We often have a good moan on here about bands advertising UK tours and then post 4 dates in middle England or 6 dates with the token in Scotland. Well, the Bellrays do it old school. they take one of the finest bands out as tour openers and also throw in the excellent The Charlemagnes for good measure and then charge us less than fifteen pounds! yup, all that Rock and Roll for the price of three pints – what a bargain. Oh and they pop over the bridge (like they always do) and play in Wales.
It’s the excellent Newport Le Pub where we find ourselves for this post-Christmas celebration and we’re reminded by Lisa Kekaula that this is the evening of the bands thirtieth year in existence and funnily enough the last time they were in this very venue it was the night of hers and Robert Vennum’s wedding anniversary. Anyway, before we get to the main course there are two very tasty appetizers ahead of us and the first course is The Charlemagnes a four-piece from outta Sarf London but with an exotic past and existence. They’ve been here before but that was several years and maybe now is the time for some sleazy garage Rock and Roll. they get down to business and then a string is broken but it doesn’t derail the band nor does them playing two songs at the same time hey nobody would have known but we appreciate the attention to detail and after a false start they regain composure and go again. It’s not long before they are motoring through their material and boy does it sound good. They have swagger and most importantly of all they have the tunes to back it up. the highlights from their brief but most enjoyable set were ‘(No) Pay Day (In the USA)’ and ‘Shellshock Shuffle’. Sadly the set was over and off they went but they’d left a mark on those watching who couldn’t help but be impressed by The Charlemagnes.
Next up is the magnificent Los Pepes. A band bristling with energy and great songs. With four studio albums, a Greatest Hits compilation and a raft of 7″ singles under their collective belts it’s fair to say that Los Pepes don’t wait to be invited into the studio and Ben must sleep about half an hour a day such is his output because it seems that when they’re not playing somewhere in Europe they’re recording a new record. Now if you’ve not heard of Los Pepes until now there is a wealth of records for you to go and invest in before you settle down to kick yourself over and over for joining the party this late in the game. But, the fact you’re here now is good and better late than never.
It’s been a while since I last saw the band and there have been a few line-up changes but they move so fast it wouldn’t surprise me if they had a revolving door put in their tour van. I’m sure it’s not easy keeping up the pace but tonight (their first show in Wales) they are on form as power through their set of motorhead using AC/DC’s amps playing power-pop (that just about sums them up) oh and chucking songs out like prime time Dee Dee and da Brothers. Hooks they’ve got em, Melodies got them too. Catchy body movers? Of course, you can’t stand still because they can’t either. If I had to pick a song then when they plowed through ‘Automatic’ and ‘The Trap’ but there were so many great songs in their repertoire it doesn’t matter what they play to be fair they could play the yellow pages and make it sound vital and exciting.
I was in power pop heaven as my ears were taking a pounding. The PA was shaking due to the volume they play at but if it’s too loud you’re too old. Los Pepes came, saw and conquered. Now you’ve popped your cherry don’t leave it too long before heading back this way – Newport Loves you long time Los Pepes.
Onto the Bellrays. To have such a strong pair of opening acts is quite refreshing that they want to offer as much VFM and are confident in themselves and their own catalogue of songs that they brave following Los Pepes. Anyway, the walls are beginning to sweat as Lisa gets on with the show and rock the house with ‘Bad Reaction’ from their last studio album and for the next hour and some the proceed to turn up the Rock and Roll quota with their soul meets garage meets Rock and punk attitude tunes all lead by the awesome vocals of Lisa Kekaula as she compares the finale of this rock and roll revue and not for one second throughout the bands faultless set do they drop the energy or delivery. Sure you get the bluesy soulful funky workouts James Brown-style but we all need to catch out-breath. This band are relentlessly entertaining and have the songs in the bank.
The set was building and building and the three out front all took turns on vocals that lead to the finale of ‘Love And Hard Times’ and ‘Black Lightning’ after dipping into songs from all throughout their career their thirty-year career that is. All around were exhausted smiling faces after the perfect ending to a wonderful night of Rock and Roll and it has to be said how sharp and right on the money the sound was tonight. Loud but never too loud and all three bands brought their best.
Always a good time watching The Bellrays and here’s to many more anniversaries held in the confines of Le Pub, see you next time.
To kick off the year why not follow our recommendations on streaming services. All the bands are either heading out on tour early 2020, released albums late 2019 or got records ready to drop which we’ve been lucky enough to hear and by lending a helping hand we’re offering you the chance to hear what we’re hearing on our players at RPM Towers. Go fill yer boots guys n gals and let em know who sent you.
