Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Unknowns - "Monster Mash"

What's this: a second Halloween-themed review from a blog that purports to not care for anything horror related? Why yes! The Unknowns out of Sunshine Coast, Australia have just released a 7" featuring their ultra-primitive rendition of the Bobby "Boris" Pickett classic "Monster Mash". Whether you're a horror nut or just a fan of savage garage rock and roll, you ought to get a kick out of this single. I'm notoriously put off by the way the term "garage" is thrown around these days to describe countless hipster rock bands that have nothing to do with garage rock or rock and roll in general. Well let me tell you: The Unknowns are a real deal garage punk band! This trio plays raw and wild rock and roll influenced by o.g. garage rock and early punk. This version of "Monster Mash" will just about set your hair on fire! In the process of looking into "Monster Mash", I dug into the band's most recent album Nothing Will Ever Stop. And all I have to say is holy shit! I am embarrassed that The Unknowns have just now become known to me. Kudos to Add To Wantlist (the best music site out there) for tipping me off!

Klobber - Clap Time!

Here's something I'm always in the mood for: some great straight-forward punk rock that walks the fine line between '70s punk and early hardcore. Klobber hails from Madrid but has a sound that brings to mind North America circa 1980. Its latest album Clap Time! was recently released on Madrid-based label Take The City Records. I highly recommend it to fans of Zero Boys, Adolescents, D.O.A., early Black Flag, or the more recent Night Birds. Klobber plays tight and powerful tunes with melody and conviction (at times they summon the spirit of The Clash, which is fine by me!). If you misconstrued the lyrics to "Only In It for the Beer", you might dismiss Klobber as a party band. But nothing could be further from the truth! This is a band with something to say about the state of the world, and Clap Time! addresses topics ranging from racial injustice to pandemic life to the pervasive nature of addiction to the media's role in manipulating the masses. Powering through 10 tracks in 22 minutes, Clap Time! is the quintessential old school hardcore punk long player. The tunes rip hard, but they're catchy as hell. Without a doubt, this is one of the year's best punk rock records!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Vista Blue - New Nightmares

With every new release, Vista Blue reminds me why it's my favorite pop-punk band. New Nightmares, released just in time for Halloween, features four songs about well-known slasher flicks. I don't like horror movies at all, but I sure love this EP! As always, Vista Blue proves that it can write songs about any topic and still fill me with delight. I would probably even dig a Vista Blue song about the Dallas Cowboys or black licorice. New Nightmares specifically pays tribute to Halloween III, Candyman, Terror Train, and Friday the 13th VI. Fans of those films will surely enjoy these songs -- as will fans of high-quality pop-punk music. With its Beach Boys inspired harmonies and irresistible chorus, "Where Do You Wanna Sleep?" is a vintage Vista Blue track. It clocks in at nearly three minutes long -- practically an epic by this band's standards! If you didn't know this song was about a horror movie, you might actually think it was a love song. And of course, I always welcome a guest appearance from Richard Bates on lead guitar! You might not expect a song about Candyman to be described as "peppy", but "I'll Be True" is exactly that. As the old folks say, it's a real toe-tapper! I reviewed "Magic on This Train" earlier this year when it was released as a teaser track. This is a song so good that it made me want to watch Terror Train. Enough said! The EP concludes with "Ya Bang!", a song that I've immediately placed in the highest echelon of VB songs. If it were any catchier, half the population would be insisting it was a hoax. Seriously, this is about as "fun" as a song about a supernatural murder spree can be. It's got buzzing guitars, killer melodies (pun fully intended), and that perfect touch of keyboards that has become one of this band's signatures. I love that Vista Blue can do this type of song over and over again, yet it never gets old. Now that's talent! 

