Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Chelsea Curve - All The Things

It wasn't much of a stretch for me to predict that The Chelsea Curve would release one of the best albums of 2022. The Boston trio could have just compiled the eight fantastic singles it released last year onto one CD, and it would have had one of the finest albums of the year (or any year!). But that was never the vision. The band (Linda Pardee on bass and vocals, Tim Gillis on guitar and vocals, and Ron Belanger on drums) wanted to make a true album. Five more songs entered the mix. The whole lot of 13 tracks was sequenced and mastered, and what results is a sum greater than its parts. Out today on Red On Red Records, All The Things is an essential purchase even if you already own all the singles. Hearing the way these songs flow into each other and create a singular listening experience, you'd swear they were written to be played in this order. And as a fan, I've really enjoyed sitting down with all of these songs at once. When the band released eight singles in eight months last year, I sometimes struggled to keep up! Now I find myself gravitating to tracks I should have paid more attention to ("Inconceivable", "A Better Way") while happily returning to some of my favorite songs of recent memory ("Drag.", "Top It Up", "7000 Hours"). With all of these tunes on one album, you get a complete picture of what The Chelsea Curve is all about. This is a first rate rock and roll trio playing high-energy music with some of the strongest melodies and lyrics you'll ever have the pleasure to hear. If you've been waiting for a Boston power pop band with UK mod and first wave punk influences and a Pretenders-like charisma, you need All The Things!  

If The Chelsea Curve disagrees with All The Things being labeled a "singles collection", it's with good reason. Over a third of this record is brand-new material -- all of it of the same caliber as the band's 2021 singles. The previously unheard songs add some new wrinkles yet still fit perfectly with the rest of the album. Opening track "Jamie C'mon" sounds like a power pop radio hit straight out of 1980. "Do All The Things" is a frenetic blast of sing-along punk rock that'll get you going faster than a double shot of espresso. "Eye On You" finds Gillis stepping into a lead vocal role and totally delivering the goods. "Nuthin' Goin' On" is an upbeat rocker that tastefully incorporates ska influences. From the songs to the production to the chops (what is it about Boston that produces so many crazy-good drummers?), this album checks every box. With additional contributions from its "Mod Squad" (Rod Spark on Hammond organ, Dan Levine on trombone, and Jay Webb on trumpet), The Chelsea Curve has taken its sound to the next level! 

While not specifically about the pandemic, All The Things truly fits the mood of 2022. Pardee's lyrics all full of tremendous wisdom about handling adversity and making the right (and sometimes difficult) choices in life. Taken as a whole, these songs exude a determined optimism. Collectively we've endured so much and missed out on so many things. As something resembling normalcy in this world slowly returns, it's hard to resist the urge to make up for lost time and literally do all the things! This past fall, The Chelsea Curve left us with a call to "double up on the good stuff." All The Things follows that idea to its logical conclusion. And with a tour of England and an appearance at the Boston Calling Music Festival looming, it seems the band is living its rallying cry. Just when I was starting to agonize over which of several truly excellent early 2022 albums was the best, along comes All The Things to make it a moot point!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club - "Hold You Up"

Who's ready for some power pop? Trick question: you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't! The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club is a Chicago-based band playing rocked-up power pop in its hometown's grand tradition. I wrote about this band twice last year in reviews of compilations and splits involving close allies Golden Richards (the two bands actually share a lead singer!). New single "Hold You Up" is a preview of Please Stand By, The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club's new album which is scheduled to release this summer. It has an early '80s radio feel but with a modern touch. Imagine if The Cars wrote an homage to "Jessie's Girl" and time traveled to present day. I dig how this tune starts off sounding like a very typical love song but then starts to layer on the complications. It tells a story so universal and relatable that it just might hurt a little. But isn't that what a good love song is supposed to do? If you dig punchy, hooky pop that's simultaneously retro and contemporary, "Hold You Up" is highly recommended. Bring on the full album! 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Neuros - self titled 7"

"Here's another great punk rock band from Australia!" is turning into a familiar phrase on this blog and many others. That's a sentence I'll never tire of writing -- just as I'll never tire of hearing all these ripping sounds from down under! I can't tell you much about The Neuros beyond that they hail from Melbourne and have a debut 7" out on Shipping Steel Records. But if you dig old school punk rock that kicks you in the teeth, you need this record in your life. In typical Aussie fashion, these three tunes come on with a perfect mix of aggression and melody. There are some obvious Aussie punk comparisons that could be made, but I'm also catching some classic California punk vibes. What more needs to be said? Play this fucker loud!

