The debut EP from Killer Hearts provided a quick jolt of retro brilliance back in 2019. Taking the trashiness of the New York Dolls debut, the sheer drive of Dictators’ proto punk noise and a bit of extra oomph, its four songs were a fast and sweaty treat. The end mix made the lead guitars seem razor sharp, and the way the vocals seemed half buried in noise often made it hard to pick out the finer points of any lyrical concerns, but all things considered it was a great tribute to the world of 1970s proto-punks and hardened Stooges wannabes.
Formed in Germany during the Coronavirus lockdown of 2020, Lobsterbomb have an intense sound and positive spirit that combats the negative vibe of the time in which their first songs were written. By combining the lower budget end of the early Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound and the unrestrained yelping of Katie Jane Garside, they hit upon a classic garage punk sound, and after releasing a trio of digital singles in fairly quick succession during the first quarter of 2021, they connected with an audience of like-minded DIY music fans. Although there wasn’t necessarily much in the way of originality in the sound itself, in terms of rousing an energy and an ability to deliver a lyric or two that seemed more self-aware than most, these recordings more than hit the mark.
Electric Six’s debut album, 2003’s ‘Fire’, was a runaway success. On that record, the band’s disco/garage rock hybrid sound caught the ears of a generation and, back when such things were important, its massive singles gained heavy rotation on the music TV channels. The live shows that followed stoked up the fun, with “dance commander” Dick Valentine, indeed, showing a decent command of an audience looking for big grooves and cheap thrills. Things might not have worked out quite so well in a tent at the Reading Festival that year when the attendant crowd heckled endlessly for ‘Gay Bar’ – and only wanted to hear ‘Gay Bar’ – but being a smart cookie, Valentine managed to keep everyone under control while working through really spirited renditions of the album tracks until the restless crowd finally got their wish. A lesser frontman might have allowed things to descend into chaos, but despite half the audience’s indifference beyond the hits, it ended up being a superb show.
When Rum Bar Records reissued the French Girls’ self-titled 2013 EP at the beginning of 2021, it instantly gave the band some well deserved exposure, such is the label’s enthusiasm for digital mailouts and keenness on spreading the word via social media channels. For those who missed French Girls the first time around, this timely reissue more than set out the band as an act to watch out for. That EP’s four songs worked a fierce and distorted approach that could rival many a raw, DIY garage punk band. Those with sharper ears may have detected occasional nods to old 60s girl groups, but in the main, the short release had most of its intents set on creating a gloriously raw noise. It was thrilling – exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from ex-members of Les Hell On Heels and Sympathy For The Record Industry signings The Peeps.
Off Peak Arson is a new band for 2021, but garage punk/noise rock fans will certainly recognise a couple of the musicians involved. Tyler Harrington (vox/bass) has previous connections with The Wirms along with OPA guitarist Skyler Gambert, as well as being a member of the insane Musclegoose. For this project, they’ve collaborated with drummer Devan Theos and guitarist Matt Thornton, both of whom are members of Ten High, and between them, they make a ferociously brilliant noise.