Sunday, July 12, 2020

honeychain - Pocket Full Of Good Luck

The terrible year 2020 continues to be one of our best years in recent memory for music. Joining  a superb slate of 2020 album releases is the second long player from Los Angeles trio honeychain. Pocket Full Of Good Luck is the band's first release on Die Laughing/Golden Robot Records. It was recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by singer/guitarist Hillary Burton. It follows 2017's CRUSHED, which in my book is a modern classic of power pop.

A lot of you know Burton as the drummer in The Pandoras, but she's been releasing music under the honeychain name since 2013. The current lineup, which includes Andre Tusques on bass and Loye Aubrey Jr on drums, sounds awesome. Over the years, Burton has developed a signature style of songwriting that incorporates influences from numerous eras and genres. While honeychain is definitely a classic Southern California sun-soaked punk pop group, the band's sound owes just as much to early '90s alternative rock, the pure pop of the '60s, and modern day garage rock. I would have had zero complaints about a repeat of CRUSHED, but Pocket Full Of Good Luck does not settle for just more of the same. It's a fine example of how a great pop band ought to progress. It takes everything I liked about honeychain and adds so much more. Songs like "Go Away" and "Great Big World" capture the vintage honeychain punky power pop sound in all its glory. On the other hand, songs like "Spaceman" and "Flee Los Angeles" take the heavy guitar '90s alt-rock inspirations of the band's previous releases and push them front and center. "Flee Los Angeles" in particular will rock you straight back to 1993! This album is such a pleasure to listen to because it gives you a little bit of everything. "Beautiful Now" is haunting and gorgeous. The title track is a punk rock thrill ride. "Chemtrails" is bittersweet pop at its absolute finest. "289" is pure garage rock and an absolute blast. And then there's the stunning "Late Night Movie Show", which Burton co-wrote with her dear friend Kim Shattuck. It closes the album in a beautiful and memorable manner. It's just so heartfelt, sweet, and moving in a completely unpretentious way. I find myself focusing on the significance of every word Burton sings. As I imagine every other honeychain fan listening to this song with me, there won't be a dry eye among us.

With now two great albums to its name, honeychain has established itself as one of the finest pop/rock bands of the present day. And Hillary Burton is such an amazing songwriter! Pocket Full Of Good Luck picks up where CRUSHED left off and moves several steps forward. It's all the best of pop, rock, and punk mixed together in cool and creative ways. It sounds like a million bucks, and the songs are fantastic all the way through. Click here to listen or buy!

Digital purchase link
CD purchase link  

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Guerrilla Teens - Dillinger Red

Alright, kids: ya better get cracking on this one! Six days from now, the first two demo tracks ever released by Portland, Oregon punk rock and roll supergroup Guerrilla Teens will be disappearing from the Internet. They will literally self-destruct in the blink of an eye. And lemme tell you, these tracks are HOT! It won't take you long to identify that this mysterious band is fronted by the mighty Scott "Deluxe" Drake (ex Humpers, Lovesores). He's joined by a couple of old partners in crime along with some star players from Portland's formidable punk rock scene. If the breakup of Lovesores had you shedding a tear (trust me, I feel you!), the arrival of Guerrilla Teens will quickly fill that hole in your heart. Oh man, "Dillinger Red" is pure fire! From the ripping twin guitars to the slamming drums and bass to Drake's powerhouse vocal, this song has got everything you could ever desire from punk rock and roll music. It's paired here with "Super Aces (Bonus Poker)", a primal slow burn that's super sleazy in the best possible way. I could say more, but there's no time to monkey around! Cough up a dollar and get these songs downloaded today. Two brand-new demos will be taking their place on Bandcamp next Friday, and I'm sure they won't be around long either. You have been warned!


Friday, July 10, 2020

Jerry Lehane - self titled

What was I just saying about Rum Bar Records having become home base for the best of Boston rock and roll? It doesn't get any more "Boston rock and roll" than The Dogmatics. And today Rum Bar releases the debut EP from Dogmatics singer/guitarist Jerry Lehane. Incredibly, these recordings had gone unreleased for 29 years until today. Talk about an unearthed treasure!

