Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer 2017 Reviews

Andy The Band – Carry On 7” (Sabotage)
I couldn’t find much on Andy The Band so when I put on this record, I really had no idea what to expect from this release but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The first song that on the EP is called “Carry ON” which is a loud, charming pop tune that sounds like something off of The Replacements Pleased To Meet Me.  The next one up was “Fight For You” and to me it sounds like it has a Joe Jackson flavor to it.   My favorite track and the loudest one is the last number called “Where Time Doesn’t Exist”.  It’s quick, heavy, and yet really melodic.  Andy also has a video for that track so check it out on Youtube, it doesn’t disappoint!    – J Castro

Ann Beretta – Kill The Lights 7” (Say-10)
Kill The Lights 7-inch is a foreshadowing of what to expect from Ann Berretta in the upcoming year. Ann Berreta, which called it quits over fourteen years due to management and label issues, is back with one new track, “Kill The Lights” and one re-worked track, “Forever Family.” In the upcoming year, the band plans to release two LP’s, one of brand new material and another of re-worked older songs. Ann Beretta would fit and still fits in with Face To Face family of pop-punk that ruled much of ‘90’s pop-punk.   – Ed Stuart

Baby Shakes – Turn It Up LP (Lil Chewy)
New York’s Baby Shakes are back with their 3rd LP (4th if you count their singles collection) with more of their Ramones visits the Hitsville U.S.A. house type of garage rock n roll.  I find what Baby Shakes do with their music absolutely brilliant.  It’s super fun and undeniably catchy without sounding the monotonous.  If you think that’s easy, I welcome you to try.  Many have tried this formula, most have failed.  I’ve listened to this record from start to finish at least a dozen times already and I have yet to grow tired of it.  Baby Shakes fits in well with the likes of Nikki and The Corvettes, old Superteem! era Donnas and up and coming upstarts Pale Lips.  – J Castro 

Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Warriors LP (Fat Wreck)
Bad Cop/Bad Cop were/are the darlings of the pop-punk scene. An all-girl band that was making real headway in the pop-punk world that almost came to a screeching halt due to a band member’s reckless addiction. After dropping off of a tour, going to detox, reconciling as a band, the band wrote Warriors. This LP is more serious in tone covering topics like suicide, tolerance, child abuse, and ridding oneself of destructive people in their lives. Bad Cop/Bad Cop sounds like ‘90’s Fat Wreck pop-punk bands mixed with some Muffs and Dance Hall Crashers vocal harmonies and a touches of Weezer.  – Ed Stuart

Basketball Shorts – This Summer 7” (Jarama)
Texas party punks or pizza punks are back with their summer single “This Summer.” All three tracks are a little different, very good, and showcase Basketball Shorts in their pop-punk glory. “This Summer” sounds like a power-pop classic full of ’79 UK roots, which pulls from so many bands of the era. The hook is so simple and catchy it sounds timeless. “Hot and Ready” is the pizza party punk anthem. This is/was the title track of their debut LP and is added to the mix. If you think Mean Jeans you wouldn’t be just in the ballpark, but at home plate. This is Ramones fueled mayhem. “Home” is the tuneful ‘90’s pop-punk song with a tinge of heart and Descendents bite.  – Ed Stuart

The Berlin Blackouts – Kissed by the Guitar LP (Wanda)
WOW, what a cool record!  This is my first time hearing this Berlin band and I’m glad I finally did.  The Berlin Blackouts apparently are made up of remnants of another band called Radio Dead Ones.  I’ve never heard that band either but if they sound anything like this, I’m going to start digging for their records right now!  These guys have a melodic street punk style that reminds me of Cocksparrer with Stiff Little Finger’s Jake Burns singing.  The tunes are fortified with super catchy/sing along choruses and yet are as tough as your old leather jacket.  11 songs on this LP and no clunkers; bravo Berlin Blackouts!  - J Castro 

Bleach Party USA – Get Stoked EP (Mystic)
Mystic? I can’t think of the last time I’ve heard of Mystic putting out a release since Ill Repute and Aggression. First, there is Rock ‘N’ Roll, then Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll, and now, Clorox ‘n’ Roll. ‘50’s upper moral echelon thought Rock N’ Roll would kill you you or at least your morality, but I have no idea what Clorox N’ roll will do to you. Bleached Party USA plays a ‘80’s Hardcore Punk that could fall a little under Nardcore territory and other So Cal influences. – Ed Stuart

Brat Farrar – Brat Farrar III LP (Off The Hip/Kizmiaz)
I don’t know if it’s because of the Australian connection (oh who am I kidding of course it is) but I hear a lot of The Saints in Brat Farrar’s third LP.  Not just that, but it also has echoes of early Psychedelic Furs and even some Devo style keys thrown randomly about.  The band sites Chrome, Suicide and The Wipers as influences.  I can certainly hear that in here too but the songs are more gelled and cohesive than any of those bands, which is a good thing.  Brat Farrar’s third LP is the kind of record you can just put on and listen to it all the way through and not get bored or annoyed.  It hits just the right places with just enough unpredictability to keep it all moving at a steady pace.
 – J Castro

Casual Friday – Weekend Forever LP (Hidden Home/Open Door/Celebrity Punk House/Counter Intuitive)
Weezer meets Menzingers meets Get Up Kids. Casual Friday plays a late ‘90’s/early ‘00’s pop punk. The melody on this is definitely at the forefront in much the way Get Up Kids and Menzingers write. The band is getting a lot of attention and is playing FEST this year. It’s not surprising because their fun slacker “California” sound will get the kids dancing/moshing or at least not looking at their phones for a while and hoping the weekend does last forever.  – Ed Stuart

Cheap Whine – S/T LP (Drunken Sailor)
This is Cheap Whines debut album and features members of Steve Adamyk Band, Crusades and Feral Trash.  The apples don’t fall too far from the Stave Adamyk Band’s tree of greatness here.  All of the tunes feature those hard driving, stout hearted melodies that those guys seem to have an endless supply of.  Cheap Whine also has those quick, tightly wound guitar riffs that made Feral Trash’s 2014 LP Trashfiction really stand out.  Jordy Bell from Crusades brings that same thunder clap style of drumming from that band into the mix here as well.  I hope this isn’t just a “side project” because I think these guys have tapped into something really special here.  – J Castro    

