Southern California’s Ten Foot Pole are stalwarts of the scene’s pop punk sound and scene. The band began as Scared Straight in the early 80’s and were associated with the Nardcore movement which helped them make a name for themselves. The 90’s saw them working as labelmates with The Offspring, Rancid, and NOFX on the Epitaph label. Through the years the band has seen quite a bit of members come and go, with the one constant being Dennis Jagard on guitars and vocals. Escalating Quickly is the band’s 1st full length containing all original material in 15 years and along with Dennis Jagard, features Scott Hallquist on guitars & vocals, “Lil” Joe Raposo on bass guitar, and Sean Sellers on drums. It is a stunning return from these industry vets.
Silver Screams are a punk band hailing from Boston, MA that offer up no frills, 70’s style punk rock. Their latest offering is a 3 song EP that clocks in at about 6 1/2 minutes. It hits hard, fast, and leaves the listener wanting for more. The band is comprised of Niff on guitar & vox, Earthdog on bass, and Pete on drums. At least two of those names may be stage names. The sound of the EP is raw – this could have been recorded anytime within the last 40 years or so. And I absolutely fucking love that – this is a masterful EP. Alive In The Afterlife kicks things off in high gear. Sung / shout vocals with an incessant guitar riff that leads into a classic punk rock chorus. Stitches Up has a killer intro bass line that is quickly overwhelmed by the full band instrumentation. It doesn’t quite quite have the pop appeal of the opener, but it is a worthy cut. Understand is a Government Issue cover and ends things on a high note. D.C. punk by way of Boston suits Silver Screams just fine. Overall, this is a short EP that is worthy of your time and attention. You can pick it up here and check out their updates on The Social Network.
Verdict: Punk Classic
For Fans of: The Clash, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Warsaw, The Jam
England’s Healthy Junkies play an intoxicating mix of punk, garage rock, with a healthy dose of theatrics. The band has been on the scene for a few years, centered around vocalist Nina Courson and guitarist Phil Honey-Jones. The current line up is rounded out with Dave Whitmore on bass and Adam Lewis on drums. Their back story reads like a novel: Nina ran away at 14 to Paris, fell in with hoodlums and eventually ran away to London where she connected with Phil. The rest, as they say, is history. Delirious Dream is the band’s 4th long-player and is their finest yet.
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.
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.
Verdict: Fiery debut
For Fans of: The Raveonettes, The Sonics, The Runaways, R.E.M.
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.
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.