Tuesday, July 30, 2019

More, more, more, more reviews

Allvaret – Skam Old Sculd LP (Dirt Cult)
Sweden’s Allvaret are back with the second LP, Skam Old Sculd, which translates to shame and guilt. First of all this LP is not sung in English, which does make it lyrically tough to get into too. Musically, the band is in the same vein as the new wave of Sweden and Denmark bands like Terrible Feelings and Masshysteri. In some respects, Allvaret remind of a mix of punk and post-punk much like early Samian did taking elements of both worlds into their sound.  – Ed Stuart

Bad Mojos – I Hope You OD LP (Voodoo Rhythm)
The title alone should clue you in that this LP will be no Hallmark movie. Swiss ski mask wearing aficionados play some mean ultra simple punk in the vein of Spits. Bad Mojos really sticks to the influence on I Hope You OD, which isn’t bad because sometimes punk isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s just to release some frustration, which three guys who are landlocked in the Alps do on this LP. Straight ahead lo-fi influenced punk that gets the party started and the keg drunk. – Ed Stuart

Bazooka – Zero Hits LP (Inner Ear)
Greece’s Bazooka is definitely not afraid to mix it up. On Zero Hits, they cover the spectrum of indie rock from more psych influenced to peppy angular indie pop. Bazooka, on their third LP, sings entirely in Greek so good luck to you. There is always Google translate, if that does the job. Bazooka has been kicking around since 2008 and don’t show any signs of stopping now.  – Ed Stuart

Boss  Steel Box 7” (Goner)
This is an unexpected find. Jonah from Fucked Up and Career Suicide and Maxime from Rixe lead us into a world of bootboy glam like early Cocksparrer and Slade’s sleazy ‘70’s glam rock n’ roll. It’s a pretty bold move to name your band Boss, but on this single they deliver. “Steel Box” is NY Dolls dirty glam rock n’ roll meets Slade’s gritty glam. “I’m The Dog” is a sped up ’77 track that could easily be on a Slaughter and The Dogs LP with bits of early Cocksparrer’s street glam.  – Ed Stuart

Brendan Kelly and The Wandering Birds – Keep Walkin’ Pal LP (Red Scare)
If you’re expecting The Falcon or Lawrence Arms, keep walking. I know; I went there. Brendan Kelly of Lawrence Arms and The Falcon, writes an entirely different record with The Wandering Birds. Keep Walkin’ Pal is more of a singer/songwriter LP with synth influence and appeal. In some ways, it reminds of Hold Steady especially on “Bottle and Tray.” The title track is straight acoustic singer/songwriter, but “Shitty Margarita” is keyboard fueled slower punk.   – Ed Stuart

Clowns – Nature/Nurture LP (Fat Wreck)
Originally starting as a hardcore band, Clowns on Nature/Nurture, their fourth album, have slowly morphed into something else. Now the common thought is that Fat is split into two camps. First are the NOFX influenced bands and second the bands that aren’t like Dead To Me, Night Birds, Pears and Clowns to name a few. Fans of Clown’s discography shouldn’t be surprised by the continued progression. Does Clowns still have some hardcore parts? Yes, they do, but they also mix in more melodic parts and straight ahead punk anthems to get their message across this time.   – Ed Stuart

The Cool Greenhouse – Landlords 7” (Drunken Sailor)
Casio fueled Fall meets Los Microwaves arty coolness. Both tracks are swipes at their titled tracks and both are incredibly British. “Landlords” takes a swipe at you guessed it, Landlords. I get landlords are an easy target and they seem to be a worldwide problem. 4chan, the notorious image site gets their treatment as well. “4chan” satirically goes after a typical 4chan user. Both tracks are simple, minimal and snarky. – Ed Stuart

Death Lottery – EP II (Self-release)
Florida’s Death Lottery is a lo-fi dirty garage punk n’ roll that channels early Stooges with Brian James from the Damned playing lead guitar instead of an Asheton brother. Death Lottery has five tracks in all played in this style, but with a party feel on the vocals.  – Ed Stuart

DFactor Pop – The Bang Session 7” (Self-release)
Phoenix’s prolific power pop songwriter is back with The Bang Session. The A-side is power-pop played like Newtown Neurotics and The Carpettes. It’s rudimentary power-pop with a heavy touch of minimalism. The B-side, Mission of Burma’s “How I Escape My Certain Fate” is played looser than the original.   – Ed Stuart

