I know one thing about Los Pepes and that’s they don’t make bad records. No, to be precise they don’t make bad songs. ‘The Happiness Program’ is front to back top to bottom an absolute triumph in songwriting. Be it loud power pop, harmony dripping punk rock or just plain simple loud rock n roll Los Pepes do it better than most and do it exceptionally well.
It’s been a while since Ben and the boys got to knock out a long-player and this one kinda crept up on me. When it first showed up on my radar I made a mental note to get ready for the pre-order and then boom the single got delayed in the rush to press old Fleetwood mac albums and Adeles new opus then it fled my mind as quickly as one of their 45’s starts, rocks out, then ends.
Los Pepes have mastered the art of writing songs that sound like you’ve heard them before (but you haven’t) making your heart burst with good vibes because their music is so damn good and wanting to hit repeat and play it all again.
Whilst I await the delivery of my slime green vinyl I’ve been living with the MP3 of the album and going on walks to keep fit and trying to keep up with the beat. It’s not easy I can tell you you’ll be almost running or marching and grinning like a Cheshire cat. I don’t so much say hello to people I bark hi! like their my best mate because that’s what these songs do to you. From the roar of ‘Small Time’ with its awesome one-finger stooges piano and the X-Ray Spex horns it’s a blistering start to a record. You might be thinking it’s all rapid crash, bang, wallop! which they do exceedingly well but it’s not, well, ‘Never Get It Right’ is a bit like that but ‘I Want You Back’ is riff-tastic like the Undertones were with added Feelgood harmonica just for good measure. The guitars trade riffs n licks and it’s like a joyful out-of-body experience – seriously, it’s that good!
‘Sick And Bored’ might just be my favourite song on the record with its slick backbeat and retro groove it’s like a burst of nuclear sunshine and the melody is bursting with goodness. ‘Blur The Lines’ is jacked up on Ramones vibes.
You asked for power-pop well, ‘Anecdotes’ is full of power-pop right up to the brim and the gob iron is a nice touch adding something a little left of center but it’s perfect. If it’s rock n roll you fancy next then ‘I Remember You’ has got you covered. Damn have I said I love Los Pepes? get over it kids we need music like this, played to this standard with these melodies, hooks and choruses. The evolution wheel of rock and roll turns again and again but it might not turn to tunes as good as these often. This is an absolute banger of a record and you do need to check it out.
Where do we sign up for this Happiness Program? I’m all in. What a way to kick-off 2022. I love Los Pepes, no I really do!
Nostalgia is, we all know, a big seller these days. But, usually, a nostalgic album equals a distinct lack of ideas, or rummaging through your back catalogue. Helen Love has managed to not only avoid this pothole, but also to write an album with perhaps more depth than some would give her credit for. Ten new songs, which, while remaining steadfastly pop, eschew the dayglo colours that her work is known for, and which tell her story in a way that is often very moving.
‘My Seaside Town’ sets the scene, acknowledging that your roots might be holding you back. “I think I’m about to choke on the boredom and the fumes…whiplashed by winter rain”. Wishing you were somewhere more exciting, greener grass.
‘Billy Liar’ reminisces about the kid at school who told tall tales, “your dad was a Kung fu black belt master”. ‘Go-Kart’, with its parping keyboards, manages to sound like John Shuttleworth whilst also being quite touching and warm; “we were the queens of our estate”.
‘A Quite Good Time’ remembers that first/early boyfriend, who your sister warned you about. With the wise refrain “why would you listen to anyone when you’re seventeen?”. ‘Let The Sunshine In’ is a celebration towards better times, and is as infectious as you would imagine.
‘Our House’ evokes similar memories to the Madness tune, but in Helen’s inimitable style, and with some pathos; “our history lies in the curtains, the carpets and the walls”. ‘First Day Of June’ echoes the theme of the cloying seaside town; “it can hold you so tight you might never leave”.
And so to ‘Clearing Out Mum’s House’. It’s a first; Helen Love made me cry! If you’ve had to empty your parents’ house, you’ll empathise with the lyrics here. A lifetime of belongings, what to keep, what to throw away. A lifetime of memories.
