Plying their trade in London and South East England, roots rock band Rowsie spent a long time perfecting their direct musical approach and a core sound. In their case, “perfecting” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect”, as Rowsie often revel in clinging onto a ragged musical heart. Armed with overdriven guitars that take influence from the noisier aspects of Uncle Tupelo, Grant Lee Buffalo and Crazy Horse and mixing that with a melodic streak that blends roots rock with folk and pop, it creates a full blooded very natural experience. On their ‘Searching’ EP (released in June 2022), they finally make good on the sounds and influences that peppered their earlier single releases.
Coming out of a pandemic lockdown and determined to make some noise, five guys from Europe hit upon a new musical idea. Members of punk band Suicide Generation teamed up with guys from Desperate Fun and Lysergics and took a musical detour. Hard Times was born with the idea of casting aside their punky pasts, and instead paying homage to glam rock, sleaze rock, and even the proto-glam rock ‘n’ roll of New York Dolls. It is a job that their debut EP ‘Little Satan’ does brilliantly in its own no-frills and semi lo-fi way.
In January ’22, US based retro rockers The Cheap Cassettes released their full length album ‘Ever Since Ever Since’. It wasn’t perfect, but in amongst the no-frills riffs, there were enough top tier tunes to impress lovers of their previous works.
The first signings to the London imprint of the legendary Third Man label, Island of Love serve up some unashamedly retro sounds on their ‘Songs of Love’ EP. Within its four numbers, the fuzz rock duo wield distortion pedals with abandon, carve out feedback drenched solos and revisit the musical landscapes of Dinosaur Jr and Superchunk with the greatest admiration since the short-lived Yuck wowed Guardian readers back in 2011. The heart of their sound draws from some obvious key influences, but that certainly doesn’t mean they lack a musical imagination of their own. There are a few instances where the 90s fuzz collides with a stray surf twang, or even some Tommy James derived power pop from the 60s, creating something a little more varied than first impressions suggest. Any flourishes and twists are, naturally, hidden under a massive layer of noise, but it’s all there waiting for the more discerning ear to discover.
When Cheap Cassettes first appeared on the power pop scene with their ‘All Anxious All The Time’ album, they didn’t really sound ready to be appreciated by the world at large. The demo quality recordings had spirit, but the song writing wasn’t great, and the overall package lacked the necessary hooks to make it memorable. A few of years on, the ‘See Her In Action’ EP was a massive improvement on every level. The short collection of songs provided riff after riff of classic retro sounds; the choruses were big and – overall – Cheap Cassettes’ quick and cheap approach to recording showed a massive confidence. For lovers of middle period Replacements, Boston heroes Watts and The Dirty Truckers, the Cheapos were now pretty much guaranteed to bring a thrill or six.