Monday, May 30, 2022

James Domestic - Carrion Repeating

With today being a holiday here in the U.S.A., I am seizing the opportunity to write about an album I've been enjoying for several weeks now. Carrion Repeating, the new full-length recording from James Domestic, is described as "post punk pop music for weirdos." Domestic, well-known for his screaming brilliance in a multitude of teeth-smashing hardcore punk bands, has taken a very different route with this solo endeavor. You could say that Carrion Repeating doesn't quite fit with the music I usually review. But that's because it doesn't quite fit with any other music, period. It's in a category of its own. 

As I try and pinpoint what makes this album so appealing to me (beyond the obvious uniqueness and creativity), I keep coming back to one thing. Carrion Repeating is not just a musical creation with the feel of a work of literature -- it's a musical creation that is a work of literature. Lyrically, these 11 tracks read like the  most fascinating and wonderfully disturbing diary entries you could ever hope to come across. Yet the music is never an afterthought. Although Domestic speaks most of the lyrics, this isn't a spoken word album. The music for each track seems meticulously crafted to match the tone of the vocals and lyrics (or is it the other way around?). Musical influences range from post-punk to dub to new wave pop to reggae to krautrock to soul to Brit-pop, yet the greatest influence is the twisted mind of James Domestic. He has created something rare in this day and age: a true album as opposed to a mere collection of songs. 

In the hands of a lesser artist, this mish-mash of musical styles might come off disjointed or ill-conceived. But Domestic pulls it off splendidly, crafting weird songs that are genuinely enjoyable to listen to. The musings, observations, stories, and ravings which comprise this album create a bleak but bang-on picture of human existence: we are pitiful creatures living out disappointing, pointless lives which we are almost entirely powerless to change. "Are you a right fucker or just a fuckee?" is about as good of an opening line as you'll ever hear on a record and certainly the perfect tone-setter for this one. By turns humorous, angry, and matter-of-fact, Domestic's delivery of these songs is what really makes this album. Whether he's passing judgement on joyless tourists, lashing out at soulless bean-counters and cold-hearted exes, or painting a vivid metaphor out of human viscera, he does so with a unique and strangely likeable style. If you only know of James Domestic from the various bands he fronts, you may be surprised by what you hear. One of the year's finest LPs! 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Young Rochelles - Interstellar Communication

It's always a pleasure to hear new music from The Young Rochelles, one of the best pop-punk bands going. Interstellar Communication, the New York trio's new 7", has just been co-released by Hey Pizza! Records, Endless Detention Records, I Buy Records, and Dumb Records. That makes four record labels in four different countries collaborating to release an EP that's literally out of this world. You've got to love it! On these four tracks, The Young Rochelles take flight into outer space -- hopping the planets, evading Martians, frolicking on the Moon, venturing beyond the Sun, and pondering the enormous cost of E.T.'s cell phone plan. Musically, this EP is representative of what The Young Rochelles do so well: bookending a pair of really poppy mid-tempo tracks with a couple of fast-paced punky tunes. And while this is a super fun record, it's not without depth. "Beyond the Sun" offers some serious social commentary (Who wouldn't want to get the heck away from Earth right now!), and "Fantasy World" educates on the effects of living beyond gravity. Pop-punk as a genre most often appeals to my inner 16-year-old, but I keep thinking that seven-year-old me would have loved Interstellar Communication! With The Young Rochelles, you know you're getting world-class pop-punk. Maybe I should rephrase that and say galaxy-class instead? Vinyl is available in two versions: alien green and moon rock grey. Hit one of the links below to order!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Abbie Barrett - I Will Let You Know

I was probably joking when I said that the Rum Bar Records roster would eventually include every great Boston band or artist. But at the rate Lou is bringing local talent into the fold, I just might have been right! Out now on Rum Bar is I Will Let You Know, the latest album from Abbie Barrett. As a solo performer, Barrett has been a fixture of the Boston music scene for a decade and a half. An extraordinary vocalist and a fantastic songwriter to boot, Barrett is backed by some of the most stellar players in the Boston scene: Mike Oram on guitar, Ed Valauskas on bass, and Rice Edmonston on drums. I want to say that Barrett joining the Rum Bar family is a big deal, but that feels like an understatement! 

