EXTRA ARMS – Up From Here

A concept record isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a band heavily influenced by Superchunk, The Replacements and various pieces from a pop-punk past. You probably wouldn’t expect a “divorce record” either – such things are often the province of the more introspective singer-songwriter – but that’s exactly where we find Ryan Allen and his Extra Arms at the close of 2019. An eight song outpouring, ‘Up From Here’ does a fabulous job of documenting Allen’s feelings and place within the world following a marriage split, but those who’ve enjoyed his previous works shouldn’t be concerned that this is too heavy going, as his thoughts are often coupled with some fabulous power pop and pop-punk arrangements.

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MEGA – Narcissistic Punk Rock Disorder

When Italian punks Mega released ‘May The Force Be With You’ in 2015, they put themselves on the Euro punk map. The recording was a little rough and ready, but the potential was clear for all to hear. Although they weren’t exactly famous outside of their home country at the time of release, that record opened them up to a broader fan base – partly due to having Star Wars themed material – and it showed off a band who could be every bit as good as The Apers and Manges.

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THE COPYRIGHTS / KEPI GHOULIE – Welcome Observation EP (split release)

At the beginning of 2019, two forces of pop-punk came together when Kepi Ghoulie (previously of The Groovie Ghoulies) recorded with The Copyrights for a joint full length album. ‘Re-Animation Festival’ was a complete re-recording of the Ghoulies’ classic 1997 LP of the same name…and it more than showed how, over the intervening years, Kepi had retained his status as one of the true kings of cartoon pop-punk. Just as importantly, although in a slightly different format, it put a great set of songs back on catalogue for a new generation of could-be, should-be fans. For those who loved that disc, this companion split 7” should also be considered an important collection filler.  Its four previously unavailable tracks put a new spin on the collaboration: as well as offering one new song apiece, The Copyrights cover one of the old Groovie Ghoulies classics and Kepi puts his own spin on something from The Copyrights’ catalogue.

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LATTE+ – Next To Ruin

Two years on from their ‘No More Than Three Chords‘ album, Italian punks Latte+ returned with ‘Stitches’, an album that captured the band’s supercharged Ramonescore sound in a slightly more polished way. Despite a better final mix, the band’s sense of speed and guts still dominated and in songs like ‘Everyone Listens To The Ramones Even My Mom’, the Screeching Weasel-tastic ‘Darkness Inside Your Heart’ and the melodic punk punch of ‘Another Sleepless Night’, they managed to show off the complete range of their always improving sound. It seemed like an album that would break them outside of their home country, but despite such a strong effort, Latte+ (always pronounced “LattePiu”) still seemed destined to be found lurking somewhere within the ranks of dozens of other Europunks and not mentioned in the same breath as Screeching Weasel, Dan Vapid and Teen Idols.

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