Sunday, May 28, 2017

Here are Control Freaks!

So we literally waited a dozen years for new music from Greg Lowery. Just based on the sheer passage of time, there had to be cause for concern. Would the 2017 version of Greg Lowery still be the guy we so fondly remembered, or would he have reinvented himself as a serious "artist" backed by his own orchestra and choir? What if he'd been spending the last dozen years writing a triple LP rock opera about his feelings? What if he'd decided to go electronic? Okay, I'm lying. No one ever had cause for concern. Greg Lowery will never make "serious" music, and he will never call himself an artist. That is why we love him, and that is why we already knew that Control Freaks' Mindless Entertainment would be one of the year's mandatory punk rock purchases. In fact, I must recommend bypassing the rest of this review and proceeding immediately to the Slovenly Recordings web store or Bandcamp page to secure your copy. Seriously: go buy the thing! If you're still reading right now, you are stubborn and disobedient. I must say those are qualities that I admire.

If you were one of those individuals who could never get into Lowery's terrific Zodiac Killers because they deviated from the Supercharger/Rip Offs/Infections blueprint, Bay Area sensations Control Freaks should be much, much more to your liking. Mindless Entertainment fully lives up to its title - delighting all who crave the sort of trashy and wonderfully stupid punk rock goodness that made Lowery a household name. And with so few bands even trying to pull off this type of thing today, it might as well be the g.o.a.t. who steps up and shows the kids how it's done. What's cool about this band is the way Lowery and his co lead singer Natalie Sweet (The Shanghais) play off of each other. The two take turns on lead vocals, and some songs are straight-up duets. That snotty co-ed vocal blend brings to mind many of my favorite Rip Off Records releases, and clearly this was a band formed in the spirit of the glory days of garage-punk. The band finds that-just right mix of raw, obnoxious, and epidemic-level catchy. The theme song "Control Freaks" launches a rocket straight back to the Rip Offs' heyday, and then the fantastic "PTSD" features a star turn from Sweet on lead vocals (the one-sheet hilariously likens her singing to an "Edith Bunker impression"!). If that 1-2 punch doesn't have you sold on Control Freaks, then I'm going to surmise that the rest of the record will not sway you to the dark side. The rest of us, however, will bask in vintage Lowery bangers such as "Hollywood" (a song so dumb that you might not realize how smart it is) and "Crime Wave". Being such a sucker for good old '77 punk, I'm also quite partial to "No Desire" and "Blowtorch Love" (which bring to mind the almighty Infections). And if I say that "Sweet Dreams" sounds like it could have been a Shanghais song, that should only be construed as high praise!

If you have loved just about every piece of music that Greg Lowery has ever attached his name to, Mindless Entertainment will not disappoint. This is my favorite record he's played on in two decades (and I did really like Zodiac Killers). The fact that he shares the spotlight with one of the top punk vocalists of the present day really adds freshness and relevance to what Control Freaks are doing. And with so many newer "garage" bands lacking the rawness and fun attitude that ought to be considered essential to this genre, Mindless Entertainment most definitely fills a void. Sing it with me: C.O.N.T.R.O.L!



-L.R.

https://slovenly.bandcamp.com/album/control-freaks-mindless-entertainment-lp
https://www.facebook.com/ControlFreaksSF/
http://slovenly.com/
https://www.facebook.com/slovenlyrec/

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Best of the Dimestore Haloes!

Here's a real mind-blower: the Dimestore Haloes' first album Thrill City Crime Control is now as old as the debut LPs by the Clash and Sex Pistols were the year Thrill City came out. Even the final Haloes recordings pre-dated YouTube, Coke Zero, selfies, and the entire Real Housewives franchise. Ladies and gentlemen, the Haloes are officially classic rock! And given that all of the original records are way, way out of print, this seems like the perfect time for a Haloes best-of compilation to come into existence. Its arrival is great news for longtime fans who no longer own all of the old records as well as those who have more recently discovered the Haloes by way of Charles and Kevin's current band The Cheap Cassettes. And while the Haloes' entire recorded has been available digitally for a couple of years, Crash & Burn or Fly is the band's first retrospective to be released in a tangible format. Thanks to state of the art 1990s technology, you can now get your mitts on a compact disc containing 15 of the Haloes' finest studio cuts covering the years 1997 to 2004!

I appreciate that the contents of Crash & Burn or Fly were determined not by a corporate suit or focus group but rather by Charles Matthews himself. I must admit I was going to throw a royal tantrum if "Death Is a Star" had not been included on this disc. But otherwise, I vowed not to complain in any way about the track selection. With these best-of collections, there's always the question of who should get to decide which songs were really the "best". Well, I think the guy who wrote all of the songs is probably as qualified as anyone! And there's no denying that this compilation is a very good representation of who the Dimestore Haloes were and why they were my favorite band of my illustrious youth. Each of the band's first three albums is represented with three tracks, with an additional four songs taken from 2004's Ghosts of Saturday Night and another two culled from compilations. The comp cuts ("Saturday's Heroes" and "Crazy") bookend the collection, but otherwise it flows chronologically. You get to hear the band's evolution from its raw, rootsy origins to the glammy punk rock n' roll of its glory years to those later, more pop-influenced songs that laid the path for The Cheap Cassettes. And while I tend to romanticize Thrill City above all of the band's other full-lengths, my time spent with this comp has led me to concede that the Haloes got progressively better with each album they released.

Priced at just $8, Crash & Burn or Fly is a swell deal for anyone who desires a hard copy of the Dimestore Haloes' music. Considering that all of these recordings were originally released in small runs on DIY labels, it's tremendously encouraging that so many people still fondly remember them. And while I cringe at the pomposity of the prose I used to concoct in acclaim of the Haloes, the sentiment behind it has not changed. I still love this music, and I think it stands up quite well to the test of time. With a Beat Angels best-of still available on Onus Records, a movement to preserve '90s glam-punk seems to be taking shape. Let's hope the Trash Brats are up next!



-L.R.

https://thedimestorehaloes.bandcamp.com/album/crash-burn-or-fly-the-best-of-the-dimestore-haloes-1997-2004
https://www.facebook.com/dimestorehaloes/ 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Great new EP from Gorilla*!

