Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 2017 Reviews

Adult Magic – S/T 7”/Cassette (Dead Broke)
Adult Magic is from Long Island and has that Long Island sound. A hook laden punk-alternative-pop that mixes all three seamlessly. I’m not sure how many scenes play this style since Long Island seems to have cornered the market. Adult Magic features members of Iron Chic, Crow Bait and Sister Kisser. S/T is full of Husker Du, minus the hardcore, Replacements, Jawbreaker and Superchunk’s songwriting and attention to hooks.  – Ed Stuart

Bellicose Minds – The Creature LP (Sabotage)
Bellicose Minds have a really cool sound! It reminds me of Joy Division or Siouxsie & The Banshees. Or picture if you will a young (less Douchey) Glenn Danzig fronting Bauhaus. The band is from Portland, OR and have been around since 2009. Singer Nick Bellicose has a strong deep voice which seems to echo around inside your speakers before finally thundering out. The guitars are booming and yet sound tightly coiled like a venomous snake ready to strike. The rhythm section is strong and the bass lines are ultra-melodic, enough to keep the whole train moving through the dark fog. Bellicose Minds overall sound is shadowy but they inject a certain kind of energy and anxiety into it all that’s similar to older late '70’s early '80’s Goth bands. The same quality they all used to have that actually made their music sound dangerous instead of just mopey.   - J Castro

The Bombpops – Fear Of Missing Out LP (Fat Wreck)
The Bombpops, from Los Angeles, play a slick brand of melodic ‘90’s pop punk in the Face To Face/No Use For A Name ballpark with requisite NOFX style guitar picking. Fear Of Missing Out is the band’s debut LP and first for Fat after a few EP’s. Bombpops feature double girl vocals and a twin guitar attack. Bombpops aren’t breaking any new ground here, but fans of this style probably won’t mind.  – Ed Stuart

Born Loose – Death From Above 10” (Hound Gawd)
Molten hot Punk Rock n' Roll, that’s the first impression I get from listening to this new Born Loose 10”.  It’s the same soiled denim, stained t-shirt Rock n' Roll that put titans like the Dead Boys, MC5 and The Stooges on the map and Born Loose are here to claw their way to the top. Larry May’s vocals burst out of his throat only to grab you by yours. When the guitars come up they chop through everything like a machete through jungle thicket. The rhythm section builds up sturdy rails so the whole thing doesn’t fly off the cliff, but they do come close and it’s glorious to witness. These guys unleash the fury from the very pico-second this record starts to play, like a blood thirsty Mafioso gang that kicks in your door and is looking to machine gun down every sucker in the room. Born Loose are relentless at their game. They won’t quit until you feel chewed up, crapped out and beg for more!   - J Castro

Bundles/Dan Webb & The Spiders – Split 12” (Gunner)
Sometimes when I hear about a split single, I wonder what brought the pairing of these two bands together. On this split, it’s not the sonic similarity. In this case, it’s the geography as the bands are from Boston and surrounding area Quincy. Bundles is the leadoff hitter and their singer has an urgency that most other singers would dream of. His vocals are a mix of raw emotive urgency and the music fits just with it. He might make the dictionary an urgent read. I’ve read Bundles described as post-hardcore, but I think they have a Jawbreaker/Samian/J Church sound when pop-punk and indie started to collide. Dan Webb is a Boston band a lot of people might be sleeping on, a band that gets more recognition abroad than they do at home. Webb and his Spiders channel The Replacements/Husker Du at their best and mix it with Springsteen’s blue collar Americana sound to make their side of the LP a side to really listen too.  – Ed Stuart

Casual – S/T LP (Dead Broke/Square Of Opposition)
Casual, in pictures as a trio, but I believe are a four-piece on their debut LP, S/T. Casual are from a small suburban town called Flemington, New Jersey and are responsible for a lot of shows that happen in the town as well. When these ex-members of Pinkus, NONA and Caseracer aren’t booking shows, they are playing their brand of Jawbreaker/Midwestern punk/heavier Get Up Kids, which has melodic guitars and choruses sung in raspy, shouty gang vocals style detailing suburban East Coast life.  – Ed Stuart

Caves – Leaving LP (Dead Broke)
Caves comes to us from Bristol, UK via NYC’s Dead Broke Rekerds recording label. Like their label mates, they too play a grungy, fuzzy, flannel wearing melodic punk that goes down like a warm cup o' Joe on a cold winter’s morn. The band has been around for 5 years and this is their 3rd album. They write good solid songs about what they know and how they live. Caves seem like people that enjoy a good time and loud music, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Like most of their releases, the fine folks at Dead Broke offers this record on limited colored vinyl. But wait, there’s more! They went and pressed the 8 songs all on the A-Side and screen printed the B-Side! How cool is that?!   According to the band info on Dead Broke’s website, this release marks a new, less “in your face” sound for the band. I don’t know about the old Caves, but I like them just the way they are now.    - J Castro

