SWEATPANTS PARTY – Sweatpants Party

A new band for 2022, the terribly named Sweatpants Party marks a long overdue return for the almost legendary Kevin Aper. Marketed as sounding “just like The Apers”, fans are automatically given a heads up as to what they can expect, and indeed, the new band’s core sound recycles many elements of Kevin’s past works brilliantly. Although working from a solid pop punk stock, there’s a little more to the Sweatpants, though, since this musical vehicle – teaming Kev with members of Jagger Holly and Stockkampf – takes in bubblegum punk and a little power pop along the way. The focus is on unashamed pop punk and trashy lyrics, of course, and that’s enough to win over The Apers’ entire fan base in a heartbeat.

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NE’ER DO WELL – Fun Days EP

Described as Motley Crue meets Fall Out Boy, Ne’er Do Well is a project helmed by singer/songwriter Bryan Rolli. This debut EP is a superb showcase of a versatile one man band, dropping massive chorus hooks against a variety of equally massive riffs, on a short rollercoaster journey that never sells the listener short when it comes to excitement. Granted, a lot of Rolli’s influences are laid on with a trowel, but it’s what he does with those that counts, and this release makes a lot of familiar sounds feel really sparky. What’s more, it’s always clear that the performer really believes in the material.

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BABY GOT BACK TALK – Existential Shred EP

On their second release, 2018’s ‘Up In Open Arms’, New York’s Baby Got Back Talk showed themselves as being smarter than your average pop punk band. By trading in the usual juvenile humour for a socially conscious lyrical output and applying their messages to a musical backdrop that mixed the punky elements with a dose of emo, pop and occasional ska inflected basslines, the release covered a lot of ground in a very short time, and in a very mature way. Its use of vocal filters wouldn’t have suited everyone, but in terms of riffs and hooks, it was clear that this young band had a lot going in their favour.

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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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