Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Watts - Seventeen

Alright! Watts, one of America's finest rock and roll bands, has released maybe its strongest single yet. And it's free! Written by singer/guitarist Dan Kopko, "Seventeen" is Side A of a brand-new digital single available from Rum Bar Records. It's a ripping dive bar rocker that ought to have you dancing in your PJs within seconds. It delivers just about everything you could want from a rock and roll song: a toe-tapping beat, hard bluesy riffs, a killer vocal from Dan, sizzling lead work, a sing-along chorus, and for good measure a whole lot of horns! Watts is definitely treading early '70s Stones territory here - familiar ground for the Boston foursome. And let me tell you: the band rocks out this track like there's no tomorrow! As you can always expect from a Danny the K production, the guitars and drums are absolutely thunderous. Alex Kopko's horns add a cool layer to the band's usual attack. I know horns in rock and roll can be hit or miss, but here they definitely hit. This song is such a scorcher that it just about leaves me breathless! On the B-side, "When The Party Ends" switches things up with a mellow, reflective vibe that again brings peak-era Stones to mind. Dan and guitarist John Blout wrote this one together. It's a true power ballad - showing the thoughtful side of Watts while still packing one hell of a punch. 

Although "Seventeen" is a digital single, I appreciate that it was designed like it was a vinyl record. Watts has given us a pair of songs that are meant to complement each other. You've got one song for the height of the party and another for the contemplative morning after. This record is a perfect example of why I love Watts. Of course these guys can play circles around just about anybody, but it's their ability to write amazing tunes that really sets them apart. Crank up your digital turntable and enjoy a classic rock and roll single like hardly anybody makes anymore. All you need is a Watts poster for your wall!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Impulse Items - self titled

Perhaps the only silver lining in the world having gone to complete shit has been the recent explosion of digital music. For example, I love the idea that a defunct band from Atlantic Canada can throw an unmixed EP from six years ago up on Bandcamp and absolutely knock my brains out! Moncton-based Impulse Items roamed the filth-strewn Dead Boys/Germs side of the '77 punk tracks, but with a ferocity bordering on hardcore and a sense of humor that can only be described as rather unique. You see a song title like "I'm A Punk Masturbator" and can quickly deduce that it has to be the worst song ever or the absolute greatest. Somehow it manages to be both at the same time. So many punk vocalists do their best to channel the mad genius of Iggy, Darby, etc. and inevitably fall short. But this guy Danny was the real deal - at least in respect to the "mad" part! These six tracks are as raw and crazy as it gets....and awesome in every way. I like that the lyrics have been published, which enables you to go from "What the fuck?!" to "That's goddamn brilliant!" in a matter of moments. You could have waited for Killed By Death #174 to hear these songs, but modern technology and good fortune have collided and bestowed this glorious noise upon us. This band made the Reatards sound like Coldplay. And yeah, that's Emily from Phone Jerks on drums. Someone demand a reunion!


Monday, April 6, 2020

Eastie Ro!s - The Peel Sessions

Today I've got something really cool for you out of Berlin! Eastie Ro!s have been around for over a decade now. They've released four albums since 2014 and now present an EP/mini-album called The Peel Sessions. If you're familiar with the existing Eastie Ro!s catalog or not, you ought to enjoy this six-song release. This band plays a straight-forward style of punk rock that brings to mind both the classic bands of the genre and the more recent wave of moodier "modern" punk. The lyrics, as always, are sung in the band's native tongue. But while I have no idea what they're singing about, I'm totally digging these songs. They're punchy and catchy with a dark undercurrent at times. I love that guitar tone and prominent bass. Daniel Husayn was on board for mixing and mastering, and he did a bang-up job of highlighting the band's musical nuances. The pace of the songs has been slowed down considerably from the band's earlier releases, so overall this probably constitutes a more "mature" work. Yet the growing sophistication of Eastie Ro!s' attack does not diminish its power. If the language barrier has kept you from giving this band a shot, I would highly recommend digging into past long players like Achtung Stress! and Scheissegang. This is German punk rock at its finest!  


Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Chats - High Risk Behaviour

Well here it is! The Chats full-length that you've either been eagerly awaiting or completely dreading for the past three years is finally out! Given The Chats' legion of famous fans and multitude of champions in the mainstream press, it was inevitable that this band would polarize the punk rock faithful. But you can put me on the side of the fence that believes these guys are brilliant. And even with their ever-growing popularity, it's not like The Chats have "sold out". High Risk Behaviour doesn't alter the approach of the band's first two EPs one bit. What we've got here are 14 tracks of wonderfully dumb teenage punk rock songs written by actual teenagers. Eamon, Matt, and Pricey are still those same goofy kids who retreated to the shed in 2016 with minimal instrumental prowess and banged out the instant classic "Mum Stole My Darts". Perhaps they've advanced a little in musical skill, but their m.o. remains simple, snotty songs about being young and getting into all sorts of trouble. The Chats' penchant for funny storytelling has turned out to be a double-edged sword - their detractors will look at the low-brow humor of their music videos and write them off as a one-note "joke band". But High Risk Behaviour demonstrates that these not-so-serious lads have some seriously good tunes. Musically, there's a refreshing lack of any conscious attention to genre. Is this '77-style punk? Hardcore punk? Oi!? Garage punk? It's a little bit of all of that - which basically makes it just punk rock, right? Even if you're not amused by songs about drinking heavily, contracting STDs, getting tossed out of public establishments, stealing food, mouthing off to authority figures, and dealing with the unfortunate repercussions of buying drugs over the Internet, it's hard to deny that The Chats are just being their authentic selves. I can't help but admire a band that can approach the topics of gun control and pub food cravings with equal vehemence.

