Streight Angular – “Everyone Is Syncopated” (2011)

Streight Angular
Everyone Is Syncopated

Do you miss The Pixies? I’m not talking about the content and amicable version of The Pixies that tours now, but the hungry and desperate version of the band that created so many beautifully noisy songs? You do? Then maybe you should check out the song “Everyone Is Syncopated” by Streight Angular. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh is it crazy good. How can you go wrong with fuzzy guitars, a memorable beat, a melodic bassline, a dash of synthesizer and a fantastic vocal hook? You can’t. Plus, they mention exfoliated chickens. That has to account for something.

Where to get it:

Mellow Bravo – Strut (2010)

Mellow Bravo

Do you like your ’70s inspired hard rock with a healthy dose of bombast? I thought so.

Mellow Bravo deliver the goods on Strut. They hook you out of the gate with the heavy groove of “Highs And Lows” and the blistering “I Get Off”. Mellow Bravo makes you feel good. Just try to not sing along to the “ooo ooo” parts in “Must Be My Woman” or “I Wanted A Girl”. You can’t help yourself. “Freshman Prom Queen” is wildly inappropriate and unbelievably awesome. “Hard Timin'” has a swinging guitar riff that sounds too good not to have been played before.

Just when you think you’ve got Mellow Bravo pegged as the ultimate party band, they hit you up with “Just Like Water Would” and “My Head And Heart”. Keith Pierce and Jess Collins carry these songs with their well paired vocals. Oh wait, did I just imply that Mellow Bravo aren’t the ultimate party band? No, no, no. They are the ultimate party band. They just happen to be able to go a little deeper as well.

It would be impossible to capture all of Mellow Bravo’s live energy in a studio setting, but Strut comes about as close as you could hope for. For one last hurrah, they close out the record with a live version of “Light Up My Little Love”. Mellow Bravo rules.

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Sidewalk Driver – For All The Boys And Girls (2009)

Sidewalk Driver
For All The Boys And Girls

Sidewalk Driver are know for their over the top live performances. Anyone who has ever walked out of the club covered in glitter and confetti after one of their shows will tell you that. They’re one of those bands you’ll tell your kids about having seen back in the day.

The thing that makes Sidewalk Driver truly special, though, is that they manage to back up all the glitz and glamor with great musicianship and songs so catchy no quarantine can contain them. For All The Boys And Girls is a non-stop barrage of clever lyrics and big rock hooks. Sidewalk Driver have managed to create majestic anthems with enough depth and imagination to make them personable, even when the scenarios presented within are so absurd that few people will actually be able to relate to them.

“Dancing With Her Friends” gets things going on the right foot. Phasered guitars and a snappy beat propel the carefree lyrics. “Marianne” is heartfelt and almost feels like an updated “Maggie May” at times. “Seeds & Stems (Just Like Angels)” may be the greatest song Elton John never wrote. The intro to “Radio” reminds me of Sweet with its glam meets bubblegum sound.

Things get awesomely weird on “Wake Up, John!” and “Jenny Don’t Really Like The Boys”. The former is heavily indebted to David Bowie, the latter to Lorena Bobbitt. In lesser hands, songs like these would become novelties. With Sidewalk Driver, these songs become essential.

It’s pretty clear by this point that I think Sidewalk Driver are pretty great. Would now be a good time to point out that I haven’t even mentioned the song yet? You know, the song. “Tornado”. “Tornado” is the song that makes people’s heads spin. “Tornado” is the song that makes my head spin.

With their skillful mix of witty lyrics, undeniable melodies and classic rock sound, Sidewalk Driver have managed to make an album of uplifting music with artistic integrity. That’s not an easy thing to do. Most happy music is written off as insubstantial. Cynical music is almost always taken more seriously. I’ve always said I admire The Flaming Lips for being able to make thoughtful, joyous music. I feel the same way about Sidewalk Driver.

Holy moly. I’ve just made references to Sweet, David Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart and The Flaming Lips. Are Sidewalk Driver really that good? Yes. Yes they are.

Where to get it:

Viva Viva – Viva Viva (2011)

Viva Viva - Viva Viva - Cover
Viva Viva
Viva Viva

Viva Viva is on to something good. The band takes a romp through the best music of the ’60s and ’70s before giving it an updated spin. This is garage rock with pop hooks and an indie rock mentality.

