Take the City

Bart and the Brats Livin’ in the Future EP

BART & THE BRATS is the one-man project of Bart De Vraantijik, and it sure as hell pulls a lot of weight for one man. Just three short tracks of tough, muscular rock’n’roll, the record almost feels like classic rock with its bluesy guitar licks. One part AC/DC, another part RAMONES. Nothing particularly special or innovative; this can feel a little run of the mill, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you’re into that classic late ’70s punk sound.

Dead People / Disthroat split LP

Cool two-creature feature here from two great Spanish bands. DEAD PEOPLE from Barcelona plays simple and slick hardcore with a thumping bass, sing-along choruses, and an overall fun feel. They tie their six solid songs up in a neat bow with a surprising cover of “Suffragette City.” Flipping it over, Zaragoza’s DISTHROAT comes in sounding completely crazy with “A World in Decay,” and their portion continues in a barrage of brutish DISCHARGE-inspired riffing and ripping. Fans of DECADE will likely dig this side.

Hard & Cheap Seven Civilized Inches EP

Madrid’s HARD & CHEAP’s latest release sounds like rapid-fire combustion of outrageous energy. Reminiscent of Pick Your King-era  POISON IDEA with good recording production. Seemingly lousy at first glance, but pretty raging at the same time as soon as they go into the frantic speedcore intensity, if that makes any sense.

Bart and the Brats / Mitch Kramer Spoiled Rats split EP

Meat and potatoes, right? Bit of protein, something nice and filling on the side, and no unnecessary flash that adds nothing to the plate. That’s exactly what you get with this nasty little delight of an EP. BART AND THE BRATS lay it down with thick bass and suitable-to-the-name vocals. It’s crunchy, economic garage punk just the way I like it. Then on the flip we’ve got Connecticut-based KRAMER, whose every song fittingly uses the word “drunk” or “drinking.” These tunes sound more like a mean drunk whose edges somehow get sharper with every boilermaker and who, under no circumstances, should you recommend “taking it down a notch.” Both groups bring a blissful anarchic racket to the table, and to belabor my first metaphor into the grave, I’m hungry as hell for all of it.

Motormouth More Time / Get It On 7″

While the band is from Belgium, the songs are sung in English. This is fairly straightforward mid-tempo punk rock that has elements of hardcore, but remains pretty melodic and catchy. Some of the guitar seems a little unnecessary to me. It’s got an intensity that seems on the verge of exploding. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I did enjoy it.

Shadow 15 Days of Innocence 1983–85 LP

When it comes to the Twin Cities’ biggest punk exports, I hold the following apparently incorrect opinions: the REPLACEMENTS peaked at Stink (and fell off a cliff after Let it Be), and HÜSKER DÜ was better prior to joining the SST roster. Yes, part of that is due to being a compulsive contrarian. But I also just prefer punk and hardcore to the alternative rock these guys were better known for. So, when I saw this compilation hailed as “a hidden gem of alternative American alternative rock [sic]” by an outfit being compared specifically to those two bands, I braced myself for a bummer of a time. Thankfully, it’s not that bad! SHADOW 15 was a four-piece out of Nashville, TN and this ten-song LP compiles their total studio output (culled from an eight-song cassette and 12” EP released in the mid ’80s). And while it certainly is alternative rock that bears quite a resemblance to those aforementioned acts—it actually sounds a little like Paul Westerberg fronting New Day Rising-era HÜSKER DÜ, maybe with a bit of early R.E.M. in the mix—they’ve got enough of a punk edge to keep them from drifting too far off into emotional post-hardcore or proto-GOO GOO DOLLS territory. It’s also a little generic-sounding, like a band made up for a mid-’80s teen movie. Still, there are a couple of songs that bordered on being good, and the overall squishy production alongside a super snappy rhythm section added enough amateurish charm that I ultimately enjoyed my time with the record. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a hidden gem, but it’s probably worth your time if you like indie rock of the time period.

V/A Lifetime Problems: An International Tribute to the Dicks EP

Seven DICKS standards from all over the globe. The lineup is mainly European, by way of Melbourne and Connecticut. I could go 30/70 with the material—there seems to be a feeling left with some of the recordings that the bands (hello, GOODBYE JOHNNYS) could very well have punched a clock before the process began. The EP, however, is not devoid of meaty morsels that do kill from the heart (jesus, sorry). La Rochelle’s BART & THE BRATS’ cover of “Fake Bands” is a savage kill, and BRAT FARRAR replicates “Dead in a Motel Room” with a tone and feel that would make Gary Floyd proud.