Ramsey Kanaan

The Remote Controls The Remote Controls CD

Self-titled debut from this Indiana power trio. They pretty much have that early SCREECHING WEASELS/QUEERS pop punk snot down pat. As a fan of said genre for 30-plus years now, there’s definitely nothing new here, but they attack the genre with enough verve and gusto to make it sound fresh enough.

Dischordia Andrà Tutto Bene CD

I have to say I’m a real sucker for this kind of melodic hardcore/pop punk stuff. Given that there is nothing on the sleeve, and these Italians sing in their native tongue (and sound all the better for it), I’ve no idea whatsoever what they’re lilting on about, though they do have a circle-A as the last letter of their band name, which may or may not have some significance!? Regardless, they produce a gloriously structured racket, drawing on the best of early WESTON, first couple of LPs-era PROPAGANDHI, and NOFX when they got Hefe in the band, and suddenly became brilliant. Yes, they’re that good.

Visitors From Hell Bon Appetit! CD

Six-track effort from this self-described “punk and roll” quartet from Warsaw (that’s in Poland, apparently). They remind me a lot of the driving metallic hardcore of STRAW DOGS, without the guitar solos. I guess early MOTÖRHEAD would be the obvious gold star. I’ve always been partial to this particular style, and they do it well.

Cigar The Visitor CD

Skate punk veterans from the late ’90s get back together again, and, well, do a new record. CIGAR was always noteworthy for the incredible speed and precision of their drumming, and sort of melded PENNYWISE and the SATANIC SURFERS with lots of RUSH-esque chops and changes and stops and starts. I mean, why use three chords when you can use thirteen instead!? For those looking for some straight-ahead LAGWAGON, you’ll be disappointed. But if you fancy BAD RELIGION doing some math rock, you’ll be in veritable heaven, all driven by a drummer who makes early NAPALM DEATH sound positively laid-back.

Townies Meet the Townies! CD

Debut full-length effort from this female-fronted band composed of some punk veterans. Unsurprisingly, they’re not shy about their influences, which run the gamut of late ’70s/early ’80s California punk, from the surfy side of the early DEAD KENNEDYS to FEAR (via a spirited cover of “I Don’t Care About You”) and the AVENGERS. All gloriously lo-fi and politically barbed.

Meatbot In My Head CD

Debut full-length from this trio. They claim NAKED RAYGUN as a primary influence, but manage to produce a sound more akin to NAKED RAYGUN covering RUDIMENTARY PENI’s Death Church. And judging by their photo on the back of the CD, they look aged enough to have actually been hanging out in the practice room while NAKED RAYGUN was scratching their heads over how to best assault the Nick Blinko opus.

Society’s Ills Lore CD

I had presumed this quartet is from Montreal, given that several of their songs are sung in French, but I could be wrong. Regardless, they have that fairly speedy melodic hardcore sound/style nailed down real tight. Anthemic, with plenty of layered vocals that would make BAD RELIGION nod appreciatively, and enough metallic guitar to give STRUNG OUT a run for their money. All with a sparkling, very 21st century production.

V/A Kinda Sorta Music 2020 Compilation CD-R

A compilation of ten bands “from the Los Angeles area.” No song titles, just band names, and that’s about it in terms of packaging and whatnot. Definitely of the demo tape/mixtape quality, aurally enhanced (or degraded, depending on your view of such things) by four of said tracks being live. Most of the bands range in the thrash/grindcore/noisy/sore throat/industrial end of things. The two standouts (certainly for me, partly because they don’t fall into those areas) are the early ARTICLES OF FAITH fury (and melody) of SCREAMING COWBELL, and the female-fronted TRAP GIRL, who similarly manage to sound driving and raging while keeping that sense of melody, like TILT covering the POISON GIRLS.

E.F.S. Songs of Waiting CD

This effort reminds me a lot of the early demo/tape-trading days in the UK in the early ’80s, both for the lo-fi nature of this effort (it sounds as if it was recorded straight into a cassette player/ghetto blaster, just by sticking it in the room, and pressing play/record, as we used to do in the good old days), and for its eclectic content. Very few “songs” as such on the nine tracks, and despite listing four band members with the traditional rock instruments (bass, guitars, drums), all but a couple of the songs lack all of said components. A lot of almost experimental noise, or just vocals and one guitar (playing one note at a time, no chords), and what seems to be improvisational noisemaking—certainly no “traditional” song structures, in the verse/chorus school of rock. Definitely a sparse, spare DIY effort.

Tony Bluetile The EPs of TB CD

This mashup is almost too clever for its own good. The inestimable Mr. B is taking the vocals of various legendary punk (and the like) songs, and adding them to a bunch of ’60s/’70s music. More or less. So, the first two tracks are the vocals of CRASS’ “Do They Owe Us a Living” and “Shaved Women” put to some minimalist electronic music. Which actually works, and is interesting…in that the basic drive and beat and passion of those two particular songs remains intact. There’s then a couple of CIRCLE JERKS efforts put to some upbeat ’60s sounds, and then, so far as I can tell, IGGY POP’s vocal of “Lust For Life” with a ’70s brass-heavy funk backdrop, and then, I’m guessing, that same funk band’s vocal of some sort or other, over “Lust For Life.” Then there’s a similar treatment with BLACK FLAG. First there’s HENRY ROLLINS’ spoken word “Family Man” over some ’70s groovy freeform sound, followed by that same ’70s band (I’m presuming) singing over a BLACK FLAG instrumental track. Polished off with BLACK SABBATH’s “War Pigs” vocals over some other funky sounds. Kind of interesting, kind of too clever by half, and some of it lost on me, cos I don’t recognize either the non-punk backing tracks, or the non-punk singing, over the punk backing track.

Free Fall Nothing CD

A six-track debut effort from this Florida trio. They attack the old punk with an energetic, snotty attitude. Some fine lead guitar work, makes them sound not too dissimilar to early DEAD KENNEDYS with the FU’S guitarist, as they’re transitioning to STRAW DOGS. I guess that’s a very 20th century analogy, but what the fuck, that’s why they invented the information super highway, so you can look this stuff up.

Six Sundays Rasputin Goes to Hell CD

These old chaps describe themselves as “dad-punk,” which is perhaps a nod to their age (and familial status), but they’re definitely not staid. By the sounds of this effort (ten tracks, all but two of the songs clocking in at  two minutes or less), it’s not so much that they’re fast, or necessarily hard, but more a harkening to the glory days (for some) of the mid-to-late ’70s. Kind of like somewhere halfway between the HEARTBREAKERS and SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, in both speed and attack. And pretty catchy with it, too.

