Man, I always have a soft spot for Californian pop/punk, especially when it’s a young band coming on like the 90’s never ended. And that’s where I introduce you to The Bombpops. Founded in 2007 by dual singer/guitarists Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, the 4 piece band take the title of their sophomore album ‘Death In Venice Beach’ from Thomas Mann’s celebrated novella about the price of artistic life.

The follow up to 2017’s ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ it sees the band explore dark themes of alcohol addiction, health problems, toxic relationships and suicide all wrapped up in high energy punk pop.

 

But the dark lyrical themes are certainly not the first thing that hits you about The Bombpops. The SoCal sound that inspires the band is prevalent throughout, you could say ‘Death In Venice Beach’ sounds like the lost 90’s soundtrack you need to fill the hole between ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Josie and the Pussycats’.

Take latest single ‘Double Arrows Down’. Lyrically inspired by Poli Van Dam’s diabetes seizure and subsequent dice with death, it’s actually a euphoric blast of dual vocal melody and overdriven guitars, with a sugar-buzz pop melody that will inject sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Sweet vocal melodies The Dollyrots would die for and the sort of catchy choruses Letters To Cleo perfected in their prime.

And so it continues for 30 minutes or so. 12 short, sharp, shocks of punk pop that do not overstay their welcome. Songs that would’ve bombarded the airwaves back in the day and singles that would’ve been vying for attention with the likes of Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 on your TV screens.

 

‘Dearly Departed’ name-checks doomed celebrity couples over high energy pop/punk. Sid & Nancy rub shoulders with JFK & Monroe as Jen & Poli deliver pitch perfect vocal harmonies and dirty guitars in unison. A tight rhythm section and a crisp production courtesy of (among others) NOFX’s Fat Mike only adds to the high quality.

With the likes of ‘Sad To Me’ and ‘Zero Remorse’ they have a knack of delivering a verse that create momentum and builds to what you just know is going to be an anthemic, killer chorus that will stay in your brain long after the song has ended. The girls’ vocals work well together and it is that, along with the top notch songwriting, which lifts this album high above the current competition.

The bouncy bass intro and the offset guitar riff in ‘Notre Dame’ will bring to mind The Offspring, ‘In The Doghouse’ comes on like The Creepshow at their most commercial and the raw tale of isolation and heartbreak that is ’13 Stories Down’ sounds like a female-fronted NOFX. Elsewhere you’ll swear you’ve heard the likes of ‘Radio Silence’ and ‘House On Fire’ before. And that my friends, is the knack of a catchy melody put to very good use.

 

There are lots of comparisons that can be made to lots of cool bands when listening to ‘Death In Venice Beach’ and that’s not a bad thing. The Bombpops wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and have their own imitable style and their own way of exorcising their own personal demons with a set of strong, bouncy tunes.

To be honest, you could imagine any of the 12 songs on offer to be featured on MTV, with the band playing next to a swimming pool or a frat house in California, surrounded by teens with nothing more on their mind than pulling the hottest cheerleader and downing a four pack. And while in these troubled times those sort of antics may seem as distant a memory as the 90’s actually are, it’s still the great escape some of us need right now.

Buy ‘Death In Venice Beach’ Here

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a question for you, what do singers do when their band is between albums? Well if you are the singer of punkabilly trio the Graveyard Johnnys and go by the name of Joe Grogan then you’ll be found writing shit hot pop-punk anthems with your other band the Bottlekids.

Having existed for a little over 3 years now this the band’s debut four-track EP which is available now on vinyl and download via the Bandcamp link below and it’s one white-hot collectible if you know anything about Joe’s other band and how fast their records sell and with this 12” single limited to only 300 copies it’s bound to sell out in double-quick time.

Kicking off the EP with the anthemic ’25 Days’ a song the band also previewed as their debut video back in May, the immediate thing that hits me is that aside from Joe’s unmistakable vocals this band are nothing like his other band. Okay maybe there’s a little bit of the rockier side of The Living End that connects both bands, but apart from that this is more like the kind of music that had bands like Green Day topping the charts worldwide just a decade or so ago.

Oddly enough it’s actually one of Billie Joe Armstrong’s side projects, the awesome Foxboro Hot Tubs that Bottlekids remind me of most, especially on the amazing ‘Dark Times’ which kickstarts side 2 of this EP with some of the best powerpop you’ll hear anywhere in 2019. Part Joe Jackson part Head Automatica with even a hint of The Wildhearts in the instrumentation ‘Dark Times’ literally explodes in your head and stays there for days after.

With ‘Smokes Lets Go’ and ‘The Wayside’ completing the four tracks on offer here there’s certainly no room for any excess musical baggage and this is in part thanks to the expert production from Romesh Dodangoda something that leaves me with that immediate sense of “wanting more” once each side of the EP finishes.

So, let’s have some more of the same please Bottlekids via a full-length album packed with songs as fantastic as the four on this tip top slice of punk rock. In the meantime the though the Bottlekids EP is available via the Bandcamp link below…be lucky now!

 

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Author: Johnny Hayward

 

If you have a love of NOFX and early Green Day and of course The Ramones but mix in a dash of ’50’s harmonies and you pretty much nailed The Radio Buzzkills.  Opener ‘Tattletail’ pretty much nails their flag to the mast mixing that Ramones with the slurred punk rock vocal style of Fat Mike.  It’s not bad to be fair whilst it’s not groundbreaking but I guess they could say they’re just goofin’ around playing punk rock post-noughties American style.  I’m not a fan of all the “nananana” stuff it kind of makes a joke of what they’re trying to do.

That’s pretty much the tone for the rest of the album where the songs go through the gamut of the melodic Ramones meets pop punk.  There are moments where it really works and I do like the female-heavy gang backing vocals they use on ‘Cannibal Girlfriend’.

‘She Hails Satan’ starts off really well with a great riff and I can just about live with the story lyrics. throwing a dicky Dale surf instrumental with ‘shark surfer’ loses me and gives me the chance to go put the kettle on so not all bad. Proceedings go a little NOFX by number over the next few songs until ‘She Died On The Deathstar’ has a tidy melody that’s more Dwarves and is a big upturn in quality and I like the arrangement.  The best tune so far. and ‘Gone Gone Gone’ follows on that rich seam with a weird cover but in a good way I like it and who doesn’t like The Everleys anyway? It’s not as good as their mind but I like it.

Maybe I’m just not in the mood for some pop punk and goofin’ around at the moment and I should give this more plays another time, maybe.

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Author: Dom Daley