Thursday, July 30, 2015


Alparchie – Space Rock Vol. 2 7” (Zaxxon)
The diverse sounds that are coming out of the Zaxxon Records headquarters never ceases to amaze. Bearmace, word on the street is that the new Fashionism 7” is coming, and now the way out sounds of Alparchie. The Montreal foursome describe themselves as “space punk/queer core.” This band is certainly difficult, if not impossible to pigeonhole. The vocals and guitars are sometimes screamed in pain and frustration like you’re listening to The Locust and sometimes they’re quieted down a bit like some sort of lost Fugazi track from the Red Medicine sessions. At times the rhythm section breaks into a hook laden groove but then the vocals come in soon after and everything goes ballistic, the autopilot comes off and the plane flies out of control and crashes into the mountain side in an explosion of fiery death. To watch a band violently collide with itself and then pick themselves up and do it over again is what makes Alparchie so interesting to listen to and I’m sure to watch live as well!   - J Castro

Ausmuteants/Housewives – Split 7” (Total Punk)
Kind of a cool thing about this record, I guess each band wrote one song each and then sent it to the other with just the lyrics and chords without the other band ever hearing the original, just leaving it up to the others interpretation. So there are technically 4 songs here, but both bands do the same two songs. However they are all done so differently and both bands, albeit are both punk bands, still have dissimilar enough styles that it hardly matters. You’ve got Melbourne’s prolific Ausmuteants playing the songs with uncharted levels of maniacal, angst riddled energy, sounding like lost children of The Screamers with the keyboards blazing about. Then in the other corner there’s Sydney’s Housewives doing it with equal amounts of combustible fuel but serving it up with a bit more slopped up, chaos. Both bands deliver, in a big way. Both bands are young, daring, hungry and don’t care what you think and that’s what makes them so great! 
- J Castro

Babyshakes - She's a Star 7" (Surfin' Ki)
Taking their cues a little more from ‘70's big catchy rock hooks, New York City's own Babyshakes confidently kick in the saloon doors and instantly command the room. Imagine Suzi Quatro if she had fronted 1910 Fruitgum Company. Babyshakes consists of three gun-slinging ladies (Mary, Judy and Claudia) that take command of the gang and some dude (Ryan) they got to drive the getaway car on drums. Babyshakes have been around for 10 years now and have released an LP, a 10-inch, and a fist full of 7"'s. They've played with bands like The Boys, The Undertones, The Romantics and The Beat, all of which they fit right in with. Over the years the ladies have slightly tweaked their sound a tad from record to record, some leaning towards a more Motown/‘60's girl group influence, to a leaner and meaner Ramones sound. This record I believe perfectly and triumphantly captures all sides of Babyshakes and it makes for one highly enjoyable record from start to finish.    – J Castro

Bad Weed – Bad Weed 7” (Bachelor)
Is slacker punk a thing? Well maybe not, but Bad Weed is lazily good. Bad Weed almost have a “we’re gonna jam a couple songs together and see what happens” and what happens is those songs come out quite good. Bad Weed is a mix of lesser-known UK bratty power-pop punk; think of the bands that mostly reside on comps like Powerpearls and unfortunately never get a well-deserved release of their own. Bad Weed really comes into their own especially on songs like “Rocket Reducer” and “Keep Running” that are both rough edged and melodic at the same time. – Ed Stuart

The Beltones – My Old Man 7” (Just Add Water)
Yes, you read correctly! The label is Just Add Water and it is indeed THAT same Just Add Water! There were a handful of labels that I would just blindly buy whatever I could find of theirs not reading the reviews just because I knew it would be a quality record and Just Add Water was one of those. Now Just Add Water is reassembling and gathering strength to deliver to us more quality product! Starting things off is a reissue of one of their most shining moments: the melodic street tough sounds of The Beltones! In the same school as Cocksparrer, Stiff Little Fingers, and Swingin’ Utters. Singer Bill McFaden with his tough as nails voice that sounds like he chews and swallows glass for kicks and his band that cranks out loud fast blue collar anthems like poet laureates for the working class. The band has been active on and off since the mid-90’s and have a number of releases. This one was one of their first and remains as one of their best and most essential. – J Castro

Bikes – Und Gut 7” (Alien Snatch)
The German band Bikes have been around for a few years now and they’ve released an LP and another 7” prior to this record that I am aware of. All of the music that I’ve heard has been consistently great though. I’ve heard Bikes being compared to bands like The Count Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and blah, blah, blah you get the picture. One thing that is evident is that these guys like to have a good time, they know their rock n’ roll roots and all of this hits you in the face as soon as you drop that needle on this record and you hear the first guitar riff and the tone. Although Bikes earlier stuff had that manic bounce you off the wall ‘60’s garage feel, the two songs on Und Gut slow things down a bit, but makes up for it with bigger louder hooks. This record has more of a T-Rex, Real Kids vibe. Instead of being the wild kids jumping off the couches with the lampshades on their heads at the party, Bikes are now the cool guys with the leather jackets and sunglasses on in the back of the room with all the girls. There’re the guys that you never saw come in, and you won’t see leave. The guys you wish you were, but will never be.    - J Castro 

