DOT DASH – Madman In The Rain

Following a string of fairly jagged albums that pulled together punk, emo and mod influences, Dot Dash’s sound had a drastic overhaul on their 2018 LP ‘Proto Retro’. The rougher edges were smoothed out and in their place came some hugely melodic power pop. The bulk of the record’s tunes came with a 60s jangle as heard through a 90s filter, sometimes as if stumbling upon deep cuts from Teenage Fanclub; sometimes showing a massive love for Buffalo Tom. The musical changes were all for the better, since no matter where you dropped into the record, it was possible to hear something with huge hooks and a really positive feel.

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THE MORNING LINE – Scene

The Morning Line’s 2019 LP, ‘North’, was an absolutely terrific album. Reawakening the sounds of ‘Girlfriend’ era Matthew Sweet, Soul Asylum’s best major label recordings and even a the productions of Sean Slade & Paul Q. Kolderie, it felt like a musical love letter to the 1990s. Retro, yet still somehow fresh, it’s melodic and jangly songs really captured the best of the band’s obvious talents.

Three years on, their first release for Justine Couvault’s Red On Red Records is another musical treat. A seven song collection, ‘Scene’ taps into the “mini album” format – something that seems to have been overlooked since the early 90s – which means there’s far less opportunity for the listener’s attention to wander, but still enough scope for a little variety along the way.

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THE VICE RAGS – Midnight Ride EP

The Vice Rags’ 2017 EP, ‘Hope The Neighbours Are Lookin’’, was a wonderfully raucous affair. Its five songs drew from a few classic styles, taking in some full throttle garage rock (‘Shut Up & Love Me’), overdriven rock ‘n’ roll (‘Out On The Street’), and even massive love for The Replacements (‘One Heart’), each track cutting loose in a superbly trashy style. Their self-penned material showed a lot of spark, but it was a supercharged garage punk rendition of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ that suggested that this was a band who’d be able to go all out on their follow up release.

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AL PACINOS SISTER – Al Pacinos Sister EP

British punk band Al Pacinos Sister formed during the pandemic lockdown in 2021, but it wouldn’t be until the following year that they really exploded into life. Their ‘Trained In Karate’ and ‘DOGZ’ EPs (released in February and July of that year) marked their place as one of the UK’s noisiest underground bands. It almost immediately placed them alongside Pizzatramp and Socks On label mates Get The Fuck Out of Dodge – a role that the somewhat faceless act seemed to be taking very seriously.

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PAVID VERMIN – Dumpster Diving

Despite the global pandemic side lining most bands’ plans, Pavid Vermin made the best of the downtime, recording and releasing some great DIY punk straight from Glenn Robinson’s home studio. The resulting ‘Cutting Corners’ LP was, aside from one nasty lyrical faux pas, one of the greatest pop punk releases ever, and its timely follow-up – ‘The Beach Boys Never Surfed’ EP – suggested they’d be more future greatness from this one man project.

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