New EP: Surf Cassette || Non Così Diversi

Italian garage pop trio Surf Cassette has released their new (digital) EP Non Così Diversi, featuring five tracks that fans of Bee Bee Sea, Together Pangea, and The Rokes will appreciate. Dario (vocals, guitar), Filippo (bass), and Luca (drums) deliver lyrics in their mother’s language – the album title translates to ‘not that different’ – over melodic guitar riffs. A perfect sound to get you in the mood as you head to the beach for waves, bikinis and cocktails.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Western States || Heavy Pours

Earlier this week, I wrote about Action Park’s very fun throwback to mid-to-late ’90s punkrock. Here is another new band that sounds certified fresh while maintaining that immediate familiarity of the heyday of modern punk rock. Western States are a bearded four-piece from Missoula (Montana) with the classic punk set up of two guitars, one bass, one set of drums. What else to expect from their album Heavy Pours? Song about the essential parts of life, like Ben Affleck’s tenure as Batman. More importantly, expect 2- to 3-minute punkrock hits based on the blueprint provided by Mikey Erg/The Ergs, Dillinger Four and The Dopamines. Plenty of variety, energy, harmonies and the songwriting to keep listeners interested.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Bacon Fat Louis || Bfl#3

Fans of R.L. Burnside, Son House, and Seasick Steve shouldn’t miss Bfl#3, the third full-length album from Bacon Fat Louis. Home brew party blues straight from the juke joints of Ommen (a Dutch town where tourists go to walk in nature) – that sounds like a double contradiction (partying with the blues? heavy delta blues in de polder? ), yet that’s what you’ll hear. With self-made instruments and a dancing attitude, Bo Hudson (cigar box guitars, vocals), Harp Attack Pete aka Cowbell Pete (blues harp, vocals, and, er… cowbell), and Big Kick Rik (drums, percussion) try to stretch the borders of the blues, with success. The eight original songs here are intense, dirty, and raucous, rumbling like a steam train. No doubt they will sound even better live at a beer-rich barn festivity, but these studio versions are also a lot of fun.

Bfl#3 is out now on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bacon Fat Louis

New album: Boogie Beasts || Love Me Some

Belgian four-piece Boogie Beasts have released their third full-length album, Love Me Some. Jan Jaspers (guitar, vocals), Patrick Louis (guitar, vocals), Fabian Bennardo (harmonica), and Gert Servaes (drums) deliver 12 raw blues rock hits, including preceding singles Bring it On, Favorite Scene, and Howl / Mine All Mine. Danceable songs, which have their origin in old, electric Delta blues, but with a modern, catchy sound. Masculine lyrics, over an infectious drive, with addictive harmonica riffs in the lead. Boogie Beasts are a blues monster with a high cuddle factor. I love them some. What about you?

Love Me Some is out now on CD and vinyl LP through NAKED. For fans of The Black Keys, Black Box Revelation, T-99. Add to wantlist:  Plato Mania

New EP: Harlis Sweetwater || Diesel Dirt & Spit

To avoid a speeding fine, it’s recommended that you do not listen to Harlis Sweetwater‘s energetic, gritty blues rock while on the road. His new four-track (digital) EP Diesel Dirt & Spit evokes so much enthusiasm that you’ll no longer be able to control yourself: the sound volume, the drinking pace and the smile on your face will all increase. The singer/guitarist from Orange County, California, has a voice that blows you away, and plays guitar solos that keep you going (he throws great parties with his band, which I would love to experience live). Listen below and you’ll hear what I mean, this is boogie woogie all night looooooooooooong. The EP is subtitled Volume 1, so hopefully more will follow soon.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Dragon Rapide || Mumbo Jumbo

Pop music is not singular. In fact, and I hope our site illustrates this, good pop music is multifaceted. But usually, bands limit themselves to a specific corner of the pop multiverse, and in doing so, they are making it easier for us listeners. After all, it’s kinda nice when you can conclude within a couple of songs that a band is right up your wheelhouse. Here’s a band that threw me off base at first because they are unafraid to wander into different musical directions, and do so unapologetically and with attitude. I am talking about Dragon Rapide, a French band whose latest record Mumbo Jumbo is an intriguing trip trough pop’n’rock’n’roll history.

Seemingly effortless, Dragon Rapide switch from ’80s new wave and postpunk (The Rock Bottom – Week 42, Second Line Parade), to ’90s Britpop (Lost In Space (originally by Aimee Man), This Someone), to bouncy powerpop (A-OK), to indiepop (Ghost, and Your Scar – probably my favorite two tracks on the record). The label (Le Pop Club) namedrops bands like Nada Surf, Teenage Fanclub, Travis, Gang Of Four and R.E.M. as influences, which should give you a further idea of the wide range of sounds on Mumbo Jumbo.