In typical Abbie Barrett style, I Will Let You Know delivers great song after great song in a way that transcends genre. It's comprised of songs which were originally released as singles between 2018 and last year. Put together, these tracks make for one nifty mini album. This release comes out blazing with a pair of stone cold hits in the title track (featuring Greg Hawkes-ish keyboard work from Greg Hawkes himself!) and "Better Machine" -- both songs imbuing classic new wave pop influences with a rocking & modern edge. If "Reconcile" reminds me of Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents, that's hardly surprising considering Barrett and Valauskas' involvement in that band. But just when you think you've stumbled upon the best new wave record in years, I Will Let You Know takes some wonderfully surprising turns. "Dirty Work," a cover of the Steely Dan classic, manages to capture the warm '70s vibes of the original even as Barrett transforms it in her own unique way. "Blood & Bone" is a soaring modern rock epic. The introspective and haunting "The Light" is surely the first song I've ever heard that uses actual frog trills as percussion (quite effectively, I must say!). Fans will recognize closing track "Here To Stay" as the opening track from 2014's The Triples. This newer version of an old favorite brings this album to a powerful & anthemic conclusion. 

Far from just one of Boston's local treasures, Abbie Barrett is one of the most talented singers and songwriters in the contemporary indie rock world. Her back catalog, available from Bandcamp and Spotify, is well worth tracking down. I Will Let You Know is your perfect starting point. It's yet another essential release from the best record label out there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


There's nothing better than hearing a really cool demo and knowing straight off that the band is gonna be great. Los Angeles foursome FRIENDZY has just dropped its "Faze 1" demo, and I'm confident in declaring that any regular reader of this blog needs to hear it! I figured this band would be good since Troy Canady (Cheap Thrills, Mickey) is on guitar and vocals. Also on board are Natalie (bass and vocals), Paul (guitar and vocals), and Doug (drums). The instant I pushed play, I knew that FRIENDZY was my kind of band. These eight tracks live in the space where punk rock, power pop, and new wave hang together. I like that this is a true demo. It's clearly not intended to be a finished product, but it gives you a feel for this band's sound and highlights the quality of the material. Many of these songs will likely turn up on official releases in the future, but already you can hear the potential. This band understands how to write punchy songs with great hooks. There's also an excellent cover of The Vibrators' "Whips & Furs" that nicely complements the original songs. FRIENDZY is gonna be a hot band in the power pop world. Get in on the ground floor with a name-your-price download of this demo!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Andrea Gillis - "About a Girl"

Andrea Gillis, who released one of the best singles of 2021 on Red On Red Records, has done it again in 2022! The Boston-based singer has long been one of the finest rock and roll vocalists and live performers on the East Coast (or any other coast, for that matter). Her recent output proves that she's far more than just an electrifying frontperson: she's also a brilliant songwriter and a true artist. I wasn't sure if "Leave the Light On" could be topped, but one listen to "About A Girl" (out today on Red On Red) left my jaw dropped to the floor. This is a song that commands your attention from the very first note. It's haunting pop music of the highest quality. In the liner notes, Gillis is very open about the meaning of this song. As she puts it, she wrote the song "for all the girls that never really wanted to do the whole 'gotta be sexy so people will pay attention' thing." The song contrasts the freedom of being a young girl and making your own rules with the reality of growing up into a world that expects you to "have the right shoes and pants and such." Like the aforementioned "Leave the Light On," "About a Girl" sounds massive and triumphant -- a testament to Gillis's vocal prowess, the formidable talents of her remarkable band (a veritable all-star team of Boston rockers), and the magic production touch of both David Minehan and Pat DiCenso. And to put this song over the top, Gillis enlisted the great Tanya Donelly to sing on the track! In a year full of exceptional singles, "About a Girl" is destined to be one of the very best. If you like great songs made by incredibly talented people, you'll never find a better way to spend a dollar.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Cindy Lawson - New Tricks

Eight days ago, I wrote about The Complete Clams, a 15-track retrospective on one of the most criminally underrated rock and roll bands to come out of Minneapolis/St. Paul in the later 1980s. This was just the first half of a duology of releases that fully welcomes Cindy Lawson to the Rum Bar Records family. It was followed yesterday by New Tricks -- the long-awaited solo debut from Clams vocalist and Twin Cities legend Lawson. 

