New album: Los Pepes || The Happiness Program

In the first week of 2021 Los Pepes released a video and announced their new record The Happiness Program to be released sometime later in the year. That sometime became a long time, but the record is finally here. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely!

Los Pepes are an international powerpop quartet featuring Ben Perrier (Vocals/Guitar), Seisuke Nakagawa: (Bass/Vocals), Guilherme Rujao (Guitar/Vocals) and Kris “Killer” Kowalski (Drums). Los Pepes is a productive band consistent in terms of output, musical direction and style. The band specializes in the powerpop and garagepunk hybrid that Exploding Hearts perfected on Guitar Romantic. The Happiness Program is Los Pepes’ fifth full length in the past 8 years. The band also released a greatest hits compilation and almost two handfuls of singles in that period.

We wrote about Los Pepes’ latest single earlier this year. Two songs of that killer single (I Want You Back and Never Get It Right) are included on The Happiness Program, and they are not even my favorite tracks on the record. What stands out on The Happiness Program is the addition of instrument such as keys, organ, sax, lapsteel, and harmonica. This works extremely well and takes the record to another level. Listen to Sick And Bored and Anecdotes for example, two songs that are reminiscent of Gentleman Jesse at his peak.

I know it’s early, but I’m calling it: The Happiness Program is the best and most fun Los Pepes album yet.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Stalled Minds || Shades

Shoutout to the excellent German blog 12XU for directing me to the debut LP of Paris based trio Stalled Minds. Released six years after their first and only EP, Shades surely will go down well with fans of Marked Men and Radioactivity. Expect fast and melodic garagepunk with strong pop leanings. And although Stalled Minds may not have the prime quality songwriting of Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke yet, there is much to like about Shades.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of November 2021

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.

Overdose || Cover: Supersuckers || Original: AC/DC
Friday December 3rd, Magnetic Eye Records will release the 2LP Best of AC/CD [Redux], featuring 13 cover versions of classics by the Australian hard rock band. The choice cut of the experienced musicians of Supersuckers was already shared last month – their cover of Let There Be Rock‘s Overdose is a heavy, excellent tribute, where you can hear for 6 minutes that they are true AC/DC fans.

New album: It Thing || Syrup

The 9-song debut (mini)LP by Hobart (Australia) four-piece It Thing is titled Syrup. Don’t let the title set you on the wrong foot, the music of It Thing poses no danger to your dental health. Rather, the band plays an explosive mixture of styles that ranges from modern indie punk, to ’80s punk and new wave and ’90s alternative rock.

It Thing distantly reminds me of A Giant Dog. Sonically, but also because It Thing singer Charlotte Gigi, like A Giant Dog’s Sabrina Ellis, is a force of nature that takes this kind of music to another level. And like A giant Dog, It Thing is full of cool attitude and swagger.

Syrup is out now on Marthouse Records. It is a powerful and highly energetic record, with memorable hooks. With this band and Rabbit, rock-‘n’-roll clearly is alive and kicking in Hobart.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Gun Control || Gun Control

Again, I quickly jumped to conclusions. I fully expected Gun Control to be an American band. Of course, because gun control is such a major theme in the US, but also because the band’s sound seems heavily influenced by American alternative music. Gun Control are from Sweden though, Stockholm to be precise

Gun Control describe their sound as sad dad rock, but rather than classic rock or slowcore or emo, the band relies strongly on distorted guitars. Combined with an emotional edge, Gun Control kinda sounds like the more melodic and mellow side of Boy Sets Fire. Silver Screens is the standout track for me.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Chisel || Retaliation

For a band that started in 2020, The Chisel has been crazy prolific. Following a trilogy of quality singles, the band released their debut LP this week. It’s called Retaliation and it’s a certified fresh and thrilling record.

