V/A Let’s Bubblegum the Punk! Volume 1 LP

French label Pop Superette has put forth a compilation of vintage (1975–1985) North American power pop featuring a roster of bands that flew well under the radar at the time, but were on par musically with more recognizable contemporary acts like the NERVES, the DB’S, and the RUBINOOS. Despite the title, there’s not much punk to be found here—these are by and large sugary sweet songs lacking the edge of even the most pop-oriented of punk bands. Still, there’s a charming DIY spirit imbued throughout, alongside a strain of American ’60s Merseybeat worship that was already anachronistic by the late ’70s. Selection is great and surprisingly varied in mood, with highlights including “Conditional Romance” by New Brunswick, NJ’s ROCKIN’ BRICKS and “She’s Hifi” by the TREND out of Columbia, MO. After a while, though, the noticeable lack of any women in these groups (besides as lyrical subject matter) sent me off to listen to the SHIVVERS instead.