Monday, November 24, 2014


It was a summer in the early 1970’s in what would otherwise seem like a typical night in a Minneapolis suburb. Four teenagers were practicing with their band when they suddenly and suspiciously went missing. This up and coming band these boys were in, who were greatly influenced by groups like The Bay City Rollers and The Ohio Express were regarded by many as being “teen idols in the making” and “the next big thing.” In the year 2012, these boys mysteriously returned unharmed and un-aged. Wherever they were time did not exist. They have returned to this dimension now in its “information age” with a request for us all: disconnect, decompress, strap on your roller skates and fall in love!  
Interview by J Castro

Let us first start out by you guys introducing yourselves and telling us what exactly you do to keep the Cozy machine rolling on.
BONKERS:  My friends call me Bonkers, so I guess you can too! Much like my namesake in the Cozy "Denim Magic" cartoon series, I sing and dance for our lovely fans.

BAZ: Me name's Baz, isn't it? I play an Electra Cozy Deluxe model electric guitar, available at select Woolworth's locations.

GORDIE: People call me Gordie Leatherby and I play the electric baritone string machine.

SWIZ:  Hey everyone! My name is Archie but me mum calls me Swiz. I bludgeon the drums behind these denim dreamboats.

Can you tell me how you all met and decided to play music together, basically tell us the Cozy origin story?
BONKERS: Our manager doesn't like us to talk much about our past to the press, but since Audio Ammunition is aimed at a more mature audience than the readership of the periodicals we are usually interviewed by -- such as Tiger Beat and Flip -- I figure we can give you the real story. Baz, Gordie, and myself played together for a number of years with various groups that never really went anywhere. Eventually we congealed into a psychedelic rock band called Silas Cozy. We cut a record for Pye titled Sidepiper at the Gates of Dawn, but it didn't get within spitting distance of the charts. Suffice to say, it was subsequently deleted, with only a handful of copies making it into shops. At the time we were crestfallen, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our soon-to-be manager, Edwin Bickerton, stumbled upon a copy of the Silas Cozy LP one day, looked at the cover, and decided we had star potential. He tracked us all down at our day jobs -- I was starring in a musical rendition of Richard III at the Stoke on Trent Free Theater at the time -- and we all convened at a gentleman's club where Edwin laid out his blueprint for chart domination over many bottles of Piper-Heidsieck champagne. As it turns out, Edwin's vision couldn't have been more prescient. The combination of his inimitable managerial prowess, the songwriting acumen of the Stately/Poundsworth team, and our own increased dedication to our craft has been the recipe for the success we’ve enjoyed over the past few years. Swiz recently joined the group and we're sounding better than ever!

BAZ: Old Edwin found me at me belt job at the tire burning plant in Dongcaster. I had to make sure the tires didn't go out and stoke them with lead paint chips and asbestos to keep the smoke thick. He said, "Son, I've heard you play guitar, would you like to Razzle a Dazzle?"And I said, "Razzle a Dazzle? I'll Razzle a Duck!!"

SWIZ:  I met Baz one day in Liverpool as he was floated down the river Mersey in a boat that closely resembled a washtub. It may have actually been a washtub. Either way, it looked like he was unconscious so I swam to him and drug him to the shore to find out what’s the matter and give him CPR. Once I started to bang on his chest he opened his eyes and asked me to be the drummer in Cozy. He seemed fine, so I said yes.

You guys just got back from your second Japanese tour, any fun and exciting stories you’d like to share with us, what are the fans like there as compared to American audiences?
BONKERS: While we love all our amazing supporters across the globe, there is something truly special about the Japanese chapter of the Cozy fan club. Our guide was an old business associate of Edwin's named A-Bone. Bone-san showed us some amazing sights -- who can forget the cafe he took us to where young ladies dressed as French maids gave us deep body massages using severed octopus tentacles in lieu of their hands? However, the most memorable stop on our itinerary had to be the guided tour of Japan's oldest co-ed onsen, or hot spring bath. In honor of Cozy the locals had drained all of the water out of the pools and replaced it with mega-liters of Cola Shock! We lost sight of Baz after discovering the pool he was soaking in had been mysteriously drained dry, but luckily we found him again a couple hours later carrying on something of a Socratic discourse with an undergarment vending machine.

BAZ: We went on the airplane for what seemed like an hour! It took forever it did. Then we were in the famous city of Japan on the southernmost tip of England! I found myself lost for many hours and then I ate something that looked like bacon.

GORDIE: Japan, the land of love, sharing and caring. I needn't extol it any further, except to say that when the beams of the rising sun in the east dabble your pale Dongcaster cheeks and the sacred babbling brooks of the frog spirit tickle your toes, you will feel it too.

