Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New tune from Bullet Proof Lovers!

So the blog has been pretty quiet lately due to me being consumed by summer courses at school. I ought to be back to more regular posting by early August. In the meantime, here's a killer track for you to check out! I first reported on San Sebastián, Spain's Bullet Proof Lovers last summer. These guys do THE BEST mix of power pop and hook-laden arena rock, and they're sounding better than ever on this new tune. Yes, that's the great Kurt Baker on lead vocals...backed by Luiyi Costa (Txorlitohead, Lolas Club), Joseba Arza (Brigada Criminal, Señor No, Ladislao), Gonzalo Ibañez (Nuevo Catecismo Católico, La Perrera), and Juan Irazu (Discipulos de Dionisos, Gran Yate Especial). "I Am My Radio" is a teaser for the band's forthcoming LP Shot Through The Heart - which will be a joint release between Rum Bar Records and Spain's Ghost Highway Recordings. If this song is any indication of what to expect from the album, it's gonna be hot! Fans of loud guitars, huge hooks, and the unmistakable voice of Kurt Baker ought to press play and enjoy!


Friday, July 22, 2016

New Lovesores 10-inch!

How do they do it?! The Lovesores, the reigning kings of full-fury punk rock n' roll, keep blowing me away with every new record they make. It's got to be hard to start at such a high level yet somehow find a way to continually raise the bar. But we are talking about a true force of nature! Rock and Roll Animal, the band's sixth release to date, is easily the best thing it's turned out yet.

Out today on Germany's Hound Gawd! Records, Rock and Roll Animal is already the third 10-inch record in The Lovesores' discography. Clearly they love this format, and with good reason! A ten-inch gives you a little more than a 7-inch - but with the same all-killer, no-filler quality standard. Hell, "all-killer, no-filler" might as well be The Lovesores' motto! I've never heard a sub-par track from this band, and this time they've come through with four more songs that could have been formidable singles in their own right. Scott "Deluxe" Drake - already a hall of fame punk howler - has never sounded better. Saul Koll and Thee Adam Kattau have quickly blossomed into one of the hottest guitar tandems out there - a true modern day Thunders/Sylvain or Kramer/Smith. Boz Bennes and Alex Fast make up the kind of rock solid rhythm section that's the backbone of any truly great rock n' roll band. Stylistically, there are no surprises here. This is The Lovesores doing what they do best: filthy and ferocious '70s punk sleaze forged from the fire of the original era of rock n' roll. Drake brings it on lead vocals with a conviction and urgency that put men half his age to shame. And who wouldn't be excited to sing rock n' roll songs with a band this electrifying backing him?! Simply put, Rock and Roll Animal kicks all kinds of ass! The title track is the perfect way to start off the EP - bringing New York Dolls inspired trashy goodness that's impossible to resist. It's got a great sing-along chorus, and that lead guitar work just smokes! If you're craving something harder and meaner, "The Erotic Adventures of Coca-Cola Jones" is a fast and furious shot of fireball rock n' roll that's over before you even know what hit you. "This Wicked World" is a '77 style head-bobber that showcases Koll and Kattau as a dual guitar force to be reckoned with. And to finish, "When The Lights Go Out" is what you might call "vintage" Scott Drake - a sleazy mid-tempo number bridging the gap between the degenerate ferocity of the Dead Boys and the Rolling Stones at their grittiest. What's not to love?!

If you're a Lovesores fan, this latest slab of vinyl is everything you're hoping for and then some. And if you're not a Lovesores fan, then what in the hell is wrong with you?! Order Rock and Roll Animal on blue or black vinyl from the Hound Gawd shop!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dark Thoughts: the debut album!

In what is quickly turning into another banner year for punk rock albums, Philadelphia's Dark Thoughts have possibly delivered the best of the lot so far. The band's self-titled LP is pretty close to flawless - proof that it is possible to play Ramones inspired punk rock that doesn't sound like all the other Ramones inspired punk rock that's out there. I can't quite put my finger on what makes this band so different from countless like-minded acts. All I know is that I was totally hooked within the first 15 seconds of the album, and I had a smile on my face the whole way to the end. This band just has it, ya know? With 10 of 12 tracks coming in under two minutes and the band making minimal use of chords, you could easily be misled into thinking you've heard this album thousands of times before. But actually, you haven't. Dark Thoughts, while wearing a Ramones influence like a badge of honor, find a way to put a great deal of themselves into the formula. They take a familiar style of music and genuinely pump new life into it! A lot of it comes down to really strong vocals and flat-out fantastic songs. I would recommend this release not just to Ramones fans but to anyone who's into more recent garage/punk/powerpop stuff like Marked Men and The Hex Dispensers. What a great freaking record!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Meet Breaklights!

