Masked Intruder

© 2012 Red Scare Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

I’m big time late to the game. That generally seems to be the case. I’m finally getting around to listening to Masked Intruder. I’m speaking, of course, about the self-title release on Red Scare. I know they have some new stuff coming out in cooperation with Fat, but I’m not talking about that right now ok?

Anywhat, this new release busts 13 tracks of pop punk that is way too Descendents for a band named Masked Intruder, especially a band bedecked in a rainbow of ski masks, with songs of felonious intent. I was seriously expecting to hear some Blood for Blood style hardcore come pummeling out of my speakers. Instead I was gently assaulted by pleasant pop punk sounds that have a feeling of Descendents, Queers, Teenage Bottle Rocket and other bands that in essence sound zero like hardcore.

This is not a bad thing by any means. I’m fully digging on this disc and like the subtle trickery that I really brought on myself by making name based assumptions. I, as usual, like the fact that the songs are geared for short attention spans. Nothing hits the three minute mark, though some do come damn close, but never at or over … that is the key, right?

Ok, so bottom line, pop punk as only pop punk can be. The legacy of Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys lives on in a new form that has more distortion and guitar riffery, yet charmingly still has coordinated outfits, which as we all know, is critical.

–Jerry Actually

The Projection – While You Were Out

(c) 2012 Paramount Drive Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

While You Were Out is the forthcoming release from Chicago based pop-punkers The Projection. The disc offers up ten tracks of rock and roll with the catchy hooks and snotty vocals that make pop punk the perennial favorite that it is. The tracks are all clocking in at around the 3 and a half minute mark, perfect for that drive time radio slot, right?

The genre isn’t without its flaws though. When your band started years after the Warped Tour, there is a considerably number of acts to compare to. I’m inclined to think they’re like a less cheeky Sum 41 or a slower Goldfinger minus the Ska. That said, the sonic mashup of pop and punk is still rather a new kid on the block and largely still trendy. Despite the flavor-of-the-month nature that pop punk is, this release is not without its own charm. There are some interesting progressions and breakdowns in the tunes that keep it from becoming too stale too fast.

As a bonus, literally the bonus track, the band throws in a cover of the Buddy Holly classic, Oh Boy! Any band that appreciates Buddy can’t be all bad. At any rate, the faster numbers make the cut. They’re peppy and danceable. The wanking ballad variety, on the other hand, not so much. I like the vocals and overall the band has a good sound, that is if you want an edgy version of The Rembrandts. 😉

–Jerry Actually

Kepi Ghoulie – I Bleed Rock N Roll

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
© 2011 Asian Man Records

Kepi Ghoulie is a Rock N Roll Shark who also happens to bleed Rock N Roll. Don’t believe me? Perhaps then you should check out Kepi’s new solo release, “I Bleed Rock N Roll”, out now on Asian Man Records. You might be familiar with Kepi as the frontman of the Groovie Ghoulies. Perhaps you’re not familiar with Kepi at all? Too bad I say. Either way Kepi is doing the solo thing now, and he’s doing it well.

I Bleed Rock N Roll is a 13 track testament to Kepi’s ability to create compelling, catchy, and very danceable pop-punk. The songs on the new album, in general, pay homage to 50s style rock albeit with more modern tones and pace laced in. There is, despite the pop-punk trappings, also an unusual dark side preset.

When Kepi’s singing, “What the world needs now is love sweet love”, it’s as if he’s possessed by the worlds friendliest devil; very much the lightest side of darkness ever. I’m even going to suggest that Kepi Ghoulie is the Bizarro counterpart to Rob Zombie, if you get where I’m going with that. If you want evidence to my assertion, track eight, “I Just Wanted You To Know” clocks in at precisely 3:33 and reminds me of the Cowboy Junkies, so, um take that.

All in all, I Bleed Rock N Roll does what it says; 13 tracks of pure rock and roll, each one nearly even in rocking as they are rolling. Balance is crucial. And as if the rock alone (and also the roll of course) wasn’t enough there are some awfully clever lyrics in play too. “Don’t try to figure me out because I’m rather unfigueroutable” and “I’m a rock n roll shark. I gotta keep moving’ I gotta keep swimmin’”’ are just some small examples. Damn fine wordsmithing inside indeed.

So if you were a fan of Groovie Ghoulies, or just want a tasty new Rock N Roll treat, stop over to Asian Man Records and pick up a copy or two. I swear you won’t regret it.

–Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Rock N Roll Shark
2. Nikki Lee
3. I Bleed Rock N Roll
4. The Fever
5. Part Time Romeo
6. When I’m Gone
7. Unfigureoutable
8. I Just Wanted You To Know
9. Love To Give
10. Break My Heart
11. Cupid Is Real
12. Blame It On Mom
13.Hard To Forget

Swing For The Fences

© 2011
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Here’s a five track demo from Swing for the Fences, a pop punk band outta the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights. Pretty straight forward power pop riffs, snappy drum beats and rocking riffs, some solid sing-a-long chorus parts and emo enough lyrics that your girlfriend will totally make you take her to the show. (you know, if you have a girlfriend that is)

The band isn’t breaking much in the way of new ground. It is very Blink 182 influenced from my limited experience with the genre. The vocals strangely make me think that they’d be what Weird Al would sound like if he were singing in a pop punk band. I suspect that Swing for the Fences take themselves a bit more seriously, but then again, maybe not.

