Tag Archives: album review

The Sellwoods — Demented Planet EP

The Sellwoods

Demented Planet EP

Release: 06/25/2021

Chaputa Records

Since 2012 The Sellwoods have hoisted the black Cuban-heeled flag of garage rock revival.  Based in Portland, Oregon, this group pounds 1960’s garage punk  by blending it with hot rod, sizzled out fuzz driven rock n’ roll.  Fans of The Fuzztones, The Gruesomes or The Cynics with find the Demented Planet EP well among like-minds. It’s not a surprise then that The Sellwoods have found a home with Chaputa Records. Like previous releases, this EP comes via this label which is renowned for garage punk catalogue. So, readers beware. this EP’s lives up to it’s deranged potential. It’s not be handled lightly.

While only four tracks, the Demented Planet EP boasts a furry of rabid, primitive punches. This is evident with tracks “Volcano Girl” and “Down In The Alley.”  “Volcano Girl” has a kind of vacant, snotty vocal presence behind a prominent organ heavy presence. The latter is thanks to the guest contribution of The Reverberations own Dave Berkham. In contrast, “Down In The Alley” vaunts a wild sound that grabs a hold of it’s listener with the drop of the first note. It’s a kind of thriller tune that is sung from the perspective of a creeper-like figure waiting for a kill.

“Goldstar 500” follows up with some raucous hot rod garage. It’s simple and straight to the point. The title track “Demented Planet” celebrates The Sellwoods ability to knock out the savage beat. It’s haunted caveman nature begs a nod toward fellow rockers Screaming Lord Sutch or The Graveyard Five. For this reason, this track is perhaps the most exciting track on the EP and ought to be played uninhibited by the constraints of volume control.

The Sellwoods do not disappoint. I’ve enjoyed their material ever since catching them opening for The Jackets in February 2020. It would be amiss not to pay The Sellwoods their dues. Their composition is tight and fun.  Furthermore, these rock n’ rollers know how to strip down that rock n’ roll down to the bare essentials and then turn around to seamlessly bash it into one’s skull.  The Demented Planet EP is meant for lovers of the primordial noise of garage punk. So, get this record and give it a well deserved spin.

For more of The Sellwoods, check out their Bandcamp!

Duncan Reid and The Big Heads — Don’t Blame Yourself

Duncan Reid and The Big Heads

Don’t Blame Yourself

LBH Records

Street: 05/15/2020

There’s something impressively enamoring about Duncan Reid and The Big Heads. They boast a definitive, yet familiar vein. Their new record Don’t Blame Yourself blends power pop with punk sensibilities by twisting it into a definitive pub rock sound. That being said, this isn’t adolescent rock n’ roll. It’s music that is well refined and remains consistently engaging throughout.  Fans of Reid’s previous ventures will find a home with this record. Especially if they like The Boys or even  Eddie and The Hot Rods.

When picking this album up, it’s important to approach it with an open mind. It’s not suffering from the plague of mediocrity. Duncan Reid And The Big Heads are not just another Ramones-influenced rock group. They have years of experience that explore a remarkable depth of style.

The theme of Don’t Blame Yourself seems to be one of coming into a sense of maturity if not a sense of impending mortality. This is demonstrated by many of this records tracks emphasizing a certain reflection toward life lived and lost. Some tracks like “Oh What A Lovely Day” celebrate power pop melody’s coupled with calming, yet ruminative lyrical properties.  Other songs like this are “Came The Day,” and “Dave.”

Many of their tracks have an upbeat  nature to them and are arguably infectious to the ears. This is mostly true with tracks like “Your Future Ex Wife,” “To Live Or Live Not” and of course the ever so charmingly titled “Motherfucker.”

Singing along to this record isn’t required, but it’ll be hard not to do after some pint-sized liquid courage. This is particularly true with “Motherfucker” and “To Live Or Live Not.” The former has the fun and catchy chorus derived from the title of the track. Besides, who doesn’t want to sing “motherfucker” at the top of their lungs?

