The release this album in 2022 marks the end of a decade long silence from Boston rockers The Dirty Truckers. It’s not that the band members have been absent in that time, of course: frontman Tom Baker has released enjoyable works, both solo and with his other band, The Snakes (also featuring the Truckers’ John Brookhouse); guitarist Tad Overbaugh released a solo album in 2015, and drummer John Lynch released a truckload of material with his “other” band, Watts. In addition, an excellent digital compilation, ‘Second Dose’, also provided potential new fans with a handy recap. Whichever way you approach it, the Truckers left their fans with plenty to enjoy during the lengthy sabbatical.
When J Prozac released the ‘Building Blocks’ single in January 2022, it felt as if the punk musician was on the cusp of releasing some of the best music of his career. In a little over two minutes, that track made old school pop punk sound vital again thanks to some classic sounding riffs and a massive chorus that the likes of The Mr T Experience would have taken to glory in their 90s prime. Even J’s slightly gruff voice couldn’t keep the track’s bubblegum-ish traits in check, and overall, it supplied big thrills in such a way that proved classic pop punk will never die.
Its parent album ‘Won’t Let Go’ very much delivers on that track’s huge promise, but isn’t necessarily the straight up punk record that fans are expecting. Within its eleven songs, Prozac steers through punk and pop punk moods with ease, takes in some ragged heartland rock, and has even been unafraid to chuck in a ballad. It might make the album seem a little more scattershot to an outsider, but nothing could be further from the truth. With the help of massive hook after massive hook, J hits the mark pretty much every time – and there are even instances where the material is great enough to rival ‘Building Blocks’ in terms of that all important memorability factor.
If you took the distorted hard rock of Blue Cheer, the garage rock noise of the Fucktons and applied a country drawl in the vocal department, chances are you’d end up with something that sounds a bit like The Yeah You Rights. On their 2019 release ‘Lucy Anna’ this Louisiana duo mix things up with regards to a retro noise, and while the results don’t always lead to the easiest of listens, more than half the time, their sense of drive makes up for any melodic shortcomings.
In January ’22, US based retro rockers The Cheap Cassettes released their full length album ‘Ever Since Ever Since’. It wasn’t perfect, but in amongst the no-frills riffs, there were enough top tier tunes to impress lovers of their previous works.
‘Behind The Mask’, J Prozac’s solo EP from 2018, was a short and sharp punk/Ramonescore gem. By pairing a couple of self-penned tunes with covers of well known Tom Petty and Ramones songs, the sometime Prozacs frontman ensured that his extra-curricular endeavour was as broadly appealing as possible. A full length release from The Prozacs swiftly followed in 2019, further cementing the band’s obsessions with Johnny & Joey, before an excellent thirty three track collection (‘Fan Favs & Wannabe Hits’) gave everyone a golden opportunity to take stock of the band’s progress so far. For those outside Massachusetts, there was every chance that such a compilation acted as a welcome introduction to their work.