Friday, April 09, 2021

The Missile Studs - With Love From The Missile Studs

Well I've got myself a new favorite album of 2021! The Missile Studs, representing as always for Shitsville, South Australia, have unleashed a firecracker of an LP that you're sure to enjoy if you're as obsessed with U.K. '77 punk rock as I am. With Love From The Missile Studs contains nine tracks -- a few of which will be familiar to you if you bought the band's split LP with Thee Evil Twin last year (and if you didn't, what's the matter with you?). This, my friends, is what punk rock ought to be: simple, snotty, and so stupid that it's brilliant. No song exceeds two-and-a-half minutes, and no fourth chord is required at any point. The album is bookended by two different versions of "Missile Studs Theme" -- which by all rights should be Australia's national anthem. In between are songs with titles like "Brain Damaged", "Sooo Useless", and "Kill Me Pills". I'm sure you get the picture. If Sex Pistols/Clash/early Damned is your sweet spot for punk music, The Missile Studs are the band for you. They even do a killer version of the Buzzcocks' classic "Boredom"! Whether you're swilling pints of beer, pogoing around the house, or flipping off anyone within your sights, With Love is the soundtrack to a swell time. It officially releases on vinyl next month on Dirtyflair Record Company, Stamp Out Disco, and No Front Teeth Records. But you can preorder and/or download today! 

Monday, April 05, 2021

Civic - Future Forecast


Oh boy, Australian punk music continues to be absolutely on fire! It would be hard to identify just one band at the top of the current crop of killer Aussie punk groups. But you could sure make a very strong case for Melbourne-based Civic -- who have finally unleashed a debut full-length album after knocking us senseless with a handful of great EPs and singles. Out on Flightless Records, Future Forecast builds on Civic's scorching proto punk/rock and roll output of recent years. The band's attack remains as aggressive and hard-hitting as ever, yet it adds new layers of complexity and stylistic variety. Much like another fantastic Melbourne punk band Stiff Richards, Civic has utilized the long playing format to take a massive step forward. No doubt, the influence of The Saints and Stooges still rears its beautiful head. But on Future Forecast, Civic sounds like a band that has fully come into its own and is poised to define what punk rock ought to be in the 2020s. On fierce cuts like "Another Day", "Hollywood Nights in Hamburg", and the ripping opener "Radiant Eye", the band rages at full force and smashes anything in its path. Elsewhere, the foursome eases back on the tempo (but not on the power) on more sophisticated slow-burners such as "As Seen On TV", "Tell the Papers", and epic closer "Come To Know". Along the way, the band also flirts with hardcore ("Just A Fix"), strange post-punk ("Sunday Best"), and old school noise rock ("Shake Like Death"). Put it all together, and you've got yourself a brilliant punk rock album. Of course it has roots in classic Aussie punk, but this is no rehash of old standards. Civic has got its own thing going on, and we ought to just turn up the volume and enjoy it!

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Ryan Allen - Digital Hiss

It's almost guaranteed to be a good sign when an email from a musician begins with "I know I'm a complete nutcase and can't stop releasing stuff!" Well, Ryan Allen is no nutcase. But it's true that he can't stop releasing music. And if I were as talented as Ryan Allen, I too would release music as frequently as possible! Digital Hiss is Allen's ninth release in the last ten months (yeah, really!), and the concept is based on a 4-track recorder he received for Christmas one year as a teenager. He never actually recorded songs on that 4-track (it got loaned to a friend and eventually went missing). But if he had, they likely would have sounded quite a bit like the songs on Digital Hiss. Allen mentions Eric's Trip and Sebadoh as specific influences on this release. More broadly, I'd describe this album as loud, fuzzy, lo-fi indie rock. Unbelievably, the entire EP was written, recorded, and mixed in a single day. Now that's what I call DIY! But just because it's DIY and lo-fi doesn't mean that it's just noise. Allen's knack for loud, simple pop songs of the highest quality is on full display here. I'm reminded of my own roots in underground music -- which was listening to college radio in the early '90s. Honestly, most of these tracks sound like they could be Extra Arms songs if they were worked out with a full band and more fully produced. But the whole point of this project was to replicate the ear-battering majesty of the fuzzed-out indie rock of yore. Mission accomplished! It blows my mind that Allen was inspired enough to write and record all of this material in a single day. This is really great stuff. I'm all for crafting a song over weeks or months if that's what it takes. But there's also something super cool about having that wild burst of creativity and getting everything down on tape while the inspiration is fresh in your mind. It's clear that Ryan Allen has been a remarkably prolific recording artist over the past year. But he's not just been putting out a ton of music --- he's been putting out a ton of really good music! Digital Hiss is very much up to his usual standards and highly recommended to any fan of noisy pop!

