Reviews

Kenny Kaos

Devious Ones She’s Waiting for Me / The Straggle Is Real 7″

I’ve enjoyed music from these cats before and they continue to deliver the goods. If you like super catchy power pop, this is 100% for you. On the first listen through each song, I just can’t stop bouncing my head. It’s mid-tempo and a little jangly, just like I like it. But it’s really all about the hooks. Go out of your way to find this record.

Hayley and the Crushers Vintage Millennial LP

I love pop music. I especially love female-fronted pop music. When it’s got some kick and personality, it’s even better. This one’s got a little surf guitar action going here and there. This is going to be a little too pretty for some of you, but it’s right up my alley. Think of bands like the GO-GO’S, the EPOXIES and the BUSY SIGNALS. Twelve releases by these guys? Wow.

Shiners Club Wires in the Water EP

If you’re a fan of straightforward throaty hardcore, you’ll like this one. These guys crank out four songs in just under ten minutes. There’s nothing game changing or earth-shattering or groundbreaking about it, but it’s a good example of what it’s trying to be.

The Rare Forms The Rare Forms LP

I’ve been going back and forth on this one. There are a lot of things to like about it. It’s catchy and melodic, and also has an underlying eeriness that permeates the whole record. The female vocals are strong and remind me of MENSEN, high praise. It’s punk and rock’n’roll and new wave and goth at the same time. That’s pretty cool. “Vampire Blowjob” even reminds me just a bit of the first GO-GO’S record. Here’s the thing: part of me wonders if they’re maybe trying just a little too hard, like it’s contrived. That could totally be unwarranted criticism, and I do wonder if that will pass for me. I hope it does, as I want to embrace this without lingering doubts.

Actor / Moving Objects split EP

You really couldn’t have two different bands sharing a release. MOVING OBJECTS throw out a number so catchy and melodic, it’s almost criminal. It’s got a ’60s rock’n’roll vibe that is infectious. Stripped-down and raw, it’s delivered with a confidence that draws you right in. You can’t help but like it. You don’t want it to end. But it does. So you play it again and again. That’s followed up by ACTOR, who deliver a highly techno, drum machine cut that’s almost a spoken word piece. You’ve got to believe it’s a one-man show, but it’s actually a duo. It’s also very good, for sure, but I find the combo an odd one.

Poison Boys Out of My Head LP

You wouldn’t get any arguments calling this punk, but you could for sure make an argument that this is pub/street rock’n’roll. It’s catchy and mid-tempo and solid. Certain cuts bring a classic rock’n’roll/bluesy element that reminds me of stuff the Chiswick label was putting out in the late 1970s. Nice.

Territories The Lockdown 7″ flexi

This single-sided flexi addresses gun violence in schools, and is a very catchy, mid-tempo, singalong number. It’s like a mix between the REPLACEMENTS and NEWTOWN NEUROTICS. Nicely done.

Territories Quit This City / Defender 2×7″

The A-side is a rock anthem-like number that’s super-catchy, but ultimately delivers a rather depressing message about the grittiness of life. It’s nicely done. It’s got a certain BOUNCING SOULS quality to it. The B-side is a more straightforward street punk number, but equally as enjoyable. These guys are big on harmony. This is worth making an effort to find.

Plastic Tones Whirlwind / Mystery Machine 7"

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been hip to Helsinki’s PLASTIC TONES for a while now. They deliver a solid product of female-fronted power pop that is pretty and moody enough that it evokes memories of early Subway Organization artists, like the FLATMATES. CHIN CHIN is another one that comes to mind. I really enjoyed both tracks here. There’s a certain darkness that runs through both.

Suspect Parts You Know I Can’t Say No EP

There are two bands that come to mind as I listen through this one: LET’S ACTIVE and the YUM YUMS. That’s high praise. This is well done power pop that is catchy as all hell. It’s mid-tempo and extremely well done. The third and final cut—sung in German—even reminds me a bit of DIE TOTENHOSEN. This is worth looking for.

Death Lottery / Hardship Anchors split EP

With this one we get a sampling of California’s HARDSHIP ANCHORS and Florida’s DEATH LOTTERY. HARDSHIP ANCHORS deliver with mid-tempo combination of street punk, pop punk, and New Wave. That’s not a combo you hear every day, but it works for these guys. DEATH LOTTERY are more in the punk/hardcore realm, with lots of moving parts, maybe too many moving parts; this one’s a little tougher. In particular, I’m not a fan of all the extracurricular guitar work. That said, these guys weren’t too far off, and almost had me.

