We go a long way back with Crazy & The Brains all the way back when they were first released by Baldy Longhair Records and from that debut release they’ve always hit the spot with their out of step punk rock with a twist of Garage and Xylophone madness and something they like to call anti-folk (I dunno either) anyway, They’re back in the house with a raging barnstorm of a new record and always offering value for money with their records this one is full to bursting. They’ve never strayed far from the blueprint of what made them great and once ‘Over The Edge’ hits the speakers you know what you’re in for. Its vibrant, rapid, maybe slightly off the wall but it’s a right powerhouse of an opener. Its the second track that intrigued me more from the thumping bass line raging throughout or those chanted vocals this tune is on fire, I Mean FIRE! ‘Live Fast Burn Cash’ is roided up from the grunt on the guitars to the pounding on that Xylophone – Top tune.
It isn’t all bash n pop as ‘Brown Rice’ kicks back and to be fair like its predecessor ‘Out In The Weedz’ this has been enhanced by Pete Steinkopf of Bouncing Souls who once again recorded the record in Asbury Park, NJ. I think on the evidence before me the songs are really strong on this release and songs like ‘Not Today’ should be huge these cats should be heading towards the top of festivals like punk rock bowling they’ve got the chops and prove it year on year.
The Ramones influenced ‘I Don’t Deliver Pizza Anymore’ is a blindingly good example of how good this band can be and it features cello from Jen Fantaccione, who also plays with The Front Bottoms (Great name) from the opener to the skank of ‘Born Free’ the Brains trust hit the spot again and really do deliver. If you’ve never heard of them nows your chance to jump on board and what a back catalogue to discover. It’s not like you’ve got anything else to do at the moment and discovering great bands who cut great records is an awesome way to pass the time whilst on lockdown and no better place to start than with the real Jersey boys. Crazy And The Brains. Get on it!
‘The Time Has Come To Rock & Roll’, so proclaimed New York punk ‘n’ rollers Wyldlife back in 2013. Now in 2020, they find themselves still rock ‘n’ rolling with their fourth long player. Following hot on the tails of 2016’s ‘Out On Your Block’, ‘Year Of The Snake’ is the band’s second album on the ever cool Wicked Cool Records label. Owned by the legend that is Steven Van Zandt, Wicked Cool Records has brought us quality albums from the likes of Ryan Hamilton, Jesse Malin and Kurt Baker over the past few years.
Recorded at Little Steven’s very own Renegade Studios in NYC, the album title is taken from the Chinese year of the snake; 1989, the year that band mates Dave Feldman (vocals), Sam Allen (guitar), and Spencer Alexander (drums)were born. ‘Year Of The Snake’ is everything you want from a Wyldlife record and more. The spirit of NY punk flows through these boys veins. From the early years, when Ramones and The Dolls were treading the boards of CBGB’S, to the late 90’s when D Generation ruled the underground, they have it all. But its more than just cool shoes and leather jackets, you have to have the rock ‘n’ roll minerals to stand out from the crowd, and Wyldlife prove they have it in spades.
Opener ‘Deathbed’ comes on with the anthemic bravado usually reserved for the likes of Green Day in their prime. Featuring a melody you will swear down you’ve heard before. It grabs you from the off, a musical crockpot of low slung riffage and high energy melodies guaranteed to give goosebumps and raise hopes in equal measures.
Quick as a flash, before you have even had time to pick your jaw up off the floor it’s over, and we’re into first single ‘Neon Nightmare’. This… this is the rock ‘n’ roll sound I need in my life right now. High energy, upbeat and catchy as fuck. Also, it’s the perfect escape from the nightmare that is reality right now.
Two tracks in and its pretty safe to say vocalist Dave Feldman and guitarist Sam Allen have my full attention with their songwriting antics. You could say their themes of paranoia, anxiety and bad relationships are par for the course in 2020, well now Wyldlife add the soundtrack. With the spirit of Hanoi Rocks and the power pop suss of The Replacements, Wyldlife run though 11 tracks of highly essential rock ‘n’ roll.