Boys Order – Tomorrow Dancing 7” (Secret Mission)
Japanese power-pop featuring members of Radio Shanghai and Zero Numbers. Boys Order really has a Rezillos mixed with Epoxies fun new wave-punk-pop vibe. Both songs on Tomorrow Dancing are filled with futuristic synth-y parts, out front guitar and some Missing Persons style vocals. – Ed Stuart

Brain Traps – S/T (Alien Snatch)
This is the band that re-kickstarted the Teen Trash series from over fifteen years ago. In their other release Brain Traps were the next new band to be the third installment of Alien Snatch’s Teen Trash series. On their S/T, Brain Traps are a cool mix of 1966 and 1996. They effortlessly go between Supercharger lo-fi garage punk abandon with touches of late-‘60’s garage peppered in throughout maybe best evidenced on “Mellow Yellow Frien.” This LP would have it in perfectly in Rip Off’s heyday just as it does on Alien Snatch now. – Ed Stuart

Brat Kings – Good Drugs 7” (Hosehead)
Members of First Base, Sonic Avenues and Pow-wows make up Brat Kings. Reading this beforehand the review is like walking into a party that you already know is going to be good before you even step through the door and Good Drugs is much the same way. Arguably, more a little more straight-ahead then the member’s other bands, but without losing the catchiness. This single is the second from the band and leaves you wanting more.  – Ed Stuart

Broken Talent– Rules No One LP (Total Punk)
Born from the pre-neon 1980’s days of Miami and its county outskirts comes Broken Talent. Broken Talent were a band that truly believed and lived the D.I.Y. lifestyle especially considering at the time there wasn’t really anything resembling a scene in Miami at the time. Rules No One compiles all their songs from various cassette recordings of the band. Broken Talent’s sound is much like Flipper and the band’s origins were built more from frustration than musicianship which has made up many a punk band’s origins and will continue to fuel a million more.  – Ed Stuart

Bummer’s Eve – Fly on the Wall 7” (Almost Ready Records)
This trio of turbulent trip rockers comes to us from Cincinnati, Ohio with what I believe to be their debut record. Some of the other reviews I read about this record lump Bummer’s Eve with all the Burger Records “now sound” crew. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Where a lot of the stuff on Burger is missing, well for lack of a better term “cajones.” That’s not a bad thing really, not every band has to sound just right for blasting from a speeding lifted pickup truck to be good. But when it comes to rock n’ roll, a little bit of the ol’ “heave ho” is essential in my book and that’s what separates Bummer’s Eve with their west coast comparisons. The two songs here have the velocity and the melodic hooks taken from old Ramones battle strategies. Both songs do lean a bit heavy with that echo-y hollow sound and the vocals and guitar sound like they’re being hurdled hard at you from a distance but they do hit their mark and the drums are set a bit louder to help the song solidify and not spill out all over in a melted watery mess. 
- J Castro 

Canadian Rifle – Sexually Fucked EP (Dirt Cult)
From what I understand, this band is from Chicago but recorded these two songs in Berlin while they were on tour. On Canadian Rifle’s Facebook page, they list band interests as “bummers, downers, bad times.” There’s even a hilarious picture of them playing live in front of a banner that has the words “Dreams” and “Goals” with a circle and a slash through them.  The title track, sure maybe the lyrics are a bit on the self-loathing side, but the music is way “fist in the air” anthemic. It almost reminds me of something that wouldn’t sound out of place on Monsula’s ’92 classic Sanitized record or something like that from that area and era. The guitars are big, loud and have a soaring melody, the vocals are screamed/shouted by a guy that sounds like he’s barking out orders from a battleship that’s under attack, and the rhythm section is right there front and center reloading and firing steadily. The B-Side, a little ditty called “You Are My Junk” has a similar kind of feel. If you keep asking yourself: why couldn’t Crimpshrine have made just one more LP or why couldn’t Jeff Ott’s band Fifteen had stayed good longer than two records, then this band is for you!  - J Castro

Car Crash – Bright Future? EP (Secret Mission/Mangrove)
When I write reviews, I am sometimes torn when trying to compare or describe a band’s sound to you guys. If I use obvious comparisons, people might see it as too obvious or even “lazy.” If I use comparisons that are too obscure, people might not know what I’m talking about and dismiss it as something it’s not. So I’ll start with this: Car Crash is a band from Japan, they’re two guys and a girl that cause enough rock n’ roll chaos to levitate the island nation off the planet! Loud, hard driving, lo-fi garage punk the way I remember it, and the way I expect to hear it when people reference the exhausted term of “Garage Punk,” but yet I seldom do. This however is the real deal. The only thing that sucks about this record is that, also like the Dials 7” it’s very limited here in the states. The good thing though is that this Car Crash 7” just came out in early June so you’ve still got a bit of time on this one. So yeah, killer Japanese garage punk, I’ll leave it up to you for further comparisons.  - J Castro