‘This Is My World’ sees some of Helen’s many achievements; walking with Joey Ramone, but also standing with the miners in the 1980s. That seaside town probably feels like home now, and it helped to create someone special. Helen Love is still here, still spreading joy, but with a broader palette than before. She’s a treasure.
Fast Eddy was born out of the miasma of Denver’s Rock n Roll, and independent music scene in 2014. Formed from members of some notable Denver bands as Dirty Few, and Itchy O, their vision started on a late-night ramble. Somewhat of a side project, without much of a direction, the band named their project after their old drug dealer and took to writing songs about the heartache and challenges that come along with the hedonistic rampage that it can mean to pursue music unabashed. As the band became more of a genuine article, each member brought their own pieces to the table and started writing more genuine, anthem-esque powerpop rock n roll. Micah Morris on guitar and lead vocals, Devon Francy on bass, Arj Narayan on drums, and Lisandro Gutierrez on guitar, had stepped up their game and worked their way into a bigger more encompassing world of rock n roll. After selling their personal belongings, and almost dying from van malfunctions in transit to simply make their first Atlanta recordings, it’s been one bold leap after the other. but their sacrifice hasn’t come in vain, and they’ve simply come too far to turn back now. Look for “Take A Look” at record stores and wherever fine MP3s are sold on January 21st, 2022. Preorder Now
As we reach the end of 2021 many of us reflect on what’s happened over the last twelve months and in these strange times we live in it seems inevitable that we lose more and more of our heroes and heroines. We seem to have lost a few more good ones this past twelve months and here at RPM Online, we’d like to celebrate some of our favourites who passed away. Rather than dwell on the morbid side and how or why they died let’s celebrate with some videos they featured in and look back on some of the fantastic music they left behind.
Sylvain Sylvain February 14, 1951 – January 13, 2021
New York Dolls guitar legend Sylvain Sylvain died aged 69 on 13th January 2021 following a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Apart from being the mainstay in the Dolls, Sylvain released some decent solo albums either under his own name or The Criminals album. It’s usually when they’re gone do we realise how treasured these guys are and when I met him he was warm and engaging. Sylvain was a larger-than-life personality and played with a smile on his face. I loved those reformed Dolls shows from the Festival Hall right up to the bitter end, Sylvain was a legend. Early memories being the incredible Whistle Test performance which would have been one of the earliest glimpses we Brits had of Sylvain in an infamous clip from the glib intro to the incendiary performance the Dolls were the beating heart of real glam rock n roll not mock rock at all. It’s an iconic moment when Rock and Roll stole many a teenage heart.
Like a lot of his generation who have now sadly passed we don’t have many left and when he announced his diagnosis people were already praising him for his originality and style and for lighting a flame in many of his fans who went on to form their own bands. A trailblazer and original rocker Sylvain was and is a genuine legend.
Mark Keds 28 October 1970 – 11 January 2021
Singer and guitarist with Senseless Things, died aged 50 in the early hours of Sunday 10th January 2021. Former bandmate Ben Harding broke the news, writing: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to tell you that, sadly, Mark – our singer, friend and main songwriter – is no longer with us. It’s no secret that he had struggled on and off with drug abuse and a pretty chaotic lifestyle for a long while, and his health suffered substantially over the years due to this. While this had sometimes created friction within the on-off workings of Senseless Things and his other projects, we choose to remember the friend, the brother and the talent we’ve lost today.”
Senseless Things released four studio albums and a Peel Sessions album between 1989 and 1995, had two Top 20 singles and he then went on to hold down a brief stint with The Wildhearts started a new band Jolt before getting a writing credit for ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ by the Libertines. Keds and Jerome Alexandre formed Deadcuts who did a split with The Hip Priests and released a couple of albums as well but never managed to reach anywhere near the heights of success he had with Senseless Things. Sadly Mark had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is treatable. His talent will be greatly missed as he shuffled off at the young age of 50.
