BANG BANG FIRECRACKER – Hear Evil EP

In a world where attention spans are shorter, and streaming has meant listeners have a whole universe of new music waiting at the push of a button, British rock band Bang Bang Firecracker hit upon the idea of splitting their second album into three EP releases, giving fans a succession of bite-sized material that would present the songs a short and punchy fashion, but never sell fans short on massive sounds. The first EP, ‘See Evil’ did, indeed, deliver very highly in the riff stakes, placing BBF somewhere between The Almighty and Black Label Society. For some fans, those riffs were enough alone to make an impression – and, granted, they were often bloody excellent – but a fondness for old school macho, expletive-driven lyrics occasionally let the side down.

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THE RUMJACKS / FLATFOOT 56 – Split EP

Split EPs are often a good way to discover a couple of new bands, and with six songs presented in a no-frills manner, this shared release between Celtic punks The Rumjacks and Flatfoot 96 is no exception. Both bands take a relatively straight, no nonsense approach to their subgenre, and that means that – in the main – most people will either love or hate them.

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THE SILVER LINES – Sleaze EP

London based rock band The Silver Lines sometimes convey a very retro sound, but unlike some, they’re keen to take a few key influences and at least try to twist them into something new. On their debut EP, you’ll find swathes of retro indie jangle, even a heavy dose of funk, and yet the band never sound as if they’re settled within either camp. Their sound can seem a little busy, yet remains focused; their song writing is hooky, but never anthemic. You might say that The Silver Lines sound absolutely natural – and that would certainly be true of frontman Dan Ravenscroft’s unmistakably British vocal delivery – but whichever way you approach their music, there’s something interesting lurking beneath the surface.

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STRANGEWAYS – Complete Recordings Volume 1: 1985-1994

When thinking about 80s AOR, there are a few bands that immediately spring to mind: Journey, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Survivor. Legends all, but rock’s most radio-friendly subgenre spawned a truckload of other great bands, and during the 80s, this most American sound even influenced a few British musicians. FM remain one of the best known and most successful exponents of the UK contingent; much has been said about Magnum’s most commercial period from 1986-90, and at the end of the decade, Little Angels scored chart success by taking an AOR core and injecting it with a couple of rockier influences. For all the hitmakers, there are several great bands that aren’t mentioned anywhere near as much. And the greatest of those? That, without doubt, would be Scotland’s Strangeways.

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THE HALLINGTONS – Hop Til’ You Drop

Between 2013 and 2019, The Hallingtons released a string of EPs that slowly found them perfecting their own homage to Ramones. Hundreds of bands had recorded in a similar style before, but few had managed to capture the early sounds from Joey and Johnny quite as perfectly as The Hallingtons’ ‘Hexed’, proving the world was more than ready for the Norwegian punks to deliver a full length musical assault.

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