Power Pop

New single: Uni Boys || I Wanna Rock You / Downtown

Uni Boys return with another two song teaser single leading up to what promises to be the greatest power pop record released in 2022: Do It All Next Week, out later this year on Curation Records. The bar was set high by the first single released two months ago, and these two new tracks easily fill the high expectations. The guitar work on I Wanna Rock You is excellent and the song is candy to the ears. Flipside Downtown shreds slightly less (but listen to those guitars again!), but moves at a higher pace and is reminiscent of powerpop royalty Shoes. Okay, Uni Boys, no more teasers, just drop that damn record already!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Lester Greenowski || Kover All Over

This year, Lester Greenowski celibrates his twenty year anniversary as a musician, and what better way to do that than by paying tribute to his influences. More tribute albums are apparently on the horizon, but on Kover All Over, Greenowski tackles the discography of Kiss, including the solo records. Greenowski joins forces with Lester and the Landslide Ladies bandmate Vinn Borawski, and Irene Viboras (Viboras), Faz La Rocca (Faz Waltz), Matteo Bassoli (Me And That Man), Paul Del Bello (Dobermann), SJ Aschieris (Aschieris), Nick Mantoan (Piggy Slot) and many others all make guest appearances.

The best part about this tribute to “the hottest band in the world”? How Greenowski and friends put their own spin on the originals. In these reimagined versions,  Kiss would have fit perfectly on a bill with Ramones and New York Dolls in CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City in the ’70s. Fun stuff indeed!

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: Starter Jackets || Dead Malls

It’s Spring, it’s the weekend. Perfect time for some sunny pop punk and powerpop from Chuck Taylor powered All-Star band Starter Jackets, who just dropped their sophomore LP Dead Malls  – Rad Girlfriend Records expect to ship the LP early July.

Starter Jackets feature members (and singer/songwriters) of Local Drags, The Copyrights, Hospital Job and Attic Salt. And if you are familiar with those bands, you won’t be surprised by the sound on Dead Malls: extremely melodic (I’m talking earworm material) mid-paced poppunk, with no shortage of group singalongs. To my ears, Dead Malls is a major step up from the band’s debut Decisions – that record felt too much like a collection of throwaway songs from the members’ main projects. Perhaps I should revisit Decisions and give it another chance though, because on Dead Malls Starter Jackets take the best parts of their respective bands and pile on hit after hit.  Check out three of my early favorites below. Rad record, from a rad band on a rad label.

Dead Malls is available for pre-order now in all kinds of mystery colors through Rad Girlfriend Records.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Rad Girlfriend

New album: Pkew Pkew Pkew || Open Bar

The music of Pkew Pkew Pkew (Toronto) is tailor made for the weekend. It’s loud, it’s fun and perfect for hangouts and singalongs with your friends. In terms of songwriting, the band has made quite the leap from the sheer bluntness and obnoxious of their debut LP – which I absolutely loved. On the band’s latest record (Open Bar), and helped out by Craig Finn (The Hold Steady), Pkew Pkew Pkew succesfully incorporates classic rock influences in their powerful punk sound. In that sense, Open Bar shares several of the strengths of last year’s excellent Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs’ Real One: anthemic punk rock that will set smaller venues on fire but will also work on a larger stage. It’s Pkew Pkew Pkew at their boldest and most creative yet – the result of a lacking hard deadline and a producer (Jon Drew) down to trying new stuff.

Open Bar is out now through Dine Alone Records. It’s a new Pkew Pkew Pkew record! It’s the weekend. All is good!

Add to wantlist: Dine Alone Records

New EP: The Dogmatics || Drop That Needle

There are quite a few old rock ‘n’ roll musicians who’ve taken their instruments out of the attic to get back on stage. For example, a few years ago I saw the heroes of The Sonics live, with an energy probably not lesser to how they performed in the early 60’s. However, there are hardly any of those returnees who still manage to write new hits. Boston 5-piece The Dogmatics, nowadays made up of Jerry Lehane (vocals, guitar), Tom Long (drums), Peter O’Halloran (vocals, guitar), Jimmy O’Halloran (bass), and James Young (vocals, mandolin), are the positive exception, and how! If you’re somehow new to the garage/pub rock outfit: in the mid-’80s they played in almost every small club and backyard party in the US – their releases from that era can be found on the must-have compilation EST 81. In 2019 they were back with the amazing 5-track EP She’s the One (listen to its I Love Rock and Roll and you’ll know what the band’s all about), and now they have released their new EP Drop That Needle. Once again featuring 5 brand new, catchy classics that you’ll immediately like. The title track leans more towards power pop, Automat Kalashnikov and Acid Rain towards punk, Think Twice towards folk, and Don’t Break My Heart towards rockabilly, but at its core it’s all rock ‘n’ roll in the tradition of the names mentioned in the first song. Its lyrics certainly apply for this one: “Drop that needle on the 45 // I wanna hear that record one more time.”

Drop That Needle is out now digitally and on CD through Rum Bar Records.

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

New album: JJ & The Real Jerks || Mess You Up

Ready for some genuine sleazy punkrock-‘n’-roll? Look no further than JJ & The Real Jerks and their latest (and greatest!) LP Mess You Up.

JJ & The Real Jerks are based in LA, but their guitar work is very NYC (Johnny Thunders), and the infectious melodies of the band have quite a bit of ’70s UK punk in them. Put simply: the eight songs on Mess You Up rock as hard as they are contagious. Songs like Dead In The Water, Lost Souls Pub (with some excellent sax work), and Ten Cent Beer Night will lift you up, get your heart racin’, your head boppin, your fist pumpin’ and your feet stompin’.

If there is any knock on Mess You Up is that half on the songs have been previously released on the Ten Cent Beer Night EP (2019). I’m not complaining though, because those songs were excellent and are now finally available in physical format.

Mess You Up is out now through Heavy Medication Record, a Polish label “bringing real rock & roll to earthlings.”
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || 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: Man Behind Tree || 3

Man Behind Tree are a jangle power pop four-piece based in Berlin. This week, the band dropped 3, the follow up album to Man Behind Tree (2011) and Snoqualmie (2015). In between those three albums, several band members also wrote and recorded music as Seaside Stars, Mincer Ray and most recently Hanemoon – read our post on the latter here.

Like Hanemoon, Man Behind Tree has its fair share of Teenage Fanclub influences. Expect fuzzy guitar-driven powerpop with subtle yet convincing melodies that are gentle to the ears. But whereas Hanemoon sounds lighter and brighter, Man Behind Tree has a more punchy sound and darker melancholic vibe that juxtaposes nicely with the sunny harmonies.  Dennis and I are seeing Teenage Fanclub live next week and this feels like the perfect warm up record. If only Man Behind Tree were the support act, that would be even more perfect.

Recorded by Tad Klimp of The Notwist, 3 is full of well crafted songs that get better with each play. 3 is out on CD and Tape through Subjangle (South Africa) and Twaague (Germany). Want!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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