Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Hum Hums - "All I Got To Do"

Over the course of now 23 volumes of the Something To Do Music for Something To Do People series of digital singles, Something To Do Records has featured many of the finest pop-punk bands on the planet. Volume 23 is perhaps my favorite installment in the series so far. "All I Got To Do" is a song by Japan's Hum Hums. It sounds a little like a lost Parasites hit from the '90s! These days I really seem to be gravitating to the poppier side of pop-punk. And on that note, "All I Got To Do" is totally hitting my sweet spot. It's punchy, catchy, and sugary sweet - a perfect pop song for true romantics. I love those melodic lead guitars, and I can't get enough of that chorus! If you dig this song the way I do, I highly recommend a dive into The Hum Hums' full catalog. And if you haven't checked in with the Something To Do Music for Something To Do People series in a while, hop on over to the label's Bandcamp and take a look. You'll be in pop-punk heaven!


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Young Francis Hi Fi - "I Wanna Hold You Tight (Tonite)"

So just the other night,  I found myself craving something punky and poppy. As luck would have it, I woke up the next day and found the debut track from Young Francis Hi Fi in my inbox. This was exactly what I had in mind! "I Wanna Hold You Tight (Tonite)" is 94 seconds of high energy punk rock with crazy pop hooks. This Brighton-based band features Young Francis (One Man Punk Band, Rotten Foxes) on guitar and vocals. The band calls itself "bubblegum punk", but don't let that fool you into thinking this is all pop. There's just as much punk in the equation. This song is like Radioactivity meets the Ramones meets Red Kross. It'll get you tapping your toes and bobbing your head at a frantic pace. And after it ends in a flash, you'll want to play it again...and again! This is a super impressive debut, and it has me very excited for what's coming next from Young Francis Hi Fi. Stay tuned!


Friday, August 7, 2020

The Black Halos - "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye"

Out today on On Yeah Right! Records, "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye" is the brand-new single from The Black Halos and the band's second release since reuniting last year. For this release, the band has done something special. "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye" is a tribute to SNFU front man and the band's dear friend Chi Pig, who passed away last month. All profits from the sale of vinyl and digital copies of this single will be donated to the Chi Pig Mural Fund. With that in mind, these songs will not be available on the usual streaming services (you know, the ones that don't properly pay the artists). One thing I admire about musicians and artists in general is their willingness to dig into their very private pain and create something of great worth to the whole world. The story behind "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye" is that Billy Hopeless originally intended it to be an uplifting sing-along celebrating the life of Chi Pig. But he quickly realized that he was just masking his real feelings. Hearing the stinging guitar part that Rich Jones came up with, Hopeless dug deeper into his grief and crafted the gut-wrenching, intensely emotional song we hear today. As a tribute to Chi Pig, it's absolutely powerful. On a more universal level, it's about the reality of having to lose people we love in life - and how impossible that is to accept. When you're creating a song that's this meaningful to you, you want to make sure you absolutely nail it. And that's what The Black Halos have done with "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye". I love how it builds in intensity and culminates with a gut punch. This is what it sounds like when your heart is torn out. On the flip, the band turns out a properly raging cover of SNFU's "Rusty Rake". If you're an SNFU fan, I think you'll find this an inspired rendition. And if you're not yet an SNFU fan, hearing this song should make you want to become one!

Digital purchases and vinyl pre-orders of "Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye" are live today on Yeah Right's Bandcamp. The Black Halos are currently demoing tracks for a new album due out next year - which will be their first since 2008!


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Christopher Peifer - Suicide Mission

Christopher Peifer, who you most likely know as a member of Blockhouses and The Kowalskis, is a underground rock and roll lifer. Over the past quarter century, he's also recorded and performed with Sir, Frances Farmer My Hero, Another Saturday Night, Heavy Creatures, Steve Shiffman & The Land of No, and Giudice's Pig Iron. That's quite a resume! What Chris Peifer had not done until now was to make a record where he was the primary creative force. Suicide Mission is his first-ever solo album, which he recorded at Roots Cellar Studio in Cold Spring, New York with longtime collaborator Todd Giudice. He describes the album as "art and love in the time of Coronavirus". It's an impressive and long overdue solo debut - featuring ten well-crafted pop/rock songs emphasizing storytelling and personal reflections.

Peifer set out to create a debut album full of melodic pop songs in the range of two-to-three minutes. Well that's certainly something I can endorse! Suicide Mission was modeled to some degree after the Elvis Costello compilation album Taking Liberties. The influence of The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Nick Lowe, Bob Mould, Big Star, and good buds The Figgs is also evident. I like that this is a power pop album at heart, yet it draws from numerous genres and eras of rock and pop music. The longtime sideman Peifer proves to be an appealing singer and exceptional songwriter. Of course he excels at writing catchy pop tunes with hooks. Just as importantly, he has put a great deal of himself into these songs. After listening to Suicide Mission several times, I feel like I have a good sense of who Chris Peifer is. Lyrically, he offers up a nice mix of heartfelt love songs, topical numbers, and autobiographical sketches. The title track likens a life in rock and roll to a suicide mission. This tale of one touring band's misadventures is so wild and bizarre that you know it has to be true! The anthemic "Stanton Drive" finds Peifer deeply nostalgic for his Midwestern childhood. As a fellow '70s kid, I'm really feeling what he's putting out there. "Poughkeepsie" is full of longing for a lost love, and it's executed with a beautiful simplicity. By contrast, "Throw You A Line" is a high-energy rocker that pays tribute to Greta Thunberg and a whole generation of young people who are stepping up to make the world a better place.

