Although they’ve kept up a seemingly relentless touring schedule over the years, City Mouse have never been the most prolific band when it comes to studio work. An enjoyable self-released digital EP in appeared in 2004, but it would be seven more years before they returned to the studio. An excellent four track EP in 2011 was swiftly followed by split releases with The Homewreckers and Weekend Dads, but obviously, these only gave fans brief glimpses of a great band at work.
Sell Yourself Short first formed as Best Regards in 2016. Various line-up changes and one rebranding later, the New Jersey punks re-emerged bigger and better in 2020 under their new band name. Their debut EP, ‘The Lowest Standard’ features three tracks that bounce between genres but, from a musical standpoint, bring the best out of the trio at almost every turn.
Although their name might not be among garage punk’s most familiar, The Heartdrops released a couple of enjoyable albums back in the late 90s. Their debut, ‘This Is The Heartdrops’ (issued on Melted Records in 1997), served up a relentless collection of riff-based numbers, almost guaranteed to make an indelible impression. The band never got the big break they deserved at the time, but the internet has always been a handy tool for rediscovering overlooked artists and lost gems, and this three track freebie is a superb introduction to The Heartdrops’ world of riffs. The three songs were originally issued on a shared EP with The Spills in ’99 – effectively the band’s swansong – but decades on, the tunes sound as good as ever, and certainly don’t sound like the work of a band that would soon throw in the towel.
Despite releasing material as far back as 2010, it wasn’t really until 2018’s ‘That Dog Won’t Hunt’ (released via Mom’s Basement Records in the US) that German pop punk band Neon Bone started to be noticed by a wider audience. Although the production values of that album sounded a little woolly in places, it was a huge step up from previous works and the song writing proved more than solid. Mixing Ramonescore riffs and bubblegum choruses, the material paraded itself in a way that was instantly appealing to fans of Teen Idols, classic Parasites and even early Weezer. The follow up disc (2020’s ‘Make It Last’) brought more of the same and should’ve been enough to keep fans happy for the foreseeable future, but Neon Bone followed that in double quick time, with the ‘I Wanted You To Know’ EP hitting digital platforms a few months later.
On their sixth album, 2017 LP ‘Mas Rapido!’, Spanish punks F.A.N.T.A. cranked out seventeen high octane belters in under thirty five minutes. The breakneck pace with which almost everything was delivered made it entirely possible to forget most of the lyrics weren’t in English. In fact, most of the album’s greatness often came from the playing itself: between a barrage of fast guitar chords and some pretty smart bass work – sometimes reminiscent of an early 80s Dee Dee Ramone – F.A.N.T.A. arguably gave the world their first true masterpiece; an album that really capitalised on the sounds of the previous release (2014’s ‘Asi No Vamos A Ninguna Parte’) and an obviously huge leap from their earlier, more raw work.