At the beginning of 2018, St. Louis punkers released ‘Get Fired!’, a fully formed pop-punk masterpiece that applied the band’s usual spiky style to some great choruses. The disc was so popular, the first pressing sold out in quick time and a repress was also quickly snapped up. It even managed to get the expanded deluxe treatment; the addition of various period rarities to an already great disc made the reissue a must-have for any self-respecting punk fan. Given that ‘Get Fired!’ was so well received, The Buzzkills could’ve followed it with more of the same, but instead – perhaps wisely – realised that anything too similar would run the risk of coming up short, so instead, they chose to take a musical side-step…
At the end of 2014, Tokyo punks The Nerdy Jugheads released their first recordings on an intense EP that took the core sounds of Screeching Weasel and transplanted them via Japan, creating music that blended fine Ramonescore with the nerdy oriental quirks of Hi-Standard. The result was an all-thrashing, all-bouncing five tracker that no pop punk fan should be without. The band returned in the summer of 2016 with three new tracks, issued as one half of a great split release with New Yorkers The Young Rochelles. It’s East meets West in this spit EP face off…who will win this global punk battle of the bands?!
The last few years have been very much a case of “onward and upward” for The Radio Buzzkills. The St. Louis pop-punkers released their EP ‘The Quick & The Cheap’ in April 2016 and just five months later plans were afoot for the band to share a stage with their hero and Screeching Weasel co-founder, John Jughead.
Their tenacious and never-say-die attitude led to the Buzzkills working with another of their heroes, Dave Parasite, on the first full length album the following year. Released early 2018, ‘Get Fired!’ was a masterpiece of pop punk. With a couple of Parasite co-writes and an amazing production job, The Buzzkills had made a classic record, their very own equivalent of Screeching Weasel’s ‘Anthem For A New Tomorrow’.
France isn’t necessarily the first location that comes to mind for pop punk exports, but a few great bands have emerged over the past few years including Connies and the truly excellent Shapers.
Here’s another new band from France – South Berkley, a four piece outfit that should appeal to lovers of post-‘Take Off Your Pants…’ era blink-182. Their second single ‘Glass N Sparks’ provides a decent teaser for their debut LP (‘Too Slow’), which is due this summer.
In 2017, Justine and The Unclean made an impact on the power pop and pop-punk scenes with their debut release ‘Get Unclean’. The album didn’t especially break new ground, but between its instant hooks and Justine Covault’s sassy vocals, it didn’t take long for the songs to stick. The album also showed a strong musical talent in mixing bits of punk, power pop, classic rock and even the occasional metal riff together, creating something very potent.
Utilising the “mini album” format – a very 80s trait, but it was good enough for Billy Bragg and it certainly works for Justine – ‘Heartaches & Hot Problems’ values quality over quantity at just six songs and, as you’d hope, there are at least a couple of killer hooks to be found within the all too spritely seventeen minutes.