Annnnnnnd we’re back…. Or something. After a “small” bit of time off we’ve decided, and I have been granted the kind privilege, to get back into the swing of things with what’s been going on in the punk universe. This time out I’m going to take a stab at a few albums that came out in January and February that caught my ears and then write about some old stuff and… well, we’ll see where the muse takes me. But it’s good to be back.
Alright, enough of that. By now you should know that Millencolin have released their latest effort, SOS, under their own Softcore label (licensed in the States, and presumably elsewhere, to Epitaph). The Swedish skateboarding pop-punkers are in fine form once again on album number 9 and in year 27(!) that sees their sugar-coated blasts of ennui as catchy as ever. Stand out tracks include the title track, “Nothing”, “Sour Days” and “Let It Be”.
Adrenalized come from the Basque country of Spain and their latest offering, Operation Exodus, gives off strong wafts of Satanic Surfers in the vocals and Propagandhi in the lightning fast, technically delivered punk-ne-thrash. Some of the standout tracks here include “Operation Exodus Part II”, “The Story to Believe”, and “The Mask”. “Engravings in Stone” sees the band get downright proggy in an extended intro while “My Three Companions” bears some semblance to the work of Strung Out. Basically, if you like melodic, hyper speed, metallic punk you should be in on this band.
On the Spielbergs latest, This is Not the End, the band delivers some Replacements meets Joy Division sounds with an updated, dense, wall-of-guitar approach in places reminiscent of Japandroids or Iron Chic particularly on the track “Distant Star”. Sprawling mood piece “McDonald’s (Please Don’t Fuck Up My Order)” is the one true oddball selection in the bunch but being on the album gives us some space to breathe after the density of the earlier portion of the album and segues into the final stretch which sees the band try a few different tricks. Highlights include “Five On It” channeling prime Husker Du, “We Are All Going to Die”, “Bad Friend”, and “4am”.
Dangerface, from Stavanger, Norway, get in your face with their mix of garage punk on their latest album, Get Loud! The band urges “let’s fucking go” in the opening barrage of lead track “Fifteen Seconds” and the pace never lets up. The screaming yet somehow tuneful vocals are only one sharp point of attack. The jagged guitar never stops coming and they’re well backed by a tight rhythm section. Overall, this band lies somewhere in the territory marked by Refused spliced with an amped up version of Turbonegro or the Hellacopters. Choice tracks on the album are: “Fifteen Seconds”, “Apocalypse on the Radio”, “Wolves”, “No Way Out!”, and “Get Loud!”. Don’t sleep on this album.
Now we get to the serious portion: the new Specials album, Encore, released back on February 1st and reviewed in several other places, has been praised as being “as relevant now as they were 38 years ago”. It’s faintly damning yet effective praise for an album that features all kinds of different funk and groove elements as well as successful call-backs to their ska roots. A few of the highlights on this set include “Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys”, “B.L.M.”, and “The Lunatics” (a jumped up tango take on the band’s traditional sound). From a standpoint of what tracks sound the most like vintage Specials you have “Vote for Me”, “Blam Blam Fever”, and “10 Commandments” which features lead vocals by Saffiyah Khan, an activist from Birmingham, England.
Punk Rock Jukebox
On March 15, Wyoming pop-punkers, Teenage Bottlerocket, drop Stay Rad! Have they changed much? No. Do they still produce some of the most instantly catchy music in the genre? Oh, hell yes. The early returns from released tracks “I Wanna Be a Dog” and “Everything to Me” are promising showing the band adhering to their formula. If ain’t broke…
Devon Kay and the Solutions give off a vibe not unlike Motion City Soundtrack or Big D and the Kids Table filtered through garage rock that is devoted to Camper Van Beethoven. Standout tracks include “Five More Years/MAKENOMISTAKE”, “Fresh”, “Yes, I Can’t”, “Re-relocating”, and “One Outta Two”. This album is, from start to finish, one of the catchiest I’ve heard in quite some time.
Say Anything served up what might possibly be their final album in Oliver Appropriate. “Daze”, “Pink Snot”, and “Ew Jersey” highlight this effort, which is essentially Max Bemis executing his typical lyrical gymnastics to a backdrop of acoustic guitars. This album exists in a space where Bemis creates a narrative arc for a musician going through the motions while venting frustrations. Basically, it’s a Say Anything record and, if you’re a fan, you’ll love this.
Landfill Crew, a side project of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, have released a tidy 4-song EP of fun, tuneful ska-influenced punk. While it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, it is a nice addition to and reflection of the music that has influenced Armstrong. The idea behind this EP is of an animated band of 1980s era punkers. The videos are fun and the music is engaging. The best tracks are the eponymous title track and the heavily Clash influenced “Youth Revolt”.
Switzerland’s Rude Tins dropped a new single for “Fire and Forget” which showcases their strange but compelling combination of Anti-Flag meets Mighty Mighty Bosstones sounds. Definitely worth checking out.
Emo old hands, Mineral, have popped up to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a spate of shows, reissues, and two new tracks, “Aurora” and “Your Body is the World”, packaged as the One Day When We Are Young EP.
LUCA’s Sink or Swim EP is 19 minutes of “melodic post-hardcore” which basically means that your ears are pummeled with some melodic guitars and screaming/shouting vocals. This is more promising stuff from this band and you should definitely check out “Waterloo” and “The Spark at Dawn”. Out of London, England we have COPE with the track “Empire” with its tight angular riffing and mosh heavy hardcore. This stuff is definitely for fans of bands like Comeback Kid. Do thing.