Freak Genes – III LP (Drunken Sailor)
Round three is here and remember Freak Genes have released three LP’s in 20 months. Charlie (Red Cords) and Andrew (Proto Idiot) continue making their Devo meets 154-era Wire with a stripped down Gary Numan feel. III is fueled by more synth than previous releases and skews post-punk, but Freak Genes mix a variety of influences from ’77 – ’79 to make this a treat.  – Ed Stuart

The Gala – Bad News LP (Dead Beat)
When you’re puking up hearts, it’s definitely bad news. The Gala plays a hard rock n’ roll with keyboards. A lot of reviews compare them to Blondie, which I don’t see at all. Bad News is far dirtier and sleazier than anything Debbie and the boys would ever get into. The Gala take a no frills approach and let the keyboard do the melody talking.  – Ed Stuart

Good Riddance – Thoughts and Prayers LP (Fat Wreck)
Good Riddance was one of the original crop of Fat bands way back when the label started. I think that really dates me, but oh, well. Good Riddance had called it quits only to make a comeback in 2012. Thoughts and Prayers is the second LP since the reforming and ninth LP overall. The opening quote is Gordon Gecko from Wall Street, a movie full of arguably prophetic dialogue. Good Riddance was never one to shy away from social and political topics and they don’t on this new LP. The Good Riddance staples of galloping drums, heavily chunked guitar and octave filled melodic leads are showcased through out. – Ed Stuart

Hakan – III LP (One Chord Wonder)
If you’re a fan of Ramones meets Marked Men style punk-pop, than why haven’t you been listening to Hakan? Who is Hakan, you ask? They are ex-members of Snookys from Italy who really, really like Turkish culture. III delivers the goods just like their first two records did. C’mon take a chance, you punk-pop self won’t be disappointed.   – Ed Stuart

He Who Cannot Be Named – The Good The Bad and the Brutal LP (Spaghetty Town/God’s Candy/Beluga)
The most mysterious man in rock and roll is back with his fourth album. On this LP, half of the songs have the word “good” and the other half has the word “bad” in the title. He Who is still playing punk rock with a heavy Ramones influence on The Good The Bad And The Brutal. It’s pretty amazing that He Who has been in the punk game for over 30 years. He Who is most notably known for the riffs he supplies The Dwarves with. Although, according to song lyrics, he doesn’t give a fuck, he writes songs with pop hooks to lure his fans regardless of the song’s velocity.   – Ed Stuart

Lee Corey Oswald – Darkness, Together LP (A-F)
Portland’s Lee Corey Oswald writes straight to the heart of the late 80’s/early 90’s alternative scene. In a weird way, this is Weezer/Everclear, musically, mixed with Bright Eyes, lyrically. Maybe a more current band would be Menzingers. Oswald started as an indie folk duo, moved to Portland and released their debut LP four years ago. Darkness, Together is their follow up LP. Oswald isn’t afraid to put their vulnerability out front, but balance it with crunchy power chords and melody. – Ed Stuart

Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One – All Are Welcome LP (Pirates Press)
Lashley has been involved in the Boston scene for over twenty years now. He has been playing with Street Dogs recently and his long running band Darkbuster. Are All Welcome showcases street punk ethos, blended with Americana. Lashley got some all star help to record this LP with members of Bouncing Souls, Street Dogs and Mighty Mighty Bosstones to help round out his recording band. Lashley does draw from Billy Bragg and adds folk, country and punk touches.  – Ed Stuart

The Lizards – Inside Your Head LP (Adrenalin Fix)
Is hard punk rock n’ roll is making a comeback or did I just have a lot of these bands to review this round? The Lizards are a hard driving punk n’ roll power trio from Spain. Inside Your Head, the band’s third LP, is a mix of faster Joan Jett with bits of later Donnas backed with whoa’s and oh’s vocals. The Lizards aren’t reinventing the wheel, but fans of this genre won’t mind.  – Ed Stuart

The Lost Tapes – Inconvenience LP (Rockstar)
I guess there is a band by the same name in Spain. Spain’s version is very poppy. This Lost Tapes from Germany draw their influences from ‘80’s melodic post-punk and darker bands of the new wave. Inconvenience displays the band’s Joy Division meets Wipers sound. – Ed Stuart