As I've reflected deeply on how soon is too soon to break out the Christmas music for 2021, New Nightmares has settled it for me. The Halloween music must come first, or there will be terrible consequences. I will ride the wave of New Nightmares into the safe zone of post World Series. Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Ralphie's Red Ryders are on deck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Exbats - Now Where Were We

The Exbats have turned out a classic '60s pop album that somehow manages to sound completely current in 2021. Given that Inez McClain and her dad Kenny have been making music together for over a decade, it wouldn't be quite right to say that Now Where Were We finds The Exbats "coming into their own". But the album does complete the band's transition to a pure pop sound. On this release, the McClains and bandmate Bobby Carlson dig deep into their love for mid-'60s American pop music. When I saw that The Mamas & the Papas and Sonny & Cher were primary reference points for Now Where Were We, I figured this album would be up my alley. I was not wrong! 

Recording with Matt Rendon at his Midtown Island Studios, The Exbats certainly had the perfect engineer to help them realize the sound they aspired to. Now Where Were We is classic not just in style but also in recording approach. There's no high-tech trickery going on here -- just a real band playing and singing music straight to analog tape. The result is an album that sounds like it could have been made in 1966, but with lyrics and a perspective that are fully contemporary. In terms of musical influences, the album touches on so much of what made the '60s remarkable: psychedelic and baroque pop, girl groups, bubblegum, R & B, and even country music. The album's 12 tracks are loaded with instantly memorable choruses, majestic harmonies, and lyrics which skillfully imbue dark subject matter with hope and humor. Written last year over a nine-month period, Now Where Were We is The Exbats' pandemic record. It's full of songs that acknowledge a bleak time but also find cause for optimism. How can you not love a pandemic record that opens with a song about Scooby-Doo? And while this album has its weighty moments (the spectacular "Hey New Zealand" is a haunting ode to climate change), it's all in all a feelgood pop record. In particular, songs like "Best Most Least Worst", the Shangri-Las inspired "I Don't Wanna Feel Dead", and the beautiful "One Foot in the Light" throw lifelines to anyone overcome by the despair of 2020-21. It's probably cheesy to proclaim that this album will make people feel less alone in tough times, but I can't think of a better way to say it. 

Now Where Were We tackles the complexity of the COVID experience with the most fundamental musical approach. As a songwriting team, Inez and Kenny McClain excel at crafting timeless pop songs that are catchy and melodious and impossible to resist. If you experience the "Where have I heard this melody before?" sensation, that's half the fun! Now Where Were We is that rare pandemic record that's actually enjoyable to listen to and that rare old school pop record that appeals to every conceivable generation. Get it now from Goner Records!

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Amplifier Heads - SaturnalienS

, the third full-length album by Boston's The Amplifier Heads, has been rightfully described as a "graphic novel for the ears and head". It's a throwback to a time when you'd put on your headphones and just sit there getting lost in a rock and roll record. Does anyone still do that? SaturnalienS was written and produced by singer/guitarist Sal Baglio, who has been writing rocking, hook-laden tunes for 40 years plus with bands such as The Stompers and the recent supergroup The Peppermint Kicks. With Baglio, you always know you're getting a highlight reel of the coolest sounds in the history of rock and roll. Running the gamut from roots rock and roll to the British Invasion to garage rock to glam to '70s arena rock, SaturnalienS launches these classic sounds into a fantastical outer space odyssey full of ghost stars, rocket boys, earth girls, young dolls, and beheaded amps. SaturnalienS plays like the hottest-selling album in the solar system -- garnering rave reviews and heavily rotated airplay on every rocket ship, space station, and extraterrestrial watering hole from the moon to Uranus. Those of you who couldn't get enough of Baglio's contributions to The Peppermint Kicks' debut album will be delighted to find that SaturnalienS is in a very similar vein. Needless to say, glam rock is at the center of this sonic adventure. "GlamoRama" is that rare tribute song that can stand toe-to-toe with the iconic music it celebrates. "Bat Shit Crazy" will have humans and aliens alike clapping and stomping with whatever appendages they may possess. "On the Moon" evokes the spirit of David Bowie in epic fashion. But in typical Amplifier Heads style, this album dishes out a tremendous variety of amazing rock and roll tunes. "Ghost Star Rider" is a surf rock instrumental gone to space, while "Earth Girls on the Loose" is the ultimate in wild, high energy rock and roll. "Peppermint Kicks" will scratch your itch for classic riff-driven hard rock. "The House of Young Dolls" is upbeat, jangly pop straight out of 1964. 

