Riff Raff

By Bryce Dunn

Summer is here and we’ve got more bounce for the ounce this month, dear readers, with a couple local acts to kick off the proceedings.

Firstly, I can imagine Pretty Vanilla caused quite the stir by bringing the glam and shazam to the Vancouver Aquarium in order to create the cover that adorns their newly pressed EP, 7 Inches Deep. Thankfully, no animals were harmed in the photo shoot—’cause the music does the damage instead. Recorded at the upstart studio to the stars, Little Red Sounds, the four songs herein each dip into decidedly different waters, but they do so with a strong undercurrent of fun and catchy rock and roll. From the Dion-esque doo wop of “Lost in the Soda Shop” to the bubbly Bay City Rollers stomp of “Radio Glow” to the T-Rex inspired rocker “Paper Tiger” and the rollickin’ Romantics-styled power-pop of “New Love,” Pretty Vanilla will have you shakin’ in your skinny jeans and rarin’ for more deep sea adventures. Recommended.

Another local by-product of the aforementioned Little Red Sounds stable is the latest ball-bustin’ slab-o-wax from the Jolts. Just like the explosive fireball depicted on the front cover, Joey Blitzkrieg and company blaze through two new tunes of chew ‘em up, spit ’em out rock of the highest order. Both “Born Speedin” and “Gimme Gasoline” conjure the spirits of Nordic riff masters like Gluecifer or the Hellacopters, but if you need further convincing, close your eyes while listening to each track and tell me you don’t hear either of those tracks being out of place on Turbonegro’s ear-shattering Apocalypse Dudes. Once finished, open your eyes to watch the video shot for “Born Speedin’,” have a chuckle at the expense of the other local band featured in their piss take of the rockers versus mods (and therein lies your first clue) clash of the titans, and catch these leather-clad no-goodniks on a stage near you.

Armed with more reasons to let your inner mosh out are frequent show mates of our beloved Jolts, Edmonton’s pogo-inducing punks Let’s Dance. Their new EP displays keen songwriting thanks to hyperkinetic front man Ben Disaster and even some pseudo-ska flourishes thanks to some added keyboard in the tune “Out On Top.” “Calling All Cars” takes the Clash to task with a punchy number about running from the law, while “X-Ray Eyes” and “Outta Time” barely leave you time to breathe with their manic hardcore-styled hijinx. You’ve got some heavy duty dancin’ and listenin’ to do.

Lastly, two new records from the Sweet Rot Records factory of twisted punk and fractured pop delights: the first, a solo outing from Jeffrey Novak (main man behind Nashville band Cheap Time) which displays his affection for Donovan on “Short Trip Home” with its slightly anglicized ’70s glam-pop stance and “One Of A Kind” which flirts with psychedelia while buzzing around your brain. The second being the Shackles, a Seattle-based band with at least one member of the Coconut Coolouts and more off-kilter pop than you can shake a stick at. “Broken Arm” will resonate with anyone familiar with the Clean due to its subdued, but playful keyboard and drum interplay, and “Funeral Shroud” rings loud and boisterous, not gloomy and dark like the song name may suggest. With its choir-like intro and snappy halftime beat, the song happily skips along only to derail around the halfway mark, but it quickly shifts the tempo into overdrive and finishes with an almost Sunday service-inspired finale.

And with that, I am done. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Pretty Vanilla
(Paper Tiger Productions,
The Jolts
(Eat Shit And Die Records, 12012 95th St. Edmonton AB Canada T5G 1M7)
Let’s Dance
(No Front Teeth Records,
Jeffrey Novak / the Shackles
(Sweet Rot Records,