A new Pagans album? This took me more by surprise than when The Real Kids dropped their latest record in late 2014. As far as I know, Mike Hudson is The Pagans, but why is this “Mike Hudson And…”? I did some internet research and found some interviews with Hudson (mid-to-late 2014, when this album was coming out) and it looks like Hudson had not just the blessings of—but the insistence of—his former band mates to use The Pagans moniker. Classy touch from a guy who doesn’t come across in the best light in his own memoir (Diary of a Punk.) These interviews also reveal that Hudson had been writing songs for a country-styled album, which may account for the slow to mid-tempo feel, and possibly the unnecessarily long “Fame Whore.” Hudson’s voice has held up remarkably. One would think his punk bark-snarl would have permanently damaged it in his younger days. The backing band is solid, with great guitar tone. The recordings are better quality than The Pagans’ early releases, due simply to the band having access to better recording equipment. The sound of Hollywood High evokes the late ‘90s rock’n’roll punk bands that were likely influenced by The Pagans. I will always love The Pagans, and when I think of what punk rock should sound like, I think of The Pagans (Crime being a close second.) My only real complaint is that the cover is pixilated. The image evokes what Hudson is shooting for, but the way the photo looks when enlarged to LP cover size makes the artwork look blown-out. Bonus points to the band and label for selling the LP (plus download) for remarkably cheap through their Bandcamp page.
–Sal Lucci (Ruin Discos, ruindiscos.com)