At the beginning of 2019, two forces of pop-punk came together when Kepi Ghoulie (previously of The Groovie Ghoulies) recorded with The Copyrights for a joint full length album. ‘Re-Animation Festival’ was a complete re-recording of the Ghoulies’ classic 1997 LP of the same name…and it more than showed how, over the intervening years, Kepi had retained his status as one of the true kings of cartoon pop-punk. Just as importantly, although in a slightly different format, it put a great set of songs back on catalogue for a new generation of could-be, should-be fans. For those who loved that disc, this companion split 7” should also be considered an important collection filler. Its four previously unavailable tracks put a new spin on the collaboration: as well as offering one new song apiece, The Copyrights cover one of the old Groovie Ghoulies classics and Kepi puts his own spin on something from The Copyrights’ catalogue.
Two years on from their ‘No More Than Three Chords‘ album, Italian punks Latte+ returned with ‘Stitches’, an album that captured the band’s supercharged Ramonescore sound in a slightly more polished way. Despite a better final mix, the band’s sense of speed and guts still dominated and in songs like ‘Everyone Listens To The Ramones Even My Mom’, the Screeching Weasel-tastic ‘Darkness Inside Your Heart’ and the melodic punk punch of ‘Another Sleepless Night’, they managed to show off the complete range of their always improving sound. It seemed like an album that would break them outside of their home country, but despite such a strong effort, Latte+ (always pronounced “LattePiu”) still seemed destined to be found lurking somewhere within the ranks of dozens of other Europunks and not mentioned in the same breath as Screeching Weasel, Dan Vapid and Teen Idols.
The evening of December 1st 1976 began much like any other, but by the time the evening rolled into night time, television history had been made. With Queen unable to make their interview slot on the Today magazine programme, punk band Sex Pistols were drafted in as a last minute filler. It was an event that started with a wobble and ended with guitarist Steve Jones calling the ill at ease presenter Bill Grundy a “fucking rotter”. Up until this point, punk had been a truly underground phenomenon, only really of concern to a few bands, their friends and young people who’d decided they now wanted to be in bands. It hadn’t really spread beyond parts of Manchester, London and the boring suburbia of Bromley, yet here it was beaming itself into the living rooms of unsuspecting viewers.
Within hours, the press claimed outrage at the “filth and fury” of it all which only meant that punk was now in the consciousness of an entire nation, fueling the fires of excitement within teenagers up and down the UK, making it all the more appealing. In 1977, punk made its way into the mainstream with the Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Stranglers all releasing classic debut albums and scoring a few hit singles in the process.
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.
Before exploring any of the music on this release, let’s get one of the only negatives out of the way first: Plastic is not a very good band name. It’s a nightmare for search engine effectiveness and not especially memorable. Thankfully, Plastic are a great band and their 2019 EP ‘Drink Sensibly’ is an aural tour-de-force that fuses grungy elements with a punky sharpness, resulting in three tracks that sometimes sound like the work of a band fit to burst.