wrote about Glenn Robinson way back in 2015. Since then he released a terrific album called Unimpressed that I regretfully never got around to reviewing. Now at work on his third LP, Robinson just released a sneak peak in the form of the digital single "Get You Down". It's a name-your-price download over at his Bandcamp, and it's well worth checking out if you enjoy punky power pop. A quick recap on Glenn Robinson: he hails from Rhode Island and plays guitar, drums, and bass. He has released two albums on Jolly Ronnie Records as well as several singles. He sure knows how to write a catchy pop tune with some punch to it. "Get You Down" is no exception, and it has really strong lyrics to boot. The track was recorded in March with Chris Piquette at No Boundaries Studios in Providence. The new album has no title or release date at this point, but I'm definitely looking forward to it based on "Get You Down". I know you all might be going broke with all of the new releases I've been urging you to buy lately. So here's a freebie that's very much in keeping with the rest of the great stuff that's been coming out this summer!
Friday, June 29, 2018
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Through lo these many years I've been fortunate enough to listen to a metric buttload of music, there have been two factors that have presented themselves as actual factual predictors.
First, live albums are highly anticipated, quickly forgotten efforts that rarely live up to what was expected.
Second, band members spinning off and releasing their own solo albums or an entirely different band effort. Sometimes that "entirely different band effort" sloughs off to an entirely different genre as well.
Of course there are exceptions to just about any rule you can cite. For live albums, well, check these to shoot my idea that live albums never live up to expectations: Rare Earth – In Concert; The Who – Live at Leeds; Pat Traverse Band – Go for What You Know; Cheap Trick – Live at Budokan; Frampton Comes Alive; Bob Seger – Live Bullet; Humble Pie (yes, the band from whence Frampton emerged multiplatinum-victorious) – Rockin’ the Fillmore; Lou Reed – Rock and Roll Animal; The Kinks – One For the Road; KISS – Alive!, and several more.
Now to solos. I've been an on again/off again Stones fan for years – more off than on, I have to admit. Then individual members started putting out solos. Didn't like Jagger's or Wyman's solo stuff. I liked Ronnie Wood's stuff quite a bit, and I love Keith Richards's efforts.
In 1978 when the four members of KISS each released their own solo album, I enjoyed bits and pieces. But the four pieces apart fell decidedly short of the group combined as a whole.
And there are a bunch of other examples to point to, but I've already wasted too much time before getting to the root of the issue – and that is Ryan Roxie's new solo release Imagine Your Reality, which is a 10-track rock-and-roll dustup* from start to finish.
* - hockey term.
Released on June 1, 2018, Imagine Your Reality is already sold out at Amazon.com and the price has jumped three bucks from when I preordered it.
From the rocking opener - "Big Rock Show" (which reminded me a bit of Faster Pussycat at first. No, that's not a bad thing) to the much slower closing track "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and all points in between, Roxie's first honest to goodness solo release shows why he belongs.
Only four songs into the disc, there are already three really memorable ones. It's not that "Over and Done" is bad (in fact, it has some of the album's better lyrics) – just that the opener, "Big Rock Show", the cover of "California Man" (featuring Robin Zander), and "To Live and Die in L.A." overshadow it somewhat.
For the last several years, Roxie has been Alice Cooper's guitarist and collaborator. For an interesting example, check out Alice Cooper (with Ryan Roxie) – "Suffragette City"
In "Over and Done", he wants to make sure the relationship is over. "I'm half the man I thought I was. Single now but twice as lost. I don't think I'll be coming home tonight."
Ryan Roxie – "Over and Done"
The song title "California Man" might look familiar to you. Well, Roy Wood wrote it, and The Move did do the tune years and years and years ago.
Cheap Trick covered the tune years and years ago. Ryan Roxie invited Cheap Trick lead vocalist Robin Zander to guest on Roxie's take of the Roy Wood track.
With Cheap Trick as one of his major influences, it's not surprising that Roxie's version is really good and fairly true to that of Cheap Trick. Roxie and Zander trade vocals at points, and it's a really good remake of a really good song.
Ryan Roxie – "California Man"
"To Live and Die in LA" is another excellent cut, chronicling how you live and die while trying to make it. A perceived quick way is to cut the throats of the people you've worked with and stab those who helped you in the back. This official lyric video will explain it better.
Ryan Roxie – "To Live and Die in L.A."
"The Uh-oh Song" is fun. He just wants to hear his companion "…say these words; Uh-oh!" And if you bought the vinyl rather than the CD, side one just ended for you. Not to worry. Side two kicks off with my Alternate Favorite**.