The latter, “To Live Or Live Not” is a track starts out strong and grips you. This is arguably thanks to Reid’s catchy word smithing ,and the tracks prominent chugging riffs.   Not to mention it’s power pop driven with certain harmonies that stick with you like glue. It’s only three minutes long, but the smoothness of it’s delivery makes “To Live Or Live Not” feel short and sweet.

The title song “Don’t Blame Yourself” is easily my favorite track on this record. It’s a true and blue punk rock n’ roll tune.  This is thanks to the bluesy rock driven riffs that give “Don’t Blame Yourself” a definitive edge.  It’s very reminiscent of something TV Smith later work encompasses. Another track like this is “Little Miss Understood.”

In Don’t Blame Yourself, listeners will find a range to work with. One moment it’s a tune to groove to, the other a song that invokes strong memories and emotions. This release seems oddly appropriate for this year. This is because 2020 is a year representing a challenge and shock to the normalcies of day-to-day life.

While surely recorded pre-covid 19, Don’t Blame Yourself is almost perfect for the slowness of today’s reality. After all, an album exploring a mid-life crisis is apt for anyone coping with the turbulence of 2020. Nevertheless, be sure to check out Don’t Blame Yourself.  It’s good and ought to be listened to.

For more about Duncan Reid and The Big Heads, check out their website!

The Scaners X Ray Glasses: On 7”

The Scaners

X Ray Glasses: On 7”

Spaghetty Town Records

Street: February 12, 2020

Blasting off into outer space are the gonzo space rock n’ rollers The Scaners. From Lyon France, their mission is to abduct and assimilate the uninitiated with their electro-punk sound. It’s an alien technique meant for the supersonic and intergalactic minded weirdos of this third rock from the sun. Think of their music concoction as boasting a mix of Readymades sprinkled in with Miscalculations and the hollowness of Gary Numan’s  Tubeway Army.  

The Scaners no doubt have an impressive sound and it shows in their recordings. The A-side’s “X-Ray Glasses: On” captures their tenacity. This track is pretty straight forward.  It starts off with a synth heavy intro that leads into an abrasive beat. “X-Ray Glasse: On” is perfect to sway and lose one’s the mind to. Lyrically this ditty is simple and repetitive. However, what makes it is the disembodied vocals on top of the hollowness of the electro-punk sound, which is like hearing a cyborg play with a distorted 1970’s punk style.

“Alien Boy” is a fast and furious tune. This is the track that is over as soon as it begins.  It follows the same method of electric desolation as previous Scaners material, albeit with a more primitive feel.  Think of it as Germs-esque, but electrified.

“I Really Want To Know” has a mode that carries a little more familiarity with tracks like “X-Ray Glasses:On.” It’s fast and frantic as though being like being shocked alive on a live wire. This tune boasts a definable punk spite style. If listeners don’t find themselves pogoing like a mother fucker then something is wrong with the stereo.  

These tunes don’t betray notions of a cheap parlor trick or a punk rock sound done repeatedly to death. Quite the opposite, The Scaners inspire signs of life into the spirit of punk with something discernibly exciting. This record invokes a style that is rapid and vibrant. It’s an approach that The Scaners very much their own. Nonetheless, it hints toward the playful line of The Briefs but with a synthetic nature of The Marked Men or Radioactivity.

Even though my favorite track on this record is X-Ray “Glasses:On.” As a whole though, this 7” is some brilliant work. Mind you, this is not music for the faint hearted, but for the stargazed rockers of this age. If anything is to evidenced by this record, this is strong material and I have yet to hear anything to the contrary. Don’t waste time. Be sure to get this record.

The Toxenes – Double Creature Feature

The Toxenes

Double Creature Feature

Killjoy Records

Street:11.17.2019

The Toxenes= The Baby Shakes + The Cramps + The Horror Pops

The Toxenes are a rock ‘n roll trio from Minneapolis. They have previously released a single (2017) and a cassette album Electric Shock (2018). Double Creature Feature is their first LP on Vinyl. For those fans of rockabilly notions riding on garage, all infused with punk-rock messiness, this record is for you. Listening to this record is like binge watching a whole season of sounds. It’s got 18 grooves fully loaded with sugar and doused with rock ‘n roll vinegar.

Read the full review at @SLUG Magazine!!

