New EP: Spit City || Carpe Demon

Last year I was very impressed with Spit City’s debut album Long Dark Night, on which songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sean Rose tried to deal with some heavy stuff. The cover photo of his new EP Carpe Demon shows him enjoying the sun, but the witty title already reveals that his life still has dark sides. The three new “punkacana” songs – Sean Rose on vocals and electric guitar, Patrick Ford on bass, and Johnny Bowers on drums – may even be more gloomy than 2021’s full length. Can’t Be Found is a summer punk jam on being uncomfortable in any moment, Never Goin’ Hungry Again is a southern gothic tale of petty crime, and the title track is a thundering riff-soaked warning on the hazards of toxic living that can be so hard to shake (“Sometimes when the evening’s low // Tired of all the go go go // I think how easy things would be // with this car wrapped around a tree”). Both lyrics and music are pretty heavy, but also pretty good again – in fact, if you listen more closely, you’ll hear that we don’t really have to worry, and you’ll see sunbeams breaking through the clouds.

Carpe Demon is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New album: Smoker Dad || Smoker Dad

“Rock ‘n’ roll, smoke a bowl.” That’s the motto of Seattle-based 6-piece Smoker Dad, which gives you an idea of what to expect (if the band name didn’t already). The cover photo of their self-titled debut album shows that they also have a tasteful sense of humor. More importantly though: Trevor Conway (vocals, guitar), Chris King (vocals, keys), Teagen Conway (guitar, vocals), Chris Costalupes (pedal steels, guitar, tambourine), Derek Luther (bass, vocals), and Adam Knowles (drums) know how to play Southern fried rock music. The ten songs here – nine originals, one cover (Ron Pederson’s Puget Sound) – are loud, fast, raucous and dirty, as it should be. Smoker Dad rocks hard, but always with a sense of melody – swinging guitar riffs and powerful vocals – that will make you dance like crazy.

Smoker Dad is out now digitally and on cassette via Freakout Records and Den Tapes. RIYL The Jim Jones Revue, The Datsuns, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Daddy Long Legs.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Bonzo || Modest Life Advice

The four friends (in their early 30’s) from Leuven (Belgium), who together make up Bonzo, struggle with adult life. For their new record, the band dug through more than 250(!) demos about feelings such as alienation, trust and being stuck, written by the prolific singer-songwriter Thijs Boyen. We should see the 10 chosen songs – true winners – on their second album Modest Life Advice as a humble handbook for life in your twenties. As far as I’m concerned, that age indication is not necessary. This is well-crafted guitar music in the rich Belgian pop/rock tradition, both lyrically and musically appealing for all ages, with pleasant melodies, surprising hooks, and sympathetic vocals. Modesty is not necessary, because the way this advice sounds is way above average.

Modest Life Advice is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through UhmYeahSure Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Los Retumbes || Colección De Canciones De Mierda

And here’s another great Spanish garage rock ‘n’ roll release from Family Spree Recordings. Masked duo Andrés Alonso (guitar, vocals) and Ana Pérez (drums, vocals), who have been performing as Los Retumbes since 2017, put out their full-length debut album Colección De Canciones De Mierda. Translated the title is ‘collection of shitty songs’, but you have to take that in a positive way: shit here is everything we like: rhythm, distortion, howling, teenage rush, etc. These are 14 hits for fans of raucous rock ‘n’ roll, garage punk and surf rooted in the 60’s – not innovative, but extremely entertaining and very cool.

Colección De Canciones De Mierda is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Family Spree Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Shake Some Action! || Wide Awake

Named after The Flamin’ Groovies’ 1976 masterpiece, Seattle-based power pop band Shake Some Action! set the bar high, and 15 years after debuting they’re still going strong. Now a duo, singer-songwriter James Hall (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) and Corey Knafelz (drums, guitars, keys), have put out their new album Wide Awake, featuring 10 modern classics. Opening song Paint You a Picture immediately grabs you, then you don’t get the chance to let your attention slip. This is half an hour of powerful music that approaches perfection. You’ll hear diverse, summery indie rock with well-crafted melodies – guitars that alternately jangle and scream – interspersed with elements of shoegaze and psych. RIYL Ash, The Posies, Nada Surf, The Stone Roses.

Wide Awake is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Bug Club || Two Beauties

Six months ago South Wales trio The Bug Club – Tilly Harris (bass, vocals), Sam Willmett (guitar, vocals), and Dan Matthew (drums) – released their amazing mini album Pure Particles. It ended up high in our year-end lists of 2021, and we’d like to emphasize that a vinyl repress is very much needed. At the beginning of this year, the single Intelectuals followed, which initially raised questions due to a playing time of 10:42, but when listened to it turned out to be 5 new tracks, recorded back-to-back in one take. And now the band shares Two Beauties, 2 new songs: Lay Down Your Roses is a typical catchy Bug Club hit that you’ll immediately love, Pretty as a Dog in the Light proves that the band can also write beautiful acoustic ballads. It is the prelude to a full-length LP that should be released later in 2022 – something to look forward to!

