Friday, February 28, 2020

Notches - New Kinda Love

Did I just wake up in 1993?! New Hampshire's Notches have me fondly recalling the heyday of blurred lines between pop-punk and indie rock. Seriously: remember when Superchunk, Sinkhole, the Lemonheads, and Husker Du were all in your cassette tape collection? Available from Salinas Records and Dead Broke Rekerds on LP and Japan's Waterslide Records on CD, Notches' latest album New Kinda Love is so authentically early '90s sounding that it almost gives me chills. Better yet, this is exceptionally well-done punky pop full of crunchy guitars and sincere, mellowed-out songwriting. I might have called this "emo" back in the days before that term took on its present connotations. This trio comes off very tight and energetic, playing thoughtful and reflective tunes that nonetheless rock. Whether you're nostalgic for '90s indie/alternative rock or are looking for a pop-punk record that doesn't sound like every other pop-punk record out there, New Kinda Love is well worth your attention!


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, the New Brutarians!

Now here's a post I'm excited about! Yeah, I know: I'm pretty much always excited. But today I'm especially jazzed since I haven't had the occasion to write about world-renowned glam-punk pop artist Adam Turkel in almost 20 years. Well ole' Adam T has got new tunes cooking with his duo the New Brutarians. The former Beatings lead dude is on guitar/piano/vocals while fashion model Christina Wright plays drums and bass. This band has been at it for a few years now, but it's about to release its first 7" record on English Disco Records (who recently released Frankie Delmane's most excellent Street Penetration). This St. Petersburg, Florida based duo does the the lo-fi glam/proto-punk thing with a clear nods to many of the biggest influences on Adam's music and art. I'm talking Lou Reed/the Velvet Underground, Johnny Thunders, Nikki Sudden, the Only Ones, and of course one Steven John Bator (among others). The New Brutarians are a breath of fresh air for a couple of reasons. First of all, you don't hear a whole lot of bands these days that sound anything like this. Just as importantly, Adam and Christina have absorbed all of these influences and added much of their own style and point of view. They've created a wonderful update on a classic sound. In advance of the 7", the band has previewed two of its three tracks online. "Little Hit Of You" is an upbeat toe-tapper evocative of poppy New York Dolls. It's the most straight-forward punk track Adam has done since The Beatings. And if you dug The Beatings, you are 100% likely to dig this as well. Equally impressive is the band's rendition of the Leonard Cohen standard "I'm Your Man". It takes guts to take on a song as seemingly untouchable as this one. And given that Leonard Cohen is a massive influence on the New Brutarians, you might have expected a somewhat faithful version of "I'm Your Man". Instead the band gives the song a different arrangement and a totally new feel. It's a brilliant take on an iconic tune - fusing the band's love for noisy proto-punk with genuine affection for the source material.

The New Brutarians will be rounding out their debut single with another great track: the Velvets-inspired "(Rock Me) I'm A Dadaist". Be sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the new record and a couple more that are in the works. And locals will not want to miss the band's first show in Tampa this coming Saturday night, February 29th at the Red Star Rock Bar in Ybor City. It's going to be amazing bill as the New Brutarians join Kevin K and the fabulous Gino and the Goons! Adam will also be showing his art and spinning tunes all night. More info here!


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Duck & Cover - Two Shots

Duck & Cover has returned with its first new music in a couple of years - and of course these songs are gonna rock your face off! The three-song 7" "Two Shots" is a great follow-up to 2018's album Rob Them Blind, and as always this foursome operates at the intersection of early '80s hard rock/AOR and nail-tough Boston punk. The title track is the kind of over-the-top heavy rock anthem that that they just don't play on the radio anymore (although you wish they did!). It alternates between a deliberate mid-tempo verse and a truly thunderous chorus, with guitars raging as Chris delivers an intense and absolutely bad-ass vocal. The song definitely recalls the loud and proud FM rock of yore, yet it's got a nasty edge to it that has become a signature for Duck & Cover. If you're looking for a song that will have you air drumming and air guitaring to your heart's content, "Two Shots" is IT! "Bleeding Edge" comes on with a similar power but takes a more melodic, hook-driven direction. The lead guitar and bass sound amazing, and all in all this is a great reminder of a time when big, hooky hard rock was king. To finish, "Unlucky 17" is another balls-out rocker with quality hooks and a ton of attitude. For some reason, I'm reminded a little of Alice Cooper here. And if there's anything we need more of in today's music, it would be bands I can mention in the same sentence as Alice Cooper!

