Thursday, December 22, 2016

December Reviews Part 2

Ashley Reaks – This Is Planet Grot LP (Born Wrong)
Reaks is a man of many talents. He is visual artist mostly focusing in collage work. He is a stand-up comedian/poet and he is also a multi-instrumental who has released several LP’s that have dealt in pop, dub, rock and many other musical worlds. On This Is Planet Grot, Reaks, who sings, plays guitar and bass, sticks to punk, rock and early alternative. In some ways this reminds me of early Art Brut with its nods to early Fall and sarcasm. The other parts of Planet Grot is a hard hitting ’82 UK punk/Killing Joke that is busy calling out society’s issues much like his art does.  – Ed Stuart

Bad Sports – Living With Secrets EP (Dirtnap)
Living With Secrets was originally going to be released as separate singles, but Dirtnap decided to combine them all together into a 7-song EP. It has been awhile since hearing from Bad Sports, but that’s no surprise. Bad Sports make up pieces of Radioactivity, Video and OBN III’s. Living With Secrets is ’77 Saints punk with a rock n’ roll heart especially on songs like “Done With Death” and “Where Are You?” Bad Sports also shows a darker swampier side on songs like “Anymore.” – Ed Stuart

Berwanger – Exorcism Rock LP (Doghouse)
Berwanger may be a man caught in two worlds on Exorcism Rock. He’s one part dwelling in a punk-pop world, very lightly, and the other part dwelling in an arena rock world. Exorcism Rock is an ode to bands like Cheap Trick, Badfinger or a poppier Kiss, bands who were actually able to pull off this feat. Unfortunately, that was the ‘70’s and this is the ‘10’s, an era where getting fans to come see your band live instead of watching a YouTube clip is a hard task. Berwanger’s songwriting is a clear nod to ‘70’s pop-infused rock that would fill the radio waves and arena seats in equal measure. – Ed Stuart

Bitter Sweet Kicks – Eat Your Young LP (Beast)
According to the Bitter Sweet Kick’s bandcamp page, Eat Your Young was released in 2014. So, I’m not sure if Beast just re-released the LP or not. At this point, I’ll just think yes. Enough of that and on to the band, Bitter Sweet Kicks are loud, ballsy, blues driven rock n’ roll band from Australia. The band hails from St. Kilda in Melbourne, which is a renowned music haven in Australia. Some parts swampy blues, early AC/DC and MC5.   – Ed Stuart

Bouncing Souls – Simplicity LP (Rise)
Bouncing Souls are back with their tenth LP, Simplicity, which sees a return to form. Bouncing Souls made their name by writing earnest pogo-pop-punk tunes that fans could relate too and much of Simplicity is no different. The Souls do show their age, which any band would after 20 years, but they don’t sacrifice any of their core music trademarks either. I’m not sure how will get many new converts Simplicity will get, but it shouldn’t lose any either.  – Ed Stuart

Brat Kings – Hypnopedia LP (Dirt Cult)
As if playing in Sonic Avenues and First Base weren’t enough, some of these members decided to form another band called Brat Kings. As if Canada needed another band we should be listening too, but they went and formed it anyway. Hypnopedia is far less pop than both First Base and Sonic Avenues would ever dream of. Instead, Brat Kings are a fast paced garage influenced punk band much like Marked Men and early Hives without The Hives brand of self-referential hype. ’77 Ramones on a whole lot of coffee with some indie bits thrown in. – Ed Stuart

Charlie ‘Ungry – Who Is My Killer 7” (Hozac Archival)
Not quite punk, not quite glam and not quite NWOBHM. Well if that’s the case, then what are they then? Good question. Charlie ‘Ungry rose from the ashes of Yellow Bird set to take the UK punk world by storm. Unfortunately, for them at the time, the stars weren’t aligned. “Who Is My Killer?” is a real mix of punk rhythm, glam/NWOHBM guitar and glam vocals. What I find interesting about ‘Ungry is that musically they aren’t far from Rich Kids/Eddie and The Hot Rods territory, who got far more accolades, but were arguable unsung heroes themselves. Charlie ‘Ungry gets a second chance with this EP and thanks to Hozac Archival. These three songs were taken from an LP’s worth of material. ‘Ungry does a really good job throughout this single blending Slade, Sweet, Rich Kids with some NWOBHM guitar.  – Ed Stuart

Choke Chains – Choke Chain 7” (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
Bantam Rooster, Dirtbombs and some Chinese Millionaires members get together to make this noisy lo-fi garage punk with a layer of scuzz dripped all over it. With the pedigree of former bands, the listener shouldn’t be surprised at all by the sound. “Choke Chain” is the lo-fi rocker on this 7-inch while “Mayan Starship” is the dirge-y Stooges meets Suicide number. – Ed Stuart

