Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 20 of 2015!

It’s my favorite time of year! A time to reflect on all the fantastic records that floated down to the Audio Ammunition Underwater Volcano Stronghold. This year so much greatness came our way I couldn’t just limit it to just 10 records, so this time around it’s a top 20! So without further delay, here are my favorite 20 records that were released in 2015 that I managed to get my grimy claws on. 

by Jay Castro

20. Cellulite – Dust Wave LP (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
Think of Skinny Puppy’s 1990 LP Too Dark Park only far more chaotic and violent mixed with prurient style vocals. Imagine if someone got a flamethrower to somehow make similar sounds as a human vocal cord. Cellulite consists of Sick Thought’s Drew Owen and New York electro synth pop composer Don Seun: a match made in the deepest darkest caverns of hell.  An absolutely, mind blowing record!  – J Castro

19. Everyday Things – S/T 7” (No Front Teeth) 
Everyday Things play really terrific jangly mod power pop, in a similar spirit to bands like Secret Affair, Squire and Circles. Comparisons aside, this is some unbelievably well done, feel good rock n’ roll with mile high hooks and soaring melodies that are perfect for your sunny Sunday ride through the serene cityscape on your 1966 Piaggio Vespa.

18. The Fox Sisters – Under the Stars LP (Self Released)
Rochester, New York’s Fox Sisters play some party starting, soul shakin’, house rockin’ ‘60’s inspired R & B. Right out of the bag this record comes out twisting and gyrating like James Brown did live on the T.A.M.I. show back in ’64. Under the Stars is irresistibly boisterous, undeniably charming and ridiculously magnetic. 

17. Midnite Snaxxx – Don’t Wake Me Up 7” (Total Punk)
This is straight forward, snarling punk rock n’ roll that reminds me of the salad days of bands with this similar sound like The Dirty Sweets, No Talents, and Loli and The Chones. It’s a sound that has the manic energy of ‘60’s garage Back from the Grave type bands mixed with the power and ferocity of punk like The Sick Things or the Avengers.

16. Party Lights – I See the Lights LP (Self Released)
On Party Lights’ Facebook page, their description reads as “The bastard children of Cheap Trick and The Go-Go's” and “worshiping at the altar of The Knack and The Real Kids.” I know that sounds really great, and it’s also pretty spot on. I’d throw in a little Blondie or Nikki and The Corvettes in there too. Their music is catchy, propulsive, and hard driving in a Ramones sort of way. Standout track: none, they’re all equally great!

15. The Stops – Nameless Faces LP (Dirt Cult/Sabotage)
This Portland, Oregon band plays shadowy, angst filled, quick paced punk rock music. Some of the things that set this band apart from the rabid pack are that their songs are executed with such power and earnestness that despite being so dark are just so captivating. The Stops seem to draw power and momentum out of the perilous state of the world.  

14. Phylums – Phylum Phyloid LP (Dirtnap)
This record reminds me of a couple of albums Lookout Records put out right before the great implosion, two of my favorites in fact, The Smugglers’ Selling the Sizzle and The Hi-Five’s Welcome to My Mind. Phylums play really fun, catchy, melodic rock n’ roll with a 1960’s style garage vibe without all the lo-fi spazz but with twice the hooks.  

13. Baby Shakes – She’s a Star 7” (Surfin’ Ki)
Imagine Suzi Quatro if she had fronted 1910 Fruitgum Company. Over the years the band has 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 triumphantly captures all sides and it makes for one highly enjoyable listen from start to finish.

12. The Disconnects – Wake Up Dead LP (Baldy Longhair)
The Disconnects debut album is full of junkie desperation, the stress of not having rent again, those fleeting moments when everything’s alright with you and your lady friend, and the time you lost when you thought you had a sure hand and bet it all. 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 decay, power pop charm, and punk rock unruliness.

11. Car Crash – Bright Future? 7” (Secret Mission/Mangrove)
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’s surface! Loud, hard driving, lo-fi garage punk the way I expect to hear it when people reference it. The obvious Teengenerate and Registrators comparisons do firmly apply; sweat, swagger, the whole deal. The only thing that sucks about this record is that it’s very limited here in the states; happy hunting!

10. Jeremy and The Harlequins – American Dreamer (Self Released)
Jeremy and the Harlequins embrace the deeper, cooler and more melodic side of ‘50’s rock n’ roll. These cats don’t just go for the throat, this album is all over the human emotional spectrum. They dive in deep, which makes the songs far more interesting, timeless and memorable you’ll want to keep this record in your car all the time and wish said car was a ’55 Bel Air!

9. Modern Needs – Activation 7” (Goodbye Boozy)
Mr. Vinnie Vacuum creates rousing lo-fi punk rave-ups all by himself in his secret laboratory. To get an idea of the glorious noise this record emits: put on your favorite Crime record. Play it at twice its speed, backwards. Now douse the whole thing in gasoline and light it on fire. The sounds you hear sputtering and crackling in and out of your speakers right before you have to run out of the room is Modern Needs.

8. Dany Laj & the Looks – Word on the Street LP (Squirtgun)
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. 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.

7. Line Traps – S/T LP (Self Released)
Also known around the Audio Ammunition halls as “the interview that launched 1000 hits,” Victoria’s Line Traps are brilliantly ferocious and unapologetic. Their minimalistic approach to their music brings the obvious Rip-Off Records comparisons only Line Traps knocks that bar right off its brackets. They take animosity and brutality within the confines of punk music to uncharted and uncomfortable levels.

6. Real Sickies – S/T Cassette (Self Released)
Real Sickies compare themselves to bands like The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, Forgotten Rebels, and Teenage Head and please allow me to stand as your witness that all of those comparisons are spot on! Sure Real Sickies take a little from here and borrow a little from there but it’s interpreted and delivered through those twisted Canadian brains of theirs, and that’s why it still sounds so fresh and so great!

5. The Nervous - S/T Demo Cassette (Self Released)
Denver, Colorado’s The Nervous plays socially conscious punk rock that’s equally riotous, subversive and strikes you like a baseball bat to the face. This demo cassette they put out earlier this year sounds like it could fit right into the Dangerhouse Records catalog as one of the greatest bands you’ve never heard of from that label, right ‘twixt some of the best of them like The Bags and The Avengers.

4. Fashionism - Smash the State (With Your Face) 7” (Hosehead)
The songs on this record very much remind me of bands like The Jam or Minneapolis, MN’s The Strike. They’re punk songs played with a smooth, stylish buttoned downed approach by current/former member of The Jolts, The Tranzmitors, the Newtown Animals and Strange Things. Their songs are marvelously magnetic and snap so loudly with elements of mod, glam, power pop, and new wave that are effortlessly woven throughout.

3. Patsy’s Rats – S/T Cassette (Burger)
Patsy’s Rats play the kind of rock n' roll music that gets wedged in the folds of your damaged brain the very first time you hear it. Their songs pop and burst all around you with well-paced tempos, strong yet melodic guitar hooks reminiscent of Peter Case and delightful vocals that is a cross between Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry. Patsy's Rats simply make magnetic music that instantly charms the human soul.

2. toyGuitar – In This Mess LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
Despite having a write up in Rolling Stone magazine and featuring top-notch Bay Area talent, toyGuitar’s debut EP went relatively unnoticed by a lot of the “punk” press. It’s not until they signed with Fat that they’re getting the attention they deserve. They play music that’s tightly strung together with smart lyrics, sunny guitar licks and a biting rhythm section. The unique way this band puts all of that together makes for a dynamic, unparalleled sound.

1. Stalin Video – Animalistik LP (Wanda)
The international multimedia terror group known in certain circles as Stalin Video has launched a polyvinyl chloride offensive in hopes to bring the civilized world to its knees. Tighter and harder on their debut LP, this assemblage of members from South Carolina’s Now in 3-D and Great Britain’s late great Gaggers create a frenzied, wild eyed synth-punk attack. Once you listen to this record keep it close by at all times. Trust me, you’ll want more! 

