New album: Action Park || You Must Be This Tall To Die

Action parks are at the bottom of my list of places I like to be at – don’t get me started on rollercoasters. So if you call your band Action Park, and your record You Must Be This Tall To Die, let’s just say you are way behind before the game has even begun. And that’s exlusive of the impossible to google bandname/album title combo. But I must admit having warmed up to this record rather quickly.  Action Park play punkrock for fans of the mid-to-late 90s punkrock explosion. I have a lot of fond memories of that era, though admittedly, not all of my purchases of that era held up as well as I hoped. You Must Be This Tall To Die sounds like a record that will. What I appreciate about Action Park is how in each of their songs, they seem to pay tribute to a different band. For example, 24 Months sounds inspired by the Bouncing Souls, whereas Waiting For The Rain reminds me of a band like Weston. Other songs hint upon The Ergs, Sicko and Dillinger Four and others that are on the tip of my tongue.

The combination of familiarity and well executed punkrock tunes make for a very enjoyable collection of songs. Will Action Park reignite a new wave of punkrock popularity? Unlikely. But it sure is nice to hear bands from 2021 sound like this. Not bad for a record grown of necessity according to the band: “This sonic document is the product of countless hours of painstaking physical, mental, and emotional labor. The guiding force throughout what has no doubt been one of the longest, darkest, and decidedly most bizarre chapters in any of our stories… This thirty-one minutes of music was the thread we were all collectively hanging by that kept us back from the edge.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Smirk || EP 12″

Smirk is a solo project from Nic Vicario (Autistic Youth, Crisis Man, Public Eye). Six months ago, I wrote about the debut LP by Smirk, which compiled the band’s first two EP’s. I liked the groovy and hypnotic lo-fi punk songs on that one a lot, but I am even more excited about the band’s third EP, which is out now on 12″vinyl on Total Punk Records. The EP has a slightly crisper production that brings out the anxious energy of the music even better. Vicario has retained and refined his cool groovy guitar riffing, but the songs sound more direct, accessible, and melodic without losing any punk attitude. Songs like Staring At Screens, So Original and Imaginary Harry are an absolute blast. Play this one loud!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Total Punk

New album: Cheeky || Freaky Deaky: The Cheeky Discography

Well, this is a nice surprise from Jeff Rosenstock’s Really Records: the full discography of Cheeky on one conventient platter of clear blue vinyl! If you are unfamiliar with Cheeky, they were a short lived (2007-2009) four piece from Long Island with a knack for writing catchy old school pop punk, and a fearlessness to fight the increasing toxic elitism and machoism in the punk scene.

The band’s guitarist and vocalist Kate Eldridge went on to form the mighty Big Eyes. If you are a fan of that band, you are sure to like this anthology. Essentially, if you like your pop punk edgy and rockin’, you are sure to like this release as well. Other Cheeky band members went on to perform with bands such as The Babies and Sleater Kinney.

Freaky Deaky compiles Cheeky’s complete output: the Choke on a Cheeseburger EP, Art Of The Underground Single Series 7″, What The Heck 12″, their split single with Tenement, and their Live At The Boneyard cassette.

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

New album: I Feel Fine || The Cold In Every Shelter

If you sound as classic emo as this, a paradoxal band name can feel strangely comforting. But perhaps I Feel Fine is just a statement to discourage further interrogation – we’ve all been there in the past 18 months. Anyhow, Brighton (UK) based I Feel Fine’s debut full-length The Cold In Every Shelter is a generous release. This is not a throwaway collection of songs that were quickly recorded over the weekend. No, here is a band that clearly spend a lot of time refining their songs, adding elements and cool instrumentation. It makes for a record that reveals new parts to enjoy with each listen.

Admittedly, I dismissed the record after a quick first scan, but fortunately my fellow ATW blogger Dennis made me revisit the record. The Cold In Every Shelter is the kind of record where the rewards depend on the time and attention you are willing to spend on it. And once you do, you cherish the escapism it provides. The cathartic group vocals obviously stand out (not all vocals on the record are the full band singing their hearts out, yet it does feel that way), and the tasteful instrumentation provide such a tasteful backdrop. The Cold In Every Shelter is a soothing record that prepares you for the colder, wetter and darker seasons. And, dare I say it, you don’t need to be into emo to enjoy this record. RIYL: The World Is Beautiful And I Am Not Afraid To Die, The Hotelier, Hostage Calm. Oh, and make sure to watch I Feel Fine’s video for Selfsame, it may be the best looking video I’ve seen all year.

The Cold In Every Shelter is out now through Venn Records (UK), Smithsfoodgroup DIY (Netherlands), Friend Of Mine (Japan), Pundonor Records (Spain), Refresh Records (United States), Midsummer Records (Germany), and K-Nardage Asso (France).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Cromm Fallon || Presents The P200

Cromm Fallon is one of those prolific musicians who live for music. The Las Vegas based multi-instrument played in multiple bands – The Laissez Fairs, The Van Der Rohe, Double Whammys, Headwinds, … – and he’s also regularly behind the turntables as DJ Cromm. The tunes that he then blasts from the speakers – 60s garage, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll – clearly influence the songs he writes himself. However, his sophomore full-length album is more wide-ranging than that. For example, listen to the jangly power pop hit Closer Distance (the lyrics kick off strongly with “I’ve run out of words // So writing just makes sense”, and then the lines get even better), and the heavy noise of Taste., and you have a pretty good idea of what Fallon has to offer. Irresistible guitar riffs, sharply songwriting in which you can lose yourself, vocals full of dedication. You can expect something good from a gifted artist who lives for the music, but Fallon more than lives up to it.