Chandeli’ers – Breaker LP (Dirt Cult/Dead Broke)
Chandeli’ers are mix of members from Brooklyn bands like Ringers, Besties and World Inferno Friendship Society. Chandeli’ers is quite a surprise considering the usual releases from Dirt Cult. The cover art doesn’t clue the listener into what they are about to hear. Breaker is a blast back to Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, early Blondie with touches of ‘60’s R&B and other ’77-’79 power-pop that relies more on pop than power. – Ed Stuart

Cheating Hearts – Fuck Love LP (Trash Wax)
Cheating Hearts are a fabulous Rock n' Roll guy/girl duo out of St Pauli, Germany. I know I’ve heard some of this band’s earlier releases and I liked what I’ve heard. The band describes themselves as “garage punk,” but they straddle the line by adding some rockabilly influence to their brand of No Talents/Splash 4 style of dirty garage punk as well. And when I say “rockabilly” I don’t mean those clowns in Necromantix. I mean Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley type stuff. Maybe even some Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps thrown in too. Those are the vibes I feel when I listen to this record. A bit more primitive punk energy behind those 1950’s influences yes, but essentially that’s what’s going on here. Guitarist/Vocalist Stu Black can play the hell out if his six string and drummer Viva Valli keeps him in check every step of the way.   - J Castro

Choke Chains – Cairo Scholars 7” (Hound Gawd!)
Bantam Roster, No Bails, Chinese Millionaires, Jackkpot: if any of these bands mean anything to any of you, you’ve got to check out Choke Chains. And if they don’t, they should and you STILL need to listen to this record! Choke Chains are from Grand Rapids, Michigan and boast members from all of the seminal '90’s heavyweights I mentioned above. This is the follow up to the band’s debut LP. The A-Side of this record is an absolute stunner of a garage punk tune. It’s mean and brooding like a serial killer taking knife swipes at his victims from a shadowy, fog laded alleyway and it saunters along to a monstrous fuzzed up bass riff. The B-Side is a cover of the 1969 creepy as hell tune “Billy the Monster” by the Deviants.  If you remember the original, Choke Chains actually somehow inject even more ghoulish macabre into that tune.   - J Castro

Corrupted Youth – Class Struggle LP (Evacuate)
Good old fashioned CRUSTY PUNX! I haven’t heard a record like this since I used to listen to The Pist or Defiance back in the '90’s. Bands like this still may very well exist in droves but I kind of lost touch with it. The tight black jeans, the tall Doc’s, those leather jackets with all the band logo’s stenciled on and all those spikes and studs everywhere. Those jackets probably cost more than the cars I drive. But yeah, this is some fire breathing, flesh blistering political street punk/hardcore! You can tell what you’re getting just by the cover art, bands like this make it easy to do so. With song titles like “System Corruption”, “Class Struggle”, and “War” you can get the vibe. But then there’s this song stuck right in the middle called “Beer for Breakfast” that threw me a little. For all I know it may actually be about the refugee crisis but it’s not like you can hear the lyrics anyway.   - J Castro    

Dan Padilla/Prince – Split 7” (Dead Broke)
San Diego’s Dan Padilla gets the first two songs on this split and is followed up by Austin’s Prince. Dan Padilla, which had members from Tiltwheel and Madison Bloodbath, just called it quits this year so this looks to be their last release. “Florandia” is more of melodic pop-punk while “Sit Around” is more of a lo-fi bedroom pop. Prince, the band not the man, features members from Dude Jams! and Huff Stuff Magazine. Prince plays a punk-pop like Dillinger Four recorded in a lo-fi garage sound. – Ed Stuart

Dan Rico – Endless Love LP (Shit In A Can)
Superb (debut?) from Chicago native Dan Rico. From what I can gather, he’s been in a couple of bands including the fantastic MAMA but this is his attempt at going it alone with this record which he also produced. It's quite impressive because it runs all through the Rock n' Roll timeline. I can hear British Invasion, Soul, Glam, Indie Rock, Power Pop and a whole lot more. There’s even some keyboard action and some LA’s Zeros influence on a few of the tunes. The songs go full throttle guitar rock n' roll down to tender ballads. But the marvelous part about the whole thing is that it all still sounds cohesive and gelled. It doesn’t come off as a collection of basement recordings thrown together. Dan Rico can certainly write a great tune but he also has a really cool voice; it’s frayed, vulnerable and sincere all at once.   - J Castro