The Connection – Labor of Love LP (Rum Bar)
The boys from New England are back with a collection of 10 new tunes to help keep your disposition at an elevated level! Ten songs that are so stellar, packed with that good old-fashioned rock n’ roll charm usually only found in records from decades ago that you’d swear some of these have to be covers, but THEY AREN’T! The Connection carefully pick a little here, a little there and use it to create their own unique sound. This band plays a type of music that sounds so wonderfully warm and familiar yet injects their unique brand of rocket fuel that comes inevitably from being young and living in the times we do, making the songs have an air of familiarity yet hard to pigeon hole. When I first listened to this band the same feeling came over me that’s similar to when you first meet someone and you swear you’ve met them before but unsure where. If you like Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Dwight Twilley, The Ramones, Cheap Trick, and Rockpile: go immerse yourself in this band, you’re welcome.  - J Castro

Cozy – Kiss Me Dummy 7” (Secret Mission)
If it hasn’t yet, it eventually will. Kiss Me Dummy sounds like a line from a romantic comedy, but for Cozy it’s a glam punk anthem. Yes, the men in vests are back and bringing more of that Slade, Sweet, Bay City Rollers and New York Dolls sound especially on “Show and Tell.” Kiss Me Dummy is a fun two-song stomper that plays glam bubblegum without all the production gloss and instead runs it through lo-fi Rip Off record blender. – Ed Stuart

Daily Ritual – S/T LP (Sabotage)
If you haven’t started paying attention to Sabotage, now is the time to start. Daily Ritual is a little like the player you had on the bench all year, but never played for some reason. Then when the starting player gets injured, in comes the bench player and the bench player does such a good job that they become the starting player. This could be Daily Ritual. The band is from Singapore and do sound in the ballpark of Red Dons, but don’t let that stop from enjoying this melodic anthem filled punk surprise. – Ed Stuart

Dany Laj and the Looks – Word on the Street LP (Squirtgun)
This record had me at the first song; I almost just wanted to start writing the review right then and there. After all, if the first song on the LP is this good, the rest of the record can’t be too far behind! So I forced myself to listen to the rest of the record and just as predicted, it did not disappoint. Singer and songwriter Danny Lajeunesse comes from a small mining town outside of Toronto, and it shows, in a good Springsteen sort of way! The collection of songs on this LP are a perfect blend of country, folk, power pop, sweat and volume. When I was listening to this record the likes of Jesse Malin, Ryan Adams, The Hold Steady, and a touch of Replacements came to mind. The songs are smart, but not arrogant, raggedy without being sleazy, catchy but holds away the sap, loud yet not obnoxious, and just plain likeable. The Looks are the kind of band you hear in a local dive bar not expecting much and after they start playing for a while you think to yourself, this band is way too good to be playing this crap hole, what gives?! 
 - J Castro 

Der Faden – Best Guess 7” (Dirt Cult)
Before Canada became the hotbed of all things power-pop, bands like Statues were paving the way. Der Faden is Rob from Statues with his fiancé on drums. Der Faden is hook laden melodic power-pop punk rock. It does reminds me of early Futureheads mixed with some Pointed Sticks. I’m not sure how Dirt Cult finds these guys, but they really have a knack for finding this style of bands. “Best Guess” is a radio hit while “Filaments” is it’s follow-up, but has enough angular riffs and quirky edge so Der Faden is not a one-trick pony.  – Ed Stuart

Dials – School Girl 7” (Secret Mission/Mangrove)
Two scalding garage rock n’ roll monsters that recall the glory days of the mid 1990’s when we were all spoiled and bands like this seemed to come out of the woodwork every month along with the great labels like Rip Off, Estrus, and Dionysus to help bring them out to the masses! What a wallop these 2 songs pack! Lo-Fi energy that’s anchored by some killer heavy yet melodic hooks, sassy handclaps, and a singer with actual swagger in his voice! You know it’s good if Secret Mission saw it fit to throw it in the trough and feed it to us hungry hogs here in North America! Only 200 copies of this dynamite bundle are floating around here in the states, the rest are in Japan. So with this band being Japanese, the obvious comparisons to certain bands that start with a “T” and end with an “eengenerate” and another that starts with an “R” and ends with an “egistrators” pop into mind, and rightfully so. But those bands are long dead and have had their time in the sun, now is the time for Dials to rule!  - J Castro

