New York Music Daily

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Tag: punk rock

Faithless Town Release the Best Freedom Anthem of 2022 So Far

There’s been a lot of great freedom music released this year, but the best song of the bunch so far is Atlanta band Faithless Town‘s Live Free. It’s a defiantly swaying protest anthem, a mashup of ELO and peak-era Oasis, a bittersweet symphony for 2022. Frontman/guitarist Gene Owens reminds that now is not the time to be riding the fence:

Open your eyes
And see the lies
That you’ve been told
Your mind doesn’t belong to you anymore
Fear is not a virtue
It’s time to be brave
Do you wanna live free or die as a slave’

And the video is inspiring, a montage largely taken from the Highwire coverage of the London protests last summer.

The song is the centerpiece of the band’s new album Into The Light Vol.1, streaming at Bandcamp. It’s the first part of a full-length record that’s on track to be finished later this summer. The band have been through some personnel changes, but the current lineup of Owens with Aaron Rogers on lead guitar, Nathan Rudolf on bass and Vic Fischer on drums is arguably their strongest ever. Owens’ smartly crafted tunesmithing spans from punkabilly to Americana to lyrical, singalong stadium rock, occasionally bolstered by organ or strings behind the twin-guitar attack.

The opening track is Berkshire, a stomping, Celtic-tinged punk tune that brings to mind Stiff Little Fingers or Wormburner. The group follow with Not Goodbye, a soaring, bittersweet anthem in the same vein, with a tantalizing, slashing Rogers guitar solo at the center

What I’m Dreaming Of is a swaying, distantly Beatlesque, midtempo salute to being openminded in an era of endless divide-and-conquer: “Don’t trust the TV, don’t believe your feed,” Owens cautions. The band take a detour into a vein they explored earlier in their career with Coal Mining Man, a Nashville gothic-flavored workingman’s lament about the decline of the domestic coal industry.

They go back to a Reducers-style garage-punk punch with Someone to Think Of and close the record with Do Not Comply, a relentless, hard-hitting, cynical singalong:

One shot to buy your freedom
Two shots to go outside
Three shots to see your family
Four shots and then you die
Do not comply
See through their lies
Do not comply or you’ll die

Faithless Town’s next gig is May 27 at 9 PM at Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave NE in Atlanta with swamp rockers Handsome Jack; cover is $10.

Catchy Powerpop and Dark Female-Fronted Punk Sounds in Astoria This Friday Night

Giftshop have been one of New York’s most distinctively catchy bands for more than a decade. Under the best circumstances, that kind of tenacity is rare. At this point in history, it’s even more of an achievement that the punk/powerpop quartet not only survived the lockdown but managed to put out some great singles over the last several months. Frontwoman Meghan Taylor is bringing the band, her powerful pipes and simmering, sardonic songs to a gig on May 20 at 9 PM at the Shillelagh Tavern, 47-22 30th Ave. in Astoria; take the N/R to 46th St.

Giftshop are also the rare band who have figured out the marketing value in putting their studio work out as free downloads: truth in advertising. Their most recent album, Biginastoria, does not seem to be the least bit sarcastically titled. A previous release, Tourist Trap goes back to 2013, has a louder punk rock crunch.

The opening track, Left Right would have ruled the college airwaves if the band had existed thirty years earlier. It’s a snide antiauthoritarian blend of skittish late 70s XTC new wave with a harder-edged, syncopated New York stomp.

Shine is not the Psychedelic Furs classic but a catchy, slurry riff-rock anthem. Anything Anything is a throwback to Garbage (or Missing Persons, ten years before that), with a surprise bass solo.

Taylor sends a ridiculously funny shout-out to a distinctly New England breed of dirtbag party animal in Parking Lot Astronaut, then the band blast through You Can’t Make Me at practically hardcore speed. They wind up the record with C’mon, which seems designed for audience participation. This is a fun look back to a time when the group wasn’t quite so dark or complex; then again, that could be said for the world in general.