SWIZ: Another great memory was being joined onstage at Shelter Hall by very special guest guitarist Fink from Japanese chart-toppers the Raydios. Fink was a true pro, and I must admit he looked mighty dashing in a denim vest.

You guys have a heavy 1970’s glam/bubblegum/Bay City Rollers style and influence.  This was an approach to music that had a more innocent fun to it, are you guys kinda sorta trying to bring that back?
BONKERS: It's long been my opinion that good times spring eternal. As long as there are teenagers on this planet, there's going to be a steady demand for rock n' roll, sex appeal, and denim.

BAZ: You're right, I haven't had much time to listen to all the groups we've influenced with touring and all, but Edwin did bring me a Bay City Rollers record, which I had the chance to listen to and was well pleased! I'd like to thank those Bay City Roller boys for being such huge fans and encourage them to keep up the good work! Who knows? With a little practice they could be a supporting act on a Cozy tour someday!!

Your main influences obviously lie heavily in the past, are there any current bands that inspire you?
BONKERS: As you can imagine, our hectic touring schedule gives us ample opportunity to scout up and coming young bands. Two groups that particularly impressed me of late are Ramma Lamma, from the American provincial town of Milwaukee, and Gorilla, from Tokyo. Speaking of the Land of the Rising Sun, at one of the festivals we headlined over there two years ago, we played with a band called Teengenerate who appeared to go over almost as well as us with the natives. I must admit, they were quite excellent. I was also duly impressed by Firestarter, who opened one of our gigs this past summer.

BAZ: I had a singing duck which I really liked, but it ran out of batteries. Then Rita said the battery store was out of batteries so we couldn't have it anymore. Young Parisian also rule.

I know you guys don’t sing about war, famine, and oppression (which is a VERY good thing) so tell me, where does the inspiration for Cozy songs usually come from?
BAZ: Ducks in the sea, monkeys in the tree, vodka in me. Havin’ a good time!

BONKERS: In all honesty, our songwriting team of Mickey Stately and Alvin Poundsworth would be able to answer this question better than any of us can, since they are responsible for many of our most well known songs. I might get in a row with Edwin for airing our dirty laundry in front of the press, but to tell the truth this is a situation we’ve been frustrated with over the years. We’re all adept composers in our own right -- but as Edwin always tells us “you don’t look a golden goose in the egg hole.” However, we were allowed to write two songs on our album “Button By Button” -- “Denim Dream” and “Sidepiping” -- and the response to them by the fans has been quite encouraging. As far as the inspiration behind those two songs goes, they were both inspired by true events in our lives. “Denim Dream” is about how we are living our dream as chart topping superstars thanks to our fans’ support, and “Sidepiping” recounts memories of our high school days. We have another song we wrote together called “Denim Child” in the can for an upcoming 45, but we are currently debating with Edwin about whether or not we will use it or a Stately/Poundsworth composition on the a-side. We wholeheartedly believe “Child” has all the makings of a smash hit and are strongly advocating it be the single.

So with that being said, I’ve heard people say that “art should always push social boundaries, question authority, and make people think.” What is your take on that?
BONKERS:  I disagree with that statement, or any other absolutist maxim that purports to define what rules art “should” follow. The only strictures binding a true artist are a rigorous dedication to perfecting his craft and the willingness to follow his muse wherever it may lead. That being said, I must admit I’m a little confused as to why you are asking a pop group about painting and sculpture.

GORDIE: It depends on what you mean by “pushing boundaries and questioning authority.” If you mean breaking the law and nicking a pair of 517’s from Jean Junction, then we’re against it. On the other hand, if you’re talking about staying out past curfew to come see Cozy when we perform at your local auditorium, then we wholeheartedly approve.

Your music is very up-beat and puts a smile on my face no matter what kind of mood I’m in. Is it sometimes hard to play a show if you’re in a bad or sad mood, has there ever been a time when you don’t feel like going out and being cheery?
BONKERS: First of all, thank you very much for saying that. It means a lot to know our music has the power to put smiles on our fans’ faces when they are feeling down. We have the best fans in the world and we’re so blessed to be able to perform for them. To be honest, we feed off the energy of the crowd. It would be impossible not to be excited when we’re shown such love from so many beautiful and special people night in and night out!


What is the one record in your collections that you think a lot of Cozy fans might be surprised you own?
GORDIE: Grame Grace’s "Hail Me."

BONKERS: I have a personal assistant who travels with us on tour and often picks up the latest records for me at local shops. Sometimes he chooses some really far out albums that can be a bit too heavy for me, but occasionally I really dig them. One obscure record he picked up for me recently is “Loaded” from a group called The Velvet Underground. It came out a few years back and didn't really make the charts or anything, but there are some really catchy songs on it.

