New EP: Sakkaris || Admire

Sakkaris is a musical project by LA based Alex and Kevin Liu. The twin brothers, who grew up playing music together, go fully DIY as Sakkaris, performing, recording, producing and engineering the songs at home. The results will please fans of lo-fi garagepop, and skateboarders and surfers looking for a fresh soundtrack to their home videos.

RIYL: a mellow and surfy version of Jacuzzi Boys

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Covert Flops || Mission: Implausible

How’s your immune system these days? Here are three undercover cops who take a seriously unserious attempt to break down your defenses with their infectious brand of old school pop punk. I am talking about Agents A, B, and C who in their downtime play in Indianapolis spy-fi pop punk outfit Covert Flops.

With songs about spies, conspiracies, lizard people, and matters of confidentiality, the song on Covert Flops’ sophomore album (Mission: Implausible) are clearly inspired by their day job. But there are songs about girls (girl spies!) and breakups as well.

Professionally and ethically, I have my doubts about the skills and trustworthiness of Agents A, B, and C. But musically, they are alright by me, clearly having surveilled The Lillingtons and Teenage Bottlerockets throughout the years. Fun stuff this is! Out now on Mom’s Basement.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Mom’s Basement

New album: Johnny Jetson || Overheated

Tattooed Millionaires frontman Johnny Jetson started rockin’ out in the gritty lower east-side (NYC) in the 1980s. He moved to L.A. in the 1990s, where he formed The Space Age Playboys with Warrior Soul frontman Kory Clark. That band received some serious tailwind in the early days of file sharing and for a while topped the charts at MP3dotcom. His next band The Tattooed Millionairres became the first unsigned band to reach one million streams online. The succes made Johnny a wanted commodity and he wrote, played, recorded and party’d with the likes of Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Chris Holmes (WASP), and Snoop Dogg. His band toured with Metallica, Motorhead, Monster Magnet, Backyard Babies and Hardcore Superstar.

This week Johnny Jetson releases his latest solo collection Overheated. Featuring ten throwback anthems of glamrock’n’roll, Overheated is the logical successor of the record he released last year (Make Your Move). The songs of Johnny Jetson are no nonsense pretentionless bangers, all about having a good time. Surely, Jetson succeeded with Overheated.

Jetson closes out the album with Rodney On The Rock, a Ramonesesque tribute to legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. “Stay tuned for more rock-‘n’- roll radio!”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Nick Frater || Earworms

Can you judge a record by its cover? It’s one of my go-to strategies while browsing the internet for new releases. Sure, it’s no waterproof system, but there is just so much music out there and often the artwork (and bandname) is a good indication of the style and quality of music.

In the case of the new Nick Frater record, the not so modestly and yet appropriately titled Earworms, I was already positively biased towards the record because I liked the artwork so much. An additional factor in my positivity bias was that Big Stir Records, who have a knack of finding gems in the hit or miss world of powerpop and guitar pop, would release the record. That album art (by Adam Mallett) is a subtle play on the Beatles’ Revolver and the album title Earworms. The cover features a collage of images from Frater’s life and music.

Sonically, Frater’s music also feels like a collage of styles and influences. Album opener It’s All Rumours is probably my favorite track. It’s classic ’70s radio friendly powerpop. As a whole, the album may be a bit too polished and easy going for me personally, but I appreciate what Frater is going for: “I wanted to make an album that sounds and feels like a lost treasure from the mid ’70s melodic rock scene,” says Frater. “I’ll leave it to your ears to decide, but I think we got pretty close!”

In response, I’d say Frater nailed it with songs like It’s All Rumours and What’s With Your Heavy Heart. If you have a taste for ’60s and ’70s guitar pop, give this one a spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New video: Mikey And His Uke || Something To Believe In (Ramones)

Let’s face it, it hasn’t been the easiest of times. A lot of us have been struggling with lockdowns, being quarantined, not being able to go to shows. And across the planet we see Covid-19 readying itself for a comeback tour.

That’s why I wanted to share this timely cover by Mikey Hawdon’s cover project that’s been a bright beacon of light during the pandemic. Last week, he released a cover of Something To Believe In from The Ramones’ Animal Boy. He’s joint by an all star cast including Nikola Sarcevic (Millencolin), CJ Ramone, Chris Cresswell (The Flatliners), Randy Bradbury (Pennywise), Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers), Dave Raun (Lagwagon/Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies), Rose & Matilda Farrell (Yee Loi), Mickey Leigh (Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music/STOP/The Rattlers/Birdland With Lester Bangs), Scott James (Movin In Stereo) and Amy Gabba (Amy Gabba And The Almost Famous).