Charlie Watts – 2 June 1941 – 24th August 2021
A man who certainly doesn’t need an introduction is Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts who died at the age of 80 on 24th August 2021. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital surrounded by his family. Charlie was the driving force behind The Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation. A unique character who was the backbone of the band often overlooked by the larger-than-life characters who played in front of him but his style and drive were a huge part of what made the band sound as good as they did. Often the center of some quality stories and recollections with some of the best being when he punched Jagger and put him in his place about being the singer in HIS band and his quote about spending twenty-five years hanging around. He had a fantastic calm and dry sense of humor and what seemed like the patience of a saint amidst all the chaos that surrounded him for decades and decades. He was indeed one of a kind and it’s fair to say there will never be another Charlie Watts. A cause of death is yet to be revealed.
Malcolm Dome 1955 – 29 October 2021
Not a musician who influenced any scene but a huge influence on Rock music. Malcolm Dome died on 1st November 2021 aged 66. During his 40+ year career, Dome wrote for various influential publications including Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Record Mirror and Classic Rock. In a February 1984 article for Kerrang!, Dome is responsible for the term “thrash metal” while describing Anthrax’s ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’.
Stars from many genres paid tribute to Dome following his death including Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Saxon, Geezer Butler, Lars Ulrich and Doro all artists he championed be it on the pages of Kerrang! or the airwaves of Rock Radio. A font of knowledge and a genuinely lovely guy to all who met him. Dome was one of a handful who filled the pages of magazines with bands that broke big, they happened to be the soundtrack to millions of teenagers, growing up with the music of a certain type it was impossible to avoid his words, and his words filled some iconic books on the subject of Rock, all this prior to this wonderful interweb. Always passionate, always on the money rest in peace mr wordsmith.
Mick Rock – 21 November 1948 – 18 November 2021
Legendary British photographer Mick Rock, who was responsible for some of the most iconic images of David Bowie, Queen, Syd Barrett, T. Rex, Lou Reed and many more, died on 18th November 2021 aged 72. No cause of death has been revealed. A statement read: “Those who had the pleasure of existing in his orbit, know that Mick was always so much more than ‘The Man Who Shot The 70s.’He was a photographic poet – a true force of nature who spent his days doing exactly what he loved, always in his own delightfully outrageous way.” He happened to create seminal sleeves such as, Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ and ‘Coney Island Baby’, Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’, Queen’s ‘Queen II’ and ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, The Ramones’ ‘End of the Century’ and Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ He was also famously David Bowie’s chief photographer in the 1970s and captured many images of the Ziggy Stardust era. and I’m sure we’ve all stared at his pictures for hours over the years such was his talent for capturing the moment.
Hank Von Hell – 15 June 1972 – 19 November 2021
Former Turbonegro singer Hank Von Helvete (born Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby), passed on 19th November 2021 aged just 49. Turbonegro said in a statement: “It is with immense sadness we received the tragic news that Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby has passed away. We are thankful for the times, the moments and the magic we shared with Hans-Erik in Turbonegro during the years 1993-2009. As a charismatic frontman who equally channeled humor and vulnerability, Hans-Erik was crucial for the band’s appeal. He was a warm and big hearted human, a spiritually and intellectually seeking person who loved having a conversation with anyone. We are proud of what we created together as rock brothers in Turbonegro – the music, the characters, our whole universe.”
Darrell Bath – Dec 24. 1966 – Sept 27. 2021
Sadly passed away in his sleep Darrell was a master of his craft and was often spoken about as being a genius and one of the most naturally gifted guitar pickers of his generation. whether he was playing some punk, glam or acoustic Daz didn’t play the same way twice, he played from the heart and had the touch of a master. He was a pretty decent songwriter as well when he put his mind to it and probably his biggest downfall was he didn’t assemble an album as often as he should have but when he did be it as part of The Crybabys, Vibrators, Subs or Ian Hunters band or as a solo artist it was a joy to hear.
When he stood in the Dogs D’Amour he was the perfect choice to replace the departed Jo Dog who also had incredible touch and style Bath was the perfect choice to fill such stylish shoes and do it with style and panache. His last album ‘Roll Up’ was superb but that was in 2016 way too long ago but it was a bit bloody good.
