the Shangri-Las to The Runaways to the Bobbyteens to Baby Shakes to The Shanghais. It's certainly right at home on the Surfin' Ki roster, and it also gives you a great idea of what Reta Records is going to be all about! On the flip, "School Girl Blues" is more of a straight-up glam rocker with a ton of swagger and riffs for days. If you dig Suzi Quatro or more recent bands like BBQT and Furies, you're gonna flip for this one! This single leaves me wanting more - from both The Sorels and Reta Records! Official release date is on Wednesday, so hop on over to the Reta Records Bandcamp page or the Surfin' Ki store if you'd like to reserve a copy on blue or transparent red vinyl. No dilly-dallying, kids. This thing is gonna go FAST!

 
-L.R.

https://retarecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-sorels 
http://surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com/product/the-sorels-she-s-in-the-gang 
https://www.facebook.com/The-Sorels-289651351456486/ 
https://thesorels1.bandcamp.com/releases 
https://www.facebook.com/reta.records/ 
https://www.facebook.com/surfinkirecords/ 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Stubborn Hearts - Trixie

After pilfering so many review ideas from Mick Fletcher, I would say I'm due for another Greg Mongroll pick. Although technically I'm stealing this one from Mick as well. What can I say? I stand on the shoulders of giants! I'm especially stoked on Greg Mongroll's recommendations when they're New England based. Stubborn Hearts are representing for Rhode Island, and I love that the band name says so much about who they are. Stubborn Hearts are Jenn Lombari (vocals/guitars/songwriting) and Doug Metivier (drums). The duo's new EP is called Trixie, and it delivers five songs of powerful & heartfelt melodic punk rock. Musically it recalls '80s/'90s emo-core and melodic hardcore, but the words and voice of Jenn Lombari are what really connect for me on a personal level. When bands go to the trouble to publish their lyrics, ideally it's because they have something meaningful to say that speaks to the human experience. And that's definitely the case here. These five songs are linked by one common thread: the agony of lost love and longing, and the toll that it all takes on our emotional state. Lombari addresses these themes in an open and wonderfully engaging way. This is intense stuff, and it's carried off with tremendous honesty and humor (the line "I've got mediums and therapists on speed dial" is both hilarious and devastating). Lead track "Our Hearts Are Turned To 10 Tonight" is honestly one of the most beautifully-written and spot-on love songs I've ever come across. I'm always awed when a two-minute song can say more about the fragility of romantic relationships than I ever could with thousands of words of prose. Those last five lines in particular give me goosebumps.

Stubborn Hearts are a band that remind me of why I came to love melodic punk music in the first place. Stripped down to just guitar, drums, and voice, their music exhibits a rawness I find incredibly refreshing in 2019. Trixie is full of relatable songs that emanate straight from the heart. At a time when "emo" has practically become a dirty word, this band demonstrates what emotional punk rock once was and still can be. Greg Mongroll will never steer you wrong!



-L.R.

https://stubbornhearts.bandcamp.com/album/trixie 
https://www.facebook.com/stubbornheartsband/

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Born Readies - "Mean Genes"

Sometimes all you really need is some great rock and roll! "Mean Genes" is the new single from Denver-based rockers The Born Readies, and lord is this thing ever an explosion of big guitars and big hooks! This is the band's first release since last year's LP Its Just Rock & Roll, and it's the recorded debut of its latest lineup. If you dig '70s glam and the hooky side of classic rock, this tune ought to be right up your alley. I love the simplicity and clarity of this band's mission: "four dudes who want to make good tunes" and "keep it dumb and fun". These guys are true believers in rock and roll, and they know how to write a good, old-fashioned rock radio hit. They aren't overly conscious about their influences, although I can definitely hear some Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Slade, and early KISS in their musical DNA. "Mean Genes" is a name your price download over at Bandcamp, and it's the perfect song to crank loud in the car on a hot summer day. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out the album as well. Awesome band!



-L.R.

https://thebornreadies.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/TheBornReadies/ 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Proto Idiot - Find Out For Themselves

My relationship with post-punk music has notoriously been of the love/hate variety. But in the case of Proto Idiot, it's strictly love. A lot of that has to do with the unique sound this Manchester trio has cultivated. It seems almost wrong to even call it post-punk. It might be better to describe it as "poppy new wave post-punk garage rock art", but I suppose that would be a mouthful. Try fitting that onto a promotional sticker! More importantly, my major complaint with most post-punk is that it's just no fun at all. Thankfully, "fun" is probably the first word that I would associate with Proto Idiot. Find Out For Themselves, the band's third album, matches its "angularity" and musical creativity with tremendous humor and a general sense of adventure and playfulness. Give me a post-punk album that has songs you can dance to, and I'm a happy camper! Check out the one-sheet description: "This is music for sophisticated eccentrics who enjoy the finer things in life – the sort of record that a mad and inbred member of the monarchy would relish." I mean, come on! How could you read that and NOT want to hear the record?!