Jacques Le Coque – Positively LP (King Pizza)
What if the Modern Lovers and Television were more power pop? It might sound something like Jacques Le Coque. Positively pulls from all the good ‘50’s, and ‘60’s rock n’ roll and ’70’s power pop influences all rolled into one. This is the band’s third LP after a three year hiatus. This is definitely in Whiffs and Gentlemen Jesse territory for fans of both bands. – Ed Stuart

Miscalculations – Sharp Solution EP (Rockstar)
London’s Miscalculations are back with their new 5-song EP, Sharp Solutions. If this is your first exposure, this is a good place to start. Miscalculations feature Marco of Gaggers fame, No Front Teeth Records and numerous other bands on vocals, but instead of pure ’77 UK punk mayhem, he channels his post-punk side. Sharp Solution is more synth heavy than previous releases, but the musical cocktail is basically unchanged. Wire, Joy Division, Tubeway Army, New Order, Depeche Mode with a touch of Screamers for an late ‘70’s early ‘80’s post-punk romp.  – Ed Stuart

Motosierra – S/T LP (Spaghetty Town)
Uruguay’s Motosierra has been at it since 1999 making a name for themselves in Brazil, Argentina and their home country of Uruguay. This S/T release is their first LP in ten years. Motosierra play a hard rock punk that is greatly influenced by Motorhead and Turbonegro. Unlike previous releases, which were sung in English, this S/T is sung entirely in Spanish.  – Ed Stuart

Mystery Girl – Bad Vibrations 7” (Self-release)
Mystery Girl plays a trashy NY Dolls with a touch of rock n’ roll glam soaked pop that oozed out the local dive bar. Mystery Girl hails from Albany, New York and features members of Bourbon Scum, Neutron Rats, Scuzz, The Rigs, and The Mistake. If these guys lived in Atlanta, they would be playing shows with RMBLR, Ravagers and the rest of the crew. There are bits of The Cry and the dearly departed Barreracudas in the songwriting. Don’t sleep on them, this is just one of four singles they already have released.   – Ed Stuart

Mystery Girl – I Love Kissing 7” (Self-release)
I really should just have written read my other Mystery Girl review on Bad Vibrations, but I won’t. “I Love Kissing” is a sped up Chuck Berry ditty mixed their trashy Dolls meets glam pop rock n’ roll. The B-side, “Shattered Dreams” is more power-pop meets dirty rock n’ roll influenced with a big helping of The Cry and Exploding Hearts. Both songs are really good.  – Ed Stuart

Nasty Rumours – Straight To Your Heart LP (Wanda)
After a slew of singles and compilation tracks, Switzerland’s Nasty Rumours step up to the plate with their debut LP, Straight To Your Heart. Nasty Rumours channel Lurkers, 999 and add their touches of Buzzcocks, Briefs, later Boys, and even Duncan Reid’s solo stuff. All the songs range from ’77 punk to punk-pop with “I’m Not Okay” being the former and “Messed Up Girl” being the latter. It’s a pretty solid debut from these Swiss punks.    – Ed Stuart

Nicotine Pretty – Real Life Glories EP (Glunk)
Welsh glam influenced punk n’ rollers, Nicotine Pretty’s debut EP is also their last will and testament. Real Life Glories follows two digital singles that were self-released from a couple years ago. Nicotine Pretty, featuring members of Sick Livers, reminds me of ‘00’s era punk n’ roll like The Dragons. Heavy guitars mixed with melody. Earlier in the year, Nicotine Pretty did end up calling the band quits due to some member’s health issues.  – Ed Stuart

The Old Firm Casuals  Holger Danske LP (Pirates Press)
Tim may be wearing the leather in Rancid, but Lars is the band’s street punk warrior. While these two make a superb partnership, Old Firm Casuals is clearly Lars vision. Lars, arguably, has been far more consistent in non-Rancid bands and this shows on Holger Danske. Danske is a Danish legend about a sleeping king who only wakes when Denmark is incredible danger and saves the entire nation. Old Firm Casuals are a combination of tough, gritty, Oi!, street punk meets AC/DC with touches of early British metal. Holger Danske is the band’s second LP and expands on the foundation The Casuals already laid down.   – Ed Stuart

