Friday, April 09, 2021

The Missile Studs - With Love From The Missile Studs


Well I've got myself a new favorite album of 2021! The Missile Studs, representing as always for Shitsville, South Australia, have unleashed a firecracker of an LP that you're sure to enjoy if you're as obsessed with U.K. '77 punk rock as I am. With Love From The Missile Studs contains nine tracks -- a few of which will be familiar to you if you bought the band's split LP with Thee Evil Twin last year (and if you didn't, what's the matter with you?). This, my friends, is what punk rock ought to be: simple, snotty, and so stupid that it's brilliant. No song exceeds two-and-a-half minutes, and no fourth chord is required at any point. The album is bookended by two different versions of "Missile Studs Theme" -- which by all rights should be Australia's national anthem. In between are songs with titles like "Brain Damaged", "Sooo Useless", and "Kill Me Pills". I'm sure you get the picture. If Sex Pistols/Clash/early Damned is your sweet spot for punk music, The Missile Studs are the band for you. They even do a killer version of the Buzzcocks' classic "Boredom"! Whether you're swilling pints of beer, pogoing around the house, or flipping off anyone within your sights, With Love is the soundtrack to a swell time. It officially releases on vinyl next month on Dirtyflair Record Company, Stamp Out Disco, and No Front Teeth Records. But you can preorder and/or download today! 

Monday, April 05, 2021

Civic - Future Forecast

 


Oh boy, Australian punk music continues to be absolutely on fire! It would be hard to identify just one band at the top of the current crop of killer Aussie punk groups. But you could sure make a very strong case for Melbourne-based Civic -- who have finally unleashed a debut full-length album after knocking us senseless with a handful of great EPs and singles. Out on Flightless Records, Future Forecast builds on Civic's scorching proto punk/rock and roll output of recent years. The band's attack remains as aggressive and hard-hitting as ever, yet it adds new layers of complexity and stylistic variety. Much like another fantastic Melbourne punk band Stiff Richards, Civic has utilized the long playing format to take a massive step forward. No doubt, the influence of The Saints and Stooges still rears its beautiful head. But on Future Forecast, Civic sounds like a band that has fully come into its own and is poised to define what punk rock ought to be in the 2020s. On fierce cuts like "Another Day", "Hollywood Nights in Hamburg", and the ripping opener "Radiant Eye", the band rages at full force and smashes anything in its path. Elsewhere, the foursome eases back on the tempo (but not on the power) on more sophisticated slow-burners such as "As Seen On TV", "Tell the Papers", and epic closer "Come To Know". Along the way, the band also flirts with hardcore ("Just A Fix"), strange post-punk ("Sunday Best"), and old school noise rock ("Shake Like Death"). Put it all together, and you've got yourself a brilliant punk rock album. Of course it has roots in classic Aussie punk, but this is no rehash of old standards. Civic has got its own thing going on, and we ought to just turn up the volume and enjoy it!

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Ryan Allen - Digital Hiss


It's almost guaranteed to be a good sign when an email from a musician begins with "I know I'm a complete nutcase and can't stop releasing stuff!" Well, Ryan Allen is no nutcase. But it's true that he can't stop releasing music. And if I were as talented as Ryan Allen, I too would release music as frequently as possible! Digital Hiss is Allen's ninth release in the last ten months (yeah, really!), and the concept is based on a 4-track recorder he received for Christmas one year as a teenager. He never actually recorded songs on that 4-track (it got loaned to a friend and eventually went missing). But if he had, they likely would have sounded quite a bit like the songs on Digital Hiss. Allen mentions Eric's Trip and Sebadoh as specific influences on this release. More broadly, I'd describe this album as loud, fuzzy, lo-fi indie rock. Unbelievably, the entire EP was written, recorded, and mixed in a single day. Now that's what I call DIY! But just because it's DIY and lo-fi doesn't mean that it's just noise. Allen's knack for loud, simple pop songs of the highest quality is on full display here. I'm reminded of my own roots in underground music -- which was listening to college radio in the early '90s. Honestly, most of these tracks sound like they could be Extra Arms songs if they were worked out with a full band and more fully produced. But the whole point of this project was to replicate the ear-battering majesty of the fuzzed-out indie rock of yore. Mission accomplished! It blows my mind that Allen was inspired enough to write and record all of this material in a single day. This is really great stuff. I'm all for crafting a song over weeks or months if that's what it takes. But there's also something super cool about having that wild burst of creativity and getting everything down on tape while the inspiration is fresh in your mind. It's clear that Ryan Allen has been a remarkably prolific recording artist over the past year. But he's not just been putting out a ton of music --- he's been putting out a ton of really good music! Digital Hiss is very much up to his usual standards and highly recommended to any fan of noisy pop!

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Linnea's Garden - Nowhere Friday Nights

 


Nowhere Friday Nights, the extraordinary debut EP from Linnea's Garden, is a release I would recommend to anyone who loves the kind of music I write about -- or any kind of music at all! The Boston-based band is fronted by Linnea Herzog, formerly of PowerSlut. Out on Red On Red Records, Nowhere Friday Nights will hit the sweet spot for all of you who like your punk rock and power pop. But it also incorporates influences ranging from glam rock to '60s girl groups to new wave to '90s indie/alternative. Herzog, as a singer and songwriter, is a unique and immensely likable talent. She writes smart, funny, and relatable songs with crazy good hooks. What could be better than that? "Non-Dramatic Breakup Song" lives up to its title and is that very rare feelgood breakup song. The words "It makes me want to dance!" are very rarely written about breakup songs, but I would use those exact words to describe this one! "Friday Night" is a triumphant anthem for anyone who turned to music for salvation when COVID threw us all into isolation last year (the lines "Turn up the speaker/And sing like you mean it/You've still got the notes in your hands" give me the feels!). "Science and You" is a wonderful little love song that condenses the joy of sharing a life with someone into a few perfect verses of lyrics. "Replacement" is about being stuck in the middle when two friends break up -- and doing your very best to dispense good advice. "Glitter" is a sex-positive rocker that's vintage Linnea Herzog. 