Duck & Cover sure isn't fooling around on "Two Shots". This EP is an all-killer, no-filler affair that satisfies on every level. The songs slay, the production is top-notch, and all the guys tear it up with their musical chops. This is what it sounds like to hear a band rocking out without apology, and yet the punk influence is still evident in the grittiness and general economy of the band's attack. I've had the pleasure to feature Duck & Cover a number of times over the years. Pound for pound, "Two Shots" might be the band's strongest release yet!


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Romero - "Honey"

With me knowing fully well that a lot of you who check on this blog regularly are lovers of power pop, I do make a best effort to bring you something special as often as I can. So today's post is for the power pop crowd! Romero has come out of nowhere (Melbourne, actually) with an early contender for single of the year. Song titles "Honey" and "Neapolitan" conjure up thoughts of something sweet, but there's plenty of crunch to go with that soft, chewy center. "Honey" brings to mind everything from golden age power pop to punchy new wave to the best of first generation punk pop. Yet while it sounds in many ways familiar, it offers a surprisingly fresh and modern take on power pop. Romero manages to take cues from a whole lot of bands you love yet still sound like no other band you've heard. A lot is owed to the undeniable star power of lead singer Alanna Oliver, but the playing and songwriting are absolutely spot-on as well. On the flip, "Neapolitan" proves to be every bit the equal to the A-side. I love that this track surpasses the "forbidden" four-minute mark and still leaves me wanting more. "Honey" is available now from Melbourne label Cool Death, but something tells me it won't be available for long. Fans of punky power pop are gonna flip for this thing!


Monday, February 17, 2020

Danny Dysentery - Making Friends With Fear

I think I need to correct what I've said before about me not liking horror punk very much. I actually only dislike horror punk when it's super dark and humorless. But give me horror punk that's fun, and I'm all about it! I've been a big fan of Danny Dysentery (The Ills, Please Stop!) going back to the early days of this blog. He recently released Making Friends With Fear - a horror-themed solo album full of upbeat songs about gruesome things. Many familiar characteristics of Danny's songwriting are evident here. Seven of 11 tracks come in under two minutes. And when Stacy sings co-lead vocals on "Bookmark", it's impossible to not be reminded of the aforementioned bands. But overall, the feel of this record is different. It's way on the poppier side of punk rock, with keyboards and touches of surf guitar lightening the mood considerably. This is not so much an album for people who want to reflect on death and terror as it is one for people who derive tremendous pleasure from horror movies (although I guess a person could be both!). It's fun and melody-driven, yet strange enough to keep it from being lumped in with "typical" pop-punk. And for me it passes the important test where I would like these songs even if the lyrics were about politics, meteorology, or toothpaste. Danny sure knows how to write interesting and catchy tunes! Making Friends With Fear was almost entirely a DIY project on Danny's part. He spent a year making this album at home, and it really turned out cool. And for the very affordable price of free, it's well worth checking out!


Friday, February 14, 2020

Dirty Cheetah - "Addicted"

Who doesn't love a little filthy and furious action to kick off Valentine's Day?! Today Montreal's Dirty Cheetah has released its new single "Addicted". This song is a teaser for the band's forthcoming album Never Too Late, which will be out soon on Resurrection Records and the illustrious No Front Teeth. If you've heard some of Dirty Cheetah's previous tracks like "I Need It", you ought to have a pretty good idea of what to expect from "Addicted". It's a scorching shot of fuel-injected punk rock and roll that begs to be cranked at the loudest volume possible. This is some hot stuff for sure. You've got guitars ripping hard, a rhythm section going off like a race car, and an overall energy that just can't be denied. And there's plenty of roll to go with all of that rock. This song has got a beat that will get your toes tapping and a hook that's sure to have you singing along. Dirty Cheetah brings together the best of sleazy '70s punk and hellraising '90s "rawk", and I'm totally stoked for the full album! Below you can check out the music video for "Addicted"- which gives you a great feel for the personality and musical identity of Dirty Cheetah. Play loud - or else!


