New album: Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs || Real One

The first self-titled Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs record was released a decade ago. Back then, the band sounded like a garage band with a country twang. In the next ten years, the band has made quite the transformation. I first fell for the band with their 2014 album Gates Of Hell, a record  that had just the right mix of powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll and garage influences. The band then opted for a bigger sound on their 2018 record, again a self-titled one. Suddenly, here was a record full of fist pumping anthems made for arenas and hockey rinks. Today, the band released their follow up, titled Real One. It is the logical next step for the band. The band sounds more confident, more diverse and more ambitious than ever. The band has always wore its influences on its sleeves, and although this still unmistakingly is Sam Coffey, this one could also appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen (listen to Magic and Sounds Alright), Thin Lizzy (She Knows), 80’s glam (Back With The Gang and Spirit Of The Radio), and even Billy Joel (15 minutes). If I am not mistaken, Gates of Heaven is the longest track the band ever recorded. It’s a 7 minute rock opera that starts out as a power ballad, turns into a groovy rock song, ultimately ending in fade out with some excellent female backups and group vocals. So yeah, plenty of fun to be had with this record, and plenty to discover upon further listens as well. And thoughout it all, I don’t think Sam Coffey has ever sung this well. You bet I am impressed with this record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Appaloosa / BBQT || Split

Smart move by No Front Teeth Records to release a split 7″ with Appaloosa and BBQT. The bands are sonically similar (glammy punkrocknroll), and share a similar attitude. If you like Appaloosa it’s safe to say you’ll like BBQT and vice vera. Appaloosa are a new band to watch, can’t believe I missed their 2020 EP. If you haven’t heard BBQT before, I recommend their full length Let’s Go as an  entrance point. Vinyl release coming soon!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: FRITZ || Pastel

There has been no shortage of fuzzy dream pop projects in the streaming age. This makes it hard for artists to truly stand out from the pack. An additional challenge with this genre is that although a lot of artists sound instantly likeable, that appeal often is short-lived or limited to individual songs rather than full-length albums. Two positive exceptions this past decade, at least to me, were Alvvays and Say Sue Me. I am going to add FRITZ to that list, who kind of sound like a combination of the two but with an emphasis on their faster work. FRITZ is Tilly Murphy from Newcastle (Australia), backed up by Cody Brougham (guitar) and Darren James (drums). Murphy cites Alvvays, Pains Of Being True At Heart and Best Coast as her main influences, and you can tell. Pastel is the sophomore album by FRITZ. It’s a major step up from their debut, and I’m all in.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Dry Look || Take Me To The Dive

Illinois have been the home of some of powerpop’s finest bands (Shoes! Vertebrats!). Check out the Buttons, From Champaign To Chicago compilation by Numero Group to get a sense of the states’ Cheapest Tricks. I’d like to introduce you to a contemporary Illinois powerpopband: The Dry Look. According to the band’s FB page, Take Me To The Dive is “not The Dry Look album we deserve, but it’s The Dry Look album we get.” I like it plenty though. The Dry Look plays the scrappy and snotty style of power pop that fans of Needles//Pins, Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs, Mother’s Children, and Gentleman Jesse will appreciate.  Illinois Boi is a standout track reminiscent of the Clash. Peter, Do You Need Her is short but sweet. And, with Caracas Affair, the band gives a respectful nod to the Ramones’ Havana Affair. The release is currently digital only (name your price download), but I kinda hope it will get picked up by Alien Snatch! Records as it would fit perfectly on that roster.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Blueponies || Delivery Romance

New band alert: Blueponies are a threesome from Aprilia (a small city south of Rome, Italy). The band members started playing together right before COVID-19 hit Italy hard. As soon as the lockdowns allowed it, they recorded four songs which they more or less remembered from those early rehearsals. The result is a fun collection of ramshackle garage pop tunes. The Delivery Romance EP sounds surprisingly focused for a new band whose members have such different musical tastes (“from screamo hc to garage, from stoner to synth powerpop”). I particularly like Delivery Boy and Rich Grrrls – I caught my four year old daughter singing along with its chorus when I first played it (“sometimes I DO like your music, dad”). Final remark by the band: “We love rock and Satan, because God is cool but Satan gives higher tips to the pizza delivery guy.” Noted.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Palmyra Delran and the Doppel Gang || Lucky In Love