Attention, power pop fans! I've got a real treat for you today! Tokyo's Gorilla* has been around since 2011 and features Kenny Ogawa (The Cokes) on guitar and vocals along with Atsushi (Pop N Roll) on bass. Fifi from Teengenerate was the original drummer, and there's no doubt that Gorilla* ought to be mentioned in the same breath as Teengenerate affiliated power pop bands like The Tweezers and Firestarter. The band's new EP It's All Pop! was originally issued as a tour CD in Japan earlier this year, and now it gets an American release on vinyl courtesy of the Baltimore-based Hidden Volume Records. Doesn't the title pretty much say it all? If you love classic power pop, you'll be in heaven listening to these six songs. I was immediately floored by opener "Oh Tonight", which sounds so authentically later '70s power pop that you could slide it anywhere into the old Rhino Shake It Up compilation and it would not sound out of place. And nothing much changes for the remainder of the EP, with songs taking a massive influence from The Raspberries along with the likes of Shoes, Phil Seymour, Romantics, Off Broadway, and of course the almighty Beatles ("Stay With Me" is one of the finest British Invasion homages by way of the skinny tie generation I've heard in ages).

It's All Pop! is actually the second 7" from Gorilla* following an amazing single released on Three Dimensional Records three years ago. If you long for an eternal 1978 and the never ending reign of Bomp! Records, this is a band you need to be checking out immediately! Kudos to Hidden Volume for securing a domestic release for this Japanese treasure. Snag copies on banana yellow or black licorice vinyl while they're still available!



-L.R.

http://hiddenvolume.com/album/its-all-pop-ep
https://www.facebook.com/hivorecs

Friday, May 19, 2017

New Küken LP!

Look who's back! It was two years ago that I raved about Küken's fantastic debut LP. And now we gladly receive album #2, which is an absolute ripper. Küken is the latest musical incarnation of Chris and Philipp, the twins behind High School Rockers and The Kidnappers. Essentially Küken sounds like The Kidnappers minus any power pop influence. And while I loved The Kidnappers, Küken's nasty and fully stripped-down punk rock attack is every bit as satisfying to my ears. Like the first album, the new one is self-titled and mirrors its no-frills sounds with minimalist cover art. With no tracks exceeding two minutes, the band's m.o. is clearly to come out and hit you in the mouth over and over and over again. There's really no variation from the last album except that this set of songs is even stronger and discernibly darker. Knowing fully well that the simplest songs are usually the hardest to write, I really commend the twins for their perfection of the punk rock form. They are true believers in short songs using the bare minimum of chords. And they've just made their best album in over a decade. If you're feeling those urges that can only be satisfied by certified killer punk rock, this is the stuff you need. Drunken Sailor has the vinyl. Go get it! 



-L.R.

https://drunkensailorrecords.bandcamp.com/album/k-ken-lp
https://www.facebook.com/kuekenpunk/ 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meet The Chinchees!


When Ed from Radiohearts/Audio Ammunition asked me if I'd heard The Chinchees, I immediately knew I had to go check this band out. And let me tell you, Ed did not steer me wrong! Earlier this year, this Minneapolis trio self-released its debut album and quickly sold out the entire pressing. Dirt Cult Records is stepping up to issue a second pressing, which I hope will generate widespread attention for this immensely infectious collection of power pop tunes. This is one of those albums that delivers an instant jolt of energy the moment you put it on, and the fun just keeps going all the way to the end. The band tears through these songs with such unbridled gusto that you almost don't notice how well-crafted the hooks are. This is just awesome punky pop that manages to not sound like a thousand other "pop-punk" bands. Vocally, at least, I'm reminded a great deal of the late '80s/early '90s heyday of college radio. If you dig, say Tenement or Low Culture, you need to be all over The Chinchees! Stay tuned to Dirt Cult's Bandcamp for information on this second vinyl pressing. Digital album available now from both the label and the band directly!



-L.R.

https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-chinchees
https://thechinchees.bandcamp.com/album/the-chinchees
https://www.facebook.com/TheChinchees

Friday, May 12, 2017

Debut album from Shanda & the Howlers!

Here we go with what ought to be THE summer album of 2017! Shanda & the Howlers are a self-described rhythm & blues revivalist band. Perhaps that brings to mind cruise ship/wedding reception/tribute act shtick. Well forget that, because Shanda & the Howlers are the real deal! The band's debut album Trouble is out on the ever-dependable Rum Bar Records, and it's flat-out terrific from start to finish. What separates Shanda & the Howlers from the pack is that although they can certainly deliver crowd-pleasing covers in their live sets, their original material is every bit as good. Trouble sounds less like an homage to '50s/'60s soul and more like the genuine article. If Malibu Lou had told me he obtained the masters from vaults that were sealed 55 years ago, I would have had no reason to disbelieve him!

No doubt the first thing you'll notice about Shanda & the Howlers is the remarkable voice of Shanda Cisneros. She's a dynamite lead singer and surefire future star. In a lesser band, her powerful pipes would completely steal the spotlight. But when you put her out in front of the Howlers, the marriage of voice and music could not be more perfect. This is how you do it, man: back a great singer with a super-tight band and just let it roll! If I didn't already know that Luke Metz was in The Heartdrops back in the day, I would seriously consider that he and Keith Alcantara might have time traveled from the '60s after laying down the rhythms for numerous Stax Records recordings. And Micah Lapping-Carr totally kills it on saxophone!

As a huge fan of classic soul music, I'm always delighted to hear such a timeless style kept afloat by new bands writing original material. Trouble is an album steeped in a love not just for Stax/Motown soul but also the blues, jazz, and early rock n' roll that preceded it. By all means, this is music you can dance to all night long. But if you're more in the frame of mind to quietly ponder past heartbreaks and love gone bad, several of these songs will hit you hard. "Keep Telling Me" is an instant party starter, sounding like what might have happened if Etta James had sung lead for Ray Charles. And once the Howlers come on like Otis Redding's backing band on "She Don't Want A Man", there's no turning back. By the time you get to the chorus, the song's already stuck in your head and you just know you need to own the whole album. Covering everything from dance-floor shakers ("Don't Need Your Love") to bluesy rockers ("Don't Wait Up") to gritty R & B workouts ("Mind Made Up"), Trouble is consistently pleasing and never repetitive. And "Born With A Broken Heart" is simply stunning - proof that what really makes a great ballad is a vocal that you can truly feel deep down.

As you may or may not know, Rum Bar Records had its origins under the name Melted Records back in the '90s. The Heartdrops were one of the first bands Lou worked with, and now we come full circle with Luke Metz's current band joining the Rum Bar family. If label mates The Connection are making a good case that the best new rock n' roll ought to sound like old rock n' roll, Shanda & the Howlers are doing the same for soul music. This is one kind of trouble that you best not avoid!



-L.R.

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/trouble
https://www.facebook.com/shandathehowlers/
https://www.facebook.com/RumBarRecords 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Radiohearts new EP!

