With Pale Lips being way high up there on my list of current favorite bands, it's hardly a surprise that I'm touting the Montreal foursome's new 7" as possible single of the year. But while Pale Lips could have put just about any two songs on a record and received a ringing endorsement from yours truly, I really have to say they've outdone themselves with their new 45 Should've Known Better. You won't find a more fun pair of tunes ever. The phrase "double A side" is usually such steaming BS that I'm almost embarrassed to type it. But if you can spin Should've Known Better and determine with 100% certitude which song is the "hit", you've got a better ear than I. "Don't Take Your Switchblade To Your New York" is wonderful life advice and a good rockin' tune to boot. If there's one thing that tends to put Pale Lips just a little bit ahead of some of the world's similarly-minded poppy punk rock ' roll groups, it would have to be the cleverness and humor of their lyrics. "Switchblade" is a perfect case in point. You won't be able to resist singing along with this one, and it'll have you tapping your toes for sure. On the flip, "Old Flame" steps up the pace a little and plays to one of Pale Lips' lyrical strengths: making fun of dumb boys who think they're such hot shit. Here the old flame gets burned bad! 50% of the time, I find myself insisting that this song should have been the A-side. The other half of the time, I give "Switchblade" the slight edge. I just can't make up my mind! I would imagine that both songs are big crowd favorites at live shows, and those of you in Europe can find out for yourselves if you catch the band on tour in July! The vinyl (featuring amazing artwork by Spencer Alexander!) will be out July 4th on Surfin' Ki Records in Europe and Resurrection Records in the States. Digital version is available now!
Talk about an unearthed treasure! Tom Baker, singer/guitarist for Dirty Truckers and Tom Baker & The Snakes, recently found a pile of Dirty Truckers singles in his closet from a release the band had done back in 2012. The original 45 contained the songs "Stranger In Disguise" and
"Human Contact". Those two songs along with four additional tracks comprised a larger EP called Tiger Stripes. Rum Bar Records has teamed up with Dirty Truckers to offer a sweet package deal: you get the entire digital EPalong with the original two-song 7" for just $5. If you've been enjoying the new Tom Baker & The Snakes album on Rum Bar but are not familiar with Dirty Truckers, it's a pretty safe bet thatthe latter will be up your alley as well. Think blue collar American rock n' roll with country leanings, forged under the influence of the Replacements, Stones, and Steve Earle. Tiger Stripes is just what you'd expect from an EP produced by a master pop-rock craftsman like Dave Minehan."Stranger In Disguise" just begs to be cranked loud while you relax on your front porch with a cold can of beer in hand, while "Human Contact" is twangy everyman rock that brings to mind Bash and Pop. The deeper cuts are formidable as well - with "Feedback" rocking along the lines of later Replacements or Soul Asylum and "Just Run Away" demonstrating what quality country rock is all about. While Dirty Truckers and Tom Baker & The Snakes are by no means one and the same, Baker and guitarist John Brookhouse do double duty in both bands. And with drummer Johnny Lynch also pounding the sticks for Watts, Dirty Truckers could legitimately be described as a Rum Bar Records all-star team! Dusted off for new life in 2017, Tiger Stripes ought to be a welcome reissue for fans of Tom Baker or anyone who longs for the heyday of alt-country.
It just doesn't seem right when the arrival of a new season is not accompanied by a new release from Vista Blue. And while VB currently has a great deal on its plate, the band did want to put out something new for the summer. And that's what led to the recording of Here To Stay - a collection of four cover songs you can now download for free over at Vista Blue's Bandcamp.
I'm a really big fan of all-covers releases. It's very interesting to me when a band I like decides to record music it didn't write. Sometimes this provides an insight into a band's influences, and sometimes it's just neat to hear a really great song performed in a totally new way. I think Vista Blue has done a particularly good job with the covers format. I admire the choices, and I'm impressed with each of the renditions. If you love this band the way I do, this is as an absolutely essential "purchase". Reading the liner notes, you will discover the story behind the selection of the songs comprising Here To Stay. I like that none of these choices were too obvious (e.g. no Weezer or Beach Boys), yet every one of them makes perfect sense. "Dreaming of Me", a song off of Depeche Mode's debut album Speak & Spell, is perhaps the song off this EP that might be most unfamiliar to Vista Blue's fan base. Depeche Mode's lighter synth-pop period is often forgotten or at least dismissed as unimportant within the band's larger catalog. But I would definitely list "Dreaming of Me" as one of my favorite songs by Depeche Mode. Here Vista Blue manages to maintain the spirit of the original while also updating it with fuzzy guitars and just a little sprinkle of keyboards. I hope this will have a lot of people checking out the original. The Cascades' 1962/1963 smash hit "Rhythm of the Rain" is a formidable tune to tackle, but Vista Blue gives it that later '90s pop-punk "oldies core" treatment a la The Proms, Ruth's Hat, etc. I have to love a '60s cover that makes me nostalgic for 1999! You would think Big Star's "Thirteen"- as perfect of a pure pop song as there's ever been - would be completely untouchable. But I dig how Vista Blue re-imagines it in a new wave meets modern power pop style. You certainly can't improve upon perfection, but this version of "Thirteen" is a loving and fresh-sounding homage. And while Teen Idols' "Midnight Picture Show" is certainly a song you might expect Vista Blue to cover, I like how it's transformed into something you could believe they actually wrote themselves. To me, what made Teen Idols such a great pop-punk band was that their songs could totally have worked as pure pop. Here Vista Blue proves that to be true.
