Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Bronx
ATO Records
11 song vinyl LP

The Bronx has always been like listening to an aggressive gasoline fire, raging with a burning attitude and concentration that many bands can only envy. The group is back with their first studio LP in four years, and they prove beyond a doubt they still have the angst and fire. At the same time, they prove that they're not just a one-trick pony by taking the sound to a new level.

I hate to use the term "pop" when talking about these guys, because I don't want to be misunderstood in my descriptions, but they've managed to squeeze some very tasty and catchy hooks into their full tilt rage machine this time around. The surprising thing is that it really works well and it doesn't detract from the band's signature sound. Perfect examples of this are in songs like Side Effects, Two Birds, and Channel Islands, where the songwriting structure is more power pop than hardcore.

For me, it's their most interesting record to date, as it ventures out and explores some different territory without compromising what made them so great in the first place.

MISH MASH Mandate: Bronx Cheer

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Future Now Past
A Future Now Past
4 song EP
A Future Now Past Website 

Is rock dead? Not yet, it seems. This trio out of the Southeast kicks it into high gear and rips it out old school style without apology or remorse. It's a blend of smart power pop and reckless abandon that makes you wish for the early 70s and the wild west of rock music. Nothing really new or groundbreaking, to be honest, but fun to listen to.

If you dig Cheap Trick, KISS, or early Aerosmith, then this is your band for the new age of rock and roll. Pick up that air guitar and turn it up.

MISH MASH Mandate: Cheapest Trick    

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Woggles
Tally Ho!
Wicked Cool Records
13 song vinyl LP

It's hard for me to believe that the Woggles have been around for 30 years. And, somehow, they have managed to keep their edge as sharp as a knife for that entire time. Their latest LP shows that they're as hot now as they have ever been, unleashing 13 blazing tracks that leave no doubt about their staying power.

So what's their secret sauce? It's a simple formula, made up of basic three-chord rock tunes that pummel away with sheer classic garage punk fury. The sound is certainly not ground-breaking by any stretch, but they add their own cheeky flair - a wink and a nod that tells us they're in on the joke and that they're here to have fun. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Just listen to the likes of the title track, Pitch A Fit or Jungle Queen to see what I mean. The band revels with glee in being large and loud and just a little on the naughty side. The focus is on getting you up and moving, and the band is a master at that exercise. 

As with most of their studio recorded output through the years, the tracks here don't quite give you the full experience of a Woggles live show. There's a taste, but it's not the full dose. My recommendation is to buy this record, familiarize yourself with the songs, and catch them live as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed!

MISH MASH Mandate: Hot Sauce    

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Queens of the Stone Age
9 song vinyl LP

QOTSA is back with a new studio album after a four year hiatus, and fans have breathlessly awaited to see how they will follow up 2013's ...Like Clockwork. For the new album, the boys have collaborated with hot pop producer Mark Ronson, who has worked with the likes of Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse.

The result is a decidedly pop-oriented venture, at least as poppy as anything the band has attempted so far. Wisely, they have opted to maintain their quirky hard rock as the music's foundation instead of the other way around. The pop is piled onto the gothic and evil weirdness that made the band famous to begin with, and it shows that Josh Homme and his band are still willing to take a few chances in their decades long career. Will it alienate longtime fans? Probably not, honestly, as their fans are used to QOTSA doing its own thing. It's sort of the nature of the beast, no pun intended.

Standout tracks include the T.Rex-with-synthesizers send up Un-Reborn Again and the psychedelic space rock drone of The Evil Has Landed. Speaking of T.Rex, Homme is much like a modern day Marc Bolan with a fuzz pedal and a monster movie obsession. It will be interesting to see where they take it from here, and I can only imagine how crazy these songs will be in a live setting.

MISH MASH Mandate: Rextasy 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Epitaph Records
10 song Vinyl LP

"Nothing has changed..." That's a line from the first cut on Freedom, and it couldn't be further from the truth. A lot has changed since 1997, the year that Refused unleashed their last and now-infamous hardcore album, The Shape of Punk to Come. How does one live up to a legendary myth almost 20 years in the making? Honestly, you just can't. It's not possible, nor should a band be expected to do so.

That being said, Refused doesn't try to relive their mountaintop experience. They wisely realize the futility and instead focus on making a killer record without looking back. Where Shape was a wild and reckless venture that flailed away in youthful angst, Freedom is streamlined with laser-like precision and destruction. It's a surgical strike instead of a carpet bombing, and the band has never sounded more determined and powerful. 

To put it bluntly, it's one hell of a rock record by a maturing rock band. Refused may not be breaking new ground, but they are making everyone aware that they weren't a flash-in-the-pan or a fluke. Some things just improve with age, and this band is one of them.

MISH MASH Mandate: Liberation Frequency
Refused Website 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paul Weller
Saturns Pattern
9 song LP

With a career that spans four decades, it would be easy and understandable for Paul Weller to simply phone in an album at this stage. After all, most musicians of his caliber and status are comfortable in their skin and not eager to stretch boundaries. Thankfully, Weller is not one of those artists.

Even though Saturns Pattern isn't quite as on the edge as 2012's Sonik Kicks, it shows that Weller is more than willing to continue to push the limits of his creativity and deliver songs that keep things interesting. True fans should be used to this by now, as Weller has never exactly adhered to the status quo. (I have a feeling that a fan who can't appreciate this new effort is still stewing about The Jam splitting up 30 years ago.)

The songs are tight and polished, with Weller keeping everything reined into a neat power pop package. He briefly visits a variety of genres along the way, but he never gives himself over to one distinct direction. It's a fuzzy and fleeting feeling, but it's a pleasing one. That being said, one can't help but wonder if this album could reach higher heights if he concentrated his musical diffusion into a more focused and powerful punch. This musical meandering is creatively satisfying, but it never quite reaches the level of one of his classics, such as Wild Wood or Stanley Road

At the same time, I don't think he needs to make either one of those albums again. Nor does he need to feed us a rehash of The Jam or The Style Council. Weller always seems to have something up his sleeve, and this album is no exception. I'm thankful he likes to keep us on the edge of our seat.

MISH MASH Mandate: Changingman
Paul Weller Website

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Nettwerk Records
11 song LP

Guster is back, and everything old is new again. The group's familiar, somewhat dreamy pop songs haven't really changed very much, and that's actually all for the better. I say that because their pop-centered songwriting still sounds surprisingly fresh and inviting, without feeling like a rehash or a simple revisit of their late-90's/early-00's heyday. They sound like they are having fun, and it shows. 

The promise of a new extensive tour means it will be easy to catch them out on the road this year - and they have always put on a great show. Catch them if you can!

MISH MASH Mandate: Freshly Made Pop