“Heartbreak Sweepstakes” gets things off on the right foot with some fuzz guitar bliss. The sweet organ and kick-heavy drum breakdown are just the icing on the cake. Want more? Viva Viva keeps it coming on the very next track, “Keep Lookin’, Good Lookin'”. What a great opening one-two punch.

Viva Viva isn’t just a big garage rock party, though. “Dial Tone” brings out the band’s pop side. “Little Dirty Angel” is a scuffed up ’50s balled with a Luna influence. “Sympathy For The Devil’s Little Helper” is an unforgettable smoldering blues dirge.

Viva Viva - Viva Viva - Numbered

“The The Only Way To Live” brings all of their influences together into one stellar 2:46 pop song. Just for good measure they do it all again on “First Time I Saw Her”, although this time we get 3:37 of enjoyment.

Viva Viva return to their garage rock ways with “If You Really Want It” before wrapping things up with “Nothings Getting Any Easier”. The record closes as strongly as it opens, with nary a lull in between.

Viva Viva - Viva Viva - Letter Press

This 2011 vinyl version of the band’s 2010 release is the limited to 100 numbered copies in letter press jackets from Repeat Press. There are also digital download and CD versions available.

Where to get it:

Viva Viva - Viva Viva - Vinyl

Miskatonic – Let Us Entertain Us (2007)

Miskatonic - Let Us Entertain Us
Let Us Entertain Us

Toss The Cars and the B-52s in a blender. Add a dash of Fountains of Wayne and a smidge of The Rentals. Voila! Miskatonic. What we have here is a band that is having fun creating quirky, poppy, indie rock songs. We’ve got boy/girl vocals, chirpy synths, buzzing guitars, and moving bass lines. Heck, the rhythm section makes these songs almost danceable, you know, if people in Boston actually danced.

Miskatonic has a nerdy innocence about it, much like early Weezer or Nerf Herder. “Sno-Cone Girl” and “Extra Terrestrial Girl” are ‘80s-tinged upbeat rockers with fun twists on the boy-girl pop song. Paul Wisner’s synth melodies are featured prominently on these songs. “Mach 4 Blackout” and “Consternation Land” really dial up the B-52s vibe. Singer Elizabeth Firger absolutely wails during “The Fall,” which also features some intense drumming from Mark Patti. “The Extra Mile” slows things down and features a cool falsetto vocal and Steve Kelly’s melodic bass line.

The highlight of Let Us Entertain Us is the new wave meets punk anthem “Dregs Of The World.” It sounds like The Buzzcocks with keyboards and cool little guitar leads. Tim Farrell shines on this track with his spitting vocal delivery. I love this song.

Where to get it:

Full Body Anchor -3 Songs (2009)

Full Body Anchor - 3 Songs
Full Body Anchor
3 Songs

Full Body Anchor’s debut EP impresses with its frenetic vocals and aggressive guitars. “Borderline” opens the set. Despite being the most accessible tune of the bunch, it still packs a punch thanks to the rock solid rhythm section of Kevin Pickering (drums) and Dennis Carver (bass).

“Catch/Release” becomes downright hostile. Full Body Anchor deftly ratchet up the tension during the verses, releasing it with a violent fury when the chorus hits. This song absolutely kills.

“Fly By Night” opens with a cowbell groove and thickly layered guitars from Amy Griffin and Kristin Edmonston. Add in Eric Edmonston’s manic vocals and you’ve got another winner.

Where to get it:

Sourpunch @ The Rosebud Bar 7.16.2011

Sourpunch is from Providence. They had their debut show at The Rosebud the other night. Twice.

Tijuana Sweetheart @ The Rosebud Bar 7.16.2011

Don’t mess with Tijuana Sweetheart. They want what they want and they want it now. They might even know karate. I’m not kidding. You’ve been warned.

The Fagettes – The Fagettes, Vol. 1 (2011)

The Fagettes
The Fagettes, Vol. 1

The Fagettes are chock full o’ ’60s garage rock goodness. They’ve got simple, snappy back beats, handclaps and boy-girl vocals. The guitars are soaked in reverb, tremolo and crackly distortion. The Fagettes put the “F” back in fun. I don’t really know what that means. It’s just how they make me feel. This EP is a blast.

Now on to Volume 2…

Where to get it: