Dot Dash – Proto Retro

Washington D.C.’s Dot Dash have been churning out strong records at a steady clip for close to a decade now. The members of the band have been a part of some pretty well-known bands in the past – Julie Ocean, Youth Brigade, and Swervedriver, for a start – but Dot Dash is its own entity. A strong one, at that. A classic power pop trio that sounds both retro and modern in the present day, they are a gem in the indie music community. Comprised of Terry Banks on guitar & vocals, Hunter Bennet on bass, and Danny Ingram on drums, their latest long player Proto Retro is their 6th album and their finest yet.

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RunHideFight – He’s A Jerk b/w Because I Love You

Philadelphia’s RunHideFight are a breath of fresh air and are a fitting band to kick off 2019 reviews with. This is their first release, a 2 song 7 inch that clocks in under 5 minutes total – but what an incredible blast of brilliance to introduce themselves with. The band features Geeta Dalal Simons on guitars & vocals, Christine Weiswer on bass & vocals, John Terlesky (aka Brother JT) on guitars & vocals, and Jon Kois on drums. Collectively, the members of the band have a ton of connections and experience playing in the Philadelphia region with various bands. After a decade+ away from the music scene Geeta Simons was ready for a return – now approaching the music with the perspective of being a parent. It makes for interesting and heartfelt approach. The band name? That’s the new stop drop and roll for kids – run hide fight is a catch phrase for active shooter situations in schools across America. The new normal.  The band excels at fuzzed out garage rock rave ups. He’s A Jerk is the A side and it is a noisy 2 minutes of white noise bliss. The band is locked in sync and I’ll tell ya, Geeta’s scream is absolutely killer.  Because I Love You has a slightly less aggressive approach with a sing-a-long vibe and catchy guitar riff pulsating throughout the entirety of the tune. I can’t wait for the full length.

You can buy the single here – physical copies or digital. Follow the band on The Social Network and if you are near a major Northeast city, keep your eyes open for their tour schedule.

Verdict: Fiery debut

For Fans of: The Raveonettes, The Sonics, The Runaways, R.E.M.

Harley Graves – s/t

It took me an embarrassingly long time to make the connections between punk and country music. Not so much in musical styles – in attitude. Once it sunk in (about 18 months after the last Johnny Cash show in my neck of the woods at the time), I was hooked. You couldn’t find enough Cash, Gram Parsons, or Mike Nesmith records for me (yep, that Mike Nesmith). I’m not a fan of most Nashville, radio friendly country music. But give me some outlaw country, and I”m all over that. Punk spirit and tunes that cut straight to the heart. Harley Graves fits into this mold perfectly.

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Dinosaur Jr. – Hold Unknown

It’s been 2 years since we last heard from Dinosaur Jr. in their highly successful and drama free reunion period. 2016’s Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not was the perfect blend of noise, melody, and melancholy (and my favorite song was a Lou Barlow tune). In fact, it ranks very highly in my “Favorite Dinosaur Jr. albums” imaginary list. Also the supporting show at The Showbox in Seattle was insanely amazing (and loud). Hold Unknown is (apparently) a one-off single as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. A slab of pop punk that will bring a smile to your face. A J. Mascis fronted tune that is joyous and infectious. A recommended tune that will be worth the $1 spent.

Pure Hell – These Boots Are Made For Walking b/w No Rules

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Pure Hell’s tagline is, of course, being one of the 1st all black punk bands – ever. Death (all black protopunk band out of Detroit) may have recorded first, but Pure Hell (to my ears) sound closer to the late 70’s punk music that changed the world. Hailing from my hometown of Philadelphia, PA, Pure Hell came together in ’74 and ended up being managed by Curtis Knight – famous for his association with Jimi Hendrix in the mid 60’s. A move to New York and a successful tour of England weren’t enough to make Pure Hell a household name. The band fell apart and a full length album sat in the vaults for over 20 years. The only official release during the bands original run was a 7″ – a Nancy Sinatra / Lee Hazlewood cover and an original b side. These Boots Are Made For Walking remains true to the punk tradition of taking a familiar tune and imbuing it with punk attitude and speeding up the tempo quite a bit. Singer Kenny Gordon offers up a perfect mix of attitude and chops.  No Rules comes off like The Stooges filtered through the Sex Pistols. In other words, perfect. It captures the essence of the era “no rules / no rules / for you and me!”. These tracks along with the album cut in the late 70’s are available on the Noise Addiction compilation. Absolutely recommended.

Rowland S. Howard – Life’s What You Make It

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Late 2009 saw the release of Pop Crimes the 2nd solo album by Rowland S. Howard. Famous for his stints in The Birthday Party, These Immortal Souls, and Crime & the City Solution – he was sometimes overshadowed by the antics of his band members. Make no mistake about it – Rowland was also a genius. The album arrived in October of 2009 and he was dead by December. Sadly, it was also his most cohesive artistic statement. Recording sessions were quick – he was given a limited time to live based on the condition of his liver and with a transplant unlikely, it became a statement of intent. Every song pulses and sways with abandon. Much like Joey Ramone’s last statement to the world it was clear that Rowland wanted to live. Life’s What You Make It  is the 3rd track on the album and a cover of the song written and originally performed by Talk Talk. The original showed Talk Talk edging away from their synth pop work – here, Rowland S. Howard & company add in some trademark guitar squall and lock into a motorik groove. Having Mick Harvey on drums only adds to the allure – a mini reunion of The Birthday Party alumni. The words ring true and lend the atmosphere a vibe of both euphoria & sadness. “Baby, life’s what you make it / Celebrate it / Anticipate it / Yesterday’s faded / Nothing can change it / Life’s what you make it”. RIP Rowland. 12-30-09.

Dog Toffee – The Future Has Been

It is a classic case of “what could have been”. Local Manchester, England band gets some buzz, records an EP, quickly gets signed to a label and the EP never comes out. But what if the EP had pointed to an alternate future? A future not dictated by the whims of record label executives following trends? Dog Toffee fit that scenario perfectly. Led by Gav Rourke & Sean Lyons and backed by a string of drummers (finally solidified w/ long time drummer Phil Nelson), the band tapped into punk, grunge, girl group sounds, and white noise inspired by The Fall. The band would go on to support legends in concert (Dwarves, Misfits, and Dee Dee Ramone to name just a few), headline shows, and record with Seattle legend Jack Endino. But until now, their debut recordings have never been released. 20 years later is as good as time as any.

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