New album: Mikey Erg || Mikey Erg

Almost all features on Mikey Erg mention the crazy amount of punk bands he plays in – basically all of them. It’s not just that his musical output is insane, Mikey also is a passionate fan and student of music in general. He is the kind of person who flies to London just to hear an biographer give a two hour lecture on the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Still, the true north of his songwriting usually points toward pop punk or punk rock, although his superb recent solo records Tentative Decisions and Waxbuilt Castles tilted more towards early Elvis Costello and Superchunk.

Today, Mikey released his third solo record. With a visual homage to The Clash on its cover, the record sounds like a continuation of his 2020 Bon Voyage EP (one of my favorites of the year). If that EP was his self-proclaimed “love letter to pop punk,” this self-titled full length is another dispatch from his pop punk heart to our ears. At Punkrock Theory, Mikey explains how he had the titles of the songs before actually writing the songs – make sure to read his track-by-track commentary on that site. I am jealous how effortless Mikey’s songwriting feels on this record. He’s the kind of artist that inspires you to pick up your guitar and write your own songs, only to discover that it really takes skill to write songs this well. Just listen to the 1-2-3 punch of Rubin Hall, Hey Marissa, and Rumblestrip and you’ll see what I mean. I also love how Mikey on Can’t Be Too Careless and Going To Pasalacqua makes me reconnect with the feeling of hearing Green Day for the first time. Purchase now at Rad Girlfriend Records. You get seven insanely catchy modern pop punk classics, one solid Pearl Jam cover, one moody bathroom slow burner and one overly long noisy one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Rad Girlfriend Records

New album: Mary Anne’s Polar Rig || Makes You Happy

Are you ready for some fuzzy alternative slacker rock from Sweden? Make sure to check out the debut by Mary Anne’s Polar Rig. It’s called Makes Me Happy and it is kind of a mess, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s a chaotic record, with a lot going on. The band immediately draws you in with album opener Something About Your Way. It is short, fast and catchy. It is followed by Your House, which starts tenderly before erupting in an infectious chorus. It is not the only track where the band effectively uses soft loud dynamics. Liar Liar for example, another standout track, starts with an thunderous bass riff and ends explosively, but also has a quiet yet intense interlude where singer Malin Hofvander wails “i want to feel sexy || i want to feel sure || i don’t want to be rejected || i want to be adored”. Hofvander’s voice gives Makes You Happy an edge, but ultimately Mary Anne’s Polar Rig sounds like a well oiled collective. This is quite the debut. Out now on Please Like it & Feverish. RIYL: Evans The Death and Joanna Gruesome.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Questions || 恋の予感

What do you do when you discover a killer single from Japan but your Japanese is limited to ‘Arigato’? Google to the rescue!

“恋の予感 stands for Koi no yokan – Japanese word meaning “premonition of love.” This is different than love at first sight. It is knowing, on first meeting, that the two of you are going to eventually fall in love.”

That’s a wonderful title, though I have to respond with: この三曲のシングルの場合、それは一目ぼれです. Fingers crossed that this does in fact translate to ‘In case of this three song single, it is love at first sight’. The Questions are three immaculately dressed females from Okinawa that play garage punkrock with a sixties vibe. Can’t wait to hear more from them!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: The Plimsouls || Zero Hour EP

This week’s Throwback Thursday features a band that were not obscure, but not necessarily big sellers either. It is a band cherished by many, and critically acclaimed by plenty. I am talking about Peter Case’s follow up to legendary powerpop band The Nerves: The Plimsouls. Last year, I finally managed to add their 1981 self-titled debut to my collection, a must own for any fan of powerpop and one the greatest powerpop records of all time. A year before their debut, the band had already teased their greatness on the Zero Hour E.P.  The title track was a minor hit locally – I  love this electric performance of the song on a LA tv station. There are worse Rabbit Holes on the internet than watching eighties powerpop videos, right? The EP also includes one of my all time favorite powerpop songs: How Long Will It Take, listen below.

