Ryan Modee

Pura Crema Fin de la Era / Balada Del Hipocita 7″

Sparse, dark-yet-jangly, dreamy, sometimes surfy, psych-pop from Monterrey, Mexico, that kinda rules. Going down an internet rabbit hole, it seems that after a few years and a lot of digital releases, this is their most professional attempt, both at songwriting and recording. I gotta admit, it’s a good jump, and I can’t wait to hear what they got next.

Ufosekte Sickness EP

I know I’m biased, but this could easily be a version of ADD/C from an alternate universe. One where they lived in Frankfurt and played synthesizers. Of course, the songwriting isn’t quite on par with our Chattanooga heroes, but don’t take that as an insult, y’all. Fast, super fun, and I’m pretty stoked on it, even if some of the riffs and most of the howling are absolute matter of fact pure Daniel.

Chilton Little Birds LP

There’s a whole helluva lot going on here. It’s spastic, metallic in a late ’90s kinda way. Lyrics are all over the damn place. Guitar solos are about every three to ten seconds seconds or so, with genre and tempo switches similarly paced. I kinda really hate it, but I gotta admit that it’s intense as fuck, and probably took collectively 30 years off of the lives of the members to create, and I listened to the whole thing and didn’t groan once. This is probably hot shit in some circles, and I can see why. It’s certainly proficient, dynamic, passionate, and played at breakneck speeds most of the time. It’s just a little too not-a-hair-outta-place-core for me.

Tandoori Knights Temple of Boom EP

I’m sure this is already sold out, as it features King Khan and Bloodshot Bill (not Barbecue Bill, as I have written down here in my notes), so act fast, if that’s your thing. I think you kinda know exactly what to expect with this. Super bare-boned, early BILLY CHILDISH-inspired, distorted even though it’s acoustic, wonderful harmonies, yet still ridiculously simple. I feel this shit gets more credit than it deserves, but at the same time, it’s really fucking good. Yeah, I wanna be a snob and hate on this real bad, but I just can’t do that.

Rat Fancy Stay Cool LP

This is super sugary ’90s bedroom pop. Way outta my jurisdiction, as this comes off more like a low-budget, even more jangly JULIANA HATFIELD than I’d like. This release flirts with noisy rock at times, but the sugar shines through. This is well done, if you are into the sweeter candy styled stuff.

Hidden Spots New Me/New You LP

As expected, HIDDEN SPOTS fucking delivers. Sure, it’s pretty melodic, which isn’t usually my thing, but the passion and positive energy that oozes out of this record are pretty damned undeniable. Eric’s lyrics alone can read like a call to arms against monotony, bigotry, greed, self hatred, or whatever else in this fucked up world has got you all flustered. A punk should never feel alone in this shitty world, knowing there’s a person as caring as him down in Tennessee. You know, it’s actually pretty hard for me to review this slab, because even though I’m a fan, I know that with this being so melodic, and produced so well, many a proper punk full of angst and with a lust for bile won’t give this the listen that it deserves. Do yourselves a favor and pick this up, pin the lyric sheet up over your bed, and drink plenty of water.

Celebrity Handshake This Is Real Life LP

You know, this doesn’t groove at all or fit into any cute category I can regurgitate back to you. It sounds like it was recorded accidentally onto your ancient Walkman while still in your backpack. It’s most certainly quite strange, and wild as hell. It’s like if a caveman on acid were attacking some random instruments with the amp settings all on 11, locked in a shitty bar overnight with someone who I think knows how to play the drums. This is a definite room clearer, a show ender, an immediate bummer, a reminder that life is too short, and I really fucking love it. The very last song has actual words that you can understand, but fuck that, you little shits aren’t going to make it that far.

Gongfermour Pop Dada CD

To be honest, seeing a CD-only release by an American band in 2019 land on my “desk” is the shit that keeps me up at night in a cold sweat, and this little bastard did not disappoint. I assume this was meant to sound like some Rikk Agnew-era goth punk, with their reverb-drenched rock and just plain odd synths, but it falls pretty damn flat. Oddly enough, there is a completely endearing, super adorable, absolutely unrecognizable cover of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” at the end, which kinda made me like these guys a whole lot.