As cool as its concept may be, SaturnalienS succeeds on the strength of its tunes. Baglio's affection for the heyday of rock and roll is not mere nostalgia. He and his bandmates appreciate the timeless art of two-to-three minute rock and roll songs with roaring guitars, memorable melodies, and choruses made for the radio. In a modern world full of bands filling ultra-specific niches, The Amplifier Heads still aim to be a great rock and roll band, period. On this planet and beyond, such a thing will never go out of style. SaturnalienS is out now on your home of the hits --- the mighty Rum Bar Records!

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Airport 77s - "Losers Win"

Look who's back! On the very first day of 2021, The Airport 77s self-released Rotation -- which remains one of my most highly rated albums of the year. This fantastic power pop trio from Silver Spring, Maryland recently signed with the legendary JEM Records. Now there's a match made in heaven! Out today, the band's JEM debut is comprised of two digital tracks -- "Losers Win" and "The Illustrated Book of Cupid". Written by guitarist Andy Sullivan, both songs highlight this band's flair for harmony-laden power pop with big hooks and witty lyrics. My first reaction to these tracks was that they totally rock! If you like your power pop with equal parts power and pop, you should already be cranking up "Losers Win"! I dig the way this song builds slowly to a knockout chorus that's gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the year at the very least. Somehow this song squeezes a novel's worth of storytelling into three and a half minutes. Check out this snippet:

He's got a photo with Sammy Hagar
And a tattoo says, Aloha
He's got a scar that runs from his elbow to his watch
Hung up on the baby sitter
Stepping in your kitty litter box
He got it in his socks

Now that, my friends, is true poetry! 

On the digital "flipside", "The Illustrated Book of Cupid" is a clever & hard-rocking love song that worships at the sacred altar of Cheap Trick (How stoked are Airports 77s to be on the same record label that first imported Live At Budokan to the U.S.? ). Is it just me, or do I hear cowbell and handclaps? Never underestimate the importance of percussion!

It was a tremendous surprise to discover that The Airport 77s had joined forces with one of my favorite record labels. And "Losers Win" sure does not disappoint! Whether you consider this one two-song single or two separate singles (Who can really tell these days?), this is a formidable pair of songs from one of the hottest up-and-coming bands on the power pop scene. If you're headed to International Pop Overthrow in New York next month, you can catch The Airport 77s on night three with label mates The Grip Weeds and the Anderson Council!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Mitochondriacs - Antonymous Mitochondrial Release

For those you who take the "All that shit sounds the same!" position on Mutant Pop Records, I present to you a Mutant Pop release that doesn't sound like anything else on the label (or any other label, for that matter!). The Mitochondriacs are a punk rock supergroup from Chicago comprised of the legendary John Jughead, Sex Dream's Maria Surfinbird, and Eddie & Marky from The Kobanes. Surprisingly, the band fronted by Screeching Weasel's guitarist has turned out one of the least Screeching Weasel sounding releases to ever come out on Mutant Pop! Antonymous Mitochondrial Release, out now as part of Mutant Pop's short-run compact disc series, is comprised largely of digital singles previously released by Laptop Punk Records. The singles were designed so that each "side" contained a concept that was the opposite of the concept on its counter side. Antonymous Mitochondrial Release adds another pair of contrasting song ideas to create a single concept album. Musically, this release is hard to pigeonhole. It's mostly straight-forward punk rock in a late '70s/early '80s style, but it also veers off into frenzies of noise and dashes of brilliant weirdness. On vocals, Mr. Pierson is far more reminiscent of Johnny Rotten or Jello Biafra than he is of any iconic figure in pop-punk. With its Anthem for a New Tomorrow vibes, the wonderful instrumental "Happily" is the one instance of fan service on this release. Otherwise, The Mitochondriacs are nothing like you'd expect them to be (unless you expected them to take a delicate folk tune and abruptly turn it hardcore). This is intelligent, interesting punk rock that has a great deal to say about the inherent opposition in human existence. The CD comes with a lyric sheet which is well-worth inspecting closely (My favorite line: "Sometimes I want my pants and a pair of socks to be their own country"). In his liner notes, Timbo calls this album a "work of art". I'd say that hits the nail on the head. This is exactly the kind of release that deserves to exist in a tangible form. For those of you who are not fans of compact discs, the album is also available from The Mitochondriacs' Bandcamp -- with all digital profits being donated to worthy charities. Not bad for a bunch of membrane-bound organelles!

