Vinyl Minded with Redd Kross and Ultrabomb

Redd Kross

Redd Kross (In the Red Records)

Double gatefold LP, red vinyl

Somehow, against all of the odds, Hawthorne, CA band Redd Kross just keeps getting better. Or, at the very least, they don't allow their quality to drop at all. It's crazy that 45 years into their career, the McDonald brothers of Jeff and Steve have released their first double studio album, decided to make it self-titled, and it's this good.

The band was originally called Red Cross and their debut album, a raw punk gem called Born Innocent, was released in 1982. The song that closes this new album is also called "Born Innocent," an autobiographical ditty that details their inception (there's also a new documentary doing the rounds called Born Innocent: The Redd Kross Story.)

While the band has retained a punk edge, power-pop informs their work nowadays. A candy cane swirls of psychedelia and bubblegum pop-rock tunes. There are no duds on this record, and tunes such as "What's in it for You?" and "Terrible Band" highlight their quick wit.

"The roots of the new album lay in their previous full-length, 2019’s Beyond The Door – or, more accurately, the pandemic’s ethering of a planned ReddKross world tour in support of that record," reads the press release. “'We were bummed Beyond The Door had to die with the advent of Covid,' nods Jeff."

"But, as you might expect from such pop-culture mavens, for the brothers McDonald there was one silver-lining to the gloom of the pandemic era: Peter Jackson’s documentary, The Beatles: Get Back. Like all of us, the duo pored over every frame of the limited series: every bum note and moment of brilliance, every tetchy squabble and pregnant silence. 'I got very inspired by this bird’s eye-view upon their process,' says Steven. 'Get Back demystified it: Oh, when they’re writing a song, they sound a bit crappy too, just slugging away.’”

The plain red sleeve seems appropriate in a Beatles' White Album sort of way. Maybe this will be referred to as the Red Album in the future. Meanwhile, the red vinyl is gorgeous, and Josh Klinghoffer's production is pristine.


Dying to Smile (DC-Jam)

White vinyl LP

Punk rock power trio UltraBomb features the talents of Greg Norton (Hüsker Dü), Finny McConnell (The Mahones), and Jamie Oliver (UK Subs). Dying to Smile is their second full length studio album and, for those new to the band, it's a wake up call.

Blasting in with the opening "Doggo," the record never lets up. It's fast and unrelenting, but the tunes are super-catchy too.

Recorded at Perry Vale Recording Studios, London England and engineered by Pat Collier, the album sounds perfectly imperfect, for the punk rock purists. There's a Social D drawl to the vocals at times, a throaty wail elsewhere. Whatever suits the song.

The white vinyl is lovely, and the ghostly sleeve is beautiful. A great job, all round.