New Tricks is the first set of original songs recorded by Lawson since her old band Whoops Kitty released its self-titled CD in 1996. A quarter of a century later, Lawson's voice sounds as amazing as ever -- or perhaps even more amazing than ever. Within the first 30 seconds of my first contact with "How It Feels," her voice had sent chills down my spine. You can go back and listen to The Complete Clams or the Whoops Kitty album and hear a young talent of tremendous promise. After a long period of semi-retirement from the music biz, Lawson is back to completely fulfill that promise. To these songs, Lawson has brought decades of experience in life and music. And her songwriting skills clearly never left her. The well-named New Tricks incorporates many of Lawson's long-held influences (such as '60s pop and girl groups) while still sounding fresh, original, and modern in the year 2022. The album was superbly-produced by Steve Price (of the excellent '90s Twin Cities band Rex Daisy), who knows a thing or two about what a rocking pop record ought to sound like. From the crunching pop-rock of "How It Feels" to the sultry bounce of "I'm Not the Only One" to the garage rock inspired thump of "You've Got Quality" to the girl group majesty of "Dream Baby" to the hard-rocking grit of "I'm Loaded," this album covers a lot of ground without ever having to veer too far from the timeless structure of the three-minute pop song. A couple other tracks will be of great interest to long-time fans. The old Whoops Kitty song "Let's Pretend" gets quite the modern makeover. "Nope" is a loving tribute to its author -- the late, great Lori Wray. Both songs fit perfectly on the album. 

Listening to the fabulous New Tricks, one might be tempted to curse the music gods for depriving Cindy Lawson of the stardom she so deserved. But who says it's too late? Far from a post-script on Lawson's musical career, New Tricks represents its rebirth. It's the work of an artist whose best days still lie ahead of her. She's got wisdom, she's got talent, and she's got that voice. All over the world, people are hearing tracks from New Tricks on underground radio shows and saying, "Wow, who is that?!" Malibu Lou spoke to me earlier this year about how blessed he is to work with some of the best singers out there today. He mentioned a few names in particular (Shanda Cisneros, Miss Georgia Peach, Jen D'Angora) which I absolutely agreed with. I must add Cindy Lawson to this select group, and I am sure Lou will concur! Locals will not want to miss Lawson's performance this coming July 15 at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul: a Rum Bar Records showcase event that will also feature Beebe Gallini and The Dogmatics! Wow and wow!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men - Heart Inside Your Head

This is my fifth time reviewing a Nick Piunti album. I never get tired of listening to this man's music, and I never get tired of writing about it. He's a master craftsman of melodic pop-rock who's making the best music of his life five decades into his career. Out today on Jem Records, Heart Inside Your Head is Piunti's sixth album since 2014 and his second with his band The Complicated Men (Jeff Hupp on bass, Ron Vensko on drums, Kevin Darnall on keyboards, and Joe Daksiewicz on guitar). With this release, you can really hear Piunti & The Complicated Men coming into their own as a proper rock band. While this album fits perfectly well under the banners of power pop and indie rock, it's full of songs that sound like honest-to-goodness radio hits. It's accessible to anyone who likes pop, rock, or any form of melody-driven music. The production (courtesy of Geoff Michael and the band) is absolutely top-of-the-line. The musicianship is extraordinary. And from start to finish, the songs are stone-cold gems (no pun intended). 

Piunti's "thing" has always been his ability to write super-catchy pop songs that run surprisingly deep lyrically. He and The Complicated Men continue that approach on Heart Inside Your Head, but with a broadened stylistic range. If you're looking for power pop, "My Mind (Plays Tricks on Me)," "One of the Boyz," and "Keys to Your Heart" will hit the spot in a big way. Songs like "Slave To It" and "Hopes Up" are the kind of middle-of-the-road pop-rock earworms you used to be able to count on hearing in the finest dentist offices and banks. "Trying Too Hard" sounds like it belongs on a "1998 alternative hits" playlist smack dab between Semisonic and The Wallflowers. "Nothing New" is such a perfect slice of old school adult contemporary balladry that I can imagine Peter Cetera and Richard Marx fighting to the death for the rights to record it. Speaking of ballads, "I Want Everything" and "Gloves Come Off" just might be the two high points of this album. It has been my experience as a longtime fan of music that ballads are something I'm usually just willing to tolerate. But in my daily listening to Heart Inside Your Head, "I Want Everything" and "Gloves Come Off" are songs I always look forward to hearing. If you're going to work with a formidable rock band and a top-flight producer, these are the kinds of tunes you should aspire to write: sophisticated & deep yet timelessly melodic. Michael has a gift for being able to make a record sound massive and pristine but not overproduced. He is the perfect collaborator for Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men. 

