Area Pirata

The Sick Rose Shaking Street LP reissue

This record, originally coming at the tail end of the ’80s revival of garage (you know, before the ’90s and then ’00s revivals, etc.) doesn’t necessarily live up to the billing of this quintet as one of Italy’s “most devastating” garage bands. I won’t fault these songs for a flaw in marketing though, because it does hit my sweet tooth for jangly guitar rock with some echoes of the ’60s freakout bands and an undeniably ’80s pop finish. Not quite the Paisley Underground, not quite America’s scum rock take on garage, and not quite the sparkling crystalline sound of New Zealand, this stands on its own rare ground and merits. A tune like “A Kiss is Not Enough” drives along like 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS premiered on college radio between a REPLACEMENTS song and R.E.M. Normally I wouldn’t throw so many bands together to describe someone’s sound, but it does flip a switch I wasn’t expecting. Then the band goes full time machine with the tambourine-accented and nicely-druggy “Don’t Keep Me Out.” It’s a great synthesis of eras and styles that mostly hit, even while not necessarily tapping the raw aggression other garage revivalists. This is fairly buttoned-up with hooks aplenty. European cool, I guess they call that.

Smalltown Tigers Five Things LP

Hailing from northern Italy, SMALLTOWN TIGERS bring the rough edge of garage punk. The influence of the RAMONES, MC5, and a lot of other proto-punk is pronounced across this record. The primal beats, harsh vocals, and all-around grittiness makes for a real in-the-moment presence. This is about as close as you can get to a studio-recorded live record. This is a fairly straightforward listen that has a ton of  replay value.

The Outta Place Prehistoric Recordings LP

This is a reissue of the 1983 demo tape from these New York City garage rock revivalists. Seven of the songs would appear on their first EP. Those are included here along with three others and four live tracks. The thing I enjoy most about the ’80s garage rockers is their sense of fun. They know the genre inside and out, yet it is not by the books. They are willing to kick in their own style. They’re having a good time playing and you’re having a good time listening.