Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Dahlmanns + Andy Shernoff = Gold!

Let the record show that the very existence of The Dahlmanns was a major influence on the creation of this blog. And once the blog was created, I chose to name it after a song written by Andy Shernoff. So it goes without saying that I was elated to hear that The Dahlmanns have recorded two brand-new songs written by Andy Shernoff and released them as a single. Seriously: how can it get better than this? You've got the best pop band in the world collaborating with one of our greatest living songwriters. And the results do not disappoint!

In addition to co-writing "Forever My Baby", Shernoff also shares lead vocals with Line Dahlmann on this absolute gem of a track. This sort of boy/girl duet lamenting lost love is such an essential part of rock n' roll lore, but most modern examples are completely cringe-worthy. "Forever My Baby" gets it right, with believable vocal performances from both singers and a musical style that combines the conventional power ballad with elements of '60s girl groups. Shernoff's voice is in fine form, and there's little doubt that this song is the creation of the man who wrote and sang The Dictators' "Heartache". Staying with the '60s pop influence, "The Last Time" recalls the ringing melodies and romantic innocence of that golden era (but with a modern sheen). It's an absolutely beautiful song, and it's just so well suited to Line's voice. In the pop world, there's just no substitute for a memorable melody and a great singer!

"Forever My Baby" is out now on Pop Detective Records and available for download via iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, etc. A vinyl version is due out this summer on The Next Big Thing - Lindsay Hutton's legendary zine/label which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. I'm not quite ready to say that this release is a mortal lock for 2017 single of the year. But, you know, it's gonna be a tough one to top!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Debut LP from Moral Panic!

The almighty Livids, while one of the most exciting punk rock n' roll bands of recent memory, proved to be a sadly short-lived outfit. So it's fantastic news that Livids guitarist Daniel Kelley and drummer Gregory Collins have formed a red-hot new band with bassist Mark Brei. The new group is called Moral Panic. If you liked Livids, you will love Moral Panic. Slovenly Recordings just released the trio's debut album, and the thing totally kills! Don't let the band name fool you into thinking this is some sort of 1980s political hardcore type deal. Instead think '90s breakneck garage punk rock n' roll a la Teengenerate/New Bomb Turks.

I love a band that storms out of the gates in attack mode and never lets up, and that is Moral Panic's m.o. for sure. They tear through 10 songs in 20 blistering minutes, and every second is pure pummeling rock n' roll. "Ripped Jeans" is impossibly catchy for such a wild & manic number, while the scorching "Harbor Fitness" brings to mind Tokyo 1994 via Cleveland 1978. And kudos are in order for a face-smashing rendition of The Nils' "Fountains" that fully bears M.P.'s high velocity signature. Kelley and Collins have picked up right where they left off in Livids. No attempts at refinement or progression have been made. They're bringing it fast and furious, and anything that steps in the path of this steamroller is toast! If you've been depressed for years over the realization that there will never be a Livids full-length, this album will cheer you up right fast. Crank up the volume until the neighbors complain!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Rockatanskys single from Jarama 45RPM Recs!

Last month, I reported for the first time on a great new label out of Madrid called Jarama 45RPM Recs. As the name suggests, this is a label fully dedicated to 45RPM 7" releases from excellent punk bands all over the world. That Sugar & Tiger 45 is a must-own, and so is the blistering three-songer from Halifax, Nova Scotia's Rockatanskys. The label likens Rockatanskys to Canadian national treasures such as Teenage Head, the Modernettes, and Pointed Sticks. Who am I to argue? It's always a pleasure to hear a modern band take that back-to-the-basics Ramones inspired style of punk music and prove that there's plenty of life left in it. "Smash TV" is a certified smash hit - with a fun little sing-along hook that's impossible to resist. It's just so catchy, and the song is over before you know what hit you! It's backed with "Wasted" and "Come Swim With Me"- a couple of thumpers in the vein of the first two Ramones LPs. All in all, this 45 is total fun and a fine example of why the singles format is so well-suited to punk music. If you haven't already liked the Jarama 45RPM Facebook page, I implore you to do so immediately. Look for more music coming soon!


Monday, March 20, 2017

New album from Tom Baker and the Snakes!