Unintentionally, I’ve always regarded The Chisel to be the little brother of Chubby And The Gang – Chubby frontman Charlie Manning Walker plays guitar in The Chisel. But listening to Retaliation, that doesn’t make sense anymore: The Chisel step out of the shadow of Chubby And The Gang. Still, the two bands aren’t all that different sonically. But whereas the hardcore of Chubby And The Gang is heavily informed by pubrock and rock’n’roll, the hardcore of The Chisel has a much stronger streetpunk/oi vibe. Mixing aggression with melody, and working class urgency with gang mentality, Retaliation offers cathartic release in times of frustration.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Coruscants || Trilogy Three

Kylo Ben, Dan Solo & Dan Dodonna return for the third installment of their ramonescore mashup of Star Wars and Riverdales. Under the name Coruscants, they previously reimagined Riverdales’ self-titled debut with the prequel trilogy, and tackled the original trilogy with Storm The Streets. To complete the set, they’ve just released their version of Phase 3 that is filled with references to the sequel triology.

Of course, if you are a Star Wars aficionado of a Riverdales fan, Coruscants may well be the next best thing to the original. But you need not be a fan of either to enjoy this record. In 1-2-3-4 you’ll be singing along to “Hey! Poe’s gotta get away ay ay.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Pulsebeats || Lookin’ Out

Whenever Josh “Lord” Rutledge calls a record easily one of the best punk rock albums of 2021, you bet it immediately goes to the top of my listening pile. I am referring to The Pulsebeats’ Lookin’ Out. It’s the third full length by the band from Santander (Spain), and one that quickly transformed the band from a blip on my radar to the center of my attention.

There is something contagious when a band sound as energized and inspired like The Pulsebeats. None of the songs on Lookin’ Out sound alike, but the common denominator is the fun The Pulsebeats clearly are having performing these songs. The songs go from fast punkrock to powerpop to garagerock’n’roll, with influences ranging from the early days of rock’n’roll, to the early days of NYC punk to the powerpop of the late ’70s and the punkrock of the mid ’90s. But for me, The Pulsebeats are at their best and most likeable form in their poppy songs, like Burn The Guy, Life As A Movie, and the Undertoneseaque title track.

I am resisting the urge to namedrop bands that come to mind while listening to this one. But If you like the kind of music we write about on our blog, you are sure to like at least a couple of the bangers on Lookin’ Out. Or, if you are like me, you will like most of them and will quickly have this on heavy rotation. Lookin’ Out will be out on Rum Bar (US) early next year, but the CD is already out on Spanish label Folc Records, who also released that killer Sanitizers EP recently.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New album: Deactivations || Deactivations

One thing I love about working on this blog is the kindness of most artists we cover, and how easily approachable and down to earth they are. Passionate but not pretentious, they care about the music regardless of making any serious money or playing for big crowds.

Deactivations is a fine example of this. Deactivations are a new band consisting of 3/4 of the members of The Passengers. I stumbled on their self-titled debut record on Bandcamp and took an immediate liking to the record which balances between solid indie rock and pop punk. In some songs Deactivations remind me of those US bands in the ’80s and early ’90s that blended pop and punk so well like Big Drill Car, Doughboys and early Down By Law. In other songs (e.g., Busy Signal, My Direction), they also remind me of the solo work of Dr. Frank of Mr. T. Experience. But I wouldn’t necessarily call Deactivations a pop punk band. There is plenty of power pop, and college rock as well.

Deactivations guitarist and singer Mario Viele – the three members share vocal duties, provides some background on the record.  “We just tried to make a good record to share with our friends and community. Our previous band (The Passengers) came about after we’d all been younger and had touring punk bands (Sex Robots , The Modern Machines, Liarbirds, etc.) and our two albums with that band were about chilling out a little more, exploring songwriting and midtempos and stuff. After one of us moved away we decided to press on as a trio with a new name and throw together a record that leaned back a little more to our roots of up tempo punked out RnR to give the band a shot in the arm in our new formation. The record is pretty lean, not a lot of overdubs, we tried to just write ten good songs and put them down hot without too much thinking about it. I think the result’s pretty cool. Stuck in a Loop fulfills my lifelong dream of writing a song using just one chord.”

Running score for Deactivations? Pretentions: zero. Quality songs: ten. The record is officially out on the next Bandcamp Friday (Dec. 3rd), but you can already listen to it in full. Stream now, buy on Bandcamp Friday.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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