Collision Course

The Bragging Lads Half Empty LP

This band is unabashedly ’90s-style pop-punk in the vein of the BOUNCING SOULS. There is a small venue jump and shout and drink whatever comes in a tall can for cheap vibe here. The lyrical content focuses heavily on being in bands, touring the country, friends dying, and just hanging out. There’s a fun times atmosphere throughout, but it’s often hard to tell how hard they’re taking anything seriously. Case in point is “Bravo,” a corny 30-secondish love song that may either be a joke or may be completely, awkwardly serious. The BRAGGING LADS are certainly not a joke band, so it’s unclear. The repeating backup vocals on “Anyhow” are classic and work perfectly. Overall, the winning crowd pleaser of the album is “Castaway,” continuing the tradition of the second song on an album always rocking. This band and this album will fit nicely into your rotation of LIFETIME, PULLEY, and the like.

The By-Products Praying MantÁ¼s LP

Thirteen bursts of snappy punk from Southern California. I’ve tossed around ways to describe the BY-PRODUCTS, but ultimately I think they sound like adult punk. That’s not a knock (far from it), it means that they seem to have harnessed a generation of influences and used them to frame their approach instead of using them as a template. The start of “Self Diagnostic” sounds like BIG BOYS, “God Phone” hits me like some solid ’90s DIY punk, “Earthquake” is a straight Orange County hardcore ripper, “Aftershock” comes off as a dose of RADIOACTIVITY-caliber sharp brilliance…I could go on, but the more I listen the more things I hear. And I don’t want to bore you. The BY-PRODUCTS are avoiding all of the trappings and don’t seem suited for any of the molds—this is a hearty endorsement.

The Ejector Seats Blueprint for a Miserable Existence LP

Dirty rock’n’roll that ranges between punk parts and poppy riffs. Pretty standard tape machine fuzz with a garage pop vibe throughout. The songwriting varies quite a bit and new sounds are introduced once in a while, which keeps you listening. If this is your thing then go for it, but there’s nothing too gripping for me here.