BAZ: After my mid morning nap, and often after my early afternoon snooze, I'll have Rita put on the record that goes: “Win wam zoozle zam bamma lamma loo, bim bam wamma lam what about you? Wozzle dozzle loop de loo looping up and down, womble cromble every time beep nap noun.” You may not have heard it because I may have recorded it myself. One can never be sure...

SWIZ: A few years ago I picked up a record by a band called MC5. I really love their hard hitting drum lines! I just wish the singer had a little more of an English melodic sense and made use of harmonies the way bands back home do.

What will the rest of 2014 bring for us, the Cozy fans?
BONKERS: Well, we’ve finally wrapped up the first leg of our world tour in support of our new album “Button By Button,” which came out this past summer on HoZac Records and has already gone gold. So far the response to the album has been universally positive, which has us feeling duly humbled, but not entirely unlike a bunch of proud papas. From our early days as Silas Cozy to the release of “Button By Button,” it was a long, hard, road to get to the top of the international pop mountain. Now that we’re here, we’re going to keep working hard to entertain our fans and hopefully secure our place as one of the greatest bands in rock history. As I mentioned earlier, we have another single in the can, which should see the light of day sometime early next year. Other than that, our plan for the rest of the year is to take a break from our relentless touring schedule in order to work on material for our follow up album, tentatively set to be a two-album set entitled “Double Denim.” Hopefully we can convince Edwin to let us write more of the songs on this one.

BAZ: Please check out our new line of Cozy brake pads as well as Baz Bozworthy's Baz Brand Butt Butter for all your butt moisturizing needs!!!

BONKERS: Before we go, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fans for letting us into their lives. Each time you play a Cozy record or come to one of our concerts it’s like giving all of us a giant hug. Believe me when I say there’s nothing we love more than hugging you back.

Rough Kids

Ever hear some tired old morons making fools of themselves droning on that punk rock isn’t the same as it was back in the old days? Well those boring geezers are right, in a lot of ways it’s better now! Folks that start punk bands nowadays have the benefit of chipping away at bits of different scenes from decades of recorded history. Take Los Angeles’ Rough Kids, they add their own unique zest to an already volatile mixture of punk rock and it makes for a distinct explosive mechanism with a blast force capable of permanently etching the shadows of the people in their audience on to the surrounding walls. Punk rock may not ever save the world but it can help tear it down so we can build a new one on its ashes and Rough Kids makes the perfect demolition device. 

Interview by J Castro

Please tell me who’s in the band and what you all do to keep Rough Kids the toughest gang on the block:
LUIS: drums
PAUL: bass
TSUBASA - lead guitar/vocals
ETHAN - vocals/rhythm guitar
3 out of four of us unabashedly change diapers and take naps. That's pretty tough, right?

Can you tell me how you all met and decided to play music together?
ETHAN: I met Tsubasa about 10 years ago when I was playing in a band in San Francisco and he had a band in LA. When I moved back down to LA in 2007, I wanted to put a new band together and Tsubasa and his drummer weren't doing much at the time, so we started Rough Kids. It has pretty much been a rotating rhythm section since then. We've gone through 4 bassists and 2 drummers to find Paul and Luis who have become crucial members of this band.

LUIS: I met Tsubasa at the Echoplex about 3 or 4 years ago. I forgot who I was there to see, maybe The Gories. We were introduced by an ex-girlfriend of mine. Long story short, he asked me to be in the band late last year. I had just gotten back from a tour with Sonny Vincent. I immediately said yes and I met Ethan and Paul at our first practice.

When writing songs, do you have any band or songwriter in mind or do you guys just let the chips fall where they may and write what comes to mind?
ETHAN: On the last record, I think you can tell that a lot of the songs were written at different times while listening to different things. It's a bit of a compilation of us figuring out what exactly we wanted to do, single track minded and lacking any cohesive through line. We're recording the next LP right now and it was definitely written with "album" in mind. For me, there are some specific bands/songwriters that are more influential on me than others, but anytime I've sat down and tried to "write a song like (insert name here)" it never works. I find it's best to just let the chips fall and sometimes, later, I might realize where this verse or that chorus came from. Even a song like "Into the '00s" was written not realizing I'd blatantly bitten the riff from "Civilization's Dying," allowing me to write a completely different vocal melody which resulted in a song that is (hopefully) still interesting and different enough for listeners to detach from the Zero Boys.

TSUBASA: I never try to write songs like some bands...When I write songs, I always make sure the song doesn't sound too similar to whatever songs I've heard before...Of course all my songs have an essence of all my favorite bands or songwriters but I try not to rip off anything.

