14 Lashes (Independent)
Most punks mellow as they age, but at 35, Joshy Atomic of the Jolts—also known as Joshua Nickel—is going in the opposite direction, gleefully backsliding from his old band’s Ramones-worshipping, power-poppish punk to totally brutish, old-school hardcore. While there are metal bands in Vancouver who play with this intensity, speed, and savage commitment, for some weird reason there’s a shortage of this stuff on the punk-rock scene, even though punk is where this kinda thing started. It makes the album surprisingly refreshing: 14 Lashes boasts incoherently ranted lyrics that make you imagine spit flying from Nickel’s lips as he screams about how he doesn’t want to live in a fucked up world—for instance, in the song called, um, “(I Don’t Wanna Live in a) Fucked Up World”.
The High point is “Turner Street Ghost Motel”, which, at a length of just over two minutes, is the longest song on the album. Comparable to the fastest, fiercest pre-crossover DRI or Bad Brains tunes, 14 Lashes will make you wonder why you don’t listen to more hardcore.