Guitarist/vocalist Dan Kopko has been an integral part of the Boston music scene for years. Maybe you’re familiar with him and know his work with bar room rockers Watts – makers of the excellent ‘Black Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ LP. Or maybe you stumbled across him in 2022 with his newer band The Shang Hi Los, delivering catchy power pop. Whatever your experience of Dan’s work, you’ve been guaranteed to find some great tunes along the way.
The debut EP from The Shang Hi Los was a little rough around the edges, but at its heart, it had some great songs. The musical marriage between guitarist Danny Kopko (Watts) and Jen D’Angora (Downbeat 5) seemed to be a perfect one, and their mix of garage rock and retro pop suggested great things ahead. A couple of years on, this full length album is bigger sounding, more slickly arranged and better produced, creating the kind of record that’s almost everything fans could’ve hoped for. By tackling various different styles throughout, it sometimes has a restless spirit, but some strong vocals – aplied brilliantly throughout – ensure the material hangs together well as a showcase for the Boston band’s talents.
The release this album in 2022 marks the end of a decade long silence from Boston rockers The Dirty Truckers. It’s not that the band members have been absent in that time, of course: frontman Tom Baker has released enjoyable works, both solo and with his other band, The Snakes (also featuring the Truckers’ John Brookhouse); guitarist Tad Overbaugh released a solo album in 2015, and drummer John Lynch released a truckload of material with his “other” band, Watts. In addition, an excellent digital compilation, ‘Second Dose’, also provided potential new fans with a handy recap. Whichever way you approach it, the Truckers left their fans with plenty to enjoy during the lengthy sabbatical.
A new power pop sensation, The Shang Hi-Los, emerged at the end of 2020. Their debut EP, ‘Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit’, served up five tracks of guitar driven, bubblegum inflected fun, big on harmonies and bigger on hooks. If their talents were under any doubt, a spirited cover of Chicago’s ‘Saturday In The Park’ which stoked up the guitars without losing any of the original’s 70s pop flair showed how versatile this new, all star band could be.
It’s only been a few weeks since Rum Bar Records gave out the excellent ‘XOXOXO, Volume One’ sampler showcasing some of their current roster and upcoming releases, but the label is already giving away yet more music to satisfy your underground rock and pop needs.
‘Rocktober II’ features a few current bits and pieces, but in a brilliant contrast to ‘XOXOXO’, it digs much further back into the label’s history, providing a superb recap for those who’ve only just discovered Rum Bar and their family of musicians.