Nowhere Friday Nights was recorded with Herzog's "quarantine pod" of Hands O'd and Tom O'Donnell (who both played drums and bass). Linnea's Garden's current lineup is Herzog on guitar/lead vocals, Amy Galaviz on bass/backing vocals, and Hands O'd on drums. The only bad thing I can say about Nowhere Friday Nights is that it leaves me wanting more. And I suppose that's not a bad thing to say at all! If you, like me, still can't get enough of this band, be sure to check out the excellent digital singles "Superspreader", "Like the Patriarchy", and "I Wanna Try on Yr Clothes" on Bandcamp. Red On Red keeps on delivering the hits! 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Rich Ragany And The Digressions - "Heartbreakers Don't Try"


Rich Ragany is no stranger to this blog. I have reviewed four of his albums -- three that he made with his band Role Models as well as his brilliant solo debut ...Like We'll Never Make It. I even interviewed him back in 2018. In my book, Rich Ragany is one of the finest songwriters in all of rock and roll. As Ragany began working on solo endeavors a few years back, he collaborated with a number of talented friends of his. So strong was his connection with all of these players that they ended up becoming his full-time band The Digressions. The full band is Ragany on vocals and guitar, Kit Swing (Mallory Knox, Seven Days and Doesn't Die) on vocals and guitar, Gaff (Glitterati and Dedwardians) on lead guitar, Ricky McGuire (UK Subs, The Men They Couldn't Hang) on bass, Simon Maxwell (Role Models, The Loyalties) on drums, and longtime Role Models producer Andy Brook on keyboards. While it has been a number of years since ...Like We'll Never Make It came out, we can look forward to a new album from Rich Ragany And The Digressions coming soon. While we wait, we can now enjoy the band's brand-new single "Heartbreakers Don't Try". It's a tune that's very serious and totally uplifting all at the same time. Ragany describes it as a song "about the fight you can have with depression... and that great feeling of just standing up and taking on the day, week, or challenge." Ragany has written some absolute gems over the years, and this one is up there with the best of 'em. That hook is classic Rich Rags, and the lyrics absolutely knock me out. Brook on keyboards and Swing on backing vocals turn in stunning performances that push this track to a whole other level. This, to me, is song of the year for 2021 so far! Be on the lookout for a full album arriving this summer. In the meantime, don't miss "Heartbreakers Don't Try". And be sure to grab ...Like We'll Never Make It if you haven't already!

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Vista Blue - Stealing Signs


You see the cover art and the title. You see the name of the band. I know what you're thinking: Vista Blue released a baseball song for opening day again? Well guess what -- Mike threw that speedball by you! You were expecting something about the Houston Astros maybe, but you got...a love song! Isn't that what you wanted in the first place? "Stealing Signs" is the title cut from Vista Blue's new EP -- which Mike and Mark recorded in Nashville this past winter. It's a vintage Vista Blue blast of power pop influenced pop-punk (or maybe vice versa). The melodies are memorable, the harmonies are on-point, and the baseball metaphor is a brilliant touch. And I always love a pop group that appreciates the value of a nicely executed fadeout ending. Vista Blue knocked this one out of the park! The rest of the EP is a nice hodgepodge of new songs, cover tunes, and previously released songs. "She's Not the One For You", which first appeared on the Ramonescore Radio Records Rock Against Cancer compilation, is some buzzing pop-punk to get your toes tapping. You could probably make an argument that this song is the "hit" of the EP, although I'm still partial to "Stealing Signs". I will ask Nick Spoon for a ruling. "Bryan Funck Ripped Us Off" is a new version of an old Robinsons song. "Saturday Night" was recorded for a Mutant Pop Records tribute album coming soon on Ramonescore Radio Records. I love the cover choice, and I love the version (early Wanna-Bes had to have been an influence on Mike's songwriting). The original number "I Miss You" is 83 seconds of perfect pop-punk. As everyone east or west of the Rockies knows, "Safari" was originally done by Parasite Diet on its 2017 album Coast To Coast

It never really feels like Major League Baseball opening day if it's not accompanied by a new EP from Vista Blue. And while there are technically no songs about baseball on Stealing Signs, it still feels good to have this EP on repeat today as I enter the realm of despair, disappointment, and dashed hopes that is another Philadelphia Phillies season. I always feel like I'm being unfaithful to pop-punk Vista Blue when I so heavily praise the band's more power pop leaning releases. Well on this release, the band is definitely flexing its pop-punk chops -- and I love it!


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Reducers - Live: New York City 2005


The Reducers are a must-hear band for any follower of this blog. Just as punk music was shifting in the hardcore direction in the early to mid '80s, The Reducers were fully embracing old style punk rock with roots in pub rock and roll. In the '90s and 2000s, The Reducers fit right in with the burgeoning garage punk movement and the newer generations of traditional punk rock bands. The joke about The Reducers was that they were the best band you'd never heard. Except in our world, they were heard by plenty! The group existed for nearly 35 years with one constant lineup: Hugh Birdsall and Peter Detmold on vocals and guitar, Steve Kaika on vocals and bass, and Tom Trombley on drums. The Reducers LIVE: NEW YORK CITY 2005, originally released as a New Year's treat for fans, is now getting a proper digital release on Rave On Records. The album captures The Reducers' live performance at Arlene's Grocery in New York City from June 4, 2005. Longtime fans will definitely enjoy this set -- which features songs from all of the band's LPs along with some non-album tracks and a few choice cover selections. And if you're not yet familiar with The Reducers, this album would be a perfectly good place to start. It captures a vintage Reducers performance. There's very little fooling around or idle banter -- just great high-energy rock and roll delivered by a tight band in top form. The band knocks out 16 songs in 47 minutes, and the quality of this soundboard recording is top-notch. The material runs the gamut from the early classics ("Let's Go", "Out of Step", "Bums I Used To Know") to more recent favorites ("Nothing Cool", "I Don't Mind"). And the cover choices (The Boys, Chris Spedding, Rolling Stones, Teengenerate) give you a great feel for the variety of musical influences that informed The Reducers. If you like what you hear, you should definitely check out all of the other Reducers releases available from Rave On Records. In particular, the best-of collection Redux is essential listening for any fan of old school punk and pub rock. The Reducers LIVE: NEW YORK CITY 2005 is indeed a treat for old fans -- and an opportunity for new fans to become acquainted with one of the best bands ever!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Lesser Creatures - Issue One