He probably doesn’t see himself this way, but I believe Little Steven is a role model to many. I am not referring to his skills as a musician or actor, I am referring to his neverending appreciation of, and enthusiasm for great music, both old and new. Truly, in spite of his massive knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll history, he’s been showing no signs of musical paralysis. There is no cynicism, only listening to the classics or talking about the good old days. He still gets passionate about new music, and shares that passion with his radio show and his record label Wicked Cool. The label’s most recent release, Lucky in Love by Palmyra Delran and the Doppel Gang, is another example of Little Steven’s great taste in music. You may know Palmyra Delran from her work in The Friggs, Pink Slip Daddy, and several solo projects. Most recently, she played on the near perfect Uh Oh..! EP the Coolies with the dearly missed Kim Shattuck. Palmyra’s latest release is another winner. On A-side track Lucky In Love, the band creates an instant sense of familiarity and likeability by assimilating that famous guitar line from Then He Kissed Me. The flipside is another timeless hook-filled powerpop song, sounding like one giant staple of (pre)choruses. Out now on Roulette red vinyl.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Los Summers || Cometieron Un Error

Los Summers are from Spain and Cometieron Un Error (Made a Mistake) is their third record. You don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate Los Summers. This is summertime pop punk as it is meant to sound. Twelve songs, two minutes each. Catchy choruses, plenty of pace, a couple of old school ramonescore tunes, some slower more bubblegum oriented ones. Okay, one song is called Un Momento Complicado, but more likely than not, Los Summers will makes you forget about complicated times. To end with a question: will we see more colorful artwork this year? Ahora en vinilo rojo translúcido en Clifford Records!

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

New album: Billy Cobb || Zerwee, Pt. 2

It is not uncommon for artists to sound eerily similar to other artists. However, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who is so explicit on this matter than Billy Cobb. On Zerwee, Pt. 2, the resemblance to Weezer is fully intentional. Hence the album title Zerwee, hence the Pinkerton like album art, though I am not sure whether this, like the Pinkerton cover, is a Hiroshige painting as well.  Soundwise, Billy Cobb relies on the first half of Weezer’s career, with Pinkerton as the strongest reference. The record was released in 2020, but Needlejuice Records recently pressed it on three varieties of aesthetically pleasing colored vinyl.  Make sure to visit their site if you are a vinyl aficionado: they have so many good looking records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Kewpid || Tunnel Of Love b/w Star Crossed

If pop punk’s your thing, I don’t have to introduce you to Geoff Palmer. Here’s a guy who played in the Queers, The Guts, the Nobodys, The Connection, and several bands with his buddy Kurt Baker. His 2019 solo record Pulling Out All The Stops is a modern classic. Recently, Geoff unleashed yet another project onto our planet, together with members of Boston band Lawman: Kewpid. Tunnel of Love is Kewpid’s first release, a two song cassingle. It’s a quick sample, but based on these two songs I hope more music is in the works. Kewpid plays terrific mid tempo pop punk, with vocals that complement the band’s sound perfectly. BTW: make sure to follow Geoff’s Spotify playlist with the best new bubblegum, powerpop and punk of 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Memorable But Honorable Tapes

New album: Rat Columns || Pacific Kiss

Disclaimer: two songs in, I was convinced that the latest record by Rat Columns would end up in my collection rather sooner than later. It’s hard not to love these two international jangle pop underground gems, which (coincidentally? purposefully?) are titled Hey! I Wanna Give You The World, and It’s your Time To Suffer. Track 3 is another winner (video below), almost sealing the deal. But then, the Aussie band starts to widen their sound, incorporating different instrumentations, rhythms and musical influences. It’s there where I am starting to have my doubts. The execution is convincing though and it will depend on your personal taste how you will react to the remainder of the record. There are elements I am less enthusiastic about, particularly the more danceable parts and, surprise, the parts where the band drops the pace. Conversely, there are elements that work well, I especially dig how the band opens up its sound with well-timed taps on guitar pedals adding some kickass guitar licks. All of these elements likely will pay off on bigger stages and festivals. Arguably, despite the diverse musical directions on the record, Rat Columns has never sounded so accessible without losing the appeal of their previous work. I am keeping this in rotation in the next couple of week, not unlikely that this record will be grower for me. No doubt that I will play those first three songs often this year.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Tough Love Records

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