Kicking off the year 2023 The Jackets have a released a monster of a single. The “Pie in the Sky”/ “Misery Of Man 7” is a testament as to why this group leads the pack when it comes to rock n’ roll. This record perfectly builds off the successes of The Jackets previous two records and comes out via their new label Wild Noise Records. Those paying attention are aware The Jackets are one the most dynamic bands around. Their blistering garage punk is second to none. It’s a mix of freakbeat with mod influenced garage punk tinged psychedelia. This approach is refreshing and not tamed by restrained mediocrity. Rather this is the music that seems to effortlessly breath of life rock n’ roll music.
Since this single’s arrival it has found a near permanent home on my turntable. It has been playing nearly nonstop with the volume level in the red—I’m sure much to the joy of my neighbors. The A side’s “Pie In The Sky” boasts certain and captivating brilliance. Theme wise “Pie In The Sky” invokes a nod toward the wandering nature of the Damned’s “Stranger of the Town.’ That said there is a clear distinction with The Jackets fuzz heavy psychedelia as apposed to the former’s goth infused punk.
Furthermore, the instrumental quality for “Pie In The Sky” shows of a certain maturity in style while not sacrificing The Jackets definitive edge. This tracks captures a certain playful and electrifying nature. Played loud enough and under the right influences it ought to make one move recklessly about. So, boost your receivers and properly experience “Pie In The Sky.”
“Misery Of Man” makes for a perfect follow up to “Pie In The Sky.” This song is wrapped in a fuzz driven blanket. Lyrically, this track warns of the different maddening stages of falling into love. To do this it celebrates a moody and haunting provocativeness. This beautifully coincides with a pounding backbeat propping up an enveloping psychedelic theme. Thus giving sound to the absorbing turbulence of this passion driven emotion.
If there was a record meant to show the importance of rock n’ roll, this single is it. The Jackets have long been delivering solid and exciting material. This record continues their legacy by ferociously blending fuzzed out freakbeat with the defiance of proto-punk sensibilities. It’s music that is vibrant, sincere and above all relevant. If this is a preamble to more material coming out soon, I am ready for it. This is the top shelf stuff and is needed. Now, waste no more time and pick this up!
Protex were among the first wave of punk bands to emerge in Belfast, Ireland. After witnessing The Clash perform they formed in 1978 and signed on with Terri Hooley’s legendary Good Vibrations label. They were among fellow punk acts like Rudi, The Outcasts and The Undertones. Protex played rock n’ roll tunes to a unique punk infused power pop style. Their songs were upbeat, catchy and celebrated a desire of normalcy for chasing youthful ideals of hopeless romanticism. For bands like Protex, punk music helped inform their world view and inspired a sense of community. This music was an important contrast against the backdrop of the Troubles plaguing Northern Ireland. It was a way out and a tool to cope with the political and civil turmoil of the time.
During their tenure with Good Vibrations, Protex put out the “Don’t Ring Me Up” three track 45— which was later rereleased by Rough Trade in 1978. In 1979, Protex signed on with Polydor and found a new home in London, England. Being in London, they focused primarily on touring, making music and releasing a further three singles. Despite this Protex split up in 1981 before they could release a full length record. Luckily, in 2010 Sing Sing records found and released the previously unreleased Strange Obsessions recordings. Thanks to a revived interest, original members Aidan Murtagh and David McMaster reformed Protex with the addition of new members Gordie Walker, John Rossi , and later Norman Boyd.
With Protex reformed, they began touring and recording. Although McMaster tenure with the renewed band was short lived, Protex continued on. They saw the release of Tightrope on Bachelor Records in 2017. Since then, Protex have remained on the move. They have played the Pump It Up Power Pop Weekender (2019 and 2021). In 2022 Protex released Wicked Ways, also on Bachelor Records. For fans old and new alike the new records sound akin to Protex’s previous material. They are steeped in power pop hooks with a distinct punk influenced method. This is particularly with the track Tightrope’s “Tightrope” and Wicked Ways‘ “It’s A Lie.”
In early February Protex did a brief tour in Germany with Slander Tongue. Protex were about to tour the States from March 10th through the 17th. Unfortunately, this jaunt across the States was canceled due to visa delays on March 1st. I caught up with Murtagh to chat about their new album Wicked Ways, growing up listening to Slade, and the 1970’s punk movement in Belfast…..