The first time I heard Lesser Creatures (on Mike Patton's radio show The Radiant Radish), my instant reaction was, "Hey, this is the best Screeching Weasel song in years!" I quickly learned that it was actually Lesser Creatures, a duo comprised of Nick Spoon from Ramonescore Radio Records and Zac Buzzkill from The Radio Buzzkills. I swore to god that I was forever burned out on any band that reminded me of Screeching Weasel. But give credit to Lesser Creatures, for they've made a liar out of me! I would describe the band's debut full-length Issue One as exactly the kind of record I would have tried to make 25 years ago if I had had the musical talent to pull it off. It's pop-punk by the book, carried off with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. It's odd that nine out of ten albums that sound like this would bore the hell out of me, yet somehow this one hits the sweet spot. The influences are obvious. Clearly these guys have worn out their treasured copies of Boogadaboogadaboogada! and My Brain Hurts. In spots, I'm also reminded of The Vindictives, Sloppy Seconds, and early Connie Dungs. This is what you call a tried-and-true formula, and Lesser Creatures pump it full of life with simple catchy tunes and engaging lyrics that range from goofy to thoughtful. And the execution of the formula is top-notch. As far as Weasel rips go, "Negative Nick" is pretty close to perfect. Elsewhere, songs cover everything from pop culture references ("The Office Drinking Game", "Jim Lahey") to love & relationships ("Nowhere With Me", "Stephanie Jean") to social commentary ("Reset The World") to wanting to go to Germany ( "SV Meppen") to living with depression ("Smartest People"). There are also really cool covers of Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" and The Proms' classic "Spike-A-Da-Punch". 

All in all, Issue One is a really fun record. If you don't like pop-punk, this is not an album that's going to cause you to reconsider your position. But if you can never get enough pop-punk, you're gonna freaking love Issue One! As someone who came to the world of reviewing music way back when due to my excitement over the early '90s pop-punk scene, I hear this album and am quickly reminded of why I got into all of that stuff in the first place. Get it now from OUTLOUD! Records!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Dany Laj and The Looks - "Don't Keep Me Guessin'"


Near the top of my list of 2021 album releases I'm most excited for is Ten Easy Pieces, the third LP from Dany Laj and The Looks. The album will be out in June, and its first single "Don't Keep Me Guessin'" was recently released digitally. Clearly 2020 was a tough year for all bands and musicians. But for Dany Laj and The Looks, who absolutely live to tour, it must have been excruciating. Laj spent much of 2020 writing new songs and reworking old ones -- continuing a process that dated back to the previous year. Eventually he had enough material for three albums. But, no, it's not time for the triple LP just yet. Ten Easy Pieces will feature 12 of the best songs Laj and his bandmates have worked on over the past two years. I can tell that "Don't Keep Me Guessin'" was a fine choice for lead single because every time I play it, I end up listening to it four or five times. One play always leaves me wanting more! This is a very significant song for Laj personally. He wrote it ten years ago after he first met his life partner and bass player Jeanette Dowling. Musically, it's classic Dany Laj and the Looks. While broadly classified as power pop, this is a band that never limits itself in terms of musical style. You can't really put this song into a genre. It sounds a little like Irish folk, a little like bluegrass, and a little like pop. I like that there was a real-life happy ending to "Don't Keep Me Guessin'", but there is a cool contrast here between the uncertainties expressed in the lyrics and the lively, happy feel of the music. This is a song you can't help singing along with, and for sure it will make you wanna dance. You know it will be a crowd favorite once it's safe enough for Dany Laj and The Looks to get back out on the road! For now, you can download "Don't Keep Me Guessin'" from a variety of digital platforms. And watch out for Ten Easy Pieces, which releases June 11 on Toronto-based label We Are Busy Bodies!

The SUCK - Boris Sprinkler


Somehow the world made it through all of last year without any new music from the SUCK. Man, that was a rough go. Fans were so distraught that a great many went as far as to proclaim 2020 the worst year ever. Fortunately, the unbearable wait is almost over. Boris Sprinkler, the second album from these Mid-Atlantic street rock champions, will officially be out next weekend on Mom's Basement Records. 2019's In​-​Cog​-​Neat​-​O surely set a standard that the SUCK would be hard-pressed to maintain. What would it take for the band to concoct another batch of tunes as massively rocking, supremely amusing, thoroughly unoriginal, and brilliantly stupid as the eight songs that comprised In​-​Cog​-​Neat​-​O? These secrets have never been revealed, but I believe Boris Sprinkler is the fruit of much deep reflection, excessive drinking, and deep reflection under the influence of excessive drinking. 

Having already perfected a formula for what a SUCK album ought to be, the band took great care to not disappoint the fan base. Eight of Boris Sprinkler's ten tracks clock in at under two minutes, and the songwriting continues to strictly adhere to the tenet that no band needed to exist after the Ramones, except maybe HEAD. There are certain things we all demand from a SUCK album, so let's go ahead and run Boris Sprinkler through the checklist. Is there a song about drinking? There are actually multiple songs referencing drinking, but "Fantasy Beer League" is THE song about drinking and an instant classic in the SUCK canon. For a guy who loves sports, I am surprisingly terrible at fantasy leagues. But I feel like I could be a contender in this one! Is there a party song on this record? Why yes: "Who Brought The Tits" chronicles a basement hang so epic that a six-foot sub was fully consumed and The Dunk started throwing chairs. Check! Does the band manage another song as wrong and inappropriate as the last album's "Vape Store"? Why, yes: "You're Not Home" is way more wrong and way more inappropriate! Is there a cover of some unheralded pop-punk classic that's not nearly as good as the original? For sure, and this time it's The Proteens' "I Told You So". Does the album end with a devastating tale of heartbreak and despair exacerbated by modern technology? Why, yes: "J Prozac on a BMX Bike" is even better than its last album counterpart "The Catfish" and a reminder that the SUCK could be a top-rate pop-punk band if they ever lost the physical wherewithal to rock the streets. Elsewhere, there are songs about Dungeons & Dragons, suave secret agents, and, uh, jugs. The SUCK are nothing if not renaissance men. 