Abolitionist Ugly Feeling LP

A heavier mix of ’90s dude hardcore with an odd amount of FUGAZI-type time changes and chords. These guys have definitely progressed musically in the decade or so that they have been churning out aggressive rock-y hardcore. A turn off for me, though, are the vocals, which are spoken-screamed with no regard for the tempo or key of the music. I kinda prefer their much earlier output. The music was still ruff’n’tuff, but the singer sang along pretty well. I’m a prude, though. For those who enjoy testosterone-laden hardcore of yesteryear without being asshole bros (as their lyrics are still pretty sweet), this seems like a keeper.

Not A Part Of It Defiant Indifference EP

While not expanding the boundaries of punk, this is certainly not bad. It’s fast as hell, catchy, political, and sorta rad. Snotty, gravelly vocals give this dudely pop punk a street punk edge. Not necessarily barking up my tree specifically, but it seems like it’s probably a tree close by a tree in my neighborhood. I feel like this would have been a solid release on an early ’90s Epitaph roster, and I would have totally dug it.

Big Night In Super Dualism LP

Basic punk rock’n’roll, with the emphasis on basic and rock. Sure, this isn’t paint-by-numbers barre chord punk for teens, and it’s certainly fairly passionate and believable, but it’s kinda like a mix of 80s KISS riffs, tougher-than-most Midwest emo from the 00s, cheap beer, perfect denim vests, and an attempt at accessibility. As a side note: somebody threw down some serious coin on this thing. Full-color gatefold with 3-D inner artwork and free 3-D glasses. Extra points for mentioning Jeppson’s Malört liquor, but this is a hard listen, even for a diehard fan of Ace and his riffs.

Fleshies Introducing The Fleshies LP

Yes yes yes! I think you should know that, although I am indeed a huge FLESHIES fan, I came pretty damn late to the party, and I don’t have a proper excuse. Their trademarked loud’n’ugly noise, ramming headfirst and at lightspeed into downright lovely anthemic ballads and a penchant for DEVO-esque quirk and spazz is right up my alley. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great album, but a lot of the precious goof is missing. The sweet, tender quirk-and-jerk just aren’t in full force. I could chalk this up to a bad mix, as not only the drums, but also John’s absolutely killer strained rat vocals are buried pretty damn deep in the mix, or maybe they are just embracing their darker, tougher exterior in these trying times. But all in all, this is an entirely rad slab; I just found myself seriously missing those fucked up tics that sets this stellar band apart from nearly every other loud-ass rock band on the planet.

Dezerter Nienawiść 100% 7″

While this might not be as raw, or pleasantly rough around the edges, as their earlier output, I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t say it was still passionate, punk as hell, and completely vital. Musically, it seems like a good mix of ’84 TSOL without all that reverb, some delay-heavy post-punk with a pinch of crust, topped off with some oddly-placed pop sensibilities. The lyrics, sung completely in Polish, are still totally anti-fascist, with a slight bend towards some dark-ass ambivalence. Sure, they aren’t the kings they once were back in 1981, but they have certainly aged really well. Despite my raised eyebrow over the fancier, modern rock production, this is a killer release from some goddamn stalwarts. Totally dig this.

Lifters Are You Ready For The Good Life / Plane 7″

Absolutely no information, save for a sticker that says “UHHUH,” but this is killer and has been on constant repeat. Just two quick songs, but a perfect mesh of spastic garage and drugged-out dancey teen angst (most likely played by old dudes). Low-budget sweet rock! Check it!

Kynnet / Miettiin split 7″

Holy fuck, I love the weird vocal harmonies on Finnish punk like this. Both are perfectly lo-fi—I can’t tell if these are full bands, or just a kid in his bedroom and Garageband. At some times sounding like ANDY CIGARETTES going through puberty, and at other times a teenager singing their own lyrics over the radio. This seems like it’s inspired by the early ’80s Finnish stuff I stumbled upon, like KOLLAA KESTÄÄ and RATSIA, but honestly, it’s just rad cheap punk with killer vocal melodies, and is totally and completely worth your time.

