I have seen the future of punk rock and it’s got teeth! Lead singer, bassist and songstress Lucy Spazzy (an Aussie by way of London) and her merry Rats are creating quite a racket with their new self-titled vinyl release (Dirty Water Records) and it’s a stunner. In looking at the cover photo, Ms. Spazzy comes across as a leather-clad street-urchin poised to rip shit up as soon as the riffs kick in. But what lies beneath is a completely different story.

Those expecting big Joan Jett riffs of Brody Dalle’s sinister scowl are in for a surprise. With a sweet, melodic voice that recalls ’60s female crooners like Lulu and Petula Clark, juxtaposed against crunchy chords, driving rhythms and a slight melancholy feel, Lucy’s style is way at the other end of the spectrum. As imagined, this is not your standard-issue punk rock, yet, the fact that the band’s sound goes so much against the grain makes it a natural fit (along with healthy doses of power pop and garage rock).  Think the Ramones’ End of the Century chased by shots of Phil Spector and the early Bangles and you begin to get a sense.

The opener “Pills” best exemplifies the style with its insidious hooks, layered harmonies, Johnny Thunders licks and an underlying sullenness that bubbles just under the surface. The rest of the LP follows along in similar fashion with wispy songs like “So Simple,” “Melody” and “Night,” all of which showcase Lucy’s sentimental side without getting campy or even ironic, which is refreshing at a time when we’re all jaded and everything’s seemingly been done to death.

The album comes in black wax with highly limited runs in green or white and sounds warm and sufficiently blissful in this stellar analog package.

Chances are the band moniker “Leeds” doesn’t instantly ring a bell. If the name Royston Langdon does, it’s because he was the leader of the British ’90s glam/pop band Spacehog. With a killer debut (Resident Alien) and a big single (“In the Meantime”), the band ultimately failed to resonate long-term and faded out a few years later.

Now, Langdon’s back with his solo project Leeds and new album Everything’s Dandy. Far more laid-back than the crunchy, Bowie-esque pop of his former band, the album is an introspective, almost easy-listening affair. The Bowie influence still remains, especially as heard on the loungey “Never Let Go of Your Hand.” But the highlight of the LP is the Beatlesque “What Became of the People,” with its up-front vocal arrangement and haunting melodies. Overall, the album’s ultra-mellow approach may be a bit slow and slightly laborious—especially for fans of Langdon’s prior band. But, Leeds is not without its charms and eventually burrows its way into the psyche. (Urban Turban)

For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, hit me up at Retrohead77@yahoo.com

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