New album: Mark Le Gallez || Mark Two

Guernsey’s singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mark Le Gallez (The Risk, Speakeasy, The Redbones, The Sacred Hearts, Thee Jenerators, The Crowman, The John Wesley Stone, …) has been active for decades in the right corner of the music world, the corner with power pop, mod and garage rock artists that is. In 1984 he released the EP Mark One, and – wait for it – almost 40 years later here’s successor Mark Two. The jacket the musician is wearing in the cover photo is the same as it was back then, and the 10 new songs are at least as energetic as the old ones – they sound a lot better though (we have to thank producer/engineer James Le Huray for that). This is mouthwatering mod-rock, with relatable lyrics and weathered vocals, but it’s the irresistible organ melodies that steal the show. If the rest of the world had the same good taste as that one corner, these would all be hits. For example, listen to standout track Elvis, with a glam rock opening and a guitar solo and drum break towards the end, and try not to get excited.

Mark Two is out on vinyl LP via F.A.B. Records. Add to wantlist: Discogs

New EP: Dan Webb And The Spiders || Guess What

Let’s start with the bad news. Dan Webb And The Spiders right now are on an indefinite touring hiatus. The result of moving from Boston to Ohio and Webb’s desire to spend more time with his young children. The good news? Webb still finds time to write and record new music. It’s a full on solo endeavour with Webb playing all the instruments. The best news? Webb still writes kickass songs. The songs on his latest EP Guess What – the title refers to the two words Webb’s 4-year old starts most of his sentences with), are solid blend of punk, rock, and altpop. Songs that musically keep getting better with each play, and lyrically seem informed by the major changes in Webb’s life recently. Real Good Reason is probably my favorite song on the EP, it’s the kind of anthem that young dads will sing along to proudly and loudly while desperately fighting to hold back the tears.

“I got a real good reason || To be better than I || Ever thought I could be || With no surprises || And it’s even more true || Than it was yesterday || So I try to hold on || Before it slips way.”

I for one am grateful that Webb is able to combine his family life with writing new music. And fortunately, the solo version of DWatS doesn’t fit the dad rock genre yet, but I t hink that once that happens, I’ll still be listening.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Uni Boys || I Wanna Rock You / Downtown

Uni Boys return with another two song teaser single leading up to what promises to be the greatest power pop record released in 2022: Do It All Next Week, out later this year on Curation Records. The bar was set high by the first single released two months ago, and these two new tracks easily fill the high expectations. The guitar work on I Wanna Rock You is excellent and the song is candy to the ears. Flipside Downtown shreds slightly less (but listen to those guitars again!), but moves at a higher pace and is reminiscent of powerpop royalty Shoes. Okay, Uni Boys, no more teasers, just drop that damn record already!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Wasps || Punk Prayer

45 years ago, The Wasps were part of a UK punk scene including The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Buzzcocks and Sham 69. The Wasps played John Peel’s Radio 1 show twice as well, resulting in this great recording of Teenage Treats, one of the band’s finest tracks.

In 2019, The Wasps played a reunion show at a punk festival in Malaga, Spain. That show ignited a motivation for writing new material, ultimately culminating in the twelve song Punk Prayer LP. The record will be a joy for both old and new fans of melodic punkrock. The biggest change in the 2022 version of the Wasps compared to the 1977 version is location not sound: The band currently resides not in London, but in Malaga, and Punk Prayer was recorded live in October 2021 at the local Hollers Analog Studios. Still fronting The Wasps is their original singer songwriter Jesse Lynn-Dean, who a the very least penned a throwback classic in Punk Prayer opener It Don’t Matter To Me. An impressive turn to form, like The Wasps haven’t skipped a beat.

Punk Prayer is out now on CD and LP through Vespa Records and Family Spree Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Lester Greenowski || Kover All Over

This year, Lester Greenowski celibrates his twenty year anniversary as a musician, and what better way to do that than by paying tribute to his influences. More tribute albums are apparently on the horizon, but on Kover All Over, Greenowski tackles the discography of Kiss, including the solo records. Greenowski joins forces with Lester and the Landslide Ladies bandmate Vinn Borawski, and Irene Viboras (Viboras), Faz La Rocca (Faz Waltz), Matteo Bassoli (Me And That Man), Paul Del Bello (Dobermann), SJ Aschieris (Aschieris), Nick Mantoan (Piggy Slot) and many others all make guest appearances.

The best part about this tribute to “the hottest band in the world”? How Greenowski and friends put their own spin on the originals. In these reimagined versions,  Kiss would have fit perfectly on a bill with Ramones and New York Dolls in CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City in the ’70s. Fun stuff indeed!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Guppy || Big Man Says Slappydoo

Californian mall rock trio Guppy turned heads with In The Garage (2017) and In Heat (2019), and now they’re back with their full-length album Big Man Says Slappydoo. The 11 songs here are the most ambitious, diverse and thoughtful to date by Julia Lebow (guitar, vocals), Marc Babcock (bass, vocals) and Ian Cohen (drums, vocals), very well produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, also heard on keyboards.