Inside Audio Ammunition’s floating fortress, we decided to up the ante this year by having a top twenty list that includes 7-inches and EP’s. My list went down to the wire with bands being added, subtracted, re-listened to and so on. After much inner debate, here are my top twenty records of 2015. It was tough enough to pick these twenty so they are listed in alphabetical order.

by Ed Stuart

Barreracudas – Can Do Easy LP (Oops Baby)
Can Do Easy is the LP follow up to the Promises, Promises single of last year, which features the single’s title track. Barreracudas have written one of the best power-pop/punk records of the last year that pulls heavy from New York City greats, Dictators and Ramones, with lyrics that firmly have tongue planted in cheek. The contender has now got their shot at the title.

Born Loose – Blowout! LP (Hound Gawd)
If you have anything have heard Born Loose at all, there should be no surprise for what you will be in for on Blowout!. Born Loose is punk rock n’ roll mayhem fueled by mean guitar, whiskey, PBR and ex-members of the Candy Snatchers. These guys are dive-bar heroes that could musically could go toe to toe with the technical player of the world, but add a feeling that they don’t muster. PS, you might need a back-up turntable. 

Cal & The Calories – Bastard in a Yellow Suit 7” (Total Punk)
Total Punk doesn’t lie, you definitely know what to expect. Cal & The Calories is one of the many offerings Total Punk has offered to the world year. Bastard in a Yellow Suit is a sonic blast of KBD style punk that mixes, blown-out, in-the-red, raw as hell, scuzz layered punk with early Australian punk influences like X from the Midwest.

Dirty Fences – Full Tramp LP (Slovenly)
Dirty Fences may look like another party band, but don’t write them off as that because they are so much more. Full Tramp is Dictators, Ramones, and early KISS with all kind of glam rock n’ roll excess that hides its pop record collection. Dirty Fences may drink all the beer at your party, but they will write some catchy pop-infused rock n’ roll songs about how much fun they had drinking it.

Dusk – S/T 7” (Forward)
This might be the find of the year! In some ways Dusk’s S/T, is an anachronism, a record that sounds right at home in the days of early ‘70’s singer/songwriter days than in 2015. Dusk is Amos from Tenement’s and a host of others. The A-side is a Velvet Underground/Lou Reed NYC style song with slide guitar gravy on top. The B-side is country-twang rock n’ roll sung with a Carly Simon/Linda Ronstadt voice that would rule the charts.

Everyday Things - S/T EP (No Front Teeth)
It’s one thing to be heavily influenced by The Jam, which is always a great choice, but Everyday Things have taken a step further and gone for the mod-pop goldmine. This S/T EP is a ’79 mod revival of bands like Circles, Purple Hearts and The Lambrettas. It’s not just the influences that are so right, but it’s the songwriting and sound too. Whether you’re going to out in your nice parka or defending your own Brighton Beach, this is the soundtrack.

Fashionism – Smash the State (With Your Face) 7” (Hosehead)
Fashionism is made up of a bunch of Canadian all stars from bands like New Town Animals, The Jolts and Tranzmitors and they play like it. This is one of the better-reviewed bands of the year and it’s really no surprise. Smash The State is a mix of mod-pop and UK power-pop; think the Circles meets The Jam with some early Squeeze and Rezillos thrown in just for fun.

Hakan – S/T LP (One Chord Wonder/Rufus)
Hakan features Andrea from The Snookys. The band name is a tough one. It’s origin is Turkish and is a combination of two titles for rulers. In pop-culture, Hakan is a fighter on the Street Fighter game. So, what about the band? This S/T records reminds of a cross of early Descendents, Ramones and Queers. I have a feeling that Hakan flew too low under the radar and didn’t get its deserved rewards because this is a really good punk-pop LP.

Los Pepes – And I Know EP (Wanda)
This has really been a good year for power-pop and Los Pepes is one of the reasons why. This band has just been putting good records year after year and And I Know is no different. And I Know collects a mix of ’77-’79 UK and Northern Island influences to make this 4 songer a standout.

Mama – Speed Trap EP (Hozac)
A common thought for movies is too give them fifteen minutes to hook the viewer; I was never really sure what the musical equivalent is. At first, Mama might seem like a guitar exercise, but they reveal themselves to be a melodic rock band that plays it like a punk band would. Speed Trap is Cheap Trick/Thin Lizzy/Stooges all rolled into one powerhouse of ’74 – ‘77.

The Mandates – In The Back Of Your Heart LP (Hosehead)
The Mandates have taken the New York Dolls, The Dictators, The Saints and Generation X’s penchant for guitar hooks and melody to make In The Back Of Your Heart stuck on repeat. The Mandates have been doing their ’77 rock n’ roll for a quite a few years, but the band’s years together have only made them a tighter more powerful unit. In The Back Of Your Heart has something for everyone, tough riffs that lure listeners in before the pop hooks deliver a musical KO.

Maniac – Chola Queen 7” (No Front Teeth)
This band is not starving for accolades. Maniac, L.A.’s Gentleman Punks, are an all-star combination of Clorox Girls, Cute Lepers, LA Drugz and Images. “Chola Queen” is a brilliant remake of Harpo’s “Teenage Queen” that sounds as if Maniac wrote the song originally. So if that’s not good enough “Calamine” is what Maniac does best which is effortlessly blend early LA punk (Dickies/Weirdos) with UK punk (Rezillos).

Nervous Talk – S/T LP (Hosehead)
Nervous Talk takes all the best parts of Undertones, Teenage Head, Nick Lowe and Pointed Sticks and creates an undiscovered late ‘70’s punk/power-pop/rock n’ roll gem mixed with some garage-punk. Nervous Talk is another power-pop missile from our neighbors to the north, Canada from members of B-Lines, Ballantynes, and Timecopz.

Night Birds – Mutiny on Muscle Beach LP (Fat Wreck)
Who says older bands have to mature? In some ways they should be angrier because they pay bills, pay taxes, and work time sucking jobs while the kids are glued to their phone and complaining about first world problems. Night Birds are really on fire and scorching earth with Mutiny on Muscle Beach. This So-Cal punk/hardcore (DI, Adolescents, Posh Boy) NJ/NYC powerhouse plays with the reckless abandon of a band putting out their debut release. Night Birds maturity memo got lost in the mail and we are all thankful.

Patsy’s Rats – S/T Cassette (Burger Records)
“Rock & Roll Friend,” the leadoff track on S/T, is a classic that the Nerves would have written and that’s just the opener! Patsy’s Rats is like Debbie Harry and Peter Case joining The Cars. It’s power-pop meets new wave from members of Mean Jeans and Scavenger Cunt that nestles it’s way into your ears and never needs to be removed.

Phylums – Phylum Phyloid LP (Dirtnap)
Milwaukee may be more know for the Brewers and its’ hometown beer, but it should start becoming known for the Phylums too. Phylums are a fun ‘60’s garage influenced pop band that feature members of The Goodnight Loving and Jaill. Phylum Phyloid is like Trashmen meets ‘60’s California beach pop with some clean tone surf riffs thrown in on top. Phylums may live by a large lake, but you would think they hang out at the beach all day.

Pronto – S/T LP (Slovenly)
Much like Two-Face in Batman, Pronto has a spilt personality. One side is Protex and The Undertones while the other side is Saints meets KBD punk. Pronto hails from Australia and plays a ’77 punk that has a hard outside, but a softer inside much like a good candy. While Gotham City may lose depending on Two-Face’s flip of the coin decision-making, Pronto’s musical influences do no harm on their S/T LP.