Add to wantlist: Discogs

New album: Down By Law || Lonely Town

Let’s start my review of the new Down By Law record with some backstory. A disclaimer if you will, hope you don’t mind.

Back in the nineties, label compilation cd’s were THE way to discover new bands. None was as influential to my midteen musical upbringing as the first Punk-O-Rama compilation by Epitaph. For someone who used to draw logos of AC/DC and Twisted Sister in his notebook, the poison green album cover full of band logos felt enticing, even though with the exception of the Offspring,  I knew none of the bands featured. Rancid? Bad Religion? NOFX? Pennywise? Never heard of them. I was sold from the moment the opening chords of Bad Religion’s Do What You Want blasted to my speaker. One track on the comp particularly stood out: Bright Green Globe by Down By Law. The song wasn’t the hardest nor the fastest, but oozed emotion, intensity and melody. In the next years, Down By Law would become a pivotal band to me, both lyrically and musically. I’ve played few records as often as punkrockacademyfightsong and All Scratched Up! Their predecessor, the 1992 record Blue is another favorite, but the remaining records contain splenty of great songs – here’s a playlist with my favorite DBL songs. Down By Law also were my entrance point to 80’s punk and hardcore; once I checked out DBL frontman Dave Smalley’s previous bands (ALL! Dag Nasty and DYS), all bets were off.

New album: Matt Ellis || Full Moon Fever

Matt Ellis is a punk rocker from Ontario Canada. He used to have long hair and a mustache. He played in garage rock band Flesh Rag, ramonescore giants the Vapids, and fronted a great throwback act to eighties punk called Plasticheads. Nowadays, Matt has short hair, and wears the classic pop punk uniform: black leather jacket, jeans, Chuck Taylors. He spent the COVID isolation months busting out short and fast three-chord eighty second songs in the vein of the Ramones, supported only by a cast of guest drummers. These songs make up his excellent solo debut Full Moon Fever. With songs like Monsters Under My Bed, My Neighbourhood Is A Dump, Life On Hold, and Walk Alone, it is a classic pop punk soundtrack to feeling isolated in a pandemic world. Vinyl available at Matt’s Bandcamp page and Surfin’Ki Records (Europe).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Surfin Ki’ Records

New album: S:Bahn || Queen Of Diamonds

Can you still call it a sophomore album when there is a 25 year gap between a band’s debut and second full-length? I am not sure, but I am glad that Melbourne based indie rock band S:Bahn came out of a long hibernation. The band’s second record sounds varied and inspired and is called Queen of Diamonds. Songs like Sync or Swim and We Move will appeal to fans of the postpunk of Fontaines D.C and Ought, whereas songs like Exhaustion, The Tide That Pulls Me Away From You (my personal favorite ) and Pulse are more melodic and straightforward indie rock. Vinyl orders available through Polaks Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Genevieve & Hemmy || Last One For The Road

The photos stand out on the website of Genevieve & Hemmy.  Two travelin’ street musicians, two guitars, one kickdrum, one open guitar case with a cardboard note (“anything helps”), two dogs. The three songs that make up The last One For The Road EP sound nothing like those from their previous act, the loud grunge/blues outfit Beneath Trees. These days, Genevieve & Hemmy opt for a garage take on folkrock. Usually, I am not that into folkrock, but the band incorporates a variety of influences that make this a compelling EP. The opener is the most rocking song on the EP, with an organ giving the song a seventies rock vibe. Stillness, the second track, is a well executed jangle pop song; it’s my favorite track. And finally, Sisters is a tad slower, more dreamy. G & H’s music is inspired by travel, love, nature & spirit. I look forward to find out where Genevieve & Hemmy are off to next.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Spires || Era Was

The Spires are from California. They play timeless guitar pop that is pleasant to the ears, soul and mind. Era was, I believe, is the band’s fifth full-length, which “started off as a full band live record then ended up a bedroom headphone jammer.” Recommended if you like your indie rock understated, subtle, and well executed.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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

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