Fatherfigures Any Time Now…And High Time Too 2xCD

I have to say, this is fucking great. Which of course, doesn’t tell you anything. Well, other than I really like it. A lot. FATHERFIGURES are a new (though out of the ashes of FLIES ON YOU) quartet from the UK who gleefully take the “post-punk” moniker (think the likes of GANG OF FOUR, COCTEAU TWINS, early CURE, SISTERS OF MERCY, later period WIRE) and kick it around the park. Dark, sparse, poppy, brooding, melodic. All of that and more. It even comes with a bonus CD with remixes of half of the fourteen tracks on the actual CD, and it’s even more sparse, and dubby, and reverby, and makes the sounds sound even more like Metal Box-era PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. If any of this makes sense to you, dear reader, then you’ll understand just how excellent this is. Indeed.

Pencildive Grown-Ups CD

One of the reasons I appreciate reviewing the ol’ tactile items (I know, I know, very 20th century of me), is that every now and again, you get a fantastic package like this one. A beautifully stripped-down and elegant fold-out CD sleeve encases this debut full-length, which perfectly matches—sonically—the packaging. Minimalist (without being lo-fi, or garage) instrumentation—just drums, bass, guitar, and the one female vocal, from the trio. They produce, nevertheless, a propulsive dynamic range, from goth to indie to punk, I guess whatever that means. Kind of like if FUGAZI (or fIREHOSE) were fronted by a female singer/songwriter/guitarist, and covered some of the poppier tunes that came out on the likes of K Records and Kill Rock Stars twenty years ago.

Ink Bomb / No Breakfast Goodbye split CD

The packaging on this one is a little obtuse. The only reason I could tell that this is a split release with two bands is that there’s a photo of two (obviously different) bands. No acknowledgement of who wrote which of the six songs (though a quick internet search found that NO BREAKFAST GOODBYE provided the first trio of tracks, and INK BOMB the second, duh!). To make it even more blurry, both bands play a very similar vein of driving, melodic pop punk/hardcore, not too dissimilar from a BLINK-182, or perhaps more old school accurately, a BIG DRILL CAR or ALL. And just to muddy the waters entirely, so far as one can tell from the band photos, INK BOMB has one female in the band, but it would appear that the only female vocals on any of the tracks are on one of the NO BREAKFAST GOODBYE efforts. And there’s no contact information whatsoever on the CD. So, ah, there you have it, really. Despite my bewilderment, the ears dug it all just fine.

Skids Songs From a Haunted Ballroom CD

The SKIDS, for those not in the know, were a punk band forged in Fife, Scotland, in the late ’70s, who were a little bit different, sonically, and whose main claim to fame was that when they broke up in the early ’80s (after three excellent LPs), the guitarist went on to form BIG COUNTRY. The chiming guitars for which they became famous (“guitars that sound like bagpipes”—even though the band claimed they were emulating violins!), very much evident in the SKIDS. I guess they’ve now reformed with the original singer Richard Jobson (Stuart Adamson of BIG COUNTRY committed suicide—suffering from depression—in the early 2000s). This new record is largely a “covers” album, centered around the Kinema Ballroom in their hometown of Dunfermline. The songs pay tribute not only to their early influences (and bands they played with, such as the CLASH, and the ADVERTS), but to the working class (and gang) culture of the times. As well as reworkings of the SEX PISTOLS and MAGAZINE, there’s the ’70s glam of MOTT THE HOOPLE and DAVID ESSEX, the early New Romantic art of ULTRAVOX and the pub rock of NICK LOWE. And, appropriately enough, there’s reworkings of two of the early SKIDS classics—”The Saints Are Coming” and “Into The Valley.” A classic slice of culture from the era, all supercharged with 21st century production, and the songs suitably revved. I have to say, it largely reminded me of what a fucking great song “Complete Control” is!

The Owen Guns Electric Boogaloo EP2 CD

Seven tracks of raging, somewhat melodic hardcore. With lots of “fucks” and mob chant choruses, guitar solos, and ’80s riffs and breakdowns. Given that these lads are from Australia, the inclusion of a faithful rendition of the HARD-ONS ditty “Just Being With You” is a pretty good representation of style, substance, and attitude. With lots of swearing. The second release from this four-piece, both forged in the period of the pandemic.

Electraluxx Buzz-O-Ramma CD

A “vintage” collection of thirteen originals, clocking in at under 30 minutes (of course), straight out of the rock’nroll (hall of fame) garage. Not so much a return to the (CHUCK BERRY) source, more a stripped-down but perfectly executed collection of bubblegum surf songs that would make the RAMONES rock in their graves. Really rather good. Not least the sharp guitar work and tight vocal harmonies.

Beebe Gallini Pandemos CD

The first full-length (comprised of demos recorded just before the pandemic—hence the title, get it!?) from this girl group/garage band from the Twin Cities. The main players have been around for decades, and it shows in the easy confidence of these rockin’ originals (and some tasty nuggets covered). Power pop straight out of the garage (albeit must be a well heated one in those environs), replete with riffs, harmonies, and boppin’ beats a-plenty.

Indonesian Junk Living in a Nightmare CD

I believe this is the fourth or fifth effort from this (now) quartet, specializing in the mid-’70s era of the punk/glam/power pop end of the rock spectrum. Think the HEARTBREAKERS covering SLAUGHTER (i.e. SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS’ second LP, when they’d shortened their moniker and slowed down a tad, with more power ballads), with a touch of the BOYS thrown in for good measure. And yup, it is that good, and catchy. Not so much bubblegum, but rather the bubblegum stuck on the sidewalk and trodden in for a week or so…

Tritonic Port of Spain CD

A blistering aural soundscape of a concept album (of sorts). Equal parts hardcore, metal, math rock, indie, and a smattering of pop, it’s all stitched into a whole cloth with samples and sound collages. BOY SETS FIRE mashing it up with KILLING JOKE doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s a start.

The Blips The Blips CD

A garage rock/pop supergroup of sorts—or so the one sheet claims. A bunch of pop punk singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists who have played and toured in a bunch of bands come together to write this debut effort, sharing instruments, and lead and backing vocal duties. It does sound pretty coherent, and definitely mining the vein of the ’60s-era garage Nuggets, and ’70s guitar garage pop Á  la FLAMIN’ GROOVIES. Definitely more driving pop than fuzz, which is absolutely fine by me.

El Sancho Our Part in the Darkness CD

A trio of punk veterans end up on Hawaii’s Big Island, help carve out a wee scene there, and produce this debut eight-track effort. All self-recorded, mixed, mastered, and released. It’s speedy, poppy basic punk, Á  la DESCENDENTS and CRIMPSHINE, with lots of politics (and some zombies) in the lyrical mix. Catchy and infectious for sure.