Los Pepes – Postive Negative

Los Pepes

Positive Negative

Spaghetty Town Records

Released: 03/26/2019

Los Pepes boast an impressive lineup. They are Ben Primier (Vocals, Guitar), Gui Rujao (guitar, vocals), Seisuke Nakagawa (Bass, Vocals), Kris Kowalski (Drums) with Adam Smith of Newtown Neurotics (performing live Bass.) Their new album “Positive Negative” is a brilliant record. It’s grooves are filled with sonic splitting power pop infused with rapid punk rock.

This record celebrates the natural union between the invigorating sounds of sounds of punk and speedy power pop. Los Pepes style reflects a familiar fury that is akin to bands like The Briefs or Sharp Objects.   It also invokes nostalgia for high voltage punk for lovers of The Boys, Motorhead or even Miscalculations.

 Positive Negative lives up to the legend of Los Pepes rambunctious nature. This record is filled with hit after hit. Positive Negative is music that captivates with an awe inspiring delivery. When the needle drops on the this record, the result is to immediately succumb to sudden spasmastic shakes and shivers.

 Such spasms result to jumping about as if being electrified back into the land of the living— like a rabid pogoing madman.  No doubt this is a certain result if the right amount of electrified intensity is induced due to high velocity punk rock ,and a maybe few ales. 

This is evident in the first track “Still Belong To Me.” It’s fast and wild and professes a desperate need to kick in the T.V in kind of sound. “Still Belong To Me” wastes no time in simple pleasantries. Rather it’s a tune that blasts the listen clear into the next week. It’s solid opening track.

Personally, my favorite track on Positive Negative is “We Need It.” This is the kind of tune that starts with a strong build up and wallops off with a packing punch. Think of it as cousin to Sharp Objects “Misspent Youth,” but less snotty and a bit tighter. Other tracks in this vein are “Think Back” and “Your Justice.”  Some other honorable mentions for immediate consideration include “Let Me Tell You Something” and “Frustration.”

 Not acquiring this album would not only be a mistake, but a betrayal of crucial judgment.  This record ought to be put on your turntable and blasted from start to finish with the help of some liquid courage inducing vibrancy.  If not for you, then do it for the neighbor’s sake.  To do anything less may deprive those in close proximity of a vital headache, or inspiration. After all, we need something wild and electric like Los Pepes “Positive Negative” for our bleeding ears and soul.  

Jordan Jones – “Self-Titled”

Jordan Jones

“Self-Titled”

Spaghetty Town Records

Released 08/02/2019

Jordan Jone’s debut release is a power pop masterpiece.  Within this records grooves are sounds begging, if not demanding to be heard. It’s the kind of music that flawlessly delivers a certain calm and charming sound sound that blends a kind of nostalgic sense for early 2000’s style of power pop rock n’ roll. This is due to Jones’ unique style that invokes The Booze twisting with the power pop delivery of the Biters, but channeling the romanticism of The Speedways

This invocation of power pop is clearly demonstrated in the opening track “Wrote You A Song For Me.” It’s a harmonious track that blends notions of hopeless romantic notions of youthful yearnings. It’s the tune that perfectly welcomes in the the records listener and keep them hooked.

Digging deeper into this record Jones reveals music that meant to tug at one’s heart strings.  This is the case with tracks like “My Somebody,” or the mellow “How to Be” and “Be My Baby.” These are familiar themes that largely characterize this album. That being said, Jones’ isn’t redundant in his delivery, and manages to leave a sound that lingers on.

My personal favorite track is “Rumours Girls.” It’s a tune that starts out with a punch and doesn’t quite get bogged down about being a hopeless romantic. Instead it takes a shot at rock ‘ n roll scenesters  emphasis on blind nostalgic romanticism for the culture of the 1970’s. This is pointed out when Jones sings about the folly of needing to look a certain way to fit in.

While the song   pokes at the material imagery, there is some betraying a sense of self-deprecation when Jones sings of his own appreciation for the retro style. Overall, it shows Jone’s ability to move beyond the trappings of romantic power pop with the touchings of social awareness.