NixBeat: Protex just completed a string of dates in Berlin, Dresden and Hamburg. There you played with Slander Tongue. How was it to back playing in Germany?
Murtagh: It was amazing to finally get back and play . What was great about it was that some of the shows were sold out so it was reassuring to find people still wanted to hear us . It was our fourth time playing Berlin , third time Hamburg , and first time Dresden. Slander Tongue were so good to us , a great band and nice guys.
NixBeat: After seeing The Clash perform, Protex emerged as among the first wave of punk bands from Belfast in the late 1970s. What was it about that Clash concert inspired you to form Protex?
Murtagh: It was so long ago now! I suppose they were the first punk band to play Belfast during the troubles there, they were exciting, energetic. Their music was new and refreshing. After the show we spent a long time talking with them. Strummer was very encouraging with regarding to bands starting out. Good times. They lit the spark for us to form a punk band.
NixBeat: In an interview with Fear and Loathing Fanzine published in 2017, you mentioned being energized through listening to glam rock like Slade and pub rock groups such as Dr. Feelgood. Can you expand on how this music influenced your launch playing music and subsequently getting into punk?
Murtagh: I grew up listening to Slade and was a member of their fan club. I also listened to Bowie , T Rex and Lou Reed — but Slade were very much rock n’ roll and had such great melodies. Dr Feelgood were one of the first bands I saw live. They were a breath of fresh air at a time when music was getting a little stale. They were back to basics and moved on stage. In many ways they paved the way for punk music. Great attitude.
NixBeat: In an interview with hopecollectiveireland.com published on 10/19/2017 you mentioned when you initially moved to London in 1979 there was a difference between feeling like a music business atmosphere versus being in movement. Can you elaborate how you experienced punk as a movement in Belfast in the late 1970’s and do you see punk as one now?
Murtagh: I still believe that in those early years in Belfast the punk movement was different than other UK cities, mostly due to the troubles. It meant more —as well as rebelling against everything normal teenagers do—we were rebelling against what was happening in Belfast at that time , and against the those who tried to control everything. Also, punk was not necessarily about the fashion side of things. I think those years influenced many of my thoughts and outlook of the world which I still have today. It’s an attitude thing I suppose.
When we moved to London we had a record contract with a major label and we became more involved as part of the music business. In late 1979 punk in London was not very strong and music was changing with the likes of ska and rockabilly. We didn’t come across many punks.
NixBeat: On August 24, 2022 released Wicked Ways on Bachelor Records. Having listened to it a number of times it feels like a logical extension of Protex’s previous material. What was the process like in writing and recording “Wicked Ways.”
Murtagh: It was a very similar process to the Tightrope LP. Once I was happy with the songs I bought them to the band to rehearse. Then into the studio to record. This time we had the pandemic in the middle of it which delayed everything so it wasn’t as instantaneous as the previous album.
NixBeat: One of my favorite tracks on Wicked Ways is “It’s A Lie.” What’s the inspiration behind this track?
Murtagh: Really it’s a small comment about our local political people and paramilitaries rousing up with false promises to get votes and power and seldom delivering. We have a lot of career politicians here.
NixBeat: On Wicked Ways you added a rerecorded version of “All I Want To Do Is Rock And Roll.” This feels quite the relevant song about wanting to have fun after more than two years Pandemic related stress. What prompted including “All I Want To Do Is Rock And Roll” in Wicked Ways?
Murtagh: Well, I always liked the song but felt the original version went on a bit. So the song was cut down and re arranged and this is the result. I liked the guitar song we got on it. Yeah, it kinda can now be a statement about coming out of the lockdown scenario.
NixBeat: How does your approach to recording Wicked Ways differ from your previous record Tight Rope?
Murtagh: The process was more or less the same as I’ve mentioned in Q4.
NixBeat: The title track of Tightrope seems provides political commentary on the government of Northern Ireland. What are you drawing from for “Tightrope?”