Color TV – Demos 7” (Self-Release/Drunken Sailor)
Originally self-released as a batch of demos in 2015, this has been re-released as 7-inch on Drunken Sailor. Color TV hail from Minneapolis and have members from Welcome Home Walker, Retainers and Cheap Time. You could argue to hearing bits of early Husker Du, but Color TV sticks to more of Marked Men regiment. ’77 punk-pop blasts recorded a little dirty and played at faster pace than most Buzzcocks loving power-pop/punk bands play.  – Ed Stuart

The Conquerors – Wyld Time LP (High Dive)
At first, The Conquerors fool you into thinking this will be an early Strokes influenced LP with their opening track, “Yes I Know,” which wouldn’t have been bad. Instead, Wyld Time reveals it’s ’63-’65 Beatles/British Beat/’60’s R&B heart shortly after. The Conquerors really capture the era with their songwriting and production especially on “This Is It” and “Can’t You See.” It’s one thing to capture the visual aesthetic of a musical era with sharp suits and bowl haircuts, but it’s the songs that have to be dialed to make it really work and on Wyld Time, The Conquerors do just that. – Ed Stuart

Dark Thoughts – S/T LP (Drunken Sailor/Stupid Bag)
It’s one thing to be totally influenced by one particular band and then another to pull off a band based off that band and last, do it incredibly well. Dark Thoughts is that band. There is an endless conveyor belt of bands that want to be/are The Ramones and most don’t do them much justice. Dark Thoughts on, S/T, have beaten the odds and have done it so surprisingly well you wonder how they pulled it off. Yes, it’s Ramones based, but skuzzier with helpings of Spits and Marked Men influence here. Sometimes you just have to do something simple really well and that’s what Dark Thoughts have done. – Ed Stuart

Deadnotes – I’ll Kiss Your Fears Out Of Your Face LP (KROD)
Germany’s Deadnotes are influenced and driven by ’00’s mainstream era pop-punk and emo bands. I’ll Kiss Your Fears Out Of Your Face will push the listener to their commitment’s end with the mix of styles and length of songs. Deadnotes push the envelope to 7-8 minutes per song on this LP, which can be a big ask in age of short attention spans.  – Ed Stuart

Dead On The Wire – Lonely Hearts 7” (No Front Teeth)
’77 So Cal influenced mid-tempo street punk from San Diego. Dead On The Wire would fit at home nicely on Hostage just as it does on No Front Teeth. Lonely Hearts is a Stiff Little Fingers/early US Bombs two guitar attack with gang vocals and big choruses. Dead On The Wire 7-inch comes with four songs, but if you buy the digital you get two extra tracks.  – Ed Stuart

Dirty Fences – Hit A Homer 7” (Obey)
Hit A Homer is one of two follow up singles to the superb Full Tramp. Dirty Fences combine ’77 NYC rock n’ roll with pop hooks much like the Heartbreakers and Dictators did. The A-side, “Colleen” adds some ‘80’s pop radio influences to make this song another solid hit from Dirty Fences. The B-side is their version of The Equals “Michael and The Slipper Tree,” which sticks pretty close to the original. Hit A Homer was recorded in the middle of a tour and released as a tour 7-inch, but don’t think of this as a throw away at all because it’s not.  – Ed Stuart

Dog Party – ‘Till You’re Mine LP (Asian Man)
Dog Party is two college-aged sisters who have been playing together since they were kids in middle school. One sings and plays guitar while the other plays drums. ‘Til You’re Mine, the band’s fifth LP, is pop-punk much like ‘90’s Lookout mixed with ‘00’s pop-punk without venturing far from three chord Ramones territory.   – Ed Stuart

Futuro – Habitos Ruins LP (Dirt Cult)
Futuro, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, were formed out of the ashes of B.U.S.H.. No, it’s not the ‘90’s alternative band with a string of surprising radio hits. Futuro, which now features Camila from Pushmongos on vocal duty, sings entirely in Portuguese. Habitos Ruins start’s off like ’82 hardcore, but it’s actually much more than that when the other influences start to show themselves. There are bits of Wipers, dark-pop melodies of T.S.O.L. and some early Sonic Youth style riffs infused into the high-energy machine of Futuro.  – Ed Stuart

Jonesy – S/T 7” (No Front Teeth)
Well, the song titles aren’t going to win friends with the PC crowd, but punk rock wasn’t really about winning friends anyway. “(I Wanna) Bang Bang You” and “(I Wanna) Cum On Your Face” are both really good catchy songs and pretty clear on what they want. These songs have all the rock n’ roll charm and sleaze of early Dead Boys mixed with power-pop hooks. This 7-inch might be the sequel to “Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth.” Jonesy, from Canada (of course), features Vinny from the Clean Cuts and Fanatiques, who leads these girl chasing band armed with ’77 NYC rock n’ roll with a pop heart.   – Ed Stuart