My love/hate relationship with the musical genre known as "Ramonescore" tends to mirror my love/hate relationship with IPAs. Overall I find the style to be overdone and largely full of indistinguishable clones. But the handful of exceptions are truly magnificent. I'll gladly take a Troegs Perpetual any day of the year. And the SUCK is the Troegs Perpetual of its world. It seems fitting that the SUCK is on the same record label that has released music by The Vapids and NECK. If you like those bands, you will also like the SUCK. In fact, you probably already like the SUCK if you like those bands! Boris Sprinkler is a bigger and better follow-up to its formidable predecessor. The Alien and The Dunk have again turned out some of the hottest-sounding guitars in all of the land. The Cola remains a unique and charismatic vocal presence -- as convincing boasting about the stun gas in his key chain as he is pining over the girl who broke his heart years ago. And the Problem and the Basement continue to do all of the unappreciated work of keeping everything simple and tight (notice that on the album cover, they appear ready to start playing at a moment's notice, while The Dunk looks like he may have just murdered a man with his guitar). As a lifetime Pennsylvanian, I am proud that we get to count the SUCK as one of our own. Although I believe that 20% of Delaware may be eligible to claim the SUCK as well. I'll need to get a ruling on that. Boris Sprinkler officially releases the day after April 1st -- because the SUCK doesn't fool around! 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Goin' Places - Save The World


Continuing its established pattern of releasing an album every decade, beloved Staten Island pop-punk trio Goin' Places is back with the wonderful Save The World. Out on Mom's Basement Records, Save The World is the band's first album in nine years and just its third album overall. It's hard to believe that Goin' Places has now been a band for 20 years. But the numbers sure don't lie! It's a tricky proposition for a pop-punk band to "grow up". One hand, you know you can't go on forever strictly writing songs about the teenage experience. On the other hand, you risk losing the entire appeal of the band if you "mature" too much. Goin' Places have navigated this transition brilliantly. 

Save The World is an album guaranteed to satisfy longtime fans. As always, Richie, Victor, and Frank stick close to the Green Day/Queers/MTX playbook with deeper roots in the harmony and melody driven rock and roll of the 1960s. They've made a pop-punk record for people who love pop-punk -- and you would not expect anything different from Goin' Places. But that doesn't mean that Save The World is a total copy of its two predecessors. Lyrically, it's far more serious and thoughtful than previous albums. This is a record full of songs about getting older, confronting disappointment and failure, reflecting on the past, and figuring out what lies ahead. Some of the album's finest tracks ("4:04", "Live Those Times", "Message In A Dream") reflect that the band members are in a far different place in life than they were when they made Girl Songwriting 101. Yet even with all of that deeper thinking involved, the songs remain steeped in the trio's old standbys: catchy melodies, tight harmonies, and Richie and Victor's likable tag team vocals. Fear not, though: Goin' Places may have gotten more serious, but they still aren't taking themselves too seriously. On "This Song Is Not About A Girl", they have a great time poking fun at themselves and almost every other pop-punk band out there. Meanwhile, "Listen To My Love Song" and "Across The Room" actually are about girls and are absolutely great! Elsewhere the band isn't above throwing in a couple of crowd-pleasing numbers ("I'm Gonna Steal Your Girlfriend", "Cell Phone Girl") that embrace nearly every teenage pop-punk cliché in the book, much to our collective delight. 

Save the World begins with the premise that there's too much hate and divineness in our world, and that maybe some fun pop songs could bring people together. That's a cause I can fully endorse, and Goin' Places are more than up to the task. Save The World, although it features an older, wiser Goin' Places, is still tremendous fun and a reminder that sometimes great pop is exactly what we need. While these guys were already qualified to write a college course on girl songwriting a couple decades back, now they've clearly graduated to teaching the masters class.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Local Drags - Keep Me Glued


It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I reviewed Shit's Lookin' Up, the debut full-length album from Springfield, Illinois's Local Drags. Time flies when the world's going through hell! I am happy to report that Local Drags have released a terrific second album titled Keep Me Glued on Stardumb Records. On this release, singer/guitarist Lanny Durbin is joined by his Starter Jackets bandmates Fred Malcom and Carter Bibb. With Luke McNeill from Starter Jackets producing the album, the strong connection between these two bands is quite clear. But whereas Starter Jackets inhabit a perpetual early '80s new wave universe, Local Drags continue in the vein of Midwestern indie rock/power pop circa the later '80s and early '90s. Keep Me Glued has a reflective, melancholic vibe to it while still packing plenty of punch. The influence of Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, and The Replacements remains foundational to Local Drags - along with touches of '90s college radio power pop. And on this album, I'm reminded quite bit of the poppier side of D Generation. This is a really enjoyable set of mid-tempo power pop songs. Durbin knows how to write a solid tune with a hook, and the feel of this record is just perfect for an emerging spring. It makes me wanna crack open a can of cheap beer and sit on the porch contemplating my life. I love that this album is available on "chemical lake blue" vinyl! Order your copy from Stardumb Records in Europe and The Machine Shop  in the U.S.A.!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Indonesian Junk - Living In a Nightmare


On its fourth LP, Milwaukee's Indonesian Junk continues to blend the best parts of punk, glam, power pop, and arena rock into one singularly awesome sound that no reasonable human being could possibly resist. IndoJunk singer/guitarist Daniel James wrote Living In a Nightmare in May and June of last year. He and his bandmates Johnny Cyanide (bass), Mike Mattner (drums), and Adam Turetzky (guitar) recorded the album over a weekend in October with Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings in Milwaukee. 