Highlights are plentiful. ‘Kiss and Tell’ rides on tribal beats and Ramones chords as it builds to yet another catchy chorus that’ll surely incite air guitar and hairbrush vocal action in bedrooms and living rooms the world over. The radio friendly ‘Automatic’ is the albums curve ball, a song that hits right in the feels. Inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain, it’s a song written by the frontman about a girl he knows who works in a florist shop. With lush, indie pop melodies, female backing vocals and lyrics full of sentiment, its pure power pop goodness coming on like Squeeze meets Fountains Of Wayne and that’s a good place to be.
The fast and furious ‘Sacre Bleu’ is as punk as fuck. Spiky, high energy bursts of noise, think Hives meets Randy and you’ll get close. Sam’s chord bashing matches the frantic drums as Dave spits vocals with the venomous antics of a snake. This and the aforementioned ‘Automatic’ couldn’t be further apart in sound but they are fired from the same Wyldlife gun and both definitely hit the spot.
An overly familiar riff takes the title track into orbit as it builds to a relentless, killer refrain that pummels the senses. Gang vocals and guitars are the order of the day as the likes of ‘Tulsa Superstar’ and ‘Keeping Up With CT’ marry the power pop goodness of The Replacements and The Exploding Hearts with urgent beats, swathes of Hammond and Johnny Thunders licks, very nice indeed.
As I write these words New York is the hardest hit city in the world as far as the Coronavirus goes. No one could’ve predicted this turn of events and no one knows what the future holds for live music or our favourite bands. All we can do is be grateful that albums this good are still coming our way and do our best to help by buying albums, merch to help support the bands we love and the music they create.
2020 will be remembered as the year of the virus, but I also hope it will be remembered by the cool cats as the year Wyldlife gave us ‘The Year Of The Snake’. Essential listening, buy or die punks!
It was in 2006 that Detroit punks The Suicide Machines called it a day after 15 years and six albums. The break didn’t last too long because in 2009, the four-piece reconvened to play the occasional show and embarked on some even less frequent touring. There was no sign of new material on the horizon that is until now.
‘Revolution Spring’, their seventh album, and the first new material since 2005’s ‘War Profiteering Is Killing Us All’, was released March 27th.
What you get for your buck is plenty of bang with some Dropkick Murphy style lead vocals driving the rousing songs. The band sound energised from the break. you get the full force on opener ‘Bully In Blue’ but there’s plenty of skank on ‘Awkward Always’
There are sixteen songs on offer here and the band say they had thirty written so it’s not like they were short of inspiration. They continue to dish up sharp sounds with an excellent production that shines on songs like ‘Babylon Of Ours’.
The songs deal with real issues to the band and whilst they’re at it they also have a far wider appeal. Police brutality, American Imperialism and class war are all covered so not such a superficial record. they don’t hold back with opinions either ‘Flint Hostage Crisis’ being a good case in point. Some heavy topics covered as well like attempted suicide but I have to say that the overriding feeling I get from listening to the record is how up and positive it sounds and out of bad situations comes a positivity. ‘Trapped In A Bomb’ has a rollicking bass line rumbling away urging this song forward. Punk rock isn’t just for the kids and the older wiser guys can give the young pups a run for their money and this is proof. A very American feel to the record when they cut loose like on ‘Detroit Is The New Miami’ they really hit their stride mixing some hardcore with their skank and not sounding out of place.
Old and new fans alike will find Revolution Spring an energetic anthemic, hardcore, ska-punk roots mixing pot and it’s good to have the band back making music that sounds fresh and vibrant and there’s a lot of music to get through here.
The complete debut tape in full length + one bonus track! First time ever available on extremely limited vinyl! Remastered from the original tapes! that came out in the late ’80s An instant rarity for vinyl lovers and punk rockers alike. If you like your punk rock raw and without frills then this is for you its old school alright coming on like classic voidoids from the song titles to the subject matter ‘Junkie For You’ sets the tone of teen love then follow it up with the undertones like ‘I Want You To Be My Boyfriend’ it has shades of early Misfits as well like it was recorded together live on the hoof to save time and money and because its punk rock god damn it!
‘Waves’ is a more gentle meander down the rock and roll highway with piano and acoustic strumming happening a real NYC Lower East Side feel for sure. ‘Back Of My Hand’ is more upbeat with clashing clanging guitars accompanying the snotty lyrics its vibrant and has stood the test off time. ‘Love Story’ isn’t at all soppy or slow in fact its the one most likely to be used in some B movie Warriors street fight scene. A decent melody and what’s not to love about those Thunders string bending skills a song born to pull big shapes to in front of the bedroom mirror with the tennis racket and hairbrush.