City Limits – To Hull and Back LP (Queen Mum)
City Limits are a band that was active in the late 70’s in Leeds, UK.  Queen Mum Records is doing a fantastic job of unearthing these fantastic power pop gems!  Like The Jetz, City Limits craft some ultra-infectious power pop.  But these guys have more of a Mod sound to their songs.  This record contains the one 7” they released back in 1979 called Morse Code Messages as well as what was supposed to become their second 7” but never saw the light of day.  There are six more songs of found studio recordings and some live stuff.  If you don’t have this band’s first 7” (and I highly doubt that you do) then it’s worth it just for that alone.    - J Castro 

Corner Boys – Demo 7” (Self-Release)
I first heard of Corner Boys because it sent by Hosehead when they sent over the Sore Points 7-inch to review and I’m glad they did. It features members of Nervous Talk, Stress Eating and Patrick from Hosehead Records. Why this isn’t on Hosehead? I’m not sure because it’s very good. Corner Boys play a lo-fi ’77 punk-pop in a Rudi/Protex style. All three songs are so good, but I think I’ll agree with Mick from Just Punk songs blog that “Joke (Of The Neighbourhood)” is the hit of the three. Give it a few months and some label will be giving this demo a proper re-release.  – Ed Stuart

Cowboys – VOL. 4 LP (Drunken Sailor)         
You can say a lot about this band but boring is not one of them.  The band is from Bloomington, Indiana and consists of four non suspecting guys that look like community college students.  But this record is one crazy ride.  I guess this album was originally put out as a cassette only release but got remastered by the amazing North London Bomb Factory.  The songs here go from manic garage punk to bizarre Americana flavored ballads that send out a little Jonathan Richmond vibe.   It took me a couple of listens mind you but I finally came around.  These guys are good and this record oozes quirky charisma.  If they keep it together long enough and don’t melt their brains too quickly they may be destined for greatness.   - J Castro 

Dan Rico – Nobody Knows EP (Maximum Pelt)
This is apparently a “special edition” EP to help promote Dan Rico’s tour for his recently released LP Endless Love (Which is fantastic, in case you missed my review of it last time around).  Weather these are leftover tracks from that recording session or just 4 tunes Dan whipped up and recorded; the tunes here aren’t cutting room floor fodder by any means.  Mr. Rico continues his streak of releasing top notch rock n roll.  His songs have a power pop twist, a dusting of glam rock, and all done with that feeling of intimacy of a singer/songwriter performance.   Dan Rico is one of the brightest gems I’ve discovered this year and listening to this EP will make you think the same.  – J Castro

Dan Rico – Flesh & Bone 7” (Shit In Can)
Mama band man Dan Rico has another 7-inch up his sleeve. After releasing Endless Love last year, Rico is back with two releases this year. The title track, “Flesh & Bone” is T-Rex worship all the way where Rico doesn’t even try to hide his inner Bolan. “Gold Volvo” on the other hand is a mix of early Rolling Stones, Byrds, and jangle-pop. Last, but definitely not least is the extra digital track “Anyway You Want Me” which is the most tender of the three songs and the most Beatles-esque. On Flesh & Bone, Rico has a way to make these songs cohesive instead of three stand alone ideas.  – Ed Stuart

Dark/Light – Kill Some Time LP (Dirt Cult)
Ex-Triggers and Sleepwalkers RIP have released their dark punk post-punk debut LP. Dark/Light, pronounced Dark slash Light, pull from Wipers, Sonic Youth, Richard Hell/Voidoids, T.S.O.L., Minutemen and Avengers just to name a few. Dark/Light is a little tough to describe so think of a post-punk/new wave guitar player fronting a punk rhythm section and that probably still doesn’t do it justice. Kill Some Time really just needs to be listened too.   – Ed Stuart

Dead 77 – Die Young 7” (Evacuate)
Street punk and UK ’82 collide on this EP from Los Angeles band Dead 77. The first band that comes to mind is Blitz. Dead 77 have a hard charging sound with galloping bass, hard hitting drums, melodic tough guitar and gang chorus vocals. “Take Me Away” embodies the musical Molotov cocktail with a big Oi style lead over ’82 UK punk. “What’s Love?” chorus sounds a like a lyrical re-working of the infamous Pagans classic. It’s no surprise Dead 77 is playing shows with Lower Class Brats and bands just like these.   – Ed Stuart

Drakulas – VHS 12” EP (Stiff Hombre)
Featuring members of Riverboat Gamblers and Rise Against, Drakulas follow up Raw Wave with their new VHS EP. Drakulas, who received a massive amount of attention last year for their Raw Wave LP, are back to their high-energy ways on this follow up EP. Drakulas play a hyper caffeinated garage punk that’s Marked Men meets Briefs meets some early Hives and Riverboat Gamblers. It’s easy to see why Drakulas became a press darling with their playing style, band members’ pedigree and calculated unison look. It really comes down to whether or not a band can deliver the goods because if you can’t, nothing else matters and Drakulas again delivers.  – Ed Stuart

Duncan Reid & The Big Heads – Bombs Away LP (Self Released)
Duncan Reid & his band of Big Heads are back with their 3rd long player.  With this new outing, Duncan Reid has solidified himself as one of the best songwriters around.  I’m not sure if some of these lyrics are indeed autobiographical, but the sincerity in Duncan’s voice coupled with his pensive lyrics makes it sound like they are.  A good example of this can be found in the song “Confetti” which brings to mind his former band The Boys’ classic tune “Heroine”.  Duncan’s endearing voice put together with some of the most infectious melodies around make the songs on Bombs Away truly memorable.   – J Castro        

Erik Nervous – Ice Cream 7” (Total Punk)
Two new penetrating, blood smeared rippers from this Kalamazoo, MI resident.  And if you thought his other stuff was deranged, then you ain’t heard nothing yet kiddies.  Apparently both of these songs are about stabbing.  The A-Side is about stabbing someone with an ice cream cone.  Obviously it’s with one of those pointy sugar cones not with one of those blunt ended waffle cones.  Although a waffle cone would inflict more blunt force trauma to the victim so who knows.  Erik Nervous makes Jay Reatard sound like Paul Simon for Pete’s sake!  If I were Erik’s neighbors, I’d lock up tight at night.   - J Castro 

