by: Tommy DeSilva
Meat Wave - The Incessant - (SideOneDummy Records)
Meat Wave is an Alternative/Punk Rock band from Chicago, IL. Their highly anticipated new album entitled The Incessant, which is the second record of theirs to be out by SideOneDummy Records (as well as the first to be recorded/engineered by the all-mighty Steve Albini), is a really awesome record that can truly be appreciated by any fan of Punk Rock, Alternative, Indie, or just Rock & Roll in general. Characterized by catchy guitar hooks, upbeat drumming, and poppy vocal melodies, the sounds heard on this album can be compared to those heard from some of the other more well-known Alternative/Punk Rock artists on the scene today such as: PUP, Jeff Rosenstock, Beach Slang, Diarrhea Plant, The Menzingers, AJJ, and The War On Drugs. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “Tomosaki,” “Run You Out,” “Bad Man,” “No Light,” and “The Incessant.”
Benchmarks - Our Undivided Attention - (Sofaburn Records)
Benchmarks are a Pop Punk/Emo/Rock band from Nashville, TN. Their new album entitled Our Undivided Attention, which was just released courtesy of Sofaburn Records, is a really awesome record that can be characterized by its catchy guitar hooks, upbeat drumming, angst filled vocals, and emotionally charged lyrics. With that being said, the sounds heard on this album can be compared to those heard from some of the other more well-known Pop Punk/Emo bands on the scene today such as: Light Years, Turnover (pre-Peripheral Vision), Pentimento, Handguns, and Seaway. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “Frames,” “Sharks And Minnows,” “Let You Down,” “Thieves And Assassins,” and “I Never Thought.”
CJ Ramone - American Beauty - (Fat Wreck Chords)
CJ Ramone (yes, the ex-Ramones bassist who joined the band after Dee Dee left in 1989) is a Punk Rock solo musician from Queens, NY. His highly anticipated new album entitled American Beatuy, which just came out courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords, is a really awesome record that can be characterized by its 4 chord song structures, upbeat tempo, and poppy vocal melodies. With that being said, the sounds heard on this album can be very closely compared to those heard from the Ramones, as well as few other well-known Punk Rock bands of both the past and present such as: Screeching Weasel, Face To Face, Masked Intruder, and The Bombpops. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “Let’s Go,” “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” “Girlfriend In A Graveyard,” “Run Around,” and “Without You.”
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes - Rake It In: The Greatest Hits - (Fat Wreck Chords)
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are a Punk Rock supergroup/cover band from San Francisco, CA that features current and former members of NOFX, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, The Foo Fighters, and Swingin’ Utters. Their new album Rake It In: The Greatest Hits, which is a collection of all of the band’s greatest hits (which are all covers of other artists’ greatest hits), is a really awesome and fun record that can be characterized by its upbeat drumming, catchy guitar riffs, and poppy vocal melodies. With that being said, the sounds heard on this album can be compared to those heard from many other well-known Punk Rock bands of both the past and present (especially the bands that Me First And Gimme Gimmes share members with) such as: Lagwagon, NOFX, Swingin’ Utters, No Use For A Name, The Bouncing Souls, and Millencolin. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “All My Loving,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Sloop John B,” “Uptown Girl,” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Spoon - Hot Thoughts - (Matador Records)
Fun, energetic, upbeat indie pop of the type you've come to expect from Spoon, the now-famous indie rock group from Austin, Texas. Not exactly punk but excellent nonetheless. If you've never listened to Spoon, they compare favorable to indie pop bastions Vampire Weekend, the Flaming Lips, and Wilco if Wilco remembered to take their antidepressants. The album is mostly straight-up indie rock with reverb-ed vocals and sparse electronic elements. The album has its mellower moments, but in my opinion the stand-out tracks are their funkier, more energetic cuts - maybe that's just my bias as a punk.
Loose Tooth - Big Day - (Father/Daughter Records/Lame-O Records)
Coming out of Philadelphia, Loose Tooth brings us a fun, mellow album that straddles the boundary between punk and indie rock. True to punk politics, the band declares on their website that all proceeds from their singles are donated to the Women's Medical Fund, which provides financial assistance to women seeking abortions - a cause I can fully get behind, and which makes it feel that much better to support their music. Their label reports their similarity to Dinosaur Jr. and Hiccup, which I can certainly see, but on most tracks I felt more influence from the emocore tradition than throwback rock. Some of the tracks (for example, Garlic Soup and Dog Year) have an almost mathy feel to them, which I greatly appreciated.
R. Ring - Ignite The Rest - (SofaBurn Records)
Out of Ohio and Kentucky, R.Ring belongs more in the experimental rock or freak folk genres than punk. Kelley Deal's often soft, distorted voice floats over spare guitars, ranging from weird acoustic plucking to standard rock or punk bar power chords on an electric guitar. I found myself reminded - a little loosely - of very early Hop Along and Mother Mother's more restrained tracks, both of which have a similarly experimental feel. Near the end of the album, the strangely upbeat You Will Be Buried Here stood out in my opinion, as did SEE, which comes closer to the punk tradition than most of the album.
Le Spunk - Shoebox Full Of Seashells - (Tinderbox Music)
Le Spunk is an Alternative/Indie Rock band from New York City. Their new album Shoebox Full Of Seashells, which was released earlier this year, is a really awesome and unique record that can be characterized by its loud/fuzzed out guitars, thick/groovy baselines, soft/soothing vocal melodies, and eclectic use of shoegazy-sounding special effects (i.e. synthesizers, sound clips, etc). With that being said, the sounds heard on this album can be compared to those heard from artists such as: Crying, Slingshot Dakota, From Indian Lakes, and Cloud Nothings. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “Zombie Chomp,” “Tickle Me,” “Chronopath,” and “Vanilla Swirl.”
Nervous Germans - The Creeps Are Back in Town - EP (Tinderbox Music)
A short, fun punk EP ranging from old British-style punk in the style of the Sex Pistols to more modern, almost surf-rock-influenced sounds. Hailing from Germany (go figure), the EP hits on everything I want to hear out of political punk: hostility to thieving politicians, opposition to fascism and racism, dislike for authority, and all that good stuff. Although the opening track, Punk Rock Radio, has OPI, the EP contains a clean version for radio play.
The Rallies - Serve - (Self Released)
The Rallies are an Alternative/Rock/Pop band from Tacoma, WA. Their debut full length album entitled Serve, which the band just self-released over a month ago, is a really awesome and catchy record that can be characterized by its intricate mix of both acoustic and electric guitar parts, upbeat drumming, and poppy vocal melodies. With that being said, the sounds heard on this album can be compared to those heard from some of the more melodic Punk Rock artists on the scene today such as: The Menzingers, PUP, Red City Radio, Jeff Rosenstock, and The Flatliners. Tracks to definitely check out on this record include: “Don’t Give Up,” “Whatever You Thought,” “So Right,” “You Don’t Know,” and “These Are The Words.”