Radioactivity – Silent Kill LP (Dirtnap)
Silent Kill was one of the more anticipated punk records of the 2015. Radioactivity set the world on fire with their debut LP. If you were expecting a repeat of the S/T LP you would be both right and wrong. Silent Kill has their Marked Men, Ramones and Buzzcocks trademark sound, but incorporates more of the darker pop elements that the debut only hinted at. Silent Kill relies more on melody than velocity and isn’t afraid to let the moody pop do the talking this time.

The Role Models – The Go-To Guy LP (Glunk)
When I started compiling this year’s top twenty list, Role Models was my first choice. Go-To Guy is for all the fans of Beat Angels, Replacements, D Generation, Cheap Trick, Johnny Thunders solo stuff and American Power-pop. If you want punk, it’s there. If you want power-pop, it’s there. If you want rock n’ roll, it’s there. Role Models write and play the songs from a band that not only understands this music, but bleeds it as well.

Sweatshop Boys – Always Polite Never Happy 7” (Twintoe/Crapoulet/SP)
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. Always Polite Never Happy is a mix of ’77 UK power-pop-punk mixed with ‘80’s melodic punk while songs like “Special Mood” that all comes together so nicely.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Action Jets – Action Party Epic Fun! CD (Self Released)
How can you not like a record with a title like that huh?! Nothing but good times awaits when you spin an Action Jets disc, I know this from experience mind you! Action Dave and his good time Action boys are back to make sure you don’t get too depressed with all this gloomy post punk stuff going around these days. The reigning kings of Arizona power pop bring you catchier, crunchy tunes that are part Replacements and part Paul Collins with some Cheap Trick stirred in. Action Jets have a sound molded from loud guitars, catchy bass lines with hard hitting drums and lyrics about girls and good times. Power pop perfection!   – J Castro 

Ausmuteants – Mates Rates 7” (Hozac)
The title track from this record is a pretty straightforward synth punk tune with a Ramones tempo and keyboards that sounds like it could have been lifted from an old Devo demo somewhere.  Nothing too wild this time around from this Australian wild bunch. The B-Side is another track that lies on a comfy bed of synthesizers but has more of a Fall/Adverts feel to it. It’s a little herky jerky but the guitar hook keeps pulling it forward. Ausmuteants is another one of those prolific bands that just keeps pumping out records on so many different labels and they always deliver.  This record is no exception.  – J Castro 

Bad Mojos– Punx Faggots Freaks 7” (No Front Teeth)
Bad Mojos play a punk rock in the tradition of less is more attitudes. Punx Faggots Freaks is seven songs in about as many minutes and as many artwork covers too. Miraculously, they fit all seven of these songs on one 7 inch. This reminds of F.Y.P. days when bands crammed that many songs on one slab of wax. Bad Mojos play a blend of Spits, Ramones three chord, 4/4 drumming attack with some vocals that fall into Spits category. In some ways, this reminds of some of the party punk bands sound, but the art and lyrics take on non-party topics. – Ed Stuart

The Ballantynes – Dark Drives, Life Signs LP (La-Ti-Da)
Dark Drives, Life Signs is a like a musical relationship. It starts out with the exciting highs of Northern Soul/Motown dance influenced songs “PMA” and “Let’s Go” and by the middle settles into the tougher, introspective, moodier tracks “You Were Mine” and ends with the upbeat, more confident tracks like “I Believe” and “Us.” The Ballantynes were long overdue for an LP and it’s nice to see them get one and they don’t disappoint on Dark Drives, Life Signs. Dark Drives is mix of ‘60’s Motown/Northern Soul hip shakers, gospel, R&B and touch of ska that fills your musical heart like a well cooked meal fills you belly.  – Ed Stuart

Barreracudas – Can Do Easy LP (Oops Baby)
Promises is probably one of the best singles of last year and Can Do Easy is up for LP of the year. I know Biters probably gobble up most of the attention of Atlanta’s music scene, but it’s Barreracudas time now, no offense Biters. Barreracudas channel the Ramones, Dictators and The Beat to create one hell of a catchy LP. Can Do Easy has ‘70’s NYC stamp all over it. The Barreracudas, much like the Ramones and Dictators, don’t seem to take themselves to seriously, but pen some of most addictively power-pop/punk songs right now. This is a great time for power-pop/punk bands right now, but with Can Do Easy, Barreracudas show they are top of the class.   – Ed Stuart

Berwanger – Demonios EP (High Dive)
Berwanger is Josh Berwanger from The Anniversary. On his first LP, Strange Stains, he went by his full name, but for Demonios, he has dropped Josh, to make for less of a solo record appearance. Demonios retains all the glam pop influence of T-Rex and Slade of Strange Stains, but also channels a far more melodic and acoustic side. I’m listening to this digitally, but I’m guessing each group of three songs are separated by different sides on the vinyl. The “rock” side has songs like “Cherry” that could’ve fit right in on Strange Stains with it’s catchy choruses and playful nod to ‘70’s pop rock, but songs with more garage punk influence like “Why Are You So Strange.” The “acoustic” side is really just that. Berwanger really goes for his inner Big Star on “Her Crystal Room” while “Blackheart of Life” sounds like a slower, mid-70’s Stones country twang song. This is a format decision I haven’t really seen since Guns N’ Roses released Lies back in the ‘80’s. Starting out as a rock band then doing acoustic songs for half the EP is a bit of a bold decision, but luckily for Berwanger he has the voice and songwriting to pull it off.  – Ed Stuart

Betrayers – Love Rat 7” (Shake!)
In all honesty, I had to double check the label on this and after I saw Shake, I checked again. It’s not surprising that Shake could and would put out a band like Betrayers, but the bulk of their latest releases are not usually like this. “Love Rat” is a ‘60’s California summer anthem penned by The Byrds that is so full of innocence with a tinge of darkness to know tragedy lurks around the corner. The B-side, “Swear On The Cross” is like a Pixies/Jesus and Mary Chain lost track with the right touches of garage melody to not seem out of place. “60/40,” the download track, is as long as the other two songs combined and the epic of the three. The song has a post-punk feel more like the B-side that in some ways reminds me of mid ‘80’s post-punk/new wave. – Ed Stuart

Black Panties – Prophet of Hate 7” (Total Punk)
Black Panties is like razorblades to your ears. Prophet of Hate is so sludgy, lo-fi and scuzzy; I’m amazed I can listen to the songs without having to stop to clean my ears. If you have been following Total Punk, you shouldn’t be surprised by their brand of dirty scuzz punk and Black Panties is no exceptions. They are from St. Louis along with Cal & The Calories and Lumpy and the Dumpers. “Prophet of Hate” is a slow hard rock riff that early RFTC might play, but never with the tons of vitriol, noise, reverb and extras on top like it’s played on this A-side. “Violence” is a garage/synth punk swampfest buried in it’s own feedback storm. Black Panties is essentially a one-man band that treats every music note as musical danger and just like the other Total Punk releases you are going to want a copy for yourself. – Ed Stuart

Boilerman – Doing Great 7” (86’d)
I’m going to be honest here; I have not heard Boilerman before. I’ve seen their name, but never had the pleasure of actually listening to their music. And so now, yes I am sorry. Like a couple of the other Chicago bands that I can think of off of the top of my heads like 88 Fingers Louie and The Bollweevils they play hard, fast songs that knock you down at first but the super catchy melodies intertwined throughout the songs pick you up immediately afterward. Two of the songs on this EP display what I’m talking about perfectly, the other is a rousing reworked rendition of Warren Zevon’s working class ballad “The Factory” that would have made Joe Strummer or Jimmy Pursey fist pump in the air back in the day.  – J Castro 

Born Loose – Blowout! LP (Hound Gawd)
Don’t consider this a sequel, but a continuation of the guitar-fueled mayhem started on the I Loathe You single. Blowout!, like the cover implies, might just cause your turntable to burst into flames and then you have to rush out to buy another one so you can finish listening to this red-hot LP. Born Loose features Larry from Candy Snatchers and army of talent from Nova Express, Candy Snatchers and Live Ones that plays punk likes someone was holding their loved ones hostage. Born Loose is heavily influenced by late ’90’s punk rock n’ roll, but they play it with such a vengeance that you wonder why bands stopped playing like this in the first place.  – Ed Stuart