Damn, has Rum Bar Records ever been serving up the rock this month! You might need to invest in louder speakers! Hot on the heels of that amazing new Bullet Proof Lovers album, Malibu Lou unleashes the eagerly awaited new LP from Tom Baker and the Snakes. Singer/guitarist Baker (Nana, the Dirty Truckers) is a fixture of the Boston garage/rock n' roll scene. He's backed by a formidable unit of veteran players including John Brookhouse (Worshipper, The Dirty Truckers) on lead guitar, Charles Hansen (Rock Bottom) on guitar, John Sheeran (Spitzz, Township) on bass, and Johnny Blout (Watts) on drums. Do the math, and you realize that's three guitars in this band. And none of 'em go to waste! Lookout Tower is the new album, and it delivers 11 shots of Stones/Faces inspired rock n' roll with a palpable heartland of America feel. The album imbues '70s arena rock wallop with the ragged underdog spirit of bands like The Replacements. That Westerberg/Stinson worship really shows through on signature tunes like the rough-around-the-edges pop gem "Doll Eyes" and the late night dive-bar banger "High n' Tight". Both were standout tracks on the band's digital-only 4 Stars EP from last year, and it would have been criminal to have kept them off the album. But there's plenty more to like here, from the meat & potatoes rocker "Gotta Find Her" to the '90s college radio jangle of "Needle in the Red" to the rootsy ballad "Say Goodbye" (which sounds like something Soul Asylum could have done in its prime). "Bad Change" hovers at the intersection of big hook power pop and boozy rock n' roll - an especially sweet spot for this band. And "Satisfied Fool" takes me straight back to the late '80s of my youth when I was seemingly listening to album-oriented rock radio 24/7.

Tom Baker and the Snakes are a perfect fit on the Rum Bar roster- filling the space between the '70s FM thunder of Watts and the earnest blue collar rock n' roll of Nato Coles. If you like a whole lot of guitar in your rock n' roll (and really, who doesn't?!), Lookout Tower will have you in rock-out heaven. Beyond that, the quality and depth of Baker's songwriting is not to be overlooked. Arriving at the beginning of spring, Lookout Tower is for sure an album you'll want to crank loud as you relax on the porch and enjoy a cold beverage straight from the can. This, my friends, is real deal Boston rock n' roll! 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meet Corner Boys!

I always love coming across red-hot demos, and the best one I've heard in a while is from Vancouver's Corner Boys. I think you'll be hearing a lot about this band on this blog going forward. These guys are just my style: snotty & frantic powerpop/punk recalling numerous classic bands from the great nation of Canada. And as far as demos go, this is the way it ought to be: just three songs with lo-fi but by no means shitty production courtesy of the great Jeff McCloy. This is just a little taste of what's to come, and I can't wait to hear more! As always, the only sure things in life are death, taxes, and great new punk bands out of Canada.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New one from Tommy and The Rockets!

At this very moment, I can look out the window and witness the full wrath of Winter Storm Stella. In a few hours, I will have the rare pleasure of shoveling 18 inches of snow. But there's no convincing me that summer isn't right around the corner. And with that we get THE summertime record of 2017 from Tommy and The Rockets! This intercontinental supergroup featuring Danish singer/guitarist Thomas Stubgaard (The Lingertones, The Hitchcocks) and New Trocaderos songwriter Michael Chaney released a terrific debut album last year that was warmly received by fans of early Beach Boys and classic era Ramones. It was a really tough act to follow, but Tommy and The Rockets have definitely topped it with a brand-new EP called Rock 'n' Roll Wrecking Machine. This is the band's best stuff yet- and the upbeat, goodtime vibe is a surefire prescription for any lingering winter blahs that might ail you.

With its hopped-up beat, nifty backing vocals, and smoking lead guitar, "Rock 'n' Roll Wrecking Machine" more than lives up to its title. I'm telling ya, it's a stone cold smash hit! You will play it on repeat! "Hey Daisy" is pure, bubbly pop for all of us who are eternally 16 and girl-crazed. "Get Ready" makes me wanna climb in my car and drive real fast with no obvious destination besides a really great time (I might need to wait a few days before attempting such an adventure). And "Gonna Be Alright", a duet teaming Tommy with Julie Jean, is the perfect way to bring this 7" slab of joy to a close. The odes to wistful longing and broken hearts will surely return, but with this record it's all about the high hopes of new love and the unlimited possibilities of youth! Isn't that what rock n' roll is all about? If you love Ramones albums like Rocket To Russia and Road To Ruin, that's precisely the sweet spot that Tommy and The Rockets hit with this release. Once again, Brad Marino and Kris "Fingers" Rodgers rip it up as "session" players. And kudos to Christian Jakobsen for the killer guitar solos! Download is available today, with a vinyl release from Europeans labels Ghost Highway, KOTJ, and Beluga Records due at the end of the week. This review arrived right on time courtesy of me getting a snow day!


Friday, March 10, 2017

New album from Brom Bones!