The Meetup – High School Sweethearts LP (Discos Regresivos)
Spain has a very talked about power-pop scene and Barcelona’s The Meetup fit right in the middle of it. The Meetup describe themselves as Exploding Hearts, which I would disagree with because they don’t have the gritty distortion that gave the Hearts a dirty unpolished edge. Instead, The Meetup plays a clean mod jangle pop. High School Sweethearts is the kind of sweet pop played by guys in sharp suits whom scooter back and forth between practices. Think more along the lines of Lambrettas and numerous Mod revival bands from ’77-’79 era with touches of The Plimsouls. – Ed Stuart

Mike Rep and The Quotas – Hellbender 1975-1978 LP (Hozac Archival)
Unearthed from vaults are Mike Rep and The Quotas. Where Hozac Archival finds these bands, I’m not sure? Hellbender is full of never heard before basement recorded songs from Rep and The Quotas. Mike Rep maybe best known for the single “Rocket To Nowhere,” which is not featured on Hellbender. Rep is a proto-punk hailing from Ohio, a musical hotbed at the time, who plays a mix of Captain Beefheart meets sludgy Stooges.   – Ed Stuart

Nerve Button – Same LP (Wanda)
Should I rave about how Nerve Button is another good Canadian band? Yes, I will. Nerve Button plays a fun and loose ’77 punk rock n’ roll much like Teenage Head with Dictators tongue-in-cheek lyrics. There is a cassette version which features a cover of “Saturday Night” by Bay City Rollers, but the Wanda LP doesn’t feature it and you won’t miss it. Same is a ripper of an LP from a surprisingly unknown band who should be getting far more attention than what they currently are.  – Ed Stuart

Patsy’s Rats – Rock N’ Roll Friend 7” (La-Ti-Da)
Patsy’s Rats are Christian from Mean Jeans and Patsy whose dad was in Giant Sand. “Rock N’ Roll Friend” was written for Mikey Zeus from Pop Zeus whose life was tragically cut short in an automobile accident last year and boy what a killer song the band wrote for him. “Rock N’ Roll Friend” is an instant classic in the early Cars vein with Debbie Harry doing lead vocals. “Hard Time Karen” and it’s fellow B-side partner, “It’s Gonna Hurt” are just as good. The real winner here is “Rock N’ Roll Friend;” a song so good in it’s classic simplicity that I had to force myself to stop listening to it so I wouldn’t run the possible risk of ever becoming tired of it.  – Ed Stuart

Paul Jacobs – Waiting For The Grave 7” (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
Paul Jacobs seems to be a prolific one-man garage rock dynamo. He has a slew of releases dating back to 2012. Jacobs is heavy on reverb with a garage punk that mixes Cramps and Back From Grave stuff in a lo-fi blender.  – Ed Stuart

Pleasers – Such A Fool 7” (Goodbye Boozy)
Pleasers are the new band from Matthew Melton of Warm Soda and Bare Wires. Melton has left San Francisco and moved to Austin and it didn’t take him very long to get a new band going. Pleasers are more Stooges/Dictators/proto punk than his previous projects. While Warm Soda seemed happy in their Cars slick pop world, Pleasers would be Melton’s tougher alter ego born from dirty Thunders/NYC riffs played with more abandon. Such A Fool is the third single from the band in rapid succession and one for fans of Melton as well as ‘70’s Detroit/NYC punk.  – Ed Stuart

Real Tears – Too Cool To Rock LP (Snask)
Real Tears carry the Undertones/Buzzcocks/Dickies torch and do it with such grace. Too Cool To Rock is full of short, sharp, catchy songs just like how they used to play them in ‘77. Real Tears mix high-energy power-pop/punk and some melodic pop on songs like “Far Away.” Real Tears are really for the short attention spans; it’s 15 songs in about 20 minutes. Well done from guys from Rotten Mind.  – Ed Stuart

Red Mass – Re-Mi-Si 7” (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
Red Mass is a Roy Vucino project. He is also in Birds of Paradise, Luxury Rides, Daylight Lovers and many other bands. Red Mass is more post-punk, but since it’s a Vucino project it doesn’t stay musically consistent throughout. Case in point, “Space Rock N’ Roll” sounds like ‘50’s Buddy Holly/Elvis rock n’ roll/rockabilly, while the two preceding songs, “Re-Mi-Si” and “Supersonic” are post-punk. “Wish Me Luck” sounds like bedroom pop that gets closer to Wipers with indie rock melodicism. I think Vucino writes a bunch of songs then decides which projects they end up and this four-song batch is Re-Mi-Si – Ed Stuart