Pale Lips – After Dark LP (Gods Candy / Spaghetty Town / Alien Snatch! / Waterslide)
Montreal’s Pale Lips are done wanting to be bad and now are causing trouble after dark. Their signature ‘50’s bubblegum meets early Ramones meets Chuck Berry riffs enveloped in ‘60’s girl group mystique is still there on After Dark. When the system is working, why fix it? Pale Lips don’t completely just press repeat for their follow-up. “That Ghost Don’t Lie” is a sultry ‘60’s pop number with a dark guitar line with a Motown blues feel. While the overwhelming mood is bubblegum fun in the candy shop, Pale Lips have a little more up their sleeve when needed. – Ed Stuart

Pandemix – In Condemnation LP (Dirt Cult)
Pandemix is definitely a band that refuses to be pigeonholed. In Condemnation, their second LP, is the follow up to 2016’s Scale Models of Atrocities. Pandemix mix ‘80’s hardcore, harder punk, bits of post-punk and goth without relying on any of the genre’s formula. What makes this more impressive is that the band members don’t live in the same state. Pandemix reside in Boston and Pittsburgh. It really does take a certain commitment to keep a band going when you don’t live in the same town.  – Ed Stuart

Pkew Pkew Pkew – Optimal Lifestyles LP (Dine Alone)
Can you party forever? Well, for the majority, sadly no. Someone has to work. If you party forever, where do you end up? Alcoholism? Swapping Starbucks for the local bar for that morning starter? I’m not sure. Optimal Lifestyles is the slightly more grown up companion to their S/T party punk debut. Pkew Pkew Pkew is still playing pop punk, but dealing with the after effects of the party as your body ages. Optimal Lifestyles takes the Pkew x3 formula and adds more Gaslight Anthem melodic style pop.  – Ed Stuart

Proto Idiot – Find Out For Themselves LP (Third Uncle)
Art damaged, it’s like the Fall in bed with Wire, UK art punk and NY no-wave scene. Manchester’s Proto Idiot aren’t only listening to art punk, they do add some garage and bits of ’77 and Gang of Four. Find Out For Themselves is equal parts noisy garage punk and equal parts angular riffs meets funk-ish bass lines.  – Ed Stuart

Rations Noise/Unknown River Driver – Split LP (86’d / Different Kitchen / Tor Johnson / Ersatz Reality / Farsot / Rad Girlfriend)
Both bands arise from the demise of Long Island, NY punk bands Rations who went on undetermined hiatus in 2014. Unknown River Driver plays a ‘90’s based guitar punk that relies on gritty tuneage like early Jawbreaker and Built To Spill. Rations Noise is pretty apropos title for this band. It reminds of late ‘80’s/ early ‘90’s industrial that is big on mechanized drone.  – Ed Stuart

Re-Volts – Leeches 7” (Pirates Press)
Re-Volts are a San Francisco band that until recently had been dormant. In the last year, the band has released several singles and Leeches is one of them. Re-Volts is fronted by Spike (Filthy Thieving Bastards, Swingin Utters, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Re-Volts musically sound like ’77 punk meets Hives garage.  – Ed Stuart

School Drugs – Relative Suffering EP (Hell Minded)
School Drugs is a New Jersey hardcore punk that draws from Rollins-era Black Flag and other mid-‘80’s punk like Dead Kennedys. Relative Suffering a quick EP that shows the band’s mix of hard punk with melodic vocals that burns straight to the heart of the era.  – Ed Stuart

Shrug Dealer – S/T EP (Self-Release)
These guys didn’t waste any time with the riffage. Shrug Dealer, from New York City reminds me of ‘90’s Fat Wreck era bands like Propagandhi, Lagwagon and early Strung Out. This S/T EP is full of that brand of skate punk/metal with all the quick riffs, start/stops and energy. – Ed Stuart

Sick Of It All – Waking The Sleeping Dragon LP (Fat Wreck)
Can you believe Sick Of It All has been around for over 30 years? That’s impressive for any band let alone hardcore. Waking The Sleeping Dragon is the band’s twelfth LP. Currently, depending on where you fall politically and or socially, I’m sure you can find something to be angry about and that’s where hardcore comes in. SOIA hasn’t seemed to lose a step over the years with their penchant gang vocals, bravado, pummeling drums and crunching guitars. – Ed Stuart