Back in the 2000s, I was a big fan of a wonderful pop-punk band out of Texas called Joe Jitsu. It has probably been close to ten years (maybe more!) since the last time I reviewed Joe Jitsu, and I'm pleased as punch that the band's lead singer Charlie and drummer Tron are still going strong in the punk world. After Joe Jitsu disbanded, Charlie and Tron formed Closet Drama - which leaned more in an indie power pop direction. And now they're in Breaklights - a band that shares three members with Closet Drama. Based out of Austin, Breaklights originally formed in 2012 but never really got going as a band until January of this year. They've just released a fine debut EP called Instructed To Fail which was recorded at Hanson's private studio in Tulsa with the great Stephen Egerton producing.

I think the obvious difference between Closet Drama and Breaklights is that the latter are a proper return to Charlie and Tron's punk roots. The main songwriting inspiration here is '90s punk rock. I'm reminded so much of what they used to call "post-hardcore" or "melodicore" or "emocore" back in the day. But in 2016, I think it's better just to say that Breaklights play pop-punk for adults. The songs are melody-driven for sure, but there's a real sophistication to the way that they're written. And this isn't a band that feels compelled to play at light speed. Of course you're getting a polished sound with Egerton producing - and those dense, crunching guitars really suit this band. With his warm and engaging vocal presence, Charlie is the rare singer that can exude sincerity without coming across as a total sap. As soon as the vocals came in, it was like I was hanging out with an old friend. These four songs have a nice mellowed-out vibe to them - along with strong hooks and plenty of guitar wallop. Somehow "Fakeout" and "Drag Me Down" take me straight back to 1995 yet still sound very much "right now". That says an awful lot about the staying power and continuing relevance of pop-punk. "Mainstay" and "Attached To You" almost cross over into power pop - finding a perfect middle ground Joe Jitsu and Closet Drama.

All in all, this is quite an impressive debut EP for a band that's just six months removed from its first practice. I've been listening to it in my car for a few weeks now, and I just don't tire of it! If you had told me in 2005 that Charlie and Tron would still be playing punk music in 2016, I would have hoped it was going to sound like this. I'm excited to hear more!


Thursday, July 07, 2016

New EP from The Antidon'ts!

When it comes to hardcore punk, I'm all about the old school stuff. And so the latest EP from The Antidon'ts is totally up my alley. This trio from Port Charlotte, Florida rips it up like the early '80s never ended - tearing through fast, snotty tunes that will have you pumped to grab your skateboard or jump in a circle pit. Bringing to mind the likes of the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, early Black Flag, and Milo Goes To College era Descendents, Ate My Pizza! delivers eight furious shots of hardcore surf punk adrenaline. Tracks like "Optimistic Loser" and "Banned In PC" bring the '82-style hardcore just the way I like it. "I Bet He Pushes Mongo" and "(You're) Goin' in the Grinder" find The Antidon'ts living up to their billing as the "heaviest surf punk trio in Florida". And for something different, "A Little Mad Sometimes" brilliantly lays an instrumental track over dialogue from the movie Psycho.

For their third release, The Antidon'ts have come through with a totally killer EP. And in the spirit of the classic bands they emulate, these guys understand that even the most raging punk music ought to be great fun above all else. When it's done well (as is the case here), this kind of music is truly timeless. Play these songs loud and piss some people off!


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Another great Fashionism single!

If you'd ask me for a short list of my favorite bands out there right now, Fashionism is definitely in the conversation. And with this Vancouver outfit having just delivered another knockout release, I should probably be talking much less about what other groups its members have played in (Tranzmitors, The Jolts, New Town Animals) and much more about this crazy run of top-notch singles! Without hesitation, "Subculture Suicide" is the best thing that Fashionism has released to date - and solid proof that those excellent first two EPs were no fluke. If you're still unfamiliar with Fashionism, here's your quick primer: take the '77 punk/powerpop stylings of Jeff McCloy's previous bands, add in even more of a glam influence, and get ready to jump up and down to some of the catchiest and most contagiously energetic music you could ever hope to hear. "Subculture Suicide" is a fine demonstration of McCloy's songwriting prowess - blending heartfelt lamentations on the commercialization of punk culture with music that's nothing short of joyful and triumphant (ya gotta love all of that clapping and stomping!). "Stop, Drop, Rock 'N' Roll" is like the 2016 version of Generation X's "Ready Steady Go" - a song that celebrates how fun and exciting and completely life-affirming the best music can be. "Nun of That", the band's "ode to 1970s habit horror", is a hyperactive shot of herky jerky punk that will leave you dizzied and delighted. And that's that! Fashionism has again left me wanting more - which is exactly how it should be.