Danny Laj & The Looks – Alive & Kicking LP (Record Centre Records)
Montreal’s Danny Laj & The Looks might be this era’s Graham Parker. Sure there’s your Plimsouls, Nerves, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe influenced stuff, but Parker was a little different. Listen to Squeezing Out Sparks or even early Joe Jackson to understand the difference. Yes, its power-pop and very good, but a little different vein than the Costello/Lowe variety. Alive & Kicking, Laj’s fourth LP, is in the same variety. It’s a power-pop LP that relies a lot more on pub influenced rock n’ roll that is willing to take a little more chances much like earlier era bands did, but with the same quality. – Ed Stuart

David Donardo – With Love EP (Total Treble)
From what I gather, David’s new EP is all songs that appear on his new record. However, they are demo versions of sorts. I’ve never heard David’s music before, this EP is all acoustic and I really dug it. David’s voice is warm yet trembles at times, which I love. His lyrics are intriguing and poetic but are far from being pretentious or cringe worthy abstractions. David has been making records for nearly two decades and I get the sense that he’s been places and experienced life but is not one to boast about it. The kind of guy you see at parties just soaking everything in instead of being one of those assholes vying for attention. He’s the guy that you talk to and actually listens instead of just waiting for you to stop talking so he can just spew his rehearsed pseudo intellectual party babble all over your face and move on to the next victim. I will be seeking out David Donardo’s other records shortly.   - J Castro

Dead To Me – I Wanna Die In Los Angeles 7” (Fat Wreck)
It’s been five years since Moscow Penny Ante. In that time, rumors where swirling about Jack (Toy Guitar/One Man Army) rejoining Dead To Me after leaving eight years ago. It was a little like a prodigal son parable. I Wanna Die In Los Angeles is Chicken’s (bass/vocals) story of his life going off the rails due to out of control drug addiction and his eventual sobriety. More importantly, it shows what a powerful combo Jack and Chicken make. These two were at the beginning of the band and are back together. I Wanna Die In Los Angeles is full of the band’s melodic punk with dual vocal attack and sing-along choruses. This is the follow-up a lot of people were waiting for after Little Brother.

Deep Pockets – Nice Life 7” (Dead Broke)
Originally from Long Island, NY but now they reside in Brooklyn. Deep Pockets are being described as post-hardcore, but I hear a lot of Fugazi influence with driving bass lines and noisey guitar. I guess this makes Fugazi post-hardcore now? Nice Life does remind me a lot of late ‘80’s alternative in the Fugazi/DC style with talk/sing vocals.  – Ed Stuart

Dfactor Pop – The Times Have Changed and So Have We EP (Self-Release)
Dfactor Pop goes solo for this release and leaves The Action Jets behind. On The Times Have Changed and So Have We, Dfactor plays all the instruments on this much like Rikk Agnew did so many years earlier. Dfactor has always been in the world of power-pop, but this incorporates more a personal note than Action Jets material does. The title track is a Dylan inspired look at the current state of the world and how growing older affects your world view. The rest of the EP mixes in early new wave/college rock like early Cure, Replacements and Pixies while earnestly tackling personal subjects. – Ed Stuart

Drakulas – Raw Wave LP (Dirtnap)
Drakalus is the brainchild of members of Riverboat Gamblers and Rise Against. Drakulas leans far more to Riverboat Gamblers than Rise Against. Raw Wave is The Dickies, Buzzcocks with touches of Hives played at Marked Men speed. Raw Wave lyrically deals with a group of characters set in a fictional world without bogging down into concept album pretension. Instead, Drakulas emphasis is on short length high-energy songs.  – Ed Stuart

Frenzal Rhomb – We Lived Like Kings LP (Fat Wreck)
We Lived Like Kings is a thirty-five song “best of” where half the songs have never been released on either vinyl and/or Fat Wreck. Frenzal Rhomb formed in 1992 in Australia and has been together for 25 years. Frenzal Rhomb plays ‘90’s pop-punk like a combo of Blink 182 and Lagwagon. – Ed Stuart

The Gala – November Issue 7” (Hi Fi Hepcat Press)
The first thing that really hits you when first listening to this 7” like a slap across the face is the vocals. On the A-Side, a number called “November” they’re very Debbie Harry-ish and also remind me a smidge of Maja Ivarsson from that '00’s Swedish band The Sounds. The B-Side is a song called “Big Guns” and it has a more Siouxie Sioux “Hong Kong Garden” energy and style to it. So what I guess I’m trying to say is that I really like the vocals. The songs are good, well written and arranged.  As for the rest of the band; you can tell they have their crap together. But something is still lacking on this record, I’m still left a little flat and I think it’s the production. It’s not bad by any means. But it’s rather generic and I think may kind of put a damper on the energy you can tell this band probably has when playing live.  - J Castro   

