Monday, August 13, 2018

August Reviews - Three more

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

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

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


Friday, August 10, 2018

Record Reviews: Fresh Crop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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