Hayley and the Crushers Fun Sized CD

Latest six-track effort from this power-pop-punk California surf trio. The opening track pretty much lifts the style and pacing of “I Wanna Be Sedated” and layers the trademark HAYLEY bubblegum sass vocals on top, and the disc closes with a surfy cover of “Suzie is a Headbanger,” which pretty much sums up the band. The four tracks in between are pretty damn good, too.

The Mendozaz Up and at Them CD

Second full-length from this Toronto pop punk trio. They wear the obligatory RAMONES influences on their (record) sleeve, and all have the Mendoza surname. Being somewhat modern in their pop punk tastes, the RAMONES are suitably interpreted through a strict SCREECHING WEASEL snot-covered lens. At their best, this is up there with Anthem for a New Tomorrow, but more often falls squarely into the Boogada Boogada camp.

Scary Hours Margins CD

Singer/songerwriter and all-around multi-instrumentalist  Ryan Struck has travelled from punk and hardcore, to emo and folk, and now back again. With a vengeance. Eight blistering tracks of hardcore, from the melodic to the raging, and most in-between. Songs about capitalism, post-colonialism, and Marx’s theory of alienation, jostle for space with the “emo” end of missing one’s cousins and quitting drinking. And a cover of the BAD BRAINS’ “How Low Can a Punk Get,” which seems, ah, a little misplaced, given Ryan’s commitment to the LGBTQ community referenced in the title track.

Adolescents Russian Spider Dump CD

A covers album, basically of songs that Tony (singer and original) really liked back in the day, and still likes now. Most of ’em are from the West Coast (including Canada’s SUBHUMANS, of course!) and from the late ’70s/’80s. Pretty much all the songs sound great, with modern production and playing. Though not sure the world really needs yet another iteration of “Fuck You” or the DILS’ “Class War,” but then again, mebbe there can’t be enough of either sentiment. I think the DICKIES’ “Just Say Yes” was improved immeasurably by this iteration, and it’s great to hear TOXIC REASONS again. HUMPERS, GERMS, F-WORD, REDD KROSS, SIMPLETONES, the MIDDLE CLASS, the DRAGONS and the FLYBOYS also get a good doing, too.

Diaz Brothers Diaz Brothers CD

Back in the mid/late ’80s in the UK, American bands started to make it over in large numbers. Both the records, but also the bands themselves. And hence a whole new crop of bands started to form, influenced by such touchstones as GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s “You,” the last couple of DAG NASTY records, HÜSKER DÜ, MOVING TARGETS’ “Burning In Water,” SCREAM, and suchlike. Thusly, melodic hardcore was born in those fair Isles. One of the earliest and most fervent exponents of this new genre was a band called HDQ, whose main claim to fame was that they were formed by soon-to-be guitar god Dickie Hammond, who went on to basically rewrite melodic hardcore as the co-guitarist and co-songwriter of LEATHERFACE. When Dickie died far too young (he basically, and tragically, drank himself to death) several years ago, HDQ reformed with a new guitarist, and a new name. This is their debut. Unfortunately to these ears, like the earlier incarnation (and completely unlike LEATHERFACE), it returns to a rather meandering (albeit lushly pleasant) iteration of melodic hardcore that sounds great if that style is your thang, but doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. No great tunes, or driving choruses, and utterly devoid of that anthemic quality that GOVERNMENT ISSUE and DAG NASTY and HÜSKER DÜ (and LEATHERFACE!) brought to the material. So, ah, there you have it, really.

Activistas A is for Activistas CD

A nine-track effort (a mini-LP?) of what sounds like a British cabaret band, almost. Or sort of a “Knees Up Mother Brown” musical hall variety act. Male and female vocals, drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards. It’s all rather amateurish sounding, which is a little off-putting to these ears, though suddenly, the last three tracks (starting with a version of WOODY GUTHRIE’s “This Land Is Your Land” with BILLY BRAGG lyrical embellishments) really kick it up a gear, and sound rather more polished and hence eminently presentable! Perhaps with the addition of some more keyboards, it all falls into place? Lyrically, they seem to hit all the right spots (and targets) from Emma Goldman to Boris Johnson.

Rosetta Stone Cryptology CD

With a minimum of internet sleuthing, I discovered that ROSETTA STONE is a British “Gothic rock band” that would appear to have formed in the late ’80s. Which explains why they sound like a very deft marriage (of convenience) of SISTERS OF MERCY and JOY DIVISION. Bass-driven dark music, with Ian Curtis vocal stylings and spare synth and guitar. This is a new album, and is a return to their sounds of yore. No idea what they were doing in between, but if you have either of the aforementioned in your record collection, this’ll go down real easy.

Broadway Calls Sad in the City CD

This is BROADWAY CALLS’ fourth full-length. They mix hard driving melodic pop-punk with catchy-as-hell hooks, and a nice line in sophisticated politics, with wordplay to match. They don’t like empire and authority, for all the right (as in left) reasons, and couch it in emotional anthems that wouldn’t sound out of place on the FALCON’s debut, or the LAWRENCE ARMS greatest hits roster, for that matter. Dark, yet poppy soundtracks for these times, for sure.

Shower With Goats This Is Not a Reflection… CD reissue

So far as I can tell, this is a remastered (and remixed?) rerelease of the original 2009 album, when SHOWER WITH GOATS reformed, following their glory days of the late ’90s. Regardless, ’tis a slab of power pop/pop-punk that brings to mind the poppier moments of ALL, early BLINK-182, the snot of SCREECHING WEASEL and even the likes of BIG DRILL CAR. Plus the almost obligatory ’80s medley as the last track. If any of the aforementioned float your boat, this will positively power it along.

Chino Best of Firsts CD

Fuck, this is really good. This young trio manages to channel the best of mid-to-late-’70s British punk (think mid-tempo, largely “clean” guitars). Poppy, anthemic, and unafraid to wander off into various musical directions, this reminds me of the best of the likes of the UK SUBS, 999, the VIBRATORS, and even SLAUGHTER  (i.e. the second SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS LP, where they abbreviated their name accordingly) on the more rock ballad efforts. I guess the FLAMIN’ GROOVIES and the REPLACEMENTS would be the Yank comparisons. Yup, it’s that poised, composed, and fucking dead-on.

The Slackers Nobody’s Listening / Sleep Outside 12″

Two tracks recorded live, and presented in a rather stylish picture disc. The SLACKERS have been doing the reggae/ska/rocksteady thang for a couple of decades and counting now. I didn’t even know they were still going, to be honest, but these tracks are dripping with horns and keyboards, and bear more than a passing resemblance to the more soulful efforts of the REDSKINS and the more laid-back SPECIALS numbers. Spot-on lyrical sentiments, too; makes me reckon that these are pretty recent efforts.