Get Bent – Discography LP (Dead Broke)
I have never heard of this band before now but I do remember someone telling me when I was a kid to “get bent.” I was so confused because I had no idea what it meant so I always remembered that. I did finally find out mind you, but when I heard the name of this band it made me smile a little.  Anyway, Get Bent the band is from Queens, New York and apparently have been around a while (2008), hence warranting a discography compilation LP. They’re pretty good too and have a similar sound to the other Dead Broke Rekerds stuff I reviewed in this batch. I kind of like it when a label has a “house sound.” If you like one, you’re gonna love ‘em all. Get Bent do the loud, gruff, melodic punk that has a similar feel to Avail or even J Church. They’ve got a really tight sound and their music resonates that good, hardworking, honest guy aura. No better place to start your Get Bent collection than here!  - J Castro

Hakan – II LP (Drunken Sailor/One Chord Wonder)
Ahhh, Hakan are back and soon all will be right with the world! Well, not really but for the duration of this record Hakan makes you think the possibility is within reach. These Italian masters of garage power pop play their hearts out for you once again. For those of you lucky enough to have scored their first record, their second endeavor is more of the same. You can certainly hear Jeff Burke’s (of Radioactivity) influence on this record since he produced it, he did a really good job of it too.  Nothing is too in your face, but just loud enough to command attention, which is perfect for the sound these guys have going on. Hakan does sound a tick like Radioactivity plus any other band that’s worth a shit these days playing dark clubs who warship early The Damned, Generation X, The Undertones etc. All those old bands that actually had snarl as well as melody in mind when writing their songs.   - J Castro

Horace Pinker – Recover 7” (Dead Broke)
I saw Horace Pinker open up for Fugazi in some dark dank crap hole in downtown Phoenix in the early '90’s. I don’t remember their music much but I do remember the singer diving off their amps and landing flat on his back over and over and being very impressed by that. Apparently they’ve moved from Phoenix to Chicago (can’t blame them for that) a while ago and have held it together since, which is quite an accomplishment. Horace Pinker have since toured a ton and released quite a few records. This however is their first 7” in almost 20 years, they did release an LP in 2011.  Recover was recorded and mastered by Mass Giorgini ('90’s punk fans would most certainly remember that name) and Dan Lumley from Riverdales/Screeching Weasel/Squirtgun is on the drum kit! If you like those pop punk bands from the '90’s that crossed over into early emo territory, you’re gonna love HP!  - J Castro

Iron Lizards – Red Tape Cassette EP (JanMI)
Iron Lizards come to us from Paris, France. With the cover art coupled with the name of the band, I halfway expected baggy shorts and goober-y pop punk. Well, needless to say I was wrong. Does anyone remember that band on Rip-Off Records called The Problematics? They played loud, mean, distorted punk rock about being drunk, fighting and how much life sucked. Iron Lizard sound pretty much like that. They’ve got that sound that The Dead Boys had if they played while their amps were on fire. With songs like “Garbage City” and “Ladies Night in Hell” you can kind see what I’m getting at. Some of the other bands that sound similar are Zeke, Electric Frankenstein and Jakkpot. Everything is just loud, wild and out of control on this record. Warning: this record is intended for those of you that still like the element of danger in your rock n' roll.  - J Castro 

Kim Gray – Perfume LP (Resurrection/Lolipop)
This record starts out pretty dreary and sadly, that’s about where it ends up. The opening track “Perfume Ghost” has a thin, almost harpsicord sounding effects with a flimsy Casio keyboard beat droning in the background except during the solo where the guitar lights up but are quickly smothered. Kim’s washed out vocal sound also seems out of touch and even lackluster. This effect is really popular with the Lolipop/Burger kids and I can’t understand why. It makes the songs sound so cold and distant.  Things pick up a bit more melody wise as the record progresses but it’s hit or miss from then on. Gone are the Surf/Doo Wop influences of Kim Gray’s 2015 effort Backstreet Bingo which I liked a lot more and reminds me a little of Dirty Beaches. I don’t need every record to sound like flaming, balls out Stiv Bators or Iggy Pop but c’mon, I want a bit more than something that sounds like it was recorded laying on a bed while being fed grapes and fanned with palm fronds.  - J Castro 

The Liminanas – Malamore LP (Hozac)
The Liminanas are essentially a two-piece band with a revolving cast of band members employed as they see fit. Malamore, the band’s fourth album, is a mix of Velvet Underground, ‘90’s shoegaze and French pop in a mellow Serge Gainsbourg way. The Liminanas at some point seem to be writing music for film soundtracks bringing about a new explosion of French cool with mellow interludes to be enjoyed by the cinephiles.  – Ed Stuart