** - my adaptation of a hockey term, since there's no more hockey till late September. Gotta get a fix somehow.
Listen closely to track six, and you'll find out he doesn't "…give a damn about the Me Generation." "A bunch of little punks who need to take their medication."
Track seven – "Look Me in the Eye" - is what you always want someone you suspect is lying to you to do, right?
Number eight offers a bit of advice to the lovelorn in the audience; "When your brain is on vacation your heart's in trouble."
Only two tracks from the finish line now (in deference to the Triple Crown winning horse Justify).
"Somethin' you said, baby. It's stuck in my head, baby. We can be friends someday. Never. Never. Nevermind Me." Another one of the rockers.
The finale starts out much more slowly than the rest of the CD, with just an acoustic guitar and Roxie's vocals. Then it kicks into a bit more of a rocker than you probably expected from the start of the tune.
Listen to the album all the way through one time, and when the last cut "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" kicks into gear, so does the bass. As soon as that happens, I realized that the bass had been really cool throughout the release. I guess it's just not "in your face" enough to drive that point home until the last song when it DOES jump a bit into your face.
It's definitely worth the time and effort to pick this one up. You'll see why Cooper hangs onto Roxie as a band member/guitarist.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
I've been teasing it for a while, and now it's finally here! Out on Beluga Records, Four Track Attack is the debut solo release from Connection singer/guitarist Brad Marino. Naturally I was enthused to receive new music from one of my favorite singers. And the bonus is that two of these songs were contributed by New Trocaderos songwriter Michael Chaney!
Four Track Attack is a solo effort in the truest sense: all instruments and vocals are by Brad Marino. With Marino breaking out on his own for this EP, there was always the possibility of him doing something way different from The Connection. I would have been perfectly okay with that, but at least on this release Marino is keeping it in his wheelhouse. If you've loved all of the Connection and New Trocaderos records, you'll love Four Track Attack as well. "Should've Known" hits that sweet spot where power pop intersects with good old rock n' roll. It's got it all: a great hook in the chorus, stellar backing vocals (imagine: an army of Brad Marinos!), and a fade-out ending tailor made for radio. Chaney wrote "Hey Girl" especially for this project, so it's no surprise that this Stonesy number suits Marino's talents so well. Marino absolutely rips it on guitar - recalling Keith Richards AND Mick Taylor all at once! Lyrics about a fellow finally giving the heave-ho to his shamelessly unfaithful lady are timeless in a way that we've come to expect from Michael Chaney. This song could easily have been written by a blues man 60 years ago, yet it's no less relevant today. "On The Brink" hints at a Ramones influence, but really it's vintage Brad Marino hard-driving rock n' roll. That "things are changin', and I'm on the brink" refrain is gonna be stuck in my head for weeks! To finish, the Chaney-penned "Special Friend" has that Dave Edmunds type feel that should appeal to any fan of Marino's bands. Again, that guitar work is smokin'!
What I'll say about this four track attack is that none of 'em are throwaways! All four of these songs are top-notch rockers. And serving as his own rhythm section, Marino more than holds his own. Even when you already play in the best band in the world, I think it has to be super fun to go into the studio and make a record that's entirely yours. I was definitely keen on the idea of a Brad Marino solo record, and Four Track Attack does not disappoint. I dare Mick Jagger to make a solo record this good!
Friday, June 22, 2018
Bandcamp. I'll just warn you that they're not for the faint of heart. Would you expect anything else from a band that writes a song called "Devil Sucks My Cock and Swallows" (sure to be the feelgood hit of the summer!)? You can probably surmise that "Rate Your Teacher" is not an ode to instructional excellence. "SS Girls" seems to be a live recording, but it's hard to tell since there's almost zero drop-off in fidelity. That pretty much sums up what makes Moron's Morons so great. If you like the idea of '90s garage punk, GG Allin, and Killed By Death comps all rolled into one, this is the band for you. Play loud and make the neighbors very uncomfortable!
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The Hot LZ's. Imagine the havoc they'd wreak!
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Given that the marriage of garage punk and power pop is so common today, it can be easy to forget that it wasn't always that way. Along side the Marked Men (Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke have remastered these two albums for vinyl), Firestarter paved the way for a new era of hooky but still tough as hell punk music. Listening today, I'm struck by how well both Firestarter albums have held up. It's a wonderful thing that Secret Mission has brought this essential music back into circulation. Move fast if you want a vinyl copy of Livin' On The Heat!
