Saints and The Hellions just released their debut EP Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles online and in record stores over the last few weeks and it's a solid four-song punk rock affair from beginning to end. Saints and The Hellions are a duo featuring consisting of Vinnie Venom (vocals) and Lokki Saints (guitars, bass and drums). Of all the songs on the EP, it is the finale of "Goodbye My Sorrow" that really proves their merit as a band and Saints as a songwriter. While the other songs are definitely good times, they are character songs that seem to be mostly made just for fun. "Goodbye My Sorrow" on the other hand is deeply vulnerable and clearly personal and that's what makes it shine far greater than all the others. Saints put it best when he said, "This is a very special song to me as it deals with the hardships of alcoholism and its disastrous consequences...This song was written about my personal fight with alcoholism and my addiction as well as my recovery." It's touching lyrically, because it's a tough look at the truth in the mirror that every addict faces. Musically speaking, it's a dead ringer for Social Distortion and I'm betting Mike Ness would love the hell out of this. In a peculiar bit of happenstance, Saints recently joined the Social D tribute band Born To Lose shortly after wrapping up this record. Keep your ears open for more Saints and The Hellions to come this year!
LightSpeedGo - "Not You"
LightSpeedGo has been one of my favorite local punk groups since the release of their New Direction EP in 2014. They create a great vintage punk sound that is reminiscent of the Southern California skate punk that kept me on my board and in good tunes during the 1990s. They have the same crazed pace and attention to keeping the tempo insane at all times across their debut and the new EP they just released last week through Felony Records called Just A Memory. Every song is solid on the new EP and my only wish is that it was a full album to rock out to while sidewalk surfing. I've given the EP quite a few listens and I keep coming back to "Not You" as my favorite track and I think it may all be in the drums and the overall sonic assault—this song is cathartic and something to truly rock out to, perhaps alone in your room, alone, late at night or best of all, in a mosh pit at their shows. LightSpeedGo is Rico Caldera (Guitar/Vocals), Paul Levesque (Bass/Vocals), Marty McDevitt (Drums) and JD Stooks (Guitar) which you may recognize some of the members from The Ultramatics, Off the Mark, Look Out Look, and No Gimmick, among others. One thing is for sure, these veterans know how to create the punk rock they love and give it right back to the world to enjoy. Give a listen to "Not You" and you are going to want to check out the rest of Just A Memory, over and over for the vibe alone.
Torn At The Seam - "Dick Moves"
It seems that when punk bands smoke a lot of weed, somehow a reggae influence will appear as if by magic. Torn At The Seam have all the makings of a punk band, then add a slight hint of reggae and ska, which in their case is a little refreshing and not at all overwhelming. Meaning, you can still rock out to their tunes, high or not. They just released the impressive "Dick Moves" and honestly, I couldn't resist the song for the title alone, but it mixes their influences in all the right proportion, relying on a punk pace while still incorporating plenty of ska meanderings. Torn At The Seam is Todd Liby (Guitar/Vocals/Hi-5s), Saxy Tuff (Sax), Cristian L Walker (Bass), and Chris Cummings (Drums). "Dick Moves" seems to feature a fair amount of brass all over the place and it totally makes the song. I've been keeping track of their songs as they release them and so far, this is by far my favorite. Still it's the furious pace of the intro with the blazing guitar and furious drums that totally sucked me in from first listen, the reggae they get into from time to time is just icing on the cake. It's a wry commentary on someone that is making "Dick Moves" a way of life. and it's lyrically hilarious. Keep your eyes and ears open for Torn At The Seam playing a gig near you, because I have a feeling these guys will be a lot of fun live.
French Girls - "Couples Skate"
I got a little worried when French Girls didn't release anything last year. They are one of my favorite garage rock/punk outfits in town and I felt like I waited all year for a release from them. It appears that my fears were all for not since they dropped their new song "Couples Skate" today and it felt like sweet relief to spin it a dozen times or so. French Girls straddle that thin line between punk, garage rock and indie pop, with infectious hooks and loud guitars. Together they produce a sound that is reminiscent of the Riot Grrrl days of the 1990s. If you ever got hung up on records by the likes of Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, or Heavens To Betsy, French Girls are literally right up your alley. This is completely true of "Couples Skate" which almost seems wrong to play digitally, since it's begging to be pressed to a 45 single. There is just sheer joy in the crunching guitar and the catchy-as-hell assault on your senses as they ruminate about asking a boy to a couple skate. It's got a great sense of innocence to it at the same time the raving guitar provides the danger.
The Expos - "Sixlet"
The Expos are a strange little outfit that make strange little albums that sound like they were recorded in a bedroom circa 1993. They just released their second album, boldly title Weezer II, and like last year's debut it's a mix of punk and indie rock with a bit of a power pop aesthetic that keeps you coming back. Half of their songs across the two albums are in the one minute range, and not unlike, say, Guided By Voices, The Expos present more or less vignettes of songs rather than songs. In many cases you want to replay these short songs over again, because they hooked you and they really could go twice as long. Still there are songs such as "Popsicles" or in this case "Sixlet" that make a brave foray into multiple minutes and give you some extra time with their tunes in an actual song length song. "Sixlet" is definitely one of my faves from the new album, it's got a punky edge with enough indie cred that recalls the early experimental records of Pavement and anyone that appeared on K Records in the early- to mid-'90s, and not so much Weezer. The entire album is a fun romp through homemade sounds, but "Sixlet" seems to be the quintessence of what The Expos are all about. They've been on my radar for some time now and have a dropped a fun album to lead you right into Spring.