Nick Piunti has always half-jokingly described his music as "dad rock." Well, then. If well-crafted and immaculately-produced pop-rock is dad rock, Piunti & The Complicated Men have just made the best damn dad rock album in years! I remember putting Heart Inside Your Head on for the first time. Every time I thought I had arrived at the "hit," the next song would come along and make me reconsider! It's usually utter nonsense when dopes like me pronounce a certain artist's newest release as their "best one yet." But repeated listens to Heart Inside Your Head have me convinced that Nick Piunti has just released the best record of his life. Of course he didn't do it alone, so let's have three cheers for The Complicated Men! If the powers that be ever allow artists over 25 to be played on contemporary hit radio again, this band will be all kinds of huge!

QWAM - "Little Bliss"

One of my favorite record labels has hit another one out of the park! Out today on Reta Records is "Little Bliss," the brand-new single from the awesome Brooklyn-based punk band QWAM. Jamie's ear for hit singles is as reliable as ever with this absolutely delightful pair of tracks from one of the most fun bands in existence. A-side "IDC" is the first-ever QWAM song to have verses sung by band members other than Felicia Lobo. Eddie Kuspiel and Matt Keim each contribute verses to this infectious sing-along number. On the surface, this song may seem like an ode to indifference. On a deeper level, it's about being self-aware enough to care that you don't care. I really relate to this one, and of course it doesn't hurt that I want to dance around like crazy every time that chorus hits! On the B-side, the title track explores the nagging ache for something more in life and the need to find it in those little everyday moments we sometimes overlook. In typical QWAM fashion, this song builds to an anthemic climax that will have you punching the air and shouting along.  

Like all Reta Records releases, "Little Bliss" is extremely limited and comes in multiple colors of vinyl (100 copies on grapefruit splash vinyl, 150 on forest green, and 50 on black). The artwork and vinyl look amazing! QWAM fans are advised to move fast on this one! And if you just became a QWAM fan due to hearing this single, be sure to check out the band's back catalog over at Bandcamp. Who can deny that "Everybody Wants To Watch" is one of the best songs ever?

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Battlebeats - Killed By Boredom

Everyone's favorite Indonesian garage punk band is back with four more shots of blistering punk rock and roll goodness! Out on Otitis Media Records, new 7" Killed By Boredom is the first of several releases due out from The Battlebeats this year. Like the band's previous releases, Killed By Boredom features Andresa Nugraha on vocals, guitar, and drums. While the energy from previous releases remains, this EP finds The Battlebeats sounding more properly produced and less like a bedroom recording project. What results are four tunes that sound like super tough '70s punk rock by way of '50s rock and roll. I've got no complaints about that! Of course Andresa still loves Teengenerate, but you can hear that his influences have broadened. When he started The Battlebeats, he had the perfect concept for a band. But as he's developed as a musician and songwriter, he's found a way for The Battlebeats to progress while remaining a kick-ass garage punk band. What we have here are four totally killer punk tunes, and I'm excited to hear more! Order the vinyl here!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Kid Gulliver - "Nothing But Trouble"

Having documented its amazing run of 2020-21 singles on last year's wonderful collection Kismet, Kid Gulliver is primed to begin another run of hot singles action. Out on Red On Red Records, new single "Nothing But Trouble" is yet another earworm track from this Boston-based power pop sensation. Written by guitarist David Armillotti, this song tackles a timeless theme in pop music: being on the wrong side of a one-sided relationship. This is probably Kid Gulliver's punkiest track to date -- coming on with an upbeat energy that perfectly balances the utter despair of the lyrics. Instantly this song will have you bobbing your head or doing a little dance in your workspace. For the rest of the day, you'll be humming that melody. Simone Berk, in her usual manner, sings the lyrics in such a way that you'll truly feel them. So then: is "Nothing But Trouble" a feelgood pop hit or a devastating reflection on the pain that love can cause us? In the grand tradition of the greatest pop songs, it's both! If you haven't started working on your summer playlist, here's your track 1!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Poppy Robbie - Valentine EP (2008)

