Reviews

Ray Lujan

Old Death Nothing Right EP

A three-song EP from this new Portland band with ex-members of SOME VELVET SIDEWALK, OSWALD FIVE O, and BILLY JACK AND THE HIPPY TEMPTATIONS. This is a dive bar cruncher. Gritty, reminiscent of US punk circa 1984. Hearing STOOGES, SICK PLEASURE, and DWARVES in the mix. Thumbs up.

George Heroine TMYTLTL LP

So this is a solo album by Muzz Delgado (MEERCAZ)—although it doesn’t sound like what little MEERCAZ I’ve heard. This almost sounds like a CALVIN JOHNSON release. It definitely has a kitsch ’70s feel; a vocals-over-a-musical-backdrop versus a band feel. I can’t say I was into this. Not really my thing musically but if you want something off-beat, lo-fi, and retro give this a listen.

Spells Stimulants & Sedatives LP

This Colorado band cranks out some cool guitar indie rock and melodic punk. This reminds me of later HÜSKER DÜ and BEACH SLANG but there’s also good female backing vocal interplay going on here. This is their second full-length and it’s pretty damn solid. There was a lot of this guitar punky pop coming out in the ’90s and it’s done well here.

Dakiniz Raging Shouts CD

Spastic angular noise rock from France. Borderline ’90s emo with a bit of DRIVE LIKE JEHU and JON SPENCER in the mix. I couldn’t get into this. It’s so loosely arranged and drawn out I kept getting lost in the songs. Oh well.

The Vibrators Hunting for You LP

This is a “first time on vinyl” release of this 1994 full-length. Don’t expect Pure Mania or V2 here. Hunting for You is tuneful rock and alternative which was par for the course in the ’90s, I suppose. This is well done with good production from these UK punk originals; it’s just a little light on punk.

Mechanical Canine Good Photography CD

From Philadelphia, this band has a ’90s college rock feel. A mix of VIOLENT FEMMES, ARCHERS OF LOAF, and CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH. For the most part on the noisy side but there is jangly pop at times as well. There’s some decent stuff on this, and although it’s not a punk rock rager, I can see the guitar indie rock crowd liking this.

Pears Pears CD

Third LP from this New Orleans band. Well-produced hardcore that has its pop-punk moments, if you consider the harder DESCENDENTS stuff pop-punk. The rest is on the melodic hardcore side à la KID DYNAMITE and STRIKE ANYWHERE. Solid full-length with some interesting twists along the way. A good live band, too.

Trial By Noise Complete Starter Kit! LP

Ignoring the skate rock and punk tags on their bandcamp page, I can’t tell if this sounds like SYSTEM OF A DOWN or a Mike Watt band recording, and that’s being generous. This is pretty slick and sounds prog to me with lots of vocal harmonies. This is well done for the vague genre, but I’m just not digging this sound in 2020.

Fur Coats Dystopia Sherbit LP

Art punk stuff from Texas via Chicago. This combo is fronted by an ex-NO EMPATHY member from the 80’s Chicago scene. Kind of spastic without getting too out there. A mix of a Mike Watt band, PERE UBU, and ARCHERS OF LOAF. I’m digging this release from Johann’s Face Records who had a pretty good run in the ’90s.

Negative Runners Negative Runners LP

This French band has an early LEATHERFACE feel. Although not nearly on that level, this is some decent gruffy vocals punk with lyrics in English. Maybe a little RANCID in the mix, too. An eight-song release of melodic guitar punk.

Slaughter Boys Slaughter Boys LP

This San Diego band cranks out the 1979-1984 UK-style punk. Think GBH, the two-string riffing of CHELSEA, and EXPLOITED. This is a pretty solid release song wise from this trio. Thirteen tracks on this debut full-length. Good stuff for Brit punk types.

Too Many Voices Catch Me If You Can 12″

Melodic hardcore from New York. I was thinking these guys have a DC thing going on in a SHUDDER TO THINK kind of way. Then a cover of the 3 classic “Swann Street” comes up. Pretty cool. But there is also a metal-ish ANGELIC UPSTARTS feel on a few of the songs. Seven tracks on this which actually came out in 2018 while their first full-length came out in 2015. So it is what it is in 2020. Decent.

