The Ratchets - First Light - (LP on multicolor vinyl)
Many will hear echoes of the Clash in this album's set of punk-flavored pop, mostly due to the voice and phrasing of singer Jed Engine. A stellar cover of Tom Robinson's "2-4-6-8 Motorway" highlights Side A as does "Dotard at the Dial," (gee, I wonder who that's about!?) Side B begins with the reflective "Paterson" and also includes "Fiscal Spliff," a cut that really recalls the Clash, both in musical style and politically-charged lyrics. Engine also has the very appealing characteristic of occasionally sounding like Graham Parker, noticeable especially on cuts like "Stray Emotions."
Territories - (Self-titled) - (LP on black vinyl)
Formed out of the debris of Canadian band Knucklehead, here Territories offer a set of vibrant guitar-driven punk rock songs of the anthemic sort. The guitars roar like crazy on the speedy "New Thing" but the foursome also utilizes some tasty organ work (by guest Craig Fahner) on "Green Eyes." Some of the songs here remind of the work of Irish punk bands, and indeed cuts like "Heart That Breaks" have an energy and flavor to match the best of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys; like those bands, undoubtedly these guys are awesome live.
One Family, One Flag - (Various artists) - (3-LP)
The folks at Pirate Press Records (also responsible for the Ratchets and Territories above) manage to make every single release special in ways that go beyond the music, and this 34-song sampler is no exception. The giant collection is Pirate Press's 200th release, and to celebrate they've put together an awesome compilation featuring 34 different acts. Rancid, Cock Sparrer, the Old Firm Casuals, Tim Timebomb & Friends, Suede Razor, Sydney Ducks, the Bar Stool Preachers, Street Dogs, Booze and Glory and the Re-Volts are just a few of the bands contributing here. Five sides of vinyl hold music; the sixth side has the names of all the bands silk screened onto it. Similarly an included poster has graphics featuring Pirates Press releases. A great snapshot of the label's output till now and a collectible package sure to be treasured by fans.
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