Brat Farrar – Being With You That Night 7” (Hound Gawd)
Brat Farrar is really Sam Agostino. Agostino cut his teeth playing in such Melbourne, Australia bands as Russian Roulettes, Digger and The Pussycats and Kamikaze Trio. For the last few years, Farrar has been releasing a slew of LP’s, last year’s Brat Farrar II, and singles totally on his own. Now, Hound Gawd is releasing Being With You That Night. Farrar has channeled Wire, Wipers, Tubeway Army, early Jesus and Mary Chain and other ‘80’s UK post-punk/new wave bands to create one hell of a 3-song single. If I had to pick a favorite, which isn’t an easy task on this release, it would be “Feel This Way,” which is something like a cross between the driving moodiness of Tubeway Army with the pop sensibilities of a mid-80’s radio hit. – Ed Stuart

Brown Spiders – It’s Something To Do 7” (Hozac)
All the way from South Africa comes Brown Spiders with a really enjoyable record in tow. It lies somewhere between punk rock and something like Matador Records would release like a more minimalistic, edgier Spoon or it also reminds me a bit of Oklahoma’s tragically underrated sons Broncho. The two songs here are dark and filled with writhing anxiety. The title track is a mid-tempo creeper with a killer hook and has an accompanying video that perfectly reflects the feeling of the song. The B-Side is a song called “That Was Then This Is Now” and it’s a dark descent into a black pool of madness and confusion but luckily the catchy bass line is there to offer a tree branch for us to grab on to.  – J Castro 

Buck Biloxi and The Fucks – Streets of Rage LP (Hozac)
Buck Biloxi and his bayou bad boys are back with an LP pumped and primed up with more hate, distrust, and over indulgence in all things sin. Their parade of primal noise bashing and guitar dismemberment continues with this new record of short, stripped down, noisy, venom filled Killed by Death style punk rock that is absolutely essential in this day and age. With so many politically correct moral peace offices out there pointing their self-righteous fingers at all the “injustice” out in the world, we need someone like Buck Biloxi and The Fucks to knock them all down from their self-made ivory pedestals and violently strip them of their command.  – J Castro 

Cellulite – Dust Wave LP (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
As soon as the album kicked on and I picked myself off of the floor and started to absorb what was happening on with this record, the hair on my arms stood on end! Total nightmare doom disco running franticly amok! Think of Skinny Puppy’s 1990 LP Too Dark Park only far more chaotic and violent. The album sounds like the vocals of an evil tyrannical robot that’s bent on galactic domination has been barely defeated but the instrumentation on the album is fiendishly moving all around its broken body repairing him and restoring him to a stronger state than ever before. Cellulite consists of Sick Thought’s Drew Owen and New York electro synth pop composer Don Seun: a match made in the deepest darkest caverns of hell. An absolutely, mind blowing record!  – J Castro

Chicos de Nazca – Fire Ride LP (Hozac)
The moment I put this record on, I hear a monster hook made out of thick distortion so strong you can airlift a whale with it. Chicos de Nazca translates to “Children of Nazca” and I am assuming the Nazca part refers to the Nazca Lines in the southern Peruvian desert. If you have never heard of these, Google them now! They’re huge complex ancient geoglyphs of birds, monkeys, fish, lizards and all kinds of patterns made by the ancient Nazca culture. Anyway, Chicos de Nazca’s music has a similar mystical quality to it. The songs showcased here are loud and swirling with a heavy ‘70’s psychedelic rock influence. Reminds me a bit of The Cult’s album Ceremony. – J Castro 

Colliding Canyons – S/T Cassette (Shake!)
Colliding Canyons is a post-punk-jazz predominately instrumental band. On this S/T release, Colliding Canyons seem to strive more for mood and atmosphere as the musical connection. It’s almost like a movie soundtrack, but without the film. – Ed Stuart

David Peel has been a pillar of American counterculture for decades now. His early stuff with his band The Lower East Side in the late 60’s sounded like a bombastic, angrier version of the Kinks. David Peel is one of those guys that not a lot of people have heard of but those that did went on to from bands. His music is said to have been a springboard for all the early NY punk stuff. And how punk is David Peel you ask? After meeting John Lennon and Yoko Ono he was invited to join the Apple Records roster. At a point of his career where he could have achieved actual stardom, he released a record with them called The Pope Smokes Dope in 1972 that gets banned by pretty much every record store, thus remaining a virtual unknown. His career continued and in 1978 he released this record of guttural guitar grime and political rants. If you thought those silly Killed by Death bands were “raw,” you haven’t heard anything yet!  – J Castro 

Deletions – Hungers LP (FDH)
Deletions is even more notice of FDH’s continued support of the synth-punk scene. On Hungers, Deletions plays an art punk that is lo-fi, noisy, angular and edgy all at the same time, but is so much more. Deletions is a tough band to nail down because just when you think they are a punk band, they add garage, synth and bits of industrial that don’t just mix, but collide together.  – Ed Stuart

Disco Lepers – Open Sores 7” (No Front Teeth)
Once the title track starts, you what you are in for, caustic ’77 snotty, KBD/Germs style punk from the band know equally for it’s vileness as well an all fronts no-holds barred attack on decency. Disco Lepers features members of Gaggers, Botox Rats, Los Pepes, Miscalculations and others of the NFT roster. Open Sores is a return for Disco Lepers who had been quiet for the last four years and they pick up right where they left off. It’s always amazing when a band comes back together so seamlessly after a break. The limited edition of this single comes with a comic book featuring a story of Disco Lepers traveling back through time to get ride of a certain Beatle. Highly recommended for fans of ‘77/KDB/Germs punk. – Ed Stuart

Doctor Nod – Walking the Dog EP and Return to Terror EP (Resurrection)
Sometime I feel like if I did drugs, I might have a bit more of an understanding of all this new wave of “psychedelic” bands seeping out of the cracks in the dry wall. But since I don’t, I’m at a bit of a loss. And since I am fairly certain no one else at Audio Ammunition does drugs either, I suppose I’m as qualified of a schmuck as any here to review these records. The Walking The Dog EP is a bit quieter. The two songs on there are fun little rollicking ditties. The Return to Terror EP is a little louder. Both records strut some pretty disconnected, stripped down, rock n’ roll that is sure to please the tuned out, turned off, drop out in you.    – J Castro

Dri Hiev – Contravirtual Cassette (Shake!/Bunghole)
On Contravirtual, Dri Hiev is really staking their claim as the modern equivalent of early Skinny Puppy. The machine blast drumming coupled with nightmarish grinding guitars and distressed vocals is a nod to 90’s industrial. Dri Hiev, on their second release, plays noise punk that is equally abrasive as it is experimental.  – Ed Stuart

Dusk – S/T 7” (Forward)
From the heart of Wisconsin comes such a wonderful surprise of songwriting and melding of punk, alt-country, and ‘70’s singer/songwriter influence that makes you take notice. Dusk features Amos Pitsch from Tenement, but this is a whole different beast as evidenced on this debut 7”. Amos takes the vocals on “(Do The) Bored Recluse,” which is gritty NYC Velvet Underground/Lou Reed/Johnny Thunders with alt-country slide guitar gravy on a “Waiting For The Man” style track that could play as a lost track from that ’72-77 pre-punk/punk era. On the flip side is “Too Sweet” which has Julia on vocal and may be the better of the two. Julia has a vocal style that mixes Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt confidence over ‘70’s singer/songwriter melody with a country twang feel that is so infectious and confidently sung that it burrows into your ear and you never want it too leave.   – Ed Stuart