What sorts of things typically inspire your song lyrics?  
ETHAN: The lyrics usually don't get properly written until it's time to record. Choruses and themes work themselves out at practices and then I panic before we go into the studio and fill in all the blanks. The songs can really be about anything. They’ve ranged from songs about friends’ relationships with their girlfriends, historical serial killers, apathy, movies, etc. I've never put much stock in song lyrics. My goal is to write things without any sort of message, as I don't think music is the place for a soapbox, while still attempting to sound more intelligent than simple nursery rhymes. I hate when a band writes one verse and a chorus and repeats it over and over. I'm way behind on the lyrics for the new record and am considering having a buddy of mine help write some stuff.

Do you remember how or who first introduced you to punk rock?
ETHAN: Aside from Green Day, Rancid and Bad Religion popping up on MTV in ’94-‘95, I'd have to give credit to my junior high friends Wade and Steve, who gave me tapes of things like Operation Ivy, Social Distortion, The Dickies, etc, it’s just been a dive deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole since then.

TSUBASA: I grew up in the southern part of Japan and there wasn’t a real punk scene in my hometown but there was this awesome band called "Nervousbreakdown." I was lucky enough to meet them and catch their gigs in my teenage years. They introduced me to great stuff such as The Dictators, The Real Kids, DMZ, Nervous Eaters, The Devil Dogs, Teengenerate, the list goes on.   

PAUL: I got into punk from growing up watching skate videos. Started listening to the basics like Dead Kennedys and Ramones and then when I was 13 my older sister was dating a dude who was into straight edge hardcore, so I started going to shows with him.  That was when I really found and fell in love with the world of DIY punk and hardcore.

LUIS: It was the last day of the end of my freshman year. I smoked herb for the first time. Went over to my homie’s pad and he played me Nirvana. That was it and that was when I decided to be a drummer.

In your experience, what are some of the best things and worst things about being in a band in a huge city like Los Angeles?
ETHAN: We’ve been asked this question in just about every interview and it’s gets more difficult to answer each time. The blessing and the curse of LA is that it is so large and there are so many people. What’s unfortunate is how few places there are to play. It’s mostly 21+ bars, or venues that last a couple months and fizzle out due to lack of permits or whatever.

TSUBASA: One of the biggest obstacles for a band like ours is that LA is a clique-y town and we've never fit in with the garage/pop churned out by the Burger bands or the art/noise punk scene, which seem to be the biggest draws these days. With so many shows going on every night, unless your show is the hippest place to be, attendance can be pretty bleak. I’m also worried it’s getting to a point where a lot of people aren’t really going out to the shows to hear the live music, but rather just to be where the best party is. I’ve literally seen more people dancing to the music between bands at shows than during the bands. 

LUIS: It is pretty clique-ish around here but I find a lot more bands trying to unify each other. I mean, we have a lot of bands that suck, but we have a handful of really good ones. As for the people that try to find the best party and not the best lineup, there aren't enough of them for me to give a rat’s ass about. They're young and dumb. Welcome to America.

Bruce Dickenson recently said that people in punk bands can’t play their instruments and would all rather be in a metal band surrounded by porn stars. What do you think?
ETHAN: Does Bruce Dickenson think singing is playing an instrument?  I think he and Brian Johnson should get together and have tea whilst chatting about how lucky they are they inherited careers from more talented singers.

TSUBASA: Who gives a shit about what that pussy said?

LUIS: I'd rather be in a reggae band surrounded by weed. Bruce is lame. There are punks who like some of Maiden’s stuff. Or at least when Paul Di’Anno was in it. Bruce should just do what he's always wanted to do: Opera.

In a deleted scene from the movie Pulp Fiction, Mrs. Mia Wallace told Vincent Vega,  “That no one can like The Beatles or Elvis equally. You can like them both, but no one likes them the same.” I feel there are few other bands/musicians like that. Tell me which you guys prefer and add comment if you’d like:
1. Elvis vs Chuck Berry:  
ETHAN: Chuck overall, but Elvis had the best one-off with "Suspicious Minds."
TSUBASA: Chuck Berry all the way! Great songwriter, invented the most important guitar style that has been inherited by all my favorite musicians.
PAUL: Elvis
LUIS: Chuck. He's pretty much God in my eyes.

2. The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones:
ETHAN: Rolling Stones
TSUBASA: The Rolling Stones!!  This is like asking "Power Pop or Punk Rock?"
PAUL: Beatles
LUIS: The Stones.

