EMMA SAND – Door To Door EP

French vocalist Emma Sand released her ‘Wonderland’ EP in 2016, but it would be another three years before a follow up would emerge. 2019’s ‘Door To Door’ concerns itself with various musical moods and champions itself as an aural road movie, with the vocalist taking the listener through a handful of musical styles along the way. Lovers of heavily reverbed, retro guitar sounds may well take an instant like to the material, but that’s really only just the surface noise on this particular road. The six songs featured here aren’t necessarily recordings you could love straight away. Sand’s big voice occasionally feels at odds with her band; on first listen, she’s just too loud…but given time to adjust, at least two of these songs slowly unveil themselves as being fairly smart adult pop.

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LATTE+ – Next To Ruin

Two years on from their ‘No More Than Three Chords‘ album, Italian punks Latte+ returned with ‘Stitches’, an album that captured the band’s supercharged Ramonescore sound in a slightly more polished way. Despite a better final mix, the band’s sense of speed and guts still dominated and in songs like ‘Everyone Listens To The Ramones Even My Mom’, the Screeching Weasel-tastic ‘Darkness Inside Your Heart’ and the melodic punk punch of ‘Another Sleepless Night’, they managed to show off the complete range of their always improving sound. It seemed like an album that would break them outside of their home country, but despite such a strong effort, Latte+ (always pronounced “LattePiu”) still seemed destined to be found lurking somewhere within the ranks of dozens of other Europunks and not mentioned in the same breath as Screeching Weasel, Dan Vapid and Teen Idols.

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CHEAP GUNSLINGERS – Cheap Gunslingers

Formed in 2015 by one-time Gotohells man Edo McGrady and guitarist/performance artist Melissa DuCasse, Cheap Gunslingers set about creating a sound that blended garage rock riffs with a few power pop hooks and plenty of fuzz. By the time of recording their debut LP four years later, Melissa wasn’t such a big player within the band, appearing only on three tracks (and two of those are for backing vocals), but between McGrady’s sheer sense of drive and a pleasingly dirty sound, the Cheap Gunslingers were far from depleted.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – 1977: The Year Punk Broke

The evening of December 1st 1976 began much like any other, but by the time the evening rolled into night time, television history had been made. With Queen unable to make their interview slot on the Today magazine programme, punk band Sex Pistols were drafted in as a last minute filler. It was an event that started with a wobble and ended with guitarist Steve Jones calling the ill at ease presenter Bill Grundy a “fucking rotter”. Up until this point, punk had been a truly underground phenomenon, only really of concern to a few bands, their friends and young people who’d decided they now wanted to be in bands. It hadn’t really spread beyond parts of Manchester, London and the boring suburbia of Bromley, yet here it was beaming itself into the living rooms of unsuspecting viewers.

Within hours, the press claimed outrage at the “filth and fury” of it all which only meant that punk was now in the consciousness of an entire nation, fueling the fires of excitement within teenagers up and down the UK, making it all the more appealing. In 1977, punk made its way into the mainstream with the Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Stranglers all releasing classic debut albums and scoring a few hit singles in the process.

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STATE COWS – Stealing The Show EP

In 2011, something unexpected happened. The most perfect homage to American westcoast pop sounds appeared in the shape of a debut album by a band named State Cows. Bits of Toto, Airplay, Maxus and pretty much everything with that vibe from 1978-81 was reborn in an almost flawless contemporary recording. It was almost impossible to tell whether the recordings had been sitting in a vault since 1980. Even more unbelieveable, these wondrous American sounds were recreated in a much less sunny Sweden. For westcost lovers, tracks like ‘New York Town’ and the wryly humorous ‘Stella By The Barlight’ became fast and firm favourites. Two years on, the aptly named ‘The Second One’ brought more of the same, but was perhaps a little weaker in places. Not that State Cows had lost their knack for retro sounds – the songs were very strong; it was more that element of surprise was gone.

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