28th Day were a trio formed in California in the early 80s. Musically, they’re a mix of neo-psychedelia and 1980s college radio-ready jangle pop. The dual vocals bring to mind Exene Cervenka and John Doe from X, against a backdrop of jangly guitars and catchy pop with a shimmering psychedelic aesthetic. Their sole, self-titled studio EP was released in 1985 (released as an LP in ‘92) and includes great tracks like “Lost” and “Pages Turn”. Another one of their best tracks is “Stones of Judgement”, which can be found on the ‘92 reissue of their record or on their more recent Complete Recordings compilation.
Recommended, especially for fans of X, The Dream Syndicate, Opal, Rain Parade…
Household are a post-punk band from Brooklyn, NY who released their debut, Items, back in 2011. The record’s just under 20 minutes, one of those that’s too short, yet manages to be enough to keep you wanting more. It has been one of my personal favorite listens of the past few years. Their minimalistic, straightforward approach is similar to other recent bands like Grass Widow or Parquet Courts.
You can find the band on Tumblr and listen to Itemshere.
Thee Midniters are 60s garage rock legends from east Los Angeles. With an aggressive sound for their time, sort of similar to what the Sonics were doing in the Northwest, their “Jump, Jive and Harmonize” explodes into a noisy rock & roll frenzy, led by Willie Garcia’s fierce, soulful vocals. I mean, the listener can hardly just sit there with something so energetic exploding out of the speakers. Their brand of energetic rock & roll, with ample amounts of soul, r&b, and a British invasion influence, is addicting and was no doubt a blast to see in L.A. back in the day.
Their biggest mainstream success wasn’t with this track, unfortunately, but was instead with their version of “Land of a Thousand Dances”, which made a minor splash on the national U.S. charts. They cool it down on a great, heartbreaking rendition of “It’ll Never Be Over for Me”. (By the way, isn’t that song just one of the most miserably heartbreaking things? It brings to mind that whole "Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" quandary scene from High Fidelity.) Though their vocalist had a powerfully magnetic presence, the band absolutely smoked on instrumental tracks like “Whittier Blvd." and "Thee Midnight Feeling”.
It’s worth mentioning that they’re respected for being one of the earliest Latino rock bands with a loyal cult following and some level of success nationally, and though their music mostly reflected their time—merely entertaining and not getting too entrenched in social issues when it comes to records—this aspect wasn’t entirely left out of their music—i.e., “Chicano Power”. They went on to influence many others, especially leaving a lasting influence on other Mexican-American musicians like Kid Congo Powers, who was an original member of The Gun Club, and later joined The Cramps and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, as well as going on to release solo material. Tons of other bands, like Thee Headcoats/Headcoatees and Thee Oh Sees, have adopted “thee” rather than the endlessly common “the” in the garage rock world, of course following Thee Midniters’ suit.
You can read more about Willie Garcia here. Check out an interview with Midniters bassist Jimmy Espinoza here.
I first heard this song on the Replacements’ infamous The Shit Hits the Fans, which was recorded at a show where the band is clearly uninterested in playing their songs, instead opting to drunkenly plow their way through some hilarious/awful attempted covers of Black Sabbath, Robyn Hitchcock, Led Zeppelin, X, and of course this Vertebrats track—which, interestingly, isn’t too bad.
I think “Left in the Dark” is perhaps better known as a song that other artists have thrown in their repertoire, but the Vertebrats’ song is an undeniable garage rock classic. The Vertebrats were from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and initially existed from about 1979 to 1982. Their record/compilation A Thousand Day Dream consists of an exhaustive 20+ tracks of solidly scruffy Midwestern rock & roll, with garage rock and power pop leanings, recorded during that time period. You can hear the influence that they, and bands of their ilk, had on the “alternative rock” scene that cropped up in various U.S. cities in the ’80s. The band, who had attained a bit of a cult following, have since played several reunion shows, mostly to their local crowd. Most recently, the compilation Screaming Like a Mad Choir consists of remastered recordings and can be listened to here.
The Delmonas - “I Feel Alright” (cover of the Stooges’ “1970”)
In case you ever wondered what a girl group might sound like if they covered the Stooges, here you go.