3. The Clash vs. The Sex Pistols:
ETHAN: Sex Pistols. Best album ever written end to end.
TSUBASA: I love The Clash but yeah, nothing can beat "Never Mind The Bollocks"
PAUL: The Clash
LUIS: Sex Pistols

4. The Cramps vs. (classic) Misfits:
ETHAN: Misfits. Rockabilly isn't punk.
TSUBASA: Misfits
PAUL: Misfits
LUIS: Misfits

5. The Stitches vs. U.S. Bombs:
ETHAN: Carbonas! No offense, but neither of those bands is going to be remembered 20 years from now, just as ours isn't.
TSUBASA: I like Carbonas better than those bands too, but I never liked U.S Bombs so The Stitches all the way!
PAUL: Completely agree with Ethan.
LUIS: The Stitches.

Where can people go to hear or buy Rough Kids music?
ETHAN: The album is streaming on the Sorry State Records Bandcamp or on Spotify, for sale from Sorry State Records or from us at shows.


Gino and the Goons – Shake It! LP (Black Gladiator/Slovenly Recordings/Total Punk)
These Floridians know how to get up and get down with the best of ‘em! As soon as you push play, the barn doors fly open and the wild animals come running out like the place is on fire!  From the first song, that sets the bar pretty high, there is just no let up. Sleazed up, messed up, but done up right rock n’ roll like DMZ, and Real Kids. I know those are some pretty big names to drop, but Gino and the Goons hold their own right next to them with their heads held high.  They chip away at their influences but never copy.  You can just tell these are all kindred rock n’ roll spirits looking for a good time.  ~ J Castro

Sick Thoughts – Fat Kid with a 10 Inch 10” LP (Slovenly Recordings)
The Baltimore battering ram is on the loose again and this time it’s added a few inches for more destructive power! This is some pretty trashy, lo-fi, barely controlled blow torch blasts of punk rock that still manages to keep itself on the road with some loose and catchy rock n’ roll strut.  It’s wild, unpredictable and the deeper you go into this record the more you realize you like each song more than the last. Loud music made by troubled young men that is sure to invite thoughts of paranoia, violence and sexual deviancy in anyone that’s smart enough to listen.  All of your wildest adolescent dreams are about to come true!   ~ J Castro

The Monsieurs – S/T LP (Black Gladiator/Slovenly Recordings)
Starting off kind of slow with the dark and lurking “Kari Ann,” the record quickly becomes a celebration of blues kissed rock n’ roll fury I was hoping it would be with the song “The Rat.”  With vocals that sound like they were captured in a snowstorm with the recording device 50 feet away, guitars firing away so relentlessly the notes are indistinguishable and drums hit so loud your puny inner ears can barely process the volume. With former Tunnel of Love mastermind Andy Macbain at the helm; you kind of kind of know what you’re in for. The Monsieurs however have more Gories strut and style though. I want me some more!  ~ J Castro

Ausmuteants – Fed Through a Tube 7” (Total Punk)
Melbourne, Australia’s answer to the X-Men, well maybe the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is more like it. This record has sealed in itself two audio concussion charges that are sure to jerk your neck out of place as soon as you drop the needle on it. The A side and title track is a straight on full frontal Angry Samoans style punk attack. The B Side is a song called “Arguments” and it employs some keys in the background giving it a more Screamers/The Units vibe. Just like the record label name boasts this is Total Punk: nothing more, nothing less!  ~ J Castro

Buck Biloxi and the Fucks – Culture Demanufacturer LP (Total Punk)
First of all I want to say that this is one of my favorite album covers of the year!  Just like the album title says, BBF are here to do just that. They’re here to question your elitist morals and tear down your materialistic lifestyle with a stripped down minimalistic approach to the whole punk rock thing.  Buck Biloxi and the Fucks don’t want to follow you down that path to a utopian society because they know it’s not real. Disgust, apathy and doubt will always be a part of human nature and they know it. Someone once said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference; I say the opposite of love is Buck Biloxi and the Fucks!   ~ J Castro

Cuello – Modo Eterno Cassette (Shake! Records)
From the town of Valencia, Spain comes Cuello. They describe themselves as a mixture of Husker Du, Sonic Youth and Weezer. I can certainly see that but there is a more melodic hard hitting element in there as well. I can hear some 90’s style punk in there like Rhythm Collision, Snuff and Face to Face. Good, loud music with plenty of guitar riffs and melody to make it easy on the old ear canal. Sometimes trying to pigeonhole bands through comparisons does them a huge disservice. What I try to do is give you a mere glimpse of the same feelings I get then I hear these bands as well. Cuello are all of the above bands and more. Well, except for maybe the Sonic Youth part, I am still a bit confused on that one!   ~ J Castro

