N.A.P North American Poetry
Juan Wauters = The Beets + Sleater-Kinney
N.A.P North American Poetry is filled with beat poetry, combined with the radiant attraction of pop, dunked in folk. For the most part, this is a very passive album, with the exception of an occasionally upbeat poppy number, like “Sanity Or Not.” Lyrically, the songs are somewhat simplistic (“Goo”). Numbers like “All Tall Man Will Fall” offer fun, social critiques of consumer conformity, while “Breathing,” featuring Carmelle Safdie (Beachniks), offers reflections on human relationship interaction. Despite such enlightening topics that partially make up this album, I must admit that overall, it isn’t a terribly exciting listen. Though, to be fair to folky type people, if you like The Beets, you might dig this, so have at it. –Nick Kuzmack
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Under The Savage Sky
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages = Wilson Pickett + Howlin’ Wolf + The Sonics
After checking out Barrence Whitfield & The Savages’ last album, Dig Thy Savage Soul, I knew I was in for a treat when I saw Under The Savage Sky on the review shelf. I spun this once, and I can safely say I was not disappointed in the least. However, this isn’t good for only one spin—it’s something I gotta keep listening to. Under The Savage Sky is the brilliant combination of 1950s-styled, bluesy rock n’ roll with the raw sounds that can only be created in the garage and then birthed into this bastardized beauty. Their new album is harder and faster with energy so awesome and infectious that it never lets up throughout the 12 solid tracks. Notable numbers include “Rock n’ Roll Baby” and “The Claw,” but this really has no filler. This is the devil’s rock n’ roll your mama warned you about. –Nick Kuzmack
The Relationship = The Beat + Weezer + The Velvet Underground
Ever since checking The Relationship in January 2015, I’ve been on the lookout for when this 7” would be hitting the shelves. This 7” was described to me as comprising high-energy celebration songs, and after spinning it, I find that that’s pretty accurate. The two tracks have a noticeable ’90s power pop–meets–alternative rock n’ roll feel to them. The title track is easily my favorite out of the two. It has a punchy sound that I can get behind due to the almost infectious quality of energetic, get-on-your-feet rock. “Young Temptations,” on the other hand, has heavy rock riffs that define the number, and it makes for an easy ditty to groove to—even with the “woo hoo hoo” chorus. In all, the Oh Allen 7” found a way to grow on me in a sort of addictive, feel-good kind of way. So, take it for a spin. –Nick Kuzmack
La Luz = The Ronnetes + The Starlets + Haibibi + Lyn and the Invaders
Weirdo Shrine was produced by garage legend Ty Segall, and it captures the unique energy and passion of this brilliant rock n’ roll group. In contrast to their first LP, It’s Alive, which was almost joyfully up-tempo from the start, La Luz define Weirdo Shrine with thoughtfully deeper and heavily soulful melodies like in the track “Sleep Till You Die.” La Luz’s new album comes across as more mature in its sound and strangely provoking with its hauntingly energetic rock n’ roll that La Luz have mastered superbly. This new and invigorated La Luz sound should not be a surprise, given the depth of reflection that went into its writing after a near-fatal incident for the band. So, this shouldn’t be taken lightly, but played often and overwhelmingly loud. –Nick Kuzmack
The Jungle Noise Recordings
Voodoo Rhythm Records
The Monsters = The Sonics + The Jackets
From the gritty streets of Bern, Switzerland, comes the raw and primitive recordings of The Monsters. Fronted by Beat Zeller, aka Reverend Beat Man—owner of Voodoo Rhythm Records—the band formed in 1986 and made a name for themselves as a wild garage rock–meets–rockabilly outfit. They toured Europe and presented themselves as a force to be reckoned with. The Jungle Noise Recordings was originally recorded in 1994 and was the first album that saw The Monsters use an electric bass rather than an upright. The album was recorded at home instead of a studio so that the record could better boast the raw elements of The Monsters’ sound. It was originally released as 10” record via the underground German label Jungle Noise. After The Jungle Noise Recordings came out, The Monsters conducted a lengthy tour that saw them established in the Europe’s rock n’ roll scene. Giving this compilation a thorough listen some 20ish years later, I can see why.