Sore Points – Sore Points LP (Deranged)
Canada is at it again. Of course they are. When Canada isn’t churning out some of the world’s finest power pop bands, they try their hand at KBD punk and guess what, it succeeds. Sore Points is made of members of Nervous Talk, Spectres and other Canadian pedigrees. Sore Points, debut LP, is quick brash amped up Ramones meets Blitz in a KBD knife fight. What kind of combo is that? Listen and find out.  – Ed Stuart

Stephen’s Ruin – Never Too Late LP (Kool Kat)
There is hiatus and then there is a hiatus. Stephen’s Ruin recorded their debut EP over thirty years ago in 1986. In the meantime, Stephen from Stephen’s Ruin ran a pub for over 30 years. Never Too Late is full of ‘90’s guitar pop or a little more mature power pop that isn’t short on melody that has been on a slow simmer for over three decades.  – Ed Stuart

Steve Adamyk Band – Paradise LP (Dirtnap)
Do I really need to write a review for this one? If you have been a fan of modern punk-pop than you have already heard Steve Adamyk Band. Paradise is LP number six for this hard working band. Adamyk is like a Ramones and Buzzcocks punch to the gut. Paradise is leaner and meaner than earlier releases, but they have stripped down to a trio with a brand new rhythm section. It doesn’t matter because the songs are solid as ever. – Ed Stuart

Suspect Parts – You Know That I Can’t Say No 7” (Dirt Cult/Wanda)
The international men of power-pop are back with their new three track single and it’s a banger. “You Know That I Can’t Say No” and “Song For Sadie” definitely carry the third track, which is a slight departure from their sound. The global quartet known, as Suspect Parts comprises of members from More Kicks, Maniac, Clorox Girls and a little band called The Briefs. Does Suspect Parts just simply take parts from all these bands and mix them into a stew? No. Suspect Parts plays a ‘70’s Nerves/early LA power pop meets Protex meets bubblegum. Don’t sleep on this one. – Ed Stuart

The Transgressors – They Made Her A Criminal LP (Super Secret)
The Transgressors summon their outlaw country; rockabilly and Telecaster twang to make They Made Her A Criminal. Now the backstory, the band recorded this LP in 2006, finally made a self-released CD ten years later, 2016, and one of the people that bought the CD was the owner of Super Secret. Super Secret decides to release this Texas twang-y, reverb drenched ‘50’s and ‘60’s era music that pulls from Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens as well as Johnny Cash.   – Ed Stuart

Urban Outfielders – Out Of This World EP (Hidden Home)
In the ever increasing, endless genre realms of punk comes another, baseball punx. Bands singing about baseball and wearing baseball jerseys isn’t entirely new. The Isotopes were one of the first bands I heard doing this. It’s grown into such a movement that there is a short documentary titled Baseball Punx about it on YouTube, but what about Urban Outfielders? Right. Out Of This World definitely fits the mold with songs about “Big League Chew” and Japanese pitcher Ichiro Suzuki. Musically, Urban Outfielders is playing ‘90s/’00’s pop-punk in the Blink 182 and Alkaline Trio vein.  – Ed Stuart

Urochromes – Beat Sessions 7” (Drunken Sailor)
Chaotic, not in a no holds barred way, but more like Jesus Lizard style punk. I couldn’t find a ton of info about Urochromes. Beat Sessions is a very hard driven guitar band, but more in a ‘90’s Touch and Go way.   – Ed Stuart

Vanilla Poppers – I Like Your Band 7” (Drunken Sailor)
One thing about the Vanilla Poppers is that they are committed. I mean three out of four members move from Cleveland to Australia, the home of their singer. If the Pagans played a more scuzzy punk, you’ll get the idea. They play a no frills, raw and dirty punk, which fits their new homeland as well s the city they left behind.  – Ed Stuart

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Record Reviews! More Music To Beat On Your Ear Drums!

Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs – Plastic Surgery EP (Self Released)
Gone are the Flat Duo Jets/White Stripes, lo-fi aggro Blues of their 2014 debut EP Snake Headed Faceless Cowboy. The former Tempe now Bay Area resident rockers Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs have now embraced a darker, more cynical feel to their music. This is the band’s third EP now so evolution in their music was inevitable I suppose. The guitars sound like they’re plucked straight out of the 70’s, think Machine Head era Deep Purple. High point for me was the song “200 Deer, 1 Rabbit” (which they also have a pretty nifty video on YouTube for).  Apparently it’s a true story about roadkill, pretty rockin’ tune none the less. - JC