We were however lucky to have a few 7″ singles drop out of his vagabond case ‘Greedy Green Eyes’ a year after ‘Roll Up’ and then finally Rockin The Streets with Los Tupper that signed off with a brilliant cover of the David Essex classic ‘Hold Me Close’
“Darrell Bath was a fine guitarist and a walking lyric. He will be missed. My condolences to his loved ones.”
– Ian Hunter
Timo Kaltio – 17 August 1960 – Sept 02. 2021
Timo was best known as a guitarist in Cherry Bombz and of course Cheap and Nasty. Kaltio also wrote the chorus for Guns N ‘Roses ‘, ‘Right Next Door To Hell’. In more recent times the talented artist also played sweet guitar in the Peckham Cowboys and toured the UK with this old school band of rock n rollas and most recently contributed to the Rich Ragany & The Digressions album.
Timo had not long moved back home to his native Finland before passing on which came as a shock to us fans. He will be sadly missed by many fans as well as his loved ones. He had some amazing heartwarming tributes paid to his talent and his lovely soul will be missed by many. His contribution to some fine bands should never be underestimated. Rest In Peace Timo.
Having recently reviewed the magnificent Scaramanga Six, I was sent a link to the new audio-visual project by Shatner main man, Jim Bower. As the Scara’s Paul Morricone has played with Shatner, it seemed a good idea to explore ‘Life Support’. Clearly, this has been a labour of love for Bower; ten tracks, each with an accompanying video, one released each month until December 2021. The loose concept is an environmental journey “from apathy to activism”. So, not Ramones, then? No, but we have room at RPM to embrace a variety of music, as long the quality is high.
Which it is. For fans of the Scaramanga Six, yes, and anyone with an ear for a tune and a story. Shatner often sounded, to these ears, like a relative of Chris Catalyst of Eureka Machines. And if Chris wrote a concept album, it could sound like this. ‘When David Bowie Died’ is a case in point, a subject Chris has written about. Things have, indeed, been unsettlingly weird since then.
‘Sun Will Rise’ seems written from the point of view of a conspiracy theorist; “I’ve got the right to believe what I like”. ‘Wrong’ is the reply to the keyboard warrior; “I’m sure you found a Facebook group who totally agree with you”.
‘All You Need Is Time’ laments the time wasted, while trying to provide for the future. The eternal conundrum of work/play balance? “We’ll skip through fields, sea air we’ll breathe, on statutory days of leave”.
‘Can Of Worms’ sees the protagonist using silence as a shield, rather than confronting the disturbed ideas of other people. ‘Life Support’ pleads with their partner to save them, to make life worthwhile; “You’re my life, so be there, be my health care, hold my hand”.
Lyrically, not easy listening, but it bears fruit if you’re ready for it. The music is lightly psychedelic in parts, which suits the hypnotic nature of the themes. Half-dreamed, half-remembered? For fans of the aforementioned Scaramanga Six, Chris Catalyst, Mansun/Paul Draper. A bold, but ultimately satisfying project.