Dwight Twilley – Firefly EP (Hozac)
I’m sure all of you have heard Dwight Twilley’s fantastic music at some time before. I feel like it fits really well somewhere between Big Star and The Raspberries. This here 7” put out by the fine folks at Hozac on their “Archival Series” features Dwight Twilley and his band in ABSOLUTE fine form in they’re mid to late ‘70’s prime. A time when some idiot record executive should have picked them up, cradled them and carried them to superstardom where they belong.  But from what I hear, a series of bad managers and unfortunate events blocked the yellow brick road for Dwight and his cohorts. The amazing tracks on this record, “Firefly” and “Living in The City” originally appeared on Dwight Twilley Band’s third and final studio album The Great Lost Twilley Album but coupled together here, as a single is absolutely heavenly.  – J Castro

The Dyslexics – Distorted Paranoia EP (Resurrection)
Portland’s The Dyslexics are described as punk, garage and psychedelic, but I find that to be a bit unfair and slightly unjust. The band is certainly loud and their songs are guitar driven and they turn up the reverb and fuzz to maximum overload, but they have energy and their songs are really melodic. They’re not hyper fast punk rock either but they come off like an alternative rock band from the mid to late 80’s. Try to think of something that would appeal to fans of say Soul Asylum, The Replacements, Husker Du and maybe even a pinch of The dB’s. Fantastic record though whatever your ears and fractured mind tell you what it is; what I hear is raggedy ramshackle guitar pop at its finest!   – J Castro

Flesh Rag – S/T 7” (It’s Trash/Loose Lips)
More Stooges/Detroit/Dead Boys NYC inspired mayhem from these Raw Power enthusiasts. The vinyl has three songs, but the Bandcamp version has four songs featuring one track from the Noise Pollution compilation on It’s Trash. This is the second 7” I’ve heard from Flesh Rag and I’m becoming convinced there is a secret tunnel running from Michigan through the Great Lakes into Ontario supplying this non-stop Stooges and other Midwestern proto-punk. “It’s Ain’t Enough” is Dead Boys street toughness filled dangerous intent especially when staring cover art. “Electric Dream” is their “Gimme Danger” filled with haunting melody that paints back alley portraits with just enough light to show the viewer, but never lets them forget the setting.  – Ed Stuart

The Fox Sisters – Under the Stars LP (Self Released)
Heeyaow, this record nearly scorched my speakers! Rochester New York’s Fox Sisters play some party starting, soul shakin’, house rockin’, ‘60’s inspired R & B.  Picture if you will early Who/High Numbers if John, Pete and Roger popped as many pills and played as out of control as Keith Moon. Right out of the bag this record comes out twisting and gyrating like James Brown did live on the T.A.M.I. show back in ’64. Under the Stars is irresistibly boisterous, undeniably charming and ridiculously magnetic. Even when the record slows down a bit, you don’t let your guard down because if you do, the next rousing tune will send you sailing out the window!  
– J Castro 

The Gaggers – Bad Taste 7” (No Front Teeth)
Bad Taste is the Gaggers swan song; the final 7-inch after they called it quits. These three songs are from 2008 when the Gaggers were a lean, mean, trio machine, before Terminal just decided to sing full-time and drop the bass. All three songs on this release are great and it makes you wonder how they never saw the light of day until now. Bad Taste is closer in sound and songwriting to the Rip You Apart LP that makes since these were supposedly the songs that didn’t make the LP. This is the Gaggers doing what they did best, ripping through ’77 punk with snotty vocals over top of slash and burn razorblade guitars that is both lean and mean. – Ed Stuart

The Gee Strings – I Will Get You 7” (No Front Teeth)
The Gee Strings have been around since the mid-‘90’s and don’t seem to be losing any steam on this new single, I Will Get You. Singer Ingi Pop and guitarist Bernadette are back by the Irradiates rhythm section for this two songer. “I Will Get You” is a ’77 UK power-pop/glam number that is played with Avengers and Runaways bravado. The B-side is a cover of the Avengers classic “We Are The One.” The Gee Strings really capture the sound and spirit of the original and Ingi’s voice style is very close to Penelope’s from the Avengers that you could probably trick some people into believing this a Gee Strings original. A solid single for a band that is still strong after twenty years. – Ed Stuart

Gino and the Goons – Check This Out 7” (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
Gino and the Goons “get” rock n’ roll, that much is obvious. Their music has a certain swagger and style you just can’t fake. The A-Side to this fantastic slice of wax is the title track and it slithers and shakes in sweat, cigarette butts and spilled beer. It’s not a fast song and it’s not a love ballad by any means; it’s an Oblivians meets The Rolling Stones lo-fi number with a sarcastic blues-y hook. Who has the audacity to cover a Heartbreakers tune you ask?  The B-Side of this record is the classic Heartbreakers tune, “Let Go” and Gino and The Goons do it justice.  That’s the caliber of rock n’ roll band you’re dealing with here.  – J Castro 

Gross Pointe – Bad Seed EP (Hozac)
This Chicago trio plays stripped rock n’ roll built on bluesy riffs and passion much like the Heartbreakers did, but playing it like the Devil Dogs and Humpers used to. Bad Seed does not waste anytime luring you in to this EP. I’m really glad to see punk rock n’ roll coming back. I was never sure why it disappeared in the first place. Sure “Time To Waste” does get into some psych/garage territory, but Gross Pointe is smart enough to not wallow in the druggy atmosphere of the style and play with a steady energy much like early Yardbirds did. The other three songs on this EP are higher energy rock n’ roll played by a band that believes in it. – Ed Stuart

Isotopes – Live At Bachelor’s Paradise Cassette (Shake!)
Isotopes are such a fun band! Yes, they took the name from the baseball team on The Simpsons, and everything do is baseball themed, but so what. This is Ramones punk-pop fueled madness captured really well live. I’m not really a fan of live releases because the recordings usually sound terrible or something is so blown out that you can’t hear anything, but this is not the case on Live at Bachelor’s Paradise, which captures the Isotopes live energy. This cassette has five songs, two from Nuclear Strikezone, one from First Four Seasons and two are Ramones covers. If you have never heard the Isotopes before, this can be your gateway release to getting their studio LP’s.  – Ed Stuart

Janelle – JDH Cassette (Suicide Bong/FDH)
Synth rock runs plentiful in this edition of Audio Ammunition reviews! This time around we have Philadelphia’s Janelle. Not as dark or bombastic as some of the other folks, but not to be out done or over shadowed nonetheless. The songs for the most part have a quick tempo with some slower breakdowns carefully placed into them, there are some slower creeping tunes in here as well. Rapid fire bass lines, haunting vocals, shimmering guitars, and drums that sound like delicate antique china crashing together make Janelle a force to be reckoned with. Standout tracks to me were the opener titled “Restore” and the fourth tune in titled “Hero.”  – J Castro 

Jennie Vee – Spying LP (Self Released)
Jennie Vee is a singer/songwriter living in New York City. She soaks up all the urban delights such as desperation, heartaches and headaches and regurgitates it for us in song form on a platter garnished with Stone Roses/Echo & The Bunnymen melancholy and on a bed of Psychedelic Furs/Jesus and Mary Chain guitars. Then of course there’s Jennie’s delicate yet firm Debbie Harry style voice encapsulating everything, tying it all together with a glittery golden twine.  Much like the band’s mentioned above her music is dark and atmospheric yet has an underlying glimmer of hope. I guess there is comfort in knowing we all face difficult and dark adversities.  Like they say, the night is always darkest before dawn and Spying lies right there, somewhere in the middle.   – J Castro 

