Alternative Rock

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 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

New album: Half Smile || Half Smile

Half Smile is a new band of three from Atlanta, Georgia. That’s about all the information I can find about the band. I do like the self-titled record they just dropped though – I have to assume it’s their debut. Half Smile play a brand of indie rock that is rough around the edges and has some solid ’90s altrock and emo influences. Most of the record moves at a decent pace, giving their sound a punky or garagy vibe – a sense that is strengthened by the complete lack of polish in the production.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Praise || All In A Dream

If there’s one challenge to being addicted to discovering new music while broadening your musical pallet, it is this: how do you keep up with all the genres you grew up loving and still love? For me, hardcore is one of those genres I have kind of lost touch with throughout the years. But every now and then, a release grabs my attention that gets me so excited I wonder why I don’t spend more time in this corner of the musical landscape. Exhibit A: Turnstile’s Glow On, which was my AOTY last year. Exhibit B: The new Praise album All in A Dream.

Then again, even though hardcore may be the point of origin for both Turnstile and Praise, both bands have so much more to offer. In the case of Praise, the most notable influences comes from the ’80s DC hardcore scene, and when I first heard Praise’s 2014 record Lights Went Out, it felt like hearing Dag Nasty for the very first time. It had that same level of excitement for me. That comparison still holds 8 years later, especially on the title track – I should probably also mention Rites of Spring and Embrace, or more recently As Friends Rust; the record also includes a great cover of Hüsker Dü’s Keep Hanging On. But Praise have firmly built their own sound throughout the years, and central to that sound is their willingness and fearlessness to branch out to more melody and different styles. It’s probably no coincidence that Daniel Fang drums in both Turnstile and Praise, and in Angel Du$t as well: three bands that do not sound alike at all, but have an equal level of exploration and creativity.

Ultimately, All in A Dream is bouncy, dynamic and colorful. It’s a record to get excited over, to rock out with, to sing and scream along to. It’s the kind of record that makes you feel happy you’re alive and can’t wait to share with your friends.

All in A Dream is out now on the legendary Revelation Records. For more on the record, read this insightful interview with Praise singer Andy Norton (formerly of Champion) at Stereogum.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Rev HQ

New album: Rusthead || .​.​. Out Of Nowhere

Did you already know Rusthead? It’s an alternative rock outfit from Cherbourg En Cotentin, France, featuring Alexandre Lebiez (vocals), Antoine Giner (guitar, backing vocals), Jean Hardy (bass, vocals) and François-Xavier Jollois (drums). Each band member brought his own taste in music – blues rock, garage rock, grunge or hard rock – and a combination of those influences can be heard on their full-length debut album .​.​. Out Of Nowhere. You’ll hear 11 energetic songs, with heavy guitar riffs and solos, driving drum rhythms and powerful vocals. It’s straightforward rock, as fans of this genre expect – listen to standout track Underwater for example. But wait for it… in closing song Give Me A Mic, No-Za provides a surprising hip-hop twist that ends the LP with a bang.

.​.​. Out Of Nowhere is out now digitally and soon on CD. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

‘New’ album: Scruff Myers’ Superhands || Scruff Myers’ Superhands

The cool band name and nice art work caught my attention, the music lived up to the expectations. Scruff Myer’s Superhands are a power pop trio from Ipswich (UK) that sounds like an alternative rock / pop-punk band from the US, featuring former members of The Adicts and Lovejunk. Their self-titled debut album was actually released two years ago, but only on a very limited CD through Double Weiner Records. This music deserves a bigger audience, and hopefully that will happen with this re-release by new label Blunder Town records. Jonathan Lloyd Ellis, his brother Mel, and John Randall write short but powerful guitar-driven songs, influenced by 90’s US punk rock and Bob Mould’s older work. There are at least four songs on the record that could be hits and make the crowd in any festival tent jump into ecstasy. For example, listen to the wonderfully gritty vocals in standout track Kissing For Granted, the catchy tribute to actress/model Jessica Alba reminiscent of Nerf Herder’s Courtney, and punk rock banger Too Bad.

Scruff Myers’ Superhands is out now digitally and soon on vinyl LP through Blunder Town Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Blunder Town || Discogs

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of April 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

In April we checked out George Is Lord’s My Sweet George (10 George Harrison songs), Phonophore Records’ All Good Kids (a tribute compilation with various artists doing 28 Guided By Voices tracks), The Greyboy Allstars’ Get A Job (10 funky covers that have become an integral part of the band’s famed live sets), Edgar Winter’s Brother Johnny (an all-star musical love letter to Johnny Winter), The William Loveday Intention’s Paralysed By The Mountains (Billy Childish calls his You Gotta Move cover, featuring his wife Julie and Dave Tattersall, one of his best recordings ever), and Willie Nelson’s 72th(!) album A Beautiful Time (with tunes of The Beatles and Leonard Cohen). We’ve already written about LPs by The Surfrajettes and The Sellwoods with some fun cover versions on it. And then there also were 20+ other releases that would be worth mentioning, but as always, we’re limiting ourselves to the 10 best.