Notches New Kinda Love LP

Very ’90s-sounding indie rock. I loved this genre back then. I’m thinking SUPERCHUNK, ARCHERS OF LOAF, and even a little SAMIAM. New Kinda Love is this New Hampshire trio’s third LP. First time I’ve heard them. Dead Broke has become a pretty reliable label for us melodic guitar punk types. Great full-length.

V/A Behind This Wall EP

A 7″ comp from the Mojave Desert in Cali. Bands included on this are RECLAIM, NOBLES BONES, MARRÓN, COUNTY FAIR, and CEL DAMAGE. Pretty much a hardcore collection that stays away from generic thrash. A good start for a lesser-known scene.

Judex The Cult of Judex / Witchface 7″

A couple of songs from this Philadelphia band. Rock’n’roll tunes with delay on the guitar, à la LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH and later DAMNED. Also has a goth-y rockabilly feel too. Decent.

Friends of Dorothy Where Are All the Pretty Boys? / I Don’t Know Anything About Love 7″

This is a synth punk release which features the singer of HENRY FIAT’S OPEN SORE. Although, through a little research, I found out this band has its trashy punk side and this is an alter ego. Of course I’m gonna go say DEVO and SCREAMERS for similarities. I’d like to hear a whole album of this.

The Phone Jerks 10×10 10″

This New Jersey band cranks out the up-tempo garage punk. Supposedly, a SUPERCHARGER cover band originally (major cool points there), this has a sped-up DEAD BOYS and SAINTS feel. Pretty rockin’.

TV Crime Metal Town LP

This British band plays tuneful, raw melodic punk. Yes, the vocals do have an ELVIS COSTELLO feel. Musically, this sounds very UK 1979 to me: CLASH, BUZZCOCKS, EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS… Yes, it’s been done before, but these guys do it well. Excellent.

Platinum Boys Raw Romance LP

Punky rock’n’roll with some power pop and twang in the mix. Think 1981 US type of stuff à la the PLIMSOULS and STIV BATORS’s solo stuff. This is decent, but it lacks the memorable material of the mentioned bands. Although I’m sure this band gets the local bar going on a Friday night.

Crimson Ghostbusters Crimson Ghostbusters LP

Remember funny college dorm rock bands? These local vets crank it out punk style. Songs that walk that fine line between cover and mash up. Lots of MISFITS bits here mixed with BUGGLES, SLAYER, CHEAP TRICK, THIN LIZZY, TOM PETTY, and others. A good time that’s not for grumpy people.

Corner Boys Waiting for 2020 LP

This sounds so 1979 indie punk, where punk was really pop. PROTEX, POINTED STICKS, and even first-LP UNDERTONES comparisons are dead on. This is this Vancouver band’s debut LP, and it’s pretty damn solid. The raw production really makes a difference. Great LP!

Poison Boys Poppin’ Eyes and Flashing Feet 7″

A two-song 45 from these Chicago boys. Straight out of the STOOGES and JOHNNY THUNDERS school of rock’n’roll. This came out a year back, and they’ve since put out a full-length. Back in the day, they would have fit right in with that CBGB’s sound. Good stuff.

Jumpstarted Plowhards Round One CD

This band is Todd Congelliers of FYP and TOYS THAT KILL fame, and on bass is Mike Watt. Yes, that Mike Watt, along with multiple drummers. Eight spastic and twisted tunes that are under-produced and dissonant. This is very college rock circa 1990. I like it.

Teenage Bottlerocket Teenage Bottlerocket vs. Human Robots EP

A four-songer from the TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET camp. Two songs from the band, including the new uptempo classic “Olivia Goes To Bolivia.” The second 2 songs are Ray and his son Milo dishing out some barely teenage angst music. This band can do no wrong for me.

Batshit Crazy Bat$hit!crazy CD

This band claims influences of BLACK FLAG, MISFITS, and SCREECHING WEASEL but I’m just hearing screamo and melodic emo. Think Warped Tour circa 2010, which isn’t meant as a put down. Not my go-to genre, but this is decent, especially if you are in high school and wear lots of black.

Råttanson I’d Much Rather Be With the Noise LP

I wish there was more noise on this release from this Swedish combo. There’s a lot of ’60s ROLLING STONES worship going on here. In fact, it makes me want to hear some ’60s STONES, which isn’t even my favorite era of them. A dash of ’60s organ and some ’70s power pop in the mix as well. Probably best for the ’60s fashion crowd.