Friday, March 25, 2022

J Prozac - Won't Let Go

I hate to resort to the "This is the best thing ____ has ever done" cliché yet again, but such words seem unavoidable in the case of J Prozac's new album Won't Let Go. This pop-punk lifer and all-around great dude of the underground music scene has been fronting bands since the '90s. My favorite record of his was his 2014 solo release Here Is My Heart, but now he has gone out and topped it! Out now on Rum Bar Records, Won't Let Go is literally a lifetime achievement. It pulls together all of Jay's past and present influences into a collection of songs that come together like a musical diary. It manages to be both a classic pop-punk album and an expansion of the form. Perhaps I'm biased, but I feel like the secret ingredient to this record (and all of Jay's records, really) is the likeability factor. Once this guy opens his mouth to sing, you just can't help rooting for him. You can feel the sincerity and genuine humanity in his words and vocals. Won't Let Go is an album about a lot of things, but a prevailing theme is love and gratitude for family and friends. Whatever quality it is that makes this sort of heart-on-sleeve approach work, Jay has got it in spades. He's at his best when he's singing about the things that are the most meaningful to him. On this record, he really leans into that aspect of his songwriting. And I love every minute of it.  

Nobody will ever question Jay Gauvin's ability to write a perfect pop-punk song. But on Won't Let Go, he broadens his musical approach without straying too far from what he does best. There was always a pretty clear line separating pop-punk from more polished "melodic punk" in the '90s and early 2000s. Songs like "Regret" and the soaring title track seamlessly combine those two aesthetics in a way that's immensely satisfying. Why choose between the Lookout! and Fat Wreck camps when you can love both? Elsewhere, Jay adds just enough musical variety to keep you on your toes. "For the World" could almost be a Kurt Baker song. Can I describe "Claustrophobic" as "emo" without it seeming like a slight? "Days Go By" starts out as a heartfelt acoustic number and ends up an anthemic punk rock sing-along. One could easily dismiss this approach as having "been done" before, but the execution will smash your cynicism to pieces. This is as real and raw music gets: the pain palpable in his voice as Jay sings about loss and the importance of cherishing every moment we have with the people we love. If you can't relate to that, you aren't human. 

Of course you can still expect some great textbook pop-punk with this being a J Prozac album. When Jay tears into his signature musical style on songs like "People I Know" and "No Matter", it's a joyous thing to behold. "Building Blocks" is, as the erudite reviewer Niek would describe it, master class level pop-punk. As Jay sings from his son's point of view, I can't help but think this wisdom applies to all of us as well. What good is life if we stop playing and learning? And I suppose I must address the disturbing "J Prozac is going to ruin a Dirt Bike Annie song" rumor that's been going around. His version of "Thirteen Days" turns out to be super awesome and perfectly complementary to the original songs on the album. I love that this cover acknowledges a crucial influence on Jay's songwriting -- and that members of DBA were willing to contribute to the song! 

It seemed inevitable that J Prozac and Malibu Lou would eventually join forces. And what a way for this partnership to debut! In typical Rum Bar fashion, Won't Let Go is a splendidly-packaged compact disc release. The CD comes with six bonus tracks and features amazing cover art by Paulinho Tscherniak (who also did the cover for the similarly-spirited new album by Lesser Creatures). I seem to be gravitating of late to bands and artists who disprove the notion that pop-punk as a genre is inherently lightweight and adolescent. Won't Let Go affirms once again that "grown-up" pop-punk is an actual thing and a thriving one at that. From Jay's heart straight to yours, this is the very definition of meaningful music. My shame over having once trashed the second Grand Prixx 7" is surpassed only by my thankfulness that Jay was never discouraged by pretentious asshats like me. Long may the king reign!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Golden Richards - "Shake Your Hair"