Lucifer Star Machine The Devil’s Breath CD

To paraphrase the ol’ cliche, you can’t judge a CD by its cover—front, in this case presumably of old Nick himself (I guess) breathing, nor back, with the band all wearing cutoff jean jackets to better show their full-sleeve and neck tattoos. Not sure what I was expecting at all. But it wasn’t this. The MACHINE displays an accomplished array of driving pop-rock, rock, punk, and some fantastic guitar solos. I deliberately avoided metal, or even metallic. Cranked-up rock’n’roll, for sure, Á  la SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, plus the power pop/rock of a PAT BENATAR and THIN LIZZY. Definitely way more STRAW DOGS than SPEEDEALER, and majestic rock Á  la TURBONEGRO. Even the acoustic closer sounded pretty good. The singer has a fine set of pipes on him, and the guitar players know how to solo, with never a “squeal” or even a false harmonic. Just goes to show, I guess.

V/A Pandemic Sampler CD

I have to say, I’m feeling quite energized by the state of (presumably) “political” punk these days. This is a compilation in honor of Switzerland’s ggs31 squat/concert venue, going strong now for 22 years! Given that for obvious COVID reasons there’s no live music currently, the collective that runs the squat decided to bring the music back out to the kids (and adults too, I reckon). Fifteen bands have donated a track each, half of them Swiss, with a couple of German, Belgium, Croatia, Mexico and the Czech Republic also providing a band/track a piece. The styles range from hip hop to traditional Mexican folk (no guessing which combo provided the latter). Fortunately, most of it remains within the remit of MRR, and is all the better for it. My personal faves are the late-’70s-sounding power pop of 100 MAD and the MIKE STAINDER BAND (both Swiss), Germany’s ALTER EGON! who turn in a superb song that would have taken pride of place on CRASS’s “Penis Envy” and the glorious melodic punk of the Czech ROSA PARKS. The overall quality of songwriting throughout is exceptional. Well worth tracking this down, in anticipation of visiting the squat, ah, next year!

Get Dead Dancing With the Curse CD

This is really fucking good. After a rather throw-away hip hop opening, this disc really hits the ground running. Full bloody tilt. They meld that NorCal melodic punk sound with some ska-steady moments (minus the horns of course), and a healthy dose of raw-throat pop. At its height (and there are mostly highs here), it’s eerily reminiscent of the FALCON and STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS…neither of which are NorCal bands, I readily concede, but I can’t really think of much greater praise.

The Yohannans Punk’s Not Dead CD-R

A self-produced electropunk effort (though that’s how they describe themselves—it’s basic electro-pop). I guess the punk part comes from the sarcastic fuck you lyrics, railing against the corporatisation of punk, the major labels, and all the other bad stuff that MRR and its founder and leading light, after whom the band is named, railed against. More sloppy DEPECHE MODE than SUICIDE—though the first time I saw DEPECHE MODE lip-syncing (and knob-syncing, presumably) on the British chart show Top of the Pops, “playing” their first hit “I Just Can’t Get Enough,” Vince Clarke was wearing a CRASS t-shirt. Now that’s punk.

V/A Unten links: Solidarität gegen Zensur und Repression CD

Well, there’s lots to say about this here compilation. Firstly, it’s a “Soli-Sampler für Indymedia Linksunten” as the Germans would have it. Indymedia Linsunten was a website, part of the international Indymedia network, that was open access and used by a wide range of the anti-parliamentary Left to post about actions, events, and suchlike, and hence was taken down by the German state in 2017. Thusly, I’m guessing that the 29 bands contributing to this compilation would come from the more “political” (i.e. anarchist/explicitly left) end of the ol’ punk spectrum. Which makes it a fascinating snapshot of international (I’m guessing from the non-English names of the bands that at least half of them are from Germany and/or Northern Europe—y’know, all them umlauts and suchlike) more or less contemporary political punk. Several things immediately stand out. Well over half of the vocalists are women, and often where there are male vocalists there are also female. I’ve only actually heard of one of these bands before (the UK’s AUTONOMADS, whom I love dearly—and unsurprisingly, have a female vocalist—and a male one too!), though that probably says more about my knowledge of international punk than it does the “state of the scene.” And I use the term “punk” deliberately, because hardcore most of these bands certainly are not. Twenty years ago, one would safely presume that such a political compilation would be full of crusty DISCHARGE-esque bands, with perhaps the odd raging thrasher to break up the metal and grind. There’s nary a single song that would fit any of these descriptions. Indeed, the early CURE, or SISTERS OF MERCY seem to be more of an influence than RIISTETYT or BOLTHROWER. I guess with the German tradition of ’80s legends such as RAZZIA and SLIME, it’d be no surprise that driving melody is the norm here, with barely a sore throat amongst them. Other than the aforementioned AUTONOMADS, standouts for these ageing ears are SJU SVARA AR, LITOVSK and 100BLUMEN (who do the rather fine SISTERS OF MERCY impersonation), but really, the entire compilation is of a really high quality throughout. There’s not a duffer track to be found, and the cause, of course, is outstanding. Comes with a thick booklet about the German state and its nefarious actions, though all but some of the lyrics are in German. Top notch.

Sun-O-Bathers Floater CD EP

Belgian (so far as I can tell) quartet who have successfully channelled White Trash-era NOFX (with lots of early BLINK 182 thrown in)—the bassist is also the singer no less!—for six suitably melodic/harmonic SoCalesque hardcore tracks. And one completely throwaway surf instrumental to end on a pointless down note. Anyone who digs the aforementioned bands will enjoy this immensely. I did.

Shattered Dreams Into the Dark CD / Days of Rage CD

OK, this is what I can glean from the liner notes. Four young German lads, greatly influenced by US bands that were busy touring Germany in the late ’80s/early ’90s, form a band called DBF (a.k.a. DISORGANIZED BUNCH OF FUCKERS). They jump in a VW camper van and tour Europe, and have their eyes opened (politically, certainly). And then come home. And are a bit knackered. And instead of doing a new DBF record, start a new project called SHATTERED DREAMS. The resulting new album (which includes one or two DBF tunes) sounds a little overblown/histrionic to these ears. Too many breakdowns, and tough-guy hardcore posturings. Nevertheless, some good melodic hardcore, melded with some of the fury of later-period CONFLICT (the UK anarcho-punk chaps), provides some highlights. This is in 1991. In 1992, a bit underwhelmed, the four-piece picks up a new drummer, records some new demos, and enters into a battle-of-the-bands-type effort (which was duly recorded), and actually come into their own, musically, as a sort of European melodic angry hardcore band with excellent metallic guitaring. Somewhat reminiscent of a fledgeling LIFE….BUT HOW TO LIVE IT? Needless to say, I much prefer this second effort, which doesn’t seem to have appeared at the time (recorded in 1992), but was released decades later, largely for “friends and family.” So much so that if there’s a website or address on either of these discs, it’s in unreadably small print. Which is a pity. Well worth tracking down Days of Rage.