Mumbo Jumbo is the kind of record that is all over the place, and worth diving into.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Le Pop Club Records

New album: Inhalators || Inhalators

Have we covered a band from Poland before? I don’t think we did. Anyhow, I’d like to draw your attention to the excellent debut record from Inhalators. Inhalators are a new collective of punk veterans from bands like Bilety Do Kontroli, Nowy Świat, PDS, Damrockers, Firenze, Royal Kids Of The 1977. They play a classic and authentic brand of ’77 punkrock that is upbeat, rockin’ and melodic. I should add multilingual to that list: in addition to Polish, the vocalist sings in English, German, Spanish and French. Most importantly, this band sounds good and know how to write killer punk tunes, as illustrated with songs like Atak Serca, Dziewczyny W Ramoneskach, and Another Kind Of Dziad Punk.

Inhalators is out now on the Polish label Enigmatic Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Enigmatic Records

New album: Parallel Bars || Malaise

Behind every mouse click on unknown music lies the chance of an awesome discovery. It’s a naive premise, I know, but every now and then a new sound from my speakers really makes my heart jump. That was the case when I came across Malaise, the new (digital) album from Parallel Bars. This is the moniker under which Neil Evans – with the help of friends – has been writing and releasing music for the past 10 years, after his old band Lunatic Dreyfus sort of stopped playing (both the new and old band name refer to The Pink Panther Strikes Again, yet the most recent cover photo shows another pink animal). The track I Need This offers an autobiographical look at the past: “I can’t sing, barely play guitar // That doesn’t stop me from pretending in the car // I had a band, but then we kinda stopped // Tried solo but that really flopped.”

Reason enough to ask Neil what he wants to achieve with his songs: “I have zero expectations for anything with Parallel Bars. It’s about having fun, creative expression, and the process of songwriting through collaboration.” As far as I’m concerned, that mission has been accomplished. Malaise has been a pretty personal project over the past year or so: “Writing original music was partly a distraction from the world, partly a coping mechanism.” The tunes kind of remind me of Urban Dance Squad, Nada Surf, OPM, and other bands that combined rock and rap-like vocals 20-30 years ago, but with a sauce of emo, punk, and ska.. Neil himself admits to being influenced by basically anything with great melody, lyrics, energy, and riffs, like New Found Glory, Zebrahead, 311, The Appreciation Post, Run The Jewels, The Hold Steady, Twenty-One Pilots, and Beach Boys. Anyway, stream the full album below, and try not to think of a pink elephant.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Update: In January 2022, Parallel Bars released More Malaise, an enhanced version of the album mentioned above.

New album: Sonny Vincent || Snake Pit Therapy

It’s better to burn out than fade away is one of those truisms surrounded with the rock’n’roll and punk subculture. To be honest, I always preferred the positive spin 7 Seconds took on that exclamation in their classic anthem Young ’til I Die. Either way, here’s an artist who defies the expectations that come with age. Somehow, Sonny Vincent, who was a punk before you were a punk, and was writing garagepunk songs as early as 1970 – in the mid to late ’70s he played with The Testors and frequently performed at the legendary CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City, is still putting out music in 2021. And that music is neither redundant nor expandable nor tragic. On his latest release, the 15-song Snake Pit Therapy, Sonny Vincent churns out rockin protopunk tunes as if his career has only just begun. I have no idea how he does it after recording somewhat like 30 records, but Snake Pit Therapy sounds vibrant. Vincent’s songwriting skills are on full display on the record, and songs like Messed Up In Blue (listen below) and Never Tired are a masterclass in how to write timeless rock’n’roll. Rock on, Sonny. Rock on!

Snake Pit Therapy is out now on Finnish Svart Records. The record accompanies Vincent’s recent book bearing the same title.

Add to wantlist: Svart Records

New album: The Cocktail Slippers || Shout It Out Loud!

Don’t you love it when music sounds the way you hope based on the artwork? Take a look at the cover photo of Shout It Out Loud!, the 5th full-length album (and first in 7 years) by The Cocktail Slippers. You see the Norwegian five-piece all-woman rock outfit in golden panther print, posing enthusiastically, with fireworks in the background. This must be a loud glam rock party, right? right! In the 10 songs on the new LP, produced by the band, and co-produced by hero Stevie Van Zandt and Mike Hartung, you can tell from the fun they make their instruments react to each other that they are a tight-knit gang of friends. All the rock clichés are there – the fist in the air sing-along anthem (She Devil (Shout It Out Loud!)), the sensitive ballad (I’ll Be Here For You – written for the band’s daughters), the cover of a classic (Joe South’s Hush), etc. – and that’s the way it is supposed to be. Moreover, Hope (lead vocals), Vega (guitar), Rocket Queen (guitar), Sugar (bass), and Miss A-OK (drums) master this genre very well. The harmony vocals, the wink to Guns ‘n’ Roses (Night Train) and the satirical spoken word cameo from The Woggles’ Mighty Manfred will only enhance your smile. RIYL The Go-Go’s, KISS, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

Stream the full album below.

Shout It Out Loud! is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Wicked Cool Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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