The timing of this album's creation might lead you to believe that the title is a reference to 2020 and the Coronavirus. But the nightmare being referenced here is systematic racial inequality in America -- and the grim realization that half of the country either denies its existence or simply doesn't care. For this release, James has written a pair of powerhouse protest anthems in "Livin' in the USA" and "Policeman". Both songs rage furiously against this unacceptable state of a nation. Yet what makes them so riveting is that they are killer tunes first and foremost. "Livin' in the USA" is a scorching punk tune that for some reason reminds me a little of Demolition 23. And "Policeman" is the very definition of an anthem -- its catchy sing-along chorus doubling as a rallying cry against injustice. It takes a skilled songwriter to craft an album where tales of heartbreak can logically co-exist with songs addressing important social issues. Yet James has pulled off that very thing here. And it feels so authentic to him. He's a passionate guy, and Living In a Nightmare is essentially his heart on a plate. 

Living In a Nightmare, to me, is the best Indonesian Junk album because it gives you a little bit of everything that makes this band so cool. It's a record full of big hooks, catchy tunes, loud guitars, and ripping solos. "Type of a Girl" and "One More Try" is an opening 1-2 punch that would be the envy of most power pop bands. "I Don't Mind" sounds like the best song that Richard Hell and the Voidoids never wrote. "Tracy" could be a long-lost Joneses song. At nine minutes plus, "Bawlin' My Eyes Out" is the epic closer every great album ought to have. Whether you're a punk lifer, a glam rocker, a power pop geek, or just someone who waits patiently for Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick to come on when the Boomer FM channel is playing, there's something on this album for you. It releases today on compact disc on Rum Bar Records. Vinyl will be available this summer on Spiderbite Records!

Beebe Gallini - Pandemos


Pandemos is the long-awaited debut album from Beebe Gallini -- a band I've been exceptionally fond of going back to those ancient times of five years ago. The band recorded these songs in December 2019 strictly as demos. But then 2020 happened. Live shows and even proper band rehearsals were suddenly out of the question. Life gave Beebe Gallini lemons, and Beebe Gallini went ahead and made delicious lemonade! An album's worth of demos were sent off to Geza X for mastering. And today, Pandemos releases on the mighty Rum Bar Records! 

First thing's first: Pandemos absolutely sounds like a "real" album. Sometimes "demo" translates to "rough" or "unfinished", but in this case the rawness of the recordings gives them a live (and lively!) energy. The lineup for this particular album is Miss Georgia Peach on vocals and guitar, Amy Larson Pearson on bass and vocals, and Travis Ramin on drums and lead guitar. These tracks were originally recorded as a way to share material with new guitarist Monet Wong. Now the whole world gets to enjoy them! 

What's exciting to me is that I finally get to hear a large selection of original songs from Beebe Gallini. To this point, this band has been best known for its fantastic cover versions of garage and rock and roll songs from the '60s. Pandemos certainly does not lack for crackling cover tunes. The band's version of Randy and the Radiants' 1965 Donna Weiss-penned single "My Way of Thinking" is rock and roll at its most joyful and electrifying. And after hearing the band's take on the Bee Gees classic "To Love Somebody", the only response my brain could muster was wow. But can these folks write originals to rival the covers? You bet they can! Pandemos features six songs written by Miss Georgia Peach and another three written by Amy Larson Pearson. Running the gamut from high energy garage rock ("Little Sister") to glammy hard rock ("Mean Mama") to hopped-up rhythm & blues ("Busy Izzy") to straight-up red-hot rock and roll ("Danny"), these original songs fit in so well that you might suspect that they are covers! This is an album that builds on Beebe Gallini's previous musical identity. Of course you can throw on this album once it's safe to host your next garage rock house party. But I like how some of these songs reveal added dimensions to the Beebe Gallini experience. The heavy rocker "Bad Man" could almost be a Short Fuses song, while "Dusty" fully engages the band's pop side. And I love the way the album ends, with the sweet & heartwarming "Poppington Station" flowing straight into the band's thundering version of Roz Rogoff's anthem of empathy and acceptance, "Nobody Loves the Hulk".   

Had Beebe Gallini chosen to sit on these '19-'20 winter demos, we certainly would have gotten a debut album eventually. But no doubt the band played back these tracks and knew it already had an album the world would want to hear. And it certainly it didn't hurt that the band had Geza X on hand to work his mastering magic! The old joke about a singer being so good that you would listen to them "sing the phone book" certainly applies to Miss Georgia Peach. But luckily, there was already an album's worth of material in the can. I can't imagine how big that Twin Cities phone book must be. It would probably take a box set to get all of that down on tape. Pandemos is a royal treat for fans of garage rock and rock and roll in general. All the kids are telling me that these tunes have a good beat and you can dance to 'em. Let us look forward to future recordings from Beebe Gallini's current lineup and eventually live shows. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Pandemos release party event this Sunday night! And dig the amazing music video (embedded below) for "My Way of Thinking" created by Wendy Norton from Norton Video. If we ever need to explain rock and roll to visitors from another planet, this video will do the trick!