Probably primed by the colorful and cuddly cover art, the first 37 seconds of the awesome opening track Aliens make you think it’s music for kids, but after that it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t meant for their ears. This is colorful indie pop / garage rock in which the punk roots of the band members still seep through, although doo-wop influences are just as easily embedded. Listening evokes many different associations – fun, quirky, humorous, explicit, sensitive, painful, danceable, sentimental, awkward, happy, noisy, theatrical, etc. – but these alternate from one moment to the next, just as the fine melodies and compelling vocals surprise time and again.

Big Man Says Slappydoo is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Lauren Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Lauren Records

New album: Mala Vista || Ruthless & Toothless

Mala Vista is one of those punkrock’n’roll acts that take you back to the NYC of the late ’70s. Not that I lived the experience, but based on what I’ve read and heard about that era. Mala Vista sounds equally fun and perilous, like their live shows at 315 Bowery could end in the best night ever or as a threat to your personally safety. But it’s not the late ’70s anymore, so let’s go with FUN.

If there is one knock against Ruthless & Toothless, Mala Vista’s new LP, it’s that a significant portion consists of previously released material from 2019 complemented with unreleased recordings from 2021. That complaint goes out of the window once you press play, because most (if not all) Mala Vista songs are absolutely killer. I mean, just listen to songs like Summer Weekends, Ole Blue Eyes, and Baby So Wasted. The hooks of Mala Vista are assault weapons, where melody and aggression are in perfect synergy, and feeling victimized actually feels like a positive. Play Ruthless & Toothless loud. No, louder!

Ruthless & Toothless is out now through the band in the US and through No Front Teeth Records (UK/EU).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Qwam || Little Bliss

IDC stands for I Don’t Care. It’s the A-side of Qwam’s (Brooklyn, NY) latest single and it’s a major hit with a chorus that you’ll be singing along to before you know it. It’s a pop punk anthem that is easy to relate to after a two year pandemic. Qwam’s bass player Eddie Kuspiel explains: “I wrote this when I was pretty apathetic about everything and hadn’t been upset or genuinely excited about anything in a while. It annoyed me because I don’t like to play anything cool and it felt like the world was on fire on a large scale and a small scale but I was indifferent. So I tried to write about things that did make me mad, like environmental depletion and my knees hurting because I’m getting old.” That sense of indifference and dread juxtaposes nicely with the upbeat and energetic quality of the song. Not giving a fuck usually doesn’t sound this much fun.

The flipside Little Bliss is less direct, more alt/indiepop oriented, and equally great. This is a must get single with great artwork by Isabel Moore that works even better with the vinyl color variants – I am particularly eyeing the Grapefruit Splash variant. Little Bliss is out now through Reta Records!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mary Ann Hawkins || Mary Ann Hawkins

When I pressed play without any prior knowledge, I expected to be listening to a Nashville-based folk singer-songwriter with a banjo, curly gold hair, and a pink-checkered blouse. I was wrong, once again: Mary Ann Hawkins turns out to be a surf rock outfit from Helsinki featuring five tough guys dressed in black, named after a Californian surfing pioneer, diver, swimmer and stunt double. The band, praised for their narrative music videos and sweaty live shows, previously self-released two EPs, but now here’s their self-titled debut full length. A pretty cool one, with twelve near-instrumental songs that are never boring: in every track there is a bigger idea that takes it to the next level, like shouting the title in Snake Planet, or the spaghetti western horns in Night Hawk. This is cinematic surf rock that sounds more South American than Finnish, cool music that’s exciting and danceable. Regardless of what associations you have with Mary Ann Hawkins, it’s all street credible enough to print the name on a shirt and walk around proudly.

Mary Ann Hawkins is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Svart Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Svart Records

New EP: State Drugs || Explosions On The Radio

One of the most interesting parts of collecting records is taking a step back and revisiting records that at one point in my life I felt were good enough to purchase. Admittedly, not all records hold up, and there is a significant portion of ’90s and early ’00s punkrock in my CD collection that I probably should’ve passed on. Don’t get me wrong, I still understand why I bought them: they were either instantly enjoyable and/or fit the mold of the kind of music I listened to back then. But it does makes me wonder about the bands I quickly dismissed because they were a bit harder to get into or were too much out my comfort zone. Did I miss out on more sustainably rewarding records?

The reason for these musings? The new State Drugs EP. State Drugs are exactly the kind of band I would have dismissed twenty years ago. Their midpaced, ’90s altpop informed punkrock is understated and full of nuances. State Drugs doesn’t scream at you, they sneak up on you, slowly getting under your skin. And like their songs get better with each play, the band still appears to get better with each release. I loved the band’s 2021 full length – even though I was underwhelmed at first, and the 5-song Explosions On The Radio EP provides at least five additional reasons to become a fan of State Drugs.

Explosions On The Radio is out now on Cassette through Ashtray Monument and Snappy Little Numbers.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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