Words by Jim Testa
Jim Testa founded the highly influential zine, Jersey Beat in 1982 which he continues to edit to this day. Through writing for his own publication and a number of other outlets, including as a staff writer for Hudson County’s Jersey Journal, he has championed local, regional and national up-and-coming bands. Punk has always shunned credentials, but rest assured that Jim won’t lead you astray.
UPDATE: We’re skipping the usual Punk Rock Scouting Report format to catch up with a slew of releases that either flew under our radar, didn’t make it into earlier columns, or showed up in our in-box from readers.
West coast rock ‘n’ roll, equally informed by the Paisley Underground, Jesus & Mary Chain, and the opioid epidemic (their frontman is a survivor.) The band calls this “disgruntled and unapologetically catchy with a bad attitude.” It also rips. A
There’s nothing wrong with Ramonescore, even if the genre can sound formulaic and forced when pushed to extreme like this. But try not to sing like you don’t want anyone to listen to you, ever. B-
Superchunk didn’t make an album this year. Happily Detroit’s Extra Arms did. Crunchy guitars and singalong melodies carry Ryan Allen’s distinctive vocals right to the border of power-pop and pop-punk. A-
Kevin Day of Jersey’s Jawbreaker-ish Aspiga straps on his acoustic for saccharine, sensitive tunes, nicely produced but a bit heavy on the self-pity. B
GROW RICH – “Frantic Semantic” EP (self-released)
Abdur Rahim Latada of Jakarta, Indonesia makes shimmering pop noise that hooks you with its innocence and sincerity and then melts your brain with its melodies and rhythms. Remarkable. Inspirational verse: “I heart you so much it hurts.” A
HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA – Born In The Bronx (Liberation Hall)
The Dictators, with Andy Shernoff writing the songs, were loud, stupid, and funny. This isn’t funny. C-
No one sounds quite as American as a European Ramonescore band, as evidenced by these Italian punks who’ve not only appropriated the Lookout! Records sound but the surname of the label’s co-founder as well. Insanely catchy and fun, assuming you like this kind of thing. I do. B+
A much better Springsteen album than Western Stars, ageless heartland throwback Nato Coles sings for the heroes, the outlaws, and the working men and women who like their rock loud and proud. A+
St. Louis’ Radio Buzzkills don’t win any points for originality, you’ve heard this style of Ramones/Queers/Weaselcore before. It’s just rarely done this well, from the deft and well executed guitar parts and backup vocals to a sharp sense of humor. Vampires, cannibals, Satanists, surfers, Star Wars, and punk rock: What more could you want? B+
Matt Julian, formerly of the UK’s glam/pop Breakdowns, delivers poignant, perky, twangy, Merseybeat. Bubblegum, New Wave with nods to the Plimsouls, Paul Collins Beat, Ronettes, and Ramones. This “deluxe edition” collects the UK album version, a 7-inch, and remastered bonus tracks for the U.S. Power pop fans, the line forms to the right. A-