It goes without saying that fans of Blockhouses should be very interested in Chris Peifer's solo debut. Suicide Mission is a terrific indie rock/power pop album. It has all the attributes of a mature "singer/songwriter record", but it satisfies on a pure pop level as well. It feels weird to say this about a guy who's been in the rock and roll game for over 25 years, but I feel like we've been introduced to a bright new talent. I'm sure Peifer will continue to play in numerous bands, because that's what he does. But going forward, I look forward to much more from him as a solo artist and/or band leader.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Cold Callers - Dressed To Die

Out now on No Front Teeth Records and Boulevard Trash, the second album by London's Cold Callers splendidly walks that fine line between '70s U.K. punk and new wave. On lead vocals is No Front Teeth head honcho Marco (The Gaggers, Miscalculations, Telegenic Pleasure, The Flesh of the City, La Rabbia, Sanguisuga, Disco Lepers, Botox Rats). The Internet doesn't reveal much about who else is in the band, but I will say that whoever is on lead guitar is absolutely fantastic. As Mick Fletcher has astutely pointed out, Cold Callers sound an awful lot like Marco's other bands. So if you saw the "power pop" description and were expecting something along the lines of The Records or Kidda Band, you'd be barking up the wrong tree! Cold Callers are more like the middle ground between The Gaggers and Miscalculations, with the addition of pop and post-punk influences.

Several years have passed since Cold Callers released their debut album Covering Lies. And you can hear the difference in Dressed To Die, which sounds like the work of a band that has found its sound and fully realized it. In terms of production and musical sophistication, Dressed To Die totally blows its predecessor away. From track to track, the musical focus varies from jerky punk ("Numb Thoughts") to dark synth-pop ("The Runaway Returns") to 1980s British post-punk/pop ("Dressed To Die" ) to up-tempo jangly pop ("Trapped Between Pages") to old school sing-along punk not far removed from The Gaggers ("Remember My Name"). It's as if Marco took everything that was good about all of his bands and combined it all into one awesomely cohesive entity. This is a pop record, a punk record, and a new wave record all at the same time. As expected, the lyrics lean in the obsessive/creepy/disturbing direction. Yet the hooks are hard to resist. You may ultimately feel bad about merrily singing along to a song as diabolical as "From The Rooftops". But isn't that half the fun? I will always endorse a Marco-fronted band, and Dressed To Die is the strongest record he's made in quite a while. The album is available in three different versions, so get cracking while the alternate covers are still available!


Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Prostitutes - Complete Recordings 1995​-​1998

Here's today's public service announcement: the complete recordings of the original Prostitutes lineup have been remastered and reissued for your listening pleasure. And this digital collection is a name-your-price download from Bandcamp! I've written about these recordings so many times that there isn't much more that I can say. If you asked me to name the greatest American punk rock band of this particular era (1995-98), The Prostitutes would be at least in the conversation if not my #1 answer.

Amazingly, Kevin McGovern has revived The Prostitutes numerous times in numerous locations with numerous lineups. But there will always be something special about the original incarnation based out of nearby (to me) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This lineup featuring McGovern on lead vocals, Dave Cohen on bass, Justin Haley on guitar, Brian Shuey on guitar, and Jeff Peterson on drums released three incredible singles and a classic LP in a period of just a couple of years. And then just like that, the band broke up (much to my disappointment at the time). As the title suggests, Complete Recordings includes everything The Prostitutes released in the '90s: the "Get Me Sick" debut 7" on Pelado Records, the "Twenty-Two" 7", on Philly label Black Hole Records, the "Living Wreck" 7" on the legendary American Punk Records, two tracks from the Pelado CD compilation This Is It... Punk Rock That's Real, and the entirety of  the band's 1997 LP Can't Teach Kids Responsibility. I once likened The Prostitutes to a combination of The Pagans, Jabbers, Stitches, and Humpers. That's a description I'll still stand behind (maybe I would throw The Germs in there as well). As I listen now, I'm struck by how well these songs hold up. Among these 25 tracks, there are so many songs that are classics in my book. This is the authentic sound of bored, drug-addled youth railing against Central Pennsylvanian conservatism in the later '90s. These wild, angry, and darkly humorous songs were part of the soundtrack to my 20s. They sound just as good today to my middle-aged ears. Now you too can enjoy timeless punk anthems like "Twenty-Two", "Get Me Sick", and "No Good" in all their degenerate glory. It's almost criminal that you can download this anthology for free!