Erotic Devices – All I Wanna Do Is Rock ‘N’ Roll LP (Wanda)
These guys come out blazing from Naumburg Germany with their Ramones style delivery and lyrics that are sure to piss off plenty of people out there.  The guitars are set at snap neck speed and the vocals are overflowing with snotty tone.  The drums are back there playing so fast it’s a surprise they don’t just combust at the end of the record.  The lyrics are direct, no fuss style with song titles like “Kick Your Butt”, “Bring My Skateboard Back” and “I Really Want to Fuck”. These guys aren’t trying to be the new punk poet laureates, leave that to the Patty Smiths and the John Cooper Clarkes.  Erotic Devices just want the simple life, and there’s nothing wrong with that!  - J Castro 

The Escalator Haters – Same LP (Wanda)
The Escalator Haters are a quartet from Uster, Switzerland that’s been around since 2000. 
These guys play an abrasive, minimalist style of punk rock that feels like a dull rusty knife cutting your throat.  It sounds like it could have been ripped right off the Bloodstains Across Switzerland compilation.  Even though the band has been around for 17 years now, this is their first LP.  They’ve had a 7” released on Sprinter Records and a 10” out on No Front Teeth Records.  This new LP has a bit more melody to it than their last release.  The songs here almost have a pop undercurrent to them which gives it a Lukers feel.  Good stuff!  - J Castro 

Fashionism – Subculture Suicide 7” (Dirt Cult)
It’s so easy to see why people go nuts for Fashionism and Subculture Suicide will keep the fandom at an all time high. Fashionism has really combined Rezillos, Generation X, Pointed Sticks and mod revival in a sharply dressed ’77-’79 time capsule. This shouldn’t come as a surprise after listening to the band’s earlier singles. Fashionism, much like their band name, is clever in it’s blending of ‘70’s punk and power-pop influences.  – Ed Stuart

Fashionism – Back In The Day 7” (Neon Taste)
This is the band’s fourth single. Back In the Day is more of their upbeat Generation X, Boys, Rezillos, Pointed Sticks blend of ’77 UK punk. The self-proclaimed Glam punk upstarts have released another killer two song single that tackles punk nostalgia and coffee. Members of New Town Animals, Tranzmitors and The Jolts have a real good thing going here. Fashionism has a real knack for taking classic ’77 UK punk and updating the sound a bit without sounding like a complete rehash. Time will tell if the band has an LP in the works, but for now we can just enjoys their singles. – Ed Stuart

The Fox Sisters – My Finest Hour EP (Dive Records)
Apparently the party ain’t over yet for this high energy R & B/Soul band!  Rochester’s Fox Sisters are punching back with a couple more songs guaranteed to make your hips shake and the earth quake!  The A-Side and title track is a bit slower but it’s hardwired with such a tight  groove it’ll force a dance right out of you.  The B-Side, a tight little ditty titled On The Upside can elevate a party every bit as much as an old Little Richard record.  Yes, I understand the caliber of the statement I just made and I mean every word of it.  This is one of my favorite bands and one listen to this new two banger of theirs and you’ll know why.  - J Castro 

Freak Genes – Playtime LP (Alien Snatch)
“Freak Genes is all the silly ideas that would normally be ignored” according to the band members. Wow, talk about the must succinct bio ever. Boil this band down into one sentence and there you have it. Freak Genes are a duo from such bands as Red Cords, Proto Idiot and The Hipshakes. One of them lives in Manchester and the other ones lives somewhere else. Playtime, has a whole host of ideas and sounds ranging from ’77 punk to power-pop to art-pop to some psych. Imagine Buzzcocks and The Fall getting together with guests members of Wire, Devo and numerous other new wave bands for a writing session. This band is gathering attention and steam and it’s understandable why.  – Ed Stuart

Frenzal Rhomb – Hi-Vis High Tea LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
This band has apparently been around since 1992 but this is the first I’ve ever heard of them.  This is the band’s 9th album and from the get go it blasted me back to the mid 1990’s!  These guys take NOFX’s thick guitar sound, mix it with The Queer’s snottyness, and it’s all spread over Descendants type tempos.  This record has 20 songs with absolute no let up, the petal is on the floor for the entire duration of the album.  Frenzal Rhomb will have you digging out your old baggy Blind shorts, your big ol’cloddish Etnies, and that World Industries t-shirt that’s probably going to offend your neighbor’s millennial skater kid.  – J Castro    

The Ghost Wolves – Texas Platinum LP (Hound Gawd)
This is the second full length from this Austin TX duo.  The Ghost Wolves make some ultra-sassy, super sludgy rock n roll that sounds like a loud dirty blues band with Betty Boop on lead vocals.  This band takes rock n roll to its nether regions and back again without skipping a beat.  They have some hints of old school rockabilly weaved in there as well.  The Ghost Wolves dish out their brand of rock n roll with plenty of comfort zone invading attitude.  See songs like “Noisy Neighbors (Yuppie Scum)”, “Crybabies Go Home” and  “Trippin’”.   This band will have you stomping’ that boot heel of yours pretty damn hard so plan accordingly.  – J Castro

Gorilla – It’s All Pop 12” EP (Hidden Volume)
I am blown away by these towering Tokyo titans!  This is the best straight up Power Pop record I’ve heard in years.  This is Gorilla’s debut record and they already sound perfect.  This band obviously listens to and have studied all of the 70’s (think Big Star, Raspberries) and 80’s (picture Romantics, Plimsouls) Power Pop greats.  Gorilla manage to harness their influences and create music that sounds fresh, timeless and speaks straight to your heart.  Which is what all great rock n roll bands should do but it’s easier said than done.  So when a band comes along that is actually able to do this; you grab on tight and don’t let go.  – J Castro

Grand Royale – Breaking the News LP (The Sign)
These guys are from Jönköping, Sweden and play music that’s heavily influenced by 70’s hard rock bands like Bad Company, Kiss and Alice Cooper.  This record was well produced, it sounds really good (engineered by Mr. Nicke Hellacopter himself!).  However I do think this may have been done a bit to the band’s detriment.  I would’ve liked to have heard some grime smeared on some of these tracks.  For example “Devils Place, and “Daily Illustration” sound a tad sluggish.  However others like “Know It All” and the Thin Lizzy sounding “Live With Your Lie” and “I’m On the Loose” carry enough weight on their own to sound just right the way they are.   – J Castro

