JATK is a DIY project fronted by singer songwriter Matt Jatkola that celebrates the louder end of the power pop spectrum. The three piece band love distortion and fuzz almost as much as they love a sun-filled retro hook and the result is, perhaps, one of the noisiest power pop discs since The Great Affairs released ‘The Striped Album’ back in 2011.
Beneath the layers of guitar and fuzz are four absolutely cracking songs. Tunes that evoke the kind of excitement you first felt when you dropped the metaphorical needle on a Beat Angels or Ryan Roxie album for the first time. The kind of unbridled joy you feel from playing The Wildhearts’ ‘Vanilla Radio’ at full volume exists within at least a couple of these songs…and that feel-good quality is obvious from first play. Subsequent spins only confirm what you suspected within the first minute or so of hearing this band for the first time. Yes… Power pop fans should be aware that this is potentially that good.
In the US, Christmas music is big business. You can find a festive album to suit pretty much every one of your holiday moods. There are countless Christmas albums from country artists; you can play it traditionally with the easy listening approach with She & Him’s retro pop or Lowen & Navarro’s world of log fires and woolly jumpers. You can opt for retro rock ‘n’ roll and a swingin’ yuletide with the brilliant Brian Setzer, or even funky festivities with James Brown. In a world where even Bad Religion – a punk band fronted by one of the world’s most outspoken athiest academics – have a Christmas album, the gloves are off. We live in a post-irony world.
In December 2019, L.A. Guns’ ‘Another Xmas In Hell’ appeared on streaming services with little to no fanfare. A five track release, it finds the US hard rockers putting their own slant on a couple of very familiar festive favourites and a couple of lesser known gems.
Following Cherry Red’s 2CD reissue of Girl’s debut album ‘Sheer Greed’, the label are set to release a massive 6CD edition of the band’s second album ‘Wasted Youth’ in January 2020.
The band was the launch pad for the careers of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and LA Guns vocalist Phil Lewis. The band found themselves on the fringes of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and glam scenes and were a popular live draw in the early 80s.
Often associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, glam rock band Girl formed in London in 1979. Gaining a following on the live circuit, they quickly signed to Don Arden’s Jet Records – home to Electric Light Orchestra and Magnum – and released their debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ the following year. Decades on, if ‘Sheer Greed’ is mentioned at all, it’s by association. The band’s frontman, Philip Lewis, later joined L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen replaced Pete Willis in Def Leppard, first appearing on the band’s third album – 1983’s multi-million selling ‘Pyromania’. Girl were always a reasonably good band in their own right, of course, and although by no means perfect, ‘Sheer Greed’ has enough good moments to remind listeners why they perhaps deserve a little more credit of their own.
When Redd Kross released their ‘Researching The Blues‘ album in 2012, it gave fans plenty of reasons to celebrate. Not only did that record break a fifteen year recording hiatus, but it was also the band’s best album since 1990’s ‘Third Eye’. In ‘Stay Away From Downtown’, fans were given the ultimate Redd Kross power pop anthem and on material like ‘Dracula’s Daughters’ and ‘Meet Frankenstein’, the band showed they’d lost none of their love for b-movie schlock or high camp. ‘Researching The Blues’ was a fabulous comeback, indeed…and one of the greatest albums of that year.
Something unexpected happened in 2015 when bassist Steven McDonald was invited to join arty sludge legends Melvins. Given that Redd Kross had started out as a trashy punk band and McDonald had moonlighted with OFF! – a brilliant and uncompromising hardcore punk act featuring ex-Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris – perhaps it shouldn’t have been that unexpected, but it’s probably fair to say few people saw that coming. Steve’s place alongside Melvins mainstays Buzz and Dale led to various gloriously mismatched live shows shared between the two bands and by the time Melvins released ‘Pinkus Abortion Technician’ in 2018, McDonald’s influence within the band could very definitely be felt.