It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad || Cover: Eli Paperboy Reed || Original: Merle Haggard and The Strangers
On his new full-length album Down Every Road (out digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Yep Roc Records), American soul shouter Eli Paperboy Reed pays homage to country legend Merle Haggard by putting a soulful spin on 12 of his classic country tunes. Thanks to Reed’s distinctive, powerful vocals and the groove of Mike Montgomery (bass) and Noah Rubin (drums), the new versions gain in expressiveness, which is certainly reflected in It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad (this one isn’t written by Merle Haggard by the way, but by Glenn Martin & Hank Cochran). Those who pre-ordered the LP or CD in time, received a 7″ single with an almost unrecognizable take on Motörhead’s Ace of Spades.

New album: Mercvrial || Brief Algorithms

The first word that comes to mind while listening to Brief Algorithms, the debut LP of Mercvrial? The word you’ll read in any review of the band’s sound? Eighties. There really is no way around it. It’s the most eighties sounding record we shared on this site.

Mercvrial is based in Rosarito (Mexico). The biggest strenght of Mercvrial is that they sound authentically ’80s but are are impossible to pigeonhole in a specific genre. Every song taps into a different style, which transcends the post punk or new wave label. The only common denominator is that it is drenched in eighties nostalgia – the collaboration of guitarist Terry Bickers (House Of Love/Levitation) on half of the songs strengtens this vibe.

To be sure, Brief Algorithms won’t be for everyone. In fact, I’m still not sure what to make of it, let alone have the words to describe it. I do know it’s something else, decidedly out of time and unworried about what is hip or happening. It has songs like I’ll Get You Home On Time and Waiting On A Miracle (a reimagining of Ride’s Jump Jet/Dub Jet) that are too far out of my comfortzone to fully appreciate. But then there are songs like Dark Stars, Be That Someone and I Never Liked You Anyway that slowly get under my skin and make me want to return to the record and discover other Easter eggs Mercvrial have hidden on the record.

Brief Algorithms is out now through Crafting Room Recordings (UK), and available through Meritorio Records (Europe) and Jigsaw (US).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Quaker Wedding || Total Disarray

Salinas Records is having quite the Spring. In the same week they released the highly anticipated sophomore record by Joyride! – which we loved, they also released the second Quaker Wedding album.

If you haven’t heard about this three-piece from NYC, you are not the only one. To an extent this has to do with the fact that Quaker Wedding doesn’t seem all that concerned with being hip, happening or polishing up their sound; they are all about writing great songs. And if there is one name that comes to mind while listening to Quaker Wedding it’s Blake Schwarzenbach. If you like the output of his bands (Jawbreaker, Jets To Brazil and Forgetters), there is a strong likelihood you will like the new Quaker Wedding record. Operating on a similar sonic spectrum somewhere between punk and rock, it has that same underappreciated quality that accumulates critical acclaim which doesn’t automatically translate to success.

Total Disarray is full of Punk rock with rough edges and a lot of melancholy. Destined to be overlooked by the many, I can see Total Disarray being fully embraced by the few. Count me in, I think this one’s special.

Total Disarray is out now through Salinas Records – the label founded by Quaker Wedding frontman Marco Reosti.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Two Houses || Can’t Fail

The Spotify bio of Two Houses reads “Smash Mouth meets Rage Against The Machine.” – Vice
The band’s Bandcamp bio reads “Triumphant sad bastard music.”

When in doubt, always go with Bandcamp. But, I would add that the Triumphant sad bastard music of Chicago three-piece Two Houses is in fact anthemic blue collar punkrock, the kind that could appeal to punks and indie rockers alike. The absolute standout track on the band’s latest full-length Can’t Fail is Lost. It’s the kind of anthem that offers cathartic release and will likely be a highlight of their live shows. “Don’t know where I’m going || don’t care if I get there at all || I got lost along the way.”

Lost should provide you with a gateway to the rest of the record. That records shows a band that is much more serious about their music than their streaming platform’s tag lines seem to suggest. Can’t Fail is a seriously solid record. Try it, you might like it too.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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