Friday, August 31, 2018

Duck & Cover - Rob Them Blind

Duck & Cover's new album is out on Rum Bar Records, and you best steer clear if you're not in the mood to rock! It has been three years since I first reviewed this Charlestown, Massachusetts foursome. I can genuinely say that each new release has been a big step forward. Rob Them Blind is where it all really comes together. Working in the studio with Chris Johnson, Duck & Cover has attained a big, slick sound that's a perfect fit for its hooky hard rock style. The guitars are cranked way up, and Chris Brat on lead vocals sounds like the huge-voiced rock star we already knew he was. As an unapologetic fan of '70s/'80s hard rock and metal, I cannot resist these headbanging-worthy choruses and ripping guitar solos. But what I appreciate about Duck & Cover is how the band also incorporates the influences of glam rock, power pop, and pure sleazy punk. The resulting concoction brings together just about everything I love in rock n' roll. "Live It Up" and "Borrowed Time" make for a formidable 1-2 punch to kick off the album. These are probably D & C's catchiest songs to date, and it's just tremendously satisfying to hear the band coming out of the gates on such a clear mission to rock! Chris and Daniel straight-up shred on dual guitars, and Damien thumps the hell out of those drums! You can hear the band's strong pop chops come through on tracks like "Vacancy" and "Wasted", while the snarling "Touch & Go" is a thundering collision of punk and metal. And even when the band takes the hard rock thing way over the top on "Stand Corrected", I find myself pumping my fist and shouting along with zero irony.

Following through on its previous releases, Duck & Cover has made a loud and proud rock n' roll record in Rob Them Blind. Of course it's well crafted, but first and foremost these fellas understand that rock n' roll ought to be fun to listen to at super loud volumes. Put this album on, crank it up, and enjoy life! With D & C joining the likes of Watts, Kris Rodgers, and Bullet Proof Lovers on the Rum Bar roster, the label's AOR wing is growing into quite the force. Lou, when can we expect the arena tour?!


Monday, August 20, 2018

Territories - self titled

Territories are one of the best new punk bands I've encountered in quite some time, but there's a catch to that! This group actually formed out of the ashes of legendary Calgary punk band Knucklehead, who had a nearly 20-year run starting in the mid-'90s. Knucklehead split in 2013, but four former members reunited two years later with a fresh start and a new name. Without a doubt, fans of Knucklehead's tuneful, anthemic punk rock will enjoy Territories just as much. But this is a different band with a slightly different sound. The group's debut album, out on Pirates Press Records, is that rare example of punk music that can be described as both mature and powerful. Of course you can expect rousing chanted choruses and intelligent, heartfelt lyrics. Yet I can also hear the undeniable influences of '80s/'90s melodic post-hardcore and traditional folk rock. This album is a great example of why I enjoy music made by veterans of punk rock. Territories bring to their debut an even wider array of life and musical influences than those that informed Knucklehead. Yet they sound more inspired and excited than ever about playing punk music. The songwriting is top-notch, both in terms of melodic structures and meaningful lyrics/vocals. You can tell they really worked and refining and perfecting these songs. How amazing do those guitars sound! And even with the obvious progression in songwriting, these guys prove they can still get your heart racing with some exciting, fist-pumping punk rock ("New Thing", "Heart That Breaks").

I would consider Territories to be kindred spirits with a band like Swingin' Utters - who themselves are about to demonstrate that "middle-aged" guys are capable of making some of the most vital punk music out there. If you're stoked to hear the new Utters album, I would highly recommend picking up this tremendous debut from Territories as well. These guys are writing songs from the heart and playing them with conviction, and I can only hope the career of Territories is just getting started!


Friday, August 17, 2018

Midnite Snaxxx - "Let Me Do What I Want"

I'm gonna keep this one short & sweet and let the music do the talking! Midnite Snaxxx are one of my three or four favorite bands on Earth, and their new single does not disappoint! This release shows off a couple different sides of the Snaxxx. "Let Me Do What I Want" is great straight-ahead Ramones-inspired punk rock featuring a terrific vocal from Dulcinea. This tune brings the attitude and the hooks in equal abundance! On the flip, "Faded Pictures" falls more to the power pop side of punk rock with some girl group inspirations to boot. It's been stuck in my head since the first time I heard it! Check out those killer guitar leads and nifty bass lines!