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Heavies / State Drugs split cassette

Although I had never heard of STATE DRUGS, it came as no surprise that it was some Americana type stuff which, if you know me, you know I’ll get down with that shit if I have to. Musically, this kinda comes off as WALLFLOWERS, but with an even less inspired singer. Some subdued PAVEMENT feels every now and then, but not enough to grab me and take me on a wild ride. NATO has an organ in the band now (or maybe I just forgot), which just solidifies his weird-yet-unchallenged position as the absolute best “E Street” punk you ever did hear, which, I gotta admit, I can be a fan of sometimes. Oh yeah, the organ on this gives off a total BLUES BROTHERS vibe, which I totally made fun of the first time, but here I am listening to it again. A few whiffs of early LUCERO-style songwriting seem to be creeping into his usual REPLACEMENTS / BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN-inspired tunes this time around. The punks are gonna trash this, for sure, but if you already like Nato’s stuff, these new songs ain’t bad.

Imparcial Imaginando Lo Sucedido 7″

Although this should immediately be picked up by the seven remaining folk punks out there, don’t let that be a turnoff. This is the shit! With just four hits, sung in Spanish, there’s not only really fucking beautiful violin and pedal steel guitar with proper crooning, enough to satisfy any train ridin’ shithead or redneck country music aficionado, but also some straight up street punk for when your friends come around. The leaps from genre to genre are fucking sweet, and not painfully forced like a lot of the shit that you heard way too much way back when. Get this ASAP!

Black Dots Everything Has Gotta Change LP

No, not that BLACK DOTS band! I have to admit that I gave this one sided twelve incher an extra spin, because it looks like April from VENA CAVA plays bass in this outfit, and she is a stellar human being. This is well polished, Fest-ready, gruff melodic stuff. Despite it not being my favorite genre, it’s pretty fun, and at the last second they show off some FUEL influences, which is always acceptable in my book.

V/A Pulsebeat LP

As we witness the decay of the physical parts of punk, like the disappearance of the printed word and the records we used to hold in our hands, one of the earliest casualties was always going to be the compilation LP. These motherfuckers are hard to make good, you know? It’s like going to those goddamn ten band bill shows, where five people watch the band they came to see, and everyone goes outside to smoke during the rest of the night. So when I hear a comp LP in 2019 of bands I’ve never heard of and find it to be completely listenable and varied, I get pretty fucking stoked. Slobbery two-finger metal, tolerable Fat stuff, pop punk, dark synthy post-punk, drooling robo punk, cleaned-up crust, and even some fucking ska metal. I gotta hand it to these fine folks, as this is all over the place and still not fucking terrible. There’s a shit ton of sneer and bile in almost all the vocals, like every singer went to the same laryngitis-inducing singing school. Seventeen tracks, and financed by seven different record labels, which is kinda goofy, but hey, that’s the price you gotta pay to put out records in a time when nobody is buying. Definitely worth checking out.

Wood Chickens Well Done LP

I seem to recall the last record I reviewed from these goofy chaps as being a hokey, countryfied, fake-ass punk hoedown that I surprisingly totally loved the absolute shit out of. Although it seems like they have hit the acid pretty hard since we last met, I still love it, even though I realize that it makes no sense that I do. Opening your record with an instrumental surf number, throwing around lazer noises all willynilly, monosyllabic wailing, with album art that looks like a modern take on Rip Off Press (but from space). Cowboy-hat-wearing, reverb-drenched country punk is something that I would absolutely adore to make fun of, but just like their earlier output, this is surprisingly fun as fucking hell. This comparison might only affect about twenty five readers, and they would most certainly all be as old and as Southern as I am, but try and imagine a modern take on early DASH RIP ROCK, but punk enough that you wouldn’t be ashamed of it, or have to explain your adoration of it to your kids. Sorry, but this is good.

Sweet J.A.P. By My Venus LP

To be honest, with this moniker, and ridiculous album cover art which falls somewhere betwixt a long lost LOVERBOY record and maybe the “least memorable emo band from the next town over’s third LP from 1997,” I did not have high hopes. It’s pretty damn killer, though. At first, this just seemed like somewhat likeable, dirty-yet-probably-hot rocker dude styled HELLACOPTERS-by-way-of-Minneapolis heroin type of bullshit, but this shit is fucking great on repeat. Innernettes research says this band broke up in 2004, and these are outtakes from their sixteen- year-old album, but it’s remarkably fresh and urgent, energetic as hell, basement bound rock’n’roll. The kind of rock’n’roll you pay attention to. It looks like I missed the boat on this band, and I am a lesser person because of that. I’m sorry I’ve let you down, Dad.