The Reflectors Teenage Hearts / Desert Crusader 7"

This is good. It’s solid, pretty, mid-tempo, catchy power pop. Right up my alley! It reminds me of things like the POINTED STICKS and maybe even GLITZ!. The B-side is just a little cheezy, but I’ve said a lot worse about hundreds of other songs. It’s actually a lot cheezy. “We’re not getting any older / We’re not getting any younger.”

Mystery Girl Heartbreaker / Salted Slug 7"

For me, this one’s a sort of tale of two sides. The A cut is fine: a nice little power pop number, but it doesn’t grab me. The B-side cut takes it to a new level. Mixing in punk, power pop, glam and rock’n’roll, this one induces head bouncing. The lyrics are also pretty damn funny, and while I’m not sure what it means to be someone’s salted slug, it seems like a real commitment. Worth it just for the B-side, and as I said, the A-side works just fine.

The Hiveminds LP

From Norway, the HIVEMINDS deliver solid mid-tempo (to uptempo) garage punk that has a DOORS eeriness about it. It’s catchy as all hell and sounds like it’s right out of the Nuggets catalog. Scandinavians are connoisseurs of rock’n’roll music. Hell, maybe they’re connoisseurs of all music. You get that in a lot of their music. This one is garage-y throughout, with some moments of New Wave, but it retains that somberness from start to finish. In addition to the DOORS, think of the GUN CLUB. Nice organ work. Good stuff.

Romskip 05 EP

Track one and I’ve got mixed emotions. I find the vocals a bit much. I feel like he’s trying too hard. Musically, it’s pretty cool. It’s deliberate and plodding, but catchy as hell. The bass really draws you in. It’s almost kind of funky, but with an eeriness. There’s a lot going on, which doesn’t always work for me. By track three, they’re starting to mix in some backing vocals. Overall, I think I like it, but I think maybe they take it just a little too seriously for me to really get on board. I dig that the vocals are in their native Norwegian. Shout out to Bergen, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Moral Panic Moral Panic LP

Man, these guys come out of the gates swinging, with a faster-paced, almost frenetic number. This is punk rock. Sure, it’s catchy, but it’s got this nervous energy that keeps the listener on edge. They keep up the pace for the entire record. This thing just shreds. At times I’m reminded of the DEAD BOYS, only amped up a tad. And just for the hell of it, they throw in a PAGANS cover. Excellent record.

Primitive Hands Bad Men in the Grave LP

The cover (which is awesome) has you expecting a cowboy/western edge. Think Clint Eastwood and spaghetti westerns. Think cowboy surf. Add vocals. Now add some distortion. But it’s not one dimensional. Subsequent tracks get a little fuzzy. This is rock’n’roll. It’s crazy catchy and a little uncomfortable at the same time. That’s a pretty sweet combo. Just a few songs in and you realize that this goes well beyond some cowboy shtick. This is for reals. Man, they finish a great record with perhaps the best song, which is very RADIO BIRDMAN-like. I don’t know how long they’ve been at it, but Alien Snatch continues to deliver the goods.

Steve Adamyk Band Paradise LP

I love STEVE ADAMYK. If I liked guys and he liked guys and I wasn’t so much older than him, I’d probably ask him to marry me. Either him or Bobby Martinez. Anyway, you get here just what you’ve grown to expect: extremely catchy, infectious power-pop. As soon as you put the needle down, you start bouncing your head. It’s immediate. These dudes just consistently deliver. It’s catchy and melodic and all that, but don’t think that must mean that this isn’t raw rock’n’roll. Great record.

Neck You Don’t Think It’s Evil… LP

This is pretty straightforward punk’n’roll, and some might even call it pop punk. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals; mid-tempo and super catchy. It sounds like all members help out on the vocals, which creates some nice harmonies, and enhances the catchy factor. The song lyrics are mostly goofy and silly. It’s a fun record, meant to be enjoyed casually and not seriously. As soon as I put the record on, I was reminded of the old Seattle band HEAD.

