Thursday, May 30, 2019

Record Reviews! More Music To Beat On Your Ear Drums!

Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs – Plastic Surgery EP (Self Released)
Gone are the Flat Duo Jets/White Stripes, lo-fi aggro Blues of their 2014 debut EP Snake Headed Faceless Cowboy. The former Tempe now Bay Area resident rockers Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs have now embraced a darker, more cynical feel to their music. This is the band’s third EP now so evolution in their music was inevitable I suppose. The guitars sound like they’re plucked straight out of the 70’s, think Machine Head era Deep Purple. High point for me was the song “200 Deer, 1 Rabbit” (which they also have a pretty nifty video on YouTube for).  Apparently it’s a true story about roadkill, pretty rockin’ tune none the less. - JC

The Anomalys – Trooper EP (Slovenly)
This here 4 banger EP just doesn’t let up. It’s a carpet bomb attack that explodes all around you, scorching your heels as you run to take cover. The title track lays down a bass line so solid you can launch an interstellar vehicle off of it. The song “Fire in the Hole” has a feeling of anxiety and desperation to it. The third song called “My Way” displays some killer supped up Link Wray style guitars. We finally get a reprieve during the last tune titled “Anomalyphant” which is a catchy instrumental number that’ll put some style in your step. All in all another winner for Slovenly. With only four songs, you’ll still have to wipe the sweat off your brow after this one. - JC

Bouncing Souls – Crucial Moments EP (Rise)
A new EP from this long running New Jersey band is always a cool thing. Listening to this band always takes me back to my capricious youth. I played their LP The Good, The Bad and The Argyle ALL THE TIME back in my high school days, which for your information still holds up. Unfortunately I kind of lost track of the band and haven’t listened to them in a while. Bouncing Souls were never the most profound “wordsmiths” but what they lacked in that department they made up for with heaps of heart. Listening to this EP shows that the band hasn’t lost their charisma at all. The song “Favorite Everything” is as good as anything they ever did back in 90’s.  - JC

The Cave Men – Lowlife EP (Slovenly)
New Zealand’s kings of fuzz muck return with 3 more songs of wadded up, spit on, trash rock. The first tune and title track is a melodic, mid-tempo, swinging sledge hammer of a ditty. It may not be a scorcher but it’s got a groove so tight it’ll make your hips twitch. The second tune titled “Baby I’d Do It For You” is the hard, fast pumping, lo-fi assault I’ve been bracing for. The final track, a song called “Drownin” is a fantastic broken blues number that perfectly caps off this amazing record.  If you’re not familiar with this band, this is a great place to start. The Cave Men effortlessly run the gamut of garage punk on this one.  - JC

Ditches – The Taste 7” (Jarama)
The first thing that screamed out to me when I first heard this record was Steve Adamyk Band. That’s not a bad thing at all mind you. This Swedish band plays a similar style of quick, ultra-melodic punk with a garage style production that’s almost “pop punk” but there’s a little too much angst. The two songs on this 7” were mixed and mastered by Jeff Burke (of Radioactivity fame) so that’s where that comes from.  Radioactivity shares a similar sound. All in all not a bad couple of tunes. If you like any of the above mentioned bands you should also pick up Ditches 5 song EP titled Elephants that they released last year too. - JC

Emperor Penguin – Walnut Fascia LP (Kool Cat)
UK’s Emperor Penguin have released one of the most intriguing records I’ve heard all year. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s really, really good actually. These guys are a power pop band at their core, that much is clear. But they use trippy atmospheric sounds swirling around some of the catchiest melodies you’ll ever hear. They’re then laid on a strong foundation of guitar rock n’ roll. Imagine The Jam covering the Beatles Sgt. Peppers album and you might be able to start picturing what Emperor Penguin have done here. Emperor Penguin have put their own unique touch to the power pop genre 
and the results are quite magnificent.   - JC

The Gentlemens – Triage LP (Hound Gawd)
This Italian band plays really cool punked up rock n’ roll with a light layer of fuzz covering the whole thing. The songs on this LP are lean and mean but backed up by some killer guitar hooks.  Sometime The Gentlemens at times stroll into full on blues mode like in the song “A Second Coming” and other times adding some psych spice to their repertoire (see the song “John Q Public Blues” which by the way they also have a great video on YouTube for).  Even when they stray a bit from their usual formula, The Gentlemens never lose their mojo.  It appears to actually just make them stronger when they bounce back. - JC

