They’s Doin’s A-Transpirin’ in Beantown!: Figure Out What that Means!

My first column for Razorcake! What pressure! Hope I can handle it.

It’s been quite a summer here in Boston – one of the hottest ever, according to the weathermen. Then again, as long as we’re not underwater I guess we shouldn’t complain. One of my favorite local bands, the Spoilers, broke up recently. They hadn’t ever gotten around to recording anything, but they were dynamite live – straight ahead punk, with some great songs and plenty of energy. They were the sort of band that made me believe in the power of rock music again. I’d spent several years wandering in the desert of classic rock radio, unaware of the crazy and powerful variety of music that was available in the clubs and bars of the greater Boston area. But, thanks to bands like the Spoilers, I managed to return to the land of the living. Now they’re gone, but there are still plenty of other bands out there to get excited about. One in particular is Mach 5 (named after Speed Racer’s car), who’ve got something for everyone. Fans of hard rock, a la Thin Lizzy or early Aerosmith, will love the big, fat sound of this four piece powerhouse led by former Thundertrain and Joe Perry Project singer Mach Bell. Fans of punk will thrill to the manic guitar thrashing of Dee Story (formerly of the Johnnies, currently also with Sugabomb). The little girls will swoon at the very sight of Harley-riding pretty boy drummer Jimmy Birmingham. And music-gear geeks will be bowled over by the twelve (yes, I said twelve) string bass guitar played by Jeff Thomas. I’ve heard two MP3s from their upcoming debut CD to be released on Gulcher Records, and both of them are high-energy rockers in the tradition of the New York Dolls. Live, Mach 5 are as powerful as a locomotive, and always seem just about to careen out of control. Good stuff.

If you like your rock a little on the poppy side, you’ll want to check out the Rudds’ new release, Get Your Femuline Hang On, even if you can’t figure out what the title means. Lead vocalist John Powhida can get a bit theatrical at times, but on this record he reins it in and just sings. Plus, he writes great songs. Also, the Rudds’ lead guitar player Brett Rosenberg has released a new one with his band, the Brett Rosenberg Problem, called Speed Metal from Montreal. It’s actually neither of those things, but it is a pretty good collection of songs from a guy who’s almost inhumanly talented.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in loud, fast, and snotty, you’ll have a hard time finding a better young band anywhere in the country right now than Red Invasion. I had the great pleasure of seeing them recently at a small bar in Quincy, Massachusetts, along with Providence’s the Sleazies and the Plastic Letters from LA. Red Invasion wear their Dead Boys devotion on their sleeves (and their eyebrows – they prefer liquid eyeliner, I’m told), but there’s plenty more going on here than just Stiv-envy. Incredible pop-flavored songs played with reckless abandon and large gobs of spit will have you pogoing ’til your arches collapse. They play a lot of shows, and hope to be able to take it on the road soon. In the meantime, check out their debut CD on Pelado Records, Not Too Young To Die. The Sleazies are also a great live band, well worth checking out. Make sure to ask them to play their new song, “Johnny Thunders Wants His Haircut Back.”

Speaking of Pelado, they’ve finally just released the long-awaited final CD from glam-punks The Dimestore Haloes. Ghosts of Saturday Night was recorded three years ago. Who knows why it took this long to get released, but now that it’s here you’ve got no excuse not to grab it. Chaz Halo is one of the best songwriters around, and this CD finds him at his social outcast best. The Dimestore Haloes were all misfits of one sort or another, so it’s no surprise they never managed to achieve any commercial success, but that’s just what makes them perfect punk rockers. The CD also features a rare vocal performance by their drummer, Jimmy Reject, who’s now one of the most prolific punk critic/ writers in the country. Jimmy’s new book is called Notes On Johnny Nihil, and you can get it through Lulu.com.

And if you like it rougher than that, the Goners from Providence have a new CD-EP of almost-hardcore that’s guaranteed to make you feel like they’re bashing you over the head with their cheap guitars. Among the many things I like about the Goners is the fact that they hate George W. Bush.

That’s it for this report from Bean Town. I hope I didn’t let you down. I’ll be back in a month or so with more vital information for you. Stay tuned.