You know there's not much in life that I enjoy more than '77-style punk & power pop. And when it comes to current bands creating that kind of sound, Radiohearts have been one of the very best for a number of years now. While I'd generally put this band in the highly underrated category, at least it can be said that some of the finest record labels in the world are big fans. The Long Beach, California foursome has worked with No Front Teeth Records a couple of times, and now the venerable German label Wanda Records gets in on the action! Out now on Wanda is Daytime Man - the fifth (and in my opinion, best) EP from Radiohearts. The sound is classic Radiohearts, leaning heavily on later '70s U.K. punk, power pop, and mod influences with additional nods to the '90s punk revival. As always, this band does a fine job of putting a fresh and original touch on a classic musical style. And lyrically, all of these songs are clever and fully on-point. The title track kicks off the EP in fine form and is everything we've come to expect from Radiohearts. "Know That Song" is wonderfully surprising - the closest thing the band has ever done to a pure power pop song (without sacrificing any of that all-important punk rock punch). Another pleasant surprise is "No More", an entirely successful foray into what you might call the SoCal punk sound. I dig! Overall this is a very satisfying collection of tracks - some leaning punk, some leaning power pop, and the rest falling ideally in between. Great stuff as always, and I guess it's time we start wondering if an LP might finally be in the works!



-L.R.

https://radiohearts.bandcamp.com/album/daytime-man
https://www.facebook.com/Radiohearts/
www.wandarecords.de

Thursday, May 4, 2017

New Rotten Mind LP!

Is it just me, or has this been an especially tremendous year for punk LPs so far? Up there with the best of 'em is the second album from Sweden's Rotten Mind - a superb self titled effort on Lövely Records. What I appreciate about this release is how it takes what seem to be two contradictory styles of music (dark new wave and catchy melodic punk) and melds them so seamlessly that you can only conclude that they were meant to go together. While very much in line with modern-day Scandinavian post-hardcore, Rotten Mind is perhaps the one band from that movement that I'd consider most up my alley. Although I'm not the huge fan of moody post-punk that I used to be, Rotten Mind blends essential elements of that musical school into a form that's fully palatable to my Dickies and Buzzcocks loving sensibilities. It seems a tough task to make gloom rock this poppy without ruining the mood, but that's exactly what Rotten Mind has pulled off here. "Wish You Were Gone" had me hooked from the very start, and from there the quality tracks just keep coming. The lead guitar work - such a linchpin of good melodic punk - is especially impressive. One part of me wants to get dressed in black and lock myself in a dark room with this LP for hours. The other wants to whistle these melodies as I march merrily about my day. Truly an album for all occasions!



-L.R.

https://lovelyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/rotten-mind-rotten-mind
https://www.facebook.com/rottenmindua/

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's here! The Motorgirl double 7"!

I fondly recall 1999 as the year I both pondered imminent apocalypse and basked in the glory of one of the ten greatest power pop singles ever made - Candygirl's "Oh, Jacky Boy!". Candygirl was the creation of our pal Travis Ramin: songwriter extraordinaire, talented multi-instrumentalist, producer to the stars, radio personality, Pro Bowl placekicker, celebrity pitchman, and one-time captain of the Love Boat. While Candygirl would release only one more single, Travis Ramin would go on to play on and/or produce many of the finest power pop recordings of the 2000s and beyond. You can find most of them here!

For years, rumors abounded of Candygirl's bad girl rocker cousin who was going to do for glam rock what Candygirl had done for power pop. Word on the street was that Motorgirl's debut EP would be a Travis Ramin production and arrive in the form of a double 7" with a gatefold. It was two-and-a-half years ago that I shared a TV ad teasing the arrival of this highly anticipated recording. The songs eventually turned up on-line, but there was going to be a bit of a wait for the actual record. Long delayed by a series of events so unfortunate and improbable that even Axl Rose doubted it would ever see the light of day, the Motorgirl double gatefold 7" is finally out and can be yours for €9.99! Available from Italy's Surfin' Ki Records, this is four songs of wham-bam glam rock written and produced by Travis Ramin and performed by Alana Amram. "Oh Jacky Take a Ride" and "Motorgirl" are responses to the songs on the first Candygirl single (that Jacky still has a way with the ladies after all these years!). "Teenage Tiger" is pure Champan/Chinn inspired gold, while "Periwinkle Blue" proves that even tough girls have a soft side. If Genuine Parts are the new Runaways, then Motorgirl is definitely the new Suzi Quatro. Hit up Surfin' Ki for the ordering details and get your mitts on these sizzling slabs of wax! This one was totally worth the wait!



-L.R.

http://surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com/product/motor-girl-s-t-double-7
https://travisraminproducer.bandcamp.com/album/motorgirl 

Friday, April 28, 2017

New album from Los Pepes!

Los Pepes have been one of my favorite bands for a number of years now. Their first LP Los Pepes For Everyone was my third-ranked album of 2014, and last year's All Over Now was my 14th-ranked album of 2016. But it's with the arrival of the band's third full-length Let's Go! that we finally get a studio recording that properly captures the thundering power and sheer loudness of the London foursome's smashing live shows.  

Los Pepes For Everyone, in my opinion, stacked up favorably with many of the classic albums of late '70s English and Irish pop/punk. With All Over Now more or less repeating the formula, a change-up was probably in order for the band's third LP. And so now we get Let's Go! - which is considerably harder-rocking than its predecessors but no less hook-laden. This album puts the power in power pop, from the blistering punk rock n' roll of "The Trap" to Ben's mighty Daltrey-eqsue vocals on "I Ain't The One" to the Real Kids style energy of the title track to the sweetly thrashing "You Don't Get Anything". "Perfect World" is what every power pop song should aspire to be - coming on with thumping drums and air-guitar worthy riffs, then building to a knockout chorus sprinkled with spot-on backing vocals. When the band retreats to songs reminiscent of previous releases ("Give Me Problems", "Can't Be Told"), these tracks really stand out and remind us that Los Pepes are titans of the brand of punk rock that walks hand in hand with pop.

Even with a number of great LPs already in the books for 2017, Let's Go! is a stone cold lock for my year-end top ten. It's available now in digital form via Los Pepes' Bandcamp, with a vinyl release expected any day now from the band's longtime label home, Germany's Wanda Records. In true Los Pepes fashion, the band is celebrating the release of the album by steamrolling its way through Europe for the next three weeks. Enjoy the new album, and be sure to catch these gents in their natural habitat if you get the chance!



-L.R.

https://lospepes.bandcamp.com/album/lets-go-lp
https://www.facebook.com/lospepesmusic
http://mailorder.wandarecords.de/

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's a new Radio Days single!