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Linnea's Garden - Nowhere Friday Nights


Nowhere Friday Nights, the extraordinary debut EP from Linnea's Garden, is a release I would recommend to anyone who loves the kind of music I write about -- or any kind of music at all! The Boston-based band is fronted by Linnea Herzog, formerly of PowerSlut. Out on Red On Red Records, Nowhere Friday Nights will hit the sweet spot for all of you who like your punk rock and power pop. But it also incorporates influences ranging from glam rock to '60s girl groups to new wave to '90s indie/alternative. Herzog, as a singer and songwriter, is a unique and immensely likable talent. She writes smart, funny, and relatable songs with crazy good hooks. What could be better than that? "Non-Dramatic Breakup Song" lives up to its title and is that very rare feelgood breakup song. The words "It makes me want to dance!" are very rarely written about breakup songs, but I would use those exact words to describe this one! "Friday Night" is a triumphant anthem for anyone who turned to music for salvation when COVID threw us all into isolation last year (the lines "Turn up the speaker/And sing like you mean it/You've still got the notes in your hands" give me the feels!). "Science and You" is a wonderful little love song that condenses the joy of sharing a life with someone into a few perfect verses of lyrics. "Replacement" is about being stuck in the middle when two friends break up -- and doing your very best to dispense good advice. "Glitter" is a sex-positive rocker that's vintage Linnea Herzog. 

Nowhere Friday Nights was recorded with Herzog's "quarantine pod" of Hands O'd and Tom O'Donnell (who both played drums and bass). Linnea's Garden's current lineup is Herzog on guitar/lead vocals, Amy Galaviz on bass/backing vocals, and Hands O'd on drums. The only bad thing I can say about Nowhere Friday Nights is that it leaves me wanting more. And I suppose that's not a bad thing to say at all! If you, like me, still can't get enough of this band, be sure to check out the excellent digital singles "Superspreader", "Like the Patriarchy", and "I Wanna Try on Yr Clothes" on Bandcamp. Red On Red keeps on delivering the hits! 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Rich Ragany And The Digressions - "Heartbreakers Don't Try"

Rich Ragany is no stranger to this blog. I have reviewed four of his albums -- three that he made with his band Role Models as well as his brilliant solo debut ...Like We'll Never Make It. I even interviewed him back in 2018. In my book, Rich Ragany is one of the finest songwriters in all of rock and roll. As Ragany began working on solo endeavors a few years back, he collaborated with a number of talented friends of his. So strong was his connection with all of these players that they ended up becoming his full-time band The Digressions. The full band is Ragany on vocals and guitar, Kit Swing (Mallory Knox, Seven Days and Doesn't Die) on vocals and guitar, Gaff (Glitterati and Dedwardians) on lead guitar, Ricky McGuire (UK Subs, The Men They Couldn't Hang) on bass, Simon Maxwell (Role Models, The Loyalties) on drums, and longtime Role Models producer Andy Brook on keyboards. While it has been a number of years since ...Like We'll Never Make It came out, we can look forward to a new album from Rich Ragany And The Digressions coming soon. While we wait, we can now enjoy the band's brand-new single "Heartbreakers Don't Try". It's a tune that's very serious and totally uplifting all at the same time. Ragany describes it as a song "about the fight you can have with depression... and that great feeling of just standing up and taking on the day, week, or challenge." Ragany has written some absolute gems over the years, and this one is up there with the best of 'em. That hook is classic Rich Rags, and the lyrics absolutely knock me out. Brook on keyboards and Swing on backing vocals turn in stunning performances that push this track to a whole other level. This, to me, is song of the year for 2021 so far! Be on the lookout for a full album arriving this summer. In the meantime, don't miss "Heartbreakers Don't Try". And be sure to grab ...Like We'll Never Make It if you haven't already!