If I could list one thing exceptional thing about this otherwise smalltime and insignificant blog, it's that it provides the most comprehensive Poppy Robbie coverage of any blog in existence. Should another blogger attempt to be a greater authority on Poppy Robbie's musical catalog, we will have to fight (and then most likely make peace while sharing a six-pack of root beer). Two years ago, I recounted the legend of a Poppy Robbie release so limited that only one copy was ever made. This collection of acoustic numbers was produced as a 2008 Valentine's Day gift for Robbie's then-girlfriend and now wife. At the time of my review, only one track had been made available for public consumption. Fans demanded more and wisely turned to their constitutional rights of assembly and petition. A letter-writing campaign ensued. Urgent requests were placed via landline telephone. Some hardy individuals camped outside of Robbie's home holding meticulously-crafted signs. And so in this month of May in the year 2022, Robbie has given the people what they want. Valentine EP (2008), in slightly abridged form, is available now from Bandcamp. Finally you can hear "Jamey Jamey (Hey Jamey​!​)" even if you're not Jamey. The highlight for me is "You Really Got Me (Tangled Up)," which sounds more like Jonathan Richman than anything Jonathan Richman has done in 30 years. On "Sincerely Yours," Robbie channels another Robbie: northern New Jersey's finest wedding singer of the mid-'80s. Two songs from the original release remain for Jamey's ears only. One is a Tom Petty cover which could not be included due to Bandcamp's new policies regarding the unauthorized uploading of copyrighted material (punishments range from literal beatings to being locked inside a Nickelback concert). The other omission is a joke song that lists every Kevin Costner movie appearance through 2007. Is it just me, or does that sound like something the world needs to hear? 

Valentine EP (2008), certified to only contain material copyrighted by Poppy Robbie, is available as a name-your-price download from Bandcamp. While we may have to wait for the Kevin Costner song to see the light of day, Robbie has also uploaded a nifty unreleased track from 2012 called "Sophia" to his digital treasure chest. Anyone who has read this far must be a Poppy Robbie super-fan. Congratulations: you have exquisite taste! 


Van Dammes - Finally There

Three years ago, I reviewed Van Dammes' wonderful EP Risky Business. I was immediately drawn to the Helsinki foursome's catchy, energetic, and super fun brand of garage punk. Last year, Van Dammes released a digital EP titled Finally There in tribute to Finland's national football team qualifying for its first-ever major championship (Euro 2020). This was a huge deal to the entire nation of Finland -- which had literally waited over 100 years for this moment. Clearly this event merited a proper celebration! And now Finally There is finally out on vinyl! It's the newest release from Madrid's ever-reliable Jarama 45RPM Recs. This label always knows good music, and Van Dammes make a perfect addition to the roster. Given that punk rock and sports are two of my favorite things ever, I am always delighted to come across a marriage of the two. In typical Van Dammes fashion, these songs bring the energy along with ample opportunities to sing along. While the anthemic title track specifically celebrates the achievement of Finland's national team, the lyrics have a universal sentiment. This is the sound of a nation rejoicing! Equally rousing is "(It's Time For) Rivelution," a song dedicated to Markku "Rive" Kanerva, manager of the Finnish national team. If I were Rive, I would be so pleased with this song! One final sing-along number, "Test the Best," rounds out this celebration in style. Even if you're not Finnish or have no interest in football, you'll have a hard time resisting these blistering garage-punk anthems from one of the coolest bands in Europe. Jarama 45RPM Recs. does it again!