Murtagh: The song was written at a time after the “Peace” broke out here. We then had a power sharing government with all political parties. However, there was always underlying tension. They argued too much, and really on the streets it felt like trouble could flare up very quickly at any time and we could potentially slip back into what went before. The local government (Stormont)’ I felt was walking on a “Tightrope” (a very simple comment). Since I wrote the song the local government has stopped —they fell of the rope! It’s a mess. They all need to jump on the rope again and get back to work. It’s disgusting that they are getting paid for not working.
NixBeat: I have to say one of my favorite tracks is “A Place In Your Heart.” The opening lyrics “Is it a crime to need someone for longer than just one night” is just brilliant. After years of searching I was lucky to find a copy of that single in a record shop in Camden Town. This was just after seeing and DJing for Protex, Biznaga and Randy Savages at the Heatwave Magazine release party on November 18th 2017. What inspired the writing behind “A Place In Your Heart?”
Murtagh: The song was written by former member David McMaster about his girlfriend at the time.
NixBeat: Having played the Pump It Up Power Pop Weekender in 2018 and 2021. What has your experience been like playing alongside newer bands like The Speedways, Baby Shakes and Los Pepes?
Murtagh: It’s always a joy to play with them. They have become friends and we have total respect for them.
NixBeat: What does the future hold for Protex?
Murtagh: We will continue to play in European countries, in August we return to the Rebellion Punk festival. We also are trying to make a second USA visit later in the year if our visa let us. There’s also some new songs to record.
I’m a little late publishing my list of my favorite albums from 2022. So, here is my yearly compilation of records I have written about. This isn’t meant as a competition and isn’t in any particular order. Instead it’s a celebration of work from very talented artists. 2022 brought excitement of the great music . Groups like The Sorels, The Mellons, Faz Waltz, Newtown Neurotics and The Speedways released solid mateial. Since checking their records out, they have been a constant companion on my turntables, DJ sets and for the willing and unsuspecting listeners alike. Below are my selections that stood out for 2022. All articles were published exclusively here at nixbeat.com.
Read the excerpts and then click the links to reviews below.
QWAMare a four piece from Brooklyn. They are Matt Keim, Felicia Lobo, Eddie Kuspiel and Rachel Zisette. Having already quite the discography, QWAM have released the Little Bliss single via Reta Records. It’s clear that QWAM are rooted in a sound melding indie-glam tendencies with pop punk sensibilities. “IDC” blends of infectious indie garage sound with power pop meets punk attitude. While the title track “Little Bliss” offers a sound blending on a 90’s grunge meets a contemporary pop punk style.
The A-side’s “IDC” is my favorite track on this single. It’s charming lyrics combine with engaging pop-centric punk. It shouldn’t be hard to observe that “IDC” spelt out stands for “I don’t care.” This track comes across as deliciously nihilistic that comments on feeling overpowered with life as we know it. The theme blasts into the state of accepting impending doom by suggesting drinking tea while watching the world burn. This highlighted with a catchy chorus. By playing this loud one can enlighten the apocalypse with sunshine filled apathy.
“Little Bliss” on the other hand has a different approach. This track builds on calm and collected pop-punk harmony’s. Then bursts with a defining attitude but with an indie meets grungy glam style. This is particularly demonstrated toward the latter half. At this point in the song everyone in the band sings along emphasizing an feeling of being of being overwhelmed. In the end, it’s a superb mix of anxsty indie-induced punk that’s oddly fulfilling.
The “Little Bliss” single is a fun listen. This is music that seems to bare a reflection of the overwhelming anxiety of today’s word. It’s mostly seen in”IDC” but is also represented in “Little Bliss.” Although, it is “IDC” that garners my attention. It’s the kind of agitated yet hopeless song to pogo about with reckless abandon. “IDC” harkens on a sound describing the modern antagonism of punk twisting with pop. That said, this is a record that ought to be spun. Give it a listen.
For over 40 years Newtown Neurotics have sounded the alarm against the perils of political and social annihilation. They have been brilliantly demonstrating this through an uncompromising punk lead ethos. The artists behind this work toward revolution are Steve Drewett, Simon Lomond and Adam Smith. The result of their efforts is music used as a tool to inform, agitate and organize against the trapping of complacency. Their new album Cognitive Dissidents builds upon this method. It’s eight tracks seek to rail against submission to ignorance and in turn rally against the civilizational decay of our time.