The production quality is excellent for a demo, so kudos to everyone that played and produced this. I’m not sure what bandwidth is left in the market for more material of this variety, but since Blink tours again there is always hope. While the demo has plenty of polish and skills, it is all a little too saccharin for me, but if pop punk is your thing, check the band out at their myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/sftfmusic

–Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Running Away
2. Spill Your Heart
3. You Shoot For The Stars Because You’re Afraid To Land
4. Just Being Honest
5. If Only You Knew

Echo Screen – Goodbye Old Life


(c)2009 ES Music
Rating: ★★★☆☆

echo_screen_goodbyeFor those of you unfamiliar with Echo Screen, They are, as far as I know, a poppy-rock quartet from straight outta Jersey. Goodbye Old Life may or may not be a departure from the bands previous two efforts, but then again it might. It is way in the pop vein, but in a weird good way. It is, oddly, like a mix between James Taylor, Neil Young and Ben Folds. Normally not my cup o’ tea, but I’m kind of in a groove with this five track EP. I say what the hell, Echo Screen is alright, even if they sound almost nice enough to be grandmother safe. The tracks tend to alternate between quick slow quick (to an extent, ’cause track five wrecks that scheme) They all have a flowing dreamy feel to them, but consequently I prefer tracks 1. “I Amsterdam” and 3. “When I Escape (L.A.)”, the later very obviously about Snake Plissken. Never the less, some not-so-bad stuff, from the East. Then again, what did I expect? New Jersey has all the best bands.

–Jerry Actually

SET YOUR GOALS’ NEW ALBUM OUT IN JULY

Pop-Punk’s Hottest Band To Release This Will Be The Death Of Us On July 21
June 3, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA – Bay Area pop-punk band Set Your Goals will release their widely anticipated new album This Will Be The Death Of Us on July 21 via Epitaph Records. Produced by Mike Green (Paramore, The Matches), the album features twelve relentless tracks of balls-to-the-wall, infectious non-stop pop-punk.


Continue reading SET YOUR GOALS’ NEW ALBUM OUT IN JULY

Animo – Blood in the Water

(c)2008 Animo Music

Rating: ★★★★☆

animo-blood-in-the-water I saw these guys at Warped Tour last year and thought they were a perfect fit.  They’ve got a high energy live act and were adored by the throngs of screaming girls in the audience. While giving Blood in the Water a first listen, I browsed other review sites to see what was being said…sigh.

I fully believe MC Lars when he tells us that “Hot Topic is not punk rock,” but there’s no need to slam the kids who like the music they promote, or the bands who capitalize on the sound.  Animo perfectly capture the summer fest’s style, and  Blood in the Water is a very decent, albeit short, album.  While I agree with the general web consensus that these guys don’t fit the classic definition of punk, they’re poster children for pop-punk. Their songs are amazingly catchy, their lyrics don’t drag into the total emo-therapy downturn that lesser Warped acts have.  They’ve got a brilliant drummer, great guitar hooks, slappy bass support, and amazing vocals.  Radio pop-punk isn’t disrespectful to the pioneers of the 70’s, it’s a natural progression supported by America’s youth who are bound to adore Animo.

-HK-47

Honor Bright – If this was a movie

(c)2008 Honor Bright (now on Aux Records)
Rating: ★★★★½

honorbright Oooh! Shiny! Honor Bright is everything that I love in radio music today, with none of the crap. That r-word might be enough to deter many, but I’m a big fan of Warped Tour sounding artists, and these guys are some of the best.

Forearm tattoos, slightly-greasy protractor haircuts, and Goodwill shirts? Check!
Beautiful vocal harmonies, punchy high-hat heavy drums, chunky guitar parts? Check!
80’s pop-culture referencing song title with no relation to the lyrical content? Check!

The music is crisp and urging, the lyrics are emotive without being too emo. Sure, these guys sound like other radio artists, but if their live performances are half as good as this 6 track ep, they’ve already got one-up on most of them. This CD is brilliant and left me wanting more — I’ll be heading out to get their Aux Records re-released full-length to fill my fix.

-HK-47

Pinhead Circus – Everything Else is a Far Gone Conclusion

(c)1999 BYO Records
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ok, Here’s the brand new release from the Colorado trio know as Pinhead Circus. I like these guys, but not always on the first listen. This disc took till the fourth run through before I finally started really grooving along. I’m not in any way implying that the suck and they’ll grow on you. I just didn’t immediately fall into place with their groove. None the less you get 11 tracks of melodic Pop Punk and if that’s what yer into than by all means go get it. On a side note what is it with bands recently putting fewer and fewer tracks on their cd’s? “It’s quality not quantity”, You say. “Bullshit”, I say you pay the same omount for the disc wether or not there is 8 tracks or 28 tracks. I say, “The More the merrier” Sure it’s nice to see new material out but I like a lot of new material. Anyhow go get this CD. and Play track 9 for your older siblings (provided that your older siblings are about 25-30) they’ll get a kick out of it.

–Jerry Actually