Archive for July, 2017

It has taken me an age, but after being impressed by a few songs here and there, I have finally properly checked out a full Capitalist Kids LP. I don’t know if it is the youthful aspect of the band name, or the fact that I didn’t ever get around to really listening to them, but I still consider Capitalist Kids a relatively new band; however this is actually their fifth (!) album. In an era dominated by gruff-and-rough pop-punk, it is refreshing to hear a band which clearly has an affinity for that classic ‘90s pop-punk sound. Brand Damage screams Green Day, MTX and Down by Law. It is hard to escape the Green Day or Pinhead Gunpowder comparisons, in light of the similarities in vocals between lead singer Jeff Gammill and Billie Joe. At times, the heartfelt love songs on Brand Damage also recall the idealistic pining on Green Day’s first two records.

Indeed, it is those soppy love songs that Capitalist Kids do the best, highlights of which are the infectious “(I’ve got) Nobody 2 luv”, the fast-paced, synth-y “Decent Proposal” and the mid-tempo “Beyond My Comprehension”, which recalls The Methadones at their melodic best. These are all very much straight-up pop-punk hits, whizzing by in two minutes or less.  The other side of Capitalist Kids on Brand Damage is the topical, political content, some of which sticks better than others. I appreciate the sentiment for sure, attacking the hard-right and the Trump administration in the US. I enjoy “Brute Farce” the most, I guess, as it’s a more-or-less straight-forward critique of the current political climate in the states, talking about “gun-toting Trump supporters want militarised borders” and “funding slashed for social welfare”. There is a great little segment here which highlights the contradictions in the idea of Christians being opposed to social welfare and helping the needy.

However, in the ‘Kids political material, Jeff tends to go for a more sardonic, cynical style in general, in which he spews out the rhetoric of the right in all its ridiculous-ness. “Anti-immigrant song” is the key example of this: “manifest destiny; this country’s the best in the world, but it’s not for you”. Jeff cynically picks apart the anti-immigrant sentiments of the far-right, in a bitter, sardonic manner. I like the idea of this in theory, and in the odd song, such as “Anti-immigrant song”, it does work well, but I feel, the ‘trick’ is over-used somewhat and loses its power after a number of uses. “Socialist Nightmare”, in particular, I feel is kind of a miss-hit.

Overall, though, it must be said that Brand Damage is a confident and lean effort, which packs a bunch of ideas and hooks into its short playing time, while recalling elements of the classic ‘90s Lookout! sound, without rehashing over old ground. If you miss the days of MTX, The Methadones and Pinhead Gunpowder, this is worth checking out!

Check it out here: https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/capitalist-kids-brand-damage

DB

Five labels conspired to bring this pop punk LP from the UK band Holiday. The music on this debut full-length LP is universally bouncy and poppy. The tempos of the songs are mid-tempo to brisk, the fuzzed out guitars jangle like mad, and the melodies are laden with hooks. Lyrics focus on social commentary. The album starts out with a bang on “Let’s Go Outside,” a real barn-burner that sets the tone for the whole album. I enjoy “Lunch Break,” a breezy track about the drudgery we all go through to try and make some money just to survive. The melodic line is lighter than the fuzzy guitars or the subject matter would suggest. “Dark Matters” is a favorite track, reminding me of one of the great bands of the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s from central Illinois in the US, The Poster Children. The big guitars and melodic progression used is great. “Desperation Town” is another great one, with a rapid-fire beat and some great guitar lines. One thing that did annoy me a bit in this recording is that there’s too much reverb in everything. It sounds like it was recorded in a giant empty hall, and it was just a bit distracting. A drier sound would have been appreciated. But this is a very promising debut.

Check it out here: https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/holiday-california-steamin

PS

This four song EP is the New Jersey band’s debut (not counting the demo they released last year). “The Drool” is apparently a dance that you do under fascist rule, mouth agape and eyes glazed over, and Nervous Triggers advise us to learn how to do it pretty fast. It’s punk crossed with eerie garage rock, with full on organ. “Final War,” the third track, also has the keyboards, giving the track a retro 60s sound mixed in with the punk rock. This one is a mid-tempo track, with an easy loping sound, yet it pounds hard. The second track, “Zero State Solution,” is full on old school punk, fast’n’loud, while “Bricks & Mortars” has the sound of a western movie soundtrack mixed in with the punk rock. All of the songs are highly political, a throwback to the old days of punk rock, and the musicianship is pretty tight. Those who like their old school political punk will enjoy this strong debut a lot.

Check it out here: https://nervoustriggers.bandcamp.com/album/do-the-drool

PS

The first track from the UK indie-pop band focuses on the sexism inherent in the stripping of Zara Holland’s title of “Miss Great Britain” after a “scandal” in which she was filmed having sex during the course of reality TV show “Love Island.” There’s inherent sexism in the whole idea of a beauty pageant, too, but the double standard of destroying a woman’s life for having sex while saying nothing about the man involved is anger inducing. The music is gorgeous waltz time indie pop, with fluttering guitars and spare drum beats. The flip side, “No Chill,” is a blend of indie-pop with a slightly dreamy feel, and is about the unlikelihood and impermanence of romantic relationships. The two songs are quite nice, and leave me wanting more.

Check it out here: https://alimonyhustle.bandcamp.com/

PS

After reviewing the “Lot to Learn” and “Nothing at All” EPs, I’m always excited to hear what the Radiohearts can bring to the table and I was very excited to hear “Daytime Man”. “Daytime Man” is another EP, this time with five tracks, in under nine minutes. It starts out with the ’77 style title track, “Daytime Man”, that starts up with guitar soloing and has handclaps. After the soloing, there is also a pretty cool new wave part making the song even catchier. I really love those handclaps. The second song, “Alright”, also has the same ol’ punk solo-ing, but this song is quite different from “Daytime Man” and at times sounds like the Strokes or something. The song is about giving up, but you’re still going to be alright. Great tune! “Know That Song” is a classic power pop song. It’s extremely catchy and the harmonies add to the catchiness. There’s a meta aspect to it, as it’s a song about a song; in many ways it makes me think of “Please Play This Song on the Radio” by NOFX, only this one is better. It’s easily a chorus that could grow and get stuck in your head. My favorite song on the EP.

“No More” is the shortest song on the EP. A cool little tambourine in this song and a bass line that stands out. “Wasting Time” is probably the most Radiohearts-sounding song and could fit into “Lot to Learn”, and it could also fit into the late ‘70s. So, the Radiohearts still deliver. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting an album, but they’ve perfected the EP format. One of the bands from now that I found most interesting, probably because they sound like they’re not from now.

Check it out here: https://radiohearts.bandcamp.com/album/daytime-man

RH