The opening track “Climate Emergency” captures the sense of urgency celebrated in Newtown Neurotics’ material. It’s a song demanding it’s listener pay attention to the overwhelming environmental crisis facing today’s world. To do this, Newtown Neurotics unapologetically highlight the severity coming from an onslaught of climate breakdown. True, “Climate Emergency” betrays a seriousness and somber tone, but this tune is catchy.
In “Take Your Dirty Hands Off Our Town” Newtown Neurotics profess nostalgic sentiments for their hometown of Harlow, Essex. This song serenades the origins of Harlow New Town after World War Two while seeking to place present importance on the towns community. In this, vocalist Drewett decries the Tory robbing of Harlow’s civic infrastructure and promise. However, he also celebrates his upbringing along with the changes he’s observed over the years. This is drawn from examples of his youth like organizing bands and standing against the National Front. It’s obvious that this is a tune that clearly hits home for Drewett ,and I imagine anyone living in Harlow.
“Hope” is a song rallying the banner of resistance against the idea of impending doom. This track is easily a favorite of mine. Newtown Neurotics’ “Hope” urges rising together to face today’s uncertainties. Many of the topics found in Cognitive Dissidents are about candidly singing about today’s modern challenges. “Hope” manages to offer a way forward and more importantly the potential for a way to live. This is via an emphasis of the importance on hope through connection through love and cooperation in our respective communities. It’s refreshing song against a climate of prevailing despair. Thus, this one ought to considered along other punk lead anthems like The Clash’s “London Calling” or Sham 69’s “If The Kids Are United.”
“Dumb” is another favorite on Cognitive Dissidents. This track takes a satirical look at the absurd nature of conspiracy nuts. “Dumb” is sung from the perspective of a wearer of a right-wing tin foil hat. Drewett highlights the themes that define the conspiracy theorists. This includes finding community in the fringe, dismissal of experts and acceptance of a flat earth. Ever clever, Newtown Neurotics poke fun at these dangerous nutters while listing the importance of their emerging threat to sane discourse and living.
Overall, Cognitive Dissidents is a solid album. It’s Newtown Neurotics first album in about 34 years and neatly picks up where they left off in 1988. Not surprisingly, this album is a bit more mature in style and sound. Drewet’s song writing continues with the pressing anger and creative energy of punk.
In Cognitive Dissidents Newtown Neurotics seek to bring sense to this turbulent world and tell it like it is. It’s a sober, straight forward call to action. This is an approach that makes them consistent and among my favorite groups. To be fair, the world’s still chaotic, and maybe even more so than it was in 1988. That said, Newtown Neurotics are here to poignantly light the way. Now pick this up. It’s relevant and must to be played.
Since 2018, The Speedways have blazed a trail of hopeless romanticism across the power pop landscape. While initially started as Matthew Julian’s one-off project, The Speedways tuned into a superb collaborative effort between the talents Julian, Adrian Alfonso, Mauro Venegas and Kris Hood. In their four years, the Speedways have honed their craft. They boast a one-of-a-kind authority on longing and heartbreak. Their new record Talk of the Town brilliantly continues this trend. This is by celebrating a spirit of ’79 punky power pop persuasion and adding the infectious elements of 1980’s new wave.
The first track from Talk of the Town “Dead from the Heart Down” is well in line with this philosophy. It kicks off with a sound of a beating heart and then builds upon signature power pop style. The result is being catchy and leading on with consistent grooves. Think of it along the lines of Protex twisting along with the Shivvers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
In a similar vein are “Secrets Secrets” and “Kiss Me Goodbye.” Both of these songs are upbeat and have a memorable chorus’. In contrast tracks like “A Drop in the Ocean” and “Taken” celebrate a shy and heartfelt approach. Despite being about heartbreak these latter two end on a feel-good note that tugs at the feels.
My favorite two tracks on this record are “Shoulda Known.” and the title song “Talk of the Town.” “Shoulda Known” has a similar quality found on The Speedways debut record Just Another Regular Summer. this track is bright with a strong back beat. “Shoulda Known” is a song about being caught off guard by a romantic situation go awry. It captures a sound beckoning nostalgia for ’77 punk infused power pop along the lines of The Boys or The Outcasts. If one has ever been blindsided by the obvious pitfalls of love, then this is power pop for you.
