pop-punk - The I-94 Bar
Let’s see. It’s been 18 years since I first heard a Peawees record and this is Album Number Six. The Italian combo from scenic La Spezia by the sea has been kicking out pop-punk jams since the mid-‘90s. Despite having only one constant member in guitarist-vocalist Hervé Peroncini, they sound pretty much like they did way back when.
There's something to be said for longevity in rock and roll. Perhaps there's a clue to The Peawees' secret in the album title. One thing The Peawees haven't done down the years is stand still, and there's enough stylistic variation on this album to keep things interesting.
It's not all about the Ramones. The bar room boogie of "Reason Why" or the Jam-like rush of opener "Walking Through My Hell" are proof enough. If that double-punch to the solar plexus doesn't get you gasping for air, you're a corpse.
There's a fine line between "timeless exponents of buzzsaw punk-pop" and "Ramones copyists" and on this, their debut album, Melbourne's three-piece Spazzys manage to be on the right side of it. "Aloha! Go Bananas" won't change the world, but it might rock yours if you're into tuneful, naive songs with an unaffected charge.
Hey Ho, Let’s Go! The original members of the Ramones are dead but their sound lives on in thousands of bands all over the world. It’s said that their greatest gift to music was when the Ramones played in your town because at least one band started after they left. I’m pretty sure that Juliette Seizure & The Tremor-Dolls are way too young to have seen The Ramones live, but they sure have listened to their records.
“Chewing Out Your Rhythm On My Bubble Gum” is full of classic Ramones driven riffs, aided by the smokey vocals of Shannon Cannon, Lauren and Zoe. It rocks and rolls, swaggers and pops with wonderful playing and well-crafted songs that just have you grooving from the first track until the last. It’s a winner, this album.
Ya gotta put things in context. If The Spazzys hadn't made an effervescent pop-punk classic in 2004's "Aloha! Go Bananas", we'd all be praising "Dumb Is Forever" as one of the most righteous and infectious debut albums of 2012. They did and it isn't but it's still a pretty good effort.
Ramona - The Fiction (Off The Hip)
Simple songs simply done is a time-honoured formula often born out of necessity rather than choice. So it was in the beginning for The Fiction, a Melbourne punk band that sprang up 40 years ago, burned briefly and fell apart before spawning International Exiles and Little Murders.
Only around for a year, The Fiction was fuelled by the nascent songwriting talents of frontman and expat Englishman, Rob Griffiths, and guitarist Rob Wellington.
Their influences were what was coming out of the UK punk scene in the ‘70s, as much as Melbourne visitors Radio Birdman and the Saints. The important point-of-difference between the UK and Australia back then was that the local standard of living made it hard to get too angry at anything much, relatively speaking.
Statement of the obvious: Three-minute pop punk songs (mostly) don’t get old. “Shake, Stomp & Stumble” - the debut album for Californian Greg Antista and his Lonely Streets - is littered with them.
This is a record of its SoCal birthplace. Orange County local Antista grew up in the 1980s with most members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion and Middle Class as his buddies. He recorded and toured two albums with the band Joyride with Steve Soto (The Adolescents) in the early ‘90s.
“Shake, Stomp & Stumble” wears all those influences on its sleeve. It’s a little punk, a lot pop and all of it smeared with large dollops of country and Americana. Antista has an emotive vocal with a touch of melancholy to it - when needed. Not a bad attribute if you're dipping your toe into country waters. Johnny Cash was a punk rocker, you know.