Control Freaks She’s the Bomb LP

This local band is the latest Greg Ripoff combo. A fun garage punk romp with dual male/female vocals. On their second full-length, they have a new woman on co-vocals, and the songs are short simple, and catchy. A fun band live as well, if you can tolerate an insult or two.

V/A Vent the Spew Vol. 1 LP

File under “I guess you had to be there.” This is a collection of Columbus, OH-area bands from 1993-95. A reissue of Burnt Sienna Label recordings featuring multiple tracks from five bands: PET UFO, CLAY, MOODY JACKSON, MY WHITE BREAD MOM, and HAIRY PATT BAND. On the upside, this is punk from a self-described “Cowtown” and it’s thrash-y and decent.

The Gerbils Are You Sleepy LP

So this is the 20th anniversary release of this album on Elephant 6. I can’t say I knew this band, as I never really followed this label during my 90’s lo-fi tolerant days. This band did include members of NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL, who recently had no problem selling out good sized theaters on their reunion tour, though their main songwriter was not in this band. Anyways, this reminds me early PAVEMENT with more going on. One for lo-fi enthusiasts.

Sicko In the Alternate Timeline CD

So SICKO is back together, or maybe not—they did just play recently. I used to see this band in the ’90s during pop punk’s golden era. This is a “best of” collection, and it’s a pop punk ripper. Very cool energetic pop tunes that stay away from the RAMONES worship thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A good starting point for the pop punkers who don’t know this Seattle band.

The Voids The Voids 12″

This SoCal band has been around since 1999. Hardcore punk with a female singer who sings and doesn’t scream. Music is Brit HC circa 1982. A bit of GBH, which I guess would make this like VICE SQUAD. This also reminds of the CREAMERS with its energy. This is their third 12” in all these years.

The Last Throes Hammered EP

A New York trio here playing some punk rock’n’roll. It gets a touch hard rock at times without getting self indulgent. Sounds almost AmRep or Sub Pop-ish in sound, back when bands had some chops to show off.

Brandy & the Butcher Pretty Girls / Mr. Dorite 7″

A couple of tough rock’n’roll tracks from this South Carolina band. This reminds me of that wave of bands in the late ’80s that were hard rock but claimed to be punk influenced. They do a decent job here, but this just doesn’t do much for me. Maybe I’m missing the bar band appeal?

Stay Clean Jolene Live at the Dog Bolton 22/2/14 EP

This apparently no-longer-together UK band has some nice, early LEATHERFACE worship going on here. This four-song 7″ EP is an excerpt from a live recording, the rest of which is available digitally, but not on vinyl or CD as far as I can tell. Anyways, this is pretty cool in the modern melodic hardcore vein that had some great UK bands in the ’90s.

State Drugs Takings & Leavings LP

This is a compilation of previous recordings/releases from this Colorado band. It reminds of later HÜSKER DÜ with EVAN DANDO-like vocals; a little ARMCHAIR MARTIAN-sounding at times as well. This is decent, but surely not on the level of the aforementioned bands. Still, I like this melodic, somewhat crowded genre, and this band isn’t bad at it.

The Patients I Am Your Muse LP

This SoCal band has a weird indie feel at times, à la a post-MINUTEMEN Mike Watt band. There’s also a ROLLINS BAND vibe at times as well. I can’t say this is a genre I’m big on, but if you like art/jazz/punk-type indie rock, check these guys out.

Let Rage! Stay Safe Stay Strong EP

This relatively new LA band features Timmy Chunks of TOKEN ENTRY fame. This five-track EP features stuff along the lines of TOKEN ENTRY, youth crew, and early DAG NASTY. A decent release.

Mean Jeans Gigantic Sike CD

These Portland popsters are back with another fun solid release. Pop punk meets power pop along the ways of the YUM YUMS, the TRAVOLTAS, and of course the RAMONES. 11 songs in 21 minutes, so there’s no doodling around here. I’ve seen this trio several times, and they are good live as well. Together since 2006, this is their fifth full-length. Top notch band for the pop folk.