Cromm Fallon Presents The P200 is out now digitally and on CD through Rum Bar Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Imploders || Imploders

I usually do a wrap up of each month’s best hardcore releases, but with the summer break and all, I’m skipping it this month. But there is one hardcorepunk release I just had to share. It is the debut EP from Imploders, a new outfit from Toronto that has it origins in 2020 pandemic dread. Imploders’ self-titled EP is a 7-minute tornado of in your face adrenaline rush inducing 80s hardcorepunk. Fast and agressive, and with plenty of melody and cool breakdowns, I’m liking this a lot – and that was before I found out ATW favorite Sam Coffey mixed the EP. Limited to 500 singles, and with the colored variant already sold out, don’t sit on this one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Mr. Teenage || Automatic Love

Are you feeling meh? Here’s the perfect cure. Stop what you are doing right now. Just turn the volume up and press play on the song below. I promise you will feel better afterwards.

What a track right? And the best news is that there are three additional songs on this debut single by Mr. Teenage, who are from Melbourne, Australia. What is striking about this single, which was originally self-released last year and will be released on a 7″ by Drunken Sailor on September 17, is that each song has a distinct sound. The title track mixes punkrock’n’roll with a robotic chorus that has an 80s new wave vibe. Waste Of Time, is more straightforward punkrock where the vocals channel Joey Ramone. And then there is The Loser, a garage pop hit heavily influenced by ’60s girlgroup. Add that to the guitar heavy powerpop perfection of the song you’ve just heard (Kids) – A song that showcases the awesome voice of the band’s frontman Nic Imfeld, and you have a must own single.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Fastbacks || Mural Amphitheater, Seattle, WA, August 25, 1986.

We all have bands we should definitely like, but for various reasons never really gave the chance. Perhaps you were listening to different stuff when they were at their best, or perhaps their back catalogue has become too daunting to dive into. Or, the constant flow of new music makes it hard to find time to check out older stuff. A prime example of this for me is Fastbacks. This is a band with a poppy punk sound (or vice versa) that is right in my wheelhouse, yet I don’t own any music from.

So when Bachelor Records recently dropped us a note on how proud they were to release a live album from one of their favorite bands, my first response was a sense of guilt. But it was the positive, motivating kind of guilt, because it made me actually check out the recording of this 1986 show in the band’s hometown of Seattle.  And wouldn’t you know, this one clicks with me in spite of the first two songs not sounding particularly good; the opening of the show wasn’t recorded on the multitrack, so audience recordings have been used instead. The rest of the record, newly remixed but not fixed or overdubbed, sounds decidedly better, and I finally understand why this is a band that I should’ve checked out long ago. This truly is some catchy punky powerpop, and the voice of singer and bass player Kim Warnick is great. And the 15 song set, including several covers like Good Lovin’ by The Young Rascals, and a raucous version of Somebody To Love by Jefferson Airplane, offers a great introduction to the band’s discography. The video of the show is pretty cool as well, and the static video recording in combination with the dance moves of the audience offers a somewhat unnerving time capsule to a different era.

So yeah, thanx to Bachelor Records, I finally spend some time with Fastbacks, and I’m in! Help me out, which one of their records should I definitely check out?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Bachelor Records

New album: Friends Of Cesar Romero || War Party Favors

Friends of Cesar Romero is kind of an enigma. It’s a band that has consistently been churning out tunes with hit potential, yet somehow stayed off the radar. War Party Favors is the bands eleventh (!) full length, and there is a large batch of EPs and singles as well. Most of these releases are digital only, which is great in terms of flexibility and speed of releasing new music, but may explain the elusiveness of the band. The principal member and songwriter of Friend of Cesar Romero is J. Waylon Porcupine, who is from Rapid City (South Dakota) and a proud member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

Porcupine has a huge back catalogue of over 300 songs, mostly recorded and produced solo. It’s an insane number, and yet the songs on War Party Favors, like most of Porcupine’s songs, never outstay their welcome. They are poignant and melodic powerpop songs with a punk edge, and Porcupine’s voice has a grit size that matches the music perfectly. Snappy Little Numbers is releasing the record on CD, and I am hoping it’s the start of a bigger fanbase, because the songs of Friends Of Cesar Romero deserve to be heard.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New Album: Chubby And The Gang || The Mutt’s Nuts

Speed Kills, the debut album from Chubby And The Gang, was a pure adrenaline rush. Perhaps there is some recency bias on my part, but I have trouble recalling a more exciting debut in the past decade – it was my favorite record of 2020. How do you follow up a record that special and that succesful? Chubby And The Gang seem less interested in that question than the serious music critics, because on their sophomore album the band does whatever they feel like. The Mutt’s Nuts is a different beast altogether while still very recognizably Chubby And The Gang. The band did not try to replicate Speed Kills, although The Mutt’s Nuts has that same violent threat of street punk and the agressive rush of hardcore: The first couple of tracks on The Mutt’s Nuts would have fit perfectly on Speed Kills. The rest of the record shows that the band has more to offer and is unafraid to create their own path. Try sitting still to the Malcolm Youngesque guitar riff over a thumping bass in Coming Up Tough, or the pub rock’n’ roll of Life On The Bayou and Lightning Don’t Strike Twice. There is even some tasteful soulful balladry in songs like I Hate The Radio and Life’s Lemons.

If Speed Kills was a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, The Mutt’s Nuts is more like a surprise seven course meal where you never know what is coming up next. Ultimately, it offers a more diverse rush that likely is healthier in the longer term for mind, body and soul. This is one hell of an album.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

Scroll to Top