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.
Spanish punks Neuvo Catecismo Católico have been cranking out tunes since the early/mid 90s. Despite being fairly prolific, they’ve not always gained a huge following outside of their home country due to the core of their material not being in English, but a trawl through a sizable back catalogue presents some great music. Exploration of past works also shows a band who more than know their way around a decent melody.
Bringing together a few familiar faces from the punk/hardcore scene, Seized Up are a supergroup of sorts. Drummer Andy Granelli was previously a member of Nerve Agents, but reached a far bigger audience when he played on The Distillers’ best selling ‘Coral Fang’ album in 2003; bassist Chuck Platt will be known to a lot of punk fans through his associations with Good Riddance, and vocalist Clifford Densmore is the vocalist with hardcore band Bl’ast. Together, they sound greater than the sum of their parts. On their 2020 debut ‘Brace Yourself’, the combination of pure hardcore blasts (‘Human Locusts’, ‘Older And Wiser’) complimented the more drawn out anger of tracks like ‘Shadow Panther’ to showcase the kind of band that, not only sounded truly comfortable in their new configuration, but more than able to bring a classic hardcore sound up to date if necessary.
Taking cues from the classic hardcore sounds of Ignite and the metallic edge of Cancer Bats, Choices Made deliver a world of fantastic riffs on their third EP ‘Reason For Conflict’. It’s half dozen tracks showcase some superb musicians throughout, and the short and sharp EP format actually helps the band’s pointed messages of unity seem even more forceful.