Friday, July 8, 2016

Neon Bone- Down To The Felt

There's always plenty to fill my little eyes with hearts when looking to the European pop punk/punk rock scene these days due to it's seemingly higher than average amount of songwriters that get it! So many of those bands claim space on my overfilled at the moment record shelves and Neon Bone is a perfect example of why it's like that! While I can always bet everything on instantly taking a liking to the songs Lars writes, I gotta admit that I'm also totally impressed by the amount of great material he can create on such a consistent basis. Last year was no different with the "Sick Of Me" 7" and just as I was through praising that at the end of 2015, he had a new batch of demos for a full length to wow me with. Fast forward many more months of impatiently waiting and it's finally arrived, a wonderful LP from my most favorite one man, kick ass, pop punk machine from Münster, Germany called "Down To The Felt"!

When I got my hands on the finished product at the beginning of this year, I was completely impressed to find out that once again, this was a total solo effort like the last. It has to be a little maddening to cover every aspect of playing the songs themselves, then adding in all the recording work on top of all that, but Lars made it work! The sound quality is great. Holding tradition in steadily imagining funny cover art, this one features a photo of him going bust on a video poker machine on the front. It's very well shot and I love all the color. Release day was the first of this month coming from none other than Monster Zero Records who seems to be on a winning streak with putting out good records as of late. No surprise there either! It's available on black vinyl with download code or CD through the label,or digital only which you can get through the Neon Bone bandcamp page. All the songs are streaming there in full and you should definitely check them out if you've not done so yet! 

A strong opening track is essential for capturing my interest whenever I listen to a new record and that is something I think Lars has down to a perfect science! I was crazy for the mid tempoed yet powerful "I Can't Let Go" in a matter of seconds. This song is such a perfect representation of the simple but super catchy way Neon Bone songs easily get into my head and stay there. It's just really well played 90's inspired pop punk with no gimmicks. Good songs don't need it and the momentum of this opening energy builds, leading into the second track "Without You". It's a lighthearted love song that they matched the sentiment of with a funny video they made for it(click here to see it!). It's a spoof of a 60's tv show performance complete with the sparkliest jacket I've ever seen haha. Neon Bone videos are always the best. Go peek around his youtube channel if you're not familiar with them! Speaking of that time period, "Cheek To Cheek" is one of those songs that has an early rock 'n' roll/doo-wop feel to it. Definitely another of my favorites with those perfectly done backing vocals in the bridge. It's very dreamy and while this record is heavy in the fun pop punk energy that I'm fond of this band for, there's also some different forces of punk rock coming through as well like in "The Things We Can Do". That is my number one pick out of the faster songs and it has a very cool, edgier early Descendents vibe. Now we all know well enough I said favorite out of the faster songs because I am greedy and HAVE to pick a slower one too! That one for me is "Love Has Made Me Blind". It is such a gem with a heavy doo-wop approach as well and really shows off the just lovely range in his vocals. The closing track is a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It(If You Really Want)" and is translated in such a great way to a punk rock version. I always appreciate how Lars chooses covers that aren't common and take some effort to do! 

I think it's kinda funny that this record is called "Down To The Felt" because nothing about it is going for broke! If anything, this is one of the most well rounded pop punk records I've heard in a long time, complete with a few great surprises and will most certainly be earning a spot in my Best Of 2016 list. Make sure to add it to your overcrowded shelves because I know I'm not the only one with that problem, I mean, hobby!! Yeah, hobby and stay tuned for what's next!! While this band is a one man effort in the studio, the live lineup adding in Mirko Cruel, Fred Fredsen, and Jan Koslowski sounds fantastic. Make sure to catch their sets at Summer In October in Belgium, or some shows they're planning with the almighty Mega from Italy during that time. Also, there's a split that just came out featuring them and their friends Muskelprotz and hell yes, more new songs are being demoed as we speak!! Something new is always happening in the Neon Bone universe and it's bands like this who make me believe there's always hope for music to be better.

Neon Bone is...
Lars Hanneman

with guest part by David Gröbner who played the trumpet part on "You Can Get It(If You Really Want)".

Side A
1. "I Can't Let Go"
2. "Without You"
3. "Cheek To Cheek"
4. "Let's Go Home"
5. "Fate"
6. "Love Has Made Me Blind"
Side B
7. "I Don't Care" 
8. "The Things We Could Do"
9. "Where The Action Is"
10. "Ghost"
11. "You Can Get It(If You Really Want)"

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