A few years ago Sonny Vincent’s family were the victims of a terrible life-changing accident. Sonny at the time was living in Europe and plying his trade playing Rock and Roll for a living. The former Testors frontman dropped everything to be by his family’s side and care for his loved ones.
The American health system is what it is meant that Sonny has had to graft and fight for every single bandage and rubber glove since that fateful night. Unable to do what he does Sonny has been by his family’s side since and through the kindness of others has kept his head above water and there was a compilation album released where the proceeds went to Sonny and his family’s medical costs and now after taking pre-orders it was a no brainer to part with a small donation and get a double CD in return of 32 covers of Testors songs from all over the globe. Many will be unknown to most some will be known to many so without further delay lets dig in.
Now out of the 32 tracks on offer the only gripe I have which is a minor gripe but did half a dozen bands have to record ‘Bad Attitude’ and another few recorded ‘Zooed Out’ or ‘Together’. Picky I know but maybe it might have been better for them to toss in an original song influenced by Testors I dunno, oh stop moaning I know I know.
First up on disc one is The Enders ripping through ‘Madras Prison’ and it sort of sets the tone for what’s to come and that’s a full force compilation album of dedicated punk rock and rollas doing what they do best and helping a brother when he needs a hand. Take a deep breath because this is a rocket-fuelled ride – hold on to your undercrackers because Baby Shitters own ‘Tracy McPrichtease’ and the solo rips and I’m sure when Sonny heard this he raised an eyebrow at least.
I actually own the Black Cat Rebellion album so I’m aware of these guys and their contribution is quality and sleazy. Another I’m up to speed with is Zodiac Panthers and their take is caustic and fired up and ‘Primitive’. I ain’t ever heard of the Electric Tool City Boys but they blast through ‘Bad Attitude’ and give it some of their own attitude as they take it, strip it back and kick it around for a while before doing it all again faster and harder this is turning out to be one hell of a compilation album with bands I’ve never heard of really impressing me. I’ll be honest there isn’t a bad track on offer here and the bands chosen deserve so much credit as does whoever put this together because I bow down to their superior knowledge of underground punk n roll n trash rock n roll because there are so many awesome bands on this CD its insane.
It’s not really until the tenth track when Frank Makak kicks back and plays ‘Rainy Night’ at less than full tilt and I needed the breather and when it’s as good as this I just smile. things do pick up again mind as you’d expect. the first disc is brought to a close with Les Lullies knocking out a rampant ‘Bad Attitude’ aaaaand breath, hell, go for a lie-down CD two is coming up.
Not a name I was expecting to see on this punk tribute was that of Scandinavian Black Metal legends Darkthrone but fuck me sideways ‘Bad Attitude’ is apt and theirs is a punk as fuck version even if its not that much of a stretch from Black Metal to punk its great to hear them pay their dues and do it so well. you also have Simon Chainsaw rockin’ up with his offering of ‘You Don’t Break My Heart’. After Flesh Rag tip up with the third interpretation of ‘Bad Attitude’ as well as it’s delivered maybe there should have been a limit to what you could record.
A band several of us rave over is Londons Los Pepes who offer up ‘Together’ in their own style and with their harmonies its the obvious choice and exceptionally delivered. Clockwork Boys from Lisboa deliver ‘Morte’ (Its Only Death) and jolly good it is too (as you’d expect).
You do get four versions back to back of ‘Together’ with the Psychotic Turnbuckles delivering a live version that sounds like an old school bootleg played in a bucket of water but hey it’s punk rock yeah? Hell yeah! and to be fair it’s a world away from Lester Greenowski’s take on the same track all smokey and late-night an excellent take on a classic. But wait Billy The Kidd has done the last version and its a sparse piano ballad, not something I saw coming thats for sure so lumping these same songs together is fine as the interpretations are magnificent making this one hell of a tribute album leaing just Cheap Damage to play ‘Scary’ with strings n all making it very seductive indeed. Closing off the whole shebang is The DC Spectres with ‘Sonny Vincent Knows’ and what a splendid way to end this CD. Some garage punk played by people who give a shit and care about their brothers and sisters on the other side of the pond.
Big Hearted bands help because they care about Sonny and his family now dig deep people and share the love and in return, you’ll get your hands on a mighty fine compilation CD with some great playing of some great Testors tunes. Now don’t hang about get on it! Now!!!
Blues is the teacher. Punk is the preacher. It’s all about emotion and energy, experience and raw talent, spirit and intellect. Exciting things happen when these things collide.