The one-sheet says it all: "Big guitar power pop anthem with hooks and harmonies." I'm overdue to feature a power pop release, so a new single from Chicago's Golden Richards is highly welcomed. "Shake Your Hair" is the fifth Golden Richards single I've reviewed. Like all the other ones, it sounds like a radio hit from a world where 1980 never ended. It's got crunchy guitars, an earworm chorus, a righteous solo, and Cheap Trick vibes all day long. If you heard the song on Rodney on the Rock last night, you know what I'm talking about. As Golden Richards songs often do, "Shake Your Hair" works at a couple of levels. If you want to take it as an upbeat rocker about a pretty girl, well it certainly is! But at a deeper level, it's a song about being unsure of the path you're on in life and then suddenly meeting a new person who opens the door to something better. Isn't it crazy how life works out that way sometimes? Golden Richards songs always make me think of the summertime, so it seems ideal to be reviewing this track on a spring day that feels a more like summer. This is the band's best song yet. If you want to turn the tables, flip them over!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Delinquents - "Love O"

You know I'm always a happy camper when I get to write about '77-style punk rock! Hailing from Italy, The Delinquents are a new '77-style band featuring members of Idol Lips and Razorlips. Their debut LP Too Late, Too Little, Too Loose is set for a June release on Madrid-based label Take The City Records. In advance of the album, the label has leaked the teaser track "Love O." There's not much to say about this song other than to point out that it's killer! If you dig catchy first wave inspired punk with a tough rock and roll edge, this tune ought to hit the spot. I dig the raw guitar sound, shout-along vocals, and rockin' leads! It's my belief that we need more bands like this in today's scene. On that note, I will very much be looking forward to the full album. Hit up Take The City's Bandcamp to pre-order!

Dogmatics - "Drop That Needle"

How about another great new song from my favorite band to ever come out of Boston! "Drop That Needle" is the brand-new single from the legendary Dogmatics -- the leadoff track from the forthcoming CD EP of the same name. Just like the previous teaser single "Automat Kalashnikov", "Drop That Needle" finds this venerable band in vintage form. So much has changed in the world over the past four decades, but The Dogmatics still sound like The Dogmatics! In contrast to the pure punk rock energy of "Automat Kalashnikov", "Drop That Needle" is the ultimate garage rocker. It's two minutes and 40 seconds of perfect rock and roll celebrating the joy of listening to vinyl records. It's full of shout-outs to musical greats from Boston and beyond...a couple of whom even lend their talents on backing vocals! Scott Hudson, who has been a fan of this band from the beginning, was so stoked on this song that he built an entire broadcast of The Ledge in celebration. The Ledge episode #512, "Drop That Needle, features 34 songs about buying, collecting, and listening to records. If there's one singular passion that just about everyone reading this shares, this would be it! And while the irony about "Drop That Needle" is that it's not coming out on a 45 (yet!), you can order the "Automat Kalashnikov" single on flexi vinyl! The full Drop That Needle EP releases in May on Rum Bar Records, and I cannot wait!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Miss Georgia Peach - Aloha from Kentucky

When I heard that world-class crooner Miss Georgia Peach was making a country album with her pals from Nashville Pussy, I expected something special. A long time in the making, Aloha from Kentucky finally releases today on Rum Bar Records. And sure enough, it's an absolute monster of an album! This collaboration features two of the most beloved husband-and-wife teams in the rock and roll universe. Miss Georgia Peach and Travis Ramin (The Short Fuses, Beebe Gallini) are on lead vocals and drums. Ruyter Suys and Blaine Cartwright are on guitar. Also on board are former Nine Pound Hammer members Mark Hendricks (bass), Scott Luallen (vocals on "Bull and the Beaver"), and Brian Pulito (co-production and mixing). Now that, my friends, is a star-studded cast! 