The Anomalys – Trooper EP (Slovenly)
This here 4 banger EP just doesn’t let up. It’s a carpet bomb attack that explodes all around you, scorching your heels as you run to take cover. The title track lays down a bass line so solid you can launch an interstellar vehicle off of it. The song “Fire in the Hole” has a feeling of anxiety and desperation to it. The third song called “My Way” displays some killer supped up Link Wray style guitars. We finally get a reprieve during the last tune titled “Anomalyphant” which is a catchy instrumental number that’ll put some style in your step. All in all another winner for Slovenly. With only four songs, you’ll still have to wipe the sweat off your brow after this one. - JC

Bouncing Souls – Crucial Moments EP (Rise)
A new EP from this long running New Jersey band is always a cool thing. Listening to this band always takes me back to my capricious youth. I played their LP The Good, The Bad and The Argyle ALL THE TIME back in my high school days, which for your information still holds up. Unfortunately I kind of lost track of the band and haven’t listened to them in a while. Bouncing Souls were never the most profound “wordsmiths” but what they lacked in that department they made up for with heaps of heart. Listening to this EP shows that the band hasn’t lost their charisma at all. The song “Favorite Everything” is as good as anything they ever did back in 90’s.  - JC

The Cave Men – Lowlife EP (Slovenly)
New Zealand’s kings of fuzz muck return with 3 more songs of wadded up, spit on, trash rock. The first tune and title track is a melodic, mid-tempo, swinging sledge hammer of a ditty. It may not be a scorcher but it’s got a groove so tight it’ll make your hips twitch. The second tune titled “Baby I’d Do It For You” is the hard, fast pumping, lo-fi assault I’ve been bracing for. The final track, a song called “Drownin” is a fantastic broken blues number that perfectly caps off this amazing record.  If you’re not familiar with this band, this is a great place to start. The Cave Men effortlessly run the gamut of garage punk on this one.  - JC

Ditches – The Taste 7” (Jarama)
The first thing that screamed out to me when I first heard this record was Steve Adamyk Band. That’s not a bad thing at all mind you. This Swedish band plays a similar style of quick, ultra-melodic punk with a garage style production that’s almost “pop punk” but there’s a little too much angst. The two songs on this 7” were mixed and mastered by Jeff Burke (of Radioactivity fame) so that’s where that comes from.  Radioactivity shares a similar sound. All in all not a bad couple of tunes. If you like any of the above mentioned bands you should also pick up Ditches 5 song EP titled Elephants that they released last year too. - JC

Emperor Penguin – Walnut Fascia LP (Kool Cat)
UK’s Emperor Penguin have released one of the most intriguing records I’ve heard all year. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s really, really good actually. These guys are a power pop band at their core, that much is clear. But they use trippy atmospheric sounds swirling around some of the catchiest melodies you’ll ever hear. They’re then laid on a strong foundation of guitar rock n’ roll. Imagine The Jam covering the Beatles Sgt. Peppers album and you might be able to start picturing what Emperor Penguin have done here. Emperor Penguin have put their own unique touch to the power pop genre 
and the results are quite magnificent.   - JC

The Gentlemens – Triage LP (Hound Gawd)
This Italian band plays really cool punked up rock n’ roll with a light layer of fuzz covering the whole thing. The songs on this LP are lean and mean but backed up by some killer guitar hooks.  Sometime The Gentlemens at times stroll into full on blues mode like in the song “A Second Coming” and other times adding some psych spice to their repertoire (see the song “John Q Public Blues” which by the way they also have a great video on YouTube for).  Even when they stray a bit from their usual formula, The Gentlemens never lose their mojo.  It appears to actually just make them stronger when they bounce back. - JC

The Mandates – Dead in the Face LP (Teenage Rampage, Dirtyflair, This is Pop)
Brooding in a black leather jackets, oh, how I’ve missed The Mandates! These guys play catchy, high energy, melodic punk with perpetual broken hearts. The music Mandates play has 70’s punk energy yet woven with a power pop passion. Songs about loves lost, isolation, and desperation litter Dead in The Face but it’s not a bummer record at all. You get a sense of “hey we all go through this crap, we’re in it together” feeling when listening to songs like “Baby I’m an Outsider”, “On The Run”, and “Any Good Western”. Songs mean so much more if you can feel the earnestness of the bands playing them. And it sounds like Mandates put their souls on the line with each one. - JC