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Vista Blue - Stealing Signs

You see the cover art and the title. You see the name of the band. I know what you're thinking: Vista Blue released a baseball song for opening day again? Well guess what -- Mike threw that speedball by you! You were expecting something about the Houston Astros maybe, but you got...a love song! Isn't that what you wanted in the first place? "Stealing Signs" is the title cut from Vista Blue's new EP -- which Mike and Mark recorded in Nashville this past winter. It's a vintage Vista Blue blast of power pop influenced pop-punk (or maybe vice versa). The melodies are memorable, the harmonies are on-point, and the baseball metaphor is a brilliant touch. And I always love a pop group that appreciates the value of a nicely executed fadeout ending. Vista Blue knocked this one out of the park! The rest of the EP is a nice hodgepodge of new songs, cover tunes, and previously released songs. "She's Not the One For You", which first appeared on the Ramonescore Radio Records Rock Against Cancer compilation, is some buzzing pop-punk to get your toes tapping. You could probably make an argument that this song is the "hit" of the EP, although I'm still partial to "Stealing Signs". I will ask Nick Spoon for a ruling. "Bryan Funck Ripped Us Off" is a new version of an old Robinsons song. "Saturday Night" was recorded for a Mutant Pop Records tribute album coming soon on Ramonescore Radio Records. I love the cover choice, and I love the version (early Wanna-Bes had to have been an influence on Mike's songwriting). The original number "I Miss You" is 83 seconds of perfect pop-punk. As everyone east or west of the Rockies knows, "Safari" was originally done by Parasite Diet on its 2017 album Coast To Coast

It never really feels like Major League Baseball opening day if it's not accompanied by a new EP from Vista Blue. And while there are technically no songs about baseball on Stealing Signs, it still feels good to have this EP on repeat today as I enter the realm of despair, disappointment, and dashed hopes that is another Philadelphia Phillies season. I always feel like I'm being unfaithful to pop-punk Vista Blue when I so heavily praise the band's more power pop leaning releases. Well on this release, the band is definitely flexing its pop-punk chops -- and I love it!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Reducers - Live: New York City 2005

The Reducers are a must-hear band for any follower of this blog. Just as punk music was shifting in the hardcore direction in the early to mid '80s, The Reducers were fully embracing old style punk rock with roots in pub rock and roll. In the '90s and 2000s, The Reducers fit right in with the burgeoning garage punk movement and the newer generations of traditional punk rock bands. The joke about The Reducers was that they were the best band you'd never heard. Except in our world, they were heard by plenty! The group existed for nearly 35 years with one constant lineup: Hugh Birdsall and Peter Detmold on vocals and guitar, Steve Kaika on vocals and bass, and Tom Trombley on drums. The Reducers LIVE: NEW YORK CITY 2005, originally released as a New Year's treat for fans, is now getting a proper digital release on Rave On Records. The album captures The Reducers' live performance at Arlene's Grocery in New York City from June 4, 2005. Longtime fans will definitely enjoy this set -- which features songs from all of the band's LPs along with some non-album tracks and a few choice cover selections. And if you're not yet familiar with The Reducers, this album would be a perfectly good place to start. It captures a vintage Reducers performance. There's very little fooling around or idle banter -- just great high-energy rock and roll delivered by a tight band in top form. The band knocks out 16 songs in 47 minutes, and the quality of this soundboard recording is top-notch. The material runs the gamut from the early classics ("Let's Go", "Out of Step", "Bums I Used To Know") to more recent favorites ("Nothing Cool", "I Don't Mind"). And the cover choices (The Boys, Chris Spedding, Rolling Stones, Teengenerate) give you a great feel for the variety of musical influences that informed The Reducers. If you like what you hear, you should definitely check out all of the other Reducers releases available from Rave On Records. In particular, the best-of collection Redux is essential listening for any fan of old school punk and pub rock. The Reducers LIVE: NEW YORK CITY 2005 is indeed a treat for old fans -- and an opportunity for new fans to become acquainted with one of the best bands ever!