The last time I had reason to mention Radio Days, I proclaimed the Italian trio's LP Back In The Day album of the year for 2016. So you can surmise that I was very happy to discover brand-new music from Radio Days just yesterday! Released on Surfin' Ki Records in conjunction with the band's upcoming tour of Japan, the new 7" single "Haruka" is limited to just 300 copies. On the A-side, "I'm In Love With You, Haruka" is as gorgeous and melodious as you could ever hope for a pop song to be. It ought to be a #1 smash in 57 different countries. The B-side is a cover of "Teenage Kicks". And while no band is ever going to out-do the original, I think any fan who has seen Radio Days perform the song live will be excited about them releasing their version on record!

Radio Days are one of the very best things going in power pop today, and "Haruka" will only reaffirm that. The band is currently offering a sweet deal on its Bandcamp page: a signed copy of the single along with a limited edition CD, a poster, a pin, and a sticker for 10 euros! Get on it while you have the chance! 



-L.R.

https://radiodays.bandcamp.com/album/haruka
http://radiodays.it/
https://www.facebook.com/RadioDaysPowerpop/
http://surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com/product/out-now-radio-days-aruka-7-japanese-tour-2017-limited-edition-free-pin-included

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hiccup's debut album!

I can't believe it has already been two years since my first post on Hiccup! Since then, the New York trio has released a cassette single and a supremely delightful full-length album on Father/Daughter Records. The album, Imaginary Enemies, arrived last month and has been a fixture in my daily routine for quite some time. Hallie Bulleit (bass, vocals) has been a favorite songwriter of mine since the moment I encountered The Unlovables' demo tape 15 years ago. You may also know her and Hiccup band-mate Alex Clute (guitar, vocals) as members of The Chris Gethard Show's house band, The LLC. Drummer Piyal Basu completes the trio. And while Hiccup doesn't stray far from the clever, punky pop of The LLC, there are clearly advantages in having the freedom to write songs that exceed 30 seconds in length!

Built on a foundation of upbeat catchy tunes, tight harmonies, and the likable dual vocals of Hallie and Alex, Imaginary Enemies is pure peppy fun with a lyrical depth that may surprise you. This is exactly the kind of music I envisioned Hallie creating at this stage of her career: still rooted in pop-punk but also heavily inspired by late '80s/early '90s indie rock. "Lady MacBeth & Miss Havisham" - probably my favorite song of 2017 so far - is a perfect example of Hallie's ability to mix profound & serious lyrics with utterly joyful melodies. I've made a habit out of playing it on repeat - although on any given day I might actually conclude that "Whoa Baby" is "the hit" on this album. While I'm partial to a lot of the songs on which Hallie sings lead ("Better", "Yeah"), the harmonized vocals on tracks like "Austin" and "Dad Jokes" are well-executed and wonderfully appealing. And I appreciate that this band is the sum of what all of its members bring to the table. It's hard not to love a record that runs the gamut from the Belle and Sebastian style goodness of "Enemies of Friends" to the breakneck punk rush of "Neverwhere".

With no songs over three minutes long, Imaginary Enemies wastes little time getting to the hooks. It's an album I can recommend to both diehard pop-punk fans and anyone who fondly recalls the glory days of indie/alternative/college radio. It's just one of those records that is bound to put a smile on your face! The lyrics totally knock me out, and those harmonies could not be any more spot-on. I would no doubt consider The Unlovables one of my favorite bands of all-time, and I've got to say I enjoy Hiccup every bit as much. As 2017 continues to throw great LPs our way, I'm sure not complaining!



-L.R.

https://hiccup.bandcamp.com/album/imaginary-enemies
https://www.facebook.com/HelloHiccup 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Meet Moron's Morons!


The definition of "garage punk" has expanded to such an extent that I'm not sure what it even means anymore. But hearing Moron's Morons out of Warsaw, I must say that this band is exactly what I think garage-punk ought to be. If you like it raw and trashy, well it doesn't get any rawer or trashier! And how can you not love a band with a singer named Philo Phuckface?! Moron's Morons occupy the nastier realms of the garage punk world, with a wild & blown-out sound that mixes choice elements of Teengenerate, GG Allin, the Dead Boys, Dwarves, and Reatards. The band has made its Trash Can Glory demo tape available via Bandcamp as a name your price download. And No Front Teeth Records has released seven (!) different versions of the group's self-titled debut 7"! If you dig snotty garage punk that's "no frills, just thrills", Moron's Morons is the band you've been waiting for. Order the single here!



-L.R.

https://moronsmorons.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/moronsmoronspunk/ 

Monday, April 10, 2017

How about a Wyldlife review, finally!

I've been getting the same question for years, posed by everyone from regular readers to my butcher to my priest: "When are you finally going to review Wyldlife?!" Well how about right now! I've been fully aboard the Wyldlife bandwagon for a good while now, and I vowed to pen a glowing review once the band put out a new album. That album Out On Your Block arrived earlier this year on Steven Van Zandt's Wicked Cool Records. I've been meaning to say a few words about it since it came out, and today I'm finally getting around to it!

Wydlife has really risen to the challenge of following two of the best rock n' roll albums of the present decade. Out On Your Block is by no means a straight copy of its two predecessors, but it makes no attempt to fix what ain't broke. It's everything you could want from a Wlydlife record: big hooks, a fun attitude, and energy that never lets up. The style is still '70s punk meets power pop meets straight-up rock n' roll, and the spirit of the great city of New York emanates from every note. I hear echoes of the legendary Ramones and Dolls as well as more contemporary torchbearers such as D Generation and the Star Spangles. "Desperate Times" kicks it all off with a thundering blast of rock, and then "Teenage Heart" is a quick turn into new wave territory. From there, the album really hits its stride as the band knocks one track after another straight out of the park. In what kind of crazy backwards world are we living where songs like "Keepsakes", "Deadbeat", and "Bandida" aren't massive radio hits?! My god, those hooks! "Suburban Fever" recalls the gritty street swagger of '70s Rolling Stones, and "Get Loud" is exactly the kind of anthem/mission statement that every great rock n' roll album ought to close with.

Faced with the decision on how to approach that "difficult" third album, Wyldlife wisely chose to double down on what it already does so well. The group aspired to just go out and make a totally fantastic rock n' roll record, and I'm left wondering why more bands don't follow suit. Little Steven, who has such a great ear for what's new and exciting in rock n' roll, was bound to "get" it. You can download Out On Your Block from iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. or get the vinyl directly from Wicked Cool. And if like me you were a little late to the party on Wydlife, head on over to Bandcamp to explore the back catalog!



-L.R.

http://wickedcoolrecords.com/bands/wyldlife/wyldlife-out-on-your-block-vinyl.html
https://www.facebook.com/wyldlifeband/
https://wyldlife.bandcamp.com/

Friday, April 7, 2017

New Cyanide Pills album!

