Saturday Night at the Bunk House
A six-song EP from Pittsburgh PA’s Shutouts hits my desk and I’m once again reminded that “traditional”/pure pop punk is still alive and kicking. The songwriting/lead vocal duties are shared by Jody Davis and Pat Mcghen, and while there’s something to be said for democratic variety, it doesn’t come across very smoothly here. Sounds more like there weren’t enough drummers and bassists around so these two guitarist/singers are just sharing a rhythm section to back their individual songs. That being said, the results are (obviously) mixed but not necessarily terrible. The Davis songs emit a Dickies/Squirtgun vibe, especially in the vocals, which I think is a pretty cool combo. Mcghen supplies some nice pop punk moments as well, particularly the call-back parts of “No Good.” A couple of tunes reach the warning track but that’s about it. Definitely some potential for some future smashes though, especially if they narrow their focus.
The AV Club
Not Your Heart EP
Back in 2008, the S/T AV Club full-length was one of my favorite releases. Probably the best album a Lemonheads fan never heard. Here we have a 4-song teaser (1 single from the forthcoming album, 3 exclusive songs) that gets me absolutely giddy. “Not Your Heart” and “Ear To The Speaker” are in the same vein as previous AV work: big hooks, bright vocals, catchy and well executed power pop/rock. I’m already declaring sweet victory but icing is nevertheless smothered on thick with the other two tracks, “Something’s Going On Tonight” and “Not Tonight.” The former brings us great layered backing vocals and the latter brings in some cool synth action, both of which fill out the sound like we’ve not heard before. Excited to hear more. Dig the new stuff at itunes and the grab the old stuff at Insubordination Records.
Midnight Movies EP
(No Way Out)
From the ashes of bands that I wish were still around (The Ergs, Hunchback, For Science) comes a band that I’m glad is here! Night Birds play 80s-style punk and rip like nobody’s business. Although the band follows the rule of “The Four As” (Adolescents, AOD, Agent Orange, Angry Samoans) and do very little to branch beyond that sound, they still sound fresh and ferocious. Why some bands can pull it off and others can’t I don’t know, but I’m glad it works here. Mike’s Agent-y surf lines and Brian’s Angry-y caterwauling crash through a crowd in some kind of precise reckless abandon, and the overall speed of the songs (4 tracks in under 6 minutes) would make any Adrenaline junkie happy as hell. They’ve already released a few impressive 7″s, but “Midnight Movies” might be their best song yet. It’s a perfect mixture of hard-edged catchy punk and biting surf rock. The theme throughout has a horror bent, the references being obscure beyond my radar, but it doesn’t make the tunes thrash my ass any less.