(CD available for $5 plus $3 postage from Mutant Pop Records, 5010 NW Shasta Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330)  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Hard-Ons - I'm Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken

Sometimes we set the bar a little lower for classic bands putting out new material. We're often happy if they simply manage to not embarrass themselves. It's as if we want to congratulate them just for still existing -- which is not unreasonable, actually! But no such curve grading is required for the latest album from legendary Aussie punk rockers The Hard-Ons. I'm Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken, the band's first release with new singer Tim Rogers (You Am I), isn't just a really good album for an old band. It's a really good album, period! Honestly, this is a vintage Hard-Ons recording. It would have sounded good 20 or 30 years ago, and it sounds good now. The album title could not be more perfect. After nearly four decades as a band, The Hard-Ons have made it obvious that they're never really going to change. And why would you want them to? These folks were playing pop-punk before the genre even had a name. They were putting metal riffs into punk songs years before the world had ever heard of grunge rock. They came on the scene at a time when melody was fading from punk music and helped bring it back in a major way. I'm Sorry Sir.. easily rates as a top-notch Hard-Ons album. Bringing in Rogers on lead vocals sure seemed like a match made in heaven, and it's quickly obvious what a perfect fit he is for the band. Alternating as usual between straight-forward punk-pop songs ("Hold Tight", "Shoot Me In the Back"), ferocious punk rock rippers ("Back Pack Sweat", "Humiliated/Humiliator"), metal-influenced rockers ("Fucked Up Party", "Pucker Up"), and songs that remind us that this band helped define modern alternative rock ("Lite as a Feather", "Needles and Pins (sic)"), The Hard-Ons are in top form across these 12 tracks. If you've never heard The Hard-Ons before, this is not a bad place to start. And if you're a longtime fan, you will not be disappointed. The album is available now from Cheersquad Records! 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Lorne Behrman - When I Hit The Floor

I have been  an admirer of Lorne Behrman's musical talent for 25 years. As a member of the Dimestore Haloes, Dead Tricks, and The Sweet Things, he has made immense contributions to music I've raved about both in print and online. After thirty plus years as a premiere guitar gunslinger, Behrman has finally stepped into the spotlight as a lead singer and songwriter. His first solo EP When I Hit The Floor has just been released on the ever-reliable Spaghetty Town Records. Knowing what an excellent writer Behrman is, I had high hopes for his debut as a lead artist. But I must say that this EP exceeds all expectations. These are truly powerful songs, and I am absolutely blown away by the honesty & fearlessness of Behrman's narrative voice. 

When I Hit The Floor takes you straight into Behrman's soul. It plunges into the dark places he's gone to as well as the light that led him out. He puts it all out it in the open here: his struggles with alcoholism, surviving sexual abuse as a child, and enduring a period of time when he wasn't sure he wanted to go on living. Over the course of this EP, he confronts his pain and ultimately arrives at hope and salvation. As the one-sheet brilliantly states, on the closing track "Oh Lord, Give Me Time", "Lorne gets as close to a come-to-Jesus-moment as a Jewish NYC rock n' roller can." Musically, this EP comes off like a love letter to 1970s New York City. These songs summon the spirits of Lou Reed, Johnny Thunders, Jim Carroll, and Robert Quine (among others). It's poetry meets punk rock with a touch of that '70s Stones sensibility that is permanently embedded in Behrman's musical DNA. From the old school art-punk vibes of the title track to the intensely haunting "Sandcastles" to the anthemic "I Won't Fade Away" to the soulful Dylan-esque ballad "Oh Lord, Give Me Time", this EP shows us sides of Lorne Behrman we've never glimpsed before. Of course his guitar playing is fantastic, but he also proves to be a natural at crafting sophisticated rock and roll songs with many dimensions. While Behrman is responsible for all of the guitars and lead vocals on this release, he did enlist a formidable ensemble of supporting players including veteran producer Matt Chiaravalle, drummer Hector Lopez (Alejandro Escovedo, The Sweet Things), keyboardist Rob Clores (Jesse Malin, Black Crowes, Alejandro Escovedo), and singer Dana Athens (Jane Lee Hooker). The production and musicianship on this release are truly top notch. The care and attention to detail that Behrman put into this EP over the past two years have fully paid off. 

