Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Corner Boys Interview

Corner Boys

Canada’s Corner Boys are in love with ‘70’s punk and power-pop. The band pulls, most notably, from Irish bands like Protex and Rudi, but adding in Simpletones energy and a love of obscure one-release wonders. Corner Boys, like the boys dealing in The Wire, will be hanging around your brain long after listening to their brand of infectious power-pop.

by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
This is Patrick Bertrand.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
There’s three of us. I play drums, Joel Butler plays bass, and Wade Connor plays guitar. We all sing, but I sing lead most of the time.

Give us the band’s origin story, some other bands the members have played in and currently do play in?
Corner Boys started in spring 2016 when Wade asked me to play drums with him. I hadn’t played drums in more than 5 years at that point so it was kind of like learning from scratch again. We wrote together with a few bass players and singers but nothing ever felt right, so Wade and I practiced as a two-piece for most of the first few months. Joel Butler “retired” from music after his previous band Nervous Talk ( ) broke up, but it only took me six months of bugging him to play bass with us until he finally agreed in November 2016. We played our first show in January 2017.

In addition to Corner Boys, I play in a band called Chain Whip
( ), as does Joel. Wade also plays in a band called Puritans ( ).

Describe the band’s sound in 20 words or less.
Happy sounding sad songs played by brat little brothers.

Where did the band name Corner Boys? Is the band name from the book, Corner Boys?
A corner boy is a troublemaker. It’s old slang for someone loitering, usually up to no
good. It’s in the song Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
( ).

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
We all love late 1970’s punk and power pop bands that released one 7” then faded into obscurity. At our first show, we covered The Speedies - Let Me Take Your Photo, and The Simpletones - TV Love. Add Protex and Rudi to that mix and those were the reference points we had from the start.

In a previous interview, the band stated “First wave Canada will always have a
place in my heart, but no one played power pop in the ‘70’s better than the Irish.” What makes Irish power-pop/punk so special?
Whenever I read about the troubles in Ireland I’m blown away by the fact that a bunch of kids could write love songs as well as they did. I think there’s a kinship between countries like Ireland and Canada. We’re both stuck beside influential countries that have all the spotlight. We’re defined more by not being something than what we are. It’s a terminal uncool that I think levels the playing field for people to write music. Check out releases on Good Vibrations Records and Rip Off Records both from Northern Ireland.

Corner Boys seemed to get noticed due to the original demo that was posted on Bandcamp. So, did Drunken Sailor approach the band about putting out the debut 7” or was the band sending the demo to labels?
We put the demo up on Bandcamp and posted about it a bit on social media. It had pretty good legs and a few labels reached out to us, but they wanted us to pay to press it as a 7” on their label. Julian at Drunken Sailor reached out a bit later and asked if we were going to record more, because he wanted to hear it if we did. We did another session with Jeffrey McCloy (Tranzmitors, Fashionism) and sent the tracks to Julian, and that became the Just Don’t Care 7”. The demo did eventually come out as a tape through Flo at Trapdoor Tourz in Germany.

How you the band hook up with Dirt Cult?
I’ve known Chris and Lizzie at Dirt Cult for a few years through doing my own label
Hosehead Records. Chris got a hold of me a few days after Drunken Sailor did and asked to do a 7” as well. Rather than do a split release we decided to do two 7”s. The next batch of songs became the Love Tourist 7”.

With a zillion digital avenues presented to musicians nowadays (Bandcamp, blogs, Spotify, YouTube, etc.) what do you feel are the best parts and worst parts of these digital avenues?
You can listen to anything at absolutely any time. It’s an ultimate convenience that makes it impossible to make any waves. 99% of the time when I listen to music it’s on vinyl at home. Unless it’s a super rare KBD single and I can’t afford it, then I just listen to it at Josh from Chain Whip’s house.

What are some the band’s favorite shows they have played?
We recently played a show with Mike Krol and Swearin’ and that was a really good time. We all like playing in Victoria, BC, which we’ve done twice now. Our US shows have been a lot of fun as well, Portland and Seattle. I’d like to play more down there.

