Keen power pop fans and garage rock aficionados who’ve been following the Rum Bar label since their early days will know how seriously they take their music. For head honcho Malibu Lou, the label has been an ongoing labour of love, and his bands are his family. Those bands, in turn, appear to look out for each other, and their social media often shows musicians hanging out at each others’ shows. The Rum Bar ethos values heart over perfection, and often feels as if its giving something back to the Boston music scene. The aspect of “giving back” is also why the label has never been shy of issuing free downloads: their album length samplers aren’t just a way of attracting new listeners to great, DIY music they might not have otherwise found, they’re also a celebration of the scene as a larger construct. The label’s Summer ’21 download – ‘XOXOXO Volume One’ – was one of the best free downloads ever. By rounding up a lot of the label’s better known bands and previewing things to come, it felt like a complete experience, enjoyable for committed followers and the curious alike, but this even bigger selection of Rum Bar wares – orchestrated by the guys at Knyvet PR – is pretty much its equal.
At the beginning of 2023, Tucson’s Lemon Drop Gang made their overdue return with ‘Sweetie Pie’, a track that re-introduced listeners to their ragged blend of CBGB’s infused riffs and Phil Spector-ish pop. As with the band’s previous works, it was far from sonic perfection, but then this band never pretended they were in possession of Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren’s song writing chops or studio expertise. For fans, it was the kind of track that signified a fun and welcome return, whilst its digital flip side (‘The Party’s Over’) shared their love of 60s pop in its own brilliantly wonky way.