Strange Ranger – Daymoon [Buy it on Amazon!]
This album made the top 5 before I even heard it. I guess I’m a bit biased. They put out what was, in my opinion, the best album of 2016, Rot Forever. They were called Sioux Falls back then. To me, that was the perfect record. It quickly became one of my all time favos, so predictably, this one doesn’t quite live up to the hype I created within myself. Still, it’s rad as Hell, and Hell is pretty rad,, or so I’m told. I don’t necessarily want to go to Hell per se, unless maybe I had like a fire-suit or something. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Pinky – Mood Swings
The album art is misleading. I expected it to be pop punk or one of those ‘gnar’ bands. Instead it’s shoegazy melodic hardcore in the vein of Title Fight, which I am highly in favor of. Especially when it’s done right. These guys are doing it right and killin’ it. Like multiple-stab-wounds killin’ it. I can’t stress enough how perfectly this was executed. Here’s hoping they have a lot more songs under their belt or in their back pocket or up their sleeve or in whatever other part of their clothing. Maybe in their backpack if they have one. I don’t care, just hand it over. Listen on Bandcamp
Simon Joyner – Step Into The Earthquake [Buy it on Amazon!]
I don’t think anything can be said that isn’t already implied when you say the man’s name. I mean, he is a freakin’ delight to listen to. This guy makes better Bob Dylan albums than Bob Dylan does. Well, better than he has in a very long time anyway. Big, dusty old songs that make today’s mainstream radio-folk seem utterly and completely irrelevant. If Bob Dylan listened to this album he would mumble an entirely incoherent sentence. If Bob Dylan read this review he would start shouting out verbal crazy like that guy on the train people don’t want to sit next to. In conclusion: Bob Dylan was amazing. Simon Joyner still is. Listen on Spotify
Atlas – S/T
Straight out of The Big Diaper, Toronto Ontario. That’s what the locals call it right? As a Canadian who doesn’t live there, I’m actually obliged by law to shit-talk Toronto. I think they really do call it that though. I’m pretty much positive. The weather here in Vancouver is beautiful by the way. Look, I don’t want any trouble. This is an awesome record. They should be in the conversation along with all those other big emo-revival (a term even stupider than ‘emo’ itself) bands, like MoBo and Sorority Noise and the such. An argument could be made that these guys are better than both of those bands. Now I’m not the one starting that argument. I’m just saying it’s absolutely true and if you don’t think so you’re just wrong. Listen on Bandcamp
Poster-iti – Sarı Çizgiyi Geçmeyiniz
Joe Strummer was born in Turkey you know.. That’s up against the point though. I don’t understand the words on this album, but I still find myself singing along to it. It’s super catchy 80’s style punk. A little first-wavy, a little hardcore. It’s actually a re-issue, but I’m including it anyway because it’s totally awesome and it does have some unreleased material on it. The original album was released in 2005 to much acclaim in Turkey. Actually, I made that up. I have no idea how well it did in Turkey, but in my imagination this was an instant classic and the punks went fuckin’ bananas for it. Listen on Bandcamp
Washer – All Aboard [But it on Amazon!]
Grungy indie punks from Brooklyn mixin’ up a bowl of grooves for us with killer vocals. Really scrappy songs that get stuck in your teeth and stay there, like when you eat ribs and you don’t have a toothpick. This could be my favourite release this month. I mean I associated it with oral hygiene. That’s saying a lot. Everything is solid here. If you don’t eat meat you can compare it to eating a mango off the pit. Like someone just hands you a mango and you have to eat it with your bare hands. No knife. This is the perfect compliment for any band. Listen on Bandcamp
The Fiasco Kerfuffle – Get A Job
This is bedroom emo at it’s emoest, and also it’s bedroomest. This is definitely just a really sad guy sitting on the edge of his bed making brilliant songs that no one will ever hear, other than me, and maybe you, if you go to his page. I really hope you do. So few people have a knack for lyrics like this. The subject matter is self-deprecation at it’s self-deprecationiest, and maybe it gets you a little down, but what’s wrong with being down? I like being down. I feel most comfortable when I’m down. What is this ‘up’ I’ve heard so much about? What’s up!? Down with up! Everything about this works perfectly. It’s a beautiful accident. Even the bad mixing and shitty white-noise just add to the sadness, and thus strengthens these songs. Listen on Bandcamp
El Googly Diablo – ST [Buy it on Amazon!]
