Between 2013 and 2019, The Hallingtons released a string of EPs that slowly found them perfecting their own homage to Ramones. Hundreds of bands had recorded in a similar style before, but few had managed to capture the early sounds from Joey and Johnny quite as perfectly as The Hallingtons’ ‘Hexed’, proving the world was more than ready for the Norwegian punks to deliver a full length musical assault.
On their sixth album, 2017 LP ‘Mas Rapido!’, Spanish punks F.A.N.T.A. cranked out seventeen high octane belters in under thirty five minutes. The breakneck pace with which almost everything was delivered made it entirely possible to forget most of the lyrics weren’t in English. In fact, most of the album’s greatness often came from the playing itself: between a barrage of fast guitar chords and some pretty smart bass work – sometimes reminiscent of an early 80s Dee Dee Ramone – F.A.N.T.A. arguably gave the world their first true masterpiece; an album that really capitalised on the sounds of the previous release (2014’s ‘Asi No Vamos A Ninguna Parte’) and an obviously huge leap from their earlier, more raw work.
‘In-Cog-Neat-O’, the first full length release from US punks The Suck was a rough and ready release. Its collection of bratty sounding songs tore past at a breakneck pace, rarely clearing the two minute mark, and although the band didn’t sound particularly original, they more than demonstrated an easy knack for delivering fun. Two years on, their second album ‘Boris Sprinkler’ (inspired by 90s punks Boris The Sprinkler releasing an album called ‘Suck’) similarly cocks a snook at the concept of “full length” by banging through ten numbers in a shade over twenty minutes, but its fair to say that if you enjoyed previous fare from these guys – or enjoy the more ragged end of the Ramones obsessed punk scale in general – it’s brevity and urgency will more than add to its overall appeal. The quality of the song writing, on the other hand, can sometimes be a different matter. ‘Boris Sprinkler’ features The Suck’s best song to date (and by some distance), but unfortunately, it also contains two of their absolute worst.
Their name might not be among punk’s most familiar, but Twister are one of many great punk bands from Italy. They’ve shared labels with Latte+, Mega and Killtime, churned out some solid melodic punk and Ramonescore sounds, and slowly forged their way to cult status. Their 2016 LP ‘We’ll Be OK’ gained a few positive online reviews, but became most memorable due to a sleeve that paid homage to the legendary Teen Idols. By the end of 2020, they were still relative unknowns compared to some of their peers, but they were still capable of releasing some fine, melodic fare.
Throughout the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown of 2020, Canadian musician Matt Ellis used his time very constructively. He recorded a series of demo quality EPs in his bathroom, showcasing lo-fi punk music that borrowed heavily from the Ramones’ back catalogue. What those EP releases lacked in sheen, they made up for with a lot of spirit, and for those concerned about their lack of audio fidelity, they served a great purpose in that all monies earned from Bandcamp sales was subsequently donated to various charities.