What are some of the Vancouver bands that people should be checking out?
We often play with Sore Points ( ) and Fashionism, both of which are a pleasure to see. Necking and LiƩ are also great.

When not playing music, what does the band like to do?
We’re usually watching old horror and sci-fi and challenging each other to eat really spicy things. We all ride bicycles a lot too.

Where can people hear the band?
All our stuff is on Bandcamp first and foremost, but also iTunes, Spotify, and possibly Youtube. If you like it, please support Dirt Cult Records in Portland, or Drunken Sailor Records in the UK by buying it on vinyl.

What’s next?

Debut LP out 2019 on Drunken Sailor Records. Ideally a European tour to follow.


September Reviews

Back To Basics – Shaded Eyes 7” (Secret Mission)
If you have been paying attention to Secret Mission over the years, you would know they are all about Japanese punk. Recently, they’ve re-issued both Firestarter LP’s and now have given Back to Basics their first exposure to the U.S.. Back To Basics, featuring members of Louder and First Alert, has been around for over a decade, but only releasing Japanese releases. Shaded Eyes leans more to First Alert than to Louder. Back To Basics is punk with rough pop edges. “Shaded Eyes” is the punker of the two songs on this release while “Not Different” showcases more of the bands poppier side.  – Ed Stuart

Chain Whip – Chain Whip 7” (Dirt Cult/Neon Taste)
Chain Whip is members of Corner Boys, Fashionism and Nervous Talk playing like early D.O.A.. What? No, that wasn’t a misprint. Originally, Canada’s Chain Whip released Christmas Demo last year, which contains three of the songs on this self-titled 7”. The opener “Self Destruct” is no frills hardcore, but the band shines more on songs like “Overstimulated World” and “6 Day Weekend” where they find their Circle Jerks/D.O.A. roots and play harder punk that relies more on ’77 than hardcore. – Ed Stuart

Character Actor – S/T 7” (Dirt Cult)
Character Actor is Jeff from The Ergs! and Brian from Night Birds playing upbeat Lookout style pop-punk. The genesis for this Character Actor is both Jeff and Brian had become fathers in a recently short span of time and both of their bands were on a temporary hiatus. In the meantime, Character Actor was born and this 7” is the result. Four songs in as many minutes that could have fit at home on Lookout’s roster before the label imploded. – Ed Stuart

Dark Thoughts – At Work LP (Drunken Sailor)
Ramones mania meets Spits with a touch of Marked Men and Queers. At Work, is the follow up to 2016’s well received S/T LP. Honestly, Dark Thoughts hasn’t changed that much, but either did the Ramones and they have legions of fans. These Philly punks know where their bread is buttered and don’t stray far from it. Dark Thoughts play short songs with minimal chords and catchy hooks, which is always a good recipe. – Ed Stuart

Dfactor – Nostalgia For Now LP (Self-Release)
The one man Anthemic Pop Wonder or better known nowadays as Dfactor is back with Nostalgia for Now. Most recently, Dfactor Dave has led the Action Jets from Phoenix and he might be the one of the only of the power-poppers in the state. Nostalgia For Now is where Dave plays all the instruments and pulls from all his influences. These influences range from The Kinks, Guided By Voices, ‘60’s garage and ‘70’s American rock n’ roll to create a more personal vision.  – Ed Stuart

Mad Caddies – Punk Rocksteady LP (Fat Wreck)
This is definitely one of the more accurate LP titles you’ll ever read. Mad Caddies take Fat Mike’s handpicked 12 covers and remake them as if they had originally written them. Punk Rocksteady features covers/re-workings of Bad Religion, NOFX, Against Me!, Descendents, Misfits, Operation Ivy and Propaghandi songs. Mad Caddies play the songs with more of a ‘90’s ska sound than their original predecessors, which makes sense they have been around 20 years now. Mad Caddies have shown with careful rearranging any song has another version hidden inside. – Ed Stuart

