Combining members of Tom Baker’s Snakes, Upper Crust and Malachite, Justine and The Unclean already have a Boston bar band pedigree. The release of their debut single, the double a-sided ‘Love Got Me Into This Mess’/’Passive Aggressive Baby’ in the summer of ’17 represented some of the best female fronted pop-punk sounds in a long while, but there’s more to this nine song debut LP shows off more than that punky taster ever suggested.
That’s how New Jersey garage rockers The Vice Rags choose to introduce themselves, playing up the fact that making cool music should often have a feeling of camaraderie and also, that unless you’re the spoilt talentless son of a media mogul or know the Arctic Monkeys in person, there’s no such thing as overnight success. Both guitarist/vocalist Paul Rosevear and Gay Elvis (bass) are members of the on/off garage rock/power pop trio Readymade Breakup; Elv also played with punkers Kid With No Head, who opened for The Offspring, blink-182 and the mighty Bad Religion; drummer Joe Chyb has links with The Anderson Council and guitarist Jack Roberts played with Prunella Scales, a much overlooked band fronted by Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan, as well as having been a long-serving member of Mars Needs Women, with whom he shared a stage with Cheap Trick. With all that behind them, you could say that The Vice Rags have something of a cult pedigree.
It’s Hallowe’en. Across Brixton, various young people are getting ready for spooky festivities. It probably means they’re off to the pub in their best Bride of Frankenstein and Corpse Bride finery before hitting the clubs later, but it seems fairly busy for a Tuesday night. There aren’t any skeletons or pumpkins adorning the Electric Brixton, but a cursory look at the merchandising stand still makes the occasion very clear. A massive poster advertising this show featuring power pop legends Redd Kross and sludgy art rock oddballs the Melvins very much resembles a promotional poster for an eighties slasher flick. As far as gig posters go, it’s incredibly smart, although no more of a spook-show concept should be looked for, especially as the night progresses.
Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota – once home to the legendary Husker Du – indie rock/power pop act The Persian Leaps can be expected to come with a certain level of musical pedigree. Across four EPs, released between 2013-2016, they’ve more than proved themselves. Having already honed a great sound that takes elements of the most melodic Huskers, early R.E.M. and Let’s Active, their first four releases potentially sets them up as the greatest 80s college rock band that never was.
Whether solo, playing as a member of the Kurt Baker Combo or a key member of Spanish pop-punkers Bullet Proof Lovers, something that comes across on pretty much any Kurt Baker recording is how much joy he gets just from playing music for the love of it. He’s also frighteningly prolific. If he’s not sweating it out at live shows, he’s in the studio. If he’s not in the studio, he’s writing. Obviously, with such a frantic recording artist, not everything makes the final cut of an album, but Baker is never content with leaving things on the shelf.