Green Circles – No Room For Circles LP (Kool Kat)
As the band puts it this is a collection of “odds and sods.” Green Circles have been going strong since 1998 and No Room for Circles is a quick run of the bands’ material. This LP has early demos, re-recorded version of previously released songs. Green Circles are an Australian garage/psych band that pulls from an array of ‘60’s bands like Gene Clark, whose “Elevator Operator” the band covers. – Ed Stuart  

Homeless Gospel Choir – Normal 7” (A-F)
Homeless Gospel Choir or better known as Derek Zanetti is a one man band much like Bright Eyes was Conor Oberst. Homeless Gospel Choir really strives to cut to the emotional core of the songs with more of a storyteller ethos than just merely singing lyrics. Zanetti, in the past, has dealt with topics like turning 30 and forced into the prospect of growing up, greed and privilege. “Normal” is about his search to find other kids who were on the same wavelength who exist outside the norm. “Why” is more like Woody Guthrie meets Billy Bragg with a vocal delivery closer to Bright Eyes.   – Ed Stuart

The Jetz – Cracked Up LP (Queen Mum)
This is a brand new record from an incredible band that was around during the glory days of the late 1970’s in London.  They play some of the most brilliant punk propelled power pop that I’ve ever heard in my 42 years of walking this miserable planet!  I put the Jetz  right up there with The Undertones, Buzzcocks, etc. This record will grab your ear at track one and won’t let you go.  More importantly, you don’t want it to!  Queen Mum Records also put out an LP/CD anthology of this band’s original recordings from back in the heyday a few years ago.  I’ll be on the hunt for that now!  - J Castro 

Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind – Super Natural LP (Hound Gawd)
This is the new project from British born front man Mr. Jim Jones, formally of the Jim Jones Revue.  This new band of his has a lot less of that savage MC5, Jerry Lee Lewis old time-y rock n’ roll vibe than The Jim Jones Review did.  This record sounds like Hanoi Rocks merged with Motorhead with Tom Waits on vocals.  And sprinkle some Cramps style wickedness on top of all that.  To get a better idea of what I’m babbling about, check out the macabre videos the band made for a couple of the songs off of this record; “Boil Your Blood” and “Aldecide”.  There’s some seriously dark and unsettling images in there, done in all the right ways.   – J Castro    

Kuken – S/T LP (Drunken Sailor)
I guess Kuken doesn’t really believe in LP titles other than self-titled, but when your LP is full of rippers it doesn’t matter what you name your album. Kuken gets to the punk rock core, sped up ‘50’s rock n’ roll, like Kids did on their first LP. Kuken isn’t afraid to take basic punk philosophy of “We only need a few chords per song” and make it mean again. These ex-Kidnappers are on to something with their mix of Kids, early Saints, KBD and assorted ’77 influences. It sounds funny to say, but playing punk this simple is actually harder than it sounds, but Kuken seems to master the form.   – Ed Stuart

The Lillingtons – Project 313 EP (Red Scare)
This is the first recording by the Wyoming pop punkers in 11 years!  That’s a long time wouldn’t you say?  Have they lost their mojo, do they sound like a watered down copy of their younger selves?  The answer is no on both accounts!  One of my favorite songs by this band is “Don’t Trust The Humanoids” form their 1999 record called Death by Television.  I’d say that each and every song on this new EP is on par with that!  All four songs on here have the guitars turned up to maximum blast radius and the hooks and melodies are in top form.   The Lillingtons recording style reminds me a lot of those old Riverdales records on Lookout and that’s a very good thing.  Welcome back Lillingtons, you’ve been missed.   - J Castro 

Lost Balloons - Hey Summer LP (Dirtnap)
This band is essentially made up of two individuals; Jeff Burke (of Marked Men/Radioactivity fame) and Yuskue Okada (of Suspicious Beasts fame).  Both of these guys produce phenomenal music on their own but together, they’ve made something truly magical.  Hey Summer toggles back and forth between a breezy melodic indie rock style and more rapid tempo Radioactivity style burners.  It sounds jarring and ill fit but I assure you it somehow works, especially when there’s great songs that fall in both categories that serve as a buffer.  Jeff and Yuskue must have such kindred spirits to have created an album like this in the manner in which they did.   – J Castro    

Lost Balloons – Liquor Store 7” (Wild Honey)
The Burke/Okada team keeps on swinging for the fences on this amazing two song 7” brought to us by Italy’s Wild Honey Records.  These songs are actually from 2011 and come from the first ever recording session Jeff and Yuskue ever did together.  That’s what makes these two songs even more impressive.  The fact that this is the first time they ever recorded and the songs come out this cohesive.  The title track “Liquor Store” is the Radioactivity style rave up and the B-Side, a little number called “Dirty Sandy” is the more breezy and mellow of the two.  If you like the LP on Dirtnap Records, then this is absolutely essential.  – J Castro    

Macho Boys – S/T LP (Dirt Cult)
Macho Boys is the kind of punk band that if you like punk music, you can’t not like them.  This Portland quartet encapsulate every element that I got into punk rock for in the first place.  The vocals are shouted with fire breathing intensity.  The guitar volume is set to “take no prisoners” levels, and the rhythm section provides a solid back bone that drives it all at pedal to the floor aggression.   Macho Boys fits right snuggly in with bands like G.L.O.S.S. (RIP) and War on Women.  Macho Boys can be intense yet goofy at the same time, see their ode to Stone Cold Steve Austin aptly titled “Stone Cold”.  And that’s what makes me like them even more.  – J Castro

Mad Doctors – No Waves, Just Sharks LP (King Pizza)
Deep in the laboratorial scuzz lives the beating B-movie heart of Mad Doctors. While claiming to be from Planet Pizza, a nod to King Pizza and Brooklyn NYC, Mad Doctors churn out equal parts fuzz and reverb in heavy doses. Most of No Waves, Just Sharks songs with start with samples/skits, which a lot of times doesn’t work, but with Mad Doctors it seems to fit the band’s personality. Mad Doctors plays a fuzzed KBD/garage scuzz that doesn’t have enough weed to be stoner rock and enough lo-fi production to keep them in check. – Ed Stuart