Aloha from Kentucky traces its roots back to Rhinestone Chassis, Georgia and Travis's country/rockabilly trio from many moons ago. Many of these songs were in that band's setlist. A mutual love for classic country music eventually brought all of these talented individuals together, and their efforts do not disappoint. I'm sure someone will describe this record as "alt country". But that term makes me think of dad rock. Aloha from Kentucky isn't your parents' music -- it's your grandparents' music! And that makes it five times as cool. This album is right in the wheelhouse of 1960s and '70s country music with a rock and roll edge. 12 of 15 tracks are covers, and the song selection is formidable. MGP and friends serve up stellar renditions of songs made famous by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard & Leona Williams, Jeannie C. Riley, and Johnny Cash & June Carter. A full third of the covers are drawn from the catalog of Wanda Jackson -- one of the greatest of all the country rock and rollers and undeniably a major influence on this album. 

Over the years, MGP has proven herself adept at musical genres ranging from punk to garage to hard rock to rhythm & blues. On Aloha from Kentucky, she sounds like she was born to sing country music. Over the course of this record, she's everything you want a singer to be: tough, tender, sweet, sassy, fun, and feisty. Whether she's belting out classic feminist country anthems like "Big Iron Skillet" or "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)", showing her flair for storytelling on "The Back Side of Dallas", or tearing your heart out on the tearjerker originals "Adam Neal Waltz" and "Don't Stay Away", she sounds 100% in her element. The covers show great respect for these songs' classic versions without being straight copies -- an example of what you can do with great material, exceptional musicians, and a dynamite singer. The original songs are strong enough to fit right in, and honestly the album would not be the same without them. Standout cuts are hard to identify because every song seems essential. But I've got a particularly soft spot for the duets (come on: you can't do classic country without duets!). MGP and Scott Luallen sound so great together on "Bull and the Beaver" that we all might have to demand a full album called Georgia and Scott Sing the Classics! Ruyter Suys absolutely slays the Johnny Cash lines on a rocked-up, super fun version of "Jackson". Blaine Cartwright and MGP fill massive shoes on the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn number "You Blow My Mind" and make an absolutely adorable pairing on Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan's 1970 hit "Tennessee Bird Walk". 

While Miss Georgia Peach's name is on the cover, Aloha from Kentucky is the ultimate full band effort. Nobody was trying to reinvent the wheel here. These fine folks turned out a top-notch rockin' country record -- the likes of which have rarely been heard in recent decades. I choose to believe that these recording sessions were fueled by barbeque and cheap beer. All stops were pulled out to make this album a complete package. Aloha from Kentucky features cover art by the legendary Rockin Jelly Bean and amazing liner notes by WFMU radio personality Dave the Spazz. A vinyl edition of this album (a rare thing for Rum Bar Records) is set for a July release and already close to selling out. Get your preorders in while you still can! Having already released the best two albums of 2022 so far, Malibu Lou has now gone three for three! If you rightfully believe that Dolly Parton belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aloha from Kentucky is the album for you.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

TJ Cabot - SD Action EP

I've heard some troubling but well-founded rumors that the SD Action EP may be the final recordings to be released by Millville Boularderie's favorite sons TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects. My sources tell me that the oft-reported reasons for the apparent dissolution of this band (liquor shortages, label interference, corruption within the Millville Ladies Auxiliary Club, interprovincial legal disputes over the rights to tax revenues from record sales) are not actually to blame. More likely, it came down to "musical differences" as Millhouse Deville firmly insisted upon more use of reverb in future recordings. If SD Action truly is the band's swan song, it sure is a fine way to bow out. Two of these songs (the title track and "On the Front Page") had previously been reserved for a 7" that never materialized. "Streamlining" and "Chewin Out a Rhythm (On the Inside of my Mouth)" were written a while back but not recorded until recently due to all of the personal, financial, and legal hurdles required to get the band back together. As always, the band hits that sweet spot where Rip Off Records intersects with '70s Midwestern punk rock. As promised, the newly-recorded title track totally destroys the original demo version. "SD Action" isn't just a song. It's a way of life and potentially a film and toy franchise. "Streamlining", with its surprisingly serious message, is being heralded up and down the Atlantic Coast as the greatest Phone Jerks rip-off of the past two years. In my book, the "hit" is "Chewin Out a Rhythm (On the Inside of my Mouth)" -- a song about, you know, chewin' out the inside of your mouth (clearly the pandemic made people do strange things). I don't know whether to credit the spiritual influence of Father Angus McMullen or the masterful mastering of James O'Toole, but this is about as great of a record as anyone could hope to make on a laptop computer with no external microphone. If trashy budget punk is your thing, this is the best four dollars you could ever spend anytime the beer stores are closed.