They do it in the name of love. They write these beautiful songs for you and me in the name of love, and all that is good. All that is punk, all that is weird. El Googly Diablo is the name of the band. It’s a weird name, and don’t let the spooky cover art fool you. This album is inspirational and uplifting. It’s endearing the way a wet dog is. It’s so cute but its fur is gross right now. Are you going to pet the wet dog anyway? Well? I’ll pet this fucking dog all day. Maybe just like on it’s head though. You know, where it’s still mostly dry. Listen on Bandcamp
Ueckers – 2 Balls 2 Strikes
Anytime there’s a decent Snot-punk album released, it’s automatically in consideration for the top 5, even when all of the songs are about beer league baseball. It doesn’t matter what the songs are about ok, as long as they’re clever, and this is clever stuff. They’ve got the background vocals perfect too. If you’re a grease-punk and you also happen to be on a softball team, I may have just found your favorite album of all time. Don’t be fooled by bands like Modern Baseball or Canadian Softball. Those bands don’t even talk about balls. What kind of deceptive bullshit is that anyway? Listen on Bandcamp
Soapboxer – Lush [Buy it on Amazon!]
Good news from Thunder Bay! Said the headline never. Zzzzing! Seriously though if you’re Canadian you know this town has it’s share of problems, but Soapboxer, for all I know, doesn’t appear to be one of them. If anything they’re a break in the clouds for that truly horrible place. I’m totally kidding. Thunder Bay is fine (if you’re not Native). KIDDING! (kind of). This is shoegazie emo stuff with dreamy vocals and poignant lyrics that make you want to be young again. Unless you’re still young. I don’t know how it makes you feel if you’re still young. Probably a little sad. By the way, this album is choice! Listen on Bandcamp
Brought to you by Saltillo Mexico,,, sarapes! And also this extra-screamy emo band called Cuando Ya No Importe. Just off the top of my head, I believe the English translation is “When it Doesn’t Matter Anymore” or “Past Caring” ..Something like that. Not to be confused with the book of the same title by Juan Carlos Onetti. The band seems to be paying tribute to the existential mindfuck that was that novel. They have a quote from Onetti on their bandcamp page. I haven’t read the book myself, but I just put it on my To-Read list, so thank you for the recommendation guys! By the way, the music is dark, the lyrics are darker, it’s just lights out across the board here. In a good way.
Briar Burns – No Sauce No Paper No Clout
Static-heavy hill-fuzz from Sioux City Iowa. I hope they never upgrade their recording process because I don’t think this would sound as awesome if it were a quality recording. Never have I related so profoundly to a song as I do to track 5, Depression Sandwiches. Now I understand why they tagged themselves as “sad”. It is sad, but in a don’t-feel-sorry-for-me-cuz-I-don’t kind of way. This is clever as fuck and funny. Funny in a simple, yet deeply moving, sort of way. I mean this thing could really make it hard to decide whether you want to laugh or cry. I don’t know about yous guys but that’s exactly what I want from my music. The last line of this album is “My life is pretty bad”. You see what I mean? Listen on Bandcamp
Baby! – Sunny, FL.