The Rejecters – She’s So Fine 7” (Solid Sex Lovie Doll)
Members of The Irritations and Daylights Lovers are back with The Rejecters. She’s So Fine is full of ’77-’79 punk/new wave with touches of garage rock n’ roll. “Sally Mae” leans heavily toward the melodic nature of many UK bands of ’77-79 era. The B-Side seems to a lean more towards rock n’ roll/punk/garage side. “Blackballed” and “Hiroshima Hop” are both fun and venture more into Saints territory with some Radio Birdman inspired leads. Good stuff.  – Ed Stuart

Richmond Sluts – 60 Cycles of Love LP (Rock Box)
There is that notion about it takes ten years to become an overnight sensation. Does it take fifteen years to release a follow-up to a debut LP? In the case of Richmond Sluts it does, but not because they weren’t trying. Richmond Sluts may be more popular now then they were the last time around, thanks to skateboard videos and the Internet. On their debut, Richmond Sluts were a punked up, farfisa soaked, garage-influenced mix of Seeds and New York Dolls, full of energy while playing raucous live shows. 60 Cycles Of Love is the long awaited follow up and Sluts are in the mid-period Rolling Stones, think the Mick Taylor era. The “Trash” style has given way to a mellower Stones and ‘60’s psych where the guitars dictate the groove and rhythm.   – Ed Stuart

Soft Candy – Bixarre Luv Pyramids 7” (Hozac)
Soft Candy are a pop/psych band from Chicago. This 2-song 7” is their return after a brief hiatus. The A-side, “Bixarre Luv Pyramids” is a nod to California pop like the Byrds. Shimmering guitar pop that soaks in equal parts sun and reverb with a touch of surf to make it just for the summer. “Song For Ellie Mae” is heavily Beatles without being copyist. There is innocent yearning for a pure melodic pop meets bubblegum that were gloriously rampant through the early to mid ‘60’s with a tad bit psych influence on the lead melody. Soft Candy is really going for the pop jugular on Bixarre Luv Pyramids all the while harking back to the original sources of psych. – Ed Stuart

Talkies – Never Fear 7” (La-Ti-Da)
Touted as one of San Francisco’s bands to watch for in 2015, the Talkies have graced us listeners with their debut single, Never Fear. Talkies, from the East Bay, which is the Oakland and Berkeley side of the bay, is led by Ray Seraphim who has been in Glitz and Legs. Never Fear is full of American power-pop and was produced by Terry Six of Exploding Hearts and Nice Boys. “Never Fear” and “Hollow” are Twilley/Tom Petty/Big Star driven melodic guitar pop leaning more to the radio side and keeping the songs short and sweet. – Ed Stuart

Turquoise Feeling – S/T LP (Heel Turn)
Superchunk meets the Rip-offs? Turquoise play a garage punk infused with late ‘80’s alternative flourishes and a light touch of the Wipers. Turquoise Feeling are from the Midwest and while this style isn’t wholly unfamiliar, it usually isn’t so lo-fi either. S/T starts off with a dirty rock blast in “Feverfew” and continues the game plan through the LP. I sometimes wish the production were a little better to hear the pop leads buried in the mix, but that would dull the edge of the guitars.  – Ed Stuart

VA – Mild In The Streets LP (Fat Wreck)
Punk goes acoustic is really the theme of this compilation. Mild In The Streets, an obvious nod and ode to the Circle Jerks LP title and the Garland Jeffreys song, “Wild In The Streets,” is full of bands both new and old to the Fat roster. Mild features group performances from Swingin’ Utters, Anti-Flag, Get Dead, Against Me plus solo performances from members of Lagwagon, Bad Cop/Bad Cop and Alkaline Trio. – Ed Stuart

Vicious Dreams – Somethin’ Vicious 7” (No Front Teeth/Hovercraft/Swamp Cabbage)
Florida’s Vicious Dreams are a female-fronted band that plays a ’77 mid-tempo punk rock n’ roll mixed with melodic punk from members of Caffiends and Tuff Looks. Somethin’ Vicious is full of a band incorporating both aforementioned styles throughout their songs without venturing heavily into either territory. Imagine slower Avengers with melodic punk and rock n’ roll riffs.  – Ed Stuart

1-800-BAND – High Beams LP (Almost Ready)
Hot off the heels of last year’s Diver Blue, 1-800-BAND are back with High Beams. For High Beams, the band roped in producer Mitch Easter who is known for working with a little known band named R.E.M. in their early days. 1-800 has expanded the sound and influence range for High Beams. While Diver Blue lent itself more to the ‘80’s, High Beams takes that starting point and incorporates ‘70’s Tom Petty, Dwight Tilley and Americana ingredients into their musical stew. – Ed Stuart


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