Nixon Now The Now Sound CD

You like testosterone rock? Well, eat this shit up. Complete MC5 worship that totally falls flat. At least it’s not more pop punk in my pile, but it’s completely rehashed rock garbage, and the drummer doesn’t even have the decency to change his last name from “Rath” to “Wrath.”

Natterers Head in Threatening Attitude CD

This is hard-hitting, tight punk with a horror-style surf guitar, not unlike DEAD KENNEDYS and even a pinch of AGENT ORANGE, with the vocals a stone’s throw from a better-honed Kirsten of NAKED AGGRESSION. It seems a little too well-produced for something that’s trying to sound raw, but some people go for that shit. This is undeniably tight, well-oiled, and spastic, even if it’s a few decades too late.

Mod Hippie Wannabe Nobody CD

On first listen, it sounds like some 50-year-olds sat around listening to the BAY CITY ROLLERS, REDD KROSS, and NICK LOWE. There’s not much punk here at all, if any. It is, however, well-crafted, old dude mellowed bubblegum—too light on the rock, and a little too heavy on personal songwriting prowess and skill to be appreciated by the MRR elite, though there are more songs on which I’ve hit the repeat button than stinkers that I have skipped. I know you don’t really wanna listen to it, but what if I told you DJ BONEBREAK played drums? Don’t you wanna maybe try it out just for shits and giggles, now? Yes. Yes, you do. Plus, maybe your parents will hear you listening to this and get off your case for one fucking minute.

Iron Chic / Toys That Kill Split LP

I’d be lying if I said that TOYS THAT KILL didn’t have, and rely on, a dependable, bafflingly sturdy, formulaic style. Todd’s trademarked caterwaul, on top of his manic, monkey-mantra music, all with the same tempo and perfectly planned breaks, sandwiched between Sean’s more adult and smart songwriter-ish punk, gets a slight little twist with every release, and their shit somehow seems to never get stale. I don’t get it. It defies physics, and this little five-banger has left me wanting more, just like everything else they’ve done for the last dozen or so years. It’s still absolutely fucking killer. IRON CHIC, on the other hand, got lost on me. It’s pretty melodic, bearded and tight black t-shirt-clad (I assume), delicately growled type stuff. My appreciation for dude rock is light handed at best, and while you do get a few good whiffs of the ARRIVALS and that GRABASS CHARLESTONS/DALE AND THE CAREENERS LP—which are absolutely stellar examples of the genre, mostly—it just sounded like the rest of the stuff that makes up the majority of this sweet-yet-gruff bro’s handle on the style.

Fornis Endless Night CD

I know that when I die and go straight to hell, I’ll be forever getting my ass thoroughly beaten by all the bands I’ve slagged, all the while being reminded of my own terrible recorded output, and thousands of other embarrassments I have created. I get it, I will totally deserve it. That being said, this CD is completely undefinable—’50s doo wop sludge but also kinda cutesy. I have no idea whatsoever what these goofballs are going for. So incredibly odd, yet completely forgettable.

Civic Those Who No EP

Although I kinda enjoyed my first listen of this EP, now that I’ve heard this four or five times, I’ve decided that this shimmery little piece of wax needs a better, brighter light shined down on it. Sure it’s catchy as fuck, and that is most likely why I didn’t immediately pay it the attention it requires. But it’s also plenty fucking dark, which pairs quite well with poppy shit in my opinion. Like if the BOUNCING SOULS really were touched, troubled and tortured, sweet, complicated punks, instead of whatever the hell they turned out to be. A killer, unexpected BRIAN ENO cover rounds it out, and this is definitely going to be played for visitors this month. Not intentionally, though. I just don’t plan on it leaving the turntable for a while.

Best Boys Electric Brett Pop Affairs 10″

Tank Girl-style caricatures of the band adorn this sugary coated steamer of a gatefold 10″ EP. Songs about their hometown, girls, etc., and it’s completely paint-by-numbers. By what they have written about themselves, I think that they think they sound like the RAMONES, and justify this cavity-creating creeper by claiming that they are in search of the perfect pop song. An honest high point that I didn’t expect to enjoy in a million years were the tight, quirky synth parts that seem to come from out of nowhere and don’t belong within five kilometers of this record. Low-energy, brainless pop.