When I Hit The Floor is inspiring on multiple levels. It's one thing to preach about how surviving the dark times can lead you to the light. It's another thing to live it. Behrman has lived it and bravely bared his soul on record. He has accomplished one of the most noble goals of art: taking the pain of human experience and turning it into something that generates hope and makes others feel less alone. And with this stunning debut, Behrman has set a fine example for some of us who've reached a certain age and wrongfully assumed that we've squandered our creative powers. It's never really too late to be a late bloomer. Bouncing back from his rock bottom moment, Lorne Behrman has rediscovered hope and happiness and life and come into his own as a musical artist. I hope I'll be writing about him for another 25 years at least.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Rabbit - Gone

When it comes to the Aussie variant of power pop, the power is almost always in abundant supply. That is certainly true in the case of Rabbit, a new foursome out of Hobart, Tasmania. Out on Hobart's Rough Skies Records, Rabbit's debut EP Gone delivers three tracks of loud, hooky pop that owes just as much to old school Aussie punk as it does to new wave radio hits. This is one of those bands that falls into the category of "It's pop and punk, but not really pop-punk". You've thundering guitars and thumping drums, killer hooks, strong vocals from Maggie Edwards, and energy out the wazoo. All three tracks here are gems, and the EP will definitely leave you wanting more. Rabbit is that rare power pop band that achieves a sound that it is both original and classic. Vinyl is limited to 150 copies, so you ought to pounce if you're interested!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Wallys - Give It Back

Now here's a real throwback Thursday for you: I'm going to review a release that is only available on compact disc and cannot be streamed, downloaded, or even purchased online! When was the last time I closed a review with a label's mailing address? The triumphant return of Mutant Pop Records is in full swing, and Timbo has revived his short-run compact disc series in a major way. For my first Mutant Pop review in two decades, I'm tackling The Wallys' Give It Back. This 12-track release was recorded in 2001 and is just now seeing the light of day. Luckily these songs hold up extremely well. I don't recall ever being a huge Wallys fan, but Give It Back totally makes me a believer! With its blend of '90s pop-punk stylings and more traditional rock and roll and pop influences, it's very much in line with the kind of pop-punk I enjoy today. It checks off so many boxes for me: super-catchy tunes, rawer production, endearingly dorky vocals, amusing lyrics and song topics. I also appreciate that I can listen to it in its entirety on my 14-minute drive to the fitness club. "Give Me Back My Radio" kicks off with a riff that channels Moral Crux by way of The Clash. I heard that song and was instantly hooked! I'm always a sucker for songs about listening to rock and roll on the radio! "Bad Breath" brings to mind The Automatics in their "Golden Greats" mode. "Jody is a Cannibal" manages to live up to its intriguing title. "My Girlfriend is a Rock" is a really cool cover of the Nervebreakers classic. And I can't help but love a band that can go from the near-hardcore of "No Sleep" right into a song about soda pop. This is just a super fun album from a band I clearly underrated back in the day. 