Just Jeffrey – S/T LP (La-Ti-Da)
There is something so much more intimate, personal and reflective about solo records. Maybe it’s because the songwriter doesn’t have to explain anything to any other band members and he or she doesn’t care what they think in that scenario anyway, I don’t know. This here record is really actually just Jeffrey, Jeffrey McCloy that is, frontman extraordinaire of the bands, Tranzmitors and Fashionism (currently one of my favorite new bands). Mr. McCloy summons a myriad of ‘70’s British rock god influences in this collection; a bit Elvis Costello, a dash of Paul Weller, a pinch of Morrissey, a slice of Joe Jackson and even add some Bob Geldof in there to taste. Tumble all of these together and you get some incredibly enjoyable music to sit back and unwind to. – J Castro 

Kim & Leanne – True West LP (Hozac)
I’m just going to start off by saying how much I dug this record and yes it’s THAT Kim and Leanne from Australia’s Scientists that made it. From the moment the ‘play’ button is pushed, the record starts out with massive buzz saw guitars and boulder crushing drums brought to you by the lovely Leanne Cowie and then Kim Salmon’s dead pan style vocals pipe in and it all provides a dichotomy that pulls your senses every which way. This isn’t “Frantic Romantic” Part II or anything though, the collection of songs here are highly stylized yet subdued rock n’ roll gut punches cut with a heavy dose of cynicism and bitterness reminiscent of Lou Reed. 
– J Castro           

King Flamingo – Astro-Tone EP (Resurrection Records)
Super fun debut record made up of sci-fi surf pop tunes with a rockabilly spice that will make you want to go grab your swim suit, a blanket and an oversized beach ball and head for the beach! You may not even make it there, you may just have to twist right where you’re at if you happen to hear these tunes before the party officially starts! This record really runs the gamut from Link Wray style guitars to Everly Brothers harmonies and the early rockabilly aggression of someone like The Phantom’s “Love Me.” Kid Flamingo takes all these great influences, mixes them all up with their unique “now” sound and something full of lively energy comes bursting out of your speakers. This isn’t played sloppy or amateurish in anyway, you can tell the Kid and his ilk respect their forefathers.    – J Castro

Low Levels – Low Levels EP (Self-Release)
Low Levels is a high-energy post-punk/punk/art band from Vancouver. The band features members of WPP, Hanson Brothers, and Devil’s Eyes. On Low Levels, the band utilizes the guy-girl sing trade off weapon effectively. Low Levels has found a good balance between punk energy and post-punk technique, which reminds of what early Fugazi was doing when combining both influences.   – Ed Stuart

Mama – Speed Trap EP (Hozac)
At first, I wasn’t really sure where Mama was going musically on “Three Tricks,” but at the thirty second mark, they opened up with this riff that is Thin Lizzy meets Dictators ‘70’s rock n’ roll and I was hooked. Much like Dirty Fences, Mama is a band that doesn’t look the part. On appearance, you might think this band will get stuck in the guitar solos, but instead that’s not the case at all. Speed Trap is a wonderful mix of Cheap Trick/Dictators with the hard rock bite of Thin Lizzy and early Kiss. Mama does like to tease the listener especially on “Bad Reputation” which starts with a sludgy, dirgy intro, but evolves into a highly catchy ’74-’77 rock meets punk song. Mama is not afraid to channel their inner rock heroes, but is smart enough to let him out in short bursts while peppering their songs with tons of hooks.  – Ed Stuart

Maniac – Chola Queen 7” (No Front Teeth)
Maniac’s LP Demimonde was awesome that its no surprise that this single is too. Maniac is an all-star line-up made of members of Cute Lepers, LA Drugz, Clorox Girls and Images. “Chola Queen” is both a cover and brilliant reworking of the ‘70’s hit “My Teenage Queen” by Harpo that sounds like a Maniac original. These self-called Gentlemen Punks original, “Calamine” continues in their tradition of Rezillos/Briefs/Dickies pop fueled exuberance. Maniac is really on fire and mixes styles and influences so effortlessly you might not want your band to follow them live.  – Ed Stuart

Meka Leka Hi’s – Backyard Time Machine Cassette (Resurrection)
Alas, the Meka Leka Hi’s are no more and Backyard Time Machine is their last will and testament. Meka Leka Hi’s were the band that introduced us all to a “Chicken Nugget, Pizza Party” on their debut. While Backyard Time Machine does not send out any dinner invitations, it does invite us into their B-52’s/Dead Milkmen/LinkWray/surf/‘60’s Back From The Grave musical world while watching non-stop B-movie’s that always made for a good time.  – Ed Stuart

Midnight Reruns – Force of Nuture LP (Dusty Medical)
Midnight Reruns really tap into their inner Midwestern like latter day Replacements and Husker Du on Force of Nurture, which is produced by Tommy Stinson of The Replacements. Force of Nurture, Midnight Reruns second LP, builds on their self-titled LP’s use of guitar driven pop and nods to late ‘80’s college rock, but drops some of the Boomtown Rats style quick tempo and key changes. Force is more of a straight-ahead guitar driven melodic pop LP much like Guided By Voices or Superchunk. This would have been right at home on Merge’s label in that era or late night viewing of 120 minutes when MTV actually played music.  – Ed Stuart

Miscalculations – Kill The Whole Cast LP (FDH)
This band is a music machine and may just be a literal machine as well. In the past two years, this band has released three LP’s and two 7-inches, which is more than most bands’ put out in an entire career. Kill The Whole Cast is the band newest and third release. With every release the band moves closer to incorporating a touch more synth, most notably on “The Same Needle,” without losing their signature sparse minimal guitar driven sound of early Wire. Miscalculations are so full of angular post-punk riffs and light moodiness that finds the right balance between ’77 punk and ’79 post-punk. It’s like Wire, Gang of Four, Warsaw and Mission of Burma had a secret party and made this LP! Well done. – Ed Stuart

Napalmpom/Public Animal Split LP (Teenage Rampage)
For Round 1 of this what is being called as a coming together of “Eastern meets Western Canada” extravaganza: It’s the melodic guitar/keyboard attack of Public Animal. Both of these bands are heavy worshipers of ‘70’s hard rock. Public Animal leans towards the Alice Cooper, Foghat hooks, and even some Brownsville Station thrown in there for mere party purposes.  Napalmpom again, heavy on the ‘70’s, but move a bit more towards the Thin Lizzy realm, with some KISS licks, again thrown in for the good time vibes. Listening to this record will make you want to drive with your left hand on the wheel so that the right one is free to put around the chicks!   - J Castro

Night Birds – Mutiny on Muscle Beach LP (Fat Wreck)
Wow! I really could be done here after listening to Mutiny On Muscle Beach, but I really should add more to this review. Night Birds are really on fire and scorching earth with Mutiny. This So-Cal punk/hardcore (DI, Adolescents, Posh Boy) by way of NJ/NY will be on many people’s top ten lists and rightfully so. Night Birds play with the reckless abandon of a band putting out their debut release, but Mutiny is the band’s third LP. I guess Night Birds never got the maturity memo and we should all be thankful. What sets Night Birds apart from other fast playing bands is that this band can actually play their instruments and write songs that sustain blasts of energy and are enjoyable to listen too.  – Ed Stuart

Pale Lips – Got A Sweet Tooth 7” (No Front Teeth)
This single is so sweet and sugary that you might just get cavities from listening. Pale Lips are from Montreal, Canada and another weapon in Canada’s pop dominance. Got A Sweet Tooth is full of ‘60’s bubblegum pop mixed with Nikki Corvette influence and girl group sounding back up vocals. Pale Lips seems like a band Burger would have put out especially with Peach Kelli Pop in their label’s dugout, but Burger’s loss is No Front Teeth’s gain and boy, did they score because this is a really good pop record!  – Ed Stuart

Patsy – Tuley Tude High 7” (Total Punk)
Jacked up recording with a guitar that sounds like it’s strung with piano wire, ferocious female vocals, a machine gun drum tempo; I can already tell my face is about to light on fire! Wild out of control punk rock that gives me the same feeling of when the drunk guy at the party gets a hold of a gun, knife or baseball bat and starts waving it around in the living room full of guests.  You know something is going to break, you know someone is going to get hurt but all you can do is sit and stare at the situation in front of you because you know whatever happens it’s going to be a good show! The folks over at Total Punk sure know how to pick ‘em!  – J Castro 

