SELL YOURSELF SHORT – The Lowest Standard EP

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.

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SHOOTING DAGGERS – Manic Pixie Dream Girl / Missandra

Describing themselves as a queercore/feminist hardcore band and taking huge cues from the 90s riot grrrl movement and classic hardcore, Shooting Daggers pull no punches. Initially, their work seems to present something of a sidestep for the New Heavy Sounds label, whose main stock has previously tended to veer towards the doomy, but it really doesn’t take long to realise why they’ve signed this act. On this two track release, their riffs are massively intense; their personal views are as direct and important as the riffs themselves and the messages cannot be – and should not be – ignored. This is a burst of pure, necessary anger; a release that ups the ante for the style, and for the UK hardcore scene as a whole.

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THE HEARTDROPS – Three Songs EP

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.

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KILLER HEARTS – Skintight Electric

The debut EP from Killer Hearts provided a quick jolt of retro brilliance back in 2019. Taking the trashiness of the New York Dolls debut, the sheer drive of Dictators’ proto punk noise and a bit of extra oomph, its four songs were a fast and sweaty treat. The end mix made the lead guitars seem razor sharp, and the way the vocals seemed half buried in noise often made it hard to pick out the finer points of any lyrical concerns, but all things considered it was a great tribute to the world of 1970s proto-punks and hardened Stooges wannabes.

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NEON BONE – I Wanted You To Know EP

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.

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