Giftshop Bring Their Catchy, Powerful Tunesmithing to a Benefit for Ukraine on the 30th

Giftshop are a throwback to an era when loud guitar-driven three-minute songs were an art form. This blog has called the band the missing link between Blondie and the Distillers. At this point in their career, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re a crunchier version of the Go-Go’s. Their worldview is sharp, their songwriting is wickedly catchy and retro in a classic late 70s CBGB-style powerpop vein, and frontwoman Meghan Taylor has one of the most memorable, powerful wails of any singer in New York They’re headlining a benefit for Ukraine this weekend at Otto’s at around 9 PM on April 30. It’s a pass-the-bucket situation with all proceeds going to Razom for Ukraine. The Sloe Guns, who have been one of New York’s smartest Americana bands for going on two decades, play before at around 8.

Giftshop also know know something about marketing: practically their entire output since 2012 is up at their music page as a free download, and all of it is worth owning. This is the giftshop that keeps on giving! Their most recent singles are particularly choice. The newest and best one is More Than That, a searing reminiscence of the “wasted time and wasted years” since March of 2020, referencing Big Pharma fearmongering and “weaponized hugs.” It could be the best song of the year so far.

Another good one is Kewl With Me, a pulsing, riff-driven early new wave era-style number and showcase for Taylor’s powerful pipes. Matt Santoro varies his guitar textures from jangle to roar over Damian Eckstein’s buzzy bass and Jordan Kramer’s drums in Stylish Junkie, a snarling, sarcastic slap upside of the head of a girl who puts “the under in underwear.”

Their most recent album, Biginastoria came out in 2019. It’s one catchy, tantalizingly brief nonconformist anthem after another, They open it with We Want You, a sarcastically marching, synthy new wave tune, then Taylor takes aim at narcissistic trendoid groupthink in Same: “The rest of us just don’t buy in,” is the mantra.

They reach an early X-style punk stomp in Stacked, a dig at phony rebels, and then hit a hardcore sprint in Things I Feel, over in less than a minute and a half. They close with a deliciously rampaging cover of the Motorhead classic Ace of Spades – it ranks with the Avengers’ version of Paint It Black.

Smart, Sarcastic Punk Band the OC Rippers Hit Otto’s This Weekend

This Friday night, April 29 there’s a solidly good punk rock bill in the back room at Otto’s. Headliners the No-Heads work an acrid late 70s/early 80s postpunk sound that sometimes rumbles into hardcore. Before them on the bill at 11 PM are the Slaughter Boys, a San Diego act with short songs and a straight-up melodic sound.

From what’s up at the OC Rippers’ Bandcamp page, the New Jersey band, who play the 10 PM slot, are the highlight of the night. Big Brotha, the A-side of their latest single sounds like the Dead Boys covering the Stooges. On the band’s Born to Fuck ep from the fall of last year, they go for more of a pummeling Raw Power Stooges sound.

They also put out a full-length cassette, Wasteland Blues, in the spring of last year which is up at Bandcamp. That one’s thrashier, with the kind of short songs you might expect from a band who’ve covered legendary/obscore Long Island punks the Alan Millman Sect. There’s a dance tune (Do the Whip), some tasty, menacing chromatic stomp (Brats), some sarcastic hardcore, and Stoogoid rampages (the cleverly shapeshifting Feed Me and the funny, bass-driven Born in Waco)

Never Coming Down sounds like Sham 69 with an American accent. The best song on the record is Forced Vaccination, which speaks for itself with its creepy, techy touches.

There’s also a mystery band opening the night at 9 who call themselves the Kartel; presumably, they are not the excellent Greek metal band. One thing that is not a mystery is that the door goon at Otto’s cards everybody. You could be eighty with white hair and on a walker and you would have to show ID. What’s more is that they have an ID scanner and use it mercilessly. Thankfully, ID scanners don’t work on passports, so if you’re going, bring yours.

And from what we know now about the rollout of obedience programs in the years leading up to the 2020 global fascist takeover, it appears that the East Village was a pilot program for Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum’s Glate Leeset. Right around the end of 2009, all of a sudden, bars and restaurants in the area started using ID scanners. It was a gimmick that never caught on anywhere else in town until Andrew Cuomo’s infamous vaxxport from the summer of 2021.