Bob Vennum and Lisa Kekaula made the BellRays happen in 1991 in East LA but they weren’t really thinking about any of this then. They wanted to play music and they wanted it to feel good. They wanted people to WANT to get up, to NEED to get up and check out what was going on. Form an opinion. React.
So they took everything they knew about; the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, the Who, the Ramones, Billie Holiday, Lou Rawls, Hank Williams, the DB’s, Jimmy Reed, Led Zeppelin, to name a very few and pressed it into service.
It was never about coming up with a ‘sound’, or fitting in with a scene. It was about the energy that made all that music so irresistible. It was the history BEFORE Led Zeppelin that led them to that point. The Beatles thought they were playing R&B. It just came out like ‘Rubber Soul’. The Ramones were trying to be Del Shannon or Neil Sedaka and out came ‘Rocket to Russia’.
With the BellRays there was no conscious effort to ‘combine’ rock and soul because they didn’t see them as divided in the first place. Blues was teaching. Punk was preaching. The BellRays were always listening.
Another month another visit to the jukebox to see what sevens are spinning round the RPM Jukebox. this month sees a mixed bag with some of our favorites knocking out 45s and some welcome new bands dipping their toes in the water. We love a 45 and this month sees some tasty singles. In no particular order this lot are well worth checking out.
Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour – ‘(Everybody Needs) A Friend’ (King Outlaw Records) What a reet little corker this is. Not expecting a tune this good to come from camp Tyla but hey, here it is, its a gentle rock and roller with all those vital ingredients that were required in the 80s and beyond. It’s got the sloppy rock n roll edge you know you want to hear when Tylas familiar vocal comes in. ruffle your hair (if you can) get out of bed put this on and you’re good to go. It’s backed by live renditions of ‘111’ with the band firing on all cylinders and you also get an exceptional atmospheric live take on the epic ‘Bullet Proof Poet’ part acoustic part electric but it melts into ‘Angel’ to create a pretty epic eight minutes that makes this worth the price of a pint any day of the week. Still got it , still relevant, still rockin’? Absofuckinlutely! don’t ever doubt it! Pick it up Here
Suicide Generation – Prisoner Of Love (Surfin ‘Ki Records/ Family Spree/Spaghetty Town Records/Wanda Records) Another day another absolute killer record from Suicide Generation. This time they’ve got some seriously good labels to share the love around with each label having its own coloured vinyl. Three tracks of classic Suicide Generation it’s wild, loud and a whole lot of fun in the tradition of Garage Punks from The Stooges to the Damneds debut via channeling some Lux interior Suicide Generation are an explosion of the finest noise currently making exciting records that you would be foolish to ignore.
Razorbats – White Trash Radio Another slice of Prime Norweigan Rock and Roll with their usual mix of HArd Rock some classic Rock and a generous slice of power pop a melody and hook to die for Razorbats always deliver and this one is a beauty. An instant hook on the chorus that you can sing along to and a breakdown that sounds like Had the Police been a ’70s inspired glam Rock outfit then they might have penned this bad boy.
Don’t be daft it’s one single do yourself a favour and go discover your new favourite band from Norway – you can thank me later and if this is a taste of what’s to come then I can’t wait for the next album on this form it will be a real contender. Facebook
Paradise Alley/Plastic Tears – Class of ’92 (Self Release) Turning back the clock Paradise Alley look back all (Plastic) teary-eyed at ’92. It’s a romping glam slammer and these two bands have teamed up to make what might just be the best song for both bands to be fair. Call it nostalgia call it some old rockers just not wanting to go quietly into the night but whatever the reason for the regrouping of Paradise Alley songs like this makes it worthwhile. Sounding like 69 Eyes used to sound isn’t a bad place to hitch your wagon and anyone can join in on the chorus.
Available as a CD from the band for the handsome price of £3 so hit em up glamsters and pull on those cowboy boots n backcomb your hair its time to get rockin’
Lauren Tate – What About The Kids (Trash Queen Records) Second single taken off her debut album Lauren Tate heads off in a differnet direction that will have fans purring at her new direction and diversity. Check out the new album details on her website Here
Los Pepes – Automatic / Here Comes The Darkness (Wanda and Beluga Records) Los Pepes have joined Beluga Records for a guest 7inch record, to support there euro tour. Still the loudest powerpop band on earth…the Motörhead of powerpop! No hit wonder 60s and 70s garage pop melodies drowning in a wall of punk rock guitar. With four new tracks on this 7″.