This all being said, Jordan Jones is record is certainly near the top of the list of vital contemporary artists to be heard.  For me this record blends the subdued groovyness that gives power pop it’s rock n’ roll zesty flavor. It is a sounds boasting brilliance with a composition meant to be nothing less that welcoming to the ears.  

Furthermore, It would be amiss not to suggest that Jones debut album is among those who help inspire a much needed revival for power pop for this day and age. Other contemporaries in that realm are Fashionism’sSmash Singles LP” and The Speedways “Another Regular Summer.” To be sure though, Jordan Jones has something more attune to 70’s power pop rock n’ roll than it’s angsty punker sounding cousins.

That doesn’t mean it’s any less worth hearing, though. So, be sure to go out to your local record shop and pick this up. Jordan Jones is a diamond in the rough and truly deserves to be heard.

The Woolly Bushmen- In Shambles

The Woolly Bushmen
In Shambles
Pig Baby Records
Street: 05.10.2019

The Woolly Bushmen’s sophomore album is a worthy successor to their first record Ardinu. Not only that, but this album could very much stand on it’s own.  In Shambles carries on with The Woolly Bushmen’s signature blues-meets-garage style, but with the distinctive fiery sermonizing  sounds of passion driven rock n’ roll.  It’s varying styles not only entice, but instill a kind of wanderlust for vintage rock n’ roll with a indie influenced bluesy twist.

For this reason, this record  can only be heard properly in a vinyl format. This is because as the needle drops into it’s grooves a certain holy light is brought to life as orchestral sounds emanate through one’s speakers.  The first track “What Your Doing To Me” grabs a hold of it’s listener and installs a sense of wild romantic abandonment. This notion is alive and well in the tracks “Paid,” and “Goin Out West.” All of which boast ‘50’s rock n’ roll simplicity with blues-driven grit. With this one could think of a  mix of the energy found in The Black Lips infused within the spirit of Little Richard and Willie “Mae” Thornton.

“Let It Be Known” blasts  radical fuzz-doused sounds invoking a nod toward Reverend Beatman. It’s a song that immediately holds one’s attention. The theme is calling out someone in a social setting and if I were on the receiving end, the hairs on my neck be at attention. This track is easily my favorite for it’s 1960’s fuzz-garage overtones and wild nature. Plus, it’s got elements of teenage-punk angst, but with a certain modern flair.

Other tracks that share these sensibilities include “Dense” and “I Pushed You.” They are bouncy tunes to bop to.  The main difference is with “Dense” which has a discernable orchestral flair thanks to the church-like organ. “Dense” is their magnum opus. It’s a track celebrating the vocal depth of Sheldon Herschfeld and tight composition of the band as a whole.

“Weeping Eyes” is quite the departure from the previous tracks. It’s a low tempo ballad and it shows some range for the Woolly Bushmen. Another similar tune is “Fire Tonight.” This one is a R&B ballad with definable depth.  It’s a track that highlights the story of a homeless man and his struggles to survive.  This track particularly shows off The Woolly Bushmen’s ability to create provocative mood that backs up Herschfeld impressive vocals.

In Shambles was recorded in Los Angles by Josiah Mazzaschi and in Orlando, Florida at Complete Shambles Recording Laboratory with Simon Palombi.  Overall, this record emphasizes The Woolly Bushmen’s ability to blend different styles and genres with a unique brilliance.

Those who dug their first record will find familiarity with this album. In Shambles has a ballads, fuzz garage and of course rock n’ roll.  In Shambles also shows of the emotive range of Herschfeld, which combined with the tightness of the band, hits close to perfection.  This is a record for lovers of  infectious vintage sounds and for those looking for something delightfully new. The Woolly Bushmen knock it out of the park again. Congrats lads. Now go buy this record.

Ex Hex – It’s Real


Ex Hex
It’s Real
Merge
Street: 03.22
Ex Hex = Heart + Joan Jett and The Black Hearts

Good lord, it feels as though it’s been ages since Ex Hex released their debut album, Rips in 2014. It’s safe to say that record was nothing short of a marvel that carved out a niche in the vastness of contemporary music. Not only did Rips blend familiarity with freshness, but it was composed with the nitty and delightfully catchy gritty elements of glam infused rock n’ roll. Listening to it, I could hear an album that almost begged for the nostalgia of Suzi Quatro or Bonnie St. Claire. Now, four years later, Ex Hex deliver something entirely different with It’s Real.