Outer Spacist – Illness Is A Creepin’ On A Come-Up LP (Heel Turn)
Outer Spacist is writing the lo-fi soundtrack to the alien abduction. These Columbus, Ohio band plays psychedelic space proto-punk. Illness is A Creepin’ On A Come-Up pulls from ‘70’s proto-punk like Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, Electric Eels and ‘60’s psych like 13th Floor Elevators. – Ed Stuart

The Ringleaders – Bi-Coastal Blasphemy LP (Hound Gawd)
Larry from Candy Snatchers and Born Loose has a new ‘90’s influenced punk rock n’ roll mayhem outfit. If you are familiar with Larry’s previous bands, Ringleaders will not be a surprise at all. Larry enlists members of Death By Stereo, Hollywood Hate and Hellbenders. The Ringleaders remind me more of early Humpers, New Bomb Turks and Electric Frankenstein on Bi-coastal Blasphemy. – Ed Stuart

Aaron Troyer – Lone Offender LP (Self Release)
Ex-Day Creeper and current Outer Spacist member, Aaron Troyer has released his solo LP, Lone Offender. Troyer, in his solo career, focuses on ‘70’s rock n’ roll in the melodic Stooges/Velvet Underground/Television style. Troyer, on Lone Offender, you’ll notice he doesn’t strive for volume, but melody on tracks like “Store” to get his point across. Sometimes being in a band can be a collaborative experience and sometimes it can be pigeonholing to live and die by a recognized sound. Now Troyer can spread his solo wings to show what he can do when he is on his own.  – Ed Stuart

Various Artists – Wassup Rocker Radio Presents: Sick Sounds Digital (Self-Release)
Wassup Rocker Radio a radio station run by Alex Kish out of Ohio that plays bands like Crazy Squeeze, Criminal Kids, Faz Waltz, Devious Ones, Gino and The Goons and much, much more. Alex and Wassup picked thirty-two songs for this compilation and made it a free download for your ears. For fans of ’77, power-pop, punk, and garage from all over the globe are covered are available for free. So, if the bands I mentioned are ones you listen, go ahead download it. – Ed Stuart


Monday, August 13, 2018

August Reviews - Three more

Firestarter – First Album LP (Secret Mission)
Wow, it’s been twenty years since the original release date of First Album, I can’t believe it. There are a heap of modern bands that sound like this. Hmm, I wonder? Firestarter is three out of four members from Teengenerate, but sound nothing like them. Yes, Firestarter is the Fifi/Fink combo, but Fifi is the lead songwriter in this band. Firestarter leans more toward Raydios and Tweezers and writes ’77 punk/power-pop that rank right up there with The Boys, The Jam, and other greats of the era. If you only thought this family produced Teengenerate, you have been missing out for years and missed this underrated gem.  – Ed Stuart

Gloom Sleeper – Luminous Galaxies LP (Dirt Cult)
Oh those Germans dipping into their Cold War past have definitely unearthed the sounds of the era. Gloom Sleeper plays a post-punk/dark wave set in the ‘80’s, but doesn’t seem to stick on the melancholy side of it. Yes, there are notable Echo and The Bunnymen, Cure and even Smiths-y guitar and moody keys, but surprisingly, some the songs are upbeat and danceable. Too often these bands go straight for the Bauhaus gloom and doom, but Digital Galaxies isn’t afraid to get upbeat and add a little more punk to it’s post-punk songs. – Ed Stuart

Proud Parents – S/T LP (Dirtnap)
Dirtnap has officially released their first release from their new hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Proud Parents, who I already mentioned are from Madison, filled their debut LP with plenty of jangle-garage-lo-fi-pop-punk lite songs. Originally started as a side project from Tyler (Fireheads) and Claire, the guitar/vocalists of Proud Parents, formed into a full four-piece band. Proud Parents, you could argue, could fit into Martha territory, but it’s earlier ‘80’s REM meets quirky pop.  – Ed Stuart