‘Automatic’ is the best song The Hellacopters never wrote. Man has Ben ever written a duff track? Of course he hasn’t and this EP is another blinder Catchy, Melodic, loud and smack bang on the money. They’ve even had time to nip back to the 1960s and nick a Small Faces inspired tune ‘Here Comes The Darkness’ but thats not to say this is Rock and Roll isn’t up to scratch because it isn’t its a splash of fury, 12 bar at breakneck speed wham, bang, thank you, man! and ‘your Justice’ is pure Los Pepes coasting on a wave of everything they’re great at. Another essential single from London’s finest.
Baby Shakes – Cause A Scene (Surfin ‘Ki Records) Features a previously unreleased B side of the Teenage Head track ‘Tearin’ Me Apart’ available in several coloured records this Garage punk rock and roll banger is available Here With a Racey rockin drum beat on the intro its more poppwer than power pop but its sickly sweet and a beautiful thing and well worth checking out. Baby Shakes always do Rock and Roll with a tonne of melody and attitude and the solo is bitchin as they say in some rock and roll quarters.
Fast Eddy – Toofer One (Spaghetty Town Records/Boulevard Trash) You want Rock and Roll with loud guitars then Spaghetty Town have unopened another cracker in the shape of Fast Eddy. Having your EP Produced and endorsed by Tuk from Biters is something to wear on your denim cut off. Coming outta Denver these four (named after their Drug Dealer) they’ve been weaned on the best stuff money can buy no not drugs I mean Rock and Roll. From the power-pop with loud guitars of ‘Hurricane Alley’ its got all the vital ingredients to sustain life from the kickin harmonies on the pre-chorus to the solos and guitar licks that cover the tune its all killer no filler. ‘Milwaukee’ is a distant relative of the Faces if they were born stateside and they saved the best til last as ‘Lost’ is the best tune of the month pure 100% Rock and Roll with energy aplenty its just sunshine on a 45. Awesome
The Gotham Rockets – Blast Off (Rum Bar Records/Murry Sounds) When you name check being past as members of The Devil Dogs, The Fleshtones, Jack Black, The Prissteens, Simon & The Bar Sinisters, The Swingin’ Neckbreakers, The Trash Mavericks, and The Waldos, Of course, RPM is gonna be interested in what you have to offer. From the awesome horn honkin’ on ‘What’s Done Is Done’ via the bad boy boogie of ‘Bad With Girls’ this is the bomb. ‘Rip this Night’ is a slice of classic heads down and jive talk and duck walk as we hand jive through the next three minutes of rock and roll. What a great slice of rock and roll and with added sax appeal its gotta come highly recommended and we endorse it 100%
The Empty Hearts – Coat Tailer (Wicked Cool Records) Just another Cool as tune from these power-pop giants. ‘Coat Tailer’ is a sprightly humdinger with some great harmonies and sharp solos but theres enough bit in that guitar riff and its got Clem Burke on the drum kit. It’s great to have them back making new music and they’ve found the perfect label for their well-rounded sound.
The B Side is a light Beatles esque tune with more great vocals as it just sort of reminds me of walking through a park kicking leaves carefree. The Empty Hearts doing what they do best writing great power pop – Result.
Available on glow in the dark vinyl – Cool. Buy it Here
45 Rally – Bigly (Rum Bar Records) Switzerland’s garage rock sensations 45 RALLY have taken all of their song titles from presidential tweets. But in keeping up with their Swiss heritage, they have decided to remain politically neutral. The music here, a combination of Bubble Gum, Garage Rock, Country and Punk was created for everyone’s listening pleasure. So to all of our Conservative, Liberal and Moderate fans, it’s time to unite! Grab your earbuds, some chocolate and hit the slopes with TWEETS FOR MY SWEET by 45 RALLY! With an equally swing yer pants video this is happy garage for sure.
Screamer – Halo (the Sign Records) Heavy Fuckin’ Metal! make no bones about it folk Screamer aren’t nu metal or Death Metal they just rock like a steam train. Fist pumpin’, Denim, and leather-clad, long-haired, metalheads. think Tank think Motorhead think Tysondog think real metal. Screamer do no frills metal and its Rockin’. with a new album that has a man with wings on a horse al thats missing is some fire and a weapon like a mace or a hammer and they’d be all in. The album is due this month and its called ‘Highway Of Halos’ get on it.
