Likened to early Replacements meeting with Johnny Thunders, the Dogmatics were very much a cult band on the Boston rock ‘n’ roll/power pop scene in the 80s. During their original run, they toured with Dinosaur Jr., The Bangles, Hoodoo Gurus, The Fleshtones and dozens of other well known rock bands. Tragedy struck in 1986 when bassist Paul O’Halloran died in a motorbike accident and with just two studio albums to their credit, the band called time on their short career. [A twenty track anthology, ‘1981-86’, brings together twenty Dogmatics recordings and is the ultimate primer for anyone unfamiliar with their work.]
Boston’s Dirty Truckers have never been shy of showing a cheeky side and applying that to some good old-fashioned, trashy riffs. This has rarely been offered in such a direct way as on ‘Little Mine’, the lead single from their 2020 compilation disc ‘Second Dose’. It’s barely two lines in before frontman Tom Baker sings of someone in their “birthday suit” before applying that image to “a twinkle in your eye”. Granted, it’s merely saucy and certainly not on the same level as David Coverdale singing about leg-spreading less than a minute into the Whitesnake debut LP from ’78, but there’s something about this sexual memory that sort of sets the trashy tone for the following thirty minutes. In terms of music, there’s plenty within this tune’s Slim Dunlap meets Keef Richards schtick. If anything, its combination of relentless pace and unfussy backing vocals makes everyone sound more energised than before: the riffs are ballsy; the lead vocals husky…and combined, the bar-room sound really flies. It sounds so much like classic Truckers, even a one line hook can’t hold it back. Sliding into ‘Hotel Highway View’ the disc effectively opens with a massive one-two suckerpunch. A number that highlights John Brookhouse’s sleazy guitar, the band deliver a three minute musical love letter to Johnny Thunders. It’s bread and butter stuff for them, but sounds great. If you love that grubby rock ‘n’ roll style, you’ll definitely find yourself being swept along by the band’s energy.
In February 2020, Ken Fox & Knock Yourself Out released their debut EP and the sometime Fleshtones man treated fans to a brilliant but short collection of tunes that celebrated many of his power pop and garage rock influences.
Among the self-penned material was a great cover of The Pink Fairies’ cult classic ‘Do It’ (a track also recorded by The Rollins Band and others). As far as covers go, it fit among the unfamiliar material seamlessly, while also showing the band’s slightly angrier chops.
In 2017, Justine and The Unclean released their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Get Unclean’, a rousing collection of power pop and pop punk oriented material that really helped put singer Justine Couvalt on the map. A follow up EP (2018’s ‘Heartaches & Hot Problems’) brought fans another reason to get excited, proving the band wasn’t just a one-shot deal and also showing that they sounded just as natural when stepping out of their power pop comfort zone and applied their talents to a couple of much harder sounding riffs.
For a band who claimed they were “All Done With Rock N Roll” as 2017 drew to a close, Watts continued to keep themselves busy. A digital single, ‘Queens’ followed in October 2018 and a new EP ‘Breaking Glass’ kicked off 2019 in their typically retro rock ‘n’ roll tradition.
It’s been a year since the world last heard from Boston’s underground heroes, but they’ve returned with a couple of new tracks that you can download on a “pay what you want” basis.