The Delmonas (or Del Monas) were a group of icy-cool UK vocalists—initially Miss Ludella Black (of Thee Headcoatees), Miss Ida Red, and Louise. The group recorded three LPs between 1985 and 1989. Prolific rocker Billy Childish wrote (or co-wrote with bandmate Mickey Hampshire) the Delmonas’ original material and played on their records, along with fellow members of Thee Mighty Caesars. As with the related Billy Childish-involved Medway bands (like Thee Headcoats, Thee Milkshakes, The Buff Medways, and the aforementioned bands), their sound was influenced by attitude-laden garage rock and girl groups of the 1960s.
We don’t usually post submissions from bands here. I’m up for promoting an artist if they’re decent and in line with our usual shenanigans, and to be honest… well, it greatly helps if they’re from a state I’ve lived in. Anyway, never mind that… here’s Minneapolis quartet Ugly Motors.
Ugly Motors just released their 8-song self-titled tape, which is listenable/downloadable via Bandcamp for those who’d rather not relive the memories of trying to re-spool a cassette tape with your trusty yellow no. 2. The song titles are rather lacking, but anyone who appreciates a shambolic lo-fi garage punk recording will find that their music makes up for it. The vocalist shouts things that are mostly unintelligible, the guitar blares right out of the speakers, and the sound would be a great accompaniment for a carefree summer day. The thing sounds like a demo (is a demo?), refusing to take itself seriously and oozing with drunken energy. Minneapolis historically tends to sort of exalt bands with a drunken and/or oddball sense of humor (The Suicide Commandos, The Suburbs), and these types of recordings from some of the city’s finest have been known to reach the masses—The Replacements’ all-over-the-place, but classic Hootenanny was released on MN label Twin/Tone back in 1983. (Drunkenness rears its ugly head on the opening title track, wherein which the band humorously switched instruments, Paul Westerberg retaining lead vocals while taking Chris Mars’ place at the drums. And a haphazard Beatles semi-cover appears on “Mr. Whirly”, which is credited as “mostly stolen” in the liner notes.)
Ugly Motors is rough around the edges, which is comfort food for rock ‘n’ roll lovers who appreciate an unrefined approach. (Because rock ‘n’ roll has always hit harder in its purest, unfiltered form, right?)
If you’re searching for something youthful, loud, raucous, and fun to listen to, listen to more here. Gotta dig that riff in “Do You Mind? (No)”.
Toronto’s Marvelous Darlings have released a steady stream of singles since 2007, which are collected on the 2011 Deranged Records compilation Single Life. (My introduction to them was when I wrote a little blurb for Get Bent.) Marvelous Darlings are known as a side project from Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook. The lo-fi, classic, infectious punk/power pop of the Darlings is quite a bit different than Fucked Up’s anthemic hardcore. Single Life is a nearly relentless stream of some of the best melodic hooks of the modern era of power poppy rock ‘n’ roll since the Exploding Hearts. With as much staying power as a ‘teenage’-oriented classic like that one Undertones song has, “Teenage Targets" just can’t go wrong.
I’m unsure whether there will be more from the Darlings, but Ben Cook doesn’t seem short on material for a variety of projects (Young Governor, Roommates, Yacht Club, etc…).
Power pop is alive and well in Milwaukee. The Sugar Stems, made up of two guys and two gals, carry on the hook-filled tradition of bands like the Nerves and fellow Milwaukee favorites the Shivvers, and—as their name implies—they do it so sweetly that it could easily rot your teeth out. Their debut, 2010’s Sweet Sounds of the Sugar Stems, found them crafting perfectly melodic pop earworms, complete with bubblegummy vocals, that end up stuck in your head whether you like it or not, including “If You Want Me To" and their first single "Beat Beat Beat". Two more undeniably catchy singles were released in 2012, "Greatest Pretender" and "Like I Do", leading up to their second record, Can’t Wait, which was released at the tail end of 2012 on Screaming Apple. Watch footage of them playing “Make Up Your Mind” at Tap Milwaukee.
You can listen to their music on Bandcamp. A preview of their latest record should be coming soon.