Right Hand Left Hand – Chacabuco (Bubblewrap Collective) clocking in at the most unsingle like length of a couple of seconds under seven minutes and two minutes elapse before former Estrons singer Taliesyn Kallstrom joins the party. Post-Rock duo Right Hand Left Hand are back with a brand new album. Following on from their self-titled, Welsh Music Prize-nominated second album, their third offering, ‘Zone Rouge’, tells the story of humanity’s contempt for the earth beneath us, the air above us and the people around us. Layers of guitars and driving drums are the order of the day married with ambient space in between call it art rock or post-punk indie but one thing it does is build and build.
’Chacabuco’ is available to buy and stream digitally on 27th September. The album will follow on 15th November 2019. It will be available digitally, on CD, and on limited edition double clear vinyl. They launch the album with a show at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff on the 13th of November, more info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/400022130707013/?ti=cl
Alice Cooper – The Breadcrumbs EP (earMUSIC) 12″ six tracks from the Coop singing about Iggy and The MC5 how can this possibly not have RPM salivating at the sight and sound? ‘Detroit City 2020’ sounds good – Sure its modern Alice Cooper but there is more of the old school garage rocker in this and out of all his contemporaries I can’t think of any that are still out there doing it night after night and delivering the good and managing to still churn out new music that is relevant and bloody good. If you were impressed with the opener then hold onto your bobblehead because ‘Go Man Go’ is having it big time. A good tempo with a lotta rhythm and some blazing guitar work. Sure it helps when you can call on yer mates like Wayne Kramer and drag ou tof them such great performances this was always going to be a winner. He gets his funk on on ‘Your Mama won’t Like Me’ and those horns are quality. I’ll admit I’m not so fussed on the lackluster ‘Devil With A Blue Dress On’ but the bar is raised on the finale of ‘Sister Anne’. So all in all a mighty fine way to round off this singles club and with it being a 12″ long ‘un the Coop might just have taken it on the home straight.
OK, bank holiday so the commute is on hold – what better way to celebrate than with some kick-ass rock and roll. Here ya go have some ear candy courtesy of Los Pepes with ‘Let Me Tell You Something’ from their album “Positive Negative”. Out UK/Europe via Wanda Records and Adrenaline Fix Music and the USA via Spaghetty Town Record. Pick it up, folks! Hear full LP Here:
Second up this band holiday is this New Jersey Band we love they play some mean anti-folk punk rock Called Crazy and The Brains. Check out this video from earlier this year
Finally, you can bounce along to this bad boy from Redd Kross. A simply delicious way to spend any day regardless of this one being a bank holiday here on shit island.
Because its a bank holiday get an earful (and eyeful) of this stone-cold bad boy from Dead Furies with ‘Stay Gold Ponyboy’ taken from their soon to be released album ‘Stay Gold’ another one to add to the list of must-own albums.
Los Pepes are punky pop time bomb, jam packed with buzz-saw guitars and spiky melodies. Think Vibrators, think Buzzcocks, think Briefs…….now doesn’t that sound sexy?!
This international power pop syndicate were cooked up in London from the best ingredients the world had to offer. From the UK to Japan, Brazil and Poland, the call came and this lot answered and like the Milk Tray man they’ve left Positive Negative as a calling card.
Out of the blocks comes ‘Still Belong To Me’, fast and frantic, balls to the wall and more hooks than a pirate convention. Jesus wept !!!!
Next up is the album’s title track ‘Positive Negative’ and it’s a banger. Full on and super sexy, the Motorhead of power pop know how to write a good tune and how best to ram it into your ear holes.
‘Let Me Tell You’ has a Stranglers edge to it and ‘Ain’t Life Easy’ follows that direct pub-rock feel. I’m talking the tight ass melodies of Eddie and The Hot Rods and not the generic covers band nonsense that litter the drinking establishments of today.
Anyway has a fantastic Who-like mod feel, all be it with a steel edge that’ll cut your nuts off. ‘We Need It’ throbs along, colliding perfectly with the explosive ‘Medication’. ‘Think Back’ has all the hallmarks of a great tune, bringing together everything you love about abrasive pop music and packaging it in a familiar yet satisfying 2 minutes and 31 seconds.
‘Frustration’ kicks in with thunderous drums and Thunders-esque guitar riff. Another banger. As an album, ‘Positive Negative’ starts strong but is simply blistering in the closing straights, with each track on side 2 fighting to be my favourite track on the album. I’m pretty settled on ‘Your Justice’ taking the award but closer ‘Action’ the bands cover of the Knots track doesn’t want to give up without a fight so the original has it.
Los Pepes 4th album ‘Positive Negative’ is a proper album by a proper band. Support the boys and make some noise and available on some of the coolest labels all spreading the gospel of Los Pepes!!!!!