These five tracks were recorded over a three-day period in 1991 at the Cars-owned studio Synchro Sound. Lehane made a special deal with sound engineer Tom Hamilton that allowed him to record the EP on the cheap by going in after midnight. Lehane, who was between bands at the time, enlisted the services of several talented friends to play on his debut solo record. This included Charlie Chesterman (Scruffy the Cat, Harmony Rockets, the Motorbikes), Chris Doucette (The Galley Slaves, Witch Doctor, Hotbox), Danny Coughlin (Children of Paradise, Lazy Susan, Eric Martin & the Illyrians), Chris Erikson (Sacred Cows), Randall Gibson IV (Scruffy the Cat, The Flies, the Illyrians), Lance Hewitt (Timmys), and Scott Seiver (Ted Leo, Tenacious D, John Legend, Pete Yorn). It's just so cool to envision all of these amazing musicians gathering late at night to cut a record! At this point, you may be wondering why it took almost three decades for this EP to see the light of day. There does not appear to be a good answer to this question. Thankfully, Malibu Lou heard these songs and immediately wanted to release them. The original plan was for Lehane to record three brand-new songs with Ed Riemer and create a mash-up of old and new. But then came the pandemic, and all of that went out the window. So what we have here are five tracks out of the 1991 time capsule that really hold up. If you're expecting a Dogmatics feel, well there's certainly a little bit of that. You'll hear the guitars that open "Kiss My Tattoo" and instantly know who you're listening to. And the rocking and rolling "Fish" could easily pass for a lost Dogmatics track. But over the course of these five songs, Lehane covers a good deal of musical territory. "Kiss My Tattoo" is high energy garage rock, Boston style. "Runaway With You" is a Stonesy barroom ballad that Lehane's current label mate Tom Baker would be proud to have written. "All I Can Do" is twangy, aching, and reminiscent of the Replacements. 

Several of the songs on this EP, including the raging "Kiss My Tattoo", were written in the aftermath of a painful breakup. It has to be a little weird for Lehane, now happily married for over two decades, to hear these songs and relive that particular moment of his life. But in purging himself of some unpleasant memories, he created some remarkable music. And then there's the excellent "Feel Like Dying" - a song about a soldier heading off to the Gulf War. That might seem very specific to 1991, but the themes of the song are every bit as relevant and impactful today. It's amazing how a 29-year-old EP fits in so seamlessly with the rest of the music coming out on Rum Bar Records today. Then again, that kind of makes sense. There's a long list of current Rum Bar artists who would consider The Dogmatics and Jerry Lehane to be huge influences on their songwriting and musical style. Hopefully by next year, we'll hear those new solo tracks. Jerry Lehane is a national treasure! Be sure to check out this recent interview he did with Anngelle Wood!


Thursday, July 9, 2020

WhistleStop Rock - "Queen of the Drive​-​In"

The WhistleStop Rock Festival has spawned its own supergroup! WhistleStop Rock was created last year when nine of New England's top punk/power pop/rock and roll bands united to form a woman-empowered concert festival. The bands are The Chelsea Curve, Cold Expectations, Field Day, Heather Rose In Clover, Justine and The Unclean, Kid Gulliver, The Knock Ups, Linnea's Garden, and Tiger Bomb. The festival has also featured special guests such as Tanya Donelly, Joyce Raskin White, Seana Carmody, Lockette, and The Shang-Hi-Los. The WhistleStop hit several New England towns earlier this year. Even after the pandemic arrived, the festival has continued with virtual shows.

Recently the women of WhistleStop made the leap from playing shows together to making a record together! They were exchanging stories about good times they'd had at drive-in movies (hint: they were totally unrelated to the movie!). Justine Covault (Justine and The Unclean, Justine's Black Threads) thought that sounded like a great song idea. Within a day, Simone Berk (Kid Gulliver, Sugar Snow) and Linnea Herzog (Linnea's Garden, PowerSlut) had co-written the perfect summer pop song. And just like that, WhistleStop Rock was a band! Joining Berk (lead vocals) and Herzog (guitar) for the recording of "Queen of the Drive-In" were Covault on guitar, Linda Bean Pardee (The Chelsea Curve) on bass, Sandy Summers (Kid Gulliver) on drums, Heather Rose on stylophone and backing vocals, Lynda Mandolyn (Tiger Bomb, Crystal Canyon) on backing vocals, and JoEllen Saunders Yannis (Cold Expectations) on backing vocals. What a group!