The Neighborhood Brats Blast Through Bushwick

The difference between the Neighborhood Brats and a lot of punk bands is that the Brats are more musically imaginative than most. Guitarist George Rager plays big, fat, blasting chords, not just crunchy little two-string power chords, and chooses his spots for solos. Frontwoman Jenny Angelillo projects with a big, powerful wail; likewise, the group’s sound is a throwback to classic first-wave bands like the Avengers, Dead Kennedys and Adverts. There’s been some turnover in the rhythm section, but the current one is as strong as ever, They’re making a rare New York stop on April 26 at 7 PM at Our Wicked Lady; cover is fifteen bucks at the door. There’s a screamo band on afterward who are good with song titles but not so good with music.

The Brats’ latest album Confines of Life – streaming at Bandcamp – came out about a year ago. It’s arguably their strongest release so far, both musically and lyrically. Rager’s multitracked, overdriven tube-amp guitar sonics are especially juicy this time out. As usual, they don’t shy away from disturbing issues. They tackle eco-disaster in Who Took the Rain, the catchy opening track, then take a venomous sprint through Signs and Semantics, Rager tossing in a couple of wry Dead Kennedys references.

Angelillo raises a middle finger to the objectification of women in Miss America Pageant while Rager shifts from Flamin’ Groovies jangle to fullscale roar. “I am not a model, I don’t act,” she wails in FFBF, which is over in less than a minute and a half. Transitional Housing is a spot-on, funny dismissal of the homeless-industrial complex, followed by We’ll Find You. Is this about surveillance, or us finding each other? Hard to tell.

The band reach hardcore escape velocity in Harvey Weinstein (Is a Symptom), then shift to ghoulabilly for the catchy instrumental All Nazis Must Die. It’s hard to think of a more spot-on appraisal of the state of the world right now than I Weep for the Future and its macabre undercurrent.

The longest and most musically interesting anthem on the record is Migraines: you can hear echoes of PiL and the Buzzcocks along with a peak-era DKs acidity. “All you do is talk and talk, I’m not standing quiet in the shadows,” Angelillo sings in next-to-last track, LeBron James. They wind up the record by punking the hell out of Joan Jett’s I Want You. This is one of the best rock records of the past several months.

Smart, Cynical Punk Sounds in Bushwick Next Week

More about that unexpectedly good quadruplebill at Our Wicked Lady in Bushwick on the 14th: catchy female-fronted powerpop/janglerock band the Rizzos, open the night at 8ish, followed by the more straight-up punk  Duke of Vandals, the pro-immigrant, all-female Frida Kill and kinetic no-wavers Weeping Icon headlining at around 11. The club webpage says cover is $11.33 which means it’s twelve bucks at the door.

Duke of Vandals’ latest album Vandalism came out last year and is streaming at Bandcamp. It’s solid four-on-the-floor, cynical punk rock. The first track, Horror Cinema pairs off a slow intro and fast, cynical verse. Track two, Psychosomatic has hints of vintage Dead Kennedys: “I think the juice is not enough,” is the mantra on the way out.

Track three, 24, is a cautionary tale about getting old before your time. The band snidely contemplate the end of the world in Car Crash TV and close the record with the escape anthem The Thing

The all-female, bilingual Frida Kill don’t have much online, but what’s up at Bandcamp is good. The A-side of their “demo” single is Mujeres Con Mangos, a catchy salute to the intrepid immigrant vendors whose tasty snacks make our subway trips more tolerable. The B-side, Here’s Hoping is punchier, like a beefier version of the Slits. The quartet of multi-instrumentalists Lily Gist, Maria Lina Canales, Jeanette D. Moses and Gabriela Canales have a debut cassette ep with both of the songs on it due out later this month.

Touched by Ghoul Explore New Ground Without Losing Their Edge

Chicago band Touched By Ghoul earned a big thumbs-up here for their 2016 album Murder Circus: “This makes you wonder what other treats this group have up their collective sleeves.” Fast forward to 2022: their new album Cancel the World is streaming at Bandcamp. In general, it’s less menacing, more dynamic and more oriented toward vintage Sonic Youth than punk. Which is not to say that the band have lost their edge, they’re just more diverse now.