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Clams - The Complete Clams

Out now on Rum Bar Records, The Complete Clams brings the recorded output of one of the most overlooked Twin Cities bands of the 1980s back into print -- where it deserves to be. The Clams were Cindy Lawson (guitar, lead vocals), Patty Jansen (bass), Karen Cusack (drums), and Roxie Terry (lead guitar). Between 1986 and 1988, they released two singles and one 12" EP. The Complete Clams compiles the songs from all three releases along with some additional rarities to form one really great 15-track album. While anyone with fond memories of seeing The Clams live in the later '80s will be thrilled with this collection, this is by no means a "for fans only" type release. Listening to this album, I can't help noticing how well it fits in with Rum Bar's existing catalog full of glam rock, garage rock, power pop, and straight-forward rock and roll. Cindy Lawson was (and still is!) an absolute powerhouse on lead vocals. She and Roxie Terry formed a bad-ass tandem a la Jagger/Richards and Johansen/Thunders. It's no surprise, then, to hear the Stonesy vibes of "Run Baby Run" and a most formidable cover of the New York Dolls' "Human Being." What I enjoy about this collection is that it captures a very versatile rock and roll band. Debut single "What's Wrong With This Picture?" is jangly guitar pop at its finest. Second single "Train Song" is raw, high-energy rock and roll straight out of the bar. By the time The Clams released their EP Exile On Lake Street, they were trying everything from cool Pretenders-ish rock ("He's Like Heroin") to anthemic, thundering rock and roll ("Let Me Drive") to infectious power pop ("Give Me A Reason") to edgy new wave ("Eat My Words"). Unearthed from an obscure Pendulum Records compilation album, "The Desperate Kind" is The Clams' punkiest track-- and one of its very best! The album also features several live covers which give you a sense of some of the band's influences and a feel for what it would have been like to experience The Clams in person. Buy this album if you want to hear the coolest-ever version of "We're an American Band"! 

Whether you're a Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene historian or simply want to discover a really great garage rock and roll band that has gone largely unrecognized for decades, The Complete Clams is a highly recommended purchase. What a voice Cindy Lawson has! Be on the lookout for a reissue of her latest solo EP New Tricks -- releasing next Friday on Rum Bar Records!

Rock N Roll Manifesto 7" series Vol. II

The Rock N Roll Manifesto, the king of all underground rock and roll radio shows, has released the second volume in its series of compilation seven-inches. Volume I, which featured Tiger Touch, Fret Rattles, JJ & The Real Jerks, and the mighty Missile Studs, set quite a precedent for this series. So how do you top a lineup like that? If you're Greg Lonesome, you reach out to the legendary Sonny Vincent. That's right: Rock N Roll Manifesto 7" Series Vol. II kicks off with "Over A Cliff," an unreleased track from Sonny freaking Vincent! And this isn't just a Sonny Vincent song: it's a killer Sonny Vincent song! Vincent mentions being proud of his involvement with this compilation since it reflects the passion people have for music in physical formats. And that's really the point of this 7" series. These EPs are made to be records. Volume II, like Volume I before it, is the total package. The tunes smoke, the artwork (by Rob Sheley) is amazing, and the vinyl comes in three different colors (canary yellow, milky clear with canary splatter, and black with canary haze). Also included is a really slick lyric sheet with full information on each track. It's not just about hearing the music: it's about adding a super fucking cool record to your collection! Joining Sonny Vincent on this release are three of the finest bands in the underground universe: London post-punk greats Miscalculations, Swedish garage-punk sensations The Manikins, and Pennsylvania's rock and roll force of nature The Judex. Three of the four tracks are previously unreleased, and the Judex track is appearing on vinyl for the first time. All in all, this is an absolute monster of a record. It's limited to 500 copies -- which are available through Stamp Out Disco (Australia), No Front Teeth Records (UK), Hyperloop Records (UK), and the Rock N Roll Manifesto Bandcamp. To the best of my knowledge, this release is not currently available digitally. But you can trust that it's well-worth your cash if Greg Lonesome curated it! Follow the links below to order the record and check out more music from all of these tremendous artists!  