Digital Leather – All Faded LP (FDH)
This is Shawn from Destruction Unit and Lost Sounds along with Todd from The Faint so this might give you an idea of their sound, but not the whole picture. All Faded is catchy synth-pop with not one, not two, but three people playing synths. Digital Leather strips away most of the drone-y tendency of synth and replaces with new wave pop hooks. “Stay In Bed” may just become the lazy day anthem because of its message and Devo-esque memorable hooks. It’s like the Cars and later Devo are having a new wave party and you are invited! – Ed Stuart

Dirty Fences – Full Tramp LP (Slovenly)
I’ll start by saying that I won’t be surprised if Full Tramp makes several top ten lists at the end of the year. At first look, you might think here’s another party band that plays throwaway tunes talking about how wasted they are or are about to get, but you would be so, so, so wrong. Dirty Fences have combined both equal parts punk and rock, tough and tender and caring and bravado. Where the opener “Deep In Your Heart” is full rocker the next track “Judy Don’t Go” is its musical counterpart full of power-pop-rock sing-along catchiness that makes the duality of this record so appealing. Dirty Fences channel The Dictators, Ramones, early-Kiss, MC5, Johnny Thunders and many others to make this one hell of an LP. – Ed Stuart

The Disconnects – Wake up Dead LP (Baldy Long Hair)
I just read in USA Today that New Jersey is the most hated state in the union according to some new poll. I’m not sure why that is exactly, maybe it still conjures up images of those lunkheads in Jersey Shore but I think if these people knew a band like The Disconnects resides there they’d back off! The Disconnects debut album that came out earlier this year is full of junkie desperation, the tension of not having rent when it’s due and your landlord getting in your face about it, those few and fleeting moments when everything is going alright with you and your lady friend, and the time you lost when you thought you had a sure hand. Wake up Dead is rock n’ roll from the city, in all its L.A.M.F. back alley grime and glory. The Disconnects songs reek of urban blight, power pop charm, and punk rock unruliness. When you put this record on, all of these factors come together and start swirling around your turntable like a sonic hurricane, creating the perfect rock n’ roll storm!  - J Castro

Dysnea Boys – Find Water/Mind Stories EP (Self Released)
This band is based out of Berlin, Germany yet Jason Honea, former singer of the Bay Area band Social Unrest is the vocalist and C.C. Voltage from Vancouver’s Black Haloes is the bass player! So as you might have guessed they’ve got the old school hardcore/skate core flavor similar to Jason’s old band and others like Los Olvidados, or Rebel Truth did back in the day. The only difference is that the improved production really adds to the music. I don’t mean actual clarity or anything, it’s just that people nowadays seem to know how to mix records a bit better and know what to do to make music like this sound bigger on record. Dysnea Boys crank out tremendously aggressive hardcore punk without venturing into the dreaded metal zone. Vocals are mean as hell, the guitars are ready to leap out of the guitarist’s hands and start killing people for sport and the drummer (from what I understand may be the only actual German in the band) beats on actual human skulls to keep everything sane!    - J Castro

Flesh Rag – S/T (Surfin Ki)
Sonny Vincent fronts the Stooges and what happens next is an alternate universe where the Stooges sound gets even rougher, tougher, meaner and more nihilistic. According to one review, Flesh Rag is “[t]he only rock n roll band in Ontario. Or at least the only rock n roll band that seems to matter” and after listening you might be tempted to agree. In some ways, it’s like Teenage Head started playing with razorblades instead of pop melodies. This S/T LP is a no holds barred blown out scorcher from members of TV Freaks and Rocket Reducers.   – Ed Stuart

Golden Pelicans – Oldest Ride Longest Line LP (Total Punk)
From the first few moments of the opening song “Knuckle Dragger” you can already tell what you’re in for. You hear a voice that sounds like it’s been beaten down yet keeps getting back up just to spit in your face. The guitars encircle you like a pack of wolves, just waiting for the signal to launch the imminent attack, and percussion that beats hard and steady like ancient war drums signaling the coming of the conquering army. The four men that make up Florida’s Golden Pelicans play pissed off, agitated, tired of the same ol’, same ol’ punk rock n’ roll. What are they so pissed about? It’s like what Brando said in The Wild One: “What’ve you got.” Who knew there was so much to get all riled up about in The Sunshine State anyway, but apparently there is! Golden Pelicans are the flash before the mushroom cloud, the meteorite that craters the earth several miles wide, they are the monster that rises from the depths of the ocean and crushes cities beneath its feet.  - J Castro