“Talk of the Town” is a cool, simple and collected track. This song portrays an edge by blending new wave sensibilities with an early ‘80s retro power pop. It’s upbeat and got a solid build up to an easy-to-follow chorus. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Talk of the Town” found itself as a theme song for a cheesy Warriors-like b-film. Play this one loud and often.
The Speedways never disappoint. Each record they put out displays a continuing maturity in sound. They don’t betray their origins and they keep things interesting. The end result being songsprofessing their signature take on staring off at the stars in search of long-lost love. Talk Of The Town is a keen demonstration as to why The Speedways are the leaders of this power pop revival. This band is tight and they continue to give the romantic at heart relevant songs about heartbreak and teenage kicks. To not consider Talk of the Town would be error is cognitive processing. Now, go forth and pick up this record.
The Mellons are a group that manages to exude effortless brilliance. Not surprising then since they draw from the talents of Andrew Colin Beck, Ian Francis, Denny Fuller and Rob Jepson. Their debut record Introducing…The Mellons boasts a harmonic pop masterpiece that nods toward an idea of baroque rock for the 21st century. It’s clearly a work that is inspired by those who appreciate the music of The Monkees or The Zombies, while also tirelessly binging on the sensibilities of The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds and The BeatlesSgt PepperLonely Hearts Club Band.
A great distinction for Introducing…The Mellons is this groups wall of sound approach. The recording is clean but overwhelms with a encompassing vibrancy. The result is an album starts strong and doesn’t let it’s listener lapse into mediocrity. Rather Introducing…The Mellons remains engaging with a seemingly endless charm. This is evident once the needle drops onto the opening track “Introducing…The Mellons” and then leads into “So Much To Say.” The latter track immediately captivates with an orchestral poptastic sound. “So Much To Say” is the kind of longing love song that is warm and easy to digest.
In contrast “Devils Advocate” comes across as a familiar tone found in “She’s Not There” by The Zombies. It’s mellow and groovy. Admittingly, this song doesn’t quite have the same moody tendency. However, “Devils Advocate” stands out by maintaining a smooth and uplifting sound. This is also true for the following track “It’s Just a Phase.”
Perhaps my favorite track on Introducing…The Mellons is “Salad Made of Butterflies.” This is the first track on the B-side and has a largely unique place on this record. For the most the material on Introducing…The Mellons floats along pop sentiments. “Salad Made of Butterflies”, on the other hand, captures the provocative nature of subdued paisley themed psychedelia. For its simplicity, this song is largely an instrumental that under the right influences service to twist and turn the mind. In doing so, this song builds up while leading the listener along to an out of sight abstract poem read by Jerry Meyer (who sounds very much like Ian Mcshane). It’d do well as a single to be added to the que for a 21st century modernist night. Think of it as being alongside Child of Panoptes “Walk With Me” or The Creation Factory’s “You Got It.”
The next track “Strawberry Girl” offers a notable change in gears. This song comes across as playful and sweet. “Marmalade” brings this charm forward but with an enveloping sound. It’s a song that entices with a broad range. Furthermore “Marmalade” invokes a kind of nostalgia with the fullness of The Beatles Yellow Submarine. A similar notion can be suggested with “Hello, Sun.” As this track is bright and beautifully celebrates The Mellons overwhelming effect of vibrant music.
Introducing……The Mellons is truly a work of art. If you needed an album to evoke feelings of optimistic tendencies then this is the record to be considered for your listening pleasure. Within its grooves are a combination of indie and pop that dabs with psychedelia. This music draws obvious influences from the iconic sunshine-tinged essence of the 1960s. That said, The Mellons aren’t reinventing the wheel. Instead they seek to bring the music forward while not betraying their influences. In this respect they do this quite well and have added a revived interest in baroque pop. So, go out and give Introducing…The Mellons a twirl on your turntable. You’ll be glad you did.
NARC is the first band that comes to mind when it comes to powerviolence in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are Emma Anderson (Vox), Spencer Anderson (guitar) and Tyler Barrani (drums). Since 2020, they have brought forth a unique ferocity of raw music that is distinctly fast and heavy. Lyrically, NARC are quite poignant with their political commentary. They draw from varying political ideologies to speak out against abuses of power, the oppression of marginalized communities, as well as drawing from experiences in their own lives. When turning this into their live shows they offer a stunning performance that is second to none.