Napalmpom – The Unconditional Love of Napalmpop Cassette (Shake! Records)
This record is so fun and massive I am surprised any kind of plastic record format can contain it for very long. If you lived in the mid 1970’s suburbs when all there was to really worry about on a Saturday night was where the beer and girls were, then this album would be your 1st choice to play loud as you pull out of your driveway and head out of your to pick up your buddies for the evening. Napalmpom take tiny piranha bites of The Who, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, AC/DC and mix them in a cauldron bubbling over with exhilaration and irreverence. I know this is a tall order of comparisons, but Napalmpom don’t impersonate, they use all of the above elements to concoct their own unique mixture of explosive 70’s style R-O-C-K!   ~ J Castro

Hansmole – Whitest Whiteness Cassette (Shake! Records)
A bit of a different kind of release among all the trashed out rock n’ roll chaos we’ve been getting here at the Audio Ammunition remote castle stronghold. Enter Victoria, British Colombia’s Hansmole slowly gliding 6 inches above the ground like an apparition in the foggy darkness. The music is a mixture of dim, swirling, atmospherics like Dead Can Dance mixed with The Velvet Underground. Some of the songs vary from an electronic droning background to more earthy textures woven throughout. Either way the album feels brilliantly pieced together and has a definite disposition of twilight ambiance that haunts your consciousness for quite sometime after listening.   ~ J Castro

The Vicious Cycles MC – Bad News Travels Fast Cassette (Shake! Records)
These Vancouver bruisers play tough, hard hitting melodic punk rock similar to Boston’s Dropkick Murphy’s and Street Dogs. Imagine being lost somewhere cold and it’s getting late, really late. The only light on you see is in a small run down pub on the corner. You go in to ask for directions, (because you’re not THAT alpha) and there’s a band playing to a bunch of drunken, barrel chested blokes in plaid shirts and combat boots. All arm in arm singing along to every word of the song loudly and off key. This is what I see when I close my eyes while listening to this album. Well made punk rock that straddles the fences between Oi!/Street Punk and good ol’ fashioned leather clad rock n’ roll.   ~ J Castro

The Lad Mags – S/T Cassette (Shake! Records)
Killer 1960’s style dark and moody mod/soul from these girls (and guy!) band slinking around the darkened corners of Edmonton, Alberta. Think early Dusty Springfield or Shangri-La’s mixed with Brian Jonestown Massacre with a pinch of Siouxsie and The Banshees macabre and mystique. This here is a bonafied compilation of all the 3 EP’s the band has released this year plus a couple of bonus tunes! Perfect place to start if you like this sort of thing, and if you don’t you had better reevaluate some of the key decisions you’ve made in your life and figure out what went wrong and when!  ~ J Castro

Catholic Girls – Sheila Joined a Cult Cassette (Shake! Records)
The title of the record may give off the impression that this is going to be some kind of silly band that’s not taking itself too seriously, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Calgary, Alberta’s Catholic Girls discharge a thrilling blend of guitars riding a tsunami of keyboards that produce pulsating blasts of shadowy sound encircled by chaos, darkness and urgency that has slivers of new wave, post punk, and lo-fi madness lodged throughout. I get a similar feel when I hear bands like Lost Sounds or The Faint. This is Catholic Girls debut release, can’t wait to see how much further into the abyss this band goes on their next records.   ~ J Castro

Zen Mystery Fogg – S/T Cassette (Shake! Records)
Let it be known that Vancouver, British Colombia is not to be left behind on the Neo-Psychedelic party train. The good city has purchased a ticket and secured their seats on the movement that is sure to leave a permanent mark on underground music for years to come. The fine folks at Shake! Records bring us evidence of this with this band spinning mid tempo, slightly twee, blurred garage rock n’ roll. Production is echo-y and slightly hollowed out just the way you like it, it’s the perfect combination for making this tape echo in the halls of your head throughout a summer afternoon.  ~ J Castro

The Repossessors – 20 Angry Months Cassette (Shake! Records)
Vancouver’s Repossessors immediately and with both hands shove three songs in your clean innocent face that are full of mean, dark and ominous rock n’ roll with loud thick guitars hanging on some undeniably catchy hooks. Three songs is all you’ll need before you wake up covered in sweat, yours? Who knows! Who cares! You’ll be dehydrated, head pounding, and ready to turn the tape over and do it all over again! Minimalistic production with a similar savage approach to punk rock like the Dead Boys meets Rip Off Records makes for one monumentally great tape!  ~ J Castro