MAMA/Private Interests – Split 7” (Pinata)
Two of the hottest bands right now are doing a split together. Is this going to be great? Yes! All four songs on this split are so good. MAMA is up first and they continue to turn Thin Lizzy, MC5, Cheap Trick and Raspberries into musical gold. “Girls Next Door” sounds like a hit from ‘70’s rock radio bygone era. How this band doesn’t get more attention, I don’t know. Next up are Private Interests who channels 20/20 and The Beat. “Finest Hour” is the winner from Private Interests. It’s got the kind of sturdy hook you could build a house on. – Ed Stuart

Marvelous Mark – Buzzin LP (Drunken Sailor)
Who knew that you just needed a fuzzbox, and a bunch of old Dinosaur Jr. and Weezer influences to make something sound this good? Oh yeah, well don’t forget Marvelous Mark, ex-Marvelous Darlings, and his superb songwriting. Buzzin is a collection of two EP’s, Husband Material and Bite Me that were originally released before Crushin’, his debut LP, plus 7 new songs. Mark really has a knack for writing late ‘90’s/early ‘00’s influenced alternative pop gems and it shows over this LP.  – Ed Stuart

Moron’s Morons – S/T 7” (No Front Teeth)
This is lo-fi garage punk that would make Rip Off Records proud. Hell, Moron’s Morons would be on the label. This band is writing punk rock blasts played at high speed, but recorded on an old cassette recorder, which doesn’t matter to the band. This originally was self-released by the band as their Trash Can Glory demo, but No Front Teeth has given this a proper release. ’77 Kids meets Teengenerate and Registrators. – Ed Stuart

Thee MVP’s – ELH 7” (Bachelor)
I remember reviewing this band’s cassette Slovenly Recordings released a few years ago.  I remember liking it but I also thought I remembered it had more of a 1960’s garage rock feel to it.  The two A-Side tunes on here sound like they could have been a crown jewel on the Merge Records roster in the 1990’s.  Nothing wrong with that at all, they’re both marvelously loud, raggedy pop tunes like Superchunk.  The B-Sides are killer, no nonsense renditions of Thee Mighty Caesar's “Lie Detector” and The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat”.   So yes, this record rules the school!   I’m going to be keeping my eye on London’s The MVP’s!  – J Castro     

Needles//Pins – Good Night Tomorrow LP (Dirt Cult)
Has it really three years since the last Needles//Pins LP? The first thing to notice on Good Night Tomorrow is the gruffness of the vocals and the heavier feel to a lot of the songs. “Miracle” sounds like Jawbreaker playing punk-pop with the seriousness of Stiff Little Fingers. There is more Jawbreaker/Replacements/Husker Du influence than previous LP’s especially on a track like “Boil.” Does this mean Needless//Pins threw away all past influences? No, they didn’t. What they have done is not to be afraid to get a little darker in their pop delivery. What is that saying about every light needs the dark to make you appreciate the light even more. Good Night Tomorrow is a lot like that.  – Ed Stuart

No Borders – The Walls They Build….The Walls We Break Cassette (Self Released)
No Borders are a political Hardcore bruiser punk trio From Ottawa, Ontario.  The songs have fast tempos and feel like arrows whizzing past your head at times.  Some of the songs have a break down but still hit like a wrecking ball straight to the gut.  The band sounds solid and the lyrics are well written.   The lyrics are about social struggle, immigration, and police corruption.  I used to think music and politics shouldn’t be mixed.  But in times like these, it’s reassuring that there are bands like No Borders out there fighting and hopefully making people open their eyes a bit.  Their music is actually a bit of fresh air.  – J Castro    

No Use For A Name – Rarities Vol 1: Covers LP (Fat Wreck)
This is the first No Use for a Name or NUFAN release in over a decade. In 2012, Tony Sly singer/guitarist/songwriter passed away at early age. Prior to this, No Use Of A Name had been a Fat staple since the mid-90’s and was very successful in their own right. Rarities show the band’s versions of covers that were intended to use on band LP’s, tributes and comps, but most never made it. NUFAN covers D.I., Misfits, Pogues, Depeche Mode, KISS and The Vapors to name a few. It’s safe to bet that most listeners have heard the majority of the original versions of these tracks, but for No Use For A Name fans, it’s a trip down memory lane.  – Ed Stuart

The Not Amused – Flat Broke LP (Wanda)
The Not Amused are a band based in Berlin, Germany and consist of 3 dapper fellas and one equally sharp dressed damsel drummer.  The group crank out some top notch Mod kissed Power Pop songs with a Punk edge.  Yeah they’re not the first to come up with this style but they’re one of the best bands doing it right now.  The Not Amused have been around since 2009 and have a number of releases under their belt on various labels.  I do believe that this is the best record of their career so far.  Let’s hope they’ve got plenty more tucked away somewhere in pockets of those Merc Suits!  
- J Castro 

Pale Kids – Holy Mess 7” (Drunken Sailor)
Is there an irony in a band from England that channels Northern Ireland bands like Undertones, Rudi and Protex so well? Well, maybe not. Holy Mess is a mix of all of those great bands with heavy indie ‘90’s influence like Superchunk. If you are a fan of Martha, you really need to pick up this Pale Kids because they both have the same magic of writing hooky punk-pop that nestles into your ear and makes a home there.   – Ed Stuart

Pale Lips – Should’ve Known Better 7” (Surfin Ki/Resurrection)
Fresh from their European tour and LP release, Montreal’s Pale Lips are already back again with a marvelous new EP!  The two songs on here aren’t second rate leftovers either, they’re both hard rockin’ gems!  Yeah they’ve got some Nikki & The Corvettes going on and some Runaways I suppose but their music is also splashed with Real Kids/John Felice style guitars and littered with 60’s Bubblegum sing along choruses.  The thing that really differentiates Pale Lips music for me are the tempos.   Their songs aren’t delivered in super-fast buzz saw speed.  This lets you really take in the no frills melodies that their songs are structured around.   – J Castro     

