“Power-pop” may have become a dirty word ever since the genre became saturated with hair bands poorly attempting to recreate the magic of Greg Shaw’s original Bomp Records roster, but Razz are one of the few Bay Area groups that actually sound right at home among Disconnected-era Stiv Bators and classic Real Kids.

Frontman/rhythm guitarist Dan Wood (formerly of The Pets and Tropical Sleep) keeps chord structure clean and simple as his voice carries instantly infectious melodies. Bassist Andy Jordan rounds out any roughness of Wood’s delivery as the pair’s voices blend impeccably. Jordan’s harmonies perfectly envelop Wood’s holler and add to the rich melodies. Coupled with the powerhouse drumming of Phil Lantz, Razz are the best qualities of power-pop with none of the cliche attempts at being just another revival band. Not only will this Friday mark the release of their debut four song 7″ EP, Pleasantries, but they will also debut a new lead guitarist, Joel Cusumano.

Lantz will be pulling double-duty when he opens the show with former Airfix Kits guitarist/frontman Allan McNaughton in The Neutrals. Bassist Phil Benson rounds out the lineup and adds low-end and harmonies to McNaughton’s treble-heavy guitar attack and shouted Scottish brogue. The sum of all parts, Neutrals fire off short, angular tantrums that would fit well along side the late ’70s/early ’80s UK DIY scene. Art-school amateurism meets post-punk maturity: Neutrals aren’t just another angry punk band or group young fashionable social climbers with Joy Division tattoos. They’re pissed, they’re not Swiss, and they are asking the hard questions: “What’s an ‘awl’? What’s an awl for? What’s it all for?”

South Bay bubblegum family band The Rantouls will close the night and will surely sing a song about something “little” (their discography includes “Little Green Hat,” “Little Dune Buggy,” and “Little Brown Jug.”). Gavin May’s voice lends itself perfectly to delivering the Joey Levine/1910 Fruitgum Co. sweetness and snarl. Expect denim waistcoats and smiles in abundance.


Rantouls, Neutrals, Razz
Hemlock Tavern 
August 5, 2016
9pm $7 (21+)