The Connection – A Christmas Gift for LP (Collector’s Club Records)
This record compiles the Christmas singles the band has been putting out for the last couple of years plus adds a few new ones. This album isn’t one of those that craps in Santa’s toy bag either, oh no! It stays true to the spirit of the season with songs like “I Feel Fine (It’s Christmas Time)” and “Rock n’ Roll Christmas.” The band take a similar approach to Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” mixed with The Connection’s usual brand of mod rock n’ roll similar to early Who and Small Faces. The album winds down with a cover of the Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).”  Yes boys and girls this year is shaping up to be the best Christmas ever!  ~ J Castro

Jennie Vee – Die Alone EP (Self Released)
The amount of terrific self released records out there never ceases to amaze me.  Here is one prime example, Brooklyn NY’s Jennie Vee. She answers the question: what would it sound like if Debbie Harry got in the middle of those perpetually feuding Reid brothers in the Jesus and Mary Chain and the three of them formed a band? The answer is a dream pop/shoegaze extravaganza. Die Alone slowly ripples with reverb drenched guitars that shimmer against Jennie’s warm vocals that abduct you and leave you in a twilight state of consciousness atop a skyscraper at night. As you get up and gaze at the urban landscape below, you think of all the beauty, sadness and danger that lie beneath you, all of this and more envelopes the songs on this wonderful new EP.  ~ J Castro             

Tacocat – NVM LP (Hardly Art)
A lot of the press I’ve read mentions candy and fast food to try and describe Tacocat’s sound and all around persona as a band. This sort of thing kind of paints a picture that adolescent silliness is what this band is all about, well it is partially I suppose but that’s a good thing. Tacocat is a lot more than that though. This what I visualize when I hear NVM: Imagine Suzi Quatro, Belinda Carlisle, Kathleen Hanna, and Ronnie Spector arm in arm skipping around the State Fair. They all decide to go on the Ferris wheel and while they’re all up there at the very tip top they all simultaneously receive an epiphany and decide to verbally share it: “Hey, let’s all form a band!”  They all shout while throwing their hands up in the air. Their result would be very similar to Tacocat’s NVM.   ~ J Castro

S - Cool Choices LP (Hardly Art)
S aka Jenn Ghetto was a founding member of the late band Carissa’s Weird that started in Tucson, AZ and ended in Seattle, WA. Carissa’s Weird never really took off and the band called it a day in 2003. Some of the residual members trotted off and formed a little group called Band of Horses, perhaps you’ve heard of them. Either way the point is Jenn Ghetto has cut her teeth in the music world. This time around, she enlisted the help of pal Chris Walla (of Death Cab for Cutie fame) to serve as engineer and producer on this, her 4th solo outing. Cool Choices’ introspective folk kissed collection of songs displays an array of sensitivity and delicate harmonies that are carefully and cleverly mended together into something passionate and cohesive. ~ J Castro

Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right LP (Hardly Art)
This is a pretty unusual record coming out of The Motor City. Right out of the gate, hearing the Glen Danzig meets David Byrne by way of Ian Curtis vocals conjured up the dark hollowness of some post-punk bands. The rest of the band however doesn’t follow down that path. The guitars are far more bombast and the rhythm section is much louder than any of those “rainy day in the city for the closet intellectual” type bands. Although I wouldn’t call Protomartyr a straight up Post Punk band, however I do think it would take a fan of bands like Husker Du, Mission of Burma or even The Minutemen to really appreciate what these guys are doing.   ~ J Castro

La Sera – Hour of the Dawn LP (Hardly Art)
This is Kickball Katy of Vivian Girls side project. It doesn’t stray too far from The Viv’s latest material (2011’s Share the Joy), minus a lot of the fuzz. Being middle aged and having a fairly large record collection, I realized after hearing this that I own La Sera’s last record that came out a couple of years ago called Sees the Light, I also remembered how much I liked it. A bit toned down are the lush Camera Obscura/Belle and Sebastian lush and melodic songs that Share the Joy revolved around. The songs on Hour of Dawn have a more natural, stripped down production that gives off an urgent feel to the album. Still the La Sera you’ve grown to love, only leaning a bit more towards the Vivian-esque side.  ~ J Castro  

Gem Club – In Roses LP (Hardly Art)
Gem Club produce music that makes you feel like you’re floating around untethered in space.  It’s beautiful, fragile, and vast like nature itself. The Massachusetts trio continues to paint exquisite landscapes of sonic beauty on In Roses their 2nd LP following 2011’s Breakers and a self released EP in 2010 called Acid and Everything. In the 5 years of their existence, vocalist/pianist Christopher Barnes, cellist Kristen Drymala, and vocalist Ivea Berberian have hardly strayed from their unique formula of Dream Pop. If artists such as Perfume Genius and Antony and the Johnsons capture your interest then prepare your soul for the next level because it has arrived in In Roses.  ~ J Castro 