In the last two years, NARC has toured, released albums and tirelessly promoted the Salt Lake punk, hardcore, powerviolence and metal communities. This is manifested by the members of NARC booking shows, supporting fellow acts and playing benefit gigs. They also book and play regularly at Aces High Saloon, in addition to the not-so secret underground venue Your Mom’s House. Among their celebrated shows are the General Violence Conference on April 30, 2022 and raising money for Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
Starting off the 2022 summer in high spirits NARC released their second album A Waste of Good Suffering on June 10, 2022. It was produced by longtime friend Wolf Nunley. It’s a worthy successor to Personifying the Antithesis of American Values. The main difference is it is noticeably heavier, but still contains NARC’s core elements of savage energy.
Now NARC is about to embark on a west coast tour. They are set to play ten dates that include Las Vegas, NV, Portland, OR and Seattle WA. To learn more, I caught up with NARC and asked them about how they formed, music as a tool for radical change, booking shows in Salt Lake City, their new album A Waste of Good Suffering and what readers can expect from their fall tour.
NixBeat: NARC is comprised of members Emma Anderson (Vox), Spencer Anderson (guitar) and Tyler Barrani (drums). What prompted you three to form NARC?
Tyler: I had already been in several bands with Spencer in the past, so we had our musical chemistry locked down. We figured why not cut out the middle man and just write music between the two of us, instead of worrying about trying to find another bassist?
NixBeat: In a SLUG Magazine interview published on September 1, 2021 it was stated that you draw influence from other three-piece, women fronted power violence groups. Who are some of these groups and how do they influence your sound?
Emma: There’s so many awesome hardcore punk/grind/power violence projects fronted by women and non-binary people that inspire us. Punch, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Gouge Away, Shitstormtrooper, Closet Witch, Denial of Life, Snuffed, Generation Decline, of course, our friends in Ribbons…lots of bands we’ve played with or just have been fans of. I’m personally influenced by vocalists that have a really raw sound as opposed to a technically precise one. I love hearing women’s raw anger come through in their vocals.
NixBeat: Your music is very socially conscious. This is evident in tracks like “Blue Lives Splatter” and “Feminine Fuckabilly as Social Currency.” What are you drawing from for these songs?
Spencer: We try to keep the lyrical content of our songs strictly political. We adhere to various radical ideologies but certainly a common theme is abuse of power and oppression of marginalized folks to perpetuate violence. Although many of our songs are influenced by personal experiences with mental health and addiction, we believe those experiences have a direct correlation with our current political climate.
NixBeat: NARC self-released A Waste of Good Suffering on June 10, 2022. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Wolf Nunley. How was it working with Wolf Nunley on this album?
Tyler: Wolf has known us for a while and knew what kind of sound we were going for and how to dial us in. It was a pleasure working with him and I admire his attention to detail. He wasn’t afraid to make suggestions or add input where he felt things were lacking. He really pushed us to be the best version of ourselves in the studio.
Emma: When we heard the work Wolf did recording, mixing, and mastering for his own project, Threar, we were blown away and knew he could make our new songs sound really fuckin heavy.
NixBeat: What are some of the differences you noticed in working on A Waste of Good Suffering in comparison to your first record Personifying the Antithesis of American Values released March 7,2021?
Spencer: For me, the creation of the riffs and general tone of our first album was purely experimental and trying to figure out what we were even trying to do. Tyler and I have been in bands together for the past four years and we wanted to try something different with Emma and NARC. Personifying the Antithesis of American Values was written during quarantine and, to be quite honest, we were just throwing shit at a wall to see what stuck. Our follow-up record, A Waste of Good Suffering, was where we actually really took our time in working on tone and overall feel and really started to understand what our collective conscience was working towards.
Tyler: The main difference for me was that we recorded Waste track by track, whereas we did Personifying live.
NixBeat: What influenced the track “Paradox of Innocence?”
Emma:Paradox of Innocence is about all the black victims of police brutality who were murdered for finding themselves in bad situations or simply just existing, particularly the children and teenagers. In most of those situations, had those victims been white, they would’ve been considered “innocent” and lived to share their experience. Because of their race, so many victims of police brutality were considered “violent” and “threatening” with no basis other than racial stereotyping. The song is about the differences in perception and media treatment of victims and perpetrators along racial lines…how black people are villainized, robbed of their chance to be children and be seen as human beings, by law enforcement and the media. Musically, we just wanted to write something darker and heavier to reflect the content of the song.