There’s been some great releases this month, but I keep coming back to this one. It’s summer in a bottle. I mean album. It feels a bit like the beach. Or maybe a hot car with no A/C. It also kinda sounds like you’re lying, tummy down, on a summery looking bed, in a summery looking bedroom, window is open, breeze is pushing at the white curtains, your feet in the air, ankles crossed, you’re reading an Archie comic, bobbing your head.. How do people read and listen to music at the same time though? If you can do that you’re the embodiment of Satan ok. You’re horrifying. Oh yea, this is a good album. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Tiger Beat – The Story Begins Here
Here’s a couple dudes just keepin’ ‘er simple and gettin’ ‘er done. It’s so basic and repetitive but goddamn is it catchy. It looks like they perform as a guitar & bass duo with a drum machine in back of them. They’ve also mastered the art of rock’n’roll background vocals or vocal layering, whatever the boring I’m-so-cool-when-I-talk-about-music term is for it. It’s irresistible. There’s a kind of drone to this, because of the never-changing drum patterns, that I find rather pleasing to my ears. I think this would be best listened to in a smoke-filled basement while sitting on a dirty couch. A chesterfield if you will. Listen on Bandcamp
Luke Seymoup – The Professional [Buy it on Amazon!]
If this were a kickball tournament, Australia would be in first place, because they are seriously kicking balls right now. I think an Aussie band has been included in every Top 5 I’ve done this year. They just keep ‘em comin’ don’t they? Enter Luke Seymoup, (like Seymour but with a ‘P’). I know.. It’s ridiculous.. Just like it’s ridiculous how awesome his music is. It’s like a new wave olive with a folk-punk pimento. Mmm! His official moniker is “The Godfather of Punk’n’B”. Sure, let’s go with that. Sorry about the olive analogy.
PS: And the kickball one.
Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Two And A Half Giants – CPR (Cell Phone Recordings)
I’m a bit of a sucker for shit recordings. This one is a little shittier than I would normally prefer (I mean come on. I have standards) but considering this was recorded on a cell phone, it actually sounds pretty decent. I’m assuming it was recorded on a cell phone. That’s what the title would have me believe anyway. Ok so when you listen to it, try to imagine what it would sound like if you were in the room with them and not listening to it over the phone. If you really try, you can get there, and that’s when you’ll realize this is a pretty awesome band. Hey guys, if you’re reading this, please do put out more music, and let me know when you do. Thanks.
PS: Take care of that cough.
So this is like a tape comp they were giving out at Decolonise Fest in London I guess. What the shit is Decolonise Fest, you ask? Good question! It’s complicated. Click this link and read all about it, or don’t. What I’m here to tell you is, this thing is bursting with flavor. Musical flavor. So many dope bands. There’s a Spics Girls cover on here ok. Do I really need to say anything more? Fav Track: To Leave by RAGANA.
Ok, I’m about to make some wild assumptions here. Карамельный узник is the name of the band, and it translates, as far as I can tell, to ‘Caramel Prisoner’. Now, perhaps ‘Caramel’ is the closest translation for a term used to describe either Asian-Russians or Aboriginal-Russians, maybe a mix of both? The band is from a city called Yakutsk in a remote part of Eastern Russia. I know these parts of Russia have Aboriginal people similar to Canada’s Inuit, and they may also have Chinese and Mongolians. Based on the youtube videos I’ve seen of the band, I’m assuming they fit into one or more of these minority groups, which is pretty cool if you consider they’re in the middle of nowhere, frozen-hell, Russia, making a fuss with killer punk tunes. If that’s the case (and I know I’ve totally built my own narrative here) then they are using punk in the way it was truly intended. You gotta listen to this.
[Buy it on Amazon!]
Basement Revolver – Agatha [Buy it on Amazon!]
Do I dare make the Snail Mail comparison? Let me tell you, Habit by Snail Mail was, arguably, the best sounding thing to happen in 2016. Like not just in music, but sounds in general. Better than children’s laughter by a long-shot. Honestly I’m not even a fan of children or their laughter, so I guess that’s not a good comparison. Look, whatever the best sounding thing you can think of is, Habit probably sounded better than that. This entire paragraph is just one big comparison to Snail Mail. That’s how awesome this EP is. It really doesn’t sound all that much like Snail Mail though, to be honest. Just the way she sings. This isn’t confusing is it? Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify.