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Prissteens - The Hound

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Prissteens were one of the greatest punk/rock and roll bands to ever come out of New York City. It's exciting and quite a big deal that Girlsville has released the best of the band's non-album output on vinyl for the first time ever! Coming in at an impressive 16 tracks, The Hound collects demos the band recorded in 1999 in preparation for its never-completed second LP along with the tracks from its two brilliant 1996 singles, some songs demoed in advance of the Scandal, Controversy & Romance LP, and both tracks from the privately-released "Oh Howard" 7". It's the perfect companion piece to Scandal, Controversy & Romance - and without doubt a far better summation of what The Prissteens really sounded like. The 7" tracks alone would make this a must-own. The original version of "The Hound" remains one of the wildest and most thrilling garage rock cuts of its time. And "Teenage Dicks" is unquestionably one of the greatest covers recorded by any band ever. But what makes this album such a treat is that it gives you a complete picture of The Prissteens. It covers the full span of the band's existence - from the primitive exuberance of those essential 1996 sides to the more '60s pop and soul influenced material the band was demoing in its waning days. Given the limited amount of songs that can be put on a single LP, CJ's track selection was really critical to making this the ultimate second Prissteens long player. Of all of the band's demos and rarities, these 16 songs are the cream of the crop. Far from mere curiosities, the '99 demos "Sugarboy" and "If You Really Loved Me" are two of the strongest recordings in the Prissteens catalog. The garage rocker "I'm A Mess" is an absolute ripper that rivals the ferocious energy of the band's 7" tracks. The demo version of album favorite "Someday" is far rawer than its better-known counterpart, yet equally great.

Given that there's no actual overlap between The Hound and Scandal, Controversy & Romance, both albums are essential purchases capturing the overlooked greatness of the mighty Prissteens. But while the latter may be difficult to track down, the former is available hot off the presses from Girlsville's Bandcamp. And if you're a super fan, you might be interested in the CD version of The Hound which tacks on 12 more tracks that didn't fit on the LP. Combining the best elements of punk rock, girl groups, garage rock, and '60s pop, The Prissteens were probably out of place on a major label in the late '90s. But in this age when so many bands of a similar spirit have carved out a really nice niche for themselves in the underground, The Prissteens ought to be recognized as true OGs of that whole scene. If you're a longtime fan, The Hound is a no-brainer purchase. And if you're not yet a fan, just push play and you'll quickly become one! 


Sunday, February 09, 2020

Gulag Beach - Sarrazin Diät

Gulag Beach is back and bringing it hard! Hot on the heels of last year's excellent album Potato Mash Bash, new EP Sarrazin Diät is an absolute rager of impassioned melodic punk from this Berlin foursome. Again the sound is a perfect mix of '80s SoCal waves and '90s/2000s NorCal snot delivered with a distinctively German touch. At just four tracks, this EP is lean, mean, and all killer. This is exactly what you'd expect from Gulag Beach: up-tempo, tuneful, and rousing punk rock with something meaningful to say. "Song About Love" was somewhat of a surprise to me: a song about what happens when the excitement of new love fades and two people have to figure out how to grow what they have into something deeper and more permanent. Gulag Beach can do love songs and do them well! Elsewhere the band has a very political and socially conscious message, and it's delivered with tremendous conviction. The last time I reviewed Gulag Beach, I commended the band for endeavoring to write the kinds of punk rock anthems that the world still needs. And they've written some more for this record - songs that will get us tapping our toes or dancing in the pit but also inspire us to resist fascism and the abuse of human rights at every turn. I know it's a different sound. But in a lot of ways, these guys inhabit the spirit of The Clash (my favorite band). Sarrazin Diät builds off the momentum of Potato Mash Bash, but this release is even stronger. Crank up the volume and join the resistance. Vinyl available from Wanda Records!