Pretty Hurts – Expectations 7” (Grave Imprint/Erste Theke Tontrager)
Hard charging bare-bones noisy punk from Germany. Pretty Hurts sounds like a harder, faster, darker Fugazi or other DC/Am Rep band of that era. Expectations is the band’s second release and doesn’t really let off the gas until the needle lifts from the record. You may get time to catch your breath like in the intro to “Expectations,” but it won’t last long before this band has you hurling down it’s cold, disaffected road again. – Ed Stuart

Primitive Hearts/Pookie and The Poodlez – Split 7” (Resurrection)
Unfortunately Primitive Hearts are not around anymore, but there members have moved on to other bands, most notably Genuine Parts and Toy Guitar. Primitive Hearts play their brand of lo-fi garage meets Ramones with poppy guy/girl vocals and sugary choruses. All three songs are as catchy as they are quick like a piece of bubble gum that runs out of flavor too fast. 
Pookie and The Poodlez is a one-man band, Trevor Straub from Oakland. Actually both bands on this split are/were from the East Bay. Straub aka Pookie plays a garage-pop that is equally influenced by ‘50’s style Buddy Holly rhythms as ‘60’s bubblegum pop. Pookie’s side of this split is just as good and catchy as Primitive Hearts, which makes for a good combination on this split.  – Ed Stuart

Racket/Power-Buddies – Banana Split 7” (Shake!)
We start things off with 3 tunes by Calgary, Alberta’s Racket. This band plays jittery, noisy pop tunes from deep within a thick cloud of smoke. They finally sound pissed off enough to get up off the couch and stop asking Dick Ritchie for some cleaning products on their last tune called “Pizza Bobs.” Next up is Edmonton’s Power Buddies who slow ride the vibe even more. Power- Buddies introduce some keys into the mix which gives their tunes a hazy lounge feel. Standout track on this record to me was Power-Buddies last tune “Ponchy Peter” that features the keyboard front and center slaying a monster with a fierce hook.  – J Castro 

Radiohearts – Lot to Learn 7” (No Front Teeth)
There are a few schools of thought that power pop bands that are around these days seem to graduate from. There’s the school of Paul Collins, the school of The Jam, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick…you get the picture. Long Beach CA’s Radiohearts graduated with honors from the Buzzcocks institute of higher learning and studied a couple of semesters at The Boys University as well. The band sounds tighter, more focused and a smidge more confident in their trajectory since we last heard from them last year with the Nothing At All EP which was a bit Romantics/Plimsouls. This time around the guitars and the shirt collars are turned up and the band goes in for the kill.   – J Castro 

Red Daggers – House of Mystery Cassette (Shake!)
House of Mystery might be the musical equivalent of a drug trip. Much like Burroughs did with Naked Lunch, Red Daggers musically seems to be trying to give a first-person account of the trip. Red Daggers are a two-piece band with members from Canada and Texas. House of Mystery is heavy on the psych that does touch some darkwave like Bauhaus in Murphy’s deadpan dark vocal delivery. Red Daggers is for fans of slow moving psych.  – Ed Stuart

Repairs – Decay 7” (Hozac)
Repairs hail from Australia and first burst on the scene with a cassette only release back in 2009. This two-man band plays music that sounds like a darker Normal (think “Warm Leatherette”), Suicide and industrial. Both songs “Decay” and “Cycle” are of a caliber that would reverse a sunset and have waves splash unto itself. Decay has a knack for creating a horror like soundtrack that is more interested in psychological terror than cheap gore thrills.  – Ed Stuart

Rik and The Pigs – Pig Sweat 7” (Total Punk)
Chaotic, sloppy and hard hitting, like slowly being run over by a rusty old bulldozer on a desolate dirt road – that is Rik and The Pigs. The first song and title track is a bit more of a creeper, like slowly being lowered into a bubbling cauldron and little by little feeling the heat of the flames intensify. The B-Side called “Feed the Animal” is more of a head on collision. The guitars sear your flesh up like tiny glass shards in a windstorm. At this point, you can taste blood start to collect in your mouth. When this record is over you’re going to want to spit and check if any of your teeth got knocked down your throat.  - J Castro

Round Eye – S/T LP (Self-release)
This band featured a member from hardcore band Libyan Hit Squad, and four other expatriates who all live in China. Round Eye plays a free-form, free-jazz mostly instrumental punk that sounds more like Captain Beefheart then the 4/4 driven punk bands you would think when hearing the term.  – Ed Stuart

Thee Rum Coves – S/T LP (Self Released)
Sometimes I hear something so good that I have to immediately stop the record from playing.  Compose myself, get up and frantically search for said band’s entire discography to find out what else I have been missing. Auckland, New Zealand’s Thee Rum Coves are one of these bands. The band describes them as “Rock n Soul played by punks” and that’s exactly what it is! They’re a great combination of The Ballantynes’ groove, Jail Weddings noir and the street wise warrior poetry of a band like The Swingin’ Utters. From what I can tell this is the band’s debut LP so thankfully I haven’t missed much yet. They have a great video for their song “Baby Please.” Do yourself a favor and go watch it now!  – J Castro

Saccharine Souvenirs – Trauma LP (FDH)
This is a band that is apparently a side project from some of those guys in Miscalculations.  Saccharine Souvenirs lay it on a bit more pop than the twisted synth rock that comes out of the Miscalculations camp. This project sounds a bit more like the first Sisters of Mercy record mixed with Echo and The Bunnymen’s Crocodiles with heavy Devo style keys carrying the load. It still wallows and writhes in the darker corners, but the synthesizers pick up the mood a bit more on this particular project. You can almost down right dance to some of the songs on this record.  Great album done by fantastic musicians that do their research homework well! 
– J Castro

Scraps/Needle Exchange – Split 7” (No Front Teeth)
Scraps and Needle Exchange supply two songs each on this split. Scraps, from the UK and is believed to include a former Gaggers member, starts of this split madness. “Shoot You Dead” is a mix of proto-punk and punk from the NY Dolls/Heartbreakers back alley rock n’ roll that lived in the Bowery district for those seminal years. “Wild” is a lo-fi song that embodies more of Rip-Offs/Supercharger approach to ’77 punk that is catchy in it’s minimal recording sound.
Needle Exchange is from Vienna, Germany and hot off the heels of last years Is This My Program LP. “I Wanna Die” is more a Thunders/Heartbreakers style rock n’ roll riff that just sneaks under your skin with its gutter charm and catchy choruses. “Douse Me” is a quicker paced song than the first and more in the vein of Buzzcocks/Rezillos sound that bands like the Briefs became known for. – Ed Stuart

Sexless – Don’t Stray 7” (Resurrection)
Sexless play heavy duty, long hair, dirty jeans and t-shirt stoner punk with loud ass guitars that are so thick and oh so gloriously murky they run gloriously unchecked thought this record. The drummer hits just as hard and frantically tries to keep all of this together, which he does pretty much. Three young dudes from Oakland, California are all it took to produce this much noise. Try to imagine what The Stooges’ Raw Power would have sounded like if Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore were playing guitar on it. Sexless are like a colossal, fire breathing beast that has escaped captivity and is now destroying all of the villages in its path just for pleasure and self-amusement. There is no way to contain it, you must run for the hills or succumb to its might.
  – J Castro             

Slim Chance – On The Move LP (Fishpool)
Slim Chance is full of members who were in or played with Faces, Ian Dury, Ducks Deluxe, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and many more. So the pedigree and resume is definitely top-notch. On The Move sounds more like a solo Eric Clapton LP or a more mature LP by one of the aforementioned musicians that mixes ‘70’s rock, blues and country into one.   – Ed Stuart

