In terms of split releases, this EP from The Jasons and The Black Russians ranks among the most high octane discs ever. With three songs apiece, the US horror punks and the ragged “Sovietcore” troupe do battle across a blistering fifteen minutes where classic Ramones obsessions sit beside sharper punk influences, and by the time The Black Russians go all out punk ‘n’ roll on an old Jasons tune, there’s even a suggestion that this could be just a little broader in appeal than your average Ramonescore record. Okay, maybe not that much broader, but it’s always a pleasure to hear a great band branching out a little.
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.
New York punks Radio Blast are one of those bands that wear their influences proudly. Not only does their brand of timeless pop punk owe a huge debt to the sounds made by Ramones back in the 70s, but almost everything they do suggests a massive love of Screeching Weasel. Their band name comes from one of Ben Weasel’s most classic songs; the artwork used their 2019 EP ‘Let’s Rock’ that bears a striking resemblance to the first edition of SW’s ‘My Brain Hurts’ and even the slightly off key backing vocals on that EP’s ‘Teenage Crush’ could’ve been directly inspired by any number of Weasel songs. What this means, of course, is that fans of the genre know exactly what they’re in for…and Radio Blast are yet another great band in a very long line of Ramonescore acts that value catchy hooks at almost every turn.
After spending years fronting Ramones obsessives Tough, bassist Chris Polecat revived The Stinking Polecats. It was an unlikely move, given that Tough had gained some really positive press and the Polecats had been away for fifteen years – more than your average hiatus. But like so many good punk bands, those fifteen years might as well just have been two or three, since upon their return, the band merely picked up where they’d left off and sounded as good as ever.
A collaboration between members of Dutch punk bands The Windowsill and Accelerators, Giant Eagles takes both groups’ pop-punk roots, applies slabs of synthesiser and massive power pop choruses to create sounds that show off an almost equal love of Ramonescore and early 80s new wave. Seven years on from their debut, the Eagles’ comeback disc ‘Second Landing’ presents thirty two minutes of near perfection, where catchy as hell choruses mesh with some brilliantly constructed and shamelessly retro tunes.