Coconut Planters Coconut Planters CD

Debut five-track self-produced/released effort from this new Italian quartet, self-confessed fans of the ’90s sounds of Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph. Hence, unsurprisingly, there are buckets of driving melody, harmony, and rhythm in that time-honored style of NO USE FOR A NAME, FACE TO FACE, LAGWAGON, and, probably most immediately, Sweden’s MILLENCOLIN. Layered guitars and vocals abound. And they do it rather well. I have to say, I’m a fan of this genre, though it does pose a less immediate existential question on the nature of cultural imperialism, and homogeneity. If it wasn’t for the handy one-sheet, I would’ve bet my youngest child that these folks were from Orange County. On well.

Freddie Dilevi Teenager’s Heartbreak CD

Pablo Velasquez, a.k.a. FREDDIE, hails from Seville in Spain. The man has, however, both an appreciation for American ’50s rock’n’roll and late-’70s punk, and a fantastic set of pipes. The vocals are way up front, which doesn’t do them any disservice. He possesses a voice as fine as any crooner punk has produced—up there with DANZIG, the DAMNED’s Dave Vanian and John Doe of X, and indeed, wouldn’t sound out of place in a life biopic movie on ELVIS or BUDDY HOLLY. Musically, the rock’n’roll influence is there, Á  la a more mature early MISFITS, later period DAMNED, or X, not to mention the HEARTBREAKERS. The tunes are pretty damn stellar too, and this CD is blessed with two (uncredited/unlisted) bonus tracks sung in his native Spanish, which might be the two best on the disc. Fucking great. Even the wife likes this one, and she gave up on X after Los Angeles.

The Real McKenzies Beer and Loathing CD

I have to confess, having grown up in Scotland, I always hated the bagpipes. Firstly, no fucker (including on one of the tracks on this new CD—their eleventh full-length in an almost 30-year run to date) can get the drone quite in tune. Secondly, like fife and drums, the bagpipes are basically used to play martial music, which is a load of bollocks an’ all. Despite that, however, I’ve always had a soft spot for the REAL MCKENZIES. They play anthemic melodic, driving punk, well, with bagpipes! At their best, they sound like the glory days of NO USE FOR A NAME and GOOD RIDDANCE, with the bagpipes largely just being part of the instrumentation. There is the occasional tired old “traditional” song, instrumentals with embarassing names like “A Widow’s Watch” and “The Seafarers Return,” and lyrically, a nod to the usual sad nationalistic/militaristic bullshit. How come it’s all about fighting for the King (i.e. being a tool of empire) or Bonnie Prince Charlie (the weirdo German prince who couldn’t speak English, let alone Gaelic, who briefly fancied himself in the interminable internecine wars of the ruling classes). Whatever happened to singing real rebel songs, about James Connolly, and Hardie & Baird. Anyways, I digress. There are a couple of folk-rock power ballads on here, which don’t do much for me, but the real gem contained herein is a dead-ringer for early BIG COUNTRY. Some of you may remember the glory of BIG COUNTRY (who came out of Scottish punk band the SKIDS in the early ’80s) and who perfected the twin guitar attack to, well, sound like bagpipes, to fantastic melodic effect. Well, the REAL MCKENZIES manage to do just that..with twin guitars and bagpipes. Fair enough.

Dirt Box Disco TV Sex Show CD

This quartet has been around for a decade now, and apparently, this is their eighth full-length effort. Apparently I haven’t been keeping up with the “new and trending” for a while. Their promo one-sheet lists the BONZO DOG DOO DAH BAND as one of their influences (along with the likes of KISS, RAMONES, DAMNED and KERBDOG), so that was an instant thumbs up. Even better is their glorious blend of glam, pop-punk and rock’n’roll. Indeed, being Brits, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that they have much more than a passing musical resemblance to both SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS and COCK SPARRER (at their Shock Troops finest—including “Out On an Island”). Can’t really give ’em much more superlatives than that. Singalong choruses, excellent melodic twin guitars, and layered vocals, and some killer tunes. Not so sure about their threads, or stage monikers, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Stuck on 45 RPM CD

Debut eight-track release from this Austin, TX trio. Stripped-down, melodic punk that sounds like it came out a good 40 years ago. MAD PARADE, REALLY RED, that kind of vibe. Which, for some reason, sounds rather refreshing these days.

Tiananmen Squares Nothing Can Kill the Grimace CD

Fuck me, this is really fucking good. Nothing Can Kill The Grimace may even be the third release from this Omaha trio. According to Bandcamp they have a couple others that aren’t this one, and have been doing their thang for half a decade now. And said thang is fantastic. They do a wonderful job of channeling some of the best of late-’80s/early-’90s Yank punk. Think SCREECHING WEASEL, FIFTEEN, and OPERATION IVY. Gruff and melodic, and bloody soulful it is, too. Cover versions of NOFX and the CIRCLE JERKS are another fair pointer. With gusto!

Guerilla Poubelle L’Ennui CD

I believe this French trio has been around for a while. Indeed, looking through my CDs, I discovered a disc of theirs from several years ago. Who knew!? Anyways, sonically, they marry melodic hardcore with that HOT WATER MUSIC gruff-yet-anthemic, effortless driving rhythm. And they do it good. Real good. Even better, lyrically, they are spot on, and given that my French is getting rusty (to say the least), they have a handy paragraph (in English) about each set of lyrics—examining the themes of exploitation, alienation, capitalism, ageing, class war, and revolt! Plus a handy (and excellent) reading (and podcast) list—albeit in French. Fortunately, being from Paris and all, they actually sing in French. And, judging from the aforementioned earlier effort, which I dug out and (re)listened to in preparation of reviewing this one, musically, they’re going from strength to strength, while not losing any of the articulate lyrical rage over time. Like a good French cheese, or wine, if that’s your bag, they just get better and better over time.

V/A Stay Home CD-R

A compilation of RAMONES covers from a variety of bands that I’m completely unaware of (which I’m sure says more about me than said bands). One of the beauties of the RAMONES is that it’s really difficult to make such a great collection of tunes sound bad. While those folks doing more or less faithful renditions still sounds great, those doing something a little different (female backing vocals, a bit of slide guitar and a country twang, electronic drums and keyboards), or radical reinterpretations (CHRISTIAN BLUNDA’s “I Remember You” stands out) just further enhances the majesty of the originals. Indeed, the only disappointing (somewhat) tracks on this effort, all recorded under lockdown, are those couple of folks who did even less lo-fi iterations than the originals. Personal faves of mine are DRAKULAS “Carbona Not Glue” and HAYBABY’s “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” but anyone that loves the RAMONES (which is everyone, right!?) will dig this, indeed.