Find Out For Themselves offers more of those "weird in a good way" musical antics that we have come to associate with the highly creative minds of Andrew Anderson, Callum Darley, and Michael Seal. I really get a kick out of a band that can go from the Wire/Gang of Four with Brit-pop leanings vibe of "Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy" right into the bizarro spazz-fest of "Prokel Yokel". And what comes after that? Sing-along synth-pop? Count me in! I like this album because it manages to traverse just about every corner of Proto Idiot's musical universe. "Fill In" is what Fugazi could have been if they had been English and not a terrible bore. "Nothing To It" is a delightful, Devo-ish romp. "Erase/Rewrite/Repeat" is what might have happened if Paul Weller had never formed The Style Council and instead started a groovy post-punk band. If you were at a club or bar or funeral parlor and heard "Find Out For Ourselves", you would absolutely be compelled to get up and dance. Propelled by Michael Seal's nifty bass work, "You're Not Nice" has a snotty energy to it that is nothing short of joyful. And if you're looking for more of Proto Idiot's "typical" poppy/garagey/quirky goodness, "Someone Else" delivers exactly that.

I've been a fan of Proto Idiot for a while, and I must say that Find Out For Themselves is the most complete fulfillment so far of the band's musical vision. It's fully post-modern yet very much steeped in the classic elements of British pop music. It's wonderfully creative yet still excitingly "punky". Basically these three have made an album so good that it has ruined almost all other post-punk for me. Good going!



-L.R.

https://proto-idiot.bandcamp.com/album/find-out-for-themselves 
https://www.facebook.com/protoidiot/ 
https://store.thirduncle.com/ 

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.



-L.R.

https://theprostitutes1.bandcamp.com/album/nineteen-not-around
https://www.facebook.com/tutespunk

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!

  
-L.R.

https://drunkensailorrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tube-reducer-lp 
https://boojiboysfuneral.bandcamp.com/ 
http://www.drunkensailorrecords.co.uk/products/646006-booji-boys-tube-reducer-lp-drunken-sailor-records-drunkensailor-115 
https://www.facebook.com/DrunkenSailorRecords 

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!



-L.R.

https://permanentfreak.bandcamp.com/album/wild-zeros-proto-idiot-jukebox-series-split 
https://wildzeros.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/permanent.freak/ 
https://www.facebook.com/protoidiot/ 
https://www.facebook.com/wildwildzeros/ 

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!



-L.R.

https://thedialers911.bandcamp.com/releases 
https://thedialers.bigcartel.com/product/s-t-lp-pre-order 
https://www.facebook.com/The-Dialers-466836687029370/ 
https://www.nofrontteeth.co.uk/ 

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!



-L.R.

https://necktunes.bandcamp.com/album/you-dont-think-its-evil 
https://www.facebook.com/NECK-124343011070330/ 
https://www.ibuyrecords.it/prod/neck-you-dont-think-its-evil/ 

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!


-L.R.

https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/you-know-i-cant-say-no
https://wandarecords.bandcamp.com/album/you-know-i-can-t-say-no
https://suspectparts.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/SuspectParts/ 
https://www.facebook.com/dirtcultrecords/ 
https://www.facebook.com/wandarecords/ 
https://mailorder.wandarecords.de/ 

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!



-L.R.

https://www.johnathanpushkar.com/ 
http://www.jemrecordings.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/Jem-Records-607560186079388/ 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Autogramm - "Bad Day"