Man Hands – The New Malaise LP (Slope)
Yet another remarkably executed album of shadowy, angst shrouded post punk from these Arizona agitators.  This is the band’s third and in my opinion, best effort thus far. While you’re listening to this album you’ll find that light in the area diminishes and the air grows a biting chill in its presence. Man Hand’s music forms deadly auditory bolts engineered to deconstruct your faulty cognitive faculties upon impact.  I can make some comparisons here, but I won’t bother because there is no way I can do this record justice in doing so. The New Malaise is just something you have to experience for yourself. - JC

Moral Panic – S/T LP (Alien Snatch)
This NYC punk band has kicked it in overdrive since their 2017 debut LP. I know the cover reminds you of The Dictators Bloodbrothers a bit right? Well, don’t let that fool you. There’s no cover of “Stay with Me” anywhere around. These guys put together Voltron style everything you liked about your favorite 80’s American punk records and create a formidable juggernaut of an LP that I guarantee will not be soon forgotten. I hear all the greats in their music. But Moral Panic aren’t a cover or tribute band mind you. You can hear the ghosts of all those bands, but it’s put into a shell and fired off from a weapon that’s entirely of their own making. - JC

Mystery Girl – Heartbreaker EP (Brain Slash)
New York’s Mystery Girl are back with two more sleazed up, catchy as a cold sore rock n’ roll nuggets of pure gold. Mystery Girl obviously takes nods from bands like Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, Ramones and their ilk. It’s hard not to, bands like that really had something special going on in their prime. But this band takes that sound, chews it up, and spits it out as something entirely their own. The spirit of yesteryear is there for sure but this band plays with such energy and sincerity that the music takes on an entirely different element, making it sound new and fresh. Mystery Girl are one of my favorite new discoveries of the year. - JC

Nightmarathons – Missing Parts LP (A-F)
It’s pretty impressive when you hear a band with a pretty clear sound and direction, then you find out they’ve only been around a few years. Nightmarathons have only been together since 2016. This is their debut LP but have a few 7”s under their belt as well. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with A-F records but it’s a label formed by the Anti-Flag guys. So when I saw this I thought it would sound, well Anti-Flag-ish. But it doesn’t at all. These guys have that cool inspiring, epic punk sound like Face to Face or RVIVR locked down pretty tight.  I think this record could have benefited with a more robust sound, but that’s just me nit picking.  It’s a great release none the less. - JC

Powersolo – Transfixing Motherfucker EP (Slovenly)
The dynamite Danes known as Powersolo have release their umpteenth 7” comprised of their trade mark manic, high energy, minimalistic rock n’ roll. Powersolo’s music sounds like Hasil Adkins fronting the Angry Samoans. The singer for this band has so much presence and charisma, rare for bands these days. It’s difficult not to compare him with the late great Lux Interior. If you don’t believe me, check out the viral vid for their tune “Boom Babba Do Ba Dabba” for evidence. They actually rolled through my town a few months ago and I was dumb enough to miss it. This went down on my short list of regrets in life. It won’t happen again. - JC

The Raws – D.D.D.D.Y EP (Slovenly/Mondo Mongo)
This is the Turkish garage punk warrior’s fourth EP, but my first time hearing them. They deliver four bloody, sweaty tunes on this record that sound like they could have been Killed by Death or Bloodstains gems, unearthed from a time long ago. My favorite song on here is called “Hala Açız which translates to “Still Hungry.” It immediately launchers into a tremendous anthemic guitar riff that sounds like it could have been on the first Saints record. The whole EP is sung in Turkish. But that’s all good because as we all know, Punk is the international language. It sure as hell ain’t love or for god’s sake NOT math!  - JC

Scorpion Vs Tarantula – When the Girls Are Gone LP (Self Released)
Listening to Scorpion vs Tarantula evokes a similar feeling in my gut as watching an explosive air strike in one of those old Vietnam War documentaries. The music is fast and violent yet magnificent. You just have to stand there in awe of its sheer brutality. I’ve been a fan of this band for a while now and I’ve never heard them sound as savage and intense as they do on this record, which is a beautiful thing. If you’re not familiar with this band, they play hard hitting punk ROCK in a similar loud and sweaty style as the Candy Snatchers or Zeke. They’re the kind of band that leave a smoldering crater in the ground under where they just played.  - JC