Friday, February 07, 2020

Kid Gulliver - "Susie Survived Chemotherapy"

The main reason I do this blog is to turn people onto bands they might like. But sometimes it works the other way around where you all help me discover great music! It was Justine Covault who sent Kid Gulliver in my direction, and right away I knew this was my kind of band. In fact, I'm kind of embarrassed that I've been unaware of this group for so long! This is so my cup of tea! Kid Gulliver has been releasing music since 2014 and plays a brand of power pop that's inspired by bits and pieces of '60s pop, '70s punk, '80s new wave, and '90s alt-rock. This band features some well-established players in the Boston rock scene such as guitarist/songwriter David Armillotti (Cookiecutter Girl, Hall Of Mirrors), lead singer Simone Berk (Sugar Snow), and bassist Eric Otterbein (The Deep State, Low Frequency Situation, The Composites). The group recently released a new digital single called "Susie Survived Chemotherapy" that was co-written by Armillotti and Berk. This is a really terrific pop song driven by a melody you'll have a hard time getting out of your head. I dig the nicely contrasting punchy rhythm guitar and melodic leads, and Berk's vocal is sweet, likable, and absolutely perfect for the song. I'm always a sucker for a song that tells a story - especially one like this that takes some dark subject matter and manages to fill it with hope, empathy, and ultimate triumph. And don't we need more of all of these things in the world? As Boston Groupie News so astutely put it, "This should be on every radio, if only radio were good."

In the wake of hearing "Susie Survived Chemotherapy", I've also been spending some time with Kid Gulliver's 2018 EP Spree and finding that I like a whole lot. "Forget About Him" has a distinctive early '90s Boston alternative rock feel to it, while "I Like Your Hair" splendidly blends Armillotti's songwriting aesthetic with Berk's dream pop influences. Both of the band's EPs are $4 downloads from Bandcamp, and "Susie Survived Chemotherapy" is available for one dollar. I am excited to hear more and very thankful that Justine put this band on my radar!


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Phone Jerks - Out the Gate

If Phone Jerks' recent 10-inch full length was not quite full enough for your satisfaction, you should be glad to hear that the band's new EP Out the Gate restores those missing couple of inches and tacks on another five for good measure. That makes 17 inches in all - essentially a full album and 42% of another. No one is getting short-changed on this band's watch! And while Out the Gate is comprised of songs recorded in the same sessions that produced Phone Jerks' two albums, it would be a huge mistake to refer to this material as "scraps". These songs weren't cut from their respective albums so much as they were being saved for a killer 7". The Moncton (yeah, that's in Canada) foursome clearly gets that punk music was made to be played on 7" vinyl. So here we have it - a joint release between Resurrection Records from the USA and Wanda Records from Germany (the Germans sure love Phone Jerks, and why wouldn't they?!). With this EP largely being a continuation/extension of last year's 10 x 10, it's logical that the vibe is similar. These songs hit that sweet spot where Rip Off Records circa 1997 and Sire Records circa 1977 smash into each other at full speed. And true to the band's intentions, this is indeed an absolute ripper of an EP. The title track (an ode to the failed racing career of Emily and Tyler's greyhound Donair) will send you straight to budget trash paradise. "Gospel" is a raging kick in the teeth a la first album Saints. "Kill Kill" falls somewhere in between and must immediately be considered a classic Phone Jerks song. And I love how the band can take Protex's "Don't Ring Me Up" and make it sound like something Teengenerate might have written!

