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Lollipop Punk/Power Pop Streams

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Punk/Power Pop Streams


Growing Up Is Killing Me (Epitaph Records)
release date: 9/24/2013

Georgia's Veara reminds me of the glut of good-but-indestinguishable pop punk bands of the late '90s. They have heart, they have skills, but they haven't found their unique voice by their second album, and really, that's ok. Thousands of bands suck. Thousands more tinker with this style, try on that influence, never really committing, and therefore, never really having much impact. A couple hundreds bands lead the way (both down paths you wanna take and those you know you have no interest in), and we are blessed to have them, even if we don't actually like a lot of them. Veara is two albums into the journey, yet most members have played together for many years prior to this. So the "off to a good start" and lunge forward here are no surprise. The band is starting to develop a voice, starting to get passed the obvious and work on the nuances. They are, unfortunately, treading oft-trodden ground, anthemic pop punk in all its predictable glory, but Veara are instantly - if generally - likable, as "The Worst Part of You" clearly shows.

The Marmozets
(Roadrunner Records)
release date: 11/18/2013

Mixing the best parts of Paramore and The Distillers is marketing genius, not that these teens knew what a marketing twit was when they formed. This clunkily-named band has angsty roar, belted-out melodies, and some tenderness (watch for the knife beneath the pillow), slathered atop powerpop riffery and stick-twirling rock-a-rama drumming. "Move Shake Hide" has psychosis and stuttering fist-banging sprinkled amidst infectious choruses, a sure sign of songsmith intervention (or these kids are that talented that quickly). A young new UK band, very little info on them (even on the web, which has details of your favorite band's last dump), and one to get to know, stupid name or not.

How to Clean Everything (20th Anniversary new edition) (Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 8/20/2013

Deluxe reissue of Propagandhi's classic 1993 debut. Remastered from the original analog reels, featuring the full album, three outtakes, and the four-song HTCE demo. Newer fans might not even recognize the raw style here, but "Anti-Manifesto" was one of the handfulla songs that put this band on the map due to their talent, courage to voice their well-researched political ideas whether they were popular or not (not for cheap shock value, but because most, even punks, didn't seem to have the balls), and soon-to-be instantly-recognizable sound. Frantic-drumming, quick-picked guitar with lots of palm-muting, and that clear snarl, spitting political venom so brutal, factual, and razor-sharp that it single-handedly set the bar higher than most political punks could match, then or now.

The Flatliners
Dead Language (Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 9/17/2013

These Canadian punk rockers sound in fine form on their fourth album, Dead Language. Fans of (the dearly departed) The Distillers will definitely recognize that band's trademark snarl and aggression on "Drown in Blood," stuffed as this track is with darkly melodic riffs and gravelly vocals.

Get Dead
Bad News (Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 7/23/2013

Raspy-voiced bar room punk from San Francisco, Fat Wreck's home base. "Welcome to Hell" combines horns, dark ska upstroke (not all ska was smiles and checkerboards, check some of the morose Terry-led Specials classics) offset by punk charge, and enough blind-staggering to please Social D and Pogues fans. Darker and slower (and less unity-obsessed) than the Dropkicks, they're probably a lot more self-destructive, too. The goal was to keep the recording straight-forward and live, with minimal overdubs, courtesy of Mariachi El Bronx, Angry Amputees, and Lagwagon members. The Fat Mike produced Bad News kinda slipped right by me, as perhaps it did others, seeing as there aren't the usual glut of nearly-interchangeable reviews clamoring for your online attention.

Double Diggits (Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 7/23/2013

Double Diggits combines Chixdiggit's second and third albums (after a first, short-lived experience on Sub Pop). 1998's Born on the First of July and 2000's From Scene to Shining Scene (released on Honest Don's, a cool-ass subsidiary of Fat), plus eight bonus tracks. "Chupacabras/Thursday Night" is a fine two-fer from this Calgary, Alberta band (that's in Canada, eh?), showing their peppy punkpop chops. They had some great artwork, fun songs (about girls, usually), and while not a fave of mine, Kepi Ghoulie of Groovie Ghoulies was in the band for a while, and if that doesn't spark interest ('hmmm, simple and probably repetitive yet absolutely infectious Ramonesy punkpop?"), seriously, where've you been?