Miss Chain & The Broken Heels – Uh! Uh! 7” (Bachelor)
It’s been a few years since last hearing Italy’s Miss Chain & the Broken Heels. Their last LP, The Dawn, came out a few years ago in 2013. After extensive touring in support of the LP, the band took a little hiatus, but has re-reemerged with the double A-side Uh! Uh! The title track, “Uh Uh” is an Americana roots country-twang influenced number. The other A-side “Standing The Night” is a slower moodier song that falls more into late ‘60’s R&B much like Ballantynes territory. Both songs are full of melody and pop hooks that are really well done.  – Ed Stuart

The Monos – Live ’78 LP (Kool Kat)
I’ve listened to tons of reissue LP’s from way back of obscure bands that people unearth for whatever reason. Are they any good? Yeah, some had flashes of brilliance here and there but where they good bands over all? To me, sadly the answer is no. The Monos, a UK Power Pop band that was in the thick of it all back then you can tell was in fact a good band over all. With really strong songwriting and the bands melodic guitar licks, you can tell this band actually could have gone farther than they did. The Monos however were another group from that era that fell victim to major label blundering.  The recordings here though are very primitive. It says it was recorded on a cassette recorder! But not to worry boys and girls, the album comes with a bonus disc with 6 of the Mono’s studio recordings!   Call it Power Pop, Jangle Pop, whatever – it’s darn good!  - J Castro

MESSRS – S/T LP (Heel Turn)
To be honest I wasn’t digging this record when I first put it on, but by the end I must say they made me a believer. It just kept getting more and more intriguing with each song. Let me put it to you another way. Listening to MESSRS is like listening to 4 dudes fighting with hatchets in the pitch darkness. I waited around until the sun came up to see what mess was left over. This record contains fast to mid-tempo audio pummeling. At some parts you feel like you’re standing right next to a speeding freight train and others you feel like a tank was dropped right beside you. To me, this record has a unique and terrifying combination of Jesus Lizard’s torque with Drive Like Jehu anxious energy. Heel Turn’s press release for this release says this record will be responsible for a mild winter. I’m fairly certain that if enough people played this record there would be no more winters, ever.  - J Castro

NOFX – First Ditch Effort LP (Fat Wreck)
There are not many punk bands that can boast the longevity of NOFX. Bad Religion does come to mind, but even they broke up and reformed. NOFX has been consistently playing for over thirty years and First Ditch Effort is their thirteenth LP. Yes, songs like “Sid and Nancy” and “Bye Bye Biopsy Girl” are nods to NOFX’s tongue in cheek past, but what First Ditch Effort does have a lot of is honesty. Fat Mike writes about more personal topics, albeit with sarcasm, his newfound sobriety, loss of a good friend, the kind of world his daughter might inherit, dislike of himself as the party punk and cross dressing. Musically, this is still signature NOFX with greater attention to hooks. – Ed Stuart

Notches – Change My Mind 7”/Cassette (Dead Broke)
Indie pop-punk from New Hampshire. Last band I knew from New Hampshire was The Queers so you can tell I don’t get to New England area very much at all. Change My Mind is the follow-up to last year’s High Speed Crimes LP. Notches play a grungy noisey earnest pop-punk that pulls from late ‘80’s Bay Area bands like Crimpshrime and Samiam.  – Ed Stuart

Pale Lips – Wanna Be Bad LP (Waterslide/Hosehead/Resurrection/Shake)
If I had to boil down Pale Lips to one word, it would be fun. In the punk rock world, there aren’t an overwhelming number of punk bands that are just fun and devoid of contrived antics or immature attempts at humor. Pale Lips are a ‘60’s bubblegum, surf influenced lo-fi garage-y Ramones band. Wanna Be Bad isn’t filled with pretensions and Pale Lips don’t hide whom they are. Songs like “Jangaroo,” and “Mary Lou Sniffin Glue” are fun filled mashes of bubblegum influenced '60’s girl groups mixed with ‘50’s Chuck Berry riffs without losing sight of The Ramones at every turn.  – Ed Stuart

Paul Collins Beat – One Night LP (Frodis)
The Beat S/T, debut is a power-pop classic. Songs like “Rock N’ Roll Girl,” “U.S.A,” and many others off the LP inspired countless power-pop musicians for years to come and typified American Power-pop much like the Nerves did earlier. In 1987, eight years after their self-titled classic, Paul Collins Beat recorded One Night, their fourth LP, and went away from power-pop and into roots rock territory with mixed results. The Beat's primary focus on acoustic instruments shows the band forgoing their power-pop songs in a time when the genre dried up in the midst of metal and new wave domination of the radio. – Ed Stuart