No less of a authority than the distinguished Mick Fletcher has placed Phone Jerks in the highest pantheon of present-day garage punk, and I concur wholeheartedly. I just love how raw and tough these recordings sound (the guitars, as the kids say, are fire). James from Outtacontroller (who have a new album coming out NEXT MONTH!) re-mixed these tracks and absolutely deserves some kind of award. I think in the beginning of Phone Jerks, there was the novelty of "Holy crap! It's just so great that we still have bands that sound like this!" But with each passing release, I'm more struck by what great songwriters all of these fine individuals are. That's right, I'm saying it: Phone Jerks aren't just cool - they're actually good! If you like old style punk rock that's equal parts guts and hooks, this is a must-hear band. The digital version of Out the Gate includes a bonus cover of "Drive Me Crazy" by The Penetrators. Talk about a perfect choice in cover material! I would generally recommend that all fans of The Penetrators check out Phone Jerks and that all fans of Phone Jerks check out The Penetrators. And they really nailed this rendition of "Drive Me Crazy". If they ever needed to, they could totally headline the Catalina Wine Mixer as Atlantic Canada's preeminent 1980s Penetrators cover band. Vinyl ships this coming Saturday. You can order now over at the Resurrection Bandcamp!


Monday, February 03, 2020

Chubby and The Gang - Speed Kills

I'm often indecisive about whether or not I should be writing about releases that are already well-publicized. But usually it comes down to one thing: if I think a record is great and that my readers would like it, I just let 'er rip. So add my name to the chorus of praise for Speed Kills - the rip-roaring debut album from London's Chubby and The Gang. I dig this record because it's an absolute blast! This is the sort of wild, youthful punk rock that cannot be rightfully ignored by a blog that calls itself "Faster and Louder". Given the Oi! and hardcore background of this band (members of Arms Race, Violent Reaction, Gutter Knife), the degree to which this album is influenced by '70s U.K. punk and pub rock might be a little surprising. But it's that unique blend of inspirations that gives this group so much juice. This is like pub rock on steroids! Chubby and The Gang marry the pure energy of early Damned to the boisterous first generation Oi! of Cockney Rejects and then run it all over with a Motörhead steamroller. The term "street punk" has been so overused over the years that I've been very reluctant to invoke it. But if ever I heard an album that truly defined what I think street punk is supposed to be, Speed Kills would be it. These are songs inspired by and written for the streets of London: played with a brash, teeth-smashing force and packing choruses so rousing that it would a terrible shame to sing along without a pint of beer in hand. And while the poppy roots rock of "Trouble" and the impassioned Bragg-ish ballad "Grenfell Forever" make for effective changes of pace, this album overall exudes the spirit that punk music played with this much power and conviction simply can't be stopped. Crank up that volume, hoist your fist in the air, and get yourself inspired to go out into the world and kick some ass.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Justine and the Unclean - "Picking A Fight"

I've been a big fan of Boston foursome Justine and the Unclean going back to the summer of 2017, and today it's my pleasure to feature a teaser single for a new album due out this May. Those of you wishing for more tales of relationships in conflict and men behaving badly are in for a real treat! What I enjoy about this particular single is that shows both sides of the band. "Picking A Fight" is a perfect shot of the band's signature rocking poppy punk. "Sweet Denial", on the other hand, flexes those AOR/hard rock muscles that really came into bloom on the last EP Heartaches and Hot Problems. "Picking A Fight" is a fine example of how to do punk-pop that genuinely kicks ass. The guitars punch, the drums slam, and the tempo is pushed to the brink. Justine not only has a one of a kind voice, but she also can write a catchy hook like nobody's business. What a tune! "Sweet Denial" slows the pace and goes for a heavier sound. Dave Minehan gives this track a massive production, which fits the song perfectly. I love the contrast between the thundering riffs and that melodic, bittersweet chorus. And man, that guitar solo will just about shake your walls! The forthcoming album is titled Every Bone that Breaks, and you can bet it's gonna be something special. Stay tuned to the Rum Bar Records Facebook page for updates on this and many more new releases coming out on the label. Seriously: Lou's putting out music way faster than I can keep up with all of it!


