Garage Rock

New album: Tulu and Wimpy || Fly Like A Cucumber

Scott Gildersleeve (aka Tulu) and Jack Hayes (aka Wimpy Rutherford) were founding members of The Queers. The pair also played together in The Monsignors and Drunken Cholos and had plenty of their own musical projects. In 2014, Tulu and Wimpy started recording Fly Like a Cucumber with Marc McElroy of the Electric Cave Recording Studio in 2014. Sadly, Tulu (aged 56) died just weeks before finishing the record. Wimpy promised to finish the recording “as Scott would have wanted me to.”

Fast forward seven years and Fly Like A Cucumber is finally here. It contains Tulu originals, as well as some unreleased/remixed songs by the Monsignors. With one of the creators no longer around, Fly Like a Cucumber is a bittersweet record. Its release stings a little, especially given the positive reviews the record will surely generate. It offers a varied trove of gems waiting to be discovered. It is not a record to quickly scan. You’d probably miss out the best parts if you do. For me, that is the subtle beautiful classic (soft)power pop song Over You. Build on a lovely jangly guitar lick, it’s a song that I can keep on playing.

Fly Like A Cucumber is out now through Pine Hill Records. This is how Wimpy announced the record: “…finally, I am able to release this truly outstanding record, that I had the pleasure of being able to create with my best friend. I feel it is by far the best record I have ever been involved with in my 40 some years of recording. Tulu, may you stay…Forever Young.”

Add to wantlist: Pine Hill

New album: Fruit Tones || Pink Wafer Factory

Pink Wafer Factory is the second full length of Manchester (UK) trio Fruit Tones. If the name Fruit Tones evokes bubblegum associations, you are not necessarily wrong. But bubblegum only accounts for a small part of the band’s sound, and primarily in the vocal melodies. Above all, Fruit Tones sound too dirty, too loud, too sleazy and too rock’n’roll to place them in the bubblegum category. A more apt comparision of the sound of Fruit Tones is early Stones, or even better: recent bands that do a garage take on the Stones like Natural Child. In fact, I am fairly certain you will like Pink Wafer Factory if you like Natural Child – particularly the more uptempo work of that band.

Pink Wafer Factory is the kind of record that combines ’60s and ’70s rock’n’roll nostalgia with craftmanship and provides contemporary fun. It’s the kind of music that is best experienced live, but I believe the recordings have captured that energy and spontaneity nicely. Buy this one with zero regret guarantee, but if you need more reason to give this band a chance, note that the LP is released by the always delivering Alien Snatch! Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP: Snoopy And The Who?! || Snoopy And The Who?!

Snoopy And The Who?! To be honest, the first time I heard the name, my curiosity was peaked. The two songs the band teased last year showed a lot of promise further building up the buzz. Both these songs (My Regeneration and Shadow & Shade) are on SATW?!’s self-titled debut EP, which is out now. It’s a solid first outing that sees a band channeling ’70s rock, unafraid to step over boundaries between styles and genres. I guess you could call it garage rock -certainly in its approach and attitude, but it is also glitter rock, arena rock (distant touches of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC), and Velvet Undergroundesque rock’n’roll.

Perhaps it’s the name letter effect*, perhaps its because the four members are lifelong friends, but there is something really likeable about this Brooklyn band. Most likely, it’s just the music. More to come in 2023!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

* The name letter effect is our tendency to evaluate alphabetical letters (particularly initials) we share in a name favorably. …And The Who, Add To Wantlist. ATW!

New singles: Riverboat Gamblers || Two Little Hearts b/w ​Denton & Father Christmas

Austin, Texas based punk rock band Riverboat Gamblers released six essential albums between 2001 and 2012, and like a bolt from the blue they are now back with a new single. Both A-side Two Little Hearts and B-side ​Denton offer everything that made this band so attractive at the time. The current line-up, featuring Mike Wiebe (vocals), Fadi El Assad (guitar, vocals), Ian MacDougall (guitar, vocals), Rob Marchant (bass) and Sam Keir (drums), is enthusiastic as a bunch of young garage rockers. They play infectious rock ‘n’ roll – big sound, big riffs, big choruses – with woo-hoo harmonies that make it extra catchy.

Another surprise: the Gamblers also did a cover of Father Christmas by The Kinks. It will be released – two different mixes – as a single, but is also part of the compilation Starstruck: A Tribute to The Kinks, which will be out on December 9 via Wicked Opossum Records.

Two Little Hearts b/w ​Denton is out now digitally and on 7″ vinyl through Anxious and Angry, Father Christmas will be available from December 1 on Wicked Opossum Records.

Add to wantlist: Anxious and Angry || Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Ingrates || Don’t Be a Stranger b​/​w I Don’t Care

Ingrates (California) released their first single at the end of 2021. Less than 12 months later, they’ve already dropped their third single. In the meantime, Ingrates founders Nick Norrman (Lude Boys, Banshee, Male Nurses) and Justin Jurgens (Sirs, Dust Star) picked up lead guitarist Stephen DeWitt. Oh and Jurgens released a killer power pop record with Dust Star – Norrman made a guest appearance on that record as well.