Slow Faction - Culture & Other Wars

Slow Faction has been one of the UK's finest political punk rock bands for nearly a decade now. Having already issued a digital retrospective that would be envy of most punk bands (political or otherwise), Slow Faction seems poised to launch the more "mature" phase of its career. New album Culture & Other Wars is an auspicious start to the next era of Slow Faction. If you're worried that John might have finally turned to dub mixes and children's choirs, fear not. Such things will have to wait until at least the next album. But on Culture & Other Wars, you can definitely hear the musical progression from earlier releases. Style-wise, the band remains firmly planted in the territory of '77 punk. That said, John's songwriting has evolved to highlight proper musicianship and give songs more room to breathe. Three of these six tracks exceed the four-minute mark, and one even stretches to five and a half! Yet as I listen to this album, none of the songs drag or feel unnecessarily long. When you get to the heart of the matter, this is a vintage Slow Faction record full of anthemic punk rock songs with a political message. It's bookended by a pair of songs that all fans of the band will be familiar with. "Culture War" laments the way the powers-that-be have utilized the media to get us fighting amongst ourselves while they stick it to all of us ("Living Marxists sucking Koch/They seem to like his money a lot" has got to be the greatest punk lyric since Joe Strummer made that one particularly keen observation in "Death or Glory"). "Bubblegum for Josh", a song inspired by a quip I once made about the band's lyrical content, is nothing short of a Slow Faction mission statement. At this bizarre moment in time when "social justice warrior" is some kind of put-down, this song reminds us that it ought to be a badge of honor. "You've Been Fooled Again" is an impassioned indictment of post-Brexit Britain that pulls no punches. Elsewhere, the band turns its attentions away from contemporary politics and towards the lessons of history with songs about the Paris Commune of 1871, the consistently tragic consequences of imperialism, and the last 75 years of American foreign policy (absolutely spot-on, John!). 

While Culture & Other Wars clearly finds Slow Faction progressing musically, it does so without veering from what the band does best: politically-minded punk rock in the classic style. Of course you can't separate Slow Faction's music from its message. But if you had too much time on your hands and chose to cover these songs with re-written lyrics about pretty girls or drinking beer, they'd still be terrific tunes. With all that's going on in the world right now, I can't wait to hear the songs this band will write next. Tonight I will drink to another decade of Slow Faction -- at least!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Linnea's Garden - "Cut & Paste"/"Looking"

It was about a year ago that Linnea's Garden released the EP Nowhere Friday Nights -- one of the finest musical debuts of recent years. While I immediately took to the band's tuneful power pop punk approach, I was even more impressed with Linnea Herzog's thoughtful and relatable lyrics and the band's ability to a distill a myriad of musical influences into an uplifting and singularly unique sound. I have been delighted to discover that Fashion Show, the full-length debut album from Linnea's Garden, will be releasing April 1 on Red on Red Records. This album promises to build on the themes of Nowhere Friday Nights even as it finds the band jettisoning all limits on its musical identity. In the way of a preview, the band has released a pair of singles in "Cut & Paste" and "Looking". Based on these two tracks, I'm surmising that Fashion Show will live up to all my expectations and then some. 