Guitarists Angela Mullenhour and Andrea Bauer punch in with burning distortion over the tight punk stomp of bassist Alex Shumard and drummer Paige Sandlin on the album’s opening track, Better Than Me, a slap at a stuck-up type. The way the lead line subtly shifts from the guitar to the bass toward the end is a cool touch.

Mullenhour’s wounded vocals swoop over the guitars in God Hospital, dipping to a haphazard oldschool soul ballad interlude before picking up with a snarl. Quick Question has punchy, tensely bending Thurston Moore-style riffs at the center, while the deadpan, sarcastic, mostly acoustic Lost at the Costco has more of a rainy-day jangle – just like the Clash’s Lost in the Supermarket.

Siouxsie & the Banshees have been a frequent reference point for the band in the past, and Sitcom wouldn’t be out of place on the Juju album: the ending is too good to spoil. From there the band segue into the title track, a catchy, sarcastic punk rock stomp with simple, slashing SY riffage.

The band pack a lot into Suicide Space Camp: no-wave skronk and a shapeshifting bridge along with the deadpan vocals. The album’s most menacing track, Yacht Problems seems to allude to a much greater malaise: “It takes lungs to breathe, and they blew them away,” Mullenhour muses.

There’s also a Cancel the World Redux, where she works the ersatz soul ambience for every breathy ounce of sarcasm she can purr. Since March of 2020, rock records in general have slowed to a trickle from the volume we were getting before global totalitarianism. It’s good to see such a strong band still intact and staying true to their vision.

A Fearless, Funny, Spot-On New Holiday Protest Song Album From the Pocket Gods

The Pocket Gods might hold the alltime record for the total number of songs released by a rock band. A considerable portion of their voluminous output comes from a series of hundred-song albums written to protest Spotify’s nanopayment system: a couple quid per million plays, more or less.

The band come out of the scruffy British space where psychedelia meets punk and garage rock. Since the early zeros, they’ve released everything from a concept album about Oak Island, where a fortune in pirate treasure is reputedly hidden, to the incendiary No Room at the (Holiday) Inn collection of Christmas-themed protest songs which made the top ten albums of 2020 list here. Frontman Mark Christopher Lee is a purist pop polymath who never loses his sense of humor, no matter how grim things get – and they get very, very grim here.

This year the Pocket Gods have a snotty new holiday album, Apocalyptic Christmas, streaming at Spotify. It’s basically their greatest holiday hits. As anti-Christmas music, it’s irresistible. Some of the songs are pure punk rock, ranging from filthy and Ramonesy to more overtly political. There are also instrumentals, punked-out carols and a loopy little number built around a sample of Boris Johnson’s father waxing eloquent about “decreasing the surplus population.” No joke.

On the lighthearted side, there’s a Stiff Little Fingers-style version of Silent Night. On the more venomous tip, there’s the title track, a garage-punk critique of New Abnormal surveillance state totalitarianism. It’s sort of this decade’s counterpart to the Clash’s English Civil War.

Some of the songs, like Covid Cavalry, have a poignancy that transcends the rage of the music: imagine being separated from your significant other for months on end by a global divide-and-conquer scheme. If you’re one of the literally billions who’ve been deprived of some basic human necessity since the more-or-less international fascist coup d’etat in 2020, this resolutely funny, quintessentially British band will lift your spirits.

An AC/DC Cover Album Worth Owning?

A lot of people forget that when AC/DC first hit these shores back in the late 70s, they got filed in the punk bins. The difference was that Angus Young was faster than most of the punk lead guitarists. Otherwise, AC/DC songs are easy to play, as anyone who cut their teeth learning this stuff will tell you.