The Mandates – Dead in the Face LP (Teenage Rampage, Dirtyflair, This is Pop)
Brooding in a black leather jackets, oh, how I’ve missed The Mandates! These guys play catchy, high energy, melodic punk with perpetual broken hearts. The music Mandates play has 70’s punk energy yet woven with a power pop passion. Songs about loves lost, isolation, and desperation litter Dead in The Face but it’s not a bummer record at all. You get a sense of “hey we all go through this crap, we’re in it together” feeling when listening to songs like “Baby I’m an Outsider”, “On The Run”, and “Any Good Western”. Songs mean so much more if you can feel the earnestness of the bands playing them. And it sounds like Mandates put their souls on the line with each one. - JC

Man Hands – The New Malaise LP (Slope)
Yet another remarkably executed album of shadowy, angst shrouded post punk from these Arizona agitators.  This is the band’s third and in my opinion, best effort thus far. While you’re listening to this album you’ll find that light in the area diminishes and the air grows a biting chill in its presence. Man Hand’s music forms deadly auditory bolts engineered to deconstruct your faulty cognitive faculties upon impact.  I can make some comparisons here, but I won’t bother because there is no way I can do this record justice in doing so. The New Malaise is just something you have to experience for yourself. - JC

Moral Panic – S/T LP (Alien Snatch)
This NYC punk band has kicked it in overdrive since their 2017 debut LP. I know the cover reminds you of The Dictators Bloodbrothers a bit right? Well, don’t let that fool you. There’s no cover of “Stay with Me” anywhere around. These guys put together Voltron style everything you liked about your favorite 80’s American punk records and create a formidable juggernaut of an LP that I guarantee will not be soon forgotten. I hear all the greats in their music. But Moral Panic aren’t a cover or tribute band mind you. You can hear the ghosts of all those bands, but it’s put into a shell and fired off from a weapon that’s entirely of their own making. - JC

Mystery Girl – Heartbreaker EP (Brain Slash)
New York’s Mystery Girl are back with two more sleazed up, catchy as a cold sore rock n’ roll nuggets of pure gold. Mystery Girl obviously takes nods from bands like Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, Ramones and their ilk. It’s hard not to, bands like that really had something special going on in their prime. But this band takes that sound, chews it up, and spits it out as something entirely their own. The spirit of yesteryear is there for sure but this band plays with such energy and sincerity that the music takes on an entirely different element, making it sound new and fresh. Mystery Girl are one of my favorite new discoveries of the year. - JC

Nightmarathons – Missing Parts LP (A-F)
It’s pretty impressive when you hear a band with a pretty clear sound and direction, then you find out they’ve only been around a few years. Nightmarathons have only been together since 2016. This is their debut LP but have a few 7”s under their belt as well. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with A-F records but it’s a label formed by the Anti-Flag guys. So when I saw this I thought it would sound, well Anti-Flag-ish. But it doesn’t at all. These guys have that cool inspiring, epic punk sound like Face to Face or RVIVR locked down pretty tight.  I think this record could have benefited with a more robust sound, but that’s just me nit picking.  It’s a great release none the less. - JC

Powersolo – Transfixing Motherfucker EP (Slovenly)
The dynamite Danes known as Powersolo have release their umpteenth 7” comprised of their trade mark manic, high energy, minimalistic rock n’ roll. Powersolo’s music sounds like Hasil Adkins fronting the Angry Samoans. The singer for this band has so much presence and charisma, rare for bands these days. It’s difficult not to compare him with the late great Lux Interior. If you don’t believe me, check out the viral vid for their tune “Boom Babba Do Ba Dabba” for evidence. They actually rolled through my town a few months ago and I was dumb enough to miss it. This went down on my short list of regrets in life. It won’t happen again. - JC

The Raws – D.D.D.D.Y EP (Slovenly/Mondo Mongo)
This is the Turkish garage punk warrior’s fourth EP, but my first time hearing them. They deliver four bloody, sweaty tunes on this record that sound like they could have been Killed by Death or Bloodstains gems, unearthed from a time long ago. My favorite song on here is called “Hala Açız which translates to “Still Hungry.” It immediately launchers into a tremendous anthemic guitar riff that sounds like it could have been on the first Saints record. The whole EP is sung in Turkish. But that’s all good because as we all know, Punk is the international language. It sure as hell ain’t love or for god’s sake NOT math!  - JC

Scorpion Vs Tarantula – When the Girls Are Gone LP (Self Released)
Listening to Scorpion vs Tarantula evokes a similar feeling in my gut as watching an explosive air strike in one of those old Vietnam War documentaries. The music is fast and violent yet magnificent. You just have to stand there in awe of its sheer brutality. I’ve been a fan of this band for a while now and I’ve never heard them sound as savage and intense as they do on this record, which is a beautiful thing. If you’re not familiar with this band, they play hard hitting punk ROCK in a similar loud and sweaty style as the Candy Snatchers or Zeke. They’re the kind of band that leave a smoldering crater in the ground under where they just played.  - JC