Monday, May 09, 2022

Brad Marino - "Another Sad and Lonely Night"

What could be more perfect than Brad Marino covering Bobby Fuller? If Bobby Fuller was Buddy Holly's rightful heir, Marino is in many ways a modern-day Bobby Fuller. He plays a timeless style of rock and roll steeped in the tradition of the two-to-three minute pop song. While Fuller's life and career were tragically cut short, he left behind a treasure trove of great American rock and roll with his band The Bobby Fuller Four. While Marino was in Atlanta for Downsouth Showdown earlier this year, he and his pals Geoff Palmer and Zack Sprague recorded some new songs at Joe King's Scabby Road Studio. One of the tracks they laid down was a cover of "Another Sad and Lonely Night," one of Bobby Fuller's best original songs. Marino has released the track as a digital single, and of course it's totally amazing. You can hear the reverence for Fuller's classic original, but Marino puts his own twist on it as he always does with his covers. And, yes, that's Mr. Joe King on backing vocals! If you're a Brad Marino fan and don't own any music by the Bobby Fuller Four, that situation needs to be rectified immediately. And if you're a Bobby Fuller fan who has happened to stumble upon this post, do yourself a favor and check out all of Brad Marino's releases!

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Night Court - Nervous Birds! Too

Vancouver trio Night Court is quickly becoming one of my favorite Canadian punk rock bands. Admittedly, I have a lot of favorite Canadian punk bands. But Night Court is definitely in that mix! The band has just released Nervous Birds! Too, the second half of its debut album duology. Jiffy, Emilor, and Dave are back with 13 more super-catchy tracks that blur the lines between punk, pop, new wave/post-punk, and indie rock. It's perfect that the album was co-released by the American label Snappy Little Numbers since it's nothing but snappy little numbers! I love this band because it takes so many things I like in music (great hooks, raw energy, clever/humorous lyrics) and pulls them together in a unique and highly original way. Listening to Nervous Birds! Too, I can understand why Night Court's debut album had to be a duology. Nervous Birds! Too is as good or maybe even better than Nervous Birds! One. This band genuinely had 26 album-worthy tracks to work with! A 26-track album would have been a little much, yet I'd be hard-pressed to name any songs that could have been left out. Why not double the fun? 

Nervous Birds! One left us wanting more; Nervous Birds! Too delivers exactly that. Each track sinks its hooks into you quickly and gets out just in time for the next one to the do the same. Even at an average length of just 90 seconds, these tunes are splendidly-crafted and built to keep you coming back for more. In keeping with the delightful uniqueness of this band, lyrics address topics varying from dark times to strange dreams to the Titanic to sewage pipes to birds to the contagiousness of positive thinking to Canadians' constant need to apologize. If you welcome music that's punky, poppy, lo-fi, noisy, and quirky all at the same time, this band and this album are for you. Nervous Birds! Too is available on cassette from Debt Offensive Records and Snappy Little Numbers. Whether you're Canadian or not, you'll be sorry if you miss out!,

Friday, May 06, 2022

The Dogmatics - Drop That Needle

I can still remember how excited I was when I first heard that The Dogmatics would be putting out new material for the first time in decades. It has been two-and-a-half years already since the release of the band's "comeback" EP She's the One -- which turned out to be every bit as good as I had hoped. Advance singles released in recent months had me thinking that the follow-up Drop That Needle would be even better. I was not wrong! Out today on Rum Bar Records, Drop That Needle finds the best band to ever come out of Boston in fine form. Push play, and you'll be delighted to hear that The Dogmatics still sound like The Dogmatics. But by no means does this release fall into the "for fans only" category. Far from resting on their laurels, The Dogmatics are quickly establishing themselves as one of the most excellent garage rock and roll bands going today. I previously referred to the the title track as the "ultimate garage rocker" and see no reason to disagree with myself. "Automat Kalashnikov," the first Dogmatics song to be written and sung by Peter O' Halloran, is a crackling return to the band's punk rock roots. "Think Twice" is unlike anything you've ever heard from The Dogmatics before. This folk tune is a collaboration with James Young (from Peter O' Halloran & The Hired Men), who sings lead vocals and plays mandolin. I hope The Dogmatics do more songs like this in the future! The Jerry Lehane penned rocker "Don't Break My Heart" sounds like the best Rockpile song you never heard. Finishing off the EP is "Acid Rain," a song written by the late, great Paul O' Halloran and featuring his brother Peter on lead vocals. This was the track I was most excited to hear, and it does not disappoint! You can feel Paul's spirit in this recording, and his lyrics are truly chilling in the wake of what's been happening to our environment in recent decades. What a wonderful tribute to Paul O' Halloran! To this day, there is no Dogmatics without him. 