Pat Todd & The Rank Outsiders – The Outskirts of Your Love 2X LP (Hound Gawd!)
This is a double LP reissue of the band’s 2006 debut record, which much to my surprise is the first time it’s being offered on vinyl. If some of you may not know, Pat Todd used to be the singer in The Lazy Cowgirls.  Although The Rank Outsiders doesn’t fall too far from that tree, they are a tad less in your face.  Pat Todd still has the rock n' roll spirit flowing all through him and his new band is chalk full of punk energy. Pat Todd has always been a punk rock n' roller with the heart of a country and western troubadour.  With his new project, you can certainly hear that in his voice much more.  If you’re a fan of The Dragons, The Supersuckers, or even newer Social Distortion and their ilk, you should check out this record. It’s the perfect place to start your new post Lazy Cowgirls Pat Todd obsession!  - J Castro  

Petal Head – Raspberry Cough Cassette (Dead Broke)
Petal Head seems a bit of a departure form the usual Dead Broke release. Petal Head sounds like ‘90’s alternative, which I think is being classified as stoner rock now. Raspberry Cough is full of guitar driven riffs, in the Black Sabbath vein, played through a fuzz haze similar to My Bloody Valentine/Swervedriver. – Ed Stuart

Pretty Hurts – LP LP (Rockstar)
Pretty Hurts are a fantastic Punk/Post Punk outfit out of Berlin Germany. This full length, which came out late last year is powerful, dusky and has a sense of desperation and uneasiness running all through it. And that makes it intense and it really grabs a hold of you. The production is tattered and scrappy which really adds more to the band’s mystique. Pretty Hurts remind me of the pre-Joy Division band Warsaw only sped up and with more of a '77 Brit Punk drive behind it. Listening to this record gives me the sensation of driving coiled mountain pass roads at night at high speeds with your headlights off.  I remember reviewing the band’s 2014 12” EP Make Graves. That record was way more chaotic and had a Bauhaus like, tinny, high strung production.  Pretty Hurts sound now as if they are starting to perfect their craft and the results are remarkable.    - J Castro 

Rats Rest – On The Eastside 7” (Dead Broke/Peter Out)
Rats Rest is from Kansas City and features members of Allergic To Bullshit, Hard Feelings and Hello Shitty People. On The Eastside, the band’s third single, sounds like The Beltones playing a Marked Men style punk. It’s quick, straight-ahead, melodic punk with raspy vocals. If you remember the later Beltones when they decided to play faster? Rats Rest are in the ballpark. There are three originals and a cover of “Ballad Of The Irish Channel,” which Rats Rest play as if they wrote it.   – Ed Stuart

Rob Clarke and The Wooltones – Are You Wooltoned? LP (Kool Kat)
Am I Wooltoned? Whatever that means I have no idea but count me in if Rob Clarke will be there!  First off, if you aren’t familiar with the band, let me fill you in. Rob Clarke is from Liverpool, England and his band very much sounds like it. More specifically, Liverpool in the 1960’s. So much so in fact that it’s quite startling. They’ve incorporated a lot of the band’s sounds that came from there, Manchester and the other areas surrounding the River Mersey. Groups like The Hollies, Donovan, Manfred Mann, The Mindbenders, and of course the The Beatles. This album, which is a collection of songs the group has put out in the last few years fits quite nice and snug among all those other bands LP’s I just mentioned on your shelf. I’ve said this before and this time I couldn’t be more sincere: this does not sound like a cheap casino cover band. Rob Clarke and the Wooltones are the real deal, or as close as you possibly can get to it at this point.  - J Castro

Role Models – Forest Lawn LP (Glunk)
There aren’t many cases where the sequel is on equal or better terms than the original. Godfather II is the best argument that I can think of. Yes, I get the second LP isn’t a direct sequel, but it’s a follow up nonetheless. Forest Lawn is one hell of a follow up to Go To Guy. Role Models are their core a rock n’ roll band, but offer so much more. Their influences range from Heartbreakers/’77 NYC, Tom Petty, Replacements, Dragons and Black Halos. Role Models mix pop and glam harmonies on top of punk rock n’ roll riffs. So many songs are arguable classics. This is a band at the top of their game and they make it sound so effortless.   – Ed Stuart