Fatesealer – S/T
Hardcore. This is hardcore. The adjective, not the noun. Although it is a little bit the noun too. It’s hard to find the right noun for this. They have tagged themselves as Pre, Mid, & Post, Hardcore.. Your guess is as good as mine. Post-hardcore with a splash of post-punk and two scoops of raisins? You’ll have to listen for yourself. This is one solid LP though. It’s heavy impact, deep and energetic, quick on it’s feet. Can you see yourself rage-punching a speed-bag to this music? I can see you doing that, you weirdo. Listen on Bandcamp.
Von Stache – Quiet, Brain [Buy it on Amazon!]
There’s something in the water in Australia these days. More specifically, sharks! crocodiles! & those fucked up jellyfish! But in addition to all that, there’s something else, something radioactive that’s mutating human beings into awesome punk bands (ie. Von Stache). They’re a two-piece from Geelong Australia; Home of Aussie Football and The National Wool Museum. Together they rock out this slicked back grease-punk stuff. Imagine if Courtney Love was in The Groovie Ghoulies and had an Aussie accent. Now forget all that and check this out. Great album title btw. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify.
Crouch – Caida [Buy it on Amazon!]
There’s something in the air in Costa Rica these days. More specifically, mosquitos! Ok forget it. I can’t even talk about air quality. I’m currently choking on forest fire smoke. I can’t see the sun today. Hey let’s talk about this EP by Crouch. Partly Englais, partly Espanol, mostly asombroso! The Spanish language really lends itself to warp-speed pop punk doesn’t it? La Puerta is my favorite song. “LA PUERTAAAAAAAA” Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify.
Dont Ask – S/T [Buy it on Amazon!]
Some real junky sounding Oakland shit with awesome psychedelic 60’s vocal stylings. The punk rock just never stops flowing from this town. Neither does raw sewage into the San Francisco Bay. I admit, I made up the stuff about the raw sewage, but it’s probably true. It’s kind of weird, this album, it starts off pretty average and just keeps getting better and better, so stick with it if you know what’s good for you. Listen on Bandcamp.
From The Firm Records, here is Brasil Oi Volume 1. Holy cow, this thing is boiling over with meat and potatoes, and Brazil nuts! My favorite is track 2, “Stinkin Hippie Scum”. It wouldn’t be an Oi record without some hippie-bashing would it? Oh man, there’s just something so likable about this. I think Portuguese is the perfect language for singing as if your mouth is full of bangers and mash.
If you were a punk and a Canadian in the 1990’s you were aware of a pubescent band from Vancouver called d.b.s. (always lowercase). There was a great deal of speculation about what d.b.s actually stood for. One of their earliest demo tapes says ‘Dirty Black Summer’ on it, so I’m gonna go with that. I seem to remember the liner notes of their first LP asking people to write to them with ideas of what it might stand for.
None of this is important.
What matters is they were fiercely energetic and a talented band. I used to go to their shows in the gymnasium of a preschool in North Van. Their home audience was not always friendly towards them. Especially after they appeared on MuchMusic, in studio, with Sook Yin Lee (couldn’t find the d.b.s one). They even had a music video in circulation, and they toured with Rancid. Their history as a band took them from adolescent pop punk, to screamy emo through the span of their career from the early 90’s to the early 2000’s.
Someone has been kind enough to create a bandcamp page featuring all of their releases, including some live performances and an appearance on Vancouver CoOp radio station, CiTR. The video below is a skateboarding feature on a Canadian show called Power 30. It has footage of the band skateboarding, and from their performance on CiTR with Nardwaur. If you were a teenager around this time (1994?) this video will be a nostalgia-overload for you. Especially if you had a skateboard or purple hair before everyone and their mom had skateboards and purple hair. Literally, their moms. There are probably more moms with purple hair now than there were punks with purple hair in 1994.