Cyclone Furies Cyclone Furies CD

My lads—twin boys, currently aged seven—have consistently, good pre-teen rebels that they are, asserted to their dad that they hate punk rock. This all changed last week while listening to the DAMNED’s Machine Gun Etiquette. Thus it came to pass that we were off somewhere and I was playing CYCLONE FURIES’ CD in the car…and the self-same music critics asked if this was punk, too. I assured them it was, and they repeated that they (still) like punk rock. This quintet isn’t quite up there with the majesty of that era of the DAMNED, but they definitely lean heavily on the early RAMONES, in terms of song structures, chord sequences, et al. And despite the addition of keyboards (hey, so did the DAMNED!), they carry it off well enough.

Dasterds Cherophobia CD

First full-length from this Michigan quartet. They describe themselves as a power pop/pop-punk band. Which I guess is kind of fair enough. They also claim that they have emotionally-driven lyrics about stuff like conservative relatives and toxic masculinity, but my aged eyes can’t actually read the tiny font that the lyrics are printed on. Though I’m happy to take them at their word. Musically, I reckon they’re like a cross between later-period DAG NASTY and classic-era HOT WATER MUSIC. They possess fantastic chiming twin guitars that old fuckers like me would claim is very reminiscent of the last SKIDS album (i.e. the one before Stuart Adamson went on to form BIG COUNTRY—as in those kind of chiming guitars), though a lesser hack would just assert that there are lots of IRON MAIDEN-ish twin guitar solos…which’d be fairly accurate, too. Which is a long way of saying this record fucking rocks.

Meatbot Life at Fort Reno CD EP

Being a bespectacled, skinny (well, I used to be skinny!) dude that has been known to wear DOA shirts, the picture of these chaps (presumably live at Fort Reno—which is a national park near DC, so far as I can tell) with the singer/guitarist appropriately resplendent with eyewear and apparel elevated them up a notch…call it the herd mentality, if you will. Anyways, there are only three songs, patently performed live (I guess one does short sets at Fort Reno national park). [Ed. note: Fort Reno is a city park in DC across from Wilson High School. They have been hosting free shows (punk and otherwise) for over fifty years.] They remind me very much of early CIRCLE JERKS. Shortish, snotty blasts of fairly melodic punk.

Mynustheckat Hear My Deer CD

According to the back of the CD, all songs on this effort are written, recorded and performed by Jim Morrissey (presumably no relation to the eccentric vegan). Not only that but they were recorded between 2006 and 2008. What you do get is an eclectic mix of songs that are definitely steeped in late-’70s UK punk. The SWELL MAPS come to mind, as does early WIRE and the VIBRATORS. It’s actually rather good, and if those bands mean anything to you, then well worth tracking this one down.

Pässilauma Jakomäkeen! CD

I’m guessing this quartet are Scandinavian, given the umlauts in both their name and the name of this record. And in what I take to be the thanks list, and many other “ä”s that are dotted about the text! What you do get, however is a lengthy (the opening and closing tracks each clock in at over eight minutes) driving, prog-rock-tinged punk. It reminds me a lot of late-’80s German bands (perhaps ’cos they both sung in their native tongue) RAZZIA and EA80, though HAWKWIND would be another good musical reference. Given that I like the output of all three aforementioned combos, I mean this entirely as a compliment.

The Kegels Blood and Wine CD EP

This five-track effort brings back (fairly recent) memories of the majestic heights of the RED CITY RADIO Skytigers CD. Not as much rock as the aforementioned RCR, but they do have that anthemic, layered, melodic sound real down. And a little dirty. While this quartet (typical two guitars, bass, drums) would appear to hail from Southern California (figures), they manage to sound like No Division-era HOT WATER MUSIC having it out with SCREECHING WEASEL at the height of their powers (i.e. Anthem for a New Tomorrow). As you might have ascertained, this is really fucking good.

Lagwagon Railer CD

Loads of bands that have been around a while (decades at this point—three in the case of LAGWAGON) seem to either be “returning” to their early material/sound, or doing so when they reform. Not sure that LAGWAGON ever officially broke up, but this is their ninth full-length effort in thirty-odd years, and is heralded as a return to the “old” sound. Short, sharp, and punchy. In that distinctive melodic hardcore way, of course. As such, it’s the best thing they’ve done in decades, I reckon. Though there’s now loads of guitar solos in the songs. Never a bad thing to these ears, though it does, at times, make it sound like old LAGWAGON meets early IRON MAIDEN, or even a de-metalicized STRUNG OUT. As if to prove my point, they do a JOURNEY cover, which fits right in.

The Bad Ideas Happiness CD

This band wears their influences on their sleeve. Or deeply etched within the grooves, or whatever the digital equivalent is. Early ’80s US punk and hardcore. Think DEAD KENNEDYS (minus the hits), while the female vocalist begs comparison with a scrappier AVENGERS (or perhaps BLATZ a decade later). They’re from Kansas City, and damn proud of it. This would appear to be their third full-length.

V/A Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers CD

I guess if I’d have stopped to figure it out/think about it, I would have realized that Red Scare is only fifteen years young. It seems like they’ve been around forever, but I guess it makes sense that they are the sound of the new millennium. Certainly, they have consistently proven to more than emulate, and indeed, to help define what the more melodic end of punk and hardcore actually sound like over the last decade and a half. If Epitaph and then Fat both gestated and represented that 90s sound, Red Scare have picked up that blazing torch, reassembled and reinvigorated it, and hurled it headlong into this century, and then some. To celebrate, there’s fifteen artists, from the current Red Scare roster, with one track apiece. It’s hard to pick out standouts when the whole damn pack itself is leading, but I’ll mention my two faves. BRENDAN KELLY AND THE WANDERING BIRDS add a suitably genius twist to a LILLINGTONS standout, managing in this incarnation to channel the best of CAPTAIN SENSIBLE and ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE in a wonderful electro-pop gem, while THE BOMBPOPS channel BLINK 182 at their pop punk perfect pinnacle. Then again, it’s not as if the likes of the COPYRIGHTS, ELWAY, GARRETT DALE and RAMONA are also-rans. fifteen years to date, not a misstep to be seen, and they’re still reaching for the stars. Long live the comrades at Red Scare.

Cockwomble Cockwomble CD

The eponymous debut full-length, from the brain of singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Gavan. I’d previously heard of him as the producer and engineer of ROBB JOHNSON, so it only makes sense that he’d put his own prodigious talents to work on original material. Full of (political) venom, snot, snark, and bite, COCKWOMBLE present themselves as if SCREECHING WEASEL or early PROPAGANDHI were performing a HUMPERS tribute set. Equal parts melodic pop punk, garage-y rock’n’roll, biting political satire, and black humor. What more could you ask for (other than the next ROBB JOHNSON long player, of course)?