Saturday, February 01, 2020

Brom Bones - resist a rest

Forgive the cliche, but Brom Bones are aging like fine wine (or maybe like a great imperial stout since I'm more of a beer guy). Representing Lancaster, Pennsylvania for 30 years and counting, this punk rock foursome just might have turned out the album of its life with the newly released resist a rest. Incredibly, this is the first time Brom Bones have released an album on vinyl. And given that fact, the band has endeavored to sell most of the LP copies before it makes the album available for download. That ought to work out just fine. Resist a rest is definitely an album worth owning on vinyl. It's a vintage Brom Bones record in the respect that it brings melody, emotion, and power in equal doses. Yet it's also indicative of a band that has been progressing, evolving, and constantly striving to be better for three decades.

To say the members of Brom Bones have strong chemistry would be a huge understatement. Jason, Matt, and Chris have been in this together from the beginning. And Dustin, the "new guy", has been on board for 20 years! They are clicking on all cylinders here: Matt and Dustin locked in tight on bass and drums, Chris dishing out punchy riffs and note-perfect melodic leads, and Jason singing with as much heart, sincerity, and likeability as ever. And Greg "Rex" Litwin makes a special guest appearance - playing stunning guitar on three tracks! I suppose more than a few people assume that a band named Brom Bones would be horror-themed, but far better frames of references would be later '80s melodic punk and post-hardcore. The band has been putting its own spin on melody-driven punk rock for decades, and more recent releases like 2017's Get Down. Stay Down. have offered a fresh take on that old school style with lyrics reflecting the experiences of adults navigating life in the modern world. But while resist a rest is full of thoughtful songs and some of the band's most sophisticated compositions to date, the first thing I noticed about it is that it really rocks! This album was recorded and mixed by Steve Puffer, who exquisitely captures the band's ever-growing pop sensibility while still playing up a big, hard-hitting sound. The guitars totally blast, the bass lines really pop, and those choruses have never sounded more rousing and anthemic.

As great as resist a rest sounds, the material is every bit as impressive. Songs like "Cats & Dogs" and "Drop Out" find the band operating in its tuneful punk wheelhouse and of course are immediately satisfying. "Don't Sleep" delivers this album's definitive mosh pit moment a la Get Down. Stay Down's classic track "Short Fuse". But the more subtle and deliberately-paced tracks are what ultimately distinguish this album. "Subdivision" might be my favorite of the 12 tracks. Rather than knocking you over the head upon contact, it pulls you in slowly with a strong connection between words and melody. It's a perfect example of how to do thoughtful music with power, and it displays some of Brom Bones' finest songwriting yet. "Hard Lesson" starts out with simple melodies and acoustic guitar, and then flows seamlessly into a punk tune with the same basic qualities. "Fugander" demonstrates that "serious" punk music doesn't need to be dull or pompous. I, like many people, was very interested to hear how the band would memorialize original member Sean Wolfe on "Out Comes A Wolfe". I must say I was pretty blown away. If you ever had the chance to speak to someone on the other side that you loved dearly, wouldn't you want to say everything that was on your mind? That's essentially what this song does. It's honest, intensely personal, and deeply human - all of the things that a song of this nature ought to be. 

Following my review of Brom Bones' previous album, an anonymous commentator responded,  "Dudes are rad as fuck, and the sound is that as well". I almost considered using that as my full review of resist a rest! It's been on my mind that this band ought to be better known outside of south central Pennsylvania, and perhaps this will be the album that makes that happen. By turns reflective, serious, heartfelt, existential, and joyful (check out "Her Song"), these songs capture a band at the height of the mastery of its craft. The basic influences have never really changed, but they've been fully absorbed into Brom Bones' own musical identity. A band these guys started 30 years ago is going so strong today that they can genuinely look at this record and know it's the best one they've ever made. And there's a good chance that they'll make another one in a year or two that will be even better! It's inspiring to hear a group of guys my age who so clearly believe that our middle years should be spent still climbing the hill rather than sliding down it. Unless I'm reading it way wrong, the idea of living fully and never slowing down is a central theme of this album. Longtime fans will be stoked. And if you're into '70s punk, old DC and Youth Crew hardcore, and punk music leaning pop, perhaps this band could be an exciting new discovery for you. Bandcamp download price will not be reduced until they get the LPs sold. So if you like what you hear, treat yourself to a record!