Golden Pelicans – S/T LP (Total Punk)            
These four Floridians make you violently flail all four limbs as soon as you hear the first 10 seconds of the opening track “Two Feathers.” This is ultra tight, veins bursting from your neck, blue collar, “you can’t fire me ‘cause I quit’” rock n’ roll that reminds me of something that would have come out of Australia in the late 1970’s like X or Radio Birdman mixed with New York’s Testors. Yes it’s wild, yes it’s sweaty, and if you spend enough time with this record it will probably take a swing at you. Consider my ass kicked!  ~ J Castro

Lumpy and The Dumpsters – Bat EP (Total Punk)
This St. Louis band, despite the name is actually a breath of fresh air and apparently I’m not the only one that thinks so; their records are said to sell out in just a few days from their record labels! Lumpy and his drunken band of malcontents don’t care about GMO’s or capitalism running unchecked.  Why can’t one just be pissed off now days? I don’t know why I’m pissed sometimes, I just am and Lumpy and the Dumpsters provide the perfect soundtrack for those moments. They remind me of bands like Quincy Punx or Submachine from back in the mid 1990’s: loud, drunk, sloppy and ornery. Who needs anger management when you got music like this to help dispel all your daily frustrations!  ~ J Castro

Ausmuteants – Order of Operation LP (Goner)
As the name suggests, these lads hail from Australia, well I suppose you could guess Austria but you’d be wrong. Ausmuteants have never sounded more refined and focused than on this record.  This band does the post apocalypse synth-punk cha-cha that seems to be gaining in popularity these days but unlike some of their peers they don’t have that frenzied and chaotic sound like Stalins of Sound or Miscalulations. This album has the band leaning more towards early Killing Joke. The dark fog of synthesizers now carry the band willingly into the darkness instead of grabbing them by the foot as they violently kick and scream as they get dragged back into the shadowy realm from which they came.    ~ J Castro  

The Blind Shake - Breakfast of Failures (Goner)
A few words came immediately to mind when I started listening to this long running Minneapolis trio’s new LP: massive, ominous, destructive and glorious. I imagine a similar cycle of emotions would run through your head if you saw a squadron of B-29 Superfortress Bombers roar overhead and then suddenly began laying waste to your hometown. Blind Shake’s music isn’t disjointed beats or unintelligible noise though. There is a hard driving rhythm section present, a singer that growls and belts out the ripping vocals when called for, but all of this rides on bulky and melodic guitar riffs that seem to steer this enormous beast into something deceptively unified.    ~ J Castro  

Nots – We Are Nots LP (Goner)
A fiery frenzy of punk rock is unleashed as Nots bestow upon the world their debut LP. Their scrappy sounds of disenchantment combined with fierce female prowess sounds like it could have been on a Kill Rock Stars comp 20 years ago right in between Jack Acid and Bratmobile. But these girls aren’t from anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, they’re from the great city of Memphis, Tennessee. With the kind of records Goner had been putting out lately, this record fits right in there. 11 short sharp stabs of punk rock, like little prison shivs stuck in and broken off in the kidney!  ~ J Castro     

Various Artists – Shake! Sampler II Cassette (Shake! Records)
If anyone out there is still unfamiliar with this label, rectify that situation immediately. Victoria, British Colombia’s Shake! Records have been putting out quality new and reissues of cassettes and vinyl now since 2010. The thing that really impresses me about this label is how diverse their releases are yet still appeal to the rock n’ roll heart: from snotty ‘77 punk, gloriously sloppy trash rock, indie rock atmospherics, and 60’s Girls in the Garage style bands. A lot of these bands we’re already given full reviews. Some newly discovered gems for me though were Monster Treasure, Lab Coast and the almighty Jolt covering Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” (available only on the download version). This tape is a perfect jumping off point into the wonderfully eclectic world of Shake! Records!    ~ J Castro    

The Electric Dates – Eels Hips Cassette (Shake! Records)
Five songs, some original and some covers including The Sonics “Strychnine” and the Wailers classic “Out of Our Tree.” All this and more brought to you by these nutty Canadians that include members of Mascara Nites, Durban Poison and Electric Empress. The production of these garage rock stompers sounds as if the band was playing on a small boat in the middle of the ocean on a particularly windy day and the device that was recording them fell off the boat is was floating around near the ocean floor in a sharks belly. Good, solid rocking party starters here but be aware, if you’re ear isn’t a tuned to such lo-fi lunacy, you may not fully absorb all the benefits this tape has to offer. In that case all I can do is pity you.   ~ J Castro