Hakan – S/T LP (One Chord Wonder)
Not knowing what the word “hakan” means, and since the label this record is on; One Chord Wonder is Milan, Italy, yet it doesn’t sound Italian I decided to look it up. This is what I found – “Hakan is a common Turkish forename. The name is produced by using two Turkish titles for rulers: Han (Khan) and Kağan (Khagan). Therefore by joining Han and Kağan, a new title which is higher than Kağan is achieved: Han Kağan. It has transformed into Hakan over time.”  Well one thing is for sure, the name of this band is certainly fitting! Goes to show you (and me) that you just can’t judge a record by it’s cover! With all that gutless stoner “psyche” moping around, an album cover like this instantly fills me with dread. But much to my hap hap happiest of surprises I found an honest to goodness, bonafide, killer melodic punk rock record in here! Fast, irreverent, super catchy, music that also makes you want to drive fast (yes, I first heard this while I was driving on the interstate!)   - J Castro 

Kidnappers – Pills 7” (Secret Mission)
After releasing records Alien Snatch and Rip Off and a couple years off, Kidnappers are back with Pills. Kidnappers play a punk rock n’ roll with a mean ’77 knife-edge especially on the title track “Pills.” Think The Kids, Saints, Joneses and Testors with “Diamonds” taking more from New York Dolls: three solid songs from these ex-Highschool Rockers.  – Ed Stuart

Kuken – Kuken LP (Bachelor/Dumpster)
If someone spread the word that Kuken was a new re-issue of a ’77 German punk band, you might be tempted to believe them based off the band’s sound, but you would be wrong. Kuken is the two brothers from the Kidnappers new band and yes they stripped the little pop elements of the Kidnappers and focused on two main things, punk and rock. Kuken is a mix of Saints, Kids and all you’re other favorite ’77 punk bands. – Ed Stuart

The Lame – The Lame Shall Enter First LP (Alien Snatch)
The Lame are a case of musical schizophrenia. The Lame Shall Enter First is a mix of multiple musical personalities that feature lo-fi pop, country-esque balladry, garage-punk-blues hybrid that will keep the listener on their toes. The Lame features members from Cave Dogs and Movie Star Junkies. I’ve read in other reviews this being compared to Gories and Hunches, but in a lot of areas reminds of some Cramps and other trash rock.  – Ed Stuart

Legendary Shack Shakers - Cockdoodledon’t LP (Hound Gawd!)
After over half a century of rock n’ roll, you start to think: what else could anyone possibly combine, combust, or combobulate in their devious minds that would sound even remotely fresh, or exciting. It’s at that very moment a band like this is conceived, just to prove your jaded ass wrong! I never thought I would be reviewing a record by a Grammy nominated band, a band that Robert Plant handpicked to open his tour with, a band that Jeff Beck called “a cross between The Sex Pistols and The Yardbirds.” Yes boys and girls these are all indeed true facts surrounding Paducah, Kentucky’s Legendary Shack Shakers! What our friends over at Hound Gawd! have done is re-unleashed this bands legendary 2003 LP on vinyl. If you’ve never heard this band, what you have waiting for you is one of the most explosive American roots influenced music played by individuals made of fire and passion and led by a front man that slinks and slides around the stage as if the souls of Jim Morrison and James Brown were trapped in the body of an ostrich. Entertaining to say the least!   - J Castro

Los Pepes – And I Know EP (Wanda)
If you call yourself a power-pop fan and you’re not listening to Los Pepes, then start questioning why you’re not. Los Pepes are hot off the heels off last year’s Los Pepes For Everyone. This follow-up EP, And I Know, is one smoker right after another of Buzzcocks/Undertones power-pop that will have you put both band’s classic LP’s on the shelf for a while and listen to Los Pepes instead. This is power-pop straight from ’77-’79 that isn’t afraid to go full pop either with their song “Say Anything.” – Ed Stuart

Loud Boyz – Tough Love, Hard Feelings LP (Cricket Cemetery)
If you’re going to be pissed off and loud, then I guess DC may be the best place to do it, but Loud Boyz are not only that. Loud Boyz mix skate punk (more D.R.I. than Faction) and hardcore (not growling, scream/sing vocals either) that always stays on the heavier side. Tough Love has songs that could and should be used for skate videos and tearing up your local skate spot. This is 100% high-energy full throttle ride that doesn’t know what the brakes are for. – Ed Stuart

Louder – S/T 7” (Secret Mission)
Japan’s louder unleash their 3rd release and it might just melt your face off. Louder is full of high energy melodic punk meets ‘90’s garage punk. For the a split second on “So Alone” you think Louder might have gone soft and then before you know it the song is a burst of high energy and already over. “Tear Me Up” shows off more of their melodic side without losing any of the raw energy. If you were ever a fan of ‘90’s garage punk and there is a wealth of bands right now playing this stuff, Louder is as catchy and frenetic on these two barnburners as anyone in the genre.  – Ed Stuart

