New single: The Questions || 恋の予感

What do you do when you discover a killer single from Japan but your Japanese is limited to ‘Arigato’? Google to the rescue!

“恋の予感 stands for Koi no yokan – Japanese word meaning “premonition of love.” This is different than love at first sight. It is knowing, on first meeting, that the two of you are going to eventually fall in love.”

That’s a wonderful title, though I have to respond with: この三曲のシングルの場合、それは一目ぼれです. Fingers crossed that this does in fact translate to ‘In case of this three song single, it is love at first sight’. The Questions are three immaculately dressed females from Okinawa that play garage punkrock with a sixties vibe. Can’t wait to hear more from them!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Down By Law || Lonely Town

Let’s start my review of the new Down By Law record with some backstory. A disclaimer if you will, hope you don’t mind.

Back in the nineties, label compilation cd’s were THE way to discover new bands. None was as influential to my midteen musical upbringing as the first Punk-O-Rama compilation by Epitaph. For someone who used to draw logos of AC/DC and Twisted Sister in his notebook, the poison green album cover full of band logos felt enticing, even though with the exception of the Offspring,  I knew none of the bands featured. Rancid? Bad Religion? NOFX? Pennywise? Never heard of them. I was sold from the moment the opening chords of Bad Religion’s Do What You Want blasted to my speaker. One track on the comp particularly stood out: Bright Green Globe by Down By Law. The song wasn’t the hardest nor the fastest, but oozed emotion, intensity and melody. In the next years, Down By Law would become a pivotal band to me, both lyrically and musically. I’ve played few records as often as punkrockacademyfightsong and All Scratched Up! Their predecessor, the 1992 record Blue is another favorite, but the remaining records contain splenty of great songs – here’s a playlist with my favorite DBL songs. Down By Law also were my entrance point to 80’s punk and hardcore; once I checked out DBL frontman Dave Smalley’s previous bands (ALL! Dag Nasty and DYS), all bets were off.

New album: Matt Ellis || Full Moon Fever

Matt Ellis is a punk rocker from Ontario Canada. He used to have long hair and a mustache. He played in garage rock band Flesh Rag, ramonescore giants the Vapids, and fronted a great throwback act to eighties punk called Plasticheads. Nowadays, Matt has short hair, and wears the classic pop punk uniform: black leather jacket, jeans, Chuck Taylors. He spent the COVID isolation months busting out short and fast three-chord eighty second songs in the vein of the Ramones, supported only by a cast of guest drummers. These songs make up his excellent solo debut Full Moon Fever. With songs like Monsters Under My Bed, My Neighbourhood Is A Dump, Life On Hold, and Walk Alone, it is a classic pop punk soundtrack to feeling isolated in a pandemic world. Vinyl available at Matt’s Bandcamp page and Surfin’Ki Records (Europe).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Surfin Ki’ Records

New album: Alternative Radio || To Hell In A Handbasket

The band members themselves say that Alternative Radio looks back at the past to look to the future and returns to the primitive punk rock and roll of the 70’s and early 80’s. The likeable Milwaukee duo take off where the local scene left off at the time, taking cue from bands like Oil Tasters, Couch Flambeau, and The Haskels. A revival that I can appreciate, especially because they do it quite well: powerful short songs with effective guitar and drum playing – I particularly enjoy the added piano – and sung raw as it should be. Just listen to Alternative Radio’s debut album To Hell in a Handbasket for yourself.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Appaloosa / BBQT || Split

Smart move by No Front Teeth Records to release a split 7″ with Appaloosa and BBQT. The bands are sonically similar (glammy punkrocknroll), and share a similar attitude. If you like Appaloosa it’s safe to say you’ll like BBQT and vice vera. Appaloosa are a new band to watch, can’t believe I missed their 2020 EP. If you haven’t heard BBQT before, I recommend their full length Let’s Go as an  entrance point. Vinyl release coming soon!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Los Summers || Cometieron Un Error

Los Summers are from Spain and Cometieron Un Error (Made a Mistake) is their third record. You don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate Los Summers. This is summertime pop punk as it is meant to sound. Twelve songs, two minutes each. Catchy choruses, plenty of pace, a couple of old school ramonescore tunes, some slower more bubblegum oriented ones. Okay, one song is called Un Momento Complicado, but more likely than not, Los Summers will makes you forget about complicated times. To end with a question: will we see more colorful artwork this year? Ahora en vinilo rojo translúcido en Clifford Records!