YPLL (Epitaph Records)
release date: 5/28/2013

Justin Pearson of The Locust returns with the kinda edgy shit people call art punk. You can love or loathe the long song titles and "yeah, I'm really well-read and smart'n'shit," cuz if it's about the music, howzabout we focus on that, hmmm? "Congratulations, You Are Good Enough" is frantic without being grind, spastic without being random, and while preachy and iconic and all that cultural hoo-ha, his voice and politics are no more irritating than Jello Biafra's were in classic Dead Kennedys barbed punk. Great to keep a few bands like this around, just hose down the also-rans, cuz this stuff is hard to do well, and a watered-down popular movement of this genre will make emo seem bearable.

Alkaline Trio
My Shame Is True (Epitaph Records)
release date: 4/2/2013

Alkaline Trio's eighth album, My Shame Is True, recorded at The Blasting Room by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, is the current Trio's sound and style perfected. The brilliant production team in Fort Collins shine here, the recording coming out authentic and, well, FUN. While the band may be a little overly heartfelt and vulnerable in spots, the joy of playing and recording is palpable. The first single, "I Wanna Be A Warhol," is as good as any. An admission of ambition, and seeing as the band are not gritty fuck-it-all punks anymore, it's about as honest as you're going to get from "rock stars." Far from spent, Alkaline Trio miss sometimes, hit and hit true pretty often, and what the hell have you really accomplished in the last 15 years?

Masked Intruder
(Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 2/5/2013

Sure, it's a novelty, and punk pop needs another gimmick like I need Frank's Red Hot Sauce squirted in my eye, but this one's worth the sting. The band's from Wisconsin, the players are named based on the color of their masks, and their 13-song self-titled debut full-length has almost as many references to law-breaking shenanigans (that's right, I said shenanigans) as McRackins' albums have egg jokes. Like those melodic punkers, Masked Intruder are peppy but not frantic, silly but know their songcraft backwards and forwards and play like veterans, and while humorous, they're no joke. "25 to Life" is a free download available here and from the Fat Wreck site.

Less Than Jake
Greetings & Salutations (Fat Wreck Chords)
release date: 1/8/2013

Greetings & Salutations came out at the beginning of 2013, combining tour-only EPs Greetings from Less Than Jake (2011) and Seasons Greetings from Less Than Jake (2012), plus a pair of unreleased tracks, and a freshly sequenced track list to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. Surprisingly cohesive for a comp+, it's everything fans old and new want from the band: Quality, fun ska punk, and more of it. "Done and Dusted" is classic Less Than Jake.

After The Fall
Unkind (Paper + Plastick Records)
release date: 3/19/2013

Three or four full-lengths in (first for Paper + Plastic, back to a four piece again) and After the Fall have pretty well nailed the rampaging punk stylings of the late '90s. Like NOFX, but with less horns and songs about lesbians. Writers often call them "earnest" vocals, when the singer misses a bunch of the notes in his enthusiasm, and that'd be the case here. It's not a bad thing, of course, cuz you get swept up in the energy of "Decade" and barely notice. Barely. But yeah, one of the two singers misses his mark pretty often. Oh, but there are two guys trading vocals over the rampaging drums and palm-muted, lightening-picked guitars, and all the melodic punk goodness comes charging at you so relentlessly, you'll barely have time to catch your breath.

The Tossers
The Emerald City (Victory Records)
release date: 3/5/2013

Seven full-lengths in 20 years, these Celtic punkers continue to deliver exactly what you want and expect, no surprises. Fun, energetic, trust-worthy, with tin whistles, fiddles, hearty sing-a-longs, and all the usual subjects (last call, lost friends and relatives, more drinking, maybe a bar fight with some scabs, and how a broken heart can be mended when the boys take you out for pints until the sun comes up), Emerald City doesn't disappoint, nor break any new ground. The Tossers lean more to the traditional Celtic sing-a-long than the punk rock rampage, but play the title track on the jukebox at your local pub, and if someone doesn't buy you a drink, get the hell out of there.

Bad Religion
True North (Epitaph)
release date: 1/22/2013

30+ years and 16 albums in, you know what to expect, and Bad Religion doesn't disappoint. Or deviate from the style they themselves created. Immaculate production, fast-paced, quality skate punkpop, layered whoa-ohs, and scathing cultural criticism, it's all here in spades. "Fuck You" is as brief and to-the-point as the sentiment, and as fine a representation of the album as any. This track could be off any of their albums, meaning fans will eat it up and it'll be rattled off with the classic faves as punk songs you need to know.

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