Thee Marvin Gays – Sleepless Nights (Alien Snatch)
All the reviews I read about this record, which are mostly in German (thank you Google translate!) always mention two things:  1. Is that there is a girl in the band (the lovely Ms. Lulu Sabbath on the Bass) and 2. That they’re from Belgium (the French speaking town called Tournai located in western Belgium and one of the country’s oldest cities). So there, now I don’t feel left out! Now for the music, this is the bands 3rd release and second full length. Their self-titled debut, which came out in 2011, was pretty much a straightforward Sonic type wild ‘60’s garage rock n’ roll barnburner. Now it seems that the years have matured thee Gays just a bit. This new record is a fantastic blend of killer ‘60’s garage mixed with the Velvet Underground’s dark twang and jangle, all of which are coated in a healthy layer of reverb. Thee Marvin Gays do a really good job of writing songs with a consistent sound yet diverse and unpredictable enough to grab a hold of your attention and keep it in a tight grasp for the duration of the LP. Fantastic record, fantastic band!  - J Castro

The Memories – Home Style LP (Randy)
Chicago’s own Randy Records bring us the latest installment of Portland’s self-proclaimed “kings of slacker pop.” I’ve never heard this band before just because I’ve read about them and they’ve been described in press releases and reviews and it just didn’t seem like my particular brand of tight pants. Needless to say that after listening to this 17 song sprawling record, those other descriptions weren’t too far off.  I did enjoy some of the songs on here though: the opener “I’ve Got That Feelin’ Once Again” and later on the last half of the record, the songs, “Crash on My Heart,” “Do You,” and “Labor of Love” all reminded me of early Belle & Sebastian or a less political R.E.M.’s delicate jangle pop only a little more, oh how should I say this, a little more “abstract” I guess. Some of the songs were a tad too hollow sounding for my taste; giving them that “way out” sound the kids are going wild for these days.  - J Castro

M.O.T.O. – Shitty Kids 7” (Secret Mission)
Yes, this record did come out a couple of years ago but we’re reviewing it because (A. HEY, It’s a M.O.T.O. record! and B. we want to show you the scope of how killer a label Secret Mission really is!) If anyone out there is still unfamiliar with M.O.T.O. go and correct this deficiency immediately. This band has been making melodic Ramones-y punk with a Dictators-esque style of wit and cheeky humor since the late ‘80’s! There are some punk bands that you listen to and the music is just so driving that you don’t pay much attention to the lyrics and even if you did, you’d probably be disappointed because they usually don’t say much. There are some bands that have that same musical drive, yet the vocals command to be heard. One of them that comes immediately to mind is Portland’s Moral Crux, another is of course M.O.T.O.. Whether singer/songwriter/main driving force behind M.O.T.O., Paul Caporino is singing about the state of society, love or hate his songs have remained poignant, fun to listen to, and never preachy.
- J Castro 

Nervosas – S/T LP (Dirtnap)
From Columbus, Ohio by way of Portland, Oregon comes this gripping sophomore LP by Nervosas. This whole album is dark, gritty, and hard hitting with each song bringing on a distinctive feeling of desperation, lightlessness, and peril. Listening to this felt like someone clocked me in the head with a brick and I woke up in a wet, dimly lit alley way (I think it’s time I take a break from that Daredevil show). This band has more in common with their other Dirtnap label mates The Estranged more than say Sugar Stems. I’ve seen Nervosas name plenty of times and have even read about them but I haven’t actually heard them until now. I liked them so much I went and listened to some of their other releases and what impressed me the most was how well put together and cohesive their songs are, even their demos! Let’s hope these 3 young Ohioans keep tapping deep within their tempestuous hearts to bring us more of these entrancing punk songs full of shadow and substance.   - J Castro

Peach Kelli Pop – III LP (Bachelor)
It’s easy to dismiss records like this as just a handful of sugary fun snacks to enjoy in your car on the way to get ice cream with your friends when you’re not really listening. Yes, there are some songs that just seem like pure fun, such as the opening track “Princess Castle 1987,” but there is much more in here if you just sit and pay attention. There is some melancholy thrown it there (see the closing line in the song “Shampoo” as Allie is talking about shampoo going down the drain she throws in “remembering how you’d say my name.” Plus there’s songs like “Heart Eyes” and the last song “Please Come Home” that seem like they’re written from the blue side of the heart. These two tracks happen to be my favorites on the album. Over all though, this is a fairly sunny record with playful melodies laid over fuzz ripping guitars and sand bucket drums but like I said before, it’s the expressive side of Allie Hanlon’s songwriting that sets Peach Kelli Pop’s music apart from their peers.  – J Castro

The Penetrators – She’s The Kind of Girl 7” (Slovenly)
This is the brand new single from the Penetrators. Just to fill in the history, The Penetrators are a protopunk band from Syracuse, NY from the late ‘70’s whose out of print Kings of Basement Rock was released by Slovenly a few years back. “She’s The Kind of Girl,” reminds me of Ian Dury playing with the Voidoids that has this loose rock n’ roll aesthetic while “Take a Stand” takes more of an anthemic stance and while the production is a little better than Kings the same garage looseness prevails. – Ed Stuart