So What – Hard Gum LP (Just Add Water/Surfin Ki)
I’m not going to tell you I know all about Bovver or Junk Shop music. In fact, I wasn’t even familiar with the term “Junk Shop” until I interviewed Jason Duncan, the singer/songwriter of this band a year or two ago. The way I understand it is it reminds me of Sweet, Slade, Gary Glitter or even like a tougher Bay City Rollers. This kind of stuff never set the U.S. a flame the way it seems it did back in England. The closest we got was when Quiet Riot clumsily covered Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize” back in 1983. So What have now coined the term “Hard Gum.” I assume they have since I’ve never heard it anywhere else and it describes their sound perfectly. And let me tell you this record will shake the chandeliers right off your roof top! It’s a loud, foot stompin’ good time packed into 12 inches of plastic.  - J Castro         

Sonic Avenues – Disconnector LP (Dirtnap)
There are a lot of things I admire about this band and I seem to find more and more with each record they put out. All of the releases that I have of theirs (which is most) I can play from start to finish without skipping a track. There are some songs I like more than others of course, but do any of them flat out suck, nope. Another thing I love about this band is how you can’t really pigeonhole their sound. Take this record for example, I can hear Buzzcocks, Undertones, maybe some Devo, a hint of Screamers on some tracks. I love it!  It’s like new wave/power pop delivered with punk punches.   The way they record their guitars is so cool to me too because they’re front and center, but never dominate. The Bass is right up there as well to provide a strong melodic structure and the beats provide a strong floor for the band to launch off of. Another ace for Sonic Avenues and Dirtnap!  - J Castro

The Soviettes – Rarities LP (Dead Broke/Rad Girlfriend)
The Soviettes, by the end, were a pretty well oiled Midwest pop-punk machine. Their last LP, III, was on Fat Wreck. Rarities, on the other hand, are just what you would expect it to be. It’s a compilation of early singles, demos, out of print material, other odds and ends from the band’s early years when they were learning their craft. The Soviettes stamp is on all of these songs, but they are rougher than what most Soviettes fans would expect. The Soviettes did call it quits, but the release of Rarities did coincide with a couple of shows so Soviettes fans could relive those old times once again.  – Ed Stuart

Stalins of Sound – Biology Museum Cassette (Volar)
San Diego’s Stalins of Sound sound like a revved up Spits/Epoxies mixed with the Screamers on their newest release Biology Museum. Stalins of Sound have always favored the drum machine over a real drummer, but their songs don’t seem to suffer as a result. The band seems more a true mix of synth punk than most carrying the moniker. Stalins of Sound go for capturing raw ’77 guitar energy instead of relying solely on keyboards to dictate the sound.  – Ed Stuart

The Sueves – Change Your Life LP (Hozac)
The Sueves are from Chicago and these dudes dominate the dormitory! Young, scrappy and pissed off and they look good doing it! The Sueves play their own vicious version of The Monks/Count Five style of 1960’s garage punk. The guitars are so blown out and vicious they feels like baseball bats being swung franticly at your face. The singer sounds like that guy at the bar that sits in the corner all night and by last call is so drunk he starts fighting and yelling at himself about who knows what because you can’t really understand him. But you know his rage, wherever it’s coming from its real and you feel it in your own gut as well. The songs here are short blasts of unnerving energy built on good old solid guitar riffage. This record also reminds me of one of my all-time favorite LP’s; the first Registrators record. So yes, The Sueves are sure to knock off your neck beard.   - J Castro

Talk Show Host – Perfectly Competent EP (Diskrete/Self-Release)
Talk Show Host is an indie pop-punk band from Toronto. Perfectly Competent sounds like a cross between the two genres. Talk Show Host’s drummer plays in Most Serene Republic, which provides the indie influence for the band. The story was the band went broke supporting the first EP, Disunion Tour, and to save money recorded this EP in their living rooms. Perfectly Competent has a clean punked up mix of Guided By Voices, Bob Mould, Jets To Brazil and Alkaline Trio.  – Ed Stuart

Tender Defender – S/T Mini LP (Dead Broke)
Fantastic 5 song “mini LP” from Dead Broke Rekerds out of NYC! It’s got melodic bass lines, relentlessly pounding drums and soaring guitars, what else can you ask for in this day and age?  Tender Defender are from Long Island and has member from some recognizable bands like RVIVR, Iron Chic, and Bridge and Tunnel (All 3 of those bands are great by the way). Tender Defender come from the Sludgeworth, Pegboy, Jawbreaker school of punk and these here humanoids graduated with honors. It amazes me how smart, earnest, yet tough as steel this band’s sound is. Tender Defender’s  got big ol’ throbbing stout hearts and they Duct Tape them right there on their sleeves and bleed all over everyone within earshot. These are the kinds of bands that keep underground music alive and vital to the human spirt.   - J Castro