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Blowers- self titled


Melbourne's Blowers have released one of the year's most essential punk rock long players. Out on Spooky Records (Australia) and Chaputa Records (Portugal), this 15-track, self-titled smasher brings to mind the 1990s heyday of blown-out budget punk trash. This is the real deal lo-fi garage punk sound: raw, rude, and catchy as hell. That may seem like such a simple musical style, but rarely have I heard it executed in such an immensely satisfying way. These tunes will have you tapping your toes, bobbing your head, and extending your middle finger in the direction of everyone who pisses you off. If you find most of the garage punk of today to be sorely lacking in foul language, sick humor, and general savagery, Blowers will fully restore your faith in humanity. An absolutely brilliant debut!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Dead Meat (II)


Last year I went absolutely wild over the debut EP from London punk supergroup Dead Meat. This band hits that sweet spot where the tougher side of '70s punk rock meets the roots of hardcore. The good news is that Dead Meat is back with a second EP on No Front Teeth Records -- again recorded by Ben Perrier. The bad news is that this is the final release from Dead Meat. As you can imagine, band rehearsals are challenging to arrange with members living in different countries and some even residing on different continents! But given the Killed By Death vibe of Dead Meat's recordings, it seems rather appropriate that their final output will be measured by just two EPs. Dead Meat's second EP is very much like the first one. It includes four ripping tracks which all run well under two minutes. The tunes are raw and mean but also catchy as hell. If you like punk tunes that make you wanna bob your head even as they punch you in the mouth, this is definitely the record for you! While this will be the final release from Dead Meat, Adrian and Fisher are working on a new band in a similar vein. And Vince and Jake will continue to assault the world's collective eardrums with the mighty Kool and the Gang Bangers and The Cavemen. Standard copies of Dead Meat II will be spray-painted on a leather sleeve by Marco NFT himself. That means that no two copies will be alike -- record collectors are gonna go crazy! Supplies are limited, so get your orders in! 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Brad Marino - "Even The Score"


We are now just seven weeks away from the release of Brad Marino's new album Looking For Trouble! Ahead of this upcoming full-length release on Rum Bar Records, Spaghetty Town Records, Beluga Records, and Ghost Highway Recordings, Marino has given us another sneak peak with his new single "Even The Score". Backed by his Connection bandmates Craig Sala and Bobby Davis, Marino delivers the goods on this twangy mid-tempo rocker. The cool blend of Marino's slide guitar and Davis's acoustic guitar gives this tune a country rock tinge that brings to mind peak-era Rolling Stones. And Marino's lyrics are fantastic has always. "Well you can keep trying to dig my grave/I got a head start already" is gonna be a hard line to top in 2021! You can grab a download of "Even the Score" for $1 from Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify. What a killer tune! I am so pumped for the full album!


Wassup Rocker Radio Presents: Sick Sounds 3


Sick Sounds 3
is the third installment in Wassup Rocker Radio's on-going series of free digital compilations. Every week on Wassup Rocker Radio, Alex Kish plays the best in new punk rock, garage rock, power pop, and rock and roll from all over the globe. His Sick Sounds compilations always feature a great selection of some of his favorite current bands. Volume 3 is no different. If you dig punk, garage, and power pop, you are sure to find much to like among these 20 tracks. A number of these bands are big favorites of mine as well. I have raved about Radio Days, The Yum Yums, The Putz, The Lemon Drop Gang, Self-Cut Bangs, Goldie Dawn, Sister Suzie, and The Linda Lindas all within the past year. But thanks to this comp, I've discovered some new favorites that were not previously on my radar. Highlights for me are songs by Aussie punk trio Dennis Cometti, Brooklyn-based bands Fun Time Objects and QWAM, and Boston "peri-apocalyptic glam punk" group Linnea's Garden. Kish did a great job assembling this comp. At only 20 tracks, it's "leaner" than the two previous volumes. But every track is killer, and I appreciate that these musical selections cover ground ranging from pop-punk to hardcore to post-punk. I also like that with each volume of Sick Sounds, you get an entirely new group of bands. These comps are a great way to discover awesome new music for free. And if you like what you hear and want to support these artists, you can click on the "more info" link next to each track for information on where to buy the music. For more details on how you can listen to Wassup Rocker Radio, check out its Blogger and Facebook pages linked below! 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Sister Suzie - "What's Your Deal"


"What's Your Deal", the first vinyl release from Edmonton's Sister Suzie, is an exciting double shot of catchy, kick-ass rock and roll. Out on LSM Vinyl (a division of Pirates Press), this 7" features two of the strongest tracks from Sister Suzie's digitally-released debut album Don't Want To. Stylistically, this band brings to together the best elements of junkshop glam, traditional rock and roll, and glam-influenced old style punk rock a la Cock Sparrer & Slaughter and the Dogs. "What's Your Deal" is a straight-up rock and roll anthem. It's got that foot-stomping, big guitar glam rock sound with huge, sticky hooks and shouted-out backing vocals. Andrea has rock star charisma out front, and behind her is a band with tight, rockin' chops. That guitar solo is bad-ass! On the flip, "Automaton" is punkier and not quite as sleazy --- but still likely to get you up and shaking what you got. And be careful: that hook will stick in your skull! 

After nearly six years as a band, Sister Suzie are poised for a huge 2021. The group will be following "What's Your Deal" with a second single coming out soon on Reta Records! Vinyl copies of "What's Your Deal" can be ordered here! Digital versions are available from both the Sister Suzie and Reta Records Bandcamps!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

The Gold Needles - What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You?

Another in a string of truly excellent albums to be released in early 2021 is the third LP from Hull, U.K.'s The Gold Needles. Out on JEM Records, What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You? follows up 2019's acclaimed release Through A Window. The Gold Needles are very typical of the talent on the JEM roster right now in the respect that their sound is grounded in a timeless devotion to melody. You can hear obvious influences from the '60s -- but probably just as many from the '70s and '80s. The band -- made up of Simon Dowson (guitar), Dave Burbage (guitar, keyboards), Mark English (keyboards), and Carl Slaughter (bass) -- recorded What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You? while under COVID lockdown last year. 

