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 album: The Wasps || Punk Prayer

45 years ago, The Wasps were part of a UK punk scene including The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Buzzcocks and Sham 69. The Wasps played John Peel’s Radio 1 show twice as well, resulting in this great recording of Teenage Treats, one of the band’s finest tracks.

In 2019, The Wasps played a reunion show at a punk festival in Malaga, Spain. That show ignited a motivation for writing new material, ultimately culminating in the twelve song Punk Prayer LP. The record will be a joy for both old and new fans of melodic punkrock. The biggest change in the 2022 version of the Wasps compared to the 1977 version is location not sound: The band currently resides not in London, but in Malaga, and Punk Prayer was recorded live in October 2021 at the local Hollers Analog Studios. Still fronting The Wasps is their original singer songwriter Jesse Lynn-Dean, who a the very least penned a throwback classic in Punk Prayer opener It Don’t Matter To Me. An impressive turn to form, like The Wasps haven’t skipped a beat.

Punk Prayer is out now on CD and LP through Vespa Records and Family Spree Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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 album: Guppy || Big Man Says Slappydoo

Californian mall rock trio Guppy turned heads with In The Garage (2017) and In Heat (2019), and now they’re back with their full-length album Big Man Says Slappydoo. The 11 songs here are the most ambitious, diverse and thoughtful to date by Julia Lebow (guitar, vocals), Marc Babcock (bass, vocals) and Ian Cohen (drums, vocals), very well produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, also heard on keyboards.

Probably primed by the colorful and cuddly cover art, the first 37 seconds of the awesome opening track Aliens make you think it’s music for kids, but after that it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t meant for their ears. This is colorful indie pop / garage rock in which the punk roots of the band members still seep through, although doo-wop influences are just as easily embedded. Listening evokes many different associations – fun, quirky, humorous, explicit, sensitive, painful, danceable, sentimental, awkward, happy, noisy, theatrical, etc. – but these alternate from one moment to the next, just as the fine melodies and compelling vocals surprise time and again.

Big Man Says Slappydoo is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Lauren Records.

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

New album: Mala Vista || Ruthless & Toothless

Mala Vista is one of those punkrock’n’roll acts that take you back to the NYC of the late ’70s. Not that I lived the experience, but based on what I’ve read and heard about that era. Mala Vista sounds equally fun and perilous, like their live shows at 315 Bowery could end in the best night ever or as a threat to your personally safety. But it’s not the late ’70s anymore, so let’s go with FUN.

If there is one knock against Ruthless & Toothless, Mala Vista’s new LP, it’s that a significant portion consists of previously released material from 2019 complemented with unreleased recordings from 2021. That complaint goes out of the window once you press play, because most (if not all) Mala Vista songs are absolutely killer. I mean, just listen to songs like Summer Weekends, Ole Blue Eyes, and Baby So Wasted. The hooks of Mala Vista are assault weapons, where melody and aggression are in perfect synergy, and feeling victimized actually feels like a positive. Play Ruthless & Toothless loud. No, louder!

Ruthless & Toothless is out now through the band in the US and through No Front Teeth Records (UK/EU).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Qwam || Little Bliss

IDC stands for I Don’t Care. It’s the A-side of Qwam’s (Brooklyn, NY) latest single and it’s a major hit with a chorus that you’ll be singing along to before you know it. It’s a pop punk anthem that is easy to relate to after a two year pandemic. Qwam’s bass player Eddie Kuspiel explains: “I wrote this when I was pretty apathetic about everything and hadn’t been upset or genuinely excited about anything in a while. It annoyed me because I don’t like to play anything cool and it felt like the world was on fire on a large scale and a small scale but I was indifferent. So I tried to write about things that did make me mad, like environmental depletion and my knees hurting because I’m getting old.” That sense of indifference and dread juxtaposes nicely with the upbeat and energetic quality of the song. Not giving a fuck usually doesn’t sound this much fun.

The flipside Little Bliss is less direct, more alt/indiepop oriented, and equally great. This is a must get single with great artwork by Isabel Moore that works even better with the vinyl color variants – I am particularly eyeing the Grapefruit Splash variant. Little Bliss is out now through Reta Records!

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: Nectar || No Shadow

Nectar’s sophomore album No Shadow is a fine example of artwork drawing you in, music making you stay.

Let’s start with the art. Painted by Nectar’s own Kamila Glowacki over a period of four months, it’s a modern realism piece easy to mistake for a photo from a distance and I think it looks great. If you love displaying album art in your home, you can’t go wrong with purchasing this record. If you do, as a bonus you get ten indie punk and altpop tunes that were created equally meticulous. I particularly like the more upbeat/punchy stuff of Nectar, and songs like Routine, Scab, TMF, and Unusal You are strong nominees for your Spring/Summer playlists.

No Shadow is out now through Lauren Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lauren Records

New album: Spread Joy || II

31 minutes. That’s the cumulative time it takes to listen to Spread Joy’s self-titled debut (2021) and their follow-up II, which is out now through Feel It Records. 31 minutes may seem barely enough to play a full live show. But Spread Joy (Chicago) won’t need much more to convince you of their aptitude in playing tight and exciting no wave punk. Like on Spread Joy’s debut, the angular guitar work and the sweet bass riffs are again in perfect synergy, and the vocal chords of Briana Hernandez are a great fit to that sound- Hernandez effortlessly switches between sounding edgy, suspenseful, dangerous, pissed off and sweet on II.

II is a varied, and at time almost hypnotic record. It starts at a blistering pace with Ow and Spa Schedule, before moving into pop territory with the major hit Repetition. Ich Sehe Dich is also quite poppy, almost like a throwback to the B-52’s. My current favorite is Chatter, where Hernandez talksings and shrieks over a sweet repetitive guitar riff. Cool stuff, really!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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