New album: Tamara Luonto || Honeymoon

The Finnish four piece Tamara Luonto started around five years ago, steadily building a live reputation in their homeland. This week, they dropped their 8-song debut LP Honeymoon (on Humu Records / Hillotehdas / Lempi & Sylvi Discs), and it’s an extremely fun listen, even though I truly have no idea what these songs are about. Tamara Luonto operate on a continuum between punk and indiepop, constantly incorporating influences from powerpop, garage and rock’n’roll. Their songs are charming and full of pop. If you liked that Teini-Pää LP we wrote about a while back, make sure to check this one out as well, or vice versa.

Add to wantlist: Humu Records

New album: New Buck Biloxi || Cellular Automaton

I had no problem with the old Buck Biloxi, but I have to admit that the New Buck Biloxi (aka Robert Craig) sound particularly sharp on their new record Cellular Automaton – out now through Total Punk Records. Cellular Automaton is 16 minutes of primitive punk, but it’s less thrashy and more accessible than the old Buck Biloxi. It’s also more of a team effort compared to the solo at home recordings of the old Buck Biloxi. The self-critical Craig has this to say in Paperface Zine: “This might be my first record that I don’t dislike at all, but I had to re-do it a bunch of times to get it that way.”

I agree that the more diligent approach worked out well. Plenty of people will not dislike this record enough to put it on their wantlists.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Sharp Class || Tales Of A Teenage Mind

A while back we covered a two song single by Midland (UK) mod revivalists Sharp Class. The band’s debut album Tales Of A Teenage Mind is out now, and shows a band ready to breathe new life in the mod movement. This record should come with a warning, because in no time you’ll be getting a haircut and start browsing for Lambretta scooters, new boots, and slim fit suits.

The three lads in Sharp Class cite power pop, soul, rock’n’roll and punk as influences, and it’s impossible not to refer to The Jam while listening to Sharp Class – although The Clash and more recent bands like The Tranzmitors and Fashionism come to mind as well. The band’s sound may sound all too familiar for some, but I see that as one of Sharp Class’ strengths. The ten songs on Tales Of A Teenage Mind are so well executed you have to be a real cynic to dismiss the jolt of excitement Sharp Class brings to the table.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Black Halos || How the Darkness Doubled

Let’s make a quick detour to the west coast of Canada for the glam rockin’ foot stompin’ rock’n’rollin’ return of The Black Halos. Formed in 1994, The Black Halos had a succesful period in the late ’90s/early ’00s, culminating in the critically acclaimed and publicly loved Violent Years LP (2001). Unfortunately, the band faced some serious headwind in the decade after. Members changed course, equipment got stolen. Long story short: After a 12 year hiatus, the stars somehow aligned to pave the way for the band to record some new music. More than some I should say, How The Darkness Doubled features twelve new tunes and zero trace of a band that is weary and tired. Instead, The Black Halos sound energized and hardened on this anthemic and sleazy punkrock’n’roll funfest.

Out now through Stomp Records!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stomp

New album: Smirk || Material

Nic Vicario (Autistic Youth, Crisis Man, Public Eye) is so prolific, I had to look up how many records he released under the Smirk moniker. Material which is out now through Feel It Records is LP #3 in just two years. However, it is dubbed the first real Smirk LP, because the previous two are actually three EPs.

If you’ve heard Smirk before, you know what to expect: Groovy and hypnotic lo-fi tunes driven by awesome guitar work and with a punk attitude. Most, if not all of Vicario’s songs are worth your ears, but what I love most about this project are the absolute gems Vicario strategically places on his Smirk LPs. Revenge, which features Iphigenia Karantzas (Foie Gras) on vocals is one such track. The 1-2-3 punch of Living In Hell, Souvenir and Hopeless, are additional examples. Those four songs are in heavy rotation right now and alone make the purchase of Material worthwhile.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Hoop Jail || Health Association

Hoop Jail is a musical/art project by Alan Connor from Long Beach (CA). Health Association apparently is the third Hoop Jail record of 2022, but my first taste of the band. I like what I’m hearing, even though it’s hard to describe. Hoop Jail is the kind of act that tickles the hearing (and reward!) centre of the brain but mutes the language centre. Here’s my try though. Health Association is a wild an unhinged trip around many musical styles but ultimately settling on a mix of protopunk, garage, rock’n’roll, and psych. It’s quirky, experimental and pretty exciting. If you like Tha Retail Simps, Personal and The Pizzas, Smirk and King Tuff, I’m pretty sure you’ll find some gems on Health Association. Read more on Hoop Jail in this exclusive interview at Clear Vision Collective.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Nix & the Nothings || Here Goes Nothing