The success of the Mutant Pop relaunch hinges almost entirely on one essential question: Do people still buy CDs? When I asked Malibu Lou how he sells so many CDs with his label Rum Bar Records, he told me that the label's over-50 demographic still listens to music on that format. The average Mutant Pop fan is probably closer to late 30s/early 40s, but I hope that the same principle applies. And I have to admit that there's still something incredibly cool about getting an actual mail order catalog from a record label! If you've read this far through a Wallys review, I would imagine you're already receiving the catalogs. But if not, you can email your street address along with the message "I love CDs!" to to get on the mailing list. A lot has changed in the world since Mutant Pop's heyday, but Timbo's aesthetic has not. In more ways than one, Give It Back is a vintage Mutant Pop release. It can be yours for $5 plus $3 postage!

(Mutant Pop Records, 5010 NW Shasta Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330)  

Friday, October 08, 2021

The Heartdrops - Three Songs

Of all of the great bands from the '90s punk rock scene, few merit reexamination under a modern-day light more than The Heartdrops. The New York City trio released two albums and several singles between 1995 and '99. Mixing '50s rock and roll influences with the best elements of The Clash and Ramones, The Heartdrops were the undisputed kings of greaser punk in the pre millennium years. No band was better at bridging the divide between the garage, punk, pop, and rock and roll crowds. Along the way, The Heartdrops appeared on some of the coolest DIY labels of the '90s (Stiff Pole, Break-Up!, Melted Records) and tore up live venues great and small all across the U.S.A. It's criminal to me that this band is not more talked about, but perhaps that will change next year when Rum Bar Records releases the definitive Heartdrops retrospective. In the way of a teaser, Rum Bar has released a free digital EP featuring three non-album tracks from the band's heyday. The Heartdrops were the flagship band of the Melted Records roster, so now it all comes full circle as they again work with Malibu Lou. Grab this EP for free and prepare for the full retrospective arriving early 2022  -- which will be remastered by Justin Perkins and perhaps even include some unreleased material!

Scrimshanders - Songs That Never Were

One of the things that makes Rum Bar Records my favorite label is the way Lou likes to bring new life to music he's passionate about. A case in point is the new album by John Magee & Scrimshanders. Songs That Never Were is essentially a compilation of choice material from the Boston band's two albums (2000's Longneck and 2008's The Way You Never Are) rounded out by a couple of unreleased tracks. Back in the first decade of this century, Scrimshanders were one of the best bands going in the alt-country & Americana universe. Well here we are already in the third decade of the century, and the time seems right for the legend of Scrimshanders to spread to younger generations and wider audiences. Featuring Magee's distinctive singing voice and formidable, down-to-earth songwriting, these 12 songs write the book on how to blend country music with roots rock and roll. "SXMW", a true classic of modern-day underground country, was the perfect choice for a leadoff track. Those lyrics, and the way Magee sings them, give me chills every time. But as songs such as "Hard To Find", "The Way You Never Are", "No Angel", "Cheap Wine and Nicotine", and the haunting "The Man You Want To Kill" demonstrate, Scrimshanders are no one-hit wonder! 

I'm sometimes loathe to invoke the term "alt-country" because it brings up visions of boring middle of the road drivel championed by aging hipsters. So I'll just call Scrimshanders a really great country rock band with a catalog of songs that will rip your heart out. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts may be a long way from Middle America, but spiritually Scrimshanders are as heartland as it gets. Songs That Never Were ought to be a fixture on every dive bar jukebox across the nation...and beyond!

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Oi!l Change - Voices of the Past E​.​P.

Oi!L Change has me fondly recalling the '90s heyday of street punk. On its debut release Voices of the Past E​.​P., the Grand Rapids, Michigan based trio blasts out four tracks of tough and powerful punk rock with strong melodies and anthemic sing-along choruses. This is a timeless sound done right, with songs that'll have you hoisting a beer with one hand and pumping your fist with the other. I like that the vocals are aggressive without being cartoonish, and there is tremendous substance to the lyrics. If you dig The Business, Blitz, and Sham 69 along with the subsequent generations of bands they inspired, you'll want to check out this E.P. for sure. What a debut! 