While the Ramones originally released the song 25 years ago, it feels like it was written for these times. Equal part desperation and hope, this one hits home. Thanx again Mikey, for starting and continuing this project.

New song: Massage || In Gray & Blue (Single Version)

Has there ever been a time where music was this superflous, where music was this readily available? In the current musical landscape, discovering new music often can feel like fleeting encounters. Bands can release really great records that are well received by fans and critics alike, but they still can get lost in the steady overflow of new music.

Given these developments, I am happy to see a band I really like being the exception to that rule. Massage released their sophomore album Still Life last June, but  positive reviews of their record still frequently pop up, and influential djs and playlist curators increasingly are adding their songs into rotation. It’s well deserved, and proof of the longevity of the record.

As a special treat, Massage plans to put out a second 2021 release on December 10th. The six song Lane Line EP features three new songs, two demos (vinyl only), and an alternate version of the excellent Still Life track In Gray & Blue. Watch the video below. Oh, and if you’ve missed it, check out the Gimme 5 feature we did with the band in which they discuss five of their inspirational records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Katujen Äänet || Kaiken Jälkeen

I can’t recall having heard of Katujen Äänet before, but the band has been part of the punk scene of Finland for over ten years now. In that period they released their debut album Sulle, Joka Yksin Aina Oot and several 7″ singles. They just released their sophomore album Kaiken Jälkeen. I am glad I stumbled on it because it is one killer record.

Listening to Katujen Äänet is like a throwback to late ’70s punkrock and powerpop, with just a dash from ’80s new wave for good measure. The songs on Kaiken Jälkeen essentially are pop songs put through a punk blender, and the results are tasty and contagious. Listen to songs like Matkalla Taas, Mitä jäljelle Jää and Nuori, Viaton Ja Sekaisin Kaikesta for example. Hits! The crisp production and the fact that the songs are sung in Finnish only adds to the coolness and sense of authenticity of Katujen Äänet.

Another release that is not on Bandcamp or Soundcloud, so you have to with the video and Spotify links below. Stream Kaiken Jälkeen now, buy the CD, or wait a little longer for the vinyl (thanx again, Adele).

Add to wantlist: Discogs || Stupido Records

New Album: Poison Boys || Don’t You Turn On Me

Their name and demeanor already give away what to expect with Poison Boys. Leather jackets? Check. Tight pants? Check. Loud and fast rock’n’roll? Check. Johnny Thundersesque sleazy guitar licks? Check. Late ’70s punk attitude? Check.

Chicago four-piece Poison Boys tick off a lot of the right boxes on their sleazefest second album Don’t You Turn On Me. And let me tell you, I am finding it terribly hard to play this record at a socially acceptable volume. The first (title) track on the record is the first highlight on Don’t You Turn On Me. Songs like Day By Day, Little Speedway Girl, Can’t Get You Off My Mind, and Nothing But Darkness also stand out for me. No lack of adrenaline rushes and dopamine releases with Poison Boys.

If you like this one, make sure to also check Killer Hearts most recent record, or vice versa. Bands like this provide a welcome escape from reality to the glampunkscene of the late ’70s.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Smashing Times || Dreams on Union B/W A Changing Letter

The last time we spoke to The Smashing Times, they told us how the lockdowns had driven them mad. Despite the madness, I really enjoyed their collection of stuck-at-home recordings. The band now returns with a new two-song single (released on 7″ (!)) that follows the old adagam ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ In the case of The Smashing Times that means lo-fi underground pop nuggets for fans of The Pastels, Television Personalities and The Times.

A-side Dreams On Union may be my favorite song by the band yet. Keep doing what you do The Smashing Times!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Needs || Special Needs

True story: In a special plot to make it near impossible for music bloggers to find any information on their already impossible to google band name, The Needs decided to title their new record Special Needs. Thanx guys.

Fortunately, their bandcamp page has some intel*. The Needs were started by two influential musicians from Norway: country star Bendik Brænne, and Maciek Ofstad of melodic metal outfit Kvelertak. The needs sound neither country nor metal. Rather, the band plays modern powerpop not unlike Fountains of Wayne in their most upbeat and uptempo version. The music of The Needs sounds polished, but they do not overdo it. Rather, the band strikes just the right balance between radio friendly powerpop, and faster and louder songs where the band will please fans of old school pop punk.

The latter category made me fall for Special Needs, with songs like Funny How, If I Could Only and Still Spinning as primary examples. But admittedly, the more radio friendly stuff is excellent as well. The Needs may not know how to name their band and records, but they’ve got hooks and strong melodies in abundance.

* Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the new record on Bandcamp or Soundcloud.
Add to wantlist: Discogs

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