While it's not inaccurate to say that Linnea's Garden remains a terrific pop band, that only tells a portion of the story. The influence of disco and modern dance music -- which was hinted at previously -- has become more obvious. In these songs, I can also hear bits of pieces of everything from new wave to grunge to glam to punk to indie/alternative rock. It's such a music writer cliché to say a band has "its own sound", but no one could deny that this is absolutely true of Linnea's Garden. "Cut & Paste" is a bit of a throwback to the days when the sounds of alternative rock ignited nightclub dance floors. True to the band's broadened musical vision, it takes inspiration from everyone from Blur to Blondie to Mitski to Talk Talk to Donna Summer to John Frusciante to LCD Soundsystem. Linnea Herzog again displays a gift for writing about relationships in a way that's personal and brutally honest yet also universal. This song hits you at every level. It will have you dancing, singing along, and pondering that certain someone who continues to occupy real estate in your head. It ought to be a massive hit, and maybe it will be! "Looking" is a little more of a grower yet also quite danceable -- a song full of twists and turns and beautiful guitar/bass interplay. It's a splendid example of how to make music that's creative and original but not the least bit pretentious. Again the lyrics absolutely slay me -- but isn't that true of any Linnea's Garden song? 

My initial take on Linnea's Garden was to recommend the band to fans of "any kind of music at all." That remains truer than ever. If you enjoy fun & joyful music, memorable tunes, and fantastic lyrics about love, art, and life, this is the band for you. Since I usually dread April Fool's Day like the plague, I will very much look forward to an alternative holiday: Fashion Show release day. Tour coming in April!

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Da Groins - 100% Groin

Now here's something right up my alley! U.K. trio Da Groins play pissed-off punk rock in the classic style. With a band name like Da Groins, you would expect some kick-you-in-the-balls music. And that's exactly what you get with the new EP 100% Groin. Think old school British street punk if it were produced by Billy Childish. The gag uniting these four songs is that there's just one letter separating the words "public" and "pubic". I've been waiting for a band to capitalize on this quirk of the English language since I was 12. Da Groins are that band, but they are no joke. On this brilliant debut, they dish out raw, hard-hitting tunes that are chock full of fury and profanity. What more could you possibly need in life? This, my friends, is punk fucking rock in all its glory. 100% Groin is available now on vinyl from Amok, No Front Teeth, Kibou, and Serial Bowl Records!

Sunday, March 06, 2022

The Ergs! - Renovations

As I conclude my trilogy of 2022 Ergs! reviews, this is a fine time to reflect on what a special band The Ergs! truly are. The band's breakup proved to be a blessing in disguise; without it, the world may have never experienced the greatness of Night Birds, Black Wine, and albums like Tentative Decisions. That said, it was even greater blessing that the disbandment of The Ergs! proved not to be permanent. There's something magical that happens when these three individuals get together to make music. The band's new EP Renovations is a perfect case in point. It's the product of three guys' unique musical talents and collective influences. Mikey and Jeff's vocal styles are about a million miles apart yet so perfectly complementary that one can only conclude that their partnership was willed by the musical gods. And if Mike's lovelorn vocals are the most immediately recognizable component of an Ergs! song, Jeff's guitar tone comes a very close second. Joe's bass work, always some of the best in the business, provides the unsung heroics. If you remove any of the three players from the equation, it's just not the same band. 

While by no means mischaracterized as a country record, Renovations sounds like The Ergs! more than anything else. The Lew Houston artwork had me feeling "classic Ergs!" vibes, and the music follows suit. Opening track "Tonight's the Night" manages to sound like a country song and a pop-punk song at the same time. I know that sounds completely impossible. But in the world of The Ergs!, nothing is impossible. Mikey Erg is hard to beat when it comes to writing songs about heartbreak and love gone sour, and he's in top form on this song. What could be more country (or more pop-punk) than waxing poetic on the pain of a devastating breakup? As the title of the EP suggests, "Renovations" is the centerpiece of this record. It's a vintage Jeff Schroeck composition and quite possibly the most personal and profound song he has ever written. Here the country stylings mix seamlessly with SST Records influences as Jeff laments the regretful consequences of actions never taken. The song is both an earworm and a lyrical masterpiece. Rounding out the EP, "Penny in the Jukebox" is the most conventionally country song of the bunch -- with an additional hint of Paul Westerberg at his most soul-crushing. On this simple, sincere song, Mikey tackles themes of loneliness and failure in a way that's sure to break your heart. 