The Survivalists – Everything is Awful LP (Hidden Home)
This album from what I understand was pieced together by its two members, one living in China and the other in Ontario. You couldn’t tell that just by listening to it though, it’s very well mixed. Some tunes are a little on the treble-y side. That however was probably done on purpose, to give the music an edge, which it does. The whole “folk punk” ship sailed without me though, leaving my tired old self long faced on the edge of the dock. But if you’re into Andrew Jackson Jihad, Bomb the Music Industry and that lot, you’ll dig what The Survivalists are doing here on this long player.  - JC

Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad LP (Fat Wreck Chords)

This is the Wyoming pop punksters 9th LP, yes you read that correctly ninth!  If you haven’t heard these guys yet then I’ve got to assume you’ve been stuck in a remote Arctic cave for the last 17 years or so.  Teenage Bottlerocket, along with The Copyrights and The Lillingtons have taken the true pop punk torch from predecessors Screeching Weasel, The Queers, and The Mr. T Experience and have been burning it brightly since. I’ll be honest, this isn’t TB’s best effort in my opinion. High points, the songs “Everything to Me” and “I Never Knew” standout. Low point is the sappy tune “I Wanna Be a Dog” and it’s about, well I think you can probably guess. - JC

Tiger Touch – Hawthorne Boogie 7” (Tyrannical Volts)
Portland’s Tiger Touch are back with another heavily armored two banger. These well trained rock n’ roll soldiers play catchy, hard driving punk rock while heavily leaning on the ROCK. The vocals are delivered in a sly and cunning manner while the guitars stand atop and command the tank. The bass and drums are the heavy cannons firing away, destroying pieces of your ear drums with each shell fired. If you wish there were more bands out there that put as much blood and sweat as the Stooges did on Ray Power, then your wish has been granted. Behold, the mighty Tiger Touch! - JC

U.S. Depressed – Bored Again LP (Self Released)
Listening to AZ’s U.S. Depressed reminds me of summers growing up in Phoenix.  Where it’s so hot all you can really do is stay indoors, listen to music and play video games all day until its night time and the temperature lets up. Luckily for me I had a used record store about 10 minutes away that sold cheap used tapes. It was during this time I discovered a lot of music including groups like fireHose, Meat Puppets, and all that Sub Pop, SST Records types of American Post Punk. Like the above mentioned bands U.S. Depressed play beautifully eerie, captivatingly quirky, hypnotic rock n’ roll on this, their 2nd LP. I can’t help but wonder if these guys have a similar story growing up in the sweltering Sonoran Desert.  - JC

Various Artists – Down South Spaghetty Accident LP (Spaghetty Town) 
This is one of the best comps I’ve heard in a really long time. I don’t know if it’s because it’s preaching to the already converted since I’ve loved the fabulous Spaghetty Town records for a while now. But whether you’re already a fan or not it’s undeniable that this record is packed full of some of the best currently active punk bands around. The coolest part is it’s almost entirely tracks I haven’t heard yet. What I also really love about this comp is that the bands all have a similar Dead Boys/glam/back alley sleaze to them. So it feels like a cohesive record as opposed to a sampler with a bunch of songs crammed together that don’t gel. Highly recommended!  - JC

Vintage Crop – Company Man 7” (Drunken Sailor)
WOW! Killer angular, pissed off post punk from this Australian quartet. I haven’t heard post punk this hostile in a while! Of course with this kind of music you need a healthy dose of snark and sarcasm, which Vintage Crop happily and effortlessly deliver in droves.  If you like bands like Wire, Swell Maps and more recently Art Brut then Vintage Crop are here to wrap their loving arms around you. The band has a couple of LP’s and a couple of 7”s prior to this. Guess I’m heading to Discogs next to hunt those down now. This is one of my favorite releases of the year so far!  - JC

Young Skulls – Bomb Train Blues EP (Slovenly)

From the very beginning bits of the first song and title track, the hot, blown out guitar riff and fist pounding drums hit you hard and fast like you’ve just been run over by a cement truck! Then the vocals tear in, which sound like they belong to a man clinging to the final threads of his sanity. It’s at this precise moment you realize, this is going to be a fantastic record! The B-Side introduces some primitive keyboard sounds, which are allowed in the co-pilots chair for this one. The song is called “We’re Gone” and it too is a primal rock n’ roll heel stomper. This New York trio delivers the goods, and do it with just two songs! Most impressive! - JC

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