Various Artists - Ramonescore Brigade - Volume One (Cover Artwork)

Various Artists

Ramonescore Brigade - Volume One (2020)

Moms Cellar dwellers

When many ponder the term pop punk, the mind drifts mostly back to the 90s. Labels such as Lookout, Mutant Pop and Clearview released some of the genres finest ever. Like many of punk’s sub genres, the popularity of pop punk ebbs and flows. There has no doubt been a resurgence in recent years of bands from all over the globe lacing up their Converse All-Stars and slapping on their baseball caps to play four-on-the-floor punk rock. Throughout the years though, a subset of pop punk known as Ramonescore has been going strong. This sub-genre, so to speak, is not strictly limited to carbon copy Ramones bands, but most do prefer the downstroke! This release showcases the many facets of Ramonescore from all over the globe.

Canada’s Johnny Terrien and the Bad Lieutenants kick things off with “I Lost My Mind.” This is more of a garage rocker that showcases some fast downstrokes that has defined the genre. Next band up is McBain from Italy. Their track “I Was Old” is a solid track that is reminiscent of fellow countrymen the Manges. The Atoms turn up a true color by numbers Ramones inspired track in “Pre-Teen-Coke-Fiend.” Germany’s Evil O’Brians deliver “I Wanna Be Dumb” next which showcases signature vocals over infectious harmonies. Classic pop punk guitar leads are all over this one. One of the most fun tracks on the compilation comes by the way of Canada’s Follow Ups. “Hey Yo (Ballad of Razor Ramone) is a dream come true for any fan of Ramones and professional wrestling. They certainly saw me coming! Fil McRackin and the Hens delivered some of the best debut tracks last year. I was eager to hear “Great Eggspectations” and it didn’t disappoint. This track boasts a catchy chorus with an almost 80s heavy metal tinge. This will appeal to McRackins fans for sure! Mysterious band the Black Russians make a play on Darkthrone and black metal with “A Blaze in the Soviet Sky.” There are stronger leanings to California skate punk, ala NOFX, as opposed to Ramonescore. Softcrime showcases strong moving basslines not always present in the genre on “Skip the Punk Rock Show.” New York’s Radio Blast turns up “Dog in the Window” which pays homage to their hometown heroes. The Tarleks from Canada takes on the Hawkwind classic “Silver Machine.” Probably not familiar to most pop punk fans, but the band has a lot of fun punking up this Lemmy-era hit. Germany’s Barbecuties takes on a more modern pop punk approach with screaming backing vocals on “Wearing Thin.” Think of bands such as Off With Their Heads. The Yodees from Brazil offer hooks galore on “Loony.” Nasally vocals akin to the Apers and Beatnik Termites are present throughout. The Radio Buzzkills from the Midwest present “Without A Trace” that showcases Jen Buzzkill’s signature backing vocals. Fellow Outloud Records labelmates the Prozacs rock hard on “We Wanna Rock” which pays tributes to all their fellow friends’ bands. Ramonescore veterans the Kobanes take on “Dilemma” which was originally recorded by the Peabodys. Highlights of this track are Marky Kobane’s crooning as well as Maria Surfingbird’s vocals on one verse. Mean Black Cat from Texas who feature a member from the 90s chart topping band Bowling For Soup take on their rendition of “Don’t Sell It.” New York is represented again by the way of the Anderson Stingrays. Their track “I Don’t Wanna Be a Vampire” showcases the garage side of the genre, not unlike the Groovie Ghoulies. The Heart Alarms slow things down a bit with “Digging in my Heart.” This impressive track has traces of the Parasites and Smoking Popes. The pace picks up on the Bricheros track “Narcoleptic Youth.” The compilation is rounded out at the end with the Sad Sally track “F.L.N.” This is an interesting choice as a set closer as I found this to be the least Ramones inspired track on the compilation. The band claims bands such as Blink-182 and NOFX as their influences, and it shows.

My main purpose of this detailed review is to showcase the versatility of pop punk and specifically Ramonescore. This genre is not limited to 4/4 beats and lightning speed high-hat hits. Bands from across the globe have incorporated lo-fi production, moving basslines, garage rock and humor to deliver their brand of Ramonescore. This compilation did a great job in producing a platter that was not one-dimensional in sound. There are many veteran bands to appeal to long time fans as well as new bands to explore. Hey Ho, Let’s Go!