Here we have a release that combines three of my favorite things in music: Canada, new wave, and Jarama 45RPM Recs! Autogramm is a band comprised of well-known players from the Vancouver music scene. Jiffy Marx (Hard Drugs, Blood Meridian) is on guitar. CC Voltage (Dysnea Boys, Loyalties, Black Halos, Spitfires) is on bass. The Silo (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, Destroyer) is on drums. And yet Autogramm is completely unlike the aforementioned bands. This trio plays a brand of new wave pop that's most definitely informed by early '80s radio (The Cars, Gary Numan, Devo) but also "modern" enough sounding to not be dismissed as a mere nostalgia trip. With Autogramm drawing equally from synth-pop, power pop, and new wave rock influences, it's no surprise that new single "Bad Day" sounds like a radio hit that time forgot. Of course it reminds me of an era in popular music that I very fondly recall. But even without the synths, this would have been a well-crafted and immensely catchy pop song. Those hooks are legit! And at a deeper level, I really respect that Jiffy's lyrics are intensely personal and explore the very serious topic of depression. By confronting such dark subject matter in such a musically uplifting way, this song has the effect of reaching out to those in need. I always love it when music connects people in truly meaningful ways. On the flip, "Quiero Estar Sedad" is a cover of a well-known classic song that just about everyone reading this surely loves. I was just talking with someone recently about the topic of Ramones covers that are genuinely good, as opposed to just being second rate copies. Well this one definitely falls into the category of genuinely good! When it comes to ways to transform a song, altering the musical style and the language of the lyrics are pretty effective options. This is so fun! What a wonderful single - and another smash from the Jarama 45RPM hit factory! I also recommend checking out Autogramm's excellent album from last year titled What R U Waiting 4?!



-L.R.

https://jarama45rpmrecs.bandcamp.com/album/bad-day 
https://autogramm.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/autogrammband/ 
https://www.autogramm.band/ 
https://www.facebook.com/jarama45rpmrecs/ 

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Darrans - self titled

What's this: another killer Aussie punk band?! If you're wondering what's been going on with Australian punk lately, I'd say it's the same thing that's been going on for the last 40 years. It's just that the world has been paying closer attention the last couple of years. The Darrans definitely share musical DNA with Radio Birdman, Cosmic Psychos, The Hard-Ons, and many other legends of Aussie punk. In fact, I'd describe their debut album as quintessential Aussie punk. This band plays loud and aggressive punk rock with thundering guitars, an unruly attitude, and a singer who knows how to scream his guts out in a totally bad-ass way. If you're craving some ripping old style punk rock with just the right amount of heavy rock influence, songs like "Alright", "Crispy Socks", and "Come Steyne" ought to give you the jolt you desire. In general, I'd say this album will batter your eardrums. And I mean that, of course, as a high compliment. These guys tear through most of these tracks like they're trying to flatten everything in their path. And even when they slow things down a tad ("The Thing"), their sound is absolutely pummeling. Remember when hardcore punk wasn't yet called hardcore because it was, you know, just punk? That's what The Darrans remind me of. Crank this loud and annoy the neighbors!



-L.R.

https://thedarrans3rd.bandcamp.com/album/the-darrans 
https://www.facebook.com/thedarrans/ 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Ten Greatest American Punk Bands

Seven years ago today, I made a list of the ten greatest American punk bands. I used to do fun stuff like that all of the time back in the early days of this blog when the only people reading were a handful of my friends. I thought it would be fun to re-make that list today and see how my selections have changed. Without peeking at the old list, I worked up the new one and then compared it to what I wrote in 2011. The difference in the two lists in some way reflects how my tastes have evolve (Man, I haven't had the inclination to put on a Bad Religion record in years!). It also reflects me broadening my definition of "punk rock" over time. I did limit my selections to the punk era (1976 to present), so that's why there's no Stooges or New York Dolls. But by all means, I would highly approve of someone else including those two bands on their list! On that note, here we go!

10. The Rip Offs
The Rip Offs only made one album, but what an album it was! Got A Record along with the band's five classic singles helped define a standard for what garage punk ought to be. And while the sound/recording aesthetic is easily imitated, it was the tunes that made The Rip Offs unbeatable. Their influence is still felt to this day.

9. The Humpers
Speaking of influential bands! The Humpers were the best of that entire wave of '90s "punk rock n' roll" bands. They took tried-and-true Heartbreakers/New York Dolls/Dead Boys inspirations, mixed them with the best of early rock and roll, and created something unique and exciting. One of the greatest American rock and roll bands, period. 

8. The Real Kids
Here's a classic case of my evolving definition of "punk rock". The younger me might have argued that The Real Kids were a power pop band or just a rock and roll band. Today I'd say they were/are both of those things - but also a defining band of first wave American punk rock!

7. Dead Boys
Every time I revisit this band's catalog, I'm reminded why I came to love 'em in the first place. I've flipped-flopped 26 times over which album I prefer, but man the music sure holds up! The real deal! 

6. Black Flag
In the past, I would have qualified this selection with "Keith Morris era only". But screw it...I have come to not only appreciate the Rollins era stuff but also sometimes prefer it! The Complete 1982 Demos blow my head off! The greatest hardcore punk band to ever walk the earth.