Now seems like a good time to start catching up on some essential releases from this year that I haven't yet had time to review. Sliced And Diced is the third LP from Leeds, U.K.'s Cyanide Pills - and the band's first album in four years. This is a prime example of a release that was totally worth the wait. Cyanide Pills have outdone themselves on this whooper of a long-player, turning out an amazing 18 tracks with not one clunker in the bunch. This, to me, is the culmination of what this band has been working towards for years: an album fully deserving of a spot next to all of your classic 1977-78 U.K. punk titles. There are a number of bands out there that do the snotty '77 punk thing really well, and there are others that do the power pop meets punk thing really well. But Cyanide Pills are that rare band that genuinely excels at both. Sliced and Diced is everything I like about The Buzzcocks, Clash, Sex Pistols, and Boys combined into one record. Songs addressing power-abusing institutions and the generally rotten state of society ("Stop and Search", "Government") could not be more relevant in 2017. And as always, the band specializes in exceptionally bitter love songs ("Alone Tonight", "Razorblade"). Containing everything from all-out cracklers like "Still Bored" to the perfect pure pop of "Big Mistake" to the street-tough rock n' roll of "Cut Me Loose", Sliced And Diced could not be any more up my alley. We've got ourselves a serious album of the year contender!



-L.R.

https://damagedgoods.greedbag.com/buy/sliced-and-diced-0/ 
https://www.facebook.com/cyanidepillsuk/
https://cyanidepills.com/band/

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Easy Money: the definitive collection!

As a massive fan of Canadian punk rock both old and new, I'm tickled pink that Hosehead Records and Neon Taste Records have collaborated to rescue the recorded output of Easy Money from the dustbin of history. Hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, Easy Money released two terrific singles on Richard's Records in 1980 and was never heard from again. Those singles - "Standing In Your Shadow" b/w "No Stranger To Danger" and "Getting Lost" b/w "High Fashion" - are true hidden gems of Canadian punk in the new wave era. All four songs now return to print on the self-titled Easy Money collection, joined by nine high-quality two-track demos that have been largely unheard for decades. And while the 7" cuts may be the prime attraction, a lot of the demos are just as good (check out the Jam-inspired "It's Not Funny" and the infectiously jittery "Pretty Modern"). This album is a perfect demonstration of why I love the late '70s/early '80s era of punk music so much. It brings together the best elements of punk, power pop, new wave, and the mod revival in such a way that these songs could only have been created at the dawn of the '80s. If you're a Canadian punk rock history geek like me or just enjoy top-notch power pop, this compilation is one you ought to own. Hats off to all of the principles involved in collecting these songs and getting this compilation made. 35 years after the band's breakup, Easy Money finally has an album out!



 -L.R.

https://neontasterecords.bandcamp.com/album/easy-money-collection-79-82
http://hoseheadrecords.bigcartel.com/product/easy-money-easy-money-lp-1980-reissue
https://www.facebook.com/HoseheadRecords/

Monday, April 3, 2017

Vista Blue: new baseball album!

Just in time for opening day, we get an all-new baseball album from Vista Blue! This is, by my count, the band's fifth baseball-themed release - the first one dating back to opening day two years ago. With me having reviewed Vista Blue an amazing six times last year, there's no mystery as to what this band is all about. The nine-track Wonderband stays in the vein of pop-punk by way of '90s alt rock power pop, and it's a buzzing good time from start to finish. This is what you call a solid lineup from one through nine! With songs about once-promising injury-plagued pitchers, triple AAA shortstops lobbying for a chance to start in the majors, the plight of the professional DH, marginal major leaguers hindered by unfavorable umpiring, Bruce Springsteen's lack of fundamental baseball knowledge, the good fortune of making a great catch with a borrowed glove, Roy Hobbs' mythical bat, the absurdity of "wins above replacement" as a valued statistic, and the importance of a good pick-off move, there's something here to interest any fan of America's pastime. Vista Blue continues to serve the community of baseball-loving pop-punk fans while also perhaps swaying some additional hardball devotees to the pop-punk dark side. This release even comes with liner notes by Mark Hughson - easily the finest literature I've seen accompanying a musical release in a long time. Download Wonderband for free today, and give it a spin or two while you converse with your friends about the merits of "WAR" and whether or not David Ortiz should go into the hall of fame (of course he should!). And seriously, what in the hell is a "speedball"?



 -L.R.

https://wearevistablue.bandcamp.com/album/wonderband
https://www.facebook.com/wearevistablue/

Sunday, April 2, 2017

MAMA/Private Interests split!

In some alternate universe where Faster & Louder is a glossy print magazine available at gas stations and drug stores everywhere, Private Interests would be gracing the cover decked in Cold War era attire - the photo positioned under the headline "Hottest New Bands of the Year!". I've been psyched to hear more music from this Minneapolis foursome since its outstanding debut EP arrived this past fall. And as luck would have it, I did not have to wait very long. Private Interests has teamed up with Chicago's MAMA to give us a split 7" EP uniting two of our greatest Midwestern cities under the banner of power pop worshiping at the twin-guitar altar of Thin Lizzy.

MAMA's two contributions to the split were taken from the band's short-run Eye in the Sky cassette, and they were fine choices to be preserved on the vinyl format. "Lazer Lover" is the "hit" here - a full-on '70s arena rock rager that would not sound out of a place on a playlist sandwiched between Nazareth and The Nuge. You've got two guitars taking it straight over the top and a singer who can really belt it. I can't help imagining myself in a darkened arena in 1978, and suddenly the lights come on and this is the song that ignites a triumphant night of rock. BAM! The terrific "Girls Next Door" slides nicely into the Big Star/Raspberries corner of power pop, but with clear nods to Cheap Trick and Lizzy as well. This is a best-case scenario for a split: I was drawn in by the presence of one particular band and ended up liking the other one just as much. I will definitely be checking out the rest of MAMA's releases!

On its half of the split, Private Interests continues to show why it's one of the most promising up-and-coming bands out there. "Livin' In The City" is a really pleasant surprise: the band's first foray into straight-up classic power pop a la The Nerves and 20/20. The verse rides a wave of melancholy on the strength of Cameron's vocal, and then that chorus punches hard. I love the amazing lead guitar work and the satisfying thump of the drums! The equally good "Finest Hour" bears all of the trademarks of a Johnny Eggerman song: more of a mid-tempo vibe with a plaintive vocal and dual guitar lines intersecting in perfect harmony. Coming from a town where Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins exemplify the complementary forces of power and finesse, this pair of songs could not be any more satisfying. Private Interests is quickly zooming up my list of current favorite bands!