Across 12 tracks, What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You? explores numerous musical styles falling under the larger umbrella of psychedelic pop. If you just heard the title track and noted that the album features covers of The Hollies' "Have You Ever Loved Somebody?" and The Beatles' "If I Needed Someone", you might assume that The Gold Needles have taken up permanent residence in the mid-to-late '60s. But while the Byrds-like majesty of "What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You?" is a true pleasure to behold, it's just one facet of the musical experience The Gold Needles have in store for us. The band proves just as comfortable occupying the lane of psych-tinged post-punk/new wave on the brilliant "I Get The Pressure" and a fine cover of The Sound's "Counting The Days". Elsewhere, the band rocks out on "Susie Is Sorted (She Doesn't Care)", channels early '80s FM power pop on "The Story of My Life", and travels to the darker realms of prog rock on "Realm of the Black Dog". It's an eclectic mix of songs for sure, yet it's tied together nicely by the band's penchant for beautifully-crafted melodies and  splendidly-executed harmonies. This is simply a class effort from a class band. "What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You?" and "I Get The Pressure" is an opening 1-2 punch to die for. "Billy Liar" might have the catchiest chorus of any song this year. And while three cover tunes might seem like a lot for one album, they are all fantastically suited to this particular set of songs. I had to admit I was slightly skeptical when I read a list of the album's influences including The Moody Blues, Asia, and the Beach Boys. But now that I've heard the album, it actually makes perfect sense! Another big winner from JEM!

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Death By Unga Bunga - Heavy Male Insecurity


As we've moved into the third month of 2021, I've fallen a little behind on some of the really good full-length albums that have been released so far this year. I'll start playing catch-up with the fifth LP by Norwegian rockers Death By Unga Bunga. Heavy Male Insecurity does include the four songs the band released as singles last year. So you already have an idea of what to expect: big catchy arena rock with power pop hooks and garage/punk roots. If you liked the band's last couple of albums, you'll love this one! 

While not fully a concept album, Heavy Male Insecurity does explore at length the very hot topic of modern-day masculinity. The lead track "Modern Man" is a true anthem for our times. It employs touches of humor to make a very serious statement about what it ought to mean to be a man in today's world. The hooks on this track are massive! While you're pumping your fist and shouting along, you're joining Death By Unga Bunga in defining a more contemporary, less toxic brand of masculinity. The band's modern man is in touch with his emotions, caring and considerate, and willing to fight against injustice and prejudice. He also enjoys baking and makes an effort to eat less meat. I might have to work on that last part, but I can dig what the band is saying here. "Egocentric" revisits the same theme by exploring the antithesis of the modern man: the overgrown child who fully lacks empathy. Elsewhere "All Pain, No Gain" hits very close to home as it pokes fun at dudes like me who are in the gym every day obsessing over their "gains". Maybe I should feel personally attacked, but I find this song quite funny and very much on-point. And what a banger this track is -- taking the "action rock" genre straight over the top and even going full-on Iron Maiden in the guitar solo! 

Heavy Male Insecurity complements Death By Unga Bunga's outstanding 2020 singles ("Egocentric", "Not Like The Others", "Live Until I Die, Trouble") with some of the band's strongest material to date. This album delivers a great mix of radio-ready power pop hits ("Like Your Style"), epic arena numbers ("White Lies"), and big hooky rockers ("My Buddy and Me"). This whole "'70s hard rock meets power pop with a punk influence" genre is hardly a new thing, but Death By Unga Bunga pulls it off better than almost anyone else. This is a band that knows how to write quality tunes with legit hooks. These guys come off like they'd be super fun to hang out with, and their music manages to reflect that. I don't see how anyone could watch the music video "Egocentric" and not totally love these guys! If you're looking for a contemporary and enlightened take on the arena rock of yore, you cannot go wrong with Heavy Male Insecurity

Friday, March 05, 2021

The Sino Hearts - Rock 'N Roll Hurricane


Welcome to America, The Sino Hearts! Having already released two excellent albums in Europe, Beijing's finest power pop punk rock and rollers now have an album available in the United States! Out on Otitis Media Records, Rock 'N Roll Hurricane is essentially a collection of the best tracks from the band's previous long players Leave the World Behind (2018) and Mandarin A Go​-​Go (2020). Featuring the singing, songwriting, and instrumental talents of Zhong (ex DeeCracks), The Sino Hearts form a bridge between modern-day pop-punk and the classic powerpop/punk of the Buzzcocks, Boys, and Ramones. Of course I sense in Zhong a kindred spirit in terms of musical taste. But with The Sino Hearts, it's not just about the influences. It's about how Zhong interprets these inspirations and creates a unique sound within the pop/punk world. The music of The Sino Hearts is, above all else, great fun. It's energetic, catchy, and deeply ingrained with an innocence and romanticism that trace all the way back to early rock and roll. The style is familiar, but Zhong gives it a rhythm and feel that is immediately recognizable as his own. He's a likeable vocalist and one heck of a guitar player as well. The song selection for Rock 'N Roll Hurricane was spot-on. If this is your first purchase of a Sino Hearts album, you are getting all of the essential cuts -- such as "Teenage Rebel", "Back to the Sentimental Club", "Out of Fun", "Loveless Nights", and "Mandarin A Go-Go". And it all flows like one single album. Rock 'N Roll Hurricane is highly recommended to eternal teenagers, guitar romantics, and anyone who enjoys pop-punk with deep roots.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Radio Days - "Till the End of the Night"

 

One of my most highly anticipated albums releases of 2021 is the forthcoming long player from Milan-based outfit Radio Days. Rave On! will be out May 21st on Screaming Apple Records, Ammonia Records, Rock Indiana, Sounds Rad, and Wizzard In Vinyl. To whet our appetites for the album release, Radio Days has previewed a couple of tracks as singles. The latest, "Till the End of the Night", is the perfect complement to the lively power pop of last November's hit "I Got A Love". "Till the End of the Night" is less rock and more pure pop -- an elegant and very pretty tune featuring exquisite melodies that you'll be whistling all day. I'm hearing a big Paul McCartney influence on this track, and that can never be a bad thing! It's hard to believe it's been five years already since Radio Days released Back In The Day. That was an incredible album. But based on the tracks that have been leaked so far, it seems likely that Rave On! will be even better. The wait is almost over!