Much to my chagrin, I have no recollection of ever reviewing a release from Brom Bones - unquestionably one of south central Pennsylvania's finest punk bands for 27 years and counting. I was, in my younger days, witness to a number of stunning live performances from this veritable institution of Lancaster, PA punk rock. It's perplexing to me how I never got my mitts on studio releases such as Cope (1998) and Apart (2001). Or maybe I did and just don't remember! Either way, it's a tremendous joy to receive Brom Bones in such fine form on their brand-new album Get Down. Stay Down. I have to question anyone who automatically passes on new releases from long-standing punk bands. And albums like this one are the reason why. Going back to the late '80s, Brom Bones have beautifully navigated the transitions from adolescence to adulthood to middle age - and you could make a good argument that they're now making the best music of their lives. This is a veteran, seasoned outfit that brings so much life experience to the table. Yet these guys haven't lost an ounce of the energy and enthusiasm that have driven their music from the start.  

Get Down. Stay Down. is vintage Brom Bones: powerful, melodic, and full of genuine lyrical substance delivered with tremendous conviction by outstanding vocalist Jason Berlet. It takes me back to a great time in music - when the contents of your record collection might have ranged from Dag Nasty to Minor Threat to The Descendents to The Replacements. And while it's a tricky maneuver to hold strong to those roots while continuing to grow as a band, Brom Bones are pulling it off like pros. Not only does the band sound terrific, but the material shines as well. "Short Fuse" is the perfect song to play at earsplitting volumes when you're pissed off at the world and seeking deliverance from a shitty day. "War Generation" - the very definition of a sing-along anthem - has had me head-bobbing and air-drumming in my computer chair all week long. "The Victim" delivers the kind of rugged, ripping punk rock that I just don't hear enough these days. And "The Mats" is a clever and loving homage to one of the two or three greatest bands to ever walk the earth.

If Get Down. Stay Down. is your first exposure to Brom Bones, the album ought to get you very excited about checking out the band's extensive back catalog (which you can do over at Bandcamp). And longtime fans will not be surprised to discover that Brom Bones are still killing it after all these years. Whether you're a fan of '80s post-hardcore & old school pop-punk or just someone who appreciates punk music that's full of intelligence and heart, I strongly recommend the $10 investment in Get Down. Stay Down. It will easily go down as one of the year's top albums. The band has dedicated it to the memory of original member Sean Wolfe - a brilliant talent and one of the best human beings I've ever had the good fortune to know.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Annual Birthday Post 2017!

I've had a recent yearly tradition of doing annual birthday posts where I list my ten favorite bands of all-time. But since the list only undergoes very minor changes from year to year, I decided it was time to try something a little different for this particular birthday (my 46th). Instead of listing my ten favorite bands of all-time, I will pick my four favorite bands from each of the past six decades. I figured this would be a fun project to undertake and perhaps a good way to "spread the wealth" since my all-time favorite lists are usually dominated by bands from the late '70s. And given that I've been reviewing music since 1995, I am obviously a fan of quite a few more recent bands. So without any further ado, I now present my favorite bands by decade from the '60s up to present day!

The Who
Rolling Stones

The Clash
Generation X

Husker Du

Material Issue
Dimestore Haloes
The Muffs 

Exploding Hearts

Night Birds
The Cry!
The Connection
The Cheap Cassettes  

So there you have it. Limiting it to just four bands per decade led to some painful omissions (Teenage Fanclub, Vapors, Dictators). But I suppose that's half the fun! For the record, my favorite band of all-time is still The Clash (followed by AC/DC and Material Issue). Congratulations to Joe Keller and Chaz Matthews for being the only two individuals to be represented on this list in two different decades. Your commemorative medallions are in the mail. Possible idea for next year's birthday post: naming a favorite album from each year of my life! 


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New single from Devious Ones!

Detroit's Devious Ones have been one of my favorite current-day bands since the very first time I heard them. I can't believe that was already two years ago! One of the things I love about these guys is that they prove that it's possible to take influence from '70s punk and power pop yet still create music that sounds new and fresh and original. Consider the band's brand-new single "Djarum Summers". I can listen to the A-side and honestly say that there's no other band out there that sounds exactly like this. Sure, it's old school catchy punk - which I love. But it's immediately identifiable as a Devious Ones song and not just some rewrite of a classic hit. That guitar tone is bad-ass, and there's something about the way Eric sings the chorus that really makes this song stick in my head. Best D.O. song yet? It's at least in the conversation! On the flip, "Court Clothes" is a perfect example of what this band does so well. It's basically fast poppy punk, but with some unusual/creative touches in the vocals and lyrics that really set it apart. If you're a fan of what a band like Maniac has been doing in recent years, you should dig Devious Ones as well.

A co-release between Rust on the Blade and No Front Teeth Records, "Djarum Summers" is Devious Ones' first international release. Downloads are now available via digital outlets, and vinyl is coming soon! Locals can pick up the single at the band's record release party at Kelly's Bar Hamtramck on March 11. Original '77 punks Cinecyde will be on the bill!