"Queen of the Drive-In" is exactly the power pop/rock and roll smash you'd expect given the contributions of all these talented individuals. In the grand tradition of musical odes to the drive-in, this song is very, very naughty! Berk's lyrics are hot, hilarious, and totally fantastic. In the interest of keeping this blog PG rated, the only line I will quote is "What did we see? I'm not paying attention". Berk delivers a perfectly dirty-sweet vocal, and you will not hear a catchier song this summer. The single is already available from Bandcamp, but the women of WhistleStop Rock have something special planned for the official release of this single. Each performer on "Queen of the Drive-In" appears in a music video produced by Daniel Ouelette. The video will premiere tomorrow night as part of a virtual WhistleStop Rock show on Facebook. All of the WhistleStop bands will be performing, as will special guests A Bunch of Jerks and The Shang-Hi-Los. The show will be live tomorrow from 7:30-9:30 Eastern time. In the meantime, give "Queen of the Drive​-​In" a listen. And check out all the cool bands I've linked below!


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Autogramm - "Working Man"

Here's something fun for you today! Vancouver new wave trio Autogramm has released a cover of Rush's "Working Man", which the band recorded while all members were in pandemic lockdown. While "Working Man" is no doubt a Canadian rock classic, you might consider it an interesting choice for a synth-pop/power pop band. And that's the whole point! Autogramm transforms this legendary heavy rock tune into a catchy pop song with a Devo meets Gary Numan feel. There's nothing "ironic" about this cover choice. I sense that the band has genuine love for the original and wanted to put its own signature on it. Autogramm is releasing this song as the first single in advance of its sophomore album - due out next year on the Los Angeles label Nevado Music. All proceeds from the sales of this track are going to local non-profit RAVEN Trust (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), a legal fund that defends Indigenous rights in Canada. You can check out "Working Man" and the rest of Autogramm's catalog over at the trio's Bandcamp!


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Breaklights - "Second To None"

Wow, time really flies! As I sat down to review Breaklights' new 7", I was surprised to discover that it's been four years since I last wrote about this Austin, Texas based band. "Second To None", out now on Otitis Media Records, is actually the band's first 7" following a couple of EPs. On this release, Breaklights retain their signature sound rooted in '90s/early 2000s melodic punk and pop-punk. I like to call it "pop-punk for grown-ups": powerful, melody-driven music with mature lyrics and a nice mellow vibe. This release was produced by FILMAGE director Deedle LaCour, and it sounds amazing. Breaklights have always sounded to me like a punk band from the '90s that would have been on a major or bigger indie label. They fully embrace big hooks and a polished sound, but that punk edge is still there. "Second To None" pairs Charlie's warm vocals and heartfelt lyrics with punchy guitars and a soaring energy. Although this song does not even reach the three-and-a-half minute mark, it has a grand, anthemic feel to it. The band does something a little unconventional with the arrangement of the song towards the end. I won't spoil the surprise other than to say that I enjoyed this little twist. "Overdue" is the flip side (literally) to the feelgood vibe of "Second To None". With an opening line like "Hanging around someone like you/Is a real bad time for two", you know exactly what you're in for. This is an honest analysis of how things can go wrong between two individuals, and I think a lot of people will relate. Again, this is a perfect example of how pop-punk can sound fully "mature" and still pack a serious punch. This is a great-looking 7" and a top-notch pair of songs from Breaklights. If you missed the band's 12" EP Don't Try So Hard from 2018, that's really great as well and definitely work checking out!


Monday, July 6, 2020

Sweet Reaper - Closer Still

It seems like every time I turn around, Alien Snatch Records has released something new and awesome! Closer Still is the vinyl debut from Ventura, California trio Sweet Reaper. What we have here are 11 tracks of fuzzy garage pop that would be equally at home on the beach or at the cemetery. On the continuum of all things Alien Snatch, this band slides neatly between Radioactivity and the Hex Dispensers. Think catchy, lo-fi tunes that manage to be really upbeat and a little haunting at the same time. Sweet Reaper originated as the album Sweet Reaper by Seth Pettersen in 2015. That solo project soon turned into a proper band, and Closer Still is the second of the group's two full-length releases. It sounds like something that Dirtnap Records might have put out circa 2003, but with a little more of that modern-day Southern California flavor. You can call this a party record, but only if you're comfortable partying at a haunted house on the beach. Actually that sounds kind of awesome. Red vinyl is limited to 100 copies - you know what to do!