Nix & the Nothings have not come Back From The Grave, although that wouldn’t be unlikely, based on their sound. It’s a relatively new garage rock band from Norway, featuring Nicolai Hervik Olsen, Andri Szarvas, Julia Flo Galaasen, Daniel Rognes and Torgrim Kvestad Nåmdal. They play raucous and rough rock ‘n’ roll, topped with a greasy sauce of punk and psych, dirty and dangerous. On their full-length debut album Here Goes Nothing, you’ll hear “a homage to garage rock from the 60s and beyond, filled with fuzz, emotions and attitude.” The ten songs here, with a ferocious organ and courageous vocals, are anything but nothing. The record radiates an overwhelming live energy, but in closing anthem Here Goes the musicians also appear to have a subtle side that is at least as convincing.

Here Goes Nothing is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Apollon Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

“New” album: Menagramo || Menagramo

Every serious music fan knows this John Lennon lyric: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Italian folk punk duo Menagramo experienced it: in March 2020, a few days before lockdown, they released their album Ribcage (via Professional Punkers), with a big tour in the agendas and a lot of expectations about the future. Bad timing, force majeure. However, Walter Sala (guitar, vocals) and Enrico Manganaro (washboard, vocals) didn’t give up: in the meantime they put out some nice covers (such as Beastie Boys’ Egg Raid on Mojo and Rancid’s St. Mary), and they wrote some new songs. When Wild Honey Records showed interest in the new work for an EP, they eventually came up with an even better idea, now available as a self-titled LP: a repress of Ribcage, expanded with four fresh tracks and other, more colorful design. As Jeffrey Fry said: “That’s what life is about. We don’t get redos, but we do get second chances.” And so now there is pink vinyl with 18 acoustic punk tunes – raw, heartfelt and driven – showing that Wally and Enri are unstoppable anyway.

Menagramo’s self-titled full-length is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Wild Honey Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Windowsill || Focus

There is an abandoned Ford Focus in the jungle on the front cover of the new (fourth already!) Windowsill LP. The image leaves a lot of room for imagination. Did something terrible happen to the owner and his family? Has its owner perhaps chosen a solitary life escaping the many demands of our contemporary society? Is someone hiding in the woods? Did someone steal the car and left it there on purpose? The track list of Focus may provide some hints with song titles like Born To Hike and Ride Into The Night.  And perhaps you have some of your own stories poppin’ up while looking at the great piece of art by Gees Voorhees?

While the art may evoke different associations for different people, the exact opposite applies to the songs on Focus. You get exactly what you’d expect: classic pop punk in the vein of Ben Weasel. But boy, I didn’t anticipate the sheer quality of Focus. What a hit fest this is. Marien Jonker may have nothing left to prove regarding his ability in writing catchy pop punk tunes – listen to the previous Windowsill records and his work with Giant Eagles and The Shivvies for example, but I believe Focus features some of his best work yet. From start to finish, The Windowsill deliver on Focus. Exhibit A: Can’t Stop Love. I can’t recall having heard a better opening track of a pop punk record this year. Exhibit B: Poor Buffalo. Pop punk perfection, reminscent of the most pop oriented Screeching Weasel material. Exhibit C: Love You Better. Truly an anthem for a new tomorrow.

Focus has been four years in the making due to other musical projects, a global pandemic, bad luck in the studio etcetera. That must have been frustrating for Marien and his buddies Ivo, Jerry and Sander. But none of that shows in the final product. Focus is out now on CD through Shield Recordings. LP to follow sometime next year – likely May 2023. I know I’m getting one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Shield Recordings

New album: Dumb || Pray 4 Tomorrow

In a musical landscape overloaded with new music each week, an 18 song 40 minute record can be a lot to digest. However, in case of Dumb’s new record (Pray 4 Tomorrow) it’s a thrilling adventure that provides as many detours as rewards. At its core, Dumb (Vancouver) play the kind of postpunk that brought fame to Parquet Courts. The average Dumb song is shorter though. There are more fast songs, and Dumb effortlessly switch groovy post punk, classic indie rock, slacker rock, stop-start punk, indie punk and even ska. Variety is a strength on Pray 4 Tomorrow and the cool guitar riffs and groovy bass lines are superfluous

Dumb’s previous records (Seeing Green (2018) and Club Nites (2019) both found their way into my collection, and Pray 4 Tomorrow will follow asap. It is out now through Mint Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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