NixBeat: Also stated in the SLUG Magazine interview published on September 1st, 2021 it is pointed out that NARC consistently plays benefit shows for community organizations such as the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. What inspires NARC to get involved and play benefit shows for your local community?
Tyler: To give back what’s been given, because we wouldn’t be here if not for the community. We all have to take care of each other and participate in the upkeep of our community, or admit we’re just in love with the idea of it.
Emma: If showing up and playing a set can do anything to help raise funds or awareness for an issue we and our community are passionate about, that’s a rad thing that we want to do as often as we can.
NixBeat: Do you think music can influence change in the community for good and if so, how has it in your community?
Spencer: With minimal exception, music always fosters positive influence in the community. Of course, there are caveats, but overall, and especially in the punk, hardcore, and grind/powerviolence scenes, the effect on the community is intertwined with radical, progressive action. We’ve seen this in SLC. Specifically with the amount of benefit shows, the outreach to the local unsheltered population, and simply the fact that many of the people who play in bands here are also highly involved with radical organizing. There is, more often than not, a pipeline between heavy fuckin music and caring about your community, and making those connections in the music scene makes it easier to get involved.
NixBeat:The three of you are also involved in setting up shows locally. This involvement includes collaborating with Aces High Saloon and the underground venue Your Mom’s House. How did you get involved in booking shows?
Tyler: We all work at Aces High and live at Your Mom’s House…haha
Emma: I got involved in booking through being in NARC and living at Your Mom’s House; Since we’re a contact for our out-of-state friends looking to book shows here, we get hit up pretty frequently about finding venues and local support for touring bands. I recently started helping out with booking at Aces High after bartending there for a while.
NixBeat:What have been some of your favorite shows you’ve booked and why?
Spencer: My personal favorite is gonna have to be General Violence Conference. We had an eclectic mix of local and touring bands and all shit fuckin gnarly. We’re gonna have another GVC April 23rd, 2023 and it shall be grindy. Other than that, The Bimbos from RI, Deconsecration from Seattle, No//Mas from DC, Twompsax from Oakland, Generation Decline from Bremerton, Stinker from LA, Bridge Dweller from LA, the list goes on and on. These are just a few of my favorites and it’s all just based on the energy and positivity these bands brought to the show.
Tyler: GVC was Salt Lake’s first powerviolence/crust/grind fest and I’m immensely proud of the fact that we started it.
Emma: One of the coolest shows we booked at Your Mom’s House was a collaboration with Caio Santos – He booked Sentenced 2 Die with Recidivist and we booked Generation Decline and Azijnpisser with ourselves and Ribbons. It popped the fuck off and it was so cool to have that much death metal and hardcore punk all together in one garage.
NixBeat: Regarding your involvement with Aces High Saloon, how has this new bar changed the music scape of Salt Lake City?
Tyler: Aces High has allowed a space for punk, metal, hardcore, and outlaw country to all share the same stage and collaborate together.
Emma: Aces High fills a niche that needed to be filled in SLC for a long time. It’s become the go-to bar for most of the punks and metalheads we know and it’s allowed that whole community to connect with each other that much more. So many “alternative”, if you will, people know each other now because of Aces. Also, we all bond over damn good vegan food.
NixBeat: On October 20, 2022 NARC embarks on a 11-day tour. You’ll be playing in places like Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle. What can readers expect from your performances?
Tyler: Louder, faster, better.
Emma: Add-in “going ham” to that mix. We’ll also be in Halloween costumes for almost every show. If we get stinky, grumpy, and sick of each other in the midst of it, we’re just gonna get all of that out of our systems during our set. It’s gonna be fun.
Spencer: High energy, loud noises, and a couple of fuckers sendin’ it.
Slaughter and the Dogs are one of the original forefathers of punk. Since 1975 they have blended boot boy glam and the defiant attitude of punk rock with particular brilliance. Their latest album IL Tradimento Silenzioso (The Silent Betrayal) is a testament to this philosophy. Within its grooves are tunes that demand a listen and may even find themselves among the mantle that holds up their previous material. Albeit this record carries on with a more mature sound, however it still captures the essence that makes Slaughter and the Dogs great.
