Monda - Stiff Jumbo

The newest of a, to be per­fect­ly hon­est, fuck­ing in­pen­e­tra­ble amount of re­leas­es which have ac­cu­mu­lat­ed on this To­towa, New Jer­sey group's band­camp page over the past few years, de­liv­ers a pure spec­ta­cle of short and catchy lit­tle tunes with a max­i­mum length of ex­act­ly one minute, fir­ing off four­ty tracks in­be­tween the co­or­di­nates of garage punk, pow­er pop, old­school in­die rock and fuzz punk in well un­der half an hour. The whole thing makes me think of a cou­ple of 1980s DIY punk and in­die rock land­marks like the ear­ly works of Guid­ed By Voic­es, Fast­backs and M.O.T.O. just as much as a cou­ple more re­cent bands like Boo­ji Boys, Print Head, Vaguess and Datenight.

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Vacation - Rare Earth

Cincin­nati group Va­ca­tion re­main a rare zeit­geist-de­fy­ing gem, once again de­liv­er­ing a bril­liant new batch of bangers equal­ly catchy and propul­sive, to be lo­cat­ed in the rough ball­park of Pow­er Pop, Garage Punk, Noise Pop and old­school melod­ic In­die Rock, brim­ming with a per­va­sive sense of joy and eu­pho­ria in the face of rough times ahead while nev­er miss­ing the mark thanks to their re­mark­able skill in craft­ing sim­ple but ef­fec­tive, per­fect­ly bal­anced and to-the-point lit­tle tunes they then like to blow up to larg­er-than-life cin­e­mas­cope pro­por­tions.

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Teen Line - Collecting To Collect

This neat cas­sette out on Weath­er Vane Records by a group shar­ing mem­bers with Vin­tage Crop among oth­ers, im­me­di­ate­ly cap­ti­vates with an ab­solute­ly time­less make of el­e­gant and well-round­ed pow­er pop, sup­port­ed by way above-av­er­age song­writ­ing chops. Think of a cou­ple of more or less con­tem­po­rary groups like Bed Wet­tin' Bad Boys, Tom­my and the Com­mies, Bad Sports, The Wind-Ups, Datenight, Ex-Gold, Va­ca­tion, Mr. Teenage, Yups, Frozen Teens… pick your poi­son! Though the whole thing may be a bit too front-loaded with most of the hits re­sid­ing on side a, which leads to a bit of a slump in the sec­ond half… kin­da like like a me­an­der­ing Twin Peaks sea­son 2 it still man­ages to work it­self back up to a glo­ri­ous fi­nale in the clos­ing track Hold Mu­sic.

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Dog Date - Zinger

This New York group is kind of a cu­ri­ous, zeit­geist-de­fy­ing beast in this day and age, wear­ing their fond­ness of late eight­ies to ear­ly nineties punk, grunge and in­die rock on their sleeves with the open­ing track even be­ing ti­tled Nir­vana, al­though i'd rather liken them to ear­ly Mud­honey and the noisy, ear­ly in­car­na­tion of The Pix­ies, maybe a hint of U-Men, Scratch Acid and Dri­ve Like Je­hu aswell. So ba­si­cal­ly, they're the kind of group that would've got­ten var­i­ous Pitch­fork writ­ers wet a decade-and-a-half ago, when the height of the first '90s nos­tal­gia wave hit. These days though, they're kind of an ob­scure odd­i­ty and that makes this record all the more en­dear­ing to me.

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Antenna - Antenna

Awe­some to hear this dude's an­gel voice again! Just a cou­ple weeks ago, Shogun, best known as the pow­er­house front man of Roy­al Headache, made his tri­umphant re­turn (let's not for­get the neat 2018 Shogun and the Sheets 7" though) with the de­but EP of Finno­guns Wake, the duo com­pris­ing of him and Finn Berzin and now, pret­ty much out of nowhere, there's al­so the de­but EP by an­oth­er band of his, An­ten­na, pop­ping up which, of his projects so far, aligns clos­est to the old­school Roy­al Headache vibe in terms of its song ma­te­r­i­al while mov­ing on from the rough garage sound to­wards a some­what slick­er aes­thet­ic in­be­tween the pa­ra­me­ters of straight-up melod­ic punk rock, noise- and pow­er pop with a kin­da un­ex­pect­ed Leather­face edge to it. Sweet!