Sick Thoughts – Aborted World 7” (No Front Teeth)
When he isn’t playing dark wave in Cellulite, Drew Owen is fronting Sick Thoughts. Owen has been described as Baltimore’s angriest teenager and if they city is anything like The Wire I can see why. Aborted World is two songs of KBD punk meets ‘80’s hardcore. There is no handholding or delivering messages nicely for Sick Thoughts. It’s like Halloween candy full of razorblades. On “G.O.O.M.F.” he starts off the song with a “Fuck You” before launching into the blistering track. This is old school hardcore without the growling dog vocals. It’s nice to see the kids still are enjoying the classics. – Ed Stuart

The Speedlights – S/T EP (Self Released)
This Denton, TX quartet’s debut EP shines like a Texas Ranger badge reflecting the sun at noontime. Simple, catchy power pop songs about love and girls with Big Star style quiet hooks that like a jumping cactus needle, have got a hold of you before you even realize it. Aside from having graduated summa cum laude from the Alex Chilton School of Guitar Licks, The Speedlight’s tunes are lightly dusted with a Tom Petty/Bruce Springsteen/John Fogerty everyman/working class type of charm to them. Great stuff from these newcomers, I predict their next records will only keep getting better and better as they hone their skills and gel together even more as a band.  Can’t wait!  .  – J Castro 

Spike and the Sweet Spots – Strange Breed LP (Randy)
Smooth, mellow sugary flavors drip down your ear canals at the first listen of this Chicago based band’s debut LP. The vocals are a bit on the snotty/nasally side with some 60’s style guitar strumming and swirling around accompanied by an old rickety drum set bashing away the beats somewhere in the back. The record flows great, it never gets old or boring.  Try to imagine Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian singing for the Velvet Underground with the Mamas & The Papas opening up for them. Then and only then will you get a taste of the sounds Spike and The Sweet Spots are making over in the windy city. File under ‘electric folk for easy livin.’  – J Castro

Strange Fires – Walkabout Cassette (Shake!)
Is slacker pop a thing? If not, I’m coining it now, but I’m sure I’ve read it before. Strange Fires is slacker pop. Walkabout is full of guitar melody that will get where it’s going in time, but doesn’t have a lot of urgency to get there. Strange Fires combines lo-fi indie/alternative pop that takes a lot of influence from late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s bands and sound. Yes, there is some psych parts in here, but Strange Fires is all about patience and if you are willing to let songs grow and develop, Walkabout will be for you. – Ed Stuart

The Subtractions – It’s Exposed 7” (Hozac)
Hozac has got some real connections because they have unearthed another seminal recording this time from The Subtractions. The Subtractions were, by many reports, the first punk band in Fresno, CA, a city that is located about three hours north of LA. The Subtractions only lasted one year, 1979-1980, and these four songs are from a recording where no song saw the light of day until now. It’s Exposed has a more KBD/slower Middle Class straight ahead punk sound than it’s LA/OC or SF punk rock neighbors created. The Subtractions have that early ‘80’s punk sound that when you listen you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s Exposed is a really cool 7” and a well-deserved highlight for an area that doesn’t get the attention of its beach town/Hollywood living brothers.   – Ed Stuart

The Sueves – Liquor Hounds 7” (Hozac)
To call The Sueves a garage band would be giving you only half of the picture. While the band could care less about showing off hiccups, as evidenced at the beginnings of both songs, Liquor Hounds adds a healthy dose of lo-fi reverb drenched vocals, surf riffs and Midwestern punk. Liquor Hounds takes a little bit too get started, but once it does it is worth the wait of  to hear their brand of ‘60’s garage/surf riffs meets early Husker Du with a dose of New Bomb Turks.  – Ed Stuart

Sultan Bathery – Right On 7” (Slovenly)
Legend has it that three young Italians traveled to India (hence the name which is the same as a town in the Wayanad district of Kerala, India), there they indulged in many an earthy delight.  When they returned home to their native land they were so inspired by what they saw and experienced they formed a band and named it as tribute. The A-Side and title track is a tune slathered in ‘60’s cool. It’s fun and you can dance to it, but never loses its collected composure.   
The B-Side called “Anthropomorph” is more of the same only a bit less catchy and a tad darker and more surreal.   - J Castro

TV Freaks – Bad Luck Charms LP (Deranged)
Maniacal, foaming at the mouth, blood thirsty songs that make you want to drive really fast and do really bad things to your fellow human beings. I wouldn’t expect anything less from these Hamilton, Ontario boys. This is the band’s third LP and it picks up right where last year’s stellar Leaches EP that our pals at Hosehead Records put out. No let up yet from this band, the songs are all still one loud, relentless gut punch after another. It reminds me of something like Angry Samoans or The Dwarves mixed with a heavier and darker entity like Black Sabbath. The production is fantastic I might add. Everyone in the band sounds like they’re in top form for the sonic attack that doesn’t cease until you can somehow make it to the “stop” button or someone in the room is dead maimed or dismembered to the point of physical or mental paralysis.  – J Castro 

Van Buren Wheels – S/T 10” (Slovenly)
This band was based in Phoenix, Arizona and was active from 1997 – 2000. Its wild, high energy, ‘60’s R & B style rock n’ roll but it’s not mean or angry. It’s still really fun to listen to and it’s got hooks pounded out of an organ that will hold you down like a bear trap. The production of this EP only adds to the killer atmosphere this record creates. According to the liner notes, 4 out of 5 of these guys were heroin addicts, and the singer died in 2009. As many bands as there are out here in the Phoenix area nowadays, there’s only a handful that are really worth a crap or doing anything remotely interesting or inspiring. It’s too bad these guys aren’t still around to teach the kids what it’s really all about.  – J Castro 

Wyatt Blair – Banana Cream Dream LP (Resurrection/Lollipop)
Wyatt Blair has done time in TRMRS, Mr. Elevator and The Brain Hotel and is the main man behind Lollipop. The original release of Banana Cream Dream was a couple of years ago on both Lollipop and Burger. The artwork on this LP screams Burger influenced of Cut and Paste, but the music is much so better than that. Blair channels his inner ‘70’s glam and LA power-pop influences on his debut solo LP. It’s like Sweet meets The Beat. “Sugar Lips, Cinnamon Hips” is like Marc Bolan fronting a garage band. The intro “You and I (Are Just Letters In The Alphabet)” is suspiciously close to “Jessie’s Girl,” but does not stay there. The catchiest song might “Sweet Operator (Talkin On The Telephone)” which may start with the aforementioned telephone, but powers through a hook riff to hang a coat on and one hell of a catchy combo that is both Slade and gritty American Power-pop.  – Ed Stuart

The Yolks – Don’t Cry Anymore 7” (Randy)
On Don’t Cry Anymore, the Yolks are at a musical crux. Their A-side and title track “Don’t Cry Anymore” sounds like a mix of sweet ‘60’s folk vocal melody mixed ‘60’s soul-infused rock n’ roll. The B-side “I Wanna Be Dumb” is a Ramones inspired garage rocker that Dee Dee would have written so effortlessly that professes the lack of intelligence and the personal pride in that. Both songs are good and it will be interesting to see where The Yolks songwriting takes them on their next release.  – Ed Stuart

Zex – Wanderlust 7” (No Front Teeth)
Talk about a band that exemplifies the “Don’t judge a book by its cover” motto, Zex is that band for sure. On the exterior, they look like a hardcore/crust band complete with leather jackets, spikes, with spiked and colored hair, but what they play is nothing like it. Zex is the most welcome surprise of Avengers style vocals over ’77-’79 UK punk/glam/NWOBHM all rolled into this one. Wanderlust is full of pop hooks hidden underneath a tough exterior. The guitar has a tone that moves a little toward ’82, but Zex doesn’t follow the uniformity of that time and instead sticks with early years where melding punk and pop wasn’t frowned upon.  – Ed Stuart