Patsy’s Rats – Is It Alright 7” (Wink and Spit)
Patsy’s Rats may be the hottest band in power-pop. The Portland wunder band features Patsy Gelb (Scavenger Cunt), Christian Blunda (Mean Jeans) and a revolving rhythm section. For this release it’s Steve and Jon from Mope Grooves. Their song “Rock N Roll Friend” was featured in Noisey and many other press machines. Is It Alright, oddly, seems to have slipped under the radar, which is odd considering the press the band has been receiving. The problem might be because Dirtnap is releasing another Rats 7-inch this summer and the press is covering that release instead. The band really nails ‘70’s early Tom Petty/Dwight Tilley. “Is It Alright” sounds like the ’70 American power-pop played by The Cars. “Givin’ Up” is a duet between the singers and is the more melancholy of the two.  – Ed Stuart   

Perverts Again – My Accident 7” (Total Punk)
Apparently this is Total Punk’s 50th release as a record label.  Cleveland’s Perverts Again are a really good way to mark that monumental anniversary of theirs.  It’s a pretty good representation of the kind of music these ferocious Floridians have been putting out over the years.  The two songs on this 7” are strange, ominous and yet somehow really catchy.  The A-Side is probably my favorite though.  The repetitiveness and the droning delivery style of the lyrics almost give these songs an early Devo feel, only way more demented.  And I mean that in the best possible way.    - J Castro  

Piss Test – LP II LP (Dirt Cult)
The punk Portlandian trio lets loose yet another excellent LP on the land.  I remember first hearing Piss Test on the No Rules No Fun Compilation LP a few years back.  I liked the song so much it made me want to seek out their records and that led me to interview them a little while back.  My point being is that this band hasn’t lost their anything since, not one bit.  They still hit like a claw hammer to the head.  Their songs are short, violent bursts that detonate in your face.  The thing I like the most about this band is the no nonsense approach to their music.  It’s not polished and there are no fret board fondling guitar solos.  This is punk rock in its purest form.   - J Castro

Plax – Clean Feeling LP (Super Secret)
These guys are being labeled somewhat of a “super group”.  They’re from Austin, TX and the band has members in it from groups like Spray Paint and OBN IIIs.  Pretty impressive aye?  You can certainly hear those bands in here along with some Oh Sees as well.  But Plax exudes more of a dark chaotic vibe than any of those guys.  The tunes here have a steady tempo and travel on a pre-determined trajectory with impressive velocity.  The way the music is recorded, it sounds bottom heavy.  Kind of like a volcano you can hear rumbling beneath your feet moments before it explodes fiery death through the air.  – J Castro      
Puke Spit & Guts – Eat Hot Lead LP (Slovenly Recordings)
This record is a reissue of this bands LP who were loose in Southern California in the early 1980’s.  This is some wild, ferocious and totally demented “punk rock”.  It kind of sounds like a mix of the Dictators the Dead Boys, and the Rezillos if they were all disgruntled circus performers.   Judging by the photos of this band, theatrics were plentiful in their live shows.  The lyrics are not for the faint of heart and I’m sure were done for shock value back in the day.  But it’s enough to send a safe space dwelling millennial into a full blown coma.  There are some real gems among the bizarre bloody wreckage in here.    - J Castro 

Radioactivity  Infected 7” (Wild Honey)
Both of these songs were written before Radioactivity was born. Both songs are darker than normal Radioactivity songs, which is something since the band revels in the darker tinged pop. “Sleep” is about dying while “Infected” is about a poisoned relationship. Jeff Burke is a writing machine and has really carved out a niche for himself with Radioactivity, Marked Men, Lost Balloons and numerous bands. He has a knack for taking punk-pop and adding a certain vocal poignancy that you either have or don’t. When coaches talk about the un-teachables, this is one of them. Both songs are wonderful and to think Burke sat on these gems is incredible. Most bands would kill for songs of this quality and would have released them immediately while Burke has such a treasure trove of songs he can afford to have them wait. – Ed Stuart

RåttansonFull-Scale Shakeability LP (Open Mind)
From the information that I can scrape together on this release, Råttanson is a one man band from Sweden.  On the band's Facebook page the music is described as “a blend of garage rock, pub rock, power pop, surf, punk, blues and country”.  I know that sounds like a lot and maybe a tad ridiculous but believe it or not that hits the mark pretty well.  Råttanson do play some pretty catchy tunes with Link Wray/Dick Dale reverb heavy guitar licks.  The songs have some venom in them too.  The execution is a tad loose and ramshackle, which is where the “garage” aspect comes into play.  Overall it’s a pretty solid record and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.    – J Castro    

Real Sickies – Cool Club 7” (Teenage Rampage)
This is the follow up to the band’s outstanding debut cassette they released in 2015.  The Real Sickies have been holding out on us for far too long.  This two song 7” is more of the same, thank the maker for that!  Edmonton’s Real Sickies make the kind of high quality rock n roll that makes you forget all of your troubles, and replaces it with a kick of adrenaline.  These guys take what’s great about old school melodic punk rock, shake it up and throw it back at you with electrifying results.  They take the same kind of souped up Chuck Berry riffs and plug it into a heart pounding drum beat just like these four guys with funny haircuts from New York used to  – J Castro

The Rich Hands – Take Care LP (Resurrection)
This album is an absolute rock n roll colossus.  Austin’s Rich Hands has got it, trapped it, drinks it, and radiates it.  Every time I think they can’t top their last effort they do and not just by a little.  I’m floored by how good these guys get every time they record.  This new one, their 3rd is a 1970’s rollicking Rolling Stones/Faces influenced behemoth for the new generation.  They don’t just go out and rip off a bunch of licks either.  These guys get where their heroes came from and take from the same well.  They’re three young guys with old souls and that’s a rare thing.  This is one of, if not THE best LP I’ve heard all year.   – J Castro    

Rob Clarke and the Wooltones – Walking On The Water 7” (Wooltone)
The Wooltones take it on the slow side this time around on this new EP.  The tracks on here exude an old world melody that is so delicate that it too can sit right on top of the water’s meniscus.  They have a really cool video accompanying the title track.  It depicts images of Viking/Norse life.  I’m not entirely sure what the song is about but it does go really well with the video.  The B-Side of the EP, “Walking on the Waves” is an instrumental version of the title track.  I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer the instrumental version.  It has some added instrumentation to replace the vocals and it just makes the piece sound so much more robust.  – J Castro