I wanted to post on this EP as early as possible due to the extremely limited nature of this vinyl release. Just 300 copies were pressed, and only 30 of those were made available for Piñata Records to sell to the public. The remaining copies went straight to the bands to sell at shows. So if you're nowhere near these bands and want a vinyl copy, you better move fast! This record is a perfect representation of all of the great rockin' pop that's currently emerging from the American Midwest. Get on it!



-L.R.

https://pinatarecords.bandcamp.com/album/mama-and-private-interests-split-7
https://www.facebook.com/privateinterests/
https://www.facebook.com/MAMAbandchicago/

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Dahlmanns + Andy Shernoff = Gold!

Let the record show that the very existence of The Dahlmanns was a major influence on the creation of this blog. And once the blog was created, I chose to name it after a song written by Andy Shernoff. So it goes without saying that I was elated to hear that The Dahlmanns have recorded two brand-new songs written by Andy Shernoff and released them as a single. Seriously: how can it get better than this? You've got the best pop band in the world collaborating with one of our greatest living songwriters. And the results do not disappoint!

In addition to co-writing "Forever My Baby", Shernoff also shares lead vocals with Line Dahlmann on this absolute gem of a track. This sort of boy/girl duet lamenting lost love is such an essential part of rock n' roll lore, but most modern examples are completely cringe-worthy. "Forever My Baby" gets it right, with believable vocal performances from both singers and a musical style that combines the conventional power ballad with elements of '60s girl groups. Shernoff's voice is in fine form, and there's little doubt that this song is the creation of the man who wrote and sang The Dictators' "Heartache". Staying with the '60s pop influence, "The Last Time" recalls the ringing melodies and romantic innocence of that golden era (but with a modern sheen). It's an absolutely beautiful song, and it's just so well suited to Line's voice. In the pop world, there's just no substitute for a memorable melody and a great singer!

"Forever My Baby" is out now on Pop Detective Records and available for download via iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, etc. A vinyl version is due out this summer on The Next Big Thing - Lindsay Hutton's legendary zine/label which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. I'm not quite ready to say that this release is a mortal lock for 2017 single of the year. But, you know, it's gonna be a tough one to top!



-L.R.

https://www.facebook.com/thedahlmanns/
http://popdetective.com/

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Debut LP from Moral Panic!

The almighty Livids, while one of the most exciting punk rock n' roll bands of recent memory, proved to be a sadly short-lived outfit. So it's fantastic news that Livids guitarist Daniel Kelley and drummer Gregory Collins have formed a red-hot new band with bassist Mark Brei. The new group is called Moral Panic. If you liked Livids, you will love Moral Panic. Slovenly Recordings just released the trio's debut album, and the thing totally kills! Don't let the band name fool you into thinking this is some sort of 1980s political hardcore type deal. Instead think '90s breakneck garage punk rock n' roll a la Teengenerate/New Bomb Turks.

I love a band that storms out of the gates in attack mode and never lets up, and that is Moral Panic's m.o. for sure. They tear through 10 songs in 20 blistering minutes, and every second is pure pummeling rock n' roll. "Ripped Jeans" is impossibly catchy for such a wild & manic number, while the scorching "Harbor Fitness" brings to mind Tokyo 1994 via Cleveland 1978. And kudos are in order for a face-smashing rendition of The Nils' "Fountains" that fully bears M.P.'s high velocity signature. Kelley and Collins have picked up right where they left off in Livids. No attempts at refinement or progression have been made. They're bringing it fast and furious, and anything that steps in the path of this steamroller is toast! If you've been depressed for years over the realization that there will never be a Livids full-length, this album will cheer you up right fast. Crank up the volume until the neighbors complain!



-L.R.

https://slovenly.bandcamp.com/album/moral-panic-moral-panic-lp
https://www.facebook.com/moralpanicnyc/
http://slovenly.com/
https://www.facebook.com/slovenlyrec/

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rockatanskys single from Jarama 45RPM Recs!

Last month, I reported for the first time on a great new label out of Madrid called Jarama 45RPM Recs. As the name suggests, this is a label fully dedicated to 45RPM 7" releases from excellent punk bands all over the world. That Sugar & Tiger 45 is a must-own, and so is the blistering three-songer from Halifax, Nova Scotia's Rockatanskys. The label likens Rockatanskys to Canadian national treasures such as Teenage Head, the Modernettes, and Pointed Sticks. Who am I to argue? It's always a pleasure to hear a modern band take that back-to-the-basics Ramones inspired style of punk music and prove that there's plenty of life left in it. "Smash TV" is a certified smash hit - with a fun little sing-along hook that's impossible to resist. It's just so catchy, and the song is over before you know what hit you! It's backed with "Wasted" and "Come Swim With Me"- a couple of thumpers in the vein of the first two Ramones LPs. All in all, this 45 is total fun and a fine example of why the singles format is so well-suited to punk music. If you haven't already liked the Jarama 45RPM Facebook page, I implore you to do so immediately. Look for more music coming soon!



-L.R.

https://www.facebook.com/jarama45rpmrecs/
https://rockatanskys.bandcamp.com/releases

Monday, March 20, 2017

New album from Tom Baker and the Snakes!

Damn, has Rum Bar Records ever been serving up the rock this month! You might need to invest in louder speakers! Hot on the heels of that amazing new Bullet Proof Lovers album, Malibu Lou unleashes the eagerly awaited new LP from Tom Baker and the Snakes. Singer/guitarist Baker (Nana, the Dirty Truckers) is a fixture of the Boston garage/rock n' roll scene. He's backed by a formidable unit of veteran players including John Brookhouse (Worshipper, The Dirty Truckers) on lead guitar, Charles Hansen (Rock Bottom) on guitar, John Sheeran (Spitzz, Township) on bass, and Johnny Blout (Watts) on drums. Do the math, and you realize that's three guitars in this band. And none of 'em go to waste! Lookout Tower is the new album, and it delivers 11 shots of Stones/Faces inspired rock n' roll with a palpable heartland of America feel. The album imbues '70s arena rock wallop with the ragged underdog spirit of bands like The Replacements. That Westerberg/Stinson worship really shows through on signature tunes like the rough-around-the-edges pop gem "Doll Eyes" and the late night dive-bar banger "High n' Tight". Both were standout tracks on the band's digital-only 4 Stars EP from last year, and it would have been criminal to have kept them off the album. But there's plenty more to like here, from the meat & potatoes rocker "Gotta Find Her" to the '90s college radio jangle of "Needle in the Red" to the rootsy ballad "Say Goodbye" (which sounds like something Soul Asylum could have done in its prime). "Bad Change" hovers at the intersection of big hook power pop and boozy rock n' roll - an especially sweet spot for this band. And "Satisfied Fool" takes me straight back to the late '80s of my youth when I was seemingly listening to album-oriented rock radio 24/7.