Radioactivity – Why b/w Danger 7” (Secret Mission)
The men of Denton, TX are back and still in the prime of their longevity as evidenced by this fine record I have before me! Two more songs of Radioactivity’s trademark quick pulsed, high strung, high anxiety punk rock. The A-Side “Why” has a feeling of desperation and urgency, maybe even a bit of darkness to it. The B-Side “Danger” has a much more soaring chorus, giving it a bit more of an epic feel to it. Together these two tunes packaged together make a killer release, like the yin and the yang. I saw that Radioactivity played a few shows with Ceremony earlier this year, what a killer bill that would have been to witness! Radioactivity seems to be everywhere right now, for those of you that are reluctant to believe the hype, I’m here to tell you that this band is worth investing in. Not only have they been quite prolific the past year or so but their songs always seem to be well crafted and executed even on their EP’s, no clunkers thus far! - J Castro

Radioactivity – Silent Kill LP (Dirtnap)
Two years later and here is the follow-up most of the punk world has been waiting for. Radioactivity set the world on fire with their debut LP and Silent Kill is more of the same, but with a different type of burn. If you were expecting a repeat of the S/T LP you would be both right and wrong. Silent Kill has their Marked Men meets Ramones meets Buzzcocks trademark sound of the first LP without losing their energy, but incorporates more of the darker pop elements that the debut only hinted at. “Where I Come From” is a good example of a song that relies more on melody than velocity and on Silent Kill Radioactivity isn’t afraid to let the pop do the talking this time. – Ed Stuart

Rail 27 – The Great Unwashed LP (Self-Release)
The title makes think of a crust band or a band taking a swipe as the crust scene, but Rail 27 play a punk-ska that sounds like Operation Ivy in both style and production. For fans that having been missing Operation Ivy or that Gilman/mid-90’s era should check Rail 27 out. – Ed Stuart

Raydios – Brand New Kid 7” (Slovenly/Mangrove)
Fink and his Tokyo troublemakers are back with two more blue ribbon winners! But, you already knew that didn’t you. Has any band that Fink’s been in or had anything to do with over the years ever been a clunker?  No, it hasn’t and this record certainly doesn’t signal the beginning of his or this bands downward descent into mediocrity by any means. What this record does have imbedded within its tiny grooves is a colossal offering of 2 Radio Birdman inspired songs that are big, loud, and have more hooks than a seaworthy pirate vessel. Raydios have been sporadically releasing records since 1998 and even had a demos LP on Germany’s Screaming Apple Records. The band sounds sharper and more focused than ever on this EP. If this band would begin releasing records on a more regular basis and get the ball rolling, they would cease to be Fink and Sammy from Teengenerate’s new band and start a new reign in the rock n’ roll world by just being the Raydios: no questions asked!   - J Castro

The Rippers - I Wanna Know About Something 7" (Surfin’ Ki)
This mob of Italian garage titans has been together for over a decade now! They've got a few LP's out into the world and a barrage of 7"'s floating around too, my advice is to grab any of them if they happen to float by you within arm’s reach. This here particular release from our friends at Surfin' Ki Records is a 2 song offering of what exactly The Rippers are capable of. What is that you ask? These are two songs bubbling with early Rolling Stones swagger, Billy Childish's manic energy and Monks charisma. With the two words "garage rock" becoming almost a parody and being used to describe any group of hipster schmucks in tight jeans that just play loud and fast, Sardina, Italy's The Rippers are the genuine model. Yes they do play loud, a tad fast, but with direction and with an eye on the prize. The Rippers have a solid rock n’ roll foundation beneath all the screams, wild guitar spasms, and uncontrollable drum assaults. That is what separates them from all the fleeting trends and soon to be forgotten musical memories.  – J Castro

The Rubs – The Rubs Are Trash LP (Tall Pat/Dumpster/Why Pick On Me?)
The Rubs are a trashed up Ramones/Dolls infatuated with bubblegum, but have the budget production to get them a bedroom recording. The Rubs Are Trash is a welcome surprise because tracks like “Until He’s Mine” is a like a ‘60’s girl group stomper recorded by the Rip Off Records crew. The Rubs may claim to be trash, but what they are doing is the opposite by hiding their pop melodies in a lo-fi coating. – Ed Stuart

Strange Lords – S/T LP (Surfin Ki)
Strange Lords is Andrew Seward’s (ex-Against Me!) new band. Instead of Against Me!’s socio-political outlook, Strange Lords have chosen to remain relatively quiet. Is the entire record silent? No, it’s they’ve just released nine songs of instrumental (with the exception of “Canneros”) psych, surf, garage punk with a touch of weirdness. Strange Lords is a two–piece guitar and drums machine that lives in the highly treble world of Back From The Grave. – Ed Stuart