Here To Stay is 100% free. Since the band did not write any of this music, Vista Blue won't even accept donations on this release. Enjoy the music, and be sure to save your pennies for the band's baseball LP Seasons - coming out later this summer on Something To Do Records!
If you've been following the international garage-punk scene closely in recent years, you have likely already experienced the savage sonic assault of The Cavemen. And for damn sure, you liked it! This wild and primal foursome out of New Zealand has to date released two albums and several singles that would have been right at home in the '90s heyday of degenerate trash garage-punk rock n' roll. Slovenly Recordings proudly presents what I believe is the band's first American release - a raging nut-kicker of an EP featuring the wholesome family values anthem "Dog On A Chain". Fans may be familiar with "Death Row" and "Killing Myself To Live" from a cassette release last year that was limited to (of course!) 69 copies. "Dog On A Chain" is exclusive to this release and will melt your face completely off should you fail to wear protective headgear. It's the epitome of what great garage-punk ought to be: raw, scuzzy, andcertain to disgust the average person. "Death Row" channels the Stooges by way of the Candy Snatchers and Spider Babies, with frontman Paul Caveman pushing the insanity factor to a level unsurpassed even in this realm of music. Any claims about the lyrics being in extremely poor taste ought to be construed as the highest possible praise. If it has caused you great distress to contemplate that punk music is no longer as dangerous or depraved as it ought to be, this EP will surely be the most uplifting thing you hear this year. Play some goddamn rock n' roll!
Certainly this new era of digital music provides an instant gratification that was not available to us in previous decades. Remember when you couldn't hear bands unless you actually went out and tracked down their records? We could debate at length as to whether it was better that way, but it's hard to deny that there are certain advantages to our existing world of streaming and downloading. One major example is that you get to hear great new music almost instantly after it is recorded. Portland, Oregon's Girl Drink Drunks are the best new punk rock band I've heard in a good while, and they've been swell enough to give us a preview of their forthcoming debut LP. Without the wonders of modern technology, we might have had to wait months or even more than a year before these songs saw the light of day. This is the latest band from legendary Portland garage-punk howler Joel Jett (Flip Tops, The Minds) - who I consider to be one of the finest punk vocalists of my generation. Joining him in this band is a who's-who of Portland punk players including Rodrigo from Piss Test, Kevin from White Night, and Matt and Jonny from the mighty Hot LZs. With all of these guys involved, you know what to expect: straight-up pummeling punk rock with pissed-off vocals and lyrics. What's not to love about that?! The band is very motivated to get this record out. So if you run a label and like what you hear, get in touch with Girl Drink Drunks ASAP. This album is gonna be SO hot!
Last week I referenced a song that ought to be on your 2017 summer rock n' roll playlist. If you aren't making such a playlist, I have to wonder what in the world you are doing with your life. But if you are, I've got another hot tip on how to make it even more awesome. Hop on over to Ramma Lamma's Bandcamp page and get your figurative mitts on the band's new digital EP Oink'n'Boink! Ramma Lamma is a fab foursome out of Milwaukee that's been dishing out glammy bubblegum garage-trash rock n' roll goodness since the start of the decade. The lineup features such luminaries as Wendy and Ryan from Plexi 3 and The Monitors as well as our man Daniel James from Indonesian Junk. Redolent of a time when rock n' roll was raucous, playful, and more than a little dirty, Oink'n'Boink was seemingly made for the enhancement of your summertime fun. Here's a band that takes absolutely nothing seriously - besides the task of writing fantastic songs. Music catchier than this simply does not exist, and the lyrics will make you laugh and perhaps even blush. The whole EP is just wonderful stupid fun. Singling out one particular song as being most outstanding is proving to be an impossible task. So I'll just let you do your own research to determine for yourself which track is "the hit". If these three songs do not play a prominent role in the beach trips, pool parties, backyard cookouts, baseball outings, ice cream socials, front porch beer bashes, drive-in make-out sessions, and petty crime sprees you partake in this summer, you only have yourself to blame. Now go give Ramma Lamma three bucks!
I always enjoying hearing from Jabronis - my favorite active Ramones-core band. Amazingly they've been more prolific of late than their alter egos The Anxieties (has it really been three and a half years since The Anxieties last released something?!). Jabronis' brand-new EP is called Wake Up Alive - currently available as a name your price download over at Bandcamp. With cover art paying homage to the Animal Boy LP, I thought this might be the release where Jabronis leaned towards that particular era of the Ramones. I imagined dated '80s production, lots of synthesizers, and lead man "Tony" succumbing terribly to vocal wear and tear. Probably for the best, none of this was to be found. Wake Up Alive sticks to the fundamental rules of Ramones-core and keeps it simple and stupid. "I.M.B.E.C.I.L.E." is rock-solid first album worship, while "I Love That Girl" evokes the classic Joey Ramone penned love song with its appealing mix of tenderness and humor. The latter could be my favorite Jabronis song yet. "Season's Beatings" is a ripper of an instrumental that will forever change the way I view It's A Wonderful Life. "Wake Up Alive" is certainly a highlight of the EP - a dark but poppy number weaving a tragic tale of young love, psycho killers on the loose, and cruel injustice. All of this for the incredibly low price of free is far too good to pass up. With the cover art looking so sharp, it's good to hear that the band is considering an eventual physical release on CD and/or cassette. But for now, it's digital only. Purchase also available from Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play!