Tom Baker and the Snakes are a perfect fit on the Rum Bar roster- filling the space between the '70s FM thunder of Watts and the earnest blue collar rock n' roll of Nato Coles. If you like a whole lot of guitar in your rock n' roll (and really, who doesn't?!), Lookout Tower will have you in rock-out heaven. Beyond that, the quality and depth of Baker's songwriting is not to be overlooked. Arriving at the beginning of spring, Lookout Tower is for sure an album you'll want to crank loud as you relax on the porch and enjoy a cold beverage straight from the can. This, my friends, is real deal Boston rock n' roll! 



-L.R.

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lookout-tower 
https://www.facebook.com/TomBakerandtheSnakes/ 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meet Corner Boys!

I always love coming across red-hot demos, and the best one I've heard in a while is from Vancouver's Corner Boys. I think you'll be hearing a lot about this band on this blog going forward. These guys are just my style: snotty & frantic powerpop/punk recalling numerous classic bands from the great nation of Canada. And as far as demos go, this is the way it ought to be: just three songs with lo-fi but by no means shitty production courtesy of the great Jeff McCloy. This is just a little taste of what's to come, and I can't wait to hear more! As always, the only sure things in life are death, taxes, and great new punk bands out of Canada.



-L.R.

https://cornerboys.bandcamp.com/album/demo 
https://www.facebook.com/CornerBoysBC/ 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New one from Tommy and The Rockets!

At this very moment, I can look out the window and witness the full wrath of Winter Storm Stella. In a few hours, I will have the rare pleasure of shoveling 18 inches of snow. But there's no convincing me that summer isn't right around the corner. And with that we get THE summertime record of 2017 from Tommy and The Rockets! This intercontinental supergroup featuring Danish singer/guitarist Thomas Stubgaard (The Lingertones, The Hitchcocks) and New Trocaderos songwriter Michael Chaney released a terrific debut album last year that was warmly received by fans of early Beach Boys and classic era Ramones. It was a really tough act to follow, but Tommy and The Rockets have definitely topped it with a brand-new EP called Rock 'n' Roll Wrecking Machine. This is the band's best stuff yet- and the upbeat, goodtime vibe is a surefire prescription for any lingering winter blahs that might ail you.

With its hopped-up beat, nifty backing vocals, and smoking lead guitar, "Rock 'n' Roll Wrecking Machine" more than lives up to its title. I'm telling ya, it's a stone cold smash hit! You will play it on repeat! "Hey Daisy" is pure, bubbly pop for all of us who are eternally 16 and girl-crazed. "Get Ready" makes me wanna climb in my car and drive real fast with no obvious destination besides a really great time (I might need to wait a few days before attempting such an adventure). And "Gonna Be Alright", a duet teaming Tommy with Julie Jean, is the perfect way to bring this 7" slab of joy to a close. The odes to wistful longing and broken hearts will surely return, but with this record it's all about the high hopes of new love and the unlimited possibilities of youth! Isn't that what rock n' roll is all about? If you love Ramones albums like Rocket To Russia and Road To Ruin, that's precisely the sweet spot that Tommy and The Rockets hit with this release. Once again, Brad Marino and Kris "Fingers" Rodgers rip it up as "session" players. And kudos to Christian Jakobsen for the killer guitar solos! Download is available today, with a vinyl release from Europeans labels Ghost Highway, KOTJ, and Beluga Records due at the end of the week. This review arrived right on time courtesy of me getting a snow day!



-L.R.

https://tommyandtherockets.bandcamp.com/album/rock-n-roll-wrecking-machine 
https://www.facebook.com/tommyandtherockets 
http://www.ghosthighwayshop.com/es/ 
http://oscarkotj.blogspot.com/p/kotj-records.html 
http://punkrecords.se/ 

Friday, March 10, 2017

New album from Brom Bones!

Much to my chagrin, I have no recollection of ever reviewing a release from Brom Bones - unquestionably one of south central Pennsylvania's finest punk bands for 27 years and counting. I was, in my younger days, witness to a number of stunning live performances from this veritable institution of Lancaster, PA punk rock. It's perplexing to me how I never got my mitts on studio releases such as Cope (1998) and Apart (2001). Or maybe I did and just don't remember! Either way, it's a tremendous joy to receive Brom Bones in such fine form on their brand-new album Get Down. Stay Down. I have to question anyone who automatically passes on new releases from long-standing punk bands. And albums like this one are the reason why. Going back to the late '80s, Brom Bones have beautifully navigated the transitions from adolescence to adulthood to middle age - and you could make a good argument that they're now making the best music of their lives. This is a veteran, seasoned outfit that brings so much life experience to the table. Yet these guys haven't lost an ounce of the energy and enthusiasm that have driven their music from the start.  

Get Down. Stay Down. is vintage Brom Bones: powerful, melodic, and full of genuine lyrical substance delivered with tremendous conviction by outstanding vocalist Jason Berlet. It takes me back to a great time in music - when the contents of your record collection might have ranged from Dag Nasty to Minor Threat to The Descendents to The Replacements. And while it's a tricky maneuver to hold strong to those roots while continuing to grow as a band, Brom Bones are pulling it off like pros. Not only does the band sound terrific, but the material shines as well. "Short Fuse" is the perfect song to play at earsplitting volumes when you're pissed off at the world and seeking deliverance from a shitty day. "War Generation" - the very definition of a sing-along anthem - has had me head-bobbing and air-drumming in my computer chair all week long. "The Victim" delivers the kind of rugged, ripping punk rock that I just don't hear enough these days. And "The Mats" is a clever and loving homage to one of the two or three greatest bands to ever walk the earth.

If Get Down. Stay Down. is your first exposure to Brom Bones, the album ought to get you very excited about checking out the band's extensive back catalog (which you can do over at Bandcamp). And longtime fans will not be surprised to discover that Brom Bones are still killing it after all these years. Whether you're a fan of '80s post-hardcore & old school pop-punk or just someone who appreciates punk music that's full of intelligence and heart, I strongly recommend the $10 investment in Get Down. Stay Down. It will easily go down as one of the year's top albums. The band has dedicated it to the memory of original member Sean Wolfe - a brilliant talent and one of the best human beings I've ever had the good fortune to know.



-L.R.

https://brombones.bandcamp.com/album/get-down-stay-down 
https://www.facebook.com/brombonespa 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Annual Birthday Post 2017!