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Vaguess - Thanks /​/​ No Thanks

A main­stay of re­cent years in garage punk is back with a some­what more high-pro­file LP via Er­ste Theke Ton­träger fol­low­ing a re­cent string of more un­der­stat­ed cas­sette and dig­i­tal re­leas­es. This thing is as eclec­tic as any of these but at the same time, a lot more fo­cused, de­ter­mined and con­sis­tent than some of those more scrap­py re­cent of­fer­ings. Span­ning a spec­trum from the propul­sive post punk of the open­ing sal­vo (When It's Gone, A.P.A.C.), melan­choly in­die rock bal­lads (Texas Cloud), comp­fy synth pop tunes (Let U Know) to straight­for­ward garage-/fuzz punk ex­plo­sions (Can't Take It, 2 Car Garage), there's plen­ty of meat to dig your teeth in­to, all held to­geth­er by Vin­ny Earley's al­ways con­fi­dent, of­ten plain­ly bril­liant song­writ­ing pow­ers. Last but not least, Week­end Shad­ows and Car­ry­on are fur­ther ex­am­ples of ex­act­ly that kind of supreme pow­er-/fuzz pop hymn the dude has al­ways ex­celled at.

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Datenight - Clueless and Hangless

At first glance i wasn't quite sure if this Nashville group's newest LP isn't gonna be just a bit too mel­low for my taste but even­tu­al­ly, the sheer strength of their Lo-Fi in­die rock songcraft wins me over once again, the whole thing hav­ing the feel of a scrap­py odds-and-ends col­lec­tion which might just be the case. This as­sess­ment is on­ly be­ing re­in­forced by the fact that the songs ap­pear in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der here - the tunes them­selves are pure A-grade stuff though.

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The Present Age - Radio Static Intelligible

This Oshkosh, Wis­con­sin group is cook­ing up a va­ri­ety of in­ven­tive and adap­tive anochro­nisms rough­ly in the realms post punk and post­core, garage punk and clas­sic '90s in­die rock, com­ing off as re­fresh­ing­ly out-of-place and -touch in today's land­scape. Some '90s Dischord-meets-Touch and Go feel is go­ing on in tracks such as Ph­tha­late Mates and the groovy psy­che­del­ic clos­ing epos Clum­sy As­cetic. A hint of Pro­tomar­tyr in Locks Fas­ten, psy­che­del­ic flour­ish­es in The De­liv­ery and hints of Swervedriv­er in songs like Ra­dio Sta­t­ic. Fur­ther, at dif­fer­ent points, you might be re­mind­ed of re­cent post punk/-core acts like Bat­piss, Stuck and Bench Press, groups on the in­ter­sec­tion of garage- and post punk like Tyvek, Par­quet Courts or Flat Worms in ad­di­tion to groups on the more melod­ic and jan­g­ly edges of post- and art punk á la Go­tobeds, Sleepies, Tape/​Off and Shark Toys.

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M.O.T.O. - The Wall of Phlegm

What a god­damn beau­ty! Paul Ca­por­i­no of cult garage punk /​ pow­er pop vet­er­an project M.O.T.O. at long last has com­piled a new set of beau­ti­ful­ly fuzzy record­ings in the well-worn 4-track so­lo fash­ion, kick­ing things off with a fuckin' Motör­head cov­er of all things and sub­se­quent­ly pulling off what must be his most high-val­ue, hook-laden set of tunes in a long time, noth­ing short of a new lo-fi pop mas­ter­piece if you ask me. Many songs have al­ready ap­peard on one oc­ca­sion or an­oth­er but hon­est­ly, who cares re­al­ly as this thing kin­da plays out like an all-killer-no-filler best of from his re­cent decade-plus of cre­ative out­put, pre­sent­ed in uniqe, un­heard record­ings.

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The Misanthropes - The Misanthropes

Bril­liant new shit from folks who've pre­vi­ous­ly been play­ing, among oth­ers, in Melbourne's in­fa­mous­ly abra­sive post punk act Sew­ers as well as the some­what more ac­ces­si­ble, in­die rock-lean­ing out­fit Love Of Di­a­grams. What we get here is once again pret­ty much off the beat­en path, a heav­i­ly folk-in­fused melange in which the amer­i­cana-drenched punk of, say, Angst col­lides with some 80s Sci­en­tists, a hint of british psy­che­delia and plen­ty of pais­ley un­der­ground jan­gle­ness - a deep melan­cho­lia, at times a lit­tle rem­i­nis­cent of Brisbane's Kitchen's Floor find­ing its out­let in nonethe­less catchy-as-fuck melodies, em­bed­ded in­to a kin­da fuzzy, neb­u­lous sound­scape. Oth­er times, the melod­ic post punk of The Es­tranged comes to mind or the re­laxed psy­che­del­ic garage- and pow­er pop of White Fence, The Cairo Gang. Oth­er plau­si­ble ref­er­ences in­clude more or less re­cent groups á la Damak, ear­li­er Chronophage, Dead Finks, Refedex and The Molds.

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