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Ricky Hell & The Voidboys - Satan Of Cool - Quality Time Records / Greenway Records - 8 songs - cassette

For those keeping score, this is Ricky Hell's second release since moving to LA, his first with the Voidboys since then, and the first to be released on a physical format since then (Ricky assures me that "Blue Lips" is gonna come out soon). In a way, it's kind of a double EP, since the first half was recorded at one studio and the second side at another. This becomes important soon. Side One is pretty good. "Living On The Edge Of The Nite" kicks off the tape with a very "He's A Whore"-influenced riff; "The Numbers" and "Perfectly Down" are both very catchy and good. Adam Spektor's clarinet adds a lot to the melody of the former, and I think The Voidboys as a whole are really starting to come into their own on this tape; Carter Luckfield has some good basslines in here as well, particularly on the final track of the first side, "Space Time." The flip is where the problem arises. The production takes a hit and the whole thing kind of gets muddled in that. I'm not sure whether it's a result of the different studio or what, but the songs are also not as good. Makes you think about how much that kind of thing has to do with it, ya know? The best of the bunch on this side is "Silver Star For Robot Girl," which doesn't really sound like Bob Pollard at all but does highlight the inherent issue, not only with itself, but also the name of the tape and the name of the band: do you really want to invite comparisons between your music and other, long appreciated music (like Guided By Voices, Nick Lowe, or Richard Hell & The Voidoids)? If you've consistently liked the previous Ricky Hell releases, you'll like this one as well; if you're more like me and not entirely sold, this one isn't bad, particularly the first side. 3.5/5

(I assume this'll be available at qualitytimerecords.bandcamp.com as soon as RH&TVB finish up their tour)

Vanilla Poppers - I Like Your Band EP - Feel It Records - 4 songs - 7", digital

This is Vanilla Poppers' first record since becoming an Australian band with Cleveland members as opposed to a Cleveland band with an Australian member. VP do their usual charging punk (with a bit of hard rock guitar riffing in there), very tight and well-played. Jo plays both guitar and drums on this one (not at the same time, I don't think) and his drumming style changes the sound some– not significantly, but you can tell a difference if you listen for it, and I like it. Steve's got some particularly good basslines on here and Christina's vocals are particularly manic and great. Mostly, you've got the typical Poppers topics (Poppics) covered in the lyrics: hard living, the foibles of the music world, etc. "A Stranger" is an interesting change, though, as I think it's a pretty straightforward love song? Weird. I don't think this tops their LP, but it might be the better of their two 7"s thus far. Good recording as well. If you like punk, plain and simple…well, you should like Vanilla Poppers already, right? 3.5/5

(feelitrecordshop.com for the 7", feelitrecords.bandcamp.com for the digital)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 15, Issue 2, Posted 5:06 PM, 01.08.2019