The Gymslips Rocking with the Renees LP

This British all-girl trio emerges from relative obscurity with a delightful album of hard pop reminiscent of early GIRLS AT OUR BEST. Songs like “Drunk Problem” and “Barbara Cartland” counterbalance a gutsy guitar sound with irresistible melodies, but even ballads like “Thinking of You” connect with a vengeance. Comes with a free four-track EP.

The Outcasts Blood and Thunder LP

Northern Ireland’s OUTCASTS have been carrying the punk standard since ’78, and I’ve always been a big fan of theirs. So it really hurts to say that their second album is something of a letdown. Their earlier punky pop sound has gradually mutated into a churning, militaristic, metallic juggernaut with lots of hooks and inherent power, but little humanity. Moreover, eight of these twelve tracks have already been releases, their new versions of old classics like “Frustration” really pale in comparison, and “Sex and Glory” is the only newer song that really stands out. The OUTCASTS have lost their innocence, and the results are at best mixed.

UK Subs Shake Up the City EP

Despite their antics and posturing on stage, the SUBS are a good band. But not a great band by any means. All three songs here are solid rockers and represent some of the best aspects of ’77 Britpunk. A tip of the hat to Charlie Harper for keeping the faith (energetic), but so much has since changed.