Three years on from ‘Snake Oil Superscience’, Brooklyn’s Mad Doctors mean business on their second full length ‘No Waves, Just Sharks’. On this album, the band truly exploit their b-movie and pulp fiction interests, not only in the artwork, but also by enlisting various friends to drop various spoken word passages between the tracks, giving the impression they’ve mined the vaults for unknown media samples. In some ways, this is better than using actual samples, in that the clips are tailor made and – perhaps, rather more importantly in this case – it also saves the band and label time and money on clearance rights. Fans of bands within the King Pizza stable might even recognise a few of the voices as belonging to Laura Gwynn and Riley Zeisig (Sirs&Madams) and the whole of label-mates The Rizzos.
With several releases behind them, by the summer of 2016 Hello Bear had not only attracted a cult following, but also received positive press from the BBC. Throughout their career, the band’s pop/rock stylings have often been sent off with ridiculous, pointless song titles – the kind that could rival Fall Out Boy and make it almost impossible to remember which tracks are which. From the outside looking in, it would be so easy to accuse Hello Bear of just trying that bit too hard. However, the reality is somewhat different. Ignoring the fluff and the sub-teenage surrealism, their 2016 EP ‘I Don’t Know…It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It?’ presents some of the best guitar pop/power pop to emerge from the UK since Farrah issued their fourth (self-titled) album in 2010.
For a man of just nineteen years of age at the time of recording this third album, Mason Summit’s songwriting ability stretches way beyond his years. On these twelve songs he applies his craft to retro sounds aplenty, on songs that span AM radio pop, country and occasional jazziness. In doing so, he comes up with a winning formula that should appeal to those who like their music to have a familiar echo of the past. Of all the superb qualities that ‘Gunpowder Tracks’ possesses, however, it is the over-riding sense of warmth that wins out and really makes the album so inviting.
Michael Palace made his entrance into the melodic rock world early in 2016 when he contributed some fine guitar work to the second First Signal album. Several months on and with a new band in tow, his eponymous band’s debut teams him up with musicians who’ve played on other AOR projects from Find Me, Houston and even Erika Norberg.
If you imagine the sounds of proto-punk from 1975 transferred via Sweden, you’ll know almost instinctively how this release from Nightmen sounds. This Scandinavian quartet dish up some really honest and authentic music on this audio love letter to the days of New York Dolls and the Ramones’ debut; the twelve tracks crammed into under half an hour showcases the sounds of leather and sweat, with a little camp trash thrown in for good measure. In short, ‘Fifteen Minutes of Pain’ might be heavy on the recycling, but the energy combined with a knack for hooks and riffs makes it an essential listen.