Tag Archives: pop punk

A Pop Punk Christmas Carol – Gutter Pop Records (Various Artists)


If you’re looking for a snazzy gift this holiday season, A Pop Punk Christmas Carol would be the perfect stocking stuffer. This compilation album from Gutter Pop Records features 18 tracks worth of pop punk covers of your favorite Christmas classics. Not since the Shirley Temple DVD box set have we seen an offer this difficult to pass up. Seriously though, this album rocks. It contains song contributions from bands all over the world, countries such as Italy, Japan, USA, Russia, UK, Germany and even Canada. You might think that including artists from so many different geographic areas would negatively affect the consistency of the sound, but that isn’t the case here. It sounds remarkably cohesive and emits a relatively pure pop punk vibe across the board. These bands have got this sound nailed down to a science.


The opening track, O Holy Night leaves a solid impression and sets the standard for what to expect. The vocals of Jen Buzzkill are enchantingly angelic. It’s refreshing to see female punk performers who aren’t merely caricatures doing cosplay but who can actually sing and have their own style. Her dynamic voice carries the song and gives it an avant garde flair. Her performance (and those of others elsewhere on this release) elevate the content, allowing the listener to realize this isn’t just a novelty album. Another track, Silent Night from Black Russians (who I’m going to go out on a limb and guess aren’t actually black) is an instant hit and one of the best jams on the album. It’s probably the catchiest tune on here. Black Russians also recently released their own full length album Death By Communism, which is sure to resonate with millions of people, living or otherwise.

Everything on the album is clean, crisp and tight. High quality production is maintained throughout. It’s also interesting to see how the different groups incorporate their own creative twists on what we recognize as familiar holiday songs. Vindictives’ rendition of Jingle Bells effectively utilizes a pace which oscillates between lightning fast and caterpillar slow. Frosty the Snowman (“The Beatersband” from Italy) is another standout track. Fronted by the superb vocals of Donatelle Guida, this is probably my favorite song on the release. It has some great vintage guitar tones and the subtly tender ambiance just fills me with the Christmas spirit.

It should also be noted that Joy to the World is a collaborative effort which combines the talents of Jason V from The Jasons, Jenny and Zac Buzzkill From Radio Buzzkills and Mirko and Aleksander666 from the Black Russians. Rumor has it that these people will be working on more music together in the future, though we don’t yet know the final form of this supergroup. Pop punk aficionados might also be pleased to know the Jay Prozac (of The Prozacs fame) makes an appearance on this release with his powerful version of, Angels We Have Heard On High.

A Pop Punk Christmas Carol may be a fun Christmas album, but it also showcases some serious talent and offers a glimpse at a plethora of the up and coming bands in a genre that’s been quietly reemerging.

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The Blankz – (I Just Want to) Slam


It was only recently that we wrote about The Blankz’  instant Arizona classic,  White Baby  The impressiveness of that release set the bar pretty high. Bands often change, experiment and grow, which isn’t always a good thing if what they already have is working.  So when I discovered I had something new to review for The Blankz, I was curious if they had retained the magic that was captured in White Baby.

Thankfully, their brand new EP, (I Just Want to) Slam wisely sticks with the same formula of weirdo pop punk + synth, which won them some small scale critical acclaim. The first thing that came to mind when listening was that (I Just Want to) Slam would have been a perfect for one of the obligatory slam section parts of  just about any 90’s skateboard video.  It’s kinda too bad they don’t really make those kinds of skate videos anymore, and it’s all pretty much on youtube now (or maybe they still do, and I’m just too old and out of touch to know about it.)

One thing which defines The Blankz’ songs is how catchy they are. Even after only a single listening sesh, I find myself repeating the choruses in my head over and over. Hell, i’ts been almost a month since I heard White Baby, and that’s still annoyingly stuck in my brain. Time will tell what kind of mental staying power (I Just Want to) Slam has. It’s like they put drugs in these songs or some kind of MK Ultra style, subliminal mind control messaging. Anyway, potential listeners beware: these songs will stay with you.

I suppose I should talk about the actual substance of the music here. The title track (I Just Want to) Slam is fast paced right from the opening bell and maintains the same level of energy throughout. The vocal performance is among the better I’ve heard for this genre of music. Vocals are clear, on key and delivered with balls. What more can you ask for? This is music for moshing, just letting loose and having a blast in the pit….but of course it can be a metaphoric anthem for how to approach other areas of life.


There is a second song on the album, called Baby’s Turning Blue. It’s a short but punchy jam which gives a brief and peculiar narrative of a punk rock “baby” growing up to fall victim to drug abuse. The guitars in this song are awesome, tonally and technically. The timing here is great, with frequent breaks and pace changes which all go off without a hitch. This band is tight. Everyone is on the same page. If I have one criticism it’s that I wish this song was a bit longer and elaborated more on the interesting lyrical premise. The vibe of Baby’s Turning Blue reminds me of early 90s Orange County or San Diego punk music, even though there is nothing explicitly retro about this music, and I can’t think of any specific examples of bands these guys sound like. It’s more of a feeling.

Listening to The Blankz is like if you were to resurface a fond memory of being at the Warped Tour sometime before it started to suck. The good news is that The Blankz are in the here and now… and continuing to crank out cool stuff. Cover art has a great aesthetic by the way.

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The Blankz – White Baby


You wouldn’t know from their music that The Blankz (a Phoenix based band) formed as recently as 2017. Their new EP/single, White Baby, is so tightly put together musically that if I had been too lazy to read the group’s bio, I would just have assumed they must have been playing together for at least a decade. Their music falls somewhere within the realm of “weirdo pop punk.” It has a very 90’s vibe to it, not in a gimmicky kind of way, it’s just that you’d almost have to go back that far to find this style of music being put out at this level of quality. In a deeper sense though, White Baby brings people back to a more innocent era, the pre-9/11 days before confrontational politics and war dominated the discussion in our everyday lives. I’m talking about those 105 degree summer nights spent skateboarding and loitering at suburban Phoenix strip malls (yes I’m from here as well,) when our most heated arguments were over bands and girls. Our tense confrontations were mostly reserved for our interactions with the security guards about to kick us out of the same spot for the millionth time.

White Baby features solid playing, quirky lyrics, and perhaps most importantly…substance. Yes, wrapped up in White Baby’s musical bundle of joy is a theme about the songwriter’s identity. Tommy Blank is white but was apparently adopted into a Mexican family. The song subtly relates his struggles with identity growing up within this unconventional familial arrangement. It is all presented in an upbeat, fun and energetic musical context. The lyrics are extremely catchy, and if you listen to this song even once, the chorus will stick with you. The video for White Baby takes on a kind of desert rockabilly aesthetic, interspersing vintage home movie footage with present day shots of the band around town.


There is a second jam on this release as well. The song Sissy Glue boasts some killer synth, the vibrato of which resonates throughout the song. The tone is reminiscent of action oriented battle music in old school games like Double Dragon. Sissy Glue contains lyrics concerned with huffing, but really the track is about so much more. It’s sort of a coming of age story told in a very creative way. The synth on this EP is notable because it is what separates the band’s sound it from so many other bands in this genre.

White Baby/Sissy Glue is quite simply, badass. Living in Phoenix, this is easily one of the coolest current bands in the valley, and I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard anything about them until now.

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