The Terminals – Uncoffined LP (Hozac Archival)
The fine folks at Hozac are doing a bang up job with their Archival series. They don’t just stick the same old record into the same old sleeve but only this time stamp their name on the back. Oh no, they go in and repackage these records and remaster them as well so they sound meaner and leaner, like they were intended to sound like. A lot of times back then production more often than not left a band sounding flaccid. Only through outtakes, bootlegs and demos do you sometimes get what the band was really like. The Terminals were from New Zealand and this record as you may have already guessed based on their country of origin was originally on the fabled Flying Nun. It originally saw the light of day in 1988. It’s got a heavy '60’s sound, the lyrics are pretty dark but the music is ridiculously melodic, yet raw.   It’s quite brilliant and shines even brighter now with its new makeover.   - J Castro

The Thingz – Vault of Tomorrow LP (Coffee Addict)
The Thingz keeps going farther and farther back in time and on the way keep getting closer to the origin of garage, trash and blues. The Thingz have been a Long Beach mainstay for over fifteen years and have been releasing a steady diet of LP’s over the last few years. Vault of Tomorrow, the band’s sixth LP, is a good mix of garage trashy blues punk of Standells/Yardbirds if they solely existed on Back From The Grave. Early Thingz were more punk influenced, but Vault Of Tomorrow sees them shedding punk influence for more pure ‘60’s garage trash in both songwriting and tone.  – Ed Stuart

Tough Shits – Nicer Than God 7” (Founding Fathers)
The Philly boys are back with a brand new 2 song 7”. The A-Side and title track is a mediocre, mid-tempo '70’s sounding rock tune that sounds like something you’d hear on a local AM radio station while driving through a small town and you just sort of let it pass through your head. It’s not bad enough to change the dial, but it’s not good enough to really engage you and it most certainly won’t shake off that road dreariness. It’s got a lot of guitar noodling, but it still kind of sounds like a lost James Gang track or something. The B-Side, a ditty called “Babes of the Abyss” is way better. It starts out a little on the ramshackle side, but fires up quite nicely with a late 1970’s NYC style sound.  This record lacks the hooks of Tough Shits last 7”, released on Oops Baby last year called Action Breeze which I really liked.   - J Castro

Unfun – Waterboarding Cassette (Dead Broke)
Unfun was always a band of two worlds and their final release, Waterboarding is no different. One side is harsh noise and guitar dissonance with gruff vocals and the other side was melodic pop-punk with secret hooks. Unfun sandwiched both aesthetics into one like a crunchy peanut butter sandwich or a Tootsie Roll. Hard exterior to mask it’s melodic interior. Unfortunately for Unfun fans, the band is no more and Waterboarding is their swan song. – Ed Stuart

Vacation – Back to the Land 7” (Dead Broke)
Now this is interesting, this is the same song on both sides of the record.  Before you all balk and roll your eyes, they’re really different versions. In fact, I just put this record on and started doing something while listening and thought to myself how I like the B-Side a lot better! Then I sat down and listened to it again while reading about the record and felt a smidge foolish.  So yeah, they’re pretty different. If you aren’t familiar with Vacation, they have been around a while and have quite a few records in their cache. They play a distinct brand of reverb draped melodic punk with a hint of garage craziness. The A-Side is more of a slow burner and with the washed out production style, sounds like a Burger Records stoner-psyche tape. The B-Side however is more guitar driven, hits harder and much more my style. I plan on checking out more Vacation releases soon!  - J Castro

Various Artists – Killed By Meth LP (It’s Trash)
It’s Trash newest comp is an ode to Killed By Death in title, but the bands are pulled from the Rust Belt. Most of the bands on Killed By Meth, play a lo-fi dirty ’77 influenced garage punk rock n’ roll that ranges from ‘90’s Rip Off Records to more sludgy. Most of the bands sing with the anger of people who live in an area that has faced massive job loss due to a dismantling of their manufacturing sector and their jobs being shipped overseas. As with all comps, you are bound to find a band on here to follow up with.  – Ed Stuart

Witches With Dicks – Not Just A Passing Season 12” (Dead Broke)
Eight songs in about as many minutes and this isn’t a hardcore band. Witches With Dicks are from Boston and have been in No, Sir I Won’t, Neon Piss and many, many others. Not Just A Passing Season is full-tilt pop-punk that sounds like a faster Thumbs, early Snuff/Guns N’ Wankers played at breakneck speed with melodic vocals. Witches With Dicks has previously stopped playing as members moved into Ringers and Government Warning so I guess they are back, but for how long who knows. In the meantime, enjoy these brand new songs, which WWD could play three times in a row, and still have a shorter live set than your average local band. – Ed Stuart