K7s – Mondo Bizarro

When K7s debut album ‘Take 1’ appeared in 2018, it presented itself as an instant classic. In the middle of a pandemic of emo inflected punk, and a bunch of pop punk releases that had too much focus on the pop, the US/Spanish combo gave everyone a perfect reminder of the punk sounds they loved in the 90s. Its half an hour packed in riff after riff, drawing from Ramones, Screeching Weasel and The Apers, quickly setting itself up as an unmissable disc.

The world waited for ‘Take Two’. …And waited. Then, finally, at the beginning of 2021, the band returned with a new work, but fans would still be left waiting for a new disc of self-penned bangers.

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GOIN’ PLACES – Better Things To Do EP

Staten Island’s Goin’ Places first made their mark on the underground punk scene with the ‘Girl Songwriting’ LP in 2002. It would take a decade for follow up ‘Relationship Sneakers’ to hit the shelves, suggesting that the band members saw their musical ventures as more of a hobby than a career concern. It’d be a further eight years until the world heard from the band again, but frontman Richie Holes made up for lost time in 2020 by moonlighting as a member of 60s inspired garage rock band Gallows Birds. Although not really offering anything much for the Ramonescore fan, their ‘Quaranteenage Kicks’ LP band brought a lot of entertainment in its own way, with trebly production values and songs about Lambretta scooters supplying a very retro and fun listen.

Almost as if making up for lost time, Holes re-appeared as frontman with Goin’ Places a couple of months later. This three track EP appeared almost out of nowhere and although it’s essentially a prelude to a new album slated for ’21, ‘Better Things To Do’, it actually plays very well in its own right.

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In terms of split releases, this EP from The Jasons and The Black Russians ranks among the most high octane discs ever. With three songs apiece, the US horror punks and the ragged “Sovietcore” troupe do battle across a blistering fifteen minutes where classic Ramones obsessions sit beside sharper punk influences, and by the time The Black Russians go all out punk ‘n’ roll on an old Jasons tune, there’s even a suggestion that this could be just a little broader in appeal than your average Ramonescore record. Okay, maybe not that much broader, but it’s always a pleasure to hear a great band branching out a little.

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MATT ELLIS – Stays Home EP

A DIY punk musician from Ontario, Matt Ellis spent half of 2020 in his bathroom. Armed with an electric guitar, a drum machine and his best sneer, he set about recording a bunch of Ramones inspired tunes quickly and cheaply. He obviously figured that with the world having succumbed to a pandemic, and a virus sidelining gigs and other activities, he – much like anyone and everyone – needed to do something to stay sane. The first recordings to emerge (the ‘High Risk Assurance’ EP from April 2020) showcased his love for Ramonescore in a very succinct and aggressive style. Its four songs were far from shy in sharing their love for Joey and Johnny (along with several key bands that came along in their wake) and in terms of home demos, certainly showcased a genuine talent for tapping into the core of what really makes good pop-punk so enduring – no matter how small (or even non-existent) the recording budget.

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PAVID VERMIN – Cutting Corners

Glenn Robinson is one of the great purveyors of Ramones influenced punk sounds. The Rhode Island musician was previously the drummer with The Prozacs but subsequently used his multi-instrumentalist’s skills to carve out a solo career. Each of his releases offers something to enjoy, but this third album by his “band project” Pavid Vermin (where Robinson plays everything) has the potential to be one of his best. What’s more, ‘Cutting Corners’ isn’t quite everything it appears to be on the surface. A quick look at the track listing suggests a punky romp through the songs from The Beatles’ classic ‘Abbey Road’, but behind the familiar titles lie seventeen of the purest, self-penned pop punk bangers, guaranteed to thrill fans of the style. Titles aside, no further credit goes to Lennon/McCartney.

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