Rob Clarke and the Wooltones – Jump In My Igloo 7” (Wooltone)
I feel like I should write a spoiler alert to begin this review since I will ruin the surprise. Essentially with, Jump In My Igloo, the listener is getting the same song twice, but with a little twist. One song version contains vocals and the other version is instrumental and called “Shilling For Gas.” What Clarke does on this single is tap into ‘60’s British Beat/Mersey Beat to write a mid tempo groove rocker with a Harrison influenced Middle Eastern melody placed right on top.  – Ed Stuart

Rockatanskys – S/T 7” (Jarama)
Damn, Jarama knows how to pick these bands for singles. This is the debut release from the Spanish label and it’s a good start. Rockatanskys, from Canada, I know, channels Teenage Head, Ramones and Pointed Sticks as played by early KDB bands. “Smash TV” is the smash song of the single and the most pop of the three. Does this mean discount the other two tracks? No. “Wasted” and “Come Swim With Me” both have a slightly tougher ‘77 Teenage Head feel.  – Ed Stuart

The Rubs – Impossible Dream LP (Hozac)
The Rubs aka Joey Rubbish are back with the follow-up to The Rubs Are Trash. First thing of note is that Joey Rubbish writes and plays every note of The Rubs. Impossible Dream is more ‘70’s American power-pop, Big Star, mixed with Rockpile/Graham Parker/Dave Edmunds funneled through Modern Lovers simplicity. This time around The Rubs are less about lo-fi energy for it’s own sake and instead are going straight for the ‘70’s pop jugular with songs like “Judy,” “Ruby,” and “Amy.” – Ed Stuart

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs – S/T LP (Dine Alone/Burger)
After a number of singles and their debut LP, Gates Of Hell, in 2014, Sam Coffey and his Iron Lungs are back. This time the rock is bigger and better. First, the guitars are thick and heavy and driving this record. This self-titled LP is full of Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, guitar-pop, rock, new wave, ‘80’s pop-metal influence and punk. Just when you think that was enough, Coffey and the Lungs throw a three-song trilogy to just to fill your ‘70’s stadium rock heart. Coffey has steered the Iron Lungs in a rock-pop direction and on this LP it really pays off.  – Ed Stuart

Shotgun Sawyer – You Got To Run 7” (Self Released)
Cool Led Zeppelin style bluesy rock from this Auburn, CA Trio.  And I mean the “Rock n Roll” and “Communication Breakdown” style Zeppelin not the wimpy Houses of the Holy type stuff.  These guys play loud and dirty with guitar riffs o-plenty!  The singer sounds a little like Ian Astbury of the Cult, which is fantastic!  The B-Side is a swampy ditty titled “Backwoods Bear” and it has more of a Creedence Clearwater Revival feel that’s radiating a similar vibe to “Run Through The Jungle”.   Shotgun Sawyer has enough swagger to own these songs and they don’t come off as some cheesy cover band by any means.    – J Castro   

Skip Church – Out of Tune, In Touch With The Devil LP (Randy)
This is the debut LP from this Chicago slacker punk quartet and it’s pretty terrific.  There seems to be an influx of young people getting together, smoking out their parents garage while simultaneously trying to play four musical instruments somewhat cohesively.  The results are usually a total crap fest but for some reason there are labels that actually put out that schlock.  Skip Church IS NOT one of these bands.  Their songs are packed full of dynamite.  Think Heartbreakers, Real Kids with some Modern Lovers peppered in there.  This band aren’t the party starters, they’re the ones in the back making fun of your haircut.    – J Castro      

Slow Death – Punishers LP (Rad Girlfriend)
Slow Death takes a few tracks to get into its Helmet meets Off With Their Heads meets Briggs assault. The Slow Death, which has members of The Ergs and Pretty Boy Thornson himself, plays a hearty Midwestern punk that’s as heavy as chowder is thick. This really shouldn’t be surprising from a band with three guitars. Slow Death isn’t happy to drive a one speed car, instead the band takes pieces of the Midwestern’s finest, grunge and sped up Hold Steady to underscore their tales of angst and heartbreak. – Ed Stuart

Somerset Meadows – We Will Rock 7” (Brain Genius)
Somerset Meadows, named after the two guitarist last names and not some real or mythical location, hail from Portland. We Will Rock falls into Guided By Voices territory mixed with mid-90’s alternative played by a bar band. You could argue a case for later Replacements, but I’m not sure if you would win that argument.  – Ed Stuart

Sore Points – Don’t Want To 7” (Hosehead)
Damn, Canada, you have done it again. Ex-members of Nervous Talk and Spectres are back with a fury. Naturally, you would assume another power-pop band since Canada is flooded with them, but not here. Sore Points channels Blitz, DOA and Zero Boys in a ’77 KBD knife fight like their life depending on it. Last year, the band self-released their demo, which is where these tracks first appeared. Don’t Want To is a ’77 ripper that is unrelenting and unwavering in its commitment and sound to first wave punk.   – Ed Stuart

The Strollers – Tough Hits LP (Low Impact)
The Strollers is a little like a sleeper hit. The Stroller plays a fun upbeat ‘60’s garage with active bass lines and is heavy on the organ. Tough Hits is a compilation, which contains the band’s first two singles from ’98 on the A-side along four brand new songs on the flip side. The Richmond Sluts used this songwriting and production to much acclaim on their debut LP and The Strollers do the same except for replacing NY Dolls with 1910 Fruitgum Company.  – Ed Stuart

Sugar and Tiger – God Save Linda Ramone 7” (Jarama)
This French punk band consisting of two young guys, two old guys and a female vocalist play some pretty impressive pop punk, all sung in French of course.  The title track sounds like it could have been on Screeching Weasel’s My Brain Hurts.  You kind of know what the song is about from the title (we don’t need no stinkin’ Google translate!) The B-Side is a song called “La Perruque Rose” (OK maybe now I do), which translates into “The Pink Wig” (Thanks Google Translate!)  Not sure what that one is about but it’s fun to imagine.  Apparently Linda Ramone (Johnny’s Widow) herself caught wind of the song and digs it!  How cool is that?   – J Castro      