The vinyl release for "Let Me Do What I Want" is coming later this month from the always dependable Bachelor Records. The digital single is already available from the Midnite Snaxxx Bandcamp. This is one of the best Snaxxx singles yet - and that's really saying something! An essential purchase! 


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Personality Cult - self titled

Drunken Sailor Records' perpetual winning streak remains very much in tact with the stunning debut album from North Carolina's Personality Cult! This band is the creation of Ben Carr from Natural Causes, who's doing something quite different with Personality Cult. Think old school powerpop/punk with plenty of quirks and a little bit of a jagged edge. Yep, that sure does sound like something Drunken Sailor would want to put out! And of course it sounds like a record I'd be enthusiastically touting! That early Buzzcocks influence is hard to deny, and the songwriting is just totally spot-on. Carr sure knows how to turn out a minimalist punk tune with a hook. It seems almost surreal that this music could be coming out of the American south in just sounds so much like 1977 U.K! But given Carr's background, you know not to expect straight paint-by-numbers punk. And that's what I appreciate about Personality Cult. It's powerpop/punk, but with a unique touch to it. Plus there are songs that break from the general feel of the album. "Functioning Fine" is fully into new wave/post-punk territory, while "Fashionably Late" is Devo worship at its finest.

I could probably describe Personality Cult as kindred spirits/American counterparts to label mates Freak Genes. And you know how I feel about Freak Genes! This debut LP from Personality Cult is a surefire top ten album for 2018. If you like that old school catchy punk meets new wave type sound, check out a band that does it brilliantly!


Sunday, August 05, 2018

Corner Boys - Love Tourist

How much do I love Corner Boys?! Well, I named their debut 7" my #1 single of 2017. So you can imagine I was pretty stoked to discover that the Vancouver trio was making quick work of a follow-up. Out now on Dirt Cult Records, the 4-song Love Tourist sounds so much like a genuine punk recording from 1979 or '80 that even experts would be hard-pressed to tell the difference! Corner Boys really hit the mark for what pop-inspired punk rock ought to be. They write catchy tunes with hooks, but they play with such whirlwind speed and youthful exuberance that it seems inadequate to just call them "power pop". Think Canadian greats like Pointed Sticks and Young Canadians, anything on Good Vibrations Records, and classic American bands like The Simpletones (whose "TV Love" is covered on this EP in quite brilliant fashion). The title track is as close as a modern-day band has come to sounding like The Undertones in a really long time. "(It's A) Mystery", with its perfect mix of pep and snot, delights me to no end.

Corner Boys' first single Just Don't Care was a darn tough debut to follow, but Love Tourist is every bit as good. It makes me wanna dance until I drop and shout along to those choruses until I lose my voice. This absolutely one of my favorite bands going right now, and I'm sure a lot of you are about to feel the same!


Friday, August 03, 2018

Criminal Kids - Self Titled

Last fall, Criminal Kids were nice enough to make a couple of songs from their then forthcoming debut EP available for free download. Here we are today, and that EP is no longer forthcoming. It's out now on Spaghetty Town Records in the USA and Gods Candy Records in Canada! After hearing the teaser "Outcast", I knew the whole EP was gonna slay! And sure enough, this six-song release is exactly what I expected. Criminal Kids hail from the south side of Chicago, and their music is definitely a reflection of where they come from. They play tough, aggressive music that's equal parts punk and rock. While hardly the first band to mix gritty urban punk with the high-powered rock n' roll of Motorhead and AC/DC, Criminal Kids have taken that style and really given it a kick in the ass. They bring a ton of energy - with guitars ripping, bass punching, and drums slamming. And listen to those vocals, man....that's some first-rate screaming! This is an awesome EP to listen to with headphones on, because it's fun to hear the wild racket that each guitar is kicking up. I can totally picture the band tearing it up on stage! Especially on tracks like "Takin' It Back" and "Vanity", Criminal Kids sound like they've come to punch you in the mouth with their music. They bring great commitment to this genre of music, along with plenty of killer riffs and quality hooks. These guys are definitely throwbacks to the later '90s heyday of punk rock n' roll, but they've managed to add something to it that feels fresh to my ears. Legend has it that Teddy Spaghetty was so blown away by their live show that he immediately signed them to his label. It's not always easy to capture that same kind of energy on a studio recording, but this debut EP sure gives it a good run. My only instructions are to play it loud!