The Members Version CD

Folks that might remember (or recognize) the MEMBERS for (the admittedly sublime) “Sound of the Suburbs” or even “Solitary Confinement” might be in for a bit of a shock. Not a rude one, but certainly a stylistic one. This is yet another covers disc, in this case, largely of classics from the ’60s and ’70s—BUZZOCKS, the RAMONES, the LURKERS, DAVID BOWIE, PRINCE, the VELVET UNDERGROUND, JOHN HOLT, GREGORY ISAACS, BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS, DILLINGER, GRANDMASTER FLASH and ABBA. A fairly eclectic mix, but which all make perfect sense for those lucky enough (and there’s still time!) to be familiar with the back catalog and oeuvre of THE MEMBERS. Unsurprisingly, the most faithful of the covers are the reggae and dub efforts, while the PRINCE, ABBA and punk songs get more of a FAD GADGET ’80s electronica treatment (along with some dub!). And it largely works. And I say this as both a huge ABBA fan, and a MEMBERS aficionado!

Tommy and June Tommy and June CD

In my head, I’ve been constructing a lengthy discourse on the lineage stretching from SIMON AND GARFUNKEL to the likes of NOFX or NO USE FOR A NAME. Y’know, close vocal harmonies, pop songs, power chords, that sort of thing. But fuck it. TOMMY AND JUNE are a duo (no shit), with more than a passing resemblance to SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, NOFX and NO USE FOR A NAME. Tommy is obviously the Paul Simon of this duo. He writes all the songs, and I’m guessing he does the lead vocals (as opposed to the typically omnipresent high harmonies). Lyrically, they talk about being punks and not wanting to grow up, and unsurprisingly, often throw in (as did SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, of course) electric guitars and drumkits into the typical folky acoustic guitar mix. As well as the patented NOFX/NO USE FOR A NAME chord and vocal harmony progressions. There’s even a bona fide (pop punk) rocker or two on this disc. And at ten tracks clocking in at twenty minutes, there’s no meandering endless introspection, nor repeat-to-fade choruses. It’s actually fucking really good, and this is coming from your humble reviewer who is the proud owner of not only the Old Friends SIMON AND GARFUNKEL box set, but every single CD ever released by NOFX (well, except Liberal Animation, which let’s face it, is embarassing bollocks). Pop-folk-punk anyone?

Famous & Fallen Take Me Away CD

Despite the limitations of being a bearded trio, FAMOUS & FALLEN do a damn fine job of melding the best of melodic hardcore and driving pop punk. Not as fast or as shiny as GOOD RIDDANCE, or as poppy as SCREECHING WEASEL, but they are nevertheless firmly planted somewhere in the middle, and to more than good effect. Excellent musicianship, singing, and songcraft make this well worth tracking down.

Abusements Irritainment! CD

This band has spent a while steeped in the glory days of UK ’78. Yup, not UK82, but at their best, this channels the likes of EATER, the VIBRATORS, and (of course) the first CLASH disc. Lots of that mid-paced rock’n’roll/pub-rock-infused punk, and suitably melodic. My only real complaint (given that I’m partial to both UK ’78 and ’82) is that at sixteen tracks that are around three minutes each, this disc tends to drag on and on. Back in the day, you couldn’t get more than twenty minutes a side on the ol’ long playing vinyl before the sound started to deteriorate, which is still a handy rule for anything longer than a 7″ I’d posit.

Bracket Too Old to Die Young CD

My wife walked in on me playing this CD, and remarked that she both liked it, and that it reminded her (in terms of song structure, harmonies, et al.) of the BEATLES. Now, bear in mind, she hates pop punk, and the BEATLES are still the gold standard for pop. So, I don’t really have much to add. BRACKET, despite their championing by Fat Mike, and the grudging respect of my wife, have been the unsung heroes of pop punk for well over 20 years now. And apparently, they still have it, and then some.

State Drugs Takings & Leavings CD-R

This CD collects STATE DRUGS’ recordings from 2015-2017. They excel at the end of melodic hardcore/pop punk that would have been called college rock in the ’80s and ’90s. And indeed, they wear their influences on their sleeves, with a workmanlike cover of the REPLACEMENTS’ “Left of the Dial.” At their best, they remind me more than a tad of the MOVING TARGETS and the NILS. Excellent indeed.

CJ Ramone The Holy Spell… CD

I have to hand it to the man. Since the end of the mighty RAMONES (and let’s face it, even after Dee Dee, the songwriting took a deep dive), ol’ CJ has done a great job of both keeping that distinctive sound alive and helping refine it, rolling it seamlessly into the 21st century—albeit with a few guitar solos that would make Johnny roll in his fascist grave. Which is a long way of saying that this is fucking good. Far from being a sub-par RAMONES cover band, CJ’s songwriting is up there with Dee Dee’s contributions to the band when CJ was handling the bass duties. He is producing songs of the caliber of “Pet Semetary” and “Poison Heart,” and his tribute to the late, lamented Steve Soto in “Rock On” is a case in point. This is really fucking good. Even if he does now have a beard.

The Functional Citizens Game Night CD

I’m not alone in thinking (well, Ben agrees with me at least, and he should know) that the apex of the mighty SCREECHING WEASEL was Anthem for a New Tomorrow. Wittingly or not, this trio have spent an eon or two steeped in it, channeling its excellence in this here offering. I rest my case.

Black Static Eye The Confession Box CD-R

Seven tracks of brooding, menacing, driving punk rock. Minus the vocals, it actually sounds very reminiscent of the dark rock that JELLO BIAFRA was producing during that era of solo collaboration records—particularly the JELLO BIAFRA/DOA combo, and not a million miles away from the GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, either. Technically this is a CD-R, but the production and packaging are pretty slick.

V/A Bekannt & Beliebt (28 Bands Spielen Notdurft) CD

The subtitle of this (so far as I can ascertain) all-German compilation translates to “28 Bands Cover NOTDURFT.” ’Tis all in German (both the liner notes and the singing, not to mention the names of the vast majority of the bands), so I really have no idea what they are going on about. But it does sound pretty damn good. CAMINOS quite wittily/cleverly weave in the defining riffs, melodies, and solos of “Holiday in Cambodia” into their track—the majority of which sounds nothing like the DEAD KENNEDYS stylistically. UGLY HURONS do the third-wave pop punk-with-horns ska thing very well, while the POST-ROFT offering wouldn’t have sounded amiss on the UK DECAY long player. The highlights for me are definitely HANS AM FELSEN, who sound like the driving melodic punk with male/female twin vocals of PARANOID VISIONS at their height, along with two of the synth pop offerings from EIN JAHR and GEN NULL, the latter of whom bring to mind the best of CAPTAIN SENSIBLE’s solo offerings. I’d never heard of any of these bands prior to this disc, but am delighted to make their acquaintance, for sure.