The Jungle Noise Recordings should be considered an essential part of any angsty rock n’ roller’s collection, especially if said individual is still completely able to pride themselves on being full of piss and foul-smelling vinegar. Make no mistake: This album exudes an attitude that exemplifies the dirty thrash-driven desires of gutter-inhabiting rock n’ roll. All one has to do is simply switch on the first track, “Psych-Out with Me,” to get doused in its volatile, soul-stirring sounds. Its fuzz-driven power is enough to make any young, lustful thing dripping wet. The same experience can occur with the track “Primitive Man”—totally a song to enjoy the primal nature of teenage kicks. Overall, this record contains some impressive rock n’ roll that must be heard loud enough to distinguish friend from foe. Other notable tracks include “The Pot,” the rough and grooving “Rock Around The Tombstone,” Skeleton Stomp” and “Nightclub.” I would also urge listeners of this record to consider the rambunctious nature of the covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire” and Kip Tyler’s “She’s My Witch.”
To acquire The Jungle Noise Recordings would suggest that the buyer possesses refined taste. This record is the perfect representation of rough and gritty rock n’ roll. The Monsters deliver music that is made to stir trouble with and sounds to satisfy only the most primal animalisms to. Apart from the original recordings that could be found on the previously released 10” record, this compilation also has bonus tracks, which, to translate, means more to get on and going with. So, watch out and don’t miss The Jungle Noise Recordings, as it’s a compilation that would best be found among your choicest of records that underscore your ability to have controversial nights of dangerous fun. No doubt, such a record would allow anyone to enjoy the finer things in life—or at the midnight hour. –Nick Kuzmack
New Granada Records
Coeds = La Sera + Seratones
Coeds hail from Savannah, Georgia, and are a part of a line that celebrates the vibrancy of rock groups that have made the state a hot spot for all things rocking and rolling. Over the last 15 years, we have seen top Atlanta bands like The Booze, The Coathangers and Black Lips define a sound that reinstills a much-needed cool and rebellious spirit into a new generation of hip and spiteful youth. Then, there are Coeds. Initially, Coeds inspire an appeal for a positive rock n’ roll sound that should serve only to excite. Certainly, they have a sound that flaunts some angst here, but it is wrapped in overwhelmingly good vibes and an intoxicating indie feel.
Coeds’ new album, Thrill Me!, is wild, harmonious and consistently upbeat. At this point, there is a need to acknowledge a live performance as the optimal venue to experience Coeds in their natural environment. No doubt, it would be an erratic affair that mixes an explosive cocktail of sound with antics that would make for a nearly unforgettable evening. The recording, however, does not quite have the gumption to capture the imagination of this reviewer. That being said, there are tracks worth some consideration. The opening track, “Push,” is smooth and fun, but all the magic here is in the songs “Night of The Creeps” and “Tiger in Your Tank.” The reason these two tracks stand out is their unique ability to conjure a sound that breathes interesting rock n’ roll into otherwise Adderall-happy music. “Night Of The Creeps” has a razor-sharp edge and is a tune to bop, hop and maybe even grind to. “Tiger In Your Tank” is a natural and mature progression into a rock form. Other considerations are “Close Up, Make Up” and the charmingly mellow and subtly provoking “War Room.”
Unfortunately, Thrill Me! doesn’t quite do what the title suggests, although it would be a grave mistake to not point out to a clear desire to try. Sure, the mix of poppy elements and excitable energy offers a noise to move to. It’s just not enough to keep my ears perked or attention fixated for long. Consider Thrill Me an album with a campy appeal that is fun for many, thanks to a pop-tastic overtone. It’s something to be turned on and thought of a pleasing alternative to some other kind of cool. See them live, and when you do, jump and flail around to their harmless fun. After that, pick up something that immortalizes the ripened sound of an edge more provocative in practice. Otherwise, put this out as an accessible record. It’s all ages and could almost be a gateway to something completely different—after all, one has to start somewhere, and pop-driven sounds like this are usually that kickoff into rawer realms of inquiry. —Nick Kuzmack
A Gut Feeling
The Rippers = The Satelliters + The JuJus + Bo Diddley + The Jackets
The Rippers come roaring back from the dark and dimly lit scum-filled alleyways with their new LP, A Gut Feeling. Those familiar with these mod-inspired maestros will no doubt be aware of their wild and raw sounds. Their garage rock is infamous. It is meant to annihilate and rip through the senses, and with previous records, they have done just that. A Gut Feeling, however, shows a kind of maturity. It’s well polished, but still maintains The Rippers’ bluesy, freakbeat sensations.
A Gut Feeling carries forward The Rippers’ garage rocker roots into the realm of something vaguely spaghetti western–esque. These mods still roll and knock about with bouncing back beats. The difference, though, from their other records, is that The Rippers have evolved into a sound that is friendlier to the ears.