The Hamiltones The Shape of Walter EP

While it’s not relevant to the music, this is one of the funniest record names I’ve heard in ages, and the accompanying picture sleeve is perfect. It’s all about the instrumentals here, as all four songs are instrumentals. While most of it is ’60s influenced surf, different songs have different feels, including upbeat and almost funky, or dark and eerie. There’s even a cover of “Without You,” a ’70s ballad made famous by HARRY NILSSON, but also recorded by BADFINGER and AIR SUPPLY. You’re in great company, guys. Solid release. Blue vinyl.

Postage Let Go 7" Flexi

This one is definitely in the catchy pop punk category, but it’s delivered in a way that isn’t overly sticky. Imagine a pop punk record from a band that didn’t have aspirations to make it in the mainstream world. That may sound like a weird thing to say, but I think that sort of captures it. It’s isn’t over-produced or have the vocals on top of everything else. Good job, guys.

Chachi on Acid / Butch Haller and His Chesterfield Ramblers Split EP

This is a funny one. Two bands, each offering up a single song, and it happens to be the same song: “Everyone’s a Urinal.” Is this a famous song that I’m not familiar with? Fuck, this is bugging me. Anyway, the CHACHI ON ACID version is a fairly straightforward punk version of the song. It’s catchy and well done. But the BUTCH HALLER take is a twangy country / rockabilly number. It’s also catchy and nicely done. Now if I could just figure out the mystery of the song.

The Cavemen Lowlife EP

I’m not sure why, but this record has a sort of Rip Off Records feel to it. Maybe it’s the black and white paper sleeve. Maybe it’s the relatively lo-fi production. If you’re a fan of straightforward punk rock that is raw and gritty, but still catchy and melodic, this is definitely for you. The B-side even gets a little swampy, but doesn’t lose the feel of the other cuts. This is worth going out of your way to find.

Lisa Marr / Tranzmitors In the Summer EP

Right off the bat with a FASTBACKS cover—that there is some bold shit. LISA MARR has a great voice, and I love the TRANZMITORS, but I’m not sure they really did much of anything with this song. In my mind, if you’re going to cover a great band like the FASTBACKS, you really need to do something with it. It kind of just sounds like a cover of “In the Summer.” They also cover two CUB songs. I honestly don’t know the originals, which might be better for me, as I have no reference point. My complaint about not doing anything with the A-cut aside, this is super poppy and catchy. It is right up my alley and I kind of love it. The one original is worthwhile and not at all dissimilar from the others. I can see myself listening to this over and over again. That voice!

Mandates Dead in the Face LP

This is a throwback. This is punk rock that is 100% rooted in rock’n’roll. The way it’s delivered reminds me of the DEAD BOYS. It’s faster-paced, it’s got a sense of urgency, it’s got lead guitar. The “Made in Canada” logo on the back cover doubles as a seal of approval, as Canadians are particularly good at power pop. As this one moves on, it definitely straddles that line between punk and power pop. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Outside of the quality of the recording, if someone told me this was from 1978, I’d totally believe that. Excellent.

King Flamingo / Nico Bones split EP

KING FLAMINGO get things going with some awesome local-fi power pop, which sort of reminds me of WHITE WIRES. Song number one is bare-bones garage rock with a definite ‘60s feel. Next up is a slower ballad with a certain DANIEL JOHNSTON quality, I’m not sure if it’s the vocals or the sort of spacey effects they employ. Fresh off an an attempt to win American Idol, NICO BONES start side two with a peppy rockabilly-inspired number. They finish things off with a rocker that has definite doo-wop components, even starting off sounding like a cover of “Runaround Sue.” I’m not sure I’d say any of the tracks are knock-yoursocks-off outstanding, but they all keep your attention. Not bad.

Ben Edge and the Electric Pencils Ben Edge and the Electric Pencils LP

I’m not even sure what an electric pencil is, but I feel like I owe it to these guys to find out. They start off strong with a catchy power pop number, heavy on the pop. Musically it’s solid, but also fairly straightforward. The focus is definitely on the catchy melodies and the vocals. The record continues this way. It’s mid-tempo and infectious throughout. Ben’s got a solid voice that sometimes borders on pretty. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pretty pop record, it’s a power pop record with vocals that are solid. I’d go out of my way to find this one.