Strung Out Songs of Armor and Devotion CD

I’m not ashamed to confess that I’ve always had a real soft spot for STRUNG OUT. Over the last three decades they’ve pretty much perfected that seamless blend of metallic driving melodic hardcore, complete with the twin guitar solos, false harmonics, and layered vocals. Imagine the IRON MAIDEN Killers line-up covering NO USE FOR A NAME’s ¡Leche con Carne! Or BAD RELIGION having a go at the best of THIN LIZZY. Yup, it’s that good, and it still works.

Howl In The Typewriter Manifesto: A Universal Declaration of Indespendence CD

So far as I can tell, HOWL IN THE TYPEWRITER have been a mainstay of the UK underground punk/electronic/noise scene since the ’80s. Indeed, I probably traded tapes with this chap back in the days when that’s what any self-respecting/somewhat self-aware young punker did with their time and dole money. Like many such projects, it’s the brainchild and labor of love of one individual. And this effort is a single-track concept album about the evils of consumerism, advertising, and all the bad stuff betwixt both. Clocking in at just over an hour, and with a mishmash of stylings that includes thrashy punk, noise, and electronica; with lots of cut-ups, loops, jingles, adverts and stuff in between songs, it’s considerably more akin to CRASS’s Yes Sir, I Will than NOFX’s The Decline or the SUBHUMANS’s From the Cradle to the Grave (or even the DAMNED’s “Curtain Call”), but there you have it. Dozens of other underground luminaries add their vocal stylings to the oft-repeated refrain that runs through: “We don’t fucking want / what you’re trying to fucking sell / shove it up your fucking arse / then fuck off and go to hell.” At its best, it reminds me of CHUMBAWAMBA’s Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, along with the AUTONOMADS. My six-year-old kids thought it sounded “pretty crazy.”

Mantooth OU81TOOTH CD

Eight-song effort of fairly high-octane garage rock’n’roll. There’s some great guitaring in here, with lots of squeals and false harmonics, and riffage that’d make the STOOGES proud. The frontman is horribly off-key with the histrionic vocals, which I can’t really get past. The band is rocking, though.

Tag Ohne Schatten Ein Besserer Ort CD

My presumption is that this German trio named themselves after the seminal RAZZIA 1983 LP of that name—RAZZIA also being a German band. Given that, to paraphrase ALL (sort of), “we don’t speak German, we just love German bands that sing in their native tongue, particularly those from the ’80s.” While this doesn’t quite rank with the best of RAZZIA, it nonetheless channels enough of those slightly off-kilter melodic late ’80s / early ’90s hardcore bands such as FARSIDE, PEGBOY, and SQUIRRELBAIT, that I can’t help but love this disc. And they do sing in German. So no complaints whatsoever. Save that I still have no idea what “Tag Ohne Schatten” means, let alone what they (or RAZZIA, for that matter) are singing about. But it sure does sound good!

State Drugs College Radio CD-R

A trio of guitar and harmony-drenched “college rock” punk efforts, along the lines of Creator-era LEMONHEADS and the first MOVING TARGETS LP. These aging ears are delighted that the kids are still kicking out the melodic jams in this genre.

Deposit Man Frustrate CD

This Finland-based quartet is comprised of older chaps (30-something dads, they proclaim): among them there’s a couple of Finns, a Catalan, and a Samoan who does the singing/songwriting. Musically, at their best, they are very reminiscent of that slower melodic ’82 sound, like UK SUBS crossed with a driving UK DECAY. Or ARTICLES OF FAITH on 33 instead of 45. I guess there’s a fair amount to be said for maturity (and fatherhood?) on the back of this one?

Jerrys Farsa Radhustyrann CD

Took a bit of internet sleuthing, since there’s bugger all in terms of addresses and websites and whatnot on their disc, but I think I can definitively say that they are Swedish. I’m always partial to folks singing in their native tongue, even if I haven’t the foggiest what they’re nattering on about. Musically, they play upbeat, melodic hardcore / pop punk type stuff, with lots of horns. Thankfully, no ska to speak of. Much more a NO USE FOR A NAME with brass, than say, I dunno, AGAINST ALL AUTHORITY. Believe me, I’ve heard considerably worse.

500 Miles to Memphis Blessed Be the Damned CD

Never heard of these folks before, and this is their fifth full-length in the last fifteen or so years. 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS definitely have the instrumentation on occasion: pedal steel, mandolin, and banjo, together with the wall of rock sound. I’m always a bit suspicious of bands that try and meld roots / folk music with punk rock. I think it works best when they stick to the more “regular” albeit punk stuff (though I am a sucker for the layered gospel choir vocal effects). There are a couple of songs that I’m sure SOCIAL DISTORTION could fit right into their current set. Not terrible by any means, and the lads can certainly play.

Direct Hit Crown of Nothing CD

Never heard of these chaps before this disc, though apparently it’s their second full-length. What it does remind me of, most muchly, is the LILLINGTONS’s Stella Sapiente record. Both bands have some pedigree as pop punkers (the LILLINGTONS a bit longer, obviously), both are “concept” albums (still a rarity in punk rock, for better or worse), and on both records, they respectively take the pop punk genre and really reshape, expand, and redefine it. Throwing in lots of (darker) new wave stylings, and a whole host of other sounds and influences. Both are really fucking good.

V/A Paris Is Burning CD

Paris might be burning, but it sounds pretty damn good to these ears. Ten Parisian punk bands grace us with a couple of tracks each. Whether it’s the UK SUBS-esque HUMAN DOG FOOD, the GBH-inflected BREAKOUT, or the ever-ebullient techno pop punkers LOUIS LINGG AND THE BOMBS, the standard is uniformly astonishingly high for a compilation. The moody goths yearning for the days of ALIEN SEX FIEND even have HARASSMENT to keep ’em happy. I guess this does make them all a bit European sounding. But then again, it is Paris for fuck’s sake. Even better, this CD, brought to you by the trifecta of labels Sick My Duck, Sheekiz,and General Strike, is available for free from any of the featured bands, with a purchase of any of their other records. Given that this was sent in by LOUIS LINGG AND THE BOMBS, you ought to get it from them!

Louis Lingg and the Bombs Kiiroichurippu: Hopeless Love in the Age of the Glitch CD

Four new tracks, all sung in Japanese, from these long-standing Parisian pop punk techno ravers. While lyrically they’re proudly in the CRASS anarcho-punk camp, at least on this effort, there’s mercifully little of the ATARI TEENAGE RIOT electronica, and much more of the straight ahead speedy pop punk. Kinda like J CHURCH on 45 (as opposed to 33), albeit with a Parisian female chanteuse, singing in Japanese (though the whoa- oh-ohs manage to comfortably span the linguistic divide). Fantastic stuff. Self-released, so snap it up from the band.