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
If you buy a ton of music, you might already have a lot of these songs in your digital collection. Otherwise, Sick Sounds is a great way to sample some of the truly excellent punk, garage, and rock n' roll music that's out there right now. And the Gino and the Goons track "Lay With Me" is previously unreleased! This compilation also gives you a good idea of the type of stuff you'll hear if you tune into Wassup Rocker Radio. Check out the WRR web site or Facebook page for lots more info!
Sunday, June 10, 2018
If you're looking to hear what's great in punk music in 2018, Please Stop! is one of the first bands you need to check out. Power Suit and Dead Bodies was a formidable debut, and Built To Die is even better. I'm amazed at how this band can pack so much substance into songs that rarely run much longer than a minute. Each of these 11 tracks hits you quick but definitely leaves an impression. Punk rock with power, intelligence, and a relentless fighting spirit is something we will always need more of. Built To Die is available in two versions from No Front Teeth: a standard edition and a limited edition with a translucent sleeve. Get on it!
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
I have mixed feelings about this being the last Speedways release. On one hand, that's kind of a bummer. But on the other hand, I feel like this is such a perfect power pop album that it would be pointless to try and top it. Julian wasn't trying to reinvent the wheel here. This album is a tip of the cap to the timeless sounds of '70s guitar pop, recalling everyone from 20/20 to Tom Petty to Elvis Costello to the Paul Collins Beat. With his songwriting honed in on tuneful melodies, hook-laden choruses, and poignant lyrics, Julian comes off like someone who was born to create this kind of music. "In Common With You" sounds like a lost AM radio hit from the days of my youth, while "Don't Tell Me" could have come out of the American heartland 40 summers ago. And even though this is a digital release, it has the feel of a vinyl record. The title track and "Reunion In the Rain" conclude their respective "sides" in gut-wrenching, highly dramatic fashion.
Just Another Regular Summer is everything you could want from a classic power pop album. Julian sure knows how to write a catchy tune, but at a deeper level he just "gets" what this type of music is all about. Almost all of us have known heartbreak, and almost all of us have continued to put ourselves in its line of fire. That's part of the human condition, and that's why love songs will never go out of style. I have to chuckle when people dismiss songs about human relationships as "lightweight". Come on, what could be less lightweight? There will always be great worth in music like this, and kudos to The Speedways for carrying it off so splendidly.
Tuesday, June 05, 2018
The Everybody Knows recently completed a two-week tour of Finland and the Baltics with the mighty Fashionism. These guys are major up-and-comers in the power pop world, and I think we will be hearing a lot more from them going forward. In the meantime, be sure to acquire "Hello Hello" and play it on repeat! Hit up the band on Facebook if you want to order a physical copy.
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Friday, June 01, 2018
One of MANIAC's greatest strengths is that it has four songwriters and four essential contributors. Singer/bassist Zache Davis is probably considered the "front man", but on quite a few of these songs he trades off vocals with his band mates. F & L favorite Justin Maurer authored some of the album's strongest tracks. Andrew Zappin is one of my favorite lead guitarists working today. James Carman, in addition to being an incredible drummer, is a tremendous pop songwriter and vocalist. That's a whole lot of talent, but it's the way it all comes together that defines MANIAC. You can hear that in the interweaving of the two guitars, the sophisticated layering of the vocals, and Carman's soaring harmonies. Davis, quickly emerging as a modern master of odes to failed relationships, contributes the deliciously bittersweet "Neutral Libido" and crackling "Living In Stereo". The latter brings to mind a Cali-soaked Buzzcocks. Maurer's songs cover a range of topics from youth and the loss of innocence ("Children of the Dirt") to how our contemporary society no longer believes in anything ("Post Post World"). The reappearance of three 7" tracks was music to my ears because they were just too good to leave out ("Calamine", to me, is a top five MANIAC song). And then there's "Dead Dance Club", which I absolutely love! It's completely unlike anything the band has done before, yet it fits so perfectly on this album. This song has me envisioning MANIAC as a band in a John Hughes movie!
MANIAC is a band like no other - distinctively part of the modern wave of powerpop/punk yet so undeniably influenced by the art and multiculturalism of Southern California. Those last two singles suggested that MANIAC was on the verge of a significant step forward, and Dead Dance Club fully confirms that. "Maturity" in punk groups is often considered risky or downright counterproductive. In this case, however, the advancements in songwriting and production really hit the spot. Demimonde was a very good album. Dead Dance Club is a genuinely great one.