This is usually the part of the review where I implore a band to hurry up and produce a debut LP. But with EPs this good, who needs albums?! If you look at similar groups throughout history (Undertones, Pointed Sticks, Buzzcocks), it's ultimately the singles that we love the most. Is there anything better in life than putting a 45 on the turntable and basking in two and a half minutes of pop perfection while you brush your teeth or change your clothes or dance around your bedroom like a maniac? Fashionism is a band made for that very experience, and I highly recommend heading over to the Dirt Cult Records web store and pre-ordering a vinyl copy of "Subculture Suicide". Official release date is July 26th!


Sunday, July 03, 2016

Summer of The Dahlmanns!

There are few things in life that make me happier than new music from The Dahlmanns. Their recordings are everything that the marriage of punk and pop could ever hope to be, and you might be less than human if the sound of Line's voice doesn't instantly make you feel good inside. I am delighted to report that there are two new singles from The Dahlmanns out for summer 2016, and of course they're the epitome of pop perfection. While The Dahlmanns did put out a fantastic album in 2012, they usually focus on singles. I actually like it that way - getting only small doses of the band allows me to savor every single track. Counting splits, these two new ones are Dahlmanns singles #8 and 9.

"Play It (On Repeat)" is out on Pop Detective Records - the band's seventh release on this particular label. It's available on CD EP as well as in the digital format via iTunes, CD Baby, etc. This song is what you might call classic Dahlmanns. The title says it all, doesn't it? I love the use of keyboards, and that hook is something else! This is the kind of tune that you wish they still played on the radio. It's paired with "Do You Want Crying" - a fantastic cover of the lead track off of Katrina and the Waves' second album. I'm a big fan of the original version, and I have to say I like The Dahlmanns' rendition just as much. One thing I've always appreciated about The Dahlmanns is the way they embrace cover songs. They always pick great material to cover and fully succeed at making it their own. In this version of  "Do You Want Crying", you can hear great respect for the original along with that special Dahlmanns touch. What a beautiful song!

Staying on the cover theme, Beluga Records has released The Dahlmanns' version of Suzi Quatro's 1977 hit "Tear Me Apart" as a vinyl single backed by the band's high-spirited rendition of the New York Dolls/Sylvain Sylvain classic "Teenage News". I love how The Dahlmanns put their stamp on "Tear Me Apart" - transforming this venerable Chapman/Chinn rocker into a sweet slice of country pop. "Teenage News" previously appeared as the B-side to limited editions of 2014's "He's A Drag" 7" on Ghost Highway Recordings. If you missed out last time, you get another shot at owning this stellar track on record. Beluga is releasing this 45 on green vinyl. Order a copy today!

I've literally been touting The Dahlmanns since day one of this blog. If you're already a fan, these new singles will not disappoint you. And if you're not yet a fan, do yourself a favor and go buy everything the band has ever released. All hail the royal couple of pop!


Friday, July 01, 2016

Debut single from Razz!

All you really need to know about Razz is that it's the new band from Dan Wood (The Pets, Tropical Sleep). Okay, that's not all you need to know about Razz. But if you're familiar with Wood's previous bands, I imagine that you've already got your wallet out and are about to complete your purchase. This guy is truly one of the great songwriters of the modern-day punk/powerpop world, and with Razz he's picking up where The Pets and Tropical Sleep left off.

Razz teams Wood up with a truly amazing lineup of Oakland/San Fran players. Ray from Talkies and Glitz is on guitar, Andy Human is on bass, and Phil from Cocktails is on drums. The band has self-released a debut EP called Pleasantries, and I highly recommend it to any fan of power pop. Rest assured that you're not going to put on this record and hear a carbon copy of what a hundred other bands are already doing. As advertised, this is pop disguised as big rock - along with a new wave quirkiness that brings to mind all-time greats like The Quick and The Vapors. Of course the hooks will knock you out, but there's way more going on than that. I love how this band makes good use of all of its talent. There are interesting things happening with the guitars, bass, and drums on every track - and the mix ensures that you'll hear all of it. Listening to those bass lines, I'm tempted to conclude that Andy Human is actually superhuman. Wood has a real knack for penning tunes that bear his signature, and this EP only deepens my appreciation for his talents. "No Time" has a chorus that's the stuff of magic. "We Complain" is the kind of song that hooks you within seconds and sustains that momentum until the very end. The title track is perfect pop melded into an epic duel of jagged guitars.

When it comes to good power pop, Razz has all the bases covered. Quality songwriting? Yes! A good singer? Yes! Genuine power? Yes indeed! Listen to a couple of these tracks over at Razz's Bandcamp, and then order Pleasantries directly from the band. You won't be disappointed!