The Chelsea Curve - "7000 Hours"

"7000 Hours" is the seventh in a monthly series of singles released by Boston trio The Chelsea Curve this year. All of this is leading up to a debut album slated for release on Red On Records early next year. Well based on all of these singles, it seems like we've established an early contender for best album of 2022! Month after month, Linda, Tim, and Ron continue to deliver memorable mod-inspired punk-pop tunes with big hooks and stunning lyrics. July's release "Drag" is currently holding the #1 position in my "best singles of 2021" tally (Yes, I'm already drafting my end-of-the-year lists!). With its calm, bittersweet feel, "7000 Hours" was clearly intended to be a fall release. Arriving on the heels of bouncier tracks like "Inconceivable" and the aforementioned "Drag", "7000 Hours" is a wistfully gorgeous little number. Linda Pardee's lyrics employ a space travel metaphor to convey the loss of a loved one. The Chelsea Curve is frequently compared to the Pretenders, and the similarity between the two bands is especially undeniable on this track. Pardee's vocal is in perfect harmony with an absolutely beautiful melody, and Tim Gillis channels James Honeyman-Scott on guitar. Whomever or whatever you're longing for at the moment, this track is sure to hit the spot. A digital purchase of "7000 Hours" is just about the best use of a dollar that I can think of. It, along with all previous Chelsea Curve singles, is available anytime from Red On Records!

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Kid Gulliver - Kismet

Now here is a wonderful idea: following its amazing run of six digital singles/EPs dating back to early 2020, Kid Gulliver has packaged all of this material onto a nifty compact disc! Out on Red On Records, Kismet is officially Kid Gulliver's debut album after seven years+ as a band. You can call it a singles compilation, a greatest hits collection, or a "How I spent the global pandemic" project. Regardless, it's a neat thing for all of these tracks to finally appear on a physical release that you can hold in your hands and pop into a CD player. The album consists of the entirety of KG's recent Gimme So Go! EP plus the digital singles "Susie Survived Chemotherapy", "i wanna be a popstar", "Carousel", "Beauty School Dropout", and "Boy in a Bubble". It's rounded out with a couple of deep cuts from earlier EPs for a total of 11 tracks. Taken as a single album, Kismet is a wonderful showcase for how great of a band Kid Gulliver is. I'm not a format snob by any means, but there is still something really cool about having a physical release from a band you really like. So when you're conversing with your friends about the best present-day power pop bands and you want to make your case for Kid Gulliver, all you have to do is pull out this CD and let the music do the talking! It's hard for me to pinpoint standout tracks since most of these tunes were stand-alone indie radio hits. But I will say that the band's cover of The Bee Gees' classic "I Started a Joke" continues to take my breath away. And the brand-new music video for "Stupid Little Girl" is an absolute hoot! If catchy power pop with smart, funny lyrics and exceptional vocals sounds good to you, now is an optimal time to hop on the Kid Gulliver bandwagon!

The Feels - "Twice (No Age At All)"

This is the fourth occasion on which I've had the pleasure to write about The Feels. As a huge fan of Christian's previous band The Tattle Tales, I was naturally enthused to hear he had created a one-man band back in 2016. But as much as I love all of those old Tattle Tales recordings, it's become clear to me that The Feels are way better. Christian is an even better songwriter now than he was 10-15 years ago, and with a solo project he has the freedom to explore any style of music he wishes without having to worry about how it "fits" the band. His recent single "She's Probably Not Thinkin' Of Me" was a perfect power pop track and one of my most highly rated singles of 2020. Now he's come out with a new single "Twice (No Age At All)" that absolutely blew me away. Christian is a pop guy through and through, but on this track he fully embraces the rock! The guitars and vocal phrasing bring to mind the louder side of '90s alternative rock. From the production to the musicianship (oh man, that solo!) to the vocals to the melodies, everything about this song is stellar. Christian's lyrics are exceptional and featured prominently in the song's music video created by Jess Tapia. Yes, this song is dark. But much of our greatest art does come from a place of pain. If you dig this track and have yet to hear the The Feels' brilliant full-length Dead Skin, I highly recommend that album! I had the privilege of interviewing Christian on the latest episode of Born Too Late -- the podcast I recently started with Jay Castro. Check it out if you're interested in a thoughtful conversation on life and pop music!