Chuck Norris Experiment – ‘This Will Leave A Mark’
Mike McKinnon – ‘Silent Like A Bomb’
The Boatsmen – ‘Verses The Boatsmen’
Governess – ‘Never Going Home’
Dead Furies – ‘Midnight Ramble’
Johnny Hayward –
Sami Yaffa – ‘The Innermost Journey to Your Outermost Mind’
The Bronx – ‘VI’
Rich Ragany & The Digressions – ‘Beyond Nostalgia & Heartache’
Mike McKinnon – ‘Silent Like A Bomb’
Gary Numan – ‘Intruder’
Nestor – ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’
Table Scraps – ‘Coffin Face’
Green Lung – ‘Black Harvest’
Watts – ‘Shady Rock & Rollers’
Chuck Norris Experiment – ‘This Will Leave A Mark’
Razorbats – ‘Mainline Rock N Roll’, Wonk Unit – ‘Uncle Daddy’, Black Spiders – ‘Black Spiders’, The Limit – ‘Caveman Logic’, Alice Cooper – ‘Detroit Stories’, Death By Unga Bunga – ‘Heavy Male Insecurity’, Bitch Queens – ‘Custom Dystopia’, The Chisel – ‘Retaliation’, Roger Taylor – ‘The Outsider’, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – ‘Raise The Roof’
Vintage Trouble – ‘Juke Joint Gems’
Sami Yaffa – ‘The Innermost Journey To Your Outermost Mind’
Ryan Hamilton – ‘1221’
The Brothers Steve – ‘Dose’
Alabama 3 – ‘Step 13’
Delilah Bon – S/T
Steve Conte – ‘Bronx Cheer’
Jesse Malin – ‘Sad And Beautiful World’
Amyl and The Sniffers – ‘Comfort To Me’
Captain Future – ‘Ghostman’
Sami Yaffa – ‘The Innermost Journey To Your Outermost Mind’ (Livewire)
Jesse Malin – ‘Sad And Beautiful World’ (Wicked Cool Records)
Richard Bacchus & The Luckiest Girls – ‘Viva La Wattage’ (Sioux Records)
Sonny Vincent – ‘Snake Pit Therapy’ (Svart Records)
Killer Hearts – ‘Skintight Electric’ (Spaghetty Town Records)
One thing we do love here on RPM is a bloody good music-related book. We’ve read loads and lockdown was a really good time for sitting about fingering the pages of a good autobiography or a book of lists from closed venues to record shops to biographies. Here is a selection from some of the writers at RPM Online. If you have any suggestions or books you’d like us to review then please get in touch at email@example.com and we’ll be sure to get our reading gogs out and give your recommended book the once over.
As for the singles club, we do love a good EP or 7” single be it the real thing on wax or a virtual one with a video. It’s a sign of the times that we have more and more digital singles or one-track album samplers drop through the email but we do love a slab of wax and 2021 provided us with some right belters. So please find below a limited run of highly recommended singles.
Gaz Tideys BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2021 was the mighty Redd Kross cancelling rather than just postponing (again!) their UK/European tour.
However, he is MOST LOOKING FORWARD to Recording an album with his long-lost late’80s/early ‘90s band, Sister Morphine.
Johnny Hayward spent most of 2021 being Dissappointed that Terry & The Idiots didn’t getting back together. But he is mostly looking forward to 2022 andTerry & The Idiots finally getting back together. Also Hopefully getting to see Stiff Richards live some time next summer. Oh and Rebellion is looking very interesting with the R Fest stage just announced.
When we caught up with Ben Hughes he expressed that he was Disappointed he didn’t much care for The Wildhearts – ‘21st Century Love Songs’. He was however Most looking forward to More live shows than in 2020 and 2021 combined!
Dom Daleys thoughts looking back are being disappointed Bristol ticket shop going under with my money from the cancelled Redd Kross show and Redd Kross cancelling rather than rearanging.
The amount of cancellations due to covid but mostly The Damned reunion being put back once then again until late 2022.
Also The vinyl meltdown and pushbacks for smaller independent artists in favour of reissues from big labels.
The deaths of some of my favourite music people (Charlie Watts, Sylvain Sylvain, Waldo, Timo, Darrel Bath and Scotty Mulvey)
Looking forward to…
The original line up of the Damned reunion shows in Hammersmith and the amount of new albums that should drop in 2022.
As for Kenny Kendrick.
Biggest Disappointment this year? “TheDeaths of Charlie Watts & Malcolm Dome”. Skunk Anansie tour postponed (again).
When we asked what Kenny was Looking forward to in 2022 he said, “Skunk Anansie tour! and Green Lung playing Steelhouse Festival”
Dans thoughts on 2021
“I’ll just say, certain bands publicly airing their handbags at dawn…. yet again”. Looking forward to 2022 for me. “If the year doesn’t take a nosedive akin to what we’ve become accustomed to, I’ll be seeing Pavement for the first time on their latest cash in reunion tour, I’ll also be seeing Psychedelic Furs, Bambara and Killing Joke. I will also be forgetting that I am 36 and attending 2000 Trees festival in July.”
