Reviews

Alien Snatch

Bikes Bikes LP

Mellow and jamming are two words I never want associated with any music I listen to. Yet, they are the two that immediately pop into my head while listening to BIKES latest self-titled album. Still, I like it. It’s laid back and nonchalant, but rocking. It makes no sense. BIKES are garage rock moderne with no pretension and some catchy riffs. It’s a great album.

Catch As Catch Can Regular Vanilla LP

As soon as this started, Burger Records odors took over all of my senses. I was shocked that this wasn’t a new release from that label just due to the poppy, bubblegum garage vibrations being excreted by my speaker. Then I read that the cassette release will be coming out there, and all made sense in the world. This is four dudes from Germany who love them some garage pop saturated with oooooohs, ahhhhhhs, and jingly-jangly guitars. “Age of Coming” is a good pick if you want to anticipate a live sing-along, and “Pickle-Brine Chicken” is a real danceable jam about the culinary arts. These dudes have not reinvented any wheels, but this record is seeping with love of the genre.

Dangereens Tough Luck LP

Jingly jangly piano! Jingly jangly guitar! Jingly jangly trumpet and sax! This is some sharp and full-bodied rock and/or roll from Montreal, which seems to have a never-ending supply of great art seeping out from it. This is the kind of rock that you may initially be struck with the inclination to say “Hey! They’re ripping off…” and then realize you can’t actually pick the band. It sounds familiar, but that’s because this collection of musicians is just that good. There’s some glam, some garage, some power pop, and a whole lot of frantic energy. The first line of the album is “Here I am,” and from that point on, you’ll feel like you’re on a musical journey with a very showy guide. Check out “Streets of Doom,” for a foot-tappin’, booty shakin’ sampler of the glory.

Eerie Family Eerie Family LP

ALEX CUERVO’s “Everybody Disappear” is one of my favorite songs of all time. Since I have listened to it innumerable times, it was odd to hear it starting off this album. Not that it is a surprise since CUERVO is in EERIE FAMILY along with Alyse Mervosh—both also of the HEX DISPENSERS. This version of the song is different from the original, but a great song is great in any incarnation. It’s moody and slow, but unlike the other songs on this LP has an upbeat lyrical tone. The label calls EERIE FAMILY “gloom pop” which sounds just about right. The music brings me back to the late ’80s when the English goth rock bands decided they wanted to be cowboys. It’s keyboards and drums with a sparse, expansive sound. The vocals are lethargic and sullen. Perfect for a rainy, chilly winter day spent brooding in the house. Great record.

Glow Kit Naïve Antlers LP

Do you guys remember the ’90s? Super slick and glossy indie rock from the WEEZER/FANCLUB-esque seam was mined to great effect by TONY MOLINA, but in the case of Denmark’s GLOW KIT (overblown guitars aside) any hint of an edge has been burnished away in the massive production. The best pop is pop almost by accident; the execution of this album smacks of cynical intent.

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.

Outtacontroller Sure Thing LP

I’ve always been a fan of Alien Snatch Records. They consistently put out not just stuff that I like, but quality stuff. This one is no exception. I suppose I’d call this power pop, but it’s more than that. It’s catchy for sure, but it’s also got a fair amount of distortion that gives it some meat. I also find that vocals (and harmonies) give it a certain texture that elevates it above just being another decent power pop record. As I finish up listening to it, I’m struck that it’s a good record the first time through, but it’s also a certainty for me that it’ll just get better and better as I listen to it again. This is worth looking for.

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.

Real Tears Hay Fever LP

This second full-length release from Sweden’s REAL TEARS delivers thirteen high-energy power pop tracks, with a touch of glam and a gritty edge. They sound like the type of people that might get picked on by bikers while playing at an out-of-the way truck stop bar in the ’70s, but also like the type of people that might pull a crowbar out of their tour van and fight back. Classic rock’n’roll riffs figure heavily into the mix and the unchecked enthusiasm reminds of early MARKED MEN or the CARBONAS. A real feel-good record.

Sweet Reaper Closer Still LP

OK, this band got me trying to remember a Swedish pop band I used to listen to, it took me like a damn hour to think of… CAESAR’S PALACE, specifically the album Cherry Kicks. Ventura, CA’s SWEET REAPER presents way more punk in both production and songwriting, but it’s got a similar vocal delivery. A more relatable touchstone could be MARKED MEN, or I even dare to stretch it to HEX DISPENSERS. Don’t get too settled with my predictable Tex-ass comparisons though, because there’s a heap of California beach punk here, as per their proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Each pop vocal hook is sharpened deadly and cast through the cheek of any dumb punk willing to nibble. The drummer does that kick-drum-on-all-four-beats thing, topped with sixteenth-note hi-hats, it’s the ultimate thing to tip a band into danceable territory. A nice surprise! Who else hates the label name “Alien Snatch”?

Sweet Reaper Sidekick LP

I’ve always loved art that seems to peel back the mask of an otherwise serene and happy environment. Ventura’s SWEET REAPER exists in the tradition of beach punk like AGENT ORANGE, ADOLESCENTS, RIKK AGNEW, etc. On the surface, Ventura could seem like a shiny, happy surfer’s paradise, but this album simmers with the sun-bleached angst beneath the boardwalk. Musically, we’re coming out of the gate strong: lead-off track “Reapers Back” is the best song the MARKED MEN never wrote. The MARKED MEN comparison is a bit of a red herring though, as the rest of the album bears less of a resemblance to Denton’s finest. Still catchy as hell, but with a cynical detachment to the vocals and an abrasive jangle to the guitars that at times harkens back to the ADVERTS. Ten short songs packed with melody, hooks, and energy. No chaff.

TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects LP

This record really ticks off the boxes—eleven tracks, none of them over two-and-a-half minutes long, and reportedly recorded on one cheap microphone (but sounds better than most studio efforts). It has taffy-sweet hooks, but still sounds tough. Basically everything you want from nihilistic garage punk that’s still palatable enough to put on at a dinner party (depending on how cool your friends are). Hits a great STOOGES-like peak with the “Gimme Danger”-echoing highlight “It Ain’t Fun (In the City of the Whiplash).” The whole album slips in, slaps your face and dips out before you can ask for another. Raucous, gritty, and near-perfect.

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.