Meatbot Nine Scalias CD

A four-song CD EP from Maryland. This band of punk vets includes former members of BEEFEATER and VISIGOTHS. Stripped-down US punk circa 1982, which would fit right in on Not So Quiet on the Westwen Front. Basic, fed up, and to the point.

Good Riddance Thoughts and Prayers CD

It’s been a while seen I’ve heard a current release for this Northern California band. Granted, they had disbanded and reunited in 2012. A catchy full-length that’s musically in the vein of labelmates NOFX and LAGWAGON, and strong vocals with a sociopolitical bent lyrically.

Dan Webb and the Spiders Now It Can Be Told Vol. 2 CD

A collection of tracks recorded between 2015-2017, mostly previously released. This Boston band cranks out college-rock-meets-tuneful-punk-meets-indie-rock. Think early SOUL ASYLUM, DINOSAUR JR, and SUPERCHUNK with a range of tempos. It’s nice to have these tracks on one convenient CD. A very tuneful and underrated band.

Barren Marys Wired Wrong CD

This Philadelphia melodic punk band plays uptempo stuff that reminds me of early FACE TO FACE and ’90s-era NOFX. Think Fat and Dr. Strange. This was OK, but nothing stood out to make it rise above the pop punk heap. Still, a good band for the Philly pop punk locals.

Hip Priests Stand for Nothing CD

This UK band rocks pretty hard. Great riffs and choruses with a bad attitude. Along the ways of TURBONEGRO, MOTÖRHEAD, and early DAMNED. Although lots of bands give us relentless guitar rock’n’roll, this really hits the mark tune-wise. Great full-length!

UK Subs Subversions II CD

A second album of newly recorded covers from these UK punk old timers. Still a great band after all these years, we are treated to versions of “Immigrant Song,” “Search and Destroy,” “This Is Rock ’n’ Roll,” and the uptempo version of “We Will Rock You” as well as eight other tasteful oldies. It’s a lot of fun, and it sure beats the usual “live cover” on the flip side.

Jonny Manak and the Depressives Anybody Wanna Skate CD

I’ve seen these guys a few times, but this full-length really bumps them up a notch or two for me. Well-produced punk rock’n’roll that has an early SAINTS quality. Maybe they’ve gotten more garage over the years? There’s still a touch of pop punk here, but as a whole, this rocks pretty good.

Tiger Touch Hawthorne Boogie / Berlin City 7″

This is the second 7″ from these Portland rockers. A couple hard rock punk crunchers in the MC5 and STOOGES-influenced vein, and in more current terms, think TURBONEGRO. Cool stuff, and “Berlin City” is an instant classic!

Teenage Bottlerocket Stay Rad! CD

One of my favorites. These Wyoming guys have been dishing out the quality pop punk for close to twenty years, and this is their first full length of originals since the passing of their drummer Brandon in 2015. Another full-length packed with RAMONES-influenced pop punk, with a few hard rockers and slower tunes to mix it up. Great album, great band!

Latte+ Next To Ruin CD

This Italian pop punk band does the QUEERS / SCREECHING WEASEL thing. They have no problem pulling it off, as this is pretty solid. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really stand out in this well-populated genre. I’m sure they are great for the locals though, and this does have some gems. However, to their credit, this is their eighth album in twenty-two years. Best for RAMONES-esque punk completists and locals, but not a bad CD.

Wimpy Dicks Kill Chain CD

This band has been around since 1980, with the singer/bass player being the lone original member. From San Luis Obispo, they play sloppy mid-’80s skate punk, a lot like the wave that included the FACTION and JFA. Although I give them props for sticking to this genre for so long, I didn’t like this at all. The vocals try to jam in too many words to fit the music, and the uneven playing and song mixes don’t help. Admittedly, I’ve never been a skate punk guy, but I do like it when it’s done right.

Someday Best III (The Empress) EP

This is a young emo pop punk band from South Dakota. Sound wise, this is along the ways of GET UP KIDS and TAKING BACK SUNDAY. The vocals are pretty off on this three-song release. Like way off, in a hitting-lots-of-bad-notes way. Oh well.

The Sleeping Aids & Razorblades Parallax View 10″

This Japanese power pop punk band has been around for five years or so. I can only assume they got their name from the EXPLODING HEARTS song. New wave power-pop with keyboard in the mix at times. Vocals in English, the songs here are pretty solid along the ways of later BUZZCOCKS as well as CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH vocally. Fans of Snuffy Smiles type pop punk will like this.

