Friday, December 04, 2020
Every year I make my most conscious effort to not over-do my Christmas related posts out of consideration for those of you who aren't into Christmas music (or into Christmas at all). I figure 1 or 2 reviews is alright, and 3 is pushing it. I already hit my quota before Thanksgiving, but the arrival of a new Christmas single from Vista Blue was a total game-changer. I will never pass up the chance to write about Vista Blue. Plus I owe this to Mike since I jinxed LSU's football season. Quotas be damned! Heck, I just might turn this blog into an international hub for holiday-themed music. You know Groundhog Day is right around the corner! "Nobody Told Me It Was Christmas" is a really neat Christmas song. Written by Rusty Spell, this is not your usual overtly cheerful salute to the season. Depending on how you interpret it, this song could be construed as either funny/ironic or slightly sad. It's hard to really tell since Mike always sings with such complete sincerity. In typical Vista Blue fashion, this song features memorable lyrics (good job, Rusty!) and melodies that will get in your head before you even know what hit you. The B-side, "I Don't Wanna Go Anywhere This Christmas", just might be the definitive Christmas song of 2020. Don't let the title fool you into thinking that Vista Blue are getting Scroogey on us. This song is very much in the spirit of the season - but with an emphasis on celebrating at home with our loved ones. Ditching the office Christmas party so you can watch Home Alone with your sweetheart is an absolute no-brainer! I especially like the line about extending this practice all the way through New Year's. I believe I've found my personal anthem! This single is a free download from Bandcamp. And if you just still get enough Christmas from Vista Blue, check out the band's new Christmas collection on Spotify!
Ghetto Blasters are a band that put the rock and roll in punk rock and roll! This Chattanooga, Tennessee based foursome has just released a new 7" (its second) on its own label, Mondo Trasho Records. These guys have toured as Frank Secich's backing band, and they're also pretty great in their own right! You may know guitarist Buddha from his long and distinguished career playing in bands such as Chickenhead, Stun Guns, and Los Canadians. Justin Savage, his bandmate in Fast Boys (MIA), is on guitar and vocals. Man, that dude can belt it! Point Blank, the new record, manages to combine the grit and fury of early American punk with the thunder and strut of '70s arena rock. These three tracks possess a tremendous energy, and that guitar tone is totally bad-ass! All at once, my fondness for the Dictators, Dead Boys, and AC/DC is fully engaged. The title track locks into a tough mid-tempo groove, while "Youngblood" and "Let It Rock" rip harder and faster with zero excess. This is basically '70s rock and roll with all of the fat trimmed off. The American south has long been an overlooked stronghold of garage punk, and Ghetto Blasters are yet another example.
Now this is how you start off a month in style! Indonesian Junk is back with its first new material in over a year, a brand-new digital single on Rum Bar Records called "Type of Girl". It's also the band's first release featuring Adam Turetzky on rhythm guitar. This is a vintage IndoJunk track: a classic three-minute pop song that will leave the power poppers and glam punkers equally satisfied. As always, Daniel James sounds like the spirits of Joey Ramone and Stiv Bators are co-residing within him. "Type of Girl" has the feel of a song that could have been a radio hit circa 1980. It's got hooks galore, and that guitar solo is nothing short of glorious! If you're brokenhearted or just like songs for the brokenhearted, this will be music to your ears. New album coming soon!-L.R.
Sunday, November 29, 2020
When I heard that Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men were releasing an original Christmas song on JEM Records, I knew we were all in for a treat. Any song featuring Nick Piunti is music to my ears! Sure enough, "Christmas Morning" instantly gets added to my list of annual holiday favorites. Having spent several months inactive due to the pandemic, Piunti and the Complicated Men reassembled at Big Sky Recording in Ann Arbor back in October and laid down this delightful track with their go-to producer Geoff Michael. It's a bright, melody-driven rocker that brings the holiday cheer in under three minutes. Piunti, as always, delivers a warm vocal and melody in abundance. The Complicated Men (Jeff Hupp on bass, Ron Vensko on drums, and Kevin Darnall on piano and glockenspiel) kind of channel the E Street Band on this cheerful little ditty. I'm generally a fan of Christmas music, but this song in particular really hits the spot for me. It's got the holiday sentiment this sort of song requires, but not in a super sappy way. It's a well-crafted pop song first and Christmas song second, which is exactly the way it ought to be. If you've yet to purchase the band's recent album Downtime, you are missing out on one of the year's best long players. And if you're already a huge Nick Piunti fan, "Christmas Morning" will not disappoint!
