Casting their net far across Europe to bring you a selection of Yuletide jollies, this EP from Laketown Records presents four previously unreleased tracks from two cult ska bands. For this festive split, French ska punks Skarface go head to head with Russia’s relative newcomers Suspense Heroes Syndicate in a high octane musical bout – a musical face off in which only one band can be the victor.
A DIY punk musician from Ontario, Matt Ellis spent half of 2020 in his bathroom. Armed with an electric guitar, a drum machine and his best sneer, he set about recording a bunch of Ramones inspired tunes quickly and cheaply. He obviously figured that with the world having succumbed to a pandemic, and a virus sidelining gigs and other activities, he – much like anyone and everyone – needed to do something to stay sane. The first recordings to emerge (the ‘High Risk Assurance’ EP from April 2020) showcased his love for Ramonescore in a very succinct and aggressive style. Its four songs were far from shy in sharing their love for Joey and Johnny (along with several key bands that came along in their wake) and in terms of home demos, certainly showcased a genuine talent for tapping into the core of what really makes good pop-punk so enduring – no matter how small (or even non-existent) the recording budget.
2020 was a busy year for UK garage punk duo Get The Fuck Outta Dodge. A global pandemic might have decimated the music industry and all but written off live performance, but for James (bass/shouting) and Ren (drums/more shouting), no time was wasted. They began the year by recording a brilliant covers record and then kept up momentum by laying down a bunch of their own tunes which were scheduled for a full length album release later in the year. Before that recording (released as ‘Buzzkill’ in October) could reach the sweaty palms of their fanbase, however, they even found time to crank out extra tunes on an EP, ‘We Make The Future Here’. That release captured an intense hardcore punk sound and acted as an excellent primer for new listeners.
The idea of a punk band covering an entire album is hardly a new phenomenon. In the 90s, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, The Vindictives and Mr. T Experience recorded their own fairly faithful versions of the first four Ramones albums. Thinking a little more broadly, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes thrilled the masses with their themed albums and pop punk heroes MxPx punked up material as diverse as Bryan Adams, Dave Alvin and The Proclaimers on their ‘Cover To Cover’ releases. Yes, indeed… The “punk cover” has become a staple of the scene.
The ubiquity of the punk cover doesn’t stop this album by Ontario punks The Vapids being hugely entertaining. With half the punk world wanting to pay tribute (either directly or indirectly) to Joey and Johnny’s groundbreaking blueprint, it is somewhat refreshing that these Canadian punks would want to pay homage to their own home grown heroes, and so, ‘Teenage Heads’ – originally released in 2002 – finds the band hammering through the ten numbers from Teenage Head’s self titled debut LP from ’79.
California’s Sunnydales might just represent the ultimate collision of Ramones influenced pop punk and retro pop culture. This three piece band take a well worn musical blueprint and apply their love of Joey and Johnny with a bigger love of 90s television hit Buffy The Vampire Slayer. You might think such a concept might be good for one release, but this second EP (released in May 2019) is every bit as good as their debut from the previous year.