Well, that’s another year almost done. Its been tough for live venues running at reduced capacity punter hesitancy (understandable) It’s only really been half a year when the Governments mucked us about, major labels took over pressing plants at the expense of independent bands, the pandemic hasn’t fucked off, we’ve lost some special people from our Rock n Roll world and we’ve all grown a little older and possibly unwiser (is there such a word?) but on times it felt fantastic to get back out there to some of our favourite venues for half the year. It did feel great to see some of our fellow live show warriors and on times it felt like we’d never been away.
But, there have been some fantastic albums released, concerts seen, books read people interviewed and new bands made. Here at RPM Online we’re going to celebrate those achievements with our lists. We all love a list or a pigeon hole, or a debate as to what genre our favourites fit into but the bottom line is we need this thing called Rock and Roll more than ever to see us through some tough times as we reengage with old friends and make new ones.
People, welcome to the next few days as the fine writers of RPM Online offer up their choices of the runners and riders of 2021. Before I open up this can of worms can I just thank this fine body of men for their efforts over the past year and if you’ve bought an album on the recommendation of RPM then thank you. Also, The PR people who’ve done right by their clients and of course the musicians and songwriters who put in the hard yards in these very difficult times thank you thank you thank you we love you all. So without further waffle here are the lists for 2021. Starting with some of the live shows that helped put smiles back on people’s faces. There might no tbe the quantity yet but we sure as hell saw some quality shows in the latter half of 2021.
BEST LIVE SHOWS OF 2021 as seen by the writers of RPM Online
The Hives – Guildhall, Portsmouth
Wildhearts – Fleece, Bristol
The Hip Priests – Chameleon, Nottingham
The Hives (Offspring & Bob Vylan) – CIA, Cardiff
Wildhearts – Tramshed, Cardiff
The Hip Priests (& Electric Shakes) – Le Pub, Newport
Rebellion/Hits (Maid of Ace & Dirtbox Disco) – Wintergarden, Blackpool
There were many bands that got tagged with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal label back in the early eighties. Some of those bands embraced it, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Samson etc, and some hated being lumped in with it, Def Leppard being the most obvious example. Even bands like Budgie, Judas Priest and Motorhead who had been around long before the NWOBHM moniker was thought up by Sounds magazine, were getting pulled into the whole NWOBHM movement. Of course, Budgie and Priest were nothing to do with it, but it was easy to see why they got caught up in it. Budgie’s Power Supply album was by far their most heavy metal sounding album and was released in 1980. Priest had released their breakthrough album British Steel in 1980 as well. It can be argued that Motorhead were indeed a NWOBHM band though because their seminal albums Overkill and Bomber were released in 1979 just as the NWOBHM got started, and their most successful period started in 1980 with the ‘Ace of Spades‘ album. Anyway, I digress!
Tokyo Blade were forged in the fires of the NWOBHM and released their first self-titled album in 1983. By this time the wind in the sails of the NWOBHM had started to die down. The album is a full-blown classic in my eyes with songs like ‘Powergame’ and ‘Break the Chains‘, it’s just heavy metal personified. The band suffered with many line up changes but continued to release material until the late nineties.
The current line-up of Andy Boulton (Lead guitar), John Wiggins (Rhythm guitar), Alan Marsh (Vocals), Andy Wrighton (Bass) and Steve Piece (Drums) have been together since 2016 and recorded the albums ‘Unbroken’ (2018) and ‘Dark Revolution’ (2020). Their latest release ‘Fury’ was written and recorded in lockdown with Andy Boulton utilising his home studio to record the album.
The end result sounds great with a powerful mix. There is some fantastic traditional heavy metal on offer here with solid performances and some well-written songs. The opening track ‘Man in a Box’ highlights the vocal abilities of Alan Marsh and is polished with some guitar wizardry from Boulton. ‘Blood Red Night’ has an epic feel to it, ‘I am Unbroken’ is a full-on chugger with some tasty drumming from Piece holding the track together. The album flows well but my only real criticism is that is overly long with fifteen tracks.
The album has both a foot in the past and one very much in the present. A solid metal album that deserves to be listened to. There’s plenty on offer here for old and new fans alike. The cover art is fantastic too, let’s not forget that Tokyo Blade had utilised the Samurai on their artwork long before Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu! The album is released via Cherry Red Records in Jan 22.