"Aging like fine wine" is undoubtedly one of the most egregious music reviewer clich├ęs in the book, but it certainly describes The Dogmatics to a T. Put on Drop That Needle, and you'll hear sounds that are both familiar and full of surprises. Not content to be remembered for their old classics, The Dogmatics are well on their way to authoring a whole slew of new ones. This band honors the past but is not stuck in it. And as the garage/punk/rock and roll scene continues to flourish at the grass roots level, it's a joy to see more and more people becoming hip to an eternal truth: The Dogmatics rule!

Dirty Truckers - The Tisbury Joneser

The Tisbury Joneser
is the fourth full-length album from The Dirty Truckers. Out today on Rum Bar Records, this is the first long player in over 13 years from this Boston-based rock and roll institution. Having anthologized tracks from existing Dirty Truckers releases on two previous occasions, Rum Bar proudly brings into the world 10 new songs of heart-on-sleeve dive bar rock and roll from unsung songwriting great Tom Baker and his illustrious partners-in-crime (John Brookhouse on lead guitar, Jamie Griffith on bass, and Johnny "Rock" Lynch on drums). The Tisbury Joneser was a lockdown recording project. If it took an unprecedented global pandemic to get these guys to make another record, well there's a silver lining for you! When it comes to The Dirty Truckers or any Tom Baker project, you know exactly what to expect: no-nonsense blue collar rock and roll for fans of The Replacements, Rolling Stones, and everything that's good in between. The Westerberg/Stinson influence looms large on this release as the splendid tracks "Cut Me Loose," "(You've Got The) Shakes Again," and "Remember One" tip the cap to early, late, and classic period Replacements. The Stones influence is more literal this time: the band tears into an inspired rendition of Exile on Main St. Side 4 opener "All Down the Line." As always, Baker shows himself to be a formidable songwriter in the realm of straight-forward rock and roll. There are few better at crafting a hooky tune with heart and guts. While lean and mean at just ten tracks, The Tisbury Joneser covers an awful lot of ground. Standout numbers highlight the band's flair for everything from rootsy pop ("Just Forget It") to heartland rock ("I Feel Nothing") to raucous rock and roll ("Keep It in the Vault"). Every time I get to the end of this album, I'm left wanting more. 

The Tisbury Joneser finds The Dirty Truckers continuing to not fix what isn't broke. There will always be a place in the world for a band like this that aspires to nothing more than to write great songs and rock the hell out of 'em! No less of an authority than Jerry Lehane points to this album as solid proof that rock and roll is alive and well. What else needs to be said? The Tisbury Joneser is an album best enjoyed loud in tandem with the cheapest, coldest beer you can find. Koozie included if you buy one of the special bundles!

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Extra Arms - "Big Dogs"

One of my most eagerly-anticipated albums of 2022 is set to release June 3 on Forge Again Records. What Is Even Happening Right Now? will be the third full-band album from Detroit-based loud power pop foursome Extra Arms. It's hard for me to believe it was seven years ago already that I fell in love with Ryan Allen's solo album Heart String Soul. Back then, "Extra Arms" was just a funny way to convey that Allen could play a whole lot of instruments. Eventually he found some permanent bandmates and made Extra Arms a bona fide rock band. I've never been disappointed with any release that Allen has been involved with. Extra Arms in particular hit a sweet spot for me because they recall a time when indie/alternative rock truly rocked! In advance of What Is Even Happening Right Now? (a perfect album title for this moment in time!), the band has released the single and video "Big Dogs." In typical Extra Arms style, this song is a killer slice of powerful pop. "Big Dogs," it turns out, is a love song to man's best friend. It was inspired by Allen's special relationship with Willie Nelson, his partner's dog. Yet the song is more universal than that, exploring the powerful connection we can have with another living being in spite of not being able to fully converse with them. If you, as I, have ever longed to know the inner thoughts of your four-legged soulmate, you will understand what a profound song "Big Dogs" is. And the video is an absolute delight! With less than a month to go until the new record releases, I am getting majorly pumped for more new tunes from Extra Arms. This just might be the album of the summer! Hit up Forge Again's Bandcamp to pre-order the vinyl.