 

-L.R.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

canine 10 - "Real Fake Love"


Released just in time for Valentine's Day, canine 10's "Real Fake Love" is the ultimate cynical love song. On this wonderfully bitter digital single, the Philadelphia foursome sounds more than ever like a geekier, Americanized Buzzcocks. The title track is classic canine 10 --- blending jaded lyrics about the inevitability of romantic dysfunction with hummable melodies, a cool guitar riff, and a chorus that's bound to be stuck in your head for days. It's actually the second track on the digital release. But if this were a 45, "Real Fake Love" would almost certainly be the A-side. I'm aware that we are well past Valentine's Day at this point. But if you're lonely and miserable, it's never too late to take comfort in knowing that many coupled individuals are equally miserable. If there was any question about canine 10 being modern masters of the anti love song, this track ought to seal the deal! The peppier, punkier "I Know You Know" is a treat in its own right. I hereby declare canine 10 the most underrated pop group on the scene today -- and I myself have been guilty of much of that underrating. My failure to list the band's album Nonsense! in my top 30 albums of 2020 has kept me awake at night and might even be a criminal offense here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. "Real Fake Love" is definitely the top single of 2021 so far! 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Wild Sandals - Sandale Grande


It's been well-established that I like pop-punk the best when it sticks close to the harmony and melody driven traditional pop music of the early-to-mid '60s. And if that's the case, you'd figure that I'd be going crazy for the new album from Wild Sandals. You'd sure be right! Wild Sandals are Florian from The Favorats and Beppo from The Hawaiians teaming up to cover classic surf and pop songs from the '60s...and write original songs in the very same spirit. While Brian Wilson isn't actually in the band, he might as well be! If you love the Beach Boys inspired strain of the pop-punk genre, Wild Sandals ought to be right up your alley. 

Out on Ramonescore Radio Records, the 14-track Sandale Grande hits that sweet spot where pre Pet Sounds Beach Boys intersects with the first four Ramones albums. If that sounds like I'm describing Don't Back Down era Queers, then it's totally logical that Joe King himself makes an appearance on this album! I'm reminded quite a bit of last year's excellent Hawaiians album Invading the Summer. The difference is that with all of the covers on this release (9 of 14 tracks), this album is even more of a tribute to the golden age of pop and rock and roll. Among the classic bands/artists covered are the Beatles, Beach Boys (twice!), Monkees, Herman's Hermits, and Ricky Nelson. I would have dug this record even if it had been all covers. But the originals are amazing in their own right. "Butterflies" and "One Summer Long" (featuring Hayley Cain) fit right in with all of these bubblegum/surf/pop classics. And "All Screwed Up" is the best new pop-punk song I've heard in ages! With Florian and Beppo involved, you know the harmonies are on point! This is an absolutely perfect pop-punk record, and it will instantly transport you to a world full of teenage romance, fun in the sun, and timeless melody. To cap off the album, the duo takes on a modern pop-punk classic in Neon Bone's "Without You".  What a fitting way to bring this record to a close! Neon Bone, in my book, is the best pop-punk band going these days. I often joke about how the Germans are the best in the world at making beer and making pop-punk. I'm starting to think it's not a joke at all!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Autogramm - "No Rules"


Time spent with Autogramm is always a ticket to an eternal 1980-81. For its latest single/video, the Vancouver-based trio has taken this concept to ridiculous extremes. And by ridiculous, of course I mean awesome! "No Rules" is the first single off of Autogramm's forthcoming LP of the same name. The band has premiered a music video for "No Rules" to accompany the release of the single. The video is a shot-by-shot recreation of Billy Joel's epically cheesy "Sometimes A Fantasy" music video. For those of us who had "Glass Houses era Billy Joel reference" on our Autogramm bingo cards, this is a glorious moment (now fingers crossed that they eventually cover "All For Leyna"!). The song, featuring drummer The Silo on lead vocals, is essentially a new wave/synth pop dance track. Appropriately enough, it's a song about dancing. Hilariously, a song called "No Rules" begins with two rules. I love it! This tune really shows off Autogramm's musical versatility. This is a band that has given us moody new wave numbers and perfect pop tunes. Here, the group picks up the tempo with an upbeat banger that would have been all the rage in the dance clubs of 40 years ago. You can hear bits and pieces of some of the band's bedrock influences (e.g. Devo, The Cars), but there's also a punky energy to this song that I find truly infectious. And the video is an absolute hoot! No Rules will be out April 16th on Nevado Records!


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Randells - "Karen"


The calendar and the weather tell me it's still February. But it's always summertime when a Randells song is playing! The Swedish trio was considerate enough to drop a pair of digital singles to warm our souls in the middle of this winter. The latest, "Karen", is a classic blast of surf-tinged bubblegum punk rock that falls right in line with fellow Scandinavians Psychotic Youth and The Yum Yums. "Karen", featuring a guest appearance on vocals by Valentina De Rosa, is a tearjerker punk-pop tune for hopeless romantics and teenage delinquents alike. It arrives fast on the heels of "Gum In My Hair", a high-energy jolt of big hooks and buzzing guitars. In a perfect world, you'd hear these songs on the car radio while you were driving to the beach with your friends. This pair of tracks will chase away the winter blahs in a hurry. And yay! A new Randells album is due out this spring on Monster Zero!


Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Airport 77s - "(When You're Kissing On Me Do You Think Of) James McAvoy" music video


Last month I joked that the debut LP by The Airport 77s was my #1 album of the first 14 days of 2021. Well it's still holding strong as my #1 album of the first 51 days of 2021! More importantly, it has also received praise from far more reputable publications such as I Don't Hear A Single and Dagger Zine. The Airport 77s just released a music video for my favorite track from the album,  "(When You're Kissing On Me Do You Think Of) James McAvoy". The video is really fun, and I won't spoil it by saying anything further (beyond mentioning that your wives/girlfriends may be disappointed that James McAvoy is not in the video!). Those of you who are fans of this blog but not yet familiar with The Airport 77s may be intrigued to discover that the Airport 77s Radio channel generated by Spotify's artificial intelligence features the likes of Kurt Baker, the Speedways, the Reflectors, and Radio Days. Now that's some mighty fine company! So be sure to check out the video along with the Airport 77s' album Rotation if you haven't done so already!