New Age Group All Grown Up EP

This Australian combo plays buzzsaw pop, along the ways of RADIOACTIVITY and PROTEX. The vocals get a little off-key at times, but the overall feel makes up for that. Really looking forward to hearing more from these guys.

Blackcat Manor From Here on Out CD

This midwest band plays punk metal. This five-song EP is sometimes screamo and sometimes sung vocals, with lots of musical chops and twists. Although I like somewhat similar bands like STRUNG OUT and PROPAGANDHI, as well as metal in general, this just sounds too generically thrashy for me.

Greg Antista and the Lonely Streets Shake Stomp and Stumble CD

This tuneful band has a lot of SoCal history, with ex-members of JOYRIDE, MANIC HISPANIC, CADILLAC TRAMPS, and DI. This also includes a song by Steve Soto, who was also in JOYRIDE. This reminds me of the country side of recent SOCIAL DISTORTION, with nice harmonies and instrumentation. Not for thrashers, but this is pretty good stuff for the aging punk circuit.

Some Gifts Facts?!? CD

So this punky indie rock bands reminds me of ARCHERS OF LOAF, KNAPSACK, and THE PIXIES. Good influences, but not nearly on that level. There needs to be more new bands like this, but I just wish the tunes here grabbed me more.

Oldfashioned Ideas Still Worth Fighting For CD

Swedish streetpunk here. Although the vocals here are gruff, this has a tuneful feel that borders on NEWTOWN NEUROTICS and the UK SUBS at times. Luckily the songs are not about raising a beer with the boys. Although this got a bit redundant by the end, I do give it a thumbs up.

Noncompliants Fed Up CD

This New York trio plays angry bar punk. Sort of like that glut of SOCIAL DISTORTION and early ANGRY SAMOANS-influenced bands of the early ’90s. These guys are pretty negative and without much humor in the mix. Music for “fuck everybody” punks who wake up pissed off and ready to fight.

Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One All Are Welcome LP

This isn’t all that unique sounding as far as singer songwriter stuff goes outside of punk. This has moments of alt-country, folk, and guitar heavy indie rock. The rock stuff reminds me of BOB MOULD’s solo stuff as well as his ’90s band SUGAR, with a bit of twang, and the folk stuff reminds me of the WATERBOYS. Being a member of the NEW DARKBUSTER and STREET DOGS, I was expecting predictable punk folk, but this turned out more interesting. Solid release.

Butterscotch Stanley Maybe I’ll Move CD

Punky indie rock from New York. Mid-tempo stuff that has a TOO MUCH JOY, ARCHERS OF LOAF, and even WEEZER feel. Lyrically they are witty and funny, and the vocals can get slightly off-key. This was OK, but that’s about it.

Tightwire Six Feet Deep CD

A QUEERS / ATARIS / FIENDS-type pop punk band from Minneapolis that are a couple years old and play done-to-death. That said, it is done well. Being a trio, it’s pretty straight forward musically, as the short songs are catchy, and the vocals are on key. For the pop punk elite only.

The Next Mad House CD

This band started in 1978, and played the Mabuhay during the club’s early punk heyday of the late ’70s. This a full-length of new songs which comes after a decades-long hiatus. A good mix of spunky punk and power pop songs. This reminds a lot of the BRIEFS, but there is a NEW YORK DOLLS quality at times as well. Good stuff.

Mighty Quinn & the Oakland Ronin Mighty Quinn & the Oakland Ronin CD

Apparently, this band had a song played on an episode of Scrubs, or at least its singer did. I wouldn’t call this punk, maybe punky alternative? It reminds of early RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS before they became a household name on MTV. I was never into that CHILI PEPPERS or JANE’S ADDICTION “punk influenced” sound. Not bad but not my thing. Where’s Spin when you need it?

Lazy Class Interesting Times CD

This is street punk / Oi! from Poland with vocals in English. These guys have been around for about five years. This is decent and certainly anthemic in the vein of RANCID or the COCKNEY REJECTS, with a bit of MOTÖRHEAD-style rock. Although certainly not on those bands’ level, this is pretty solid for crowded genre.