GOODBYE BLUE MONDAY – Self-Indulgent One-Take Woefuls EP

Goodbye Blue Monday’s third release, the ‘Misery Punk Ruined My Life’ EP, was one of 2018’s strongest DIY punk releases. Between a barrage of massive riffs and some thoughtful lyrics dealing with mental health issues, the Glaswegian band marked themselves out as one of the UK scene’s most intelligent acts.

Despite sterling support from Make That A Take Records and some very positive online press, things seemed to go quiet in the GBM camp a short time after. It wasn’t until 2020 any new material materialised, but a pair of digital singles (‘Love In The Time of Corona’ and ‘Exile’) made good on the promise of earlier recordings by way of musical crunch and more social commentary. A world grinding to a halt and a lack of social interaction enforced by a global pandemic also meant that fans would have to wait even longer for a brand new EP or album, but the band closed the first half of 2020 with a surprise acoustic EP to tide everyone over.

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FENCES – Wide Eyed Elk Ensemble EP

Back in 2015, Fences made music that sat very comfortably within the indie-rock spectrum. The sound on that year’s ‘Lesser Oceans’ tapped into a sound that often sounded like a more synth based Mercury Rev crossed with the quieter and poppier moments from The New Pornographers. By the time 2019’s acclaimed ‘Failure Sculptures’ rolled around, band leader and frontman Christopher Mansfield seemed to be besotted by various elements of Americana. In adding extra folk and Americana derived elements to the already strong alt-pop sound, Fences created something rather special and a strange bubble where Fleet Foxes and Beck seemed to co-exist helped to create the band’s defining work.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Kitchener-Waterloo Metal Cover Collection

Featuring six bands and a selection of retro metal covers, this compilation is an interesting prospect. None of the featured acts will mean very much to most people living outside Canada – or even anyone living too far outside of Ontario – but in a couple of instances, the bands’ choice of material involves songs that will have spent decades gracing millions of stereos since the 1980s. By choosing a couple of very familiar 80s classics, Invicta and Cathartic Demise both stand a fair chance of picking up a new fan or two via this release – and at the end of the day, that’s what every hard working band wants…and needs. By recycling early nineties death metal, both Aepoch and Raider can seem more marginal, but their featured performances capture some more than reasonable extreme metal chops.

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THE SUCK – Boris Sprinkler

‘In-Cog-Neat-O’, the first full length release from US punks The Suck was a rough and ready release. Its collection of bratty sounding songs tore past at a breakneck pace, rarely clearing the two minute mark, and although the band didn’t sound particularly original, they more than demonstrated an easy knack for delivering fun. Two years on, their second album ‘Boris Sprinkler’ (inspired by 90s punks Boris The Sprinkler releasing an album called ‘Suck’) similarly cocks a snook at the concept of “full length” by banging through ten numbers in a shade over twenty minutes, but its fair to say that if you enjoyed previous fare from these guys – or enjoy the more ragged end of the Ramones obsessed punk scale in general – it’s brevity and urgency will more than add to its overall appeal. The quality of the song writing, on the other hand, can sometimes be a different matter. ‘Boris Sprinkler’ features The Suck’s best song to date (and by some distance), but unfortunately, it also contains two of their absolute worst.

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It may come some nine years after The Riverboat Gamblers’ last full length album, and a lengthy five years since the release of their last 7” single, but this comeback disc from the Texan punks is everything fans could hope for. Not only does it capture the band combating a selection of great riffs at full pelt, but it comprises material that even a non-fan would recognise a mile off. It’s a win-win on all fronts.

As more than hinted at by the title, this release features the Gamblers turning their hands to covers by the legendary Ramones and the just as legendary Motorhead. Two bands that seem quite different, and yet, are great bedfellows due to their love of speed and simple, direct riffs.

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