Perhaps in four or five years, we'll expect some growth and originality out of The Chats. But for now, those things are unneeded and perhaps even unwanted. We ought to just enjoy a band that excels at creating (in Eamon's words) "songs for people to jump around and have fun to". And if that is the standard they're aspiring to, they've hit it bang-on. High Risk Behaviour is every bit the album I hoped it would be based on The Chats' prior output. It's a fucking great punk rock record, which is precisely what I need at the moment. I'm still waiting for Mick Fletcher to shout his impressions of High Risk Behaviour from the mountaintop, but I've got a feeling he's going to be firmly in my corner. The talent it requires to make music this stupid is highly underestimated. Know it, people: The Chats ain't no joke!


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sex Dream - Candle On My Skin

If you've noticed me writing about pop-punk bands a little more than usual, well what can I say? There's been a whole lot of great pop-punk coming out lately! Sex Dream is a case in point. Based out of the Chicago suburbs and featuring Maria from Surfinbird on vocals, Sex Dream has released a debut EP/mini album that takes some perfectly-executed Ramones worship and mixes in a Muffs influence and an all-encompassing love for cats. This is the band I've been waiting for all my life! Candle On My Skin comes in at seven catchy tracks, with no songs hitting three minutes until the wonderfully melancholic "Madness Girlfriend" exceeds it by a full 15 seconds. This is a great-sounding pop-punk record. The production is nice and slick in a way that doesn't detract from the heavy punch of the guitars. Maria Surfinbird is a very appealing vocalist - exuding energy and charm but also capable of great tenderness when a song requires it. You can just tell how much fun this band is having playing this kind of music. And that spirit pervades this entire record. You can talk all you want about how Ramones-inspired punk has "been done to death". But then you'll hear the likes of Sex Dream and find yourself wishing for a thousand more bands just like this. If you aren't completely delighted by the idea of punked-up Britney Spears covers and Meow Mix jingles, I have to question if we can even be friends.


Friday, April 3, 2020

Johnny Jetson - Make Your Move

Johnny Jetson is a glam rock lifer whose musical career has spanned several decades and taken him from New York City to L.A. to Minneapolis. He was in Space Age Playboys back in the '90s, Tattooed Millionaires in the 2000s, and now plays in the Speed City Vipers. He's released a terrific new solo record called Make Your Move - which is available now in digital form from Minnie-Apple Records. What I love about this record is that it captures the essence of Johnny Jetson. It's an over-the-top and fully unapologetic glam rock and roll record - rooted in a great love for everyone from the New York Dolls to T. Rex to Alice Cooper to KISS to Cheap Trick to the bad boys of the Sunset Strip. As '90s/2000s mainstream rock moved away from the hooky tunes and dumb fun of the rock and roll of yore, Johnny Jetson remained a true believer in the old ways. And he's still at it today! The man's on a mission, and it's no accident that the phrases "rock" and "rock and roll" are invoked on several of these song titles. Johnny Jetson is still keeping the faith for real rock and roll like you used to hear on the radio in the '70s and '80s. "Love Me For My Car" rides a timeless Marc Bolan groove straight into that head space where only the catchiest tunes latch onto you. "Hang Around With You" has the bluster of sleaze rock and the heart of pure pop. I heard the opening riffs to "Miss Devious" and half-expected Joan Jett to start singing. "I Believe In Rock And Roll" is a full-on mission statement. If it comes off corny, I would say that's an entirely good thing. Sometimes rock and roll is the only thing we have to believe in, and it never lets us down.

Johnny Jetson is no way inclined to "adapt" for modern times. He's gonna play his kind of music until the day he dies, and he's gonna do it with style and unceasing enthusiasm. From the quintessential hard rock trash of "Knocked Out" to the bubblegum glam of the title track, Make Your Move is all about big guitars, big hooks, and lyrics that unflinchingly embrace the silly cliches and tongue-in-cheek sleaziness that once made rock so great. It seems to me that a song called "Mouth Made For Rock N Roll" is precisely what the world needs at the moment. But while the attitude is commendable, Jetson's talent for writing catchy, hard-rocking tunes of considerable quality should not be overlooked. This album makes me wanna grow out my hair, stay up past my bedtime, and play my records so loud that the neighbors want to fight me. What am I waiting for?!


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pale Lips - "The Kids" video

Today's post will be short and sweet. Pale Lips have made a music video for their track "The Kids"  - the second single off of their super fantastic album After Dark. The video (directed by Lynn Poulin) premiered today, and it's awesome! If you're already a fan, you'll get a real kick out of this vid. If you're not yet a fan, well then get yourself over to Bandcamp and buy everything Pale Lips have ever released! Ain't rock and roll the best?!