Read the full album review published by SLUG Magazine!

Wild Evel and The Trashbones – Digging My Grave

Wild Evel and The Trashbones
Digging My Grave
Dirty Water Records
Released: 11/24/2017

Digging My Grave is a brilliant album that compliments a long standing legacy of garage punk. For me, it captures the essential ingredients that combine the raw nature of garage rock with the defiant attitude of punk. Wild Evel and The Trashbones excel with a musical presence that vaunts the essential essence of adolescent angst, but with a sound arguably more refined. It’s style that is rooted in 1966, but celebrates  a likeness to Screaming Lord Sutch, with the fury of The Cramps.

As a whole Digging My Grave is comprised of solid bangers. Each song shows off Wild Evel and The Trashbones exemplary talent to tug on all three chords of the garage punk heart-strings. However, the tracks “Digging My Grave,” “Why Can’t We Be” and “Gotta Leave Town” clearly stand above the rest.

First off the title track “Digging My Grave” harkens on the demonic nature of Screaming Lord Sutch while borrowing the spooky theme from Larry and The Blue Notes “Night Of The Sadist.” It’s the kind of tune to grab your soul and twist you into a savage kind of possession. Perfect for blasting during the witching hour, play this one loud to the haunting benefit of those around.

“Why Can’t We Be” is a humbling tune that pays homage to the all mighty Satelliters. Wild Evel and The Trashbones easily hold their own in comparison to their German cousins. However, as illustrated by this tune, credit is due to The Satelliters  for fueling the garage rock torch throughout the European continent.

“Gotta Leave Town” is among the best that Wild Evel and The Trashbones have to offer. This mooder borrows from a blues sensibility while firmly grasping the shy yet primitive nature of sounds emanating from the crypts of teenage-garage punk. While many modern garage rooted tracks place an emphasis on unrelenting passion or attitude, this track dares to be vulnerable with it’s theme of being overwhelmed and seeking to desperately   skip town. For like-minded tracks check out check out the newly released Sites and Sounds “The Night Is So Dark” 7” released by Slovenly Records.

This is an album that ought to be among any garage punkers record collection. If you lack excitement, then Wild Evel and the Trashbones are your kind of feral entertainment. Digging My Grave is filled with tunes to excite, make you moan and even inspire one to pull on their chelsea boots, and go out to cause some rebel-without–a–cause kind of hell.  So, don’t be square and dip out on this record.

 

For more on Wild Evel and The Trashbones check out their Facebook or Bandcamp.

The Laissez Fairs — Target On My Back

The Laissez Fairs
Target On My Back
BIRS Recordings
Release: November 06, 2017

 The Laissez Fairs are the manifestation of 60 years of Mod inspired music. A talented lot, they come from a wide range of influences and comprise the talents of former Steppes frontman John Fallon, his son Cromm Fallon with Joe Lawless and Aaron Archer. They boast styles varying from freakbeat, fuzzed out psychedelia to the nitty gritty of garage-esque brit pop.

Their debut album Target On My Back is a record invoking the sensibilities of sounds  reminiscing  of Blur infused with The Velvet Underground, while utilizing the flair of The Beatles psychedelic nature from the Revolver era. While dipping into a wide spectrum of mod psychedelia, songs such as “Winter Dying” betray a kind of folky feel. In contrast the title track “Target On My Back” captures the a nostalgic feel for everything upbeat and brit-pop. While “I’ve Got You” is all calm and groovy.

The magic on this record is the track “Bells Ring Out.” For me this track captures a unique provocative essence that exemplifies the idea behind Laissez Fair’s mantra of “Maximum Mod Pysch.” It’s a number that begs for 1960’s freakbeat but twists with 1980’s garage revival. Furthermore It’s got the attitude of The Action and capturing the reserved swagger of the likes of Marc Bolan or Gary Walker.

In all, these Las Vegas Mods are real go getters. Despite the sweltering heat of their desert home these cats clearly show that they can always suit up and deliver. For more about The Laissez Fairs, check out their facebook.