Friday, August 10, 2018

Record Reviews: Fresh Crop

I was always the guy that made mix tapes for everyone. I thought the music I listened to was criminally underrated and deserved to be shared and enjoyed by as many as would listen. So doing this blog and reviewing records for you all to read is sort of my way of still doing that. Hopefully you'll find something cool to listen to here. There are a lot of real gems, something for everyone it seems.  With summer coming to an end soon, you're going to need some savory tunes to get you through that long stretch to Halloween! - J Castro

Black Panties – Dirt From The Mop 7” (Total Punk)
Black Panties play 100% bonafide fuzzed up, blown out, torn down punk rock that’s reminiscent of first album era Reatards.  I don’t know where this band is from but wherever it is, wherever they gather to record or to consume sustenance I fear for their neighbors or whatever poor patron happens to be next to them when they finally blow.  Rest assured that it will happen too. It may not be tomorrow or next week but it will happen and when it does they will try to take as many innocents as they possibly can with them.  Back to whatever pit of hellfire damnation they clawed their way out of. - JC

The Bombpops – Dear Beer EP (Fat Wreck Chords)
Four new songs from this Oceanside, CA quartet. I don’t listen to too many of the new Fat Wreck Chords bands much, at least not on a regular basis (except toyGuitar, Night Birds and Masked Intruder of course!) and The Bombpops are also one of them. There’s something about those hard driving melodic power chords, thundering drums under Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam’s vocals that really works for me. Their songs as a whole are kind of your typical “Fat Sound” though. In some ways The Bombpops remind me a lot of bands like Tilt and Discount, good stuff!. - JC

Color Me Wednesday – Counting Pennies in the Afterlife LP (KROD)
The first thing I noticed about this band is that they describe themselves as being political, feminist, and vegan. However you would never really know just by casually listening to their music. Color Me Wednesday deliver their message on a sweeping, melodic bed of indie pop that goes down easy.  Their music is not abrasive or in your face.  In a time when it seems everyone is shouting their political stance from their social media proverbial roof tops, it’s nice to hear a band that quietly puts out their message instead of smashing you over the head with it.  You can choose to hear it in the lyrics or you can just let these dreamy pop songs help you escape for a while.  – JC

Counter Intuits – Vietnamese Lighter 7” (Total Punk)
If you want to get somewhat of a feel of this record, try to imagine what it would sound like if Jonathan Richmond, Lou Reed and Mike Hudson got together in the basement of an old burned out house.  Now also try to think of what it would sound like if these guys started playing instruments that were partially burned in that same fire and recorded that session.  Now you’ve got a faint scent of what the Avant fractured pop Counter Intuits bring on this here new 7”.  It’s disdainful, it’s contemptuous, its Total Punk! - JC

Dark/Light – Dark Slash Light 7” (Dirt Cult)
Dark/Light play a shadowy yet urgent brand of punk/post punk reminiscent of fellow Portlandians The Stops and Red Dons but also have the scrappiness of bands like Piss Test. Listening to Dark/Light’s is similar to watching masked ninja marauders moving and weaving in the darkness, closing in on their prey. The music is energetic and captivating but also has an air of uneasiness to it as well.   The standout track for me is the last tune called “Rotting” which is a relentless, full frontal audio assault of screaming guitar pummeling.  If you’ve never heard this band, this 7” is the perfect place to start. - JC

Future Girls – Motivation Problems LP (Dirt Cult)
This band had me by the throat form the very first song! The band compares themselves to Superchunk and calls themselves “bummer punk” but that may not me entirely fair. Future Girls have a brilliant energy and they do have Superchunk style guitar riffs but they also have a tremendous presence to them.  Try to imagine a band from the Lookout Records heyday (like Monsula, Fifteen, MTX) of the 90’s with a post punk/Joy Division production and you’ve got just a taste of this LP.  I find what Future Girls do to be quite magnificent, this is definitely going in the contenders pile for record of the year!  - JC

