J PROZAC – Won’t Let Go

When J Prozac released the ‘Building Blocks’ single in January 2022, it felt as if the punk musician was on the cusp of releasing some of the best music of his career. In a little over two minutes, that track made old school pop punk sound vital again thanks to some classic sounding riffs and a massive chorus that the likes of The Mr T Experience would have taken to glory in their 90s prime. Even J’s slightly gruff voice couldn’t keep the track’s bubblegum-ish traits in check, and overall, it supplied big thrills in such a way that proved classic pop punk will never die.

Its parent album ‘Won’t Let Go’ very much delivers on that track’s huge promise, but isn’t necessarily the straight up punk record that fans are expecting. Within its eleven songs, Prozac steers through punk and pop punk moods with ease, takes in some ragged heartland rock, and has even been unafraid to chuck in a ballad. It might make the album seem a little more scattershot to an outsider, but nothing could be further from the truth. With the help of massive hook after massive hook, J hits the mark pretty much every time – and there are even instances where the material is great enough to rival ‘Building Blocks’ in terms of that all important memorability factor.

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THE HALLINGTONS – Hop Til’ You Drop

Between 2013 and 2019, The Hallingtons released a string of EPs that slowly found them perfecting their own homage to Ramones. Hundreds of bands had recorded in a similar style before, but few had managed to capture the early sounds from Joey and Johnny quite as perfectly as The Hallingtons’ ‘Hexed’, proving the world was more than ready for the Norwegian punks to deliver a full length musical assault.

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SUMMER YEARS – You Can’t Live There Forever EP

San Diego’s Summer Years first appeared on the collective radar of pop punk fans in the summer of 2021 when the video for their debut single ‘This Light’ premiered on YouTube. In barely three minutes, that track – and its accompanying visuals – presented the young band, not only as great players, but also one keen to share an important message.

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J PROZAC – Building Blocks / Mandy

‘Behind The Mask’, J Prozac’s solo EP from 2018, was a short and sharp punk/Ramonescore gem. By pairing a couple of self-penned tunes with covers of well known Tom Petty and Ramones songs, the sometime Prozacs frontman ensured that his extra-curricular endeavour was as broadly appealing as possible. A full length release from The Prozacs swiftly followed in 2019, further cementing the band’s obsessions with Johnny & Joey, before an excellent thirty three track collection (‘Fan Favs & Wannabe Hits’) gave everyone a golden opportunity to take stock of the band’s progress so far. For those outside Massachusetts, there was every chance that such a compilation acted as a welcome introduction to their work.

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RONX – Retrograde EP

Hailing from The Bronx, NY, Ronx bill themselves as a pop punk band influenced by blink-182. Their output is actually far more varied than that, though, and – in ways both good and bad – their 2022 EP ‘Retrograde’ actually presents three tracks that sound like the work of three different bands. Fans of straight up pop punk will discover an instant banger; those with an emo heart will unveil a tune with a fine melodic angst and an important message, and – for their third instalment – Ronx reach deep for a slab of rhythmic pop that it’s hard to imagine any of their pop punk or emo-centric audience will ever truly love. Chances are, they won’t even like it.

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