There's no telling if and when we'll ever get more music from The Ergs!. For the moment, the band has left off with one of its finest releases yet. I don't think Mikey or Jeff could have written songs like these 20 or 15 years ago. Call it punk, country, country punk, or whatever you like. These are tunes we can all relate to as human beings. The big myth about pop-punk is that it can't grow up and still be good. Well the older, wiser Ergs! are sounding pretty, pretty, pretty good. I have the sneaking suspicion that I have yet to write my final words on this band. Renovations is available on vinyl from Wallride Records while supplies last! 

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The Trouble Seekers - EP #1

And now here's something that has straight-up blown me away! From the moment I heard that Kevin McGovern (The Prostitutes) & Hillary Burton (honeychain, The Pandoras) had started a band together, I was building crazy expectations in my head. These are two of my favorite musicians of the present-day. I was going to be disappointed if they didn't make something special together. Well their debut EP released yesterday, and it exceeds my expectations by leaps and bounds. Simply titled EP #1, this six-song digital release manages to combine almost all of the musical influences that shaped these two artists as they were growing up in the '70s and '80s. I might generally categorize this band as experimental punk/new wave, but I can't really put a hard label on what The Trouble Seekers are doing. These songs are informed by everything from glam rock to power pop to new wave to post-punk to modern rock to synth-pop. This is powerful and genuinely original music that doesn't sound like anything else out there. All it once, it's dark, melodic, hard-hitting, hooky, retro, and futuristic. It brings an overall energy and a "window into a twisted mind" lyrical sensibility that are quite similar to The Prostitutes. But unlike The Prostitutes, The Trouble Seekers limit themselves to no specific style or genre. If I could create my own soundtrack to a film adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, The Trouble Seekers would be on it! Not only do Kevin and Hillary sound amazing singing together, but they're also perfectly in synch in a creative sense. Seriously: what other duo on earth is citing The Waitresses and Suburban Lawns as primary influences? Pals of mine with exquisite taste (such as Ralph Rivera and my podcast partner Jay Castro) are losing their shit over this release -- and with good reason! And these guys have been huge Kevin McGovern fans for just as long as I have. So when they say EP #1 is great, you better best believe it's great! EP #1 is now available from The Trouble Seekers' Bandcamp and the Rock N Roll Manifesto Bandcamp. If you dig what you hear, you'll be happy to discover that EP #2 is already in the works. This band is currently on the lookout for like-minded record labels. If that's you, be sure to get in touch!

Friday, March 04, 2022

The Shang Hi Los - "Billy"

One of my most highly-anticipated albums of 2022 is the forthcoming debut long player from the mighty Shang Hi Los. "Plymouth Rock", the first album teaser, was nothing short of a smash hit. Now we get another taste of what's to come with "Billy", out today on Rum Bar Records. Jen and Dan have written themselves another stunner of a song. And in typical Shang Hi Los fashion, this song sounds unlike anything the band has done before. "Billy" literally comes on with the blare of a trumpet and the crack of a whip. Leave it to The Shang Hi Los to write a new wave pop song that sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of an epic western picture! Is it really necessary at this point to say that Jen absolutely crushes the vocal? Doesn't she always? The band is firing on all cylinders here, and Dan's stellar production captures every glorious nuance. Chris Barrett guest stars on trumpet and Mellotron and adds a whole new dimension to this song. Look for the full album to release this summer...only on Rum Bar Records. All hail Danny K, master of the whip!

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Chinese Junk - Raw Deal

How about more hot stuff from the always great Big Neck Records! The label's latest release is a four-song tape from London-based trio Chinese Junk. Featuring ex-members of The Ulcers, Griswalds, and The Unreleasables, Chinese Junk are the self proclaimed "kings of pound shop rock". The appropriately-titled Raw Deal sounds like the best thing that Rip Off Records never released. It tears through four tracks of fast and snotty lo-fi punk rock in just a tick over five minutes. Song topics range from dead-end towns to being broke to cheating girlfriends to X-ray vision. Now this is my kind of garage punk! Or should I say pound shop rock? These tunes have all the necessary ingredients: energy, catchiness, and attitude for days. What a brilliant release! If you long for the later '90s heyday of trashy garage punk, Chinese Junk is the band for you!