Hollywood Sinners – Khome Kakka LP (Dirty Water)
Hollywood Sinners have now unleashed their 4th LP out among the masses.  These guys play scrappy, energetic, 1960’s style garage punk like The Sonics, Question Mark & The Mysterians, or like early 90’s Makers. The band is from Spain so yes the songs on here are all sung in Spanish.  The title itself is a play on words meaning “Eat Shit”.  It doesn’t really matter if you can’t understand the lyrics, I speak Spanish fluently and I still can barely understand them.  Khome Kakka explodes with bravado, swagger and a charismatic vitality that is essential when playing this type of music.  I bet these guys rock HARD live too! After all, that’s what music like this was invented for.  – JC

Krang – Singalong LP (Bird Attack/Melodic Punk Style)
This band is from the Czech Republic and plays a pretty straight forward skate style punk rock riddled with pop culture references. Krang sound like they’d be right at home on Fat Wreck Chords or Side One Dummy touring with bands like Lag Wagon and Good Riddance.  The drums beat at an almost superhuman speed and the songs are tough yet melodic.  The snotty factor is set to a minimal on the vocals, buy there’s plenty of guitars and harmonized backing vocals to go around. If you’re getting tired of the old records you used to put on while playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater then check out Krang.  – JC

Brad Marino - Four Track Attack 7” (Beluga)
The Connection’s front man strikes out on his own on this new 7” of all original tunes. Brad’s songs here have a similar good time rock n’ roll/Buddy Holly-esq vibe to them as his band The Connection does. All of these songs are fun, guitar driven tunes that sound like they could have been on The Rolling Stone’s Tattoo You record.  Brad Marino’s songs have no politics, no social commentary they’re just pure, untainted, top shelf rock n roll. That may sound simple to do but it isn’t, not as good as this guy does it anyway. If it is in fact that easy, I wish more people would make records like this. - JC

Bruce Moody – Get Fresh 7” (Meanbean)
Bruce Moody plays a similar style of power pop as The Nerves used to. The kind that’s derived from the same blueprint as a lot of the bands from the 1960’s like The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits. Bruce Moody’s music is refreshingly quaint and irresistible. If you’re a fan of power pop at all and you aren’t acquainted with Mr. Moody’s music, I recommend you remedy this immediately. From the two Bruce Moody 7”’s that Meanbean has put out previously I have yet to hear a shabby tune from him and this record is no exception. Living in such turbulent times it’s so nice to turn on records like this and just let the catchy melodies ease all your tensions. - JC

Pandemix – Rank & File 7” (Dirt Cult)
Fantastic 7” from this political hardcore punk band causing a commotion out in the Boston area. Apparently this band has only been around for a couple of years but already have a full length and released their much sought after demo they put out in 2016. Pandemix kind of fall into the East Coast crust punk realm of The Pist or Aus Rotten but their songs have catchier riffs and they have the urgency and charisma of fellow Bostonians Showcase Showdown (one of the most highly underrates bands ever in my humble opinion).  Both songs on this 7” are certified gut punchers, highly recommended! - JC

 Please Stop – Built To Die 7” (No Front Teeth)

Just so you all know, this 7” actually contains 11 songs, an LP on an EP! This band’s core consists of another phenomenal No Front Teeth band I liked a lot called The Ills who were active a few years ago.  They tweaked their roster a tad, tuned up everything that was awesome about The Ills and voila – we’ve got Please Stop!  This band would have fit perfectly on Kill Rock Star Records back in the 90’s Olympia Riot Grrrl scene among bands like Excuse 17, The Frumpies and Heavens to Betsy. Comparisons aside, Please Stop do have their own unique brand of raw, ferocious, minimalist punk with a force that these days is hard to parallel. Awesome record, another one that’s going in this year’s best contenders list. - JC

Predator – No Face 7” (Total Punk)
Predator are a band from Atlanta GA who play a mean, tough, blunt force trauma to the face style of punk rock which reminds me a little of NJ’s Wretched Ones in that way. You can’t put easy prefixes like “pop” or “post” in front of Predator's description and try to put them in a can.  They’re just simply a punk band and that’s enough when done right. The two songs on this here 7” fortify my above testimony to this band.  The B-side has a slight new wave feel to it but rest assured it will still send your teeth down your throat quite easily. - JC

