Mesa Lanes Red Wine & Yellow Pills LP

This is a Southern California band who was formerly known as DODGE DART that formed in 1995. I don’t know the specifics of how close the current lineup is from the previous band, but there seems to be a lot of crossover, especially as far as songwriters go. Honestly there are many songs on this release that I just don’t understand what their message is. The lyrics are so vague that they don’t quite tell a full story, though there are some simpler ones that poke fun at American bros, the guy who is president, senators, and drug use. There are songs that covertly reference what seems to be heroin withdrawal in “Bobby Pin,” desires for casual hook ups in “Action,” and violence spurred by jealousy in “Gonna Fuck You Up.” While I don’t love all the words in every song, I definitely do love how absolutely catchy each one is. Their drummer is a powerhouse and keeps a tight, snappy beat. They trade off vocal duties between four different members! My favorite singer being the soulful Audrey Sjobeck. This is a record written by folks who have at least 25 years put into making music and it shows.

Outsiders These Streets LP

On the one hand, OUTSIDERS are Orange County street punk with gruff crew backing vox and every song’s an anthem and we’re all gonna stick together and stuff except when you’re wrong and then you better look out and watch your mouth. On the other hand, it’s kinda RANCID-lite and there’s a song talking about giving “all the meat you can fucken eat” to a girl who is “out on the prowl like a dog in heat” (the author can “tell by the way she’s looking at me” that she wants it, too). Just five tattooed bros who look like they should be old enough to know better. Hard pass.

The Berzerkers For Love / Rest Yer Bones 7″

Two straight-up, hard-rockin’ tunes from Orange County. Both songs feature wailing guitars and snarling vocals recovering from the trials and tribulations of the year 2021. The way the singer pronounces “head” in “For Love” makes it occasionally sound like “hair,” making me repeatedly chuckle at the lyric “head on straight.” I always found the phrase “Rest Yer Bones” a bit corny. Does anyone say that anymore? I’ll stick with the A-side.

The Divided World You’re Living In LP

Containing ex-members of BONECRUSHER, Orange County’s the DIVIDED debut plants firmly in anthemic punk, landing somewhere between the rowdy singalongs of classic street punk, and the guitar-driven Loggerheads-era DOA, with rock influences similarly strongly affixed atop a sturdy frame of straightforward punk blasting. Ten tracks that hurl gravel-tinted vocals hollering and crooning over melodic riffs, an anchoring sturdy drum beat, and occasional flourishes—a searing guitar lead and solo, a drop out for some bass soloing, and other small touches that echo the great ’80s/’90s OC sounds of yore. BONECRUSHER’s early recordings remind me a lot of PERSONALITY CRISIS, and the same swagger and unique vocal quirks surface here at points, though this is much more bright and upbeat, and just a really strong punk record with catchy songs that stick with you after the needle lifts. Lyrics are stories told of love and loss, snippets on hard work, toil, and surviving. Legendary punk photographer Ed Colver supplies stage-setting cover photos of chain link fences, empty beer cans, abandoned buildings, and spray painted walls. A great balanced recording makes this a good bet for punks who clamor for songs, melody, and singalong mixed with a little gristle, but the songs are strong enough that there’s a pretty good chance that after a pint or three at their show, anyone would leave with a copy under their arm. Solid!

The Plagues Shadow of a Doubt / Hector the Connector 7″

Hi-energy ’77 punk, NY-via-Southern California-style from start to finish. Vocals are a snotty monotone bark, guitars run the show here with a soulful approach to classic garage punk. “Hector the Connector” is the hit, taking those four chords that we all know and making them feel like they’re important again (note: they were never not important). No bullshit here, just two short-ass smashers…punk style.

Vulturas Vulturas LP

The VULTURAS count a couple PUSHERS and MANIC HISPANIC folks in their ranks, so the sound here is pure OC punk: pogo rhythms, guitar crunch, and vocals that alternate between creeper sneering and full-on wail. A drunk/drugged fuck-all attitude is poured over the entire affair, which is largely formulaic but executed with enough oomph to at least prompt interest. Not a repeat offender, but plenty suitable for devout followers of the genre.