The Survivalists – Everything is Awful LP (Hidden Home)
This album from what I understand was pieced together by its two members, one living in China and the other in Ontario. You couldn’t tell that just by listening to it though, it’s very well mixed. Some tunes are a little on the treble-y side. That however was probably done on purpose, to give the music an edge, which it does. The whole “folk punk” ship sailed without me though, leaving my tired old self long faced on the edge of the dock. But if you’re into Andrew Jackson Jihad, Bomb the Music Industry and that lot, you’ll dig what The Survivalists are doing here on this long player.  - JC

Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad LP (Fat Wreck Chords)

This is the Wyoming pop punksters 9th LP, yes you read that correctly ninth!  If you haven’t heard these guys yet then I’ve got to assume you’ve been stuck in a remote Arctic cave for the last 17 years or so.  Teenage Bottlerocket, along with The Copyrights and The Lillingtons have taken the true pop punk torch from predecessors Screeching Weasel, The Queers, and The Mr. T Experience and have been burning it brightly since. I’ll be honest, this isn’t TB’s best effort in my opinion. High points, the songs “Everything to Me” and “I Never Knew” standout. Low point is the sappy tune “I Wanna Be a Dog” and it’s about, well I think you can probably guess. - JC

Tiger Touch – Hawthorne Boogie 7” (Tyrannical Volts)
Portland’s Tiger Touch are back with another heavily armored two banger. These well trained rock n’ roll soldiers play catchy, hard driving punk rock while heavily leaning on the ROCK. The vocals are delivered in a sly and cunning manner while the guitars stand atop and command the tank. The bass and drums are the heavy cannons firing away, destroying pieces of your ear drums with each shell fired. If you wish there were more bands out there that put as much blood and sweat as the Stooges did on Ray Power, then your wish has been granted. Behold, the mighty Tiger Touch! - JC

U.S. Depressed – Bored Again LP (Self Released)
Listening to AZ’s U.S. Depressed reminds me of summers growing up in Phoenix.  Where it’s so hot all you can really do is stay indoors, listen to music and play video games all day until its night time and the temperature lets up. Luckily for me I had a used record store about 10 minutes away that sold cheap used tapes. It was during this time I discovered a lot of music including groups like fireHose, Meat Puppets, and all that Sub Pop, SST Records types of American Post Punk. Like the above mentioned bands U.S. Depressed play beautifully eerie, captivatingly quirky, hypnotic rock n’ roll on this, their 2nd LP. I can’t help but wonder if these guys have a similar story growing up in the sweltering Sonoran Desert.  - JC

Various Artists – Down South Spaghetty Accident LP (Spaghetty Town) 
This is one of the best comps I’ve heard in a really long time. I don’t know if it’s because it’s preaching to the already converted since I’ve loved the fabulous Spaghetty Town records for a while now. But whether you’re already a fan or not it’s undeniable that this record is packed full of some of the best currently active punk bands around. The coolest part is it’s almost entirely tracks I haven’t heard yet. What I also really love about this comp is that the bands all have a similar Dead Boys/glam/back alley sleaze to them. So it feels like a cohesive record as opposed to a sampler with a bunch of songs crammed together that don’t gel. Highly recommended!  - JC

Vintage Crop – Company Man 7” (Drunken Sailor)
WOW! Killer angular, pissed off post punk from this Australian quartet. I haven’t heard post punk this hostile in a while! Of course with this kind of music you need a healthy dose of snark and sarcasm, which Vintage Crop happily and effortlessly deliver in droves.  If you like bands like Wire, Swell Maps and more recently Art Brut then Vintage Crop are here to wrap their loving arms around you. The band has a couple of LP’s and a couple of 7”s prior to this. Guess I’m heading to Discogs next to hunt those down now. This is one of my favorite releases of the year so far!  - JC

Young Skulls – Bomb Train Blues EP (Slovenly)

From the very beginning bits of the first song and title track, the hot, blown out guitar riff and fist pounding drums hit you hard and fast like you’ve just been run over by a cement truck! Then the vocals tear in, which sound like they belong to a man clinging to the final threads of his sanity. It’s at this precise moment you realize, this is going to be a fantastic record! The B-Side introduces some primitive keyboard sounds, which are allowed in the co-pilots chair for this one. The song is called “We’re Gone” and it too is a primal rock n’ roll heel stomper. This New York trio delivers the goods, and do it with just two songs! Most impressive! - JC

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