Sushicorner – Konichiwow LP (Alien Snatch) 
This is the debut album from this duo from the Italian island of Sardinia.  They play some high strung, mid-tempo songs packed full of organ and sass.  The record is self-recorded by the two guys and has a healthy dose of reverb coating all of the songs.  Some of the tunes are pretty catchy and remind me of a scrappier, slowed down Radioactivity mixed with Pavement’s wisenheimer attitude.  In fact, the whole album has a heavy 90’s era “college band” feel to it.  It also reminds me a lot of this 2009 record called Hippies from this Austin, TX band called Harlem.  – J Castro        

Talk Show Host – Not Here To Make Friends EP (Self-release)
For this EP, Talk Show Host stepped up to the big leagues. The sound is bigger and fuller and to help make that happen the band enlisted PUP’s engineer. Not Here To Make Friends seems to do the opposite of its EP’s title. Talk Show Host drop some of their indie tendencies and go for the pop-punk touchdown. Yes, there are bits of Guided By Voices hanging over from their previous EP, Perfectly Competent, but this has more Face To Face songwriting influence especially on “Dead Meat” and the title track. For a band that’s not here to make friends, you would expect far more Metal Machine and less Big Choice. – Ed Stuart

Teenage Bottlerocket – Stealing The Covers LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
To me, no other band around now personifies the term “Pop Punk” better than Teenage Bottlerocket.  This is indeed a covers album (as you might have guessed by the title), however you probably won’t recognize a lot of these songs since the band decided to cover some pretty obscure songs.  For example Juke’s “College Town” and Head’s “No Hugging No Learning”.  If you’ve lived under a sea shell for the past decade and you haven’t heard of these guys before, is this the best album to start with?  Probably not but if you start somewhere else you’ll end up here eventually.  Because like potato chips, you can’t just have one Teenage Bottlerocket record!  – J Castro      

Today’s Hits – S/T LP (Randy)
The backstory of Today’s Hits is that that band leader, James Swanberg had the idea of writing a song a day and uploading those songs to his Tumblr page. What started out as a fluke idea became a passion for James and he ended up writing over 1,000 in a three year span. After moving to Chicago, Swanberg decided to make a band with all those songs and Today’s Hits were born. This S/T LP is filled with songs from this mighty catalog. Today’s Hits plays a ‘60’s medolic, lo-fi, stoner pop that would fit at home on lazy afternoon with time to spare.  – Ed Stuart

TV Crime – Clocking In 7” (Drunken Sailor)
TV Crime are one of the coolest active bands out there right now.  I though this when I first heard their marvelous debut 7” Hooligans that they released last year and now hearing this my feelings have solidified.  These guys have a captivating way of blending The Ramones, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and The Real Kids into a solid and unique sound.  And they’re from Nottingham to boot!  I’m a Robin Hood nut, and YES I know he wasn’t real but this just adds to TV Crime’s coolness!  I don’t go to many shows anymore, but if TV Crime came to my town, I’d gladly come out of hiding. – J Castro  

Van Dammes – Vild Days EP (Vild Recordings)
“Punk Rock Drummer” and “Thunderbirds Are Go” sound like something out of the Spits/Ramones catalog, but with far more synth and fuzzy distorted bass. Finland’s Van Dammes are back with their third EP, Vild Days and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. “Punk Rock Drummer” is the kind of tunes the Epoxies used to write. “Thunderbirds Are Go” has a catchy chorus over a hard driving bass line. Van Damnes are keeping the songs short and sweet on this EP. – Ed Stuart

Violence Creeps – Ease The Seed Bag 7” (Drunken Sailor)
Violence Creeps are a quartet from Oakland, CA.  Which is funny because when I first started listening to them, I immediately thought of bands like Black Fork, Blatz and Jack Acid before I actually knew where they were from.  They remind me of bands from there that were pissed off and played a little sloppy.  But the more I thought about it, Violence Creeps take what those bands did but scrape the bottom sludge even more.  Take your old Blatz/Filth split record and get a razor blade.  Now cut the shit out of it, I mean really gouge some chunks out!  Now put that on your turn table and that’s a more of an accurate representation of what Violence Creeps do.  – J Castro    

Voice of Addiction – Lost Art of Empathy LP (Self Released)
This is the new record by this long running Chicago punk outfit.  These guys have been putting out their own records and merch out since 2004.  For doing it DIY style since then is quite impressive.  Voice of Addiction’s music it street tough yet melodic not unlike newer Bad Religion tunes but with more of a low and growling style vocal delivery.  The band lists some pretty diverse bands/musicians as influences, such as Woody Guthrie and the Pietasters.  They also list bands like Dead and Gone, Born Against, Fugazi, Rollins Band and The Business as musical inspiration as well, which are much more apparent on this record .    – J Castro    

Wyldlife – Out On Your Block LP (Wicked Cool)
This is easily one of the best LP’s I’ve heard all year. Granted this LP has been out for a while, but that’s doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. Typically, third LP’s take the band into another direction which a lot of times alienates/pisses off early fans, but Wyldife did the opposite and stayed themselves instead. Wyldlife has always had a great knack for having Beat style power-pop hooks over gritty NY Dolls/Dictators/Hanoi Rocks 1970’s style punk with a lifestyle that steers toward debauchery and excess. Their first two LP’s have cemented this reputation. On Out On your Block, it’s almost has if every song is a hit. “Deadbeat” and “Bandida” should be on every radio station in American other than Underground Garage. Wyldife have let the pop melodies really drive this LP without losing their rock n’ roll heart like early Cheap Trick did. Wyldlife have written some of the strongest songs in the bands history and of 2017 without losing what they do and staying true to themselves.   – Ed Stuart

Young, Planetary – I Am the Night and You’re The Sunrise EP (Hidden Home)
I think this falls somewhere in the alternative, grunge, emo, punk category. I realize that’s a lot of categories, but Young, Planetary seems to taking influences from all four. The band features heavy guitars with chunky riffs that can be melodic and aggressive along with vocals that have both screamo and singing. I Am The Night is newer school punk like Thrice and others in that category.  – Ed Stuart