No lions, no tigers, just bears…and judging by their use of punctuation, the proximity of said bears would seem to be a matter of some urgency for this Rhode Island ska punk troupe. Having expanded their horn section since the release of 2015’s ‘Bad News Bears! Bears! Bears!’, their second EP carries on where the previous release left off and, yes, urgency is very much the watchword here. The six tracks on ‘Every Piece Counts’ owe a huge debt to the works of Less Than Jake but, in terms of general enthusiasm, Bears sound much more appealing than Chris, Roger and Vinny have since the days of ‘Hello Rockview!’…and it’s somewhat frightening to note that at the time of this EP’s release, that LTJ album is almost two decades old.
When a band advertises themselves as Ramonescore, you know almost exactly what you’ll get. Four chords, short songs and a fairly carefree attitude, resulting in something that – at best – resembles the second Ramones LP (the peerless ‘Leave Home’), or – at worst – ends up a lo-fi, tossed off approximation of Joey and Johnny that never quite works out. Baltimore’s Canker Blossom are not the best band you’ll ever hear. On the fraudulently titled ‘That’s So Killer’, they’re rarely inspiring.
In the run up to the release of this cassette, Bleeders had been steadily building a following on the live circuit on their home turf of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. That sort of makes sense since they have a sound that would surely work much better live; on record, their no-frills, no-wave, distorted, zero budget approach is hellishly ugly. So much so, that it makes label mates The Meltaways seem like a manufactured, multi-million dollar, radio groomed pop rock trio by direct comparison. The recording of ‘Gash’ is so raw and unrelentingly grotesque, it borders on being unlistenable. Looking at it another way, it’s so hard going, that’s an achievement in itself.
On their first two releases (2011’s ‘Private Jet Flashback‘ and 2013’s ‘Cruise Control EP‘) The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco proved themselves to be masters of retro cool. Armed with a quirky sense of humour and an unhealthy obsession with Steely Dan, the two men at the core of the Fiasco made audiences wonder how such authentically American sounding music could ever have been spawned from the UK. Not only that, but from the wilds of Essex, too – hardly a breeding ground for AM radio pop.
There are too many bands within the progressive metal sphere that desperately want to be Dream Theater. Why, in the name of sanity, would musicians think that ten minute fretboard masturbatory noises and rhythmic histrionics would represent the apex of such talents? It’s bewildering to say the least, especially considering Dream Theater’s abominably boring live “shows”. With this in mind – and so much progressive metal leaning towards the unlistenable because of it – it’s refreshing when a band comes along that appreciates the necessity of a reasonable chorus and knows that shorter track lengths are necessary if a wider audience is to be reached. Calgary’s Red Cain are one such band. The spectrum affected purists might dismiss some of this debut EP as just metal, or alt-metal, but these four songs take in a variety of moods – and the forays into instrumental complexity, albeit without self-indulgence, still places them within the progressive bracket.