Album: Eaten by Snakes || Calming Pink

I am terrible in estimating a band’s popularity. Here is a band, a duo actually, that have a sound for which clearly there is a wide audience. Think Superchunk, think Bob Mould, think Japandroids. They release a well produced filler-free record that sounds mature and self-assured. A record that is instantly satisfying, but also becomes better with every play. A record that has great artwork as well. I am talking about Calming Pink by Eaten by Snakes. That band has 175 monthly listeners on Spotify. Shakin’ my head in disbelief.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Shield Recordings

New album: The War and Treaty || Hearts Town

Sometimes you discover new music that turns out not to be that new anymore (actually, that happens quite often, simply because too much new music appears to keep up with it all). This one was released two months ago via Rounder Records, but is too good not to mention. The Nashville husband and wife duo Mike Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter mix elements of soul, gospel, country and rock and roll in their songs, but it’s mostly their powerful voices that keep your attention. Watch and listen to Beautiful below, a track from new album Hearts Town, featuring Jason Isbell. Impressive. I would love to see the couple live with their band.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || thewarandtreaty.com

New Album: The Chives || The Chives

The Chives are pretty loud for a lo-fi band. They act pretty tough as well. They call your mom a bitch, they buy guns, do drugs and steal your candy. You’d almost miss the sweet and catchy bubblegum pop that’s underneath their loud and fuzzy guitars.


Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Super Wimpy Punch

New album: The Dirty Knobs || Wreckless Abandon

The Dirty Knobs has long been a side project of guitarist / songwriter / producer Mike Campbell (The Heartbreakers), fellow guitar player Jason Sinay, bassist Lance Morrison and drummer Matt Laug. Every now and then they played together, and finally there is an album now: Wreckless Abandon. The title track below gives an idea of what to expect: American, old-fashioned, familiar-sounding, quality rock and roll. How great that such music is still being made. 

‘Throwing caution to the wind // Going over the edge again // With wreckless abandon’

Add to wantlist: Discogs 

New album: Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar || The Reckless One

Last week, MOJO, Uncut and Rough Trade, among others, already published their music year end lists. With six weeks or so to go in 2020, there is of course the risk that they will miss some new albums. Like this one! The combination of the singing skills of songwriter / arranger / band leader / ‘vocal powerhouse’ Samantha Martin and the soul / funk sound of Delta Sugar make The Reckless One an album that would not have been out of place in the aforementioned lists. My favorite song is original Don’t Have To Be – see below – but you should at least also check out Bob Dylan cover Meet Me in the Morning.

Add to wantlist: Gypsy Soul Records || samanthamartinmusic.com

Reissue: The Last || Look Again

The Last released their debut L.A. Explosion in 1979 on the legendary Bomp! Records. I only discovered the record when my all-time favorite bands, Descendents, cited them as their primary inspiration. I fell in love instantly. L.A. Explosion sounds like a beachy mashup of Nerves and the Clash. Despite their pop sensibilities, great harmonies, and sheer variety in songwriting, the Last never made it out of their L.A. scene. To add insult to injury, their DIY attempt to record their sophomore album ended in a warped sound, and zero label offers. Fast forward 40 years (!), modern technology fixed the original tapes and the record is out at last. It’s a bittersweet release that I can’t wait to have in my collection. Fingers crossed that they will do a deluxe remastered reissue of L.A. Explosion next.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Heavy Lag || Demo

New band alert! Brooklyn based Heavy Lag say they play dirt pop, which is an apt description of their fuzzy and punky take on powerpop. The A-side has the second best use of an intro sample of the year (#1 here). It is short, and so catchy I played it thrice before moving to the B-side. That offers another killer track, reminiscent of Marked Men. Curious to hear what these guys will cook up next.


Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp

New Album: SBDC || The Feeling of Winning

SBDC stands for Stupid Bitches & Dumb Cunts, which suggests these riot grrrls don’t take themselves to seriously. Fortunately, their new record on Kingfisher Bluez is no gimmick. It is a strong collection of very catchy pop punk songs. More punk than Holly & the Italians, and more rawk than fellow Canadians Pale Lips. SBDC takes a well-trodden path, but their execution, especially in the vocal department, puts them ahead of the pack.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New song: Romero || Troublemaker

Early this year, Romero released a two song single which is still one of my highlights of 2020. Today, they released their latest recording, a self-described “golden old soul that smoothes out the bumps of at-home frustrations and reassures you on the existential path ahead.” Slightly lower paced, but with the same swagger of their previous work, it is another showcase of the sheer vocal power of singer Alanna Oliver.

Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

Book: Seth Bovey || Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present

Looking back to the past to forge the future. That’s what Seth Bovey was aiming for with his history book about garage rock. The author is a professor of English at a university, but 40 years ago he also played in several garage bands. The scientist’s hand is clearer than the musician’s experience in the book; above all, it provides a thorough and detailed overview (no lack of references), roughly arranged chronologically and by location. Although many bands are mentioned in the six chapters, it is useful that the book ends with a list for recommended listening – many “garage punk unknowns”, but of course a classic like Psychotic Reaction by Count Five is not missing, see below – and recommended compilations and compilation series. Oh man, my wantlist has expanded a lot when I was reading this – you’ve been warned.

Want to hear more? I’ve collected songs mentioned in the book in this Spotify playlist.

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