Flip this bad boy over and ‘The Lottery’ is up first full of piss and vinegar and a chorus even the most challenged glue bag fantatic can sing along to. The ante is upped on side two as ‘Let’s Have A Riot’ lights the oily rag in this Molotov cocktail.
As we Rock and Roll our way through side two there’s a bunch of energy still in these recordings and its a real trip checking out these tunes they deserve to see the light of day and be heard. The Broken Toys had it going on for sure and still don’t need ‘Drugs’ but we do need the snotty riffs and curled lips. We all have a debt to pay to the guys like Johnny Thunders and Broken Toys are paying it back with ‘Sugar ‘N Spice’ check it out its well worth it.
Recorded in nine days on a Norwegian island New Model Army return with an album steeped in their unique sound with the unmistakable figure of Justin Sullivan leading the charge. With a more traditional sounding or should that be classic sounding New Model Army on ‘From Here’. It seems like an age when the band first announced pre-sales for this record and after releasing a couple of videos for tracks such as ‘Never Arriving’ my excitement started to peak for what the album might turn out like. With a more earthy and classic sounding arrangments, New Model Army have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into another record and the reward for the listener is twelve songs as good as anything in the band’s arsenal thus far. From the synth-laden opener ‘Passing Through’ it’s a slow burner as the intro fades and the band harks back to a feeling they first laid on audiences way back in the ’80s and Justins narrating vocal is as warm and weathered as ever and as engaging as you’d want it to be. The track, however, doesn’t open up but merely sets the tone. Maybe this is something of the mature big brother to ‘Thunder And consolation’ as the acoustic guitar midway through this six-minute epic opener links with the rhythmic drumming before the crunching heaving electric guitar joins the fray.
As far as openers go this is huge and the tone of ‘From Here’ is set. ‘Never Arriving’ is also over five minutes long as Sullivan takes us through his spoken rather than sung lyrics. The band might have chosen a bleak environment to record in but this record sounds driven and whilst complex its a record that will take some investing in. Sure fans of the band will take that time and give it the attention it deserves but I doubt Justin is looking nor cares for instant fleeting engagement. If you know you know.
There are no two-minute pop songs here rather post four minutes as a rule but the sprightly tempo of ‘The Weather’ with its acoustic strumming is a different texture to the two previous numbers the instruments weave like knotted branches so NMA yet unique and bloody good.
I’ve alluded to the fact this record for some reason harks back to the classic heights of ‘Green And Grey’ period for the band although Sullivan is the sole torch-carrier of the band these days it’s in the makeup and ‘End Of Days’ is uptempo and the first track that was released from the record and is a great addition to the catalogue of thumpers written and released by the band.
‘Great Disguise’ builds and builds as Sullivan paints his landscape in your mind’s eye whereas ‘Conversation’ is big broad strokes of that familiar acoustic guitar mixed with rhythmic drums and a story unfolds of travel and landscape earth and water. Sullivan has always done well to paint bleak and cold portraits but in a warm and engaging way it’s what he does really well and this is a great example.
‘Hard Way’ is a darker slower introduction that spends the next four minutes building up and up to layered vocals and heaving bass throb but quickly drops back something of a bloodletting before ushering in ‘Watch And Learn’ with its more aggressive thrust.
‘Maps’ is timpani and cello and maybe driven by the recordings environment with a sense of where you are captured within its tracks as Sullivan sings about his surroundings. Ending the record with the title track ‘From Here’ is eight minutes of soundscape and sparse piano before the familiar tribal drum patterns signal a rumbling Bassline but you’ll have to wait almost five minutes before an electric guitar chimes in and pierces the trance-like rhythm.
Like I mentioned earlier this might not be the record you want to make your New Model Army debut maybe lock into the best of then come and visit ‘From HEre’ and the experience will be far more rewarding. Old fans – fill yer boots this is a journey that will take you through multiple emotions pick you up and put you down but always leave you coming back for more. I’ve enjoyed thus far dipping in here and there and equally immersing from start to finish. ‘From Here’ will not dissapoint.