This record kicks off with strong with the boot boy football anthem in “Manchester Boys.” If one needed a track to blast loud while sporting the colors of Manchester City or Manchester United, then this one is perfect. This song is fun for its rowdy glam punk style coupled with an uplifting and easy-to-follow chorus. Mind you under the right influences singing along to “Manchester Boys” will no doubt make you some friends—providing you are sporting the right colors.
Other tracks like “Silent Cities” carry a more somber, reflective sound. This one is still well in the same vein of unabashed punk. Most notably as it’s a song pushing the envelope of questioning authority and challenging complacency. In comparison songs like “Good Times Are Coming Here Today” is upbeat and rocking. It’s a feel good number that leaves it’s listener resonating in a good place.
Perhaps my favorite song on IL Tradimento Silenzioso (The Silent Betrayal) is “The Ok Man.” Leading in with a stomping beat, this song draws from the perspective of someone who finds themselves in the thorough of casual chit chat at the pub or cafe. Admittingly, it’s not quite in line with the minimalism found in traditional punk tunes. Rather, this tune is uniquely engaging as it is more developed. It’s a play on a ballad with a folk-like tune. This is brilliantly weaved together via a superior lyrical quality courtesy of Wayne Barret McGrath. Think of it as having a similar quality that can be found with a Joe Strummer and Mescalero’s or Johnny Cash approach. “The Ok Man” is well worth putting on repeat.
The b-side of this record has some tracks that stand out as well. “Five Star British Hotel” is one of the. The theme comments on the boring life of a hotel employee only wanting the stability of a simple life. This song starts off with the recording of “Oh Britannia” and launches into a uptempo tune complete with a keen punk induced critical self awareness. In comparison fellow tracks like “Cocaine Smile” harkens on Slaughter and the Dogs punk roots. In the same vein is “Hooligan Blues.” This is done by playing up on the styles fast and raucous.
Overall IL Tradimento Silenzioso (The Silent Betrayal) captures an essence of charm that only Slaughter and the Dogs could offer. This record blends styles ranging from their glam punk sensibilities to punk styles ebbing with a more reflective tone. If one has appreciated their previous material, then the growth that this record boasts suggest it might be well worth a listen. After all, they have remained consistent with this infectious sound. So, go forth and procure a copy. This is a record that ought to be heard.
Natalie Sweet and Brad Marino are two of today’s power pop A-listers. Sweet previously fronted The Shanghais and Control Freaks. While Marino founded and fronted The Connection, and has material out with Rydells and Tommy and The Rockets. Not to mention they both have extensive solo projects that ought to be heard. The Second Time/ Over My Head 7” is a treat as it is a east coast-to- west coast collaboration. Together they have produced a high energy infectious rock n’ roll. Despite only being two tracks, it’s the kind of punk meeting pop that hooks on and doesn’t let go.
Both tracks share a kind of duet approach. However, “Second Time” prominently boasts Sweets singing. Lyrically, it’s a song laments the trappings of falling in love again with the same person. In true form, “Second Time” celebrates the nature of of punk blending with power pop. Think of this track as a melding of the Ramones speed meeting the Buzzcocks harmonies . It’s fast and easy to sing along with. Be sure to turn it up.
“Over My Head” is sung from the perspectives of both Sweet and Marino. This track tells the tale of the slippery slope from a casual relationship transitioning with a partner wanting something more. Between the two of them it’s a fun back and forth. From Marino’s point of view, he sings about his anxiety as things get more serious than intended with the partner to be. In contrast, Sweet character seeks something more and is out to get it.
Overall “Over My Head” is a charming listen. This is the track cementing this duos ability to produce a tune together that is tight and catchy. Listening to this one would almost wonder if they have collaborated before.
The Second Time/Over My Head 7” is a record that draws on both Sweets and Marino’s talents for fast paced lovers lost rock n’ roll with solid hooks. Furthermore, this also demonstrates their seemingly natural ability to work together. Like their other material this 7” packs a punky power pop punch. Although short and sweet, this is record is addicting to hear. So, drop the needle on this single and dig it.