Two Beauties is out now digitally via Bingo Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son || We Go On

Asbury Park, New Jersey has delivered stars before, and alternative rock band Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son could just be the next success story. Bobby Mahoney (vocals, guitar), James McIntosh (drums), Andrew Saul (guitar, vocals), and Jon Chang-Soon (bass, vocals) shared the stage with the likes of Frank Turner, Against Me!, and The Gaslight Anthem, and their influences seem to be heard here. In any case, their new EP We Go On is convincing, featuring 5 hit-sensitive songs, both rockers and ballads – all passionate, with a big sound, sing-along lyrics (“Sha la la, sha la la // Hey hey // Get ya thru the day “), and grand gestures. Standout track Take What You Can Get is an ode to the great Jersey rockers, and blue-collar work ethics and culture, and also a scathing review of capitalism. The emotional Bon Jovi-esque single Lay It On Me was inspired by the very-American old Western movie posters in the extremely-American Disneyland Paris’ Hotel Cheyenne lobby, and reflects on the general idea of what being an American is over the last few years. All the ingredients for a breakthrough are present.

We Go On is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Pagans S.O.H || Le Coq EP

And now for something completely different, something for which the term eclectic was coined. The Pagans S.O.H (Shepherds of Humanity) fuse elements of hip-hop, funk, punk, ska, metal, jazz, gospel, and reggae to create a cool and fun vibe, somewhat reminiscent of the crossover sound of bands like OPM, Jaya The Cat, and Dog Eat Dog 25 years ago. They rock, but also show their funky and psychedelic side. The UK 4-piece – Marcus Lesycsyznski-Hall (vocals), Daragh Guest (guitar), Conor Hodgkiss (drums), and Nathaniel Hellier-Allport (bass) – released Le Coq EP, featuring 3 previously released singles – Banananah (2018), Pagan Pilgrimage (2019), and The Pagans Are Alive (2020) – plus brand new song Cocky. All great tracks, with delicious raps and danceable riffs – a little crazy, but above all energetic and exciting. Want more of this too? The next EP will follow in the fall.

Le Coq EP is out now digitally, on cassette and CD trough Rare Vitamin Records. “Music to actually hold in your hands and take possession of” – not available on Spotify. (Coincidentally, I was listening to 1986 compilation Buried Alive by US punk band Pagans earlier this week, but as far as I know, despite the naming similarities, it’s unrelated.)

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Good Looks || Bummer Year

On their full-length debut album Bummer Year, Austin, Texas based 4-piece Good Looks share seven beautiful, honest 4-minute songs with smart lyrics that contribute to a better world. Tyler Jordan (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Jake Ames (lead guitar), Robert Cherry (bass), and Phil Dunne (drums) captivatingly blend political folk and blue-collar indie rock into extended tracks that sound layered and bright at the same time – compliments to producer/engineer Dan Duszynski. The music is texturally very interesting, and although there’s even room for guitar solos, it’s striking how well the instruments and vocals complement each other. The LP offers half an hour of hypnosis that hits you hard in a pleasant way, a powerful and mighty debut.

“All my friends from high school // They all bought motorcycles // Joined up with a bike gang, supported Donald Trump // I don’t think they’re evil // Even when they’re awful”

Bummer Year is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl LP through Keeled Scales.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

PS The band announced that lead guitar player Jake was struck by a vehicle after a show last Friday night. He’s still in the hospital, let’s hope he recovers soon. The rest of the April tour has been cancelled.

New album: Michael Kane & the Morning Afters || Broke But Not Broken

It’s such a rare moment when you put on a new record and after 2 seconds you know you’re going to experience something amazing. This is such a moment. Just the right piano notes and impressive gravelly vocals. You’ll hear Michael Kane & the Morning Afters – singer-songwriter Michael Kane (electric and acoustic guitars), Joe Ferraro (piano, keyboards), Franklin Siplas (electric guitar), Timmy Weagle (bass), and Jeff Hoey (drums) – and after years of playing live, they have now released their full-length debut album Broke But Not Broken. Eleven original soulful songs that are all equally strong, plus one succesful cover of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home. Honest Americana rock ‘n’ roll with the punk heart in the right place, a powerful sound by experienced musicians, personal lyrics that tell stories about struggle and hope. Music that has been polished to perfection, truly an amazing listening experience.

Broke But Not Broken is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl LP through State Line Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || State Line

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