Expectations sometimes provide shocks to the system when things prove to be quite different that what you expected. The Poison Boys have released some previous singles/ EPs and material, which I have loved, and I went into this debut album expecting the album to be a more straight forward up tempo punk n roll album. While it is definitely a punk n roll album at its core, these 12 diverse songs make up an album that is diverse, deep, accessible, and a whole lot of fun. I have been following the Poison Boys for a few years now, and I could not be happier with what they have done here. I can imagine everyone from Chuck Berry to Johnny Thunders wanting a chance to come back and guest on this one.
The title track gets the party started and hits my original expectations as it comes on like a cross between the Humpers and Electric Frankenstein. The mix allows the guitar riffs by Matt Dudzik to pop out of the speakers and the bass (mostly Adam Sheets) and drums (mostly Matt Chaney) hit just as hard. ‘Slow Down’ starts with some brief piano notes before everyone else gets in on the action. The riff in the song feels pretty standard, but the song really connects perfectly. I actually thought about old artists like the Big Bopper here as well as someone like the J. Geils Band as this song compels the listener to smile and enjoy the moment. I can picture the glasses in the air as the crowd sings along to the main hook. Another stone cold rock n roll style classic follows in ‘Cut Right Out.’ If anyone out there remembers the likes of Junk Records, this one would have fit like a glove on their roster with those backing ‘wooohs’ settling nicely in the mix. The beat here carries a great groove, guaranteed to get the hips shaking.
Starting on track four with ‘Empty Heart,’ we start to see the band really expanding the songs. The thundering groove of this epic five minute plus song initially may feel a little long, but this one has proven to be a grower with Dudzik’s charismatic vocals being stretched and pulled on the journey. ‘Downtown’ returns to a fairly basic trash rock standard approach with a simple hook that hits the spot. It feels a bit like the Stones jamming with Hanoi Rocks, especially the way some of the guitar pops in the mix where it gets some extra space. I also love the false ending but perhaps I should not give that away. Wrapping up the first half of the album, ‘Up to the Sky’ opens with some acoustic guitar reminding me of Johnny Thunders before the song kicks in at a midtempo pace on this fellow five minute rocker. The acoustic guitar touches really give this album a wonderful depth. Dudzik’s vocals on the chorus really inspire a singalong, even if you are like me and can’t sing a note.
Flip the record over and the good times show no let up with first single/ video ‘Tear Me Apart’ getting it started at breakneck speed. The vocals really take a backseat here with the verses featuring fewer words, and the electrifying guitar riffs pushed to the surface. The hook in the chorus is sharp, but it is the guitar that has stayed with me the most on this one so far. The piano that is featured here and across other songs will hopefully be replicated in the live setting. ‘Desperado’ features some awesome saxophone and again reminds me of early Hanoi Rocks, right down to Dudzik’s vocals, the tasteful backing vocals, and the way the chorus is constructed. This has been one of my early favorites from the record. Hopefully, the band will get an opportunity to make this a single at some point. Slowing the pace down a bit, ‘True Romance’ simmers along nicely with the groove getting under the skin. The backing ‘woooh’s’ are used again here to awesome effect. When the main chorus hits, it really opens up the whole song with the switch in the dynamics.
‘I Won’t Look Back’ turns the tempo back towards rocket speed with the guitar licks again deserving to be highlighted, but the song itself has been the slowest to connect with me. The band hit trash rock nirvana again with the rollicking ‘Say Goodbye’ reminding me again of the Humpers with the rhythm section nailing this one. Closing song ‘Been Here All Night’ truly feels like it had to be the closer on the album and ends the record on an incredible high. The song shimmies and shakes on the beat with the guitar riffs begging to be played by the listener. Something tells me the guys worked long and hard on this one but knew exactly where it needed to be on the album. It just feels like a celebration musically.
The Poison Boys showcase that there is plenty of magic left in rock n roll over the course of these 12 songs. There has clearly been a ton of heart, sweat, and love used to create this album as these songs drip with the genuine distilled spirits of everything that makes rock n roll amazing. Are the vocals always spotless? Do the instruments hit every note perfectly? Absolutely NOT! This is pure, primal rock n roll the way nature intended. A great summer for music became even better with this album. Recommended? You should have it put it on order when you started reading my introduction.