FRED ABONG – Our Mother Of Perpetual Help

Fred Abong was especially busy throughout 2018 and 2019. He re-ignited his on/off solo career with the excellent ‘Homeless’ EP, which subsequently saw him touring as support with his old Throwing Muses bandmate Kristin Hersh. That was swiftly followed by the equally cool lo-fi release ‘Pulsing’ which saw critical acclaim from a few indie websites which led to Abong going on the road with Hersh once more. Not just as support act, but doubling up as the evening’s opening entertainment and as bassist with the KH Trio.

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With a maudlin heart that could be compared to The National and Elbow, but driven by a noisy and distorted wall of sound that ensures they never sound too much like either band, October Drift’s debut album ‘Forever Whatever’ was an enjoyably downbeat affair. Between a solid sound and some brilliantly constructed rock pop hooks, it was the kind of record that was broad in appeal for the indie/rock fan. The events of 2020 meant that the band weren’t able to promote the release via a mass of live dates, but their online presence and a few very vocal fans more than helped to spread the word.

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THE VAPIDS – Teenage Heads

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.

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THE BLAKES – Readymade Blakeup EP

The origins of this EP go back a long way. All the way back to 2003, to be exact. New Jersey power poppers The Blakes recorded some demos and had plans to form them into a fully fledged, fully finished release to follow their debut EP…and then they split. The Blakes’ vocalist/guitarist Paul Rosevear and bassist Gay Elvis subsequently formed Readymade Breakup, a great band that adopted a few more alternative rock traits and, as the years passed, The Blakes became an ever fading memory.

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BEST BOYS ELECTRIC – Ten Years Of Brett Pop Affairs

Best Boys Electric’s 2016 EP ‘Brett Pop Affairs’ flaunted the band’s love of 70s power pop, glam and 90s indie to create a four tracker that was maybe a little ramshackle, but enjoyable. What the tunes occasionally lacked in finesse, they made up for with a truckload of enthusiasm. Regardless of what you thought of the end result, you couldn’t say it wasn’t made with love.

A similar approach is applied to their 2019 vinyl long-player, ‘Ten Years of Brett Pop Affairs’, a sixteen track romp through the band’s love of all things retro. The four EP tracks are reprised here – and as part of a broader musical landscape, they sound a little better – but for those already familiar with the band, naturally, it’ll be the newer tracks providing the biggest draw.

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