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

New single: Kewpid || Tunnel Of Love b/w Star Crossed

If pop punk’s your thing, I don’t have to introduce you to Geoff Palmer. Here’s a guy who played in the Queers, The Guts, the Nobodys, The Connection, and several bands with his buddy Kurt Baker. His 2019 solo record Pulling Out All The Stops is a modern classic. Recently, Geoff unleashed yet another project onto our planet, together with members of Boston band Lawman: Kewpid. Tunnel of Love is Kewpid’s first release, a two song cassingle. It’s a quick sample, but based on these two songs I hope more music is in the works. Kewpid plays terrific mid tempo pop punk, with vocals that complement the band’s sound perfectly. BTW: make sure to follow Geoff’s Spotify playlist with the best new bubblegum, powerpop and punk of 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Memorable But Honorable Tapes

New album: Death By Unga Bunga || Heavy Male Insecurity

A few years ago I saw Death By Unga Bunga live, along with only a handful of other paying visitors plus some friends of the five band members. Despite the empty hall, the Norwegian garage rockers went all out – those present became lifelong fans on the spot. Good news, therefore, that the band has added 10 songs to their discography. The new album Heavy Male Insecurity rocks as hard as their previous work, but the lyrics show an unexpected side of the Bunga boys: underneath the tough and badass exterior – machismo, swagger and loud guitars – there is a group of five insecure boys. Primed because of that, I thought the lyrics of the third song were about ‘my body and me’, but that turns out to be My Buddy and Me. Either way, it may be clear that the 5-piece don’t want to grow up, yet they have an important message: there’s a place for every misfit in this stupid world even though it might not always seem that way. And for those who are interested in their bodies, there is a picture disc vinyl with “erotic” photos of the band members (only 100 copies available).

Out now through Jansen Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Calyx || Stay Gone

From what I’ve read, Calyx are a band from with quite the live reputation. I am not sure how well known they are outside Pittsburgh, let alone outside the US. That might change with the release of their debut full length Stay Gone. On the record, Calyx offer a vibrant and dynamic take on punkrock. Calyx draws you in from the terrific opener Americana Get a Break, releasing their grip only at the end of the album: a two minute dose of feedback to get you back to earth. A joint release by four (!) labels, it’s another testimony of the resilience of the punk community. BTW, that brown white swirl vinyl looks very pretty. You bet I am excited about this one. RIYL: Discount, RVIVR, The Lippies, Good Luck.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Salinas Records || Ethospine Records

New album: The Backstops || Losers

What are your thoughts about pianodriven rock music? Hate? Like? It depends? If you are a hater, you will probably dismiss The Backstops’ debut album Losers within 10 seconds. I mean, that intro sounds eerily similar to Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles right? But then again, that album cover design looks pretty sweet – we included it in our gallery of great artwork. Okay, you think, let’s give this band a try. I mean, there was that period in your life where you were a fan of Ben Folds, and now that you mention it, this sounds more like him than her. Wait, what happens? This first song becomes pretty fast and anthemic all of a sudden. And is that a guitar solo? Wait, they added a Clarence Clemonsesque sax part? This actually sounds pretty good. Okay, this next song has a strong chorus, and soft loud dynamics that work well. You are starting to get why they describe this as Piano Punk. But then, you come across a song that is a bit too dramatic for your taste, too theatrical. But still, you keep on listening, because now you are intrigued, and because this sounds different from most music that comes out today. You know what, you think…I have some friends who may like this.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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