Friday, November 27, 2020
At a moment in our lives when we're wildly desperate for normalcy, The Cavemen have come through for us bigtime. Is there anything left to believe in if The Cavemen aren't clubbing us in the skull with some violent and utterly repugnant rock and roll? "Euthanise Me," out today on Slovenly Recordings, is the latest EP from these world infamous savages. They come out swinging on the title track, bringing the fury and aggression as Paul Caveman screams his guts out. Now there's a lead singer who's committed. Or perhaps he just needs to be committed? Only The Cavemen could broach the subject of euthanasia as a means to ease into far less comfortable topics. But sure enough, "Eat Your Heart & Wear Your Face" really ups the ante. It's fast and mean. But in a totally perverse way, it makes me want to dance. I love the old school punk feel of this track. If you're going to wax poetic about murder and cannibalism, you sure ought to make it catchy! "Nightmare" is equally fierce and infectious - the perfect primer for activities ranging from illicit sex to binge drinking to the commission of felonies (or perhaps all three if you're a multi-tasker). "Over You" is a damn fine love song. But it's such a bitter, miserable love song that it's more like a hate song. If you like your hooky punk super tough or your tough punk with hooks, this one will leave you fully satisfied. The Cavemen have given us a vintage Cavemen release, and this is exactly what we all needed. It's a sign that a shit year is coming to an end and that rock and roll will deliver us back to the light. You are more than encouraged to crank this EP loudly enough to terrify your neighbors and nemeses. Just make sure to courteously remain at least six away.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
If it seems like I've reviewed Beebe Gallini's "East Side Story" before, well that's because I have. "East Side Story" was originally released as a 7" record on Ramo Records back in March of 2018. It was the vinyl debut from Twin Cities garage rockers Beebe Gallini. The band at the time consisted of Miss Georgia Peach on vocals & guitar, Travis Ramin on lead guitar, Amy Larson Pearson on bass, and Chris Audette on drums. Miss Georgia Peach and Travis Ramin also make up two-thirds of the mighty Short Fuses - who recently teamed up with Rum Bar Records to release the must-have long player Dawn of the Deaf. Now through a partnership between Ramo Records and Rum Bar Records, "East Side Story" is getting a deluxe digital reissue that expands it from two songs to five!
The title track, of course, is a cover of a song that was a regional hit for Bob Seger back in 1966. The vinyl B-side here, "The River Flows", was written by Amy Larson Pearson and is the only original song on this release. I once referred to this song as a "psychedelic spiritual", and I will happily stick with that description. It still gives me chills. The "bonus material" here consists of killer cover versions of lesser known later '60s garage rock sides. "Open Up Your Door" was originally recorded by New Jersey based Richard and the Young Lions in 1966. "Hipsville 29 BC (I Need Help)" was a minor hit for Texas garage band The Sparkles in 1967. "Nobody Loves the Hulk" was written by Roz Rogoff and recorded by The Traits in 1969. Beebe Gallini's version was recorded in 2018 as a tribute to Stan Lee and a celebration of the original song's message of empathy and acceptance.
In my mind, I like to think of Beebe Gallini as America's premier cold weather garage rock party band. I picture them playing to packed crowds at ski lodges, ice skating rinks, and winter festivals as fans dance the night away and double fist hot chocolate. Sadly, there will be no Beebe Gallini live shows anytime soon. But you can still get in the spirit by downloading this EP, donning your best winter hat, and having your own private cold weather fest. "The River Flows" is amazing, and all of the covers are as crackling as the Midwest winter wind. If you're a garage rock fan, you need some Beebe Gallini in your life!
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
It's hard to believe it was only nine months ago that Melbourne-based Romero burst upon the power pop scene with its stunning debut single "Honey". February 2020 now seems like a lifetime ago. Oh, how innocent we all were! While the world has changed drastically in the intervening months, one thing that's remained constant is Romero's flair for perfect three-to-four minute pop singles. The band offers up new single "Troublemaker" as some relief from the despair and struggle of this wretched year - a "record to sing along to even when the shower runs cold". Romero again proves to be the quintessential guitar pop band while sounding utterly unlike any other guitar pop band you could name. This is music that taps into the angst of the moment and somehow harnesses it into something sublime and joyful. No matter how bad things get, a Romero single always delivers a moment where there's a reason to hope and an occasion to dance. Proceeds from digital sales of "Troublemaker" will be donated to Pay The Rent.