So is there any reason why you would want to own a cover album like the new double vinyl compilation Best of AC/DC [Redux], or spin it at Bandcamp? For one, the bands are killer, and the new versions are surprisingly original. In case anyone is wondering how you might possibly do anything interesting with an AC/DC cover, this is your answer. And while most of the singers on last year’s editions of the Redux cover compilations decided to channel their inner Ozzy, the guys in these bands aren’t trying to be Bon Scott, or Brian Johnson, or…there was another guy after him, right?

Witchskull kick off the album with the prototypical four-on-the-floor riff-rocker Sin City, peaking out with an appropriately unhinged Marcus De Pasquale guitar solo before a sudden bass break. Likewise, Supersuckers’ Overdose takes the over-the-top shredding to the next level of WTF.

Kal-El‘s remake of It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll) is crunchier and sludgier: the organ track is an unexpectedly cool touch, even if it isn’t as insanely ridiculous as Greta Gertler‘s ukulele version. Mos Generator’s Tony Reed teams with Fu Manchu’s Bob Balch to reinvent What’s Next to the Moon as spare, sinister 80s goth rock: who would have thought? Ghost Ship Ritual‘s epic, ornate version of The Razors Edge is just as radical, and arguably the best song on the record.

One of the innumerable funny things about AC/DC is that despite Angus Young’s distaste for Ron Wood’s guitar playing, a lot of early AC/DC is awfully close to Ron Wood-era Stones. And some of those songs are here. But Kryptograf‘s Bad Boy Boogie ends a lot closer to the band’s Highway to Hell peak. And Solace do Whole Lotta Rosie as bad-to-the-bone boogie, with a deliriously good guitar duel out.

Blue Heron play Walk All Over You as Melvins-style sludge. Riff Lord‘s For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) is arguably heavier and a lot more dense than the original. Red Mesa‘s If You Want Blood is the closest thing to the original here – if it ain’t broke, right?

Caustic Casanova‘s take of Dog Eat Dog is closer to X, less over-the-top than the way cult favorite female-fronted New York AC/DC cover band Big Balls would do it. Fueled by drummer Rubin Badillo’s spot-on rolls, Electric Frankenstein play High Voltage as the Dead Boys would have. Domkraft wind up the record with a characteristically bludgeoning take of Night Prowler, AC/DC’s shameless ripoff of the Stones’ Midnight Rambler. All this makes you feel like a kid again: drop the needle and pick up your axe.

A Swiss Mess From Garage-Punk Legends the Monsters

In case you might be thinking that the people of Switzerland are all down with Klaus Schwab’s sinister “glate leeset,” Swiss legends the Monsters have a new vinyl record, You’re Class, I’m Trash, streaming at Spotify. The first song on it is titled Gimme Germs. That’s about all there is to the lyrics. Yeah, punk rock is all about confrontation. Take that, WEF Nazis!

The rest of the album is up to the level of the feral, primitive garage-rock stomp the band have made a name for themselves with around the world since 1986. Another song here that needed to be written is track eight, Electrobike Asshole. For the record, this blog’s owner got hit by one of those this past summer – in the middle of a crosswalk, walking with the light, no less. Happily, that incident ended with the blog owner getting up, cursing and bruised…while Electrobike Asshole was left with bent handlebars and a busted throttle.

The track before that is Yellow Snow Drink, an ersatz country tune. It’s weirder and a lot shorter than the Frank Zappa song on the same subject.

“Smell my tongue, it’s brown,” frontman/guitarist Beat-Man hollers on the album’s second track.

The third cut, Carpool Lane starts out as a fuzztone stalker theme, goes through a strutting series of Nuggets riffs, decays to a noise jam and has a good joke at the end.

As the band seem to see it, death is a Crampsy stroll, spun through a flange: in addition to bassist Janosh and drummer Swan Lee, the band includes live engineer Pumi on “knobs.”

A lot of the songs here remind of King Khan in his punkest moments. In Devil Baby, they prove they can be just as primitive with a piano as with guitars: that’s where the Hasil Adkins influence comes through strongest. Horror film composer Mario Batkovic guests on creepy quasi-baroque electric piano on a second version of Death.

This album is not for people who take themselves very seriously, or expect virtuoso chops, but it sure is fun.