The new two single finds Ingrates at their glammiest yet, yet still lo-fi and unpolished. It’s a bit like Slade but played by Exploding Hearts. It’s pretty great. Ingrates are quickly rising on my list of favorite new(er) acts. Keep those singles coming, guys!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Yeah Maybe || Yeah Maybe

Yeah Maybe is the second EP by Tacoma (Washington) duo Yeah Maybe. It’s also the second EP the band released this year – the first was called Ok, Sure. For a band with such a non-committal name, they sure are productive and take their music serious. They’ve already planned a 6-song follow up EP, after which they intend to promote to full length format. I hope labels are taking note, because here is a band I think could make some waves in the indie scene. Equal parts indie rock, grunge and punk rock, Yeah Maybe combine loud guitars and drums,  with pretty sweet melodies.

The band went with an old school approach while recording this new EP, using analog equipment in different stages of detoriation. The band explains: “We went with a very spontaneous on the fly recording process. You could say this EP is a very big homage to the garage rock and punk rock I grew up listening to. You might hear recording errors, hiccups, or other stuff, but that’s whatever I need to stop being a perfectionist anyways. Its lofi rock, so I guess I get a free pass on the mistakes?”

I haven’t found anything wrong yet with this EP yet. Keep em coming, Yeah Maybe.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Vains || My Ammunition

The Vains (New Brunswick, Canada & New England, USA) are a new project by members of Phone Jerks, The Ratz and Mitch Kramer. They are fronted by TJ Cabot on vocals, Shandy Lawson & Mitch Kramer on guitar, Bill Blacknorth on Bass and Elvis Belushi behind the drum kit.  The five come out of the gates swinging with a killer debut 5-song EP called My Ammunition. Given the people involved (Cabot wrote the words to the songs the other guys wrote) it should not come as a surprise that this is lo-fi, loud and straight from the garage. But still, I’m blown away by how much fun this EP is and how catchy and melodic the songs are. Part garage rock’n’roll, part pop punk, these short songs are hopefully a teaser of more to come from The Vains.

Play My Ammunition loud and often. It’s out now through Die Hipster Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Los Refrescos || Los Refrescos

Los Refrescos, not to be confused with The Refrescos (Spain), are from Santiago (Chile). The band started out unprompted when three of his friends (Tomi and Pipe of Devlive, and Tapia of ninjas mutantes adolescentes and my light shines for you) heard the solo material Darby Trash (Ebullición, Confesional, Pizza Boys) was writing in the pandemic lockdowns. They couldn’t wait to join forces and Los Refrescos were born.

This four-song EP feature the first recordings of the band, and it’s immediately clear what his friends saw in the raw material Trash was churning out. Killer hooks, crisp guitar work, an upbeat rhythm section and super sweet melodies. It’s full on garagepop with a touch of late ’70s pop punk and a whole lot of fun fun fun.

For now, add Los Refrescos on your bands to watchlist, and download their EP for a price of your liking. They are only getting started and hope to record new material soon.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Rabbit || Good Love Is A Hot Chip

Recently, I saw Melbourne power pop sensation Romero perform their first European show. They met my high expectations, and their debut LP is a lock for my AOTY list. Here is the debut by a band from Hobart, which lies 700+ kms south of Melbourne on the island of Tasmania, that I have been equally excited about since their amazing debut single. I am talking about Rabbit, and the Australian connection is not the only similarity between the two. Both bands have a guitar driven powerpop sound, and both have a powerhouse vocalist. But whereas Romero seem to have a good level of soul in their DNA, Rabbit are punks at heart. That reveals itself in the pace and level of bite in certain songs on the band’s debut album Good Love Is A Hot Chip. The record opens strongly with two major hits Sunday Best and Safeguard. Rabbit absolutely find the sweet spot between powerpop and punk on these songs: Both are loud, yet full of contagious melodies.

Rabbit aren’t afraid to experiment though. Putting two six minute slower songs in the middle of a record that otherwise is pretty loud and fast? That takes guts. Somehow, Rabbit pull it off. The songs function almost as an interlude offering a breather to the listener, and make the remaining 4 songs hit even harder. Rabbit just dropped a mesmerizing video for one of these two songs and it definitely adds to its power. The video contains self-recorded footage of the Tasmanian masked owl and the grey goshawk. Beautiful birds that are endangered species and actually prey on RABBITS. Yeah, to say Rabbit is a pretty cool band would be an understatement.

Yayna is the song to kick off the latter all frills section of the record. It is another example of how natural a fit the punky powerpop sound is for Rabbit. The album closes with Gone Gone Gone, the first song I heard from this band. It has lost nothing of that first spark. It’s pretty awesome to see a band that released just one highly promising single succesfully make the jump to a great full length. Good Love Is A Hot Chip is a blast and a must own. Recorded with Zac Blain of A. Swayze & The Ghosts, mastered by Mikey Young, it’s out now on Tape through Rough Skies Records. Please tell me a vinyl release is in the pipeline.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Various Artists || Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 (Tarantula Tapes)

We don’t often write about compilations, but they (still!) are a great resource to discover new music. Compilations are of course also a great way to put the spotlight and celebrate a certain label and scene. Both of these strengths apply to the new Tarantula Tapes comp Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. In the liner notes, Tarantula Tapes give a third reason why comps can be great: it’s a way to build a community and a scene. Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. serves as the label’s thank you to everyone involved in keeping the underground music community alive – from musicians, labels and techicians to designers, podcasts and writers. The sense of gratitude applies not just to the past, but has its eye on the here and now, and the future: The 16 band, 16 song comp sounds curated by someone who is on top of the diversity and quality of the current punk rock and indie scene. If this was a weekly radio show, I’d sure be tuning in again and again.

Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 is out now, on Tape of course.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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