I've had a recent yearly tradition of doing annual birthday posts where I list my ten favorite bands of all-time. But since the list only undergoes very minor changes from year to year, I decided it was time to try something a little different for this particular birthday (my 46th). Instead of listing my ten favorite bands of all-time, I will pick my four favorite bands from each of the past six decades. I figured this would be a fun project to undertake and perhaps a good way to "spread the wealth" since my all-time favorite lists are usually dominated by bands from the late '70s. And given that I've been reviewing music since 1995, I am obviously a fan of quite a few more recent bands. So without any further ado, I now present my favorite bands by decade from the '60s up to present day!

1960s:
The Who
Rolling Stones
Kinks
Zombies

1970s:
The Clash
AC/DC
Ramones
Generation X

1980s:
Husker Du
Replacements
Pretenders
Dramarama

1990s:
Material Issue
Dimestore Haloes
Prostitutes
The Muffs 

2000s:
Bobbyteens
Exploding Hearts
Ergs!
Kidnappers

2010s:
Night Birds
The Cry!
The Connection
The Cheap Cassettes  

So there you have it. Limiting it to just four bands per decade led to some painful omissions (Teenage Fanclub, Vapors, Dictators). But I suppose that's half the fun! For the record, my favorite band of all-time is still The Clash (followed by AC/DC and Material Issue). Congratulations to Joe Keller and Chaz Matthews for being the only two individuals to be represented on this list in two different decades. Your commemorative medallions are in the mail. Possible idea for next year's birthday post: naming a favorite album from each year of my life! 

-L.R.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New single from Devious Ones!

Detroit's Devious Ones have been one of my favorite current-day bands since the very first time I heard them. I can't believe that was already two years ago! One of the things I love about these guys is that they prove that it's possible to take influence from '70s punk and power pop yet still create music that sounds new and fresh and original. Consider the band's brand-new single "Djarum Summers". I can listen to the A-side and honestly say that there's no other band out there that sounds exactly like this. Sure, it's old school catchy punk - which I love. But it's immediately identifiable as a Devious Ones song and not just some rewrite of a classic hit. That guitar tone is bad-ass, and there's something about the way Eric sings the chorus that really makes this song stick in my head. Best D.O. song yet? It's at least in the conversation! On the flip, "Court Clothes" is a perfect example of what this band does so well. It's basically fast poppy punk, but with some unusual/creative touches in the vocals and lyrics that really set it apart. If you're a fan of what a band like Maniac has been doing in recent years, you should dig Devious Ones as well.

A co-release between Rust on the Blade and No Front Teeth Records, "Djarum Summers" is Devious Ones' first international release. Downloads are now available via digital outlets, and vinyl is coming soon! Locals can pick up the single at the band's record release party at Kelly's Bar Hamtramck on March 11. Original '77 punks Cinecyde will be on the bill!

 
-L.R.

https://deviousones.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/deviousones/

Monday, February 27, 2017

New album from Bullet Proof Lovers!

It was seven months ago that I first teased the arrival of a new LP from Bullet Proof Lovers - those power-popping hard rockers from San Sebastián, Spain. Said LP has arrived, and it does not disappoint! BPL are Kurt Baker on lead vocals, Luiyi Costa (Txorlitohead, Lolas Club) on guitar, Joseba Arza (Brigada Criminal, Señor No, Ladislao) on drums, Gonzalo Ibañez (Nuevo Catecismo Católico, La Perrera) on bass, and Juan Irazu (Discipulos de Dionisos, Gran Yate Especial) on guitar. Shot Through The Heart is the band's second release overall and first in over two years. As expected, it's the perfect mix of hook-laden power pop and full-throttle, kick-in-the-ass rock n' roll. As good as 2014's self-titled LP was, it was really just a glimpse of what Bullet Proof Lovers might someday become. Here we receive the band in full maturity - replete with massive production befitting those thundering drums and guitars louder than the law should allow. Early '80s arena rock is still a logical point of reference (check out the album bookends "I Am My Radio" and "Radioactive Love"), but with this record I'm also feeling the fury and power of Detroit/Aussie punk. Baker, often pigeonholed as a "pop" guy, ably steps into the role of the strong-piped rock god frontman. 

Shot Through The Heart is such a satisfying listen because it allows Bullet Proof Lovers to play to their strengths and just rip into these songs. Guitarists Costa and Irazu sound like they're literally trying to set the world on fire, and that rhythm section is an absolute powerhouse. The material, without a doubt, perfectly suits the band's particular set of skills. "Ain't No Joke" lives up to its title 100 percent, while "Not Your Toy" is the kind of keyboard-driven glammy footstomper that ought to blow the doors off of every dive bar from Madrid to Hamburg. From well-crafted ballads ("One Last Night") to crank-it-to-11 rockers ("On Overdrive") to consummate area rock power pop ("All I Want"), this album delivers the full range of goods. 

It's a glorious thing in this day and age to still encounter bands that above all else just want to rock. It's even better when quality hooks and a ton of melody are a major part of the equation. Bullet Proof Lovers represent a time in our world when rock n' roll was all about fun and aspiring to a radio hit was no crime. They've got the chops, they've got the attitude, and for damn sure they've got the songs! Shot Through The Heart is available on vinyl from Ghost Highway Recordings, and Rum Bar Records will have the CD release coming soon. With the arrival of this album and the new one from Wyldlife, 2017 is looking like the Year of Rock! 



-L.R.

https://bulletprooflovers.bandcamp.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/bulletprooflovers 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_VXNHVYLfjHBXRxVK2akKA
https://ghosthighwayrecordings.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/GhostHighwayRecordings/

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New single from Sugar & Tiger!


Welcome to the first of what should be many reviews of releases from Jarama 45RPM Recs! A new label out of Madrid, Jarama 45RPM has a clear and simple mission: "strictly 7" vinyl, strictly 45 rpm records,
and strictly hit singles". The world of punk/garage/power pop, being so well suited to the singles format, needs more labels like this! For my first post on Jarama 45RPM, I turn my attention to a terrific band out of Paris called Sugar & Tiger. Isn't that pretty much the best name ever for a poppy punk rock band?! Florence Vicha (lead vocals) is Sugar, and Didier Wampas (guitar) is Tiger. The sound is just what I like: the best elements of punk and pop mixed together thoroughly and let loose with maximum enthusiasm. True to the label's promise, "(God Save) Linda Ramone" is a stone cold hit. You'd have to be a miserable human to not love this! And the fact that the lyrics are sung in French only make it cooler! On the flip, "La Perruque Rose" is another great track that reminds me quite a bit of early Muffs. I am thrilled to discover this band, and you will be too if you're a fan of The Ramones, Dahlmanns, etc.! I highly recommend heading on over to Facebook and liking the Jarama 45RPM Recs. page. This is a label you're going to want to follow closely!



-L.R.

https://www.facebook.com/sugarandtiger/
https://www.facebook.com/jarama45rpmrecs/