Sweatshop Boys – Always Polite Never Happy 7” (Twintoe/Crapoulet/SP)
All the way from Isreal comes the Sweatshop Boys and man this is a winner. I can’t recall many Isreali bands that come to mind, but if they are in the same ballpark as Sweatshop Boys we have a new player in the game. This is the follow up to their LP, Great Depression. Always Polite Never Happy is a mix of ’77 UK power-pop-punk mixed with ‘80’s melodic punk while songs like “Special Mood” have some parts that are reminiscent of more ‘90’s bands and all together it works. – Ed Stuart

Terrible Feelings – Tremors LP (Sabotage/Deranged)
Catchy, powerful female fronted melodic punk rock from Sweden. Tremors is a range of emotions, but mostly seems dark tinged mainly due to Manuela Iwanson’s vocals. Terrible Feelings shares a couple of members with another Swedish band named Hurula. Terrible Feelings is a mix of mid ‘80’s new wave, dark pop and punk rock that in some parts reminds me of a tougher Shivvers. – Ed Stuart

Thing – S/T LP (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
From what I can gather, this band first existed in Chicago in 2013 and quickly dissipated back then, but is now reformed. The band is/was led by former Jay Reatard collaborator Rich Cook. The music reminds me of a reverb drenched Head. Quick echo-y poppy bursts of aggressive snootiness quickly floats to the top. The red and white splatter vinyl that this record comes on is truly a sight to behold and so are the two covers!  One of them is by Jeff Mahannah of the band Legendary Wings and Eat to Survive comics and art. If you aren’t familiar with his work, he does some hilariously irreverent comic/cartoon type stuff. The other one is by Haut Love, who I know nothing about but the art is a tremendously eye popping macabre sci-fi horror piece. Not only is it great to have this band back in action and I hope they keep releasing new material, but also so have Solid Sex Lovie Doll back in the battle trenches after a long absence.     - J Castro 

12 Gauge Pinup – Grind EP (Self-Release)
After a hiatus from music in which he decided to focus on writing and getting Fear/Loathing to become a force in the blog world, Kevin from The Prostitutes is back with his new band 12 Gauge Pinup. Grind has got New York influence all over it. It’s like Johnny Thunders solo stuff with the sax player from the Psychedelic Furs joining in. McGovern is doing his own version of “London Boys” style material with bits of Psychedelic Furs thrown in. Good stuff that’s not a comeback, but a new beginning.  – Ed Stuart

Uh Bones – Honey Coma LP (Randy)
Honey Coma is sometimes a psych trip out like 13th Floor Elevators/Velvet Underground and then at sometimes incorporates some Kinks/Seeds too. Overall, Uh Bones are embedded in the late ‘60’s lo-fi garage and psych. Honey Coma dances between both styles, which gives Uh Bones the opportunity to spread it’s wings later. – Ed Stuart

The Vapids - Punitive Damage 7" (Surfin' Ki)
The planet Earth went half a decade without The Vapids roaming and pillaging its surface, and now the Burlington, Ontario band is back and making up for lost time. This record consists of Jimmy Vapid and the boy’s usual high decibel, street tough, melodic pop punk sound. We’ve got the two titled songs on the A side (“Punitive Damage” and “Thin Skinned”), and the B-side is an untitled scorcher as well with the tempo slowed down just a tiny bit. They’ve been described as a mixture of The Dead Boys and The Ramones, whoever said this isn’t wrong by any means. The Vapids definitely have the obvious Ramones/Screeching Weasel influence in their music, its a bit tougher and hits a bit harder though which is why I can see the Dead Boys comparison. What I don’t see in The Vapids is the grit and sleaze The Ramones and the Dead Boys had crawling and oozing all over them, but that probably just came from living where they did when they did. Another solid release from The Vapids and Surfin’ Ki!  - J Castro

While – More LP (Dirt Cult)

I don’t feel like I have the most eclectic tastes in music by any means. I do like some Jazz, and Classical but from very specific periods only. Same goes for rock music, although I do enjoy listening to many form of rock depending on my mood, generally I tend to stay in the same realm. But sometimes something catches me unaware and drags me to a place I never knew existed. In my early high school years, I had the chance to hear Cocteau Twins at some festival I attended. I had never heard of them, but they absolutely blew my mind inside out. I had never heard music so fluid and so airy yet had the power to carry the weight of my soul. That’s what the Serbian duo While’s new LP reminds me of. It’s music that flows around you and through you like a breeze through a screen door clearing out all the stagnant air. While their music isn’t quite so buoyant as Cocteau Twins though, they have a My Bloody Valentine, Ride and even some Joy Division in them to keep the music at a steady velocity. It’s great to see labels like Dirt Cult taking chances and bringing music like this to North America!  - J Castro 


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