TOMMY AND THE ROCKETS – I Wanna Be Covered

Power pop/pop-punk band Tommy And The Rockets first appeared on the scene in 2016. Their debut album ‘Beer And Fun And Rock ‘n’ Roll‘ – co-written with LA based songwriter Michael Chaney – quickly asserted itself as a summer classic with some great Ramones-ish material and a short and sharp playing time. A couple of EPs followed, but it felt like a case of diminishing returns, as nothing quite matched the levels of fun whipped up on that first disc.

Two years on from ‘Beer And Fun…’, Tommy And The Rockets cover familiar ground on ‘I Wanna Be Covered’, presenting a selection of Ramones tunes. The Ramones covers album has been done to death (especially with at least six of their albums having been covered in their entirety), but somehow, hearing yet another band wanting to share their love for such timeless tunes never feels boring and Thomas Stubgaard – at this point the sole member of the Rockets – brings just about enough of own style to the project to ensure it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. Although he hasn’t tackled anything after 1980s ‘End of The Century’, he’s not necessarily chosen the most predictable song selection either, which might encourage a few more people to take a listen out of curiosity.

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ANTISOCIAL SURF CLUB – Peace And Quiet EP

AntiSocial Surf Club’s 2017 debut ‘Beach Closed’ was fun record. Its final mix made it hard to ignore its DIY origins at times with its occsaionally thin sound, but in terms of songs, the band scored highly in the power pop stakes. With combination of ringing guitar melodies, light indie influences and sugary pop punk hooks, it was the kind of record that suggested better was to come. …And 2019’s three tracker ‘Peace and Quiet’ more than confirms that hunch. The band’s love of brilliant choruses and buoyant melodies is obvious – perhaps even more so than before – and this time around, the material feels so much fuller.

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TC&I – Naked Flames: Live At Swindon Arts Centre

Life is capable of dealing out a surprise or two. One of the biggest musical surprises came in 2017 when ex-XTC drummer Terry Chambers returned from Australia and it subsequently announced he’d been writing and recording new material with his old bandmate Colin Moulding. The likelihood of any XTC members recording together had seemed about as likely as Roger Manning, Jr reforming Jellyfish, but it had quickly become a reality. Fans were, understandably, ecstatic. The resultant EP was good rather than great, but the fact that Moulding had seemingly returned to something resembling full time recording was good news enough.

TC&I then unleashed bigger news when they told the world they’d be playing a handful of live shows to support the release at Swindon Arts Centre. There was more at stake here than just a few new songs, of course; XTC had abruptly stopped touring in 1982 and Colin had a legacy of great material that had never been played in front of an audience. It was time to right that wrong.

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LOCAL DRAGS – Shit’s Lookin’ Up

Local Drags have been called “The best power pop band from Springfield, Illinois”. Regardless of how much competition the band may or may not be up against, if your idea of power pop is still rooted in the 70s with Raspberries and Badfinger albums, with Cheap Trick’s ‘In Color’ and the early works of Nick Lowe, it might be time to move along…this album won’t necessarily fill your ears with the musical hit you crave. If, on the other hand, you enjoy basic power pop aesthetics mixed with an insanely huge dose of good old pop-punk, then ‘Shit’s Lookin’ Up’, will indeed, catch you off guard and deliver a dozen tunes that’ll perk up your day…and fairly quickly too.

Bringing together the talents of Lanny Durbin (sometime of Starter Jackets) and Matt Sailor (Mayor Sheriff) and produced by The Copyrights’ ‘Luke McNeill, it’s an album with a great pop-punk pedigree and, in the main, the kind of record that fans of The Copyrights, The Apers and Parasites will certainly take to their collective hearts.

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