5. Avengers
I recall my quest as a younger lad in the '90s trying to track down a copy of the pink album. And when I finally did, that record became a permanent staple of my turntable. Now thanks to the wonders of modern technology, this essential part of music history is available to everyone. These songs still give me chills.

4. Zeros
When it comes to '77 era teenage punk with a pop sensibility, this is a band that ought to mentioned with the best of 'em.

3. The Dictators
I mean, come on: what's the name of this blog?! 

2. Pagans
THE definitive Midwestern American punk band. Its influence on what would later become "garage" punk was immeasurable. No punk music collection is complete without a proper Pagans best-of. I highly recommend this one.

1. Ramones 
The greatest punk band from any country!


So there you go. Honorable mentions go out to The Heartbreakers, Devil Dogs, Wipers, Adolescents, and Angry Samoans. There were ultimately six bands in common between this list and my 2011 list. I recently posed a similar question on my Facebook feed the other day (look me up: Josh Rutledge, York, PA) and got a lot of great responses. Maybe I'll do this list again in seven more years!

-L.R.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Pavid Vermin - Jump, Jive, And Fail

Well here's a band I can pretty much guarantee you've never heard of before - because it did not exist prior to this spring! Pavid Vermin is actually the name of a one-man project completed by the talented Rhode Island musician Glenn Robinson. It all started when Robinson did some lo-fi recordings in his basement earlier this year. He thought they sounded cool but doubted that they were of a high enough recording quality to merit a proper release. For fun, he decided to share one of the tracks via a story on his hilarious Instagram Obscurist Vinyl. The next thing you know, Pavid Vermin was getting fan mail from Mikey Erg and an offer from the wonderful Bloated Kat Records to do a full album. So Robinson wrote a bunch of songs in just a few weeks, and now Pavid Vermin is a real band with a real CD on a real label! And Jump, Jive, And Fail is honestly one of the best things I've heard all year! Robinson has always had a knack for writing really good poppy punk and power pop songs. But with this particular release, the lo-fi approach complements his voice and style of the songwriting in a way that could not be more perfect. What results is a really cool blend of pop-punk, power pop, and indie pop. I'd say Mikey Erg's admiration definitely falls into the category of "great minds think alike"! This is just great catchy punk with a truckload of memorable hooks and just the right amount of DIY charm. It's definitely at home on the same label that has released the likes of House Boat, Lipstick Homicide, and Science Police. If you're into the lo-fi end of pop-punk, you're gonna LOVE this album! Digital release is a name your price download, and the CD can be had for just $8 plus shipping!



-L.R.

https://bloatedkatrecords.bandcamp.com/album/jump-jive-and-fail 
https://www.facebook.com/BloatedKatRecords
https://www.facebook.com/GlennRobinsonYeah 

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Speedways - "Seen Better Days"

Hey! The Speedways have become a full-fledged band! I previously hailed Just Another Regular Summer as a royal treat for power pop fans and one of my favorite albums of 2018. While The Speedways were originally a one-off project created by Matt Julian, the addition of Mauro Venegas (guitar), Adrian Alfonso (bass), and Los Pepes/More Kicks drummer Kris Hood has made this band a permanent entity. And that's great - because the idea of never hearing more music from The Speedways was really bumming me out! Out now on Snap Records/Hurrah Musica is the debut 7" from The Speedways. On the A-side, "Seen Better Days" is to my mind the finest track from the album. This was the song that turned me into an instant Speedways fan last summer. Backing "Seen Better Days" is the first recording from the full band version of The Speedways - a cover of the Kirsty MacColl classic "They Don't Know". We could get into a whole conversation about why a band should or should not have a go at a seemingly untouchable song. Instead I'll just urge you to read Pulsebeat host Wayne Elliott's interview with Matt Julian over at Just Some Punk Songs. It really gets into the reasons why the band chose to record this song and how it tried to put its own stamp on the number. I must say that while The Speedways had the impossible task of matching the original, their rendition is more than respectable. And if this sends at least one person off in search of the Kirsty MacColl version, it will have been a worthy endeavor!

While The Speedways have already run through their initial copies of "Seen Better Days", more supplies are on the way. Be sure to follow the group's Bandcamp and Facebook pages for updates. And if you still haven't picked up Just Another Regular Summer, you're missing one of the best power pop records of recent memory!



-L.R.

https://thespeedways.bandcamp.com/album/seen-better-days-they-dont-know-single 
https://www.facebook.com/JustAnotherRegularSummer/