Always keen champions of cult music, Rum Bar Records is home to several great bands you might never have heard. Fully believing that a label can’t exist without its fans, they’ve got a gift for you to kick start the new year…and it’s their biggest gift to date.
When you think about Canadian punk, there are a few names that instantly spring to mind. NoMeansNo and D.O.A. are the most famous of punk’s first wave; Comeback Kid and Cancer Bats are among the top tier of the twenty first century crop. Whilst Propagandhi are arguably the most famous exponent of Canadian punk in the 90s, The Black Halos made an impact in Vancouver between 1993-2009 – enough to get signed to the then very much in vogue Sub Pop label and to work with legendary producer Jack Endino.
The Black Halos looked more towards Johnny Thunders, New York Dolls and The Stooges for their core influences – something which, during that period, was very much a sidestep from the usual Ramones or hardcore influences dominant in the punk scene. The love for trashy rock so obviously helped guitarist Rich Jones become a natural fit with Ginger Wildheart’s band upon his relocation to the UK after the band’s split.
Naming themselves after a Gallows song, it should come as no surprise that Denver’s Victim Culture hone a sound that owes a great debt to that much loved UK/Canadian hardcore outfit. This debut album is tough and raw; it’s overall sound carrying the brickbats of a stomping hardcore sound that fuses a metallic chug with rousing street punk choruses.
Following 2018’s ‘Posterity’s Sake’, Protected Left’s 2019 EP ‘Fossil’ combines fierce riffs with personal commentary to create a five tracker that should appeal to fans of Propagandi and of the noisiest end of Strike Anywhere catalogue. In terms of thrash oriented punk, it feels a little generic but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially when played as well as it is here.
A concept record isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a band heavily influenced by Superchunk, The Replacements and various pieces from a pop-punk past. You probably wouldn’t expect a “divorce record” either – such things are often the province of the more introspective singer-songwriter – but that’s exactly where we find Ryan Allen and his Extra Arms at the close of 2019. An eight song outpouring, ‘Up From Here’ does a fabulous job of documenting Allen’s feelings and place within the world following a marriage split, but those who’ve enjoyed his previous works shouldn’t be concerned that this is too heavy going, as his thoughts are often coupled with some fabulous power pop and pop-punk arrangements.