Prey Drive – Tabula Rasa EP (KROD)
This Norwich based quartet plays crisp, clean, tunes that are as dynamic as they are moody. Their sound is not unlike 30 Seconds to Mars or Taking Back Sunday. I know there’s probably been more current bands that have taken on this style of music and ran with it but those bands mentioned above are the few I still like. I guess back in the day this would have been referred to as an “emo” record but that seems to be a dirty word these days. This four track EP also happens to be the band’s debut. Prey Drive certainly have the inspiration and musicianship to pull off this kind of music and seem to do it with ease.  – JC

Strung Out – Black Out The Sky LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
You may not believe me, but I have never heard Strung Out before until reviewing this record. Sure I’ve heard OF them before, they’ve been around for a long time. I expected the classic NOFX/classic 90's Fat Wreck Chords type of sound but this is full on alt-metal stuff like Staind or Puddle of Mud. The whole record is pretty slow, the only time it picks up just a tad is on the 6th song called “Duke of Sorrow” and even then it evolves into a mid-tempo tune.  It’s very well produced and the band sounds tight but it don't got that zip nor does it shake my hips.  - JC

Regular Guys – It’s A Secret 7” (Meanbean)
I for one am so very happy there are labels around like Meanbean Records that fish around and find  remarkable old records and reissue them. I love listening to new music and discovering bands but I (and I know many will scoff at this) am not a vinyl collector. I will listen to music on whatever format I can get my hands on.  There is one of the original 1980 copies of this record for sale on Discogs right now for $75. Will I ever pay that? Not on your life!  But thanks to Meanbean I get to enjoy this 4 song EP with new inserts packed with band pics, show fliers etc for the modest price of  $7.99! Lawrence, Kansas' Regular Guys were around in the late 70's/early 80's and recorded this here power pop masterpiece that leans more on the pop than on the power. But due to poor promotion their record fell through the cracks. But it's briefly seeing the light of day once again, jump on it now though before it goes back into hiding, Meanbean is only pressing 300 copies!!  - JC

The Thingz – Supersonic Saucer LP (Coffee Addict)
Long Beach CA’s most beloved graveyard garage rock stompers are back with, if I’m counting correctly their seventh LP?!?  Now that’s an achievement all its own! The Thingz play a fun mix of B52’s meet The Cramps at the back of a Monks show type of tunes.  And when I say “back” I’m not talking about the back of the room, I’m talking in the back alley behind the venue where one can speak of macabre affairs more freely. This record’s 12 songs are quick, fun and slightly disturbing in a campy, B-Movie kind of way. Tacked on at the very end is a blazing rendition of The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” which fits in quite well in the band’s repertoire.  - JC

Tommy and the Commies – Here Come… LP (Slovenly Recordings)
Ontario’s Tommy and the Commies rule the school with a sound reminiscent of fellow Mods the Odd Numbers or early Jam, early Who/High Numbers. This band features members of Strange Attractor and The Statues.  One of the hang ups about bands like this is that the songs tend to be too long so they linger thus becoming stagnate. Not here though, the songs are loud, melodic, and move right along.  It’s hard to believe this is the band’s debut LP. They already sound so confident and tightened up. If we had a rating system, Tommy and the Commies would take the tall shiny trophy, earn the 5 out of 5 whatevers or get pinned with a gold something or other!   - JC

Violence Creeps – Nephew Melting 7” (Total Punk)
Another punk band moaning and talking smack about good people. The first song and title track is apparently about Mathew Melton of Warm Soda/Bare Wires fame. You know that long, kindly mustachioed fellow that sings sweet songs with titles like “Waiting For Your Call” and “Young 
Reckless Hearts”. How can you hate a guy like that, am I right?  The B-Side, a song called “Ford Go Bikes” is calling out all the monetarily successful non-cool Oakland hipsters that have ruined the landscape with their condos and fancy speak.  I’ve been told if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  I don’t know if that’s true but an alternative to that is writing hate songs like these about them and admittedly this is way more fun for everyone. Except for maybe the hipstes but everyone knows they are a cold unfeeling sort devoid of any real sentiment.  - JC