In 2016, J Eastman and the Drunk Uncles – a bar band from Minneapolis with an Uncle Tupelo obsession – released ‘No Capo Required’, a rough and ready EP that was as much a gutsy homage to their musical heroes as a no-frills love letter to musical fun. Not all good music has to be perfect and the Uncles seemed keen to champion that message. Two years on, the follow up ‘Pleasing Some of The People…’ keeps a firm hold on their slightly sloppy but incredibly gung ho style, but trades in some of the more rootsy elements for a tough but not always entirely tuneful power pop edge. Put it this way: with mid-period Replacements as part of the blueprint, you can’t help but hear more than a trace of the best music that sprang from their geographical roots on parts of this release.
Witch Mountain’s 2014 release ‘Mobile of Angels’ was huge in almost every sense. It was an album that at first seemed impenetrable, but patience and an ear for doom riffs slowly revealed a dense but lovingly created paean to all things dark – an album that remains undiminished by the intervening years. It also came with an undertone of sadness: between the recording and release of the record, vocalist Uta Plotkin announced her intentions to leave the band…and in turn, left some pretty huge shoes to fill. Having only been a member for a year, bassist Charles Thomas also exited stage left, leaving a somewhat depleted outfit.
Following the massive success of a lengthy European tour, ska legends The Selecter and The Beat will be taking their show across to North America.
Both bands have recorded new material in recent years. The Selecter’s ‘Daylight’ was released in 2017 and with their essential ‘Subculture’ LP hitting the shelves just a couple of years previously, Pauline Black and company are as busy as they’ve ever been. The Beat, meanwhile, are the version of the band featuring Ranking Roger and his son Ranking Jnr. Their 2016 LP ‘Bounce’ is a fine return for the band and their current live show is absolutely incendiary. If you’re a fan of second wave ska, seeing them is an absolute must.
Split releases are always interesting, but once in a while one will come along that’ll be utterly amazing. This 2018 release from I Buy Records (Italy) in conjunction with Mom’s Basement Records (USA) featuring unreleased tracks by Italian punks Proton Packs and The Livermores is such a disc. Although neither band is hugely well known outside their home country, both are capable of supplying first rate Ramones styled pop punk that’s as well played as any.
Let’s not mince words: David Myhr’s solo debut ‘Soundshine’ is a classic album. Not just for the time of its release, but a genuine classic. Its retro pop style places it on a par with 10cc’s ‘How Dare You’, with Wings’ ‘London Town’ and Badfinger’s ‘No Dice’. In terms of more contemporary recordings, it rivals the Oranjuly debut and Jellyfish’s ‘Spilt Milk’ for sheer pop wonderment.
A follow up had a hard act to follow and perhaps knowing he had a big job in hand, Myhr rallied around the troops. As a result, 2018’s ‘Lucky Day’ features co-writes with Linus of Hollywood, Bleu, Bill DeMain and Young Hines – names which should be familiar to most power pop aficionados – and songwriter/producer Brad Jones, a man whose credits involve working with Matthew Sweet, Jill Sobule and Josh Rouse. It’s fair to say it’s got some solid foundations.