This kind of rock n’ roll could appeal to the causal Allah-Las-loving hipster—providing that they learn to groove to something with a bit more depth. The Rippers offer rock n’ roll that is meant to excite and motivate, rather than dull the senses with cheap, mass-produced alternatives. They are a band with an appreciation for over 50 years of rock n’ roll history. In the veins of their music there is John Lee Hooker as well as The Misanthropes or The M-80’s.
The opening track, “A Lot Of Time,” is a real bouncing groover. It’s got a sharp harp and rolling, provocative guitar riffs. This mod tune is perfect to get a party started. The second track, “Piece Of My Heart,” holds the same musical standard as the previous track. However, it’s got more of a rocker’s umph behind it. These kinds of dual styles can be expected in much of A Gut Feeling.
“Shiny and Brown” stands out and is my favorite track on A Gut Feeling. It’s a true freakbeat tune that could have come from the weird garage poppers from the U.K. in ’66. “Shiny and Brown” has a kind of edge with mod sensibilities. It’s a bit of a mix between The Movers’ “Leave Me Loose” and The Strangeloves’ “Night Time.” This is the tune to sway to. So, when listening, play it loud to “inspire” your friends and terrify your enemies.
“So Loud” is another track that holds a unique place on A Gut Feeling. It’s a spaghetti western–like ballad that reminds of Scott Walker—providing that he had been more of crude-sounding, three-piece suit rocker.
The other golden number here is “Stop To Drive Me Mad.” It invokes a knife blade pressed against your throat, as it’s in a style that borders on psychedelic garage punk. This is a real ripper and is the kind of track that screams that danger has finally come back to rock n’ roll.
If this had come out 10 or so years ago, I’d have thought it bordered on being a played-out take on the rough sounds of garage rock. That being said, The Rippers hold and have always held their own. In these times, it’s brilliant to see rock n’ roll dressed up and blasted out with high-fidelity sex appeal. These guys offer something actually good and refreshing, instead of trash skater rocker types who adore the now generic quality of pop-driven, Oh Sees–invoking music. Now, go pick up A Gut Feeling and live a little. –Nick Kuzmack
Ex Hex = Heart + Joan Jett and The Black Hearts
Good lord, it feels as though it’s been ages since Ex Hex released their debut album, Rips in 2014. It’s safe to say that record was nothing short of a marvel that carved out a niche in the vastness of contemporary music. Not only did Rips blend familiarity with freshness, but it was composed with the nitty and delightfully catchy gritty elements of glam infused rock n’ roll. Listening to it, I could hear an album that almost begged for the nostalgia of Suzi Quatro or Bonnie St. Claire. Now, four years later, Ex Hex deliver something entirely different with It’s Real.
Ex Hex don’t tread along with the tried and tested. Rather, they seem to jump completely on the other side of the rails with this record. It’s Real represents a sort of graceful and cool maturity for their sound. Fans of their previous work will note that this album largely loses the rocking elements that made Rips remarkable. Instead, Ex Hex’s sophomore record boasts a style that mixes lounge-like rock n’ roll with the calm murmur of indie rock. It’s the kind of album that’s good and solid in the background, but not something that would necessarily captivate.
It’s Real is poised and reserved throughout its 10 tracks. While Rips had a rockier, angstier feeling to it, It’s Real leads its listener on a sort of melancholic ride. It’s perfectly plausible to play It’s Real loud while getting lost in the interesting expanse of the vastness of a summer night’s star-filled sky. Mind you, being under the influence of substances (both liquid and smokeable) may make or break such an experience with is record.
Top tracks for this kind of experience are “Another Dimension” and “Tough Enough.” Bother tracks have a kind of persistent groove to get down to. As mentioned before, it’s a calm listen for a relaxed atmosphere. On the other hand, “Diamond Drive” is slightly more upbeat and is truly a tune of few on this record to move to and is borderline reminiscent of Rips. “Cosmic Cave” is another in this vein.
The top track on It’s Real, however, is “Talk to Me.” This beauty captures the same kind of psych sensibilities that complemented Rip’s “Outro.” It perfectly concludes It’s Real by leaving a feeling of contentment—think a mix of psych from The Beatles’ Revolver with the soothing nature of sounds emanating from La Luz.
Overall, Ex Hex have defied limitations of being boxed-in by their previous record and produced another album that almost stands on its own. Folks hearing this record will find sounds totally different from what’s flowing through the airwaves. Although, It’s Real does obscure the certain provocative, rockier elements that made Rips a celebrated record. This album is not following a trend; rather, it shows that Ex Hex is playing by their own rules. It’s Real maintains its own space with tight, cool rock n’ roll made of the bleeding heart of a tender soul. This one is good and well worth your consideration. Go forth and check out Ex Hex—you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you hear. —Nick Kuzmack