Our take: I’m selective about the pop-informed punk rock that I listen to. Maybe I’m a snob, but so much melodic punk I hear seems to lack substance and originality, borrowing moves from music I love without capturing the same magic. One current musician I back, though, is Joe Sussman. Joe first came onto my radar through his band Nancy, a two-piece featuring him and Nat Brower, another musician I keep a close eye on (his project Brower is not to be missed). Nancy’s With Child and A Nice Package LPs both came out in 2016 and we listened to them all the time in the shop… Jeff even liked them, and he’s even more selective about poppy punk than I am. I then followed Joe to his other projects like Dangus Tarkus and Muff Divers; Nancy also remains a going concern, having just released a new album on Neck Chop and Erste Theke Tonträger. XO’s is a new Chicago-based project featuring Joe, who also released it on his Ketchup & Mustard Industries label, along with Mat from Liquids and Alex from Bleeding Gums. While I’ve devoted several sentences to fanboy-ing out on Joe, of the related bands, XO’s sounds the most like Liquids, whom I also like, though I’ve had trouble keeping up with all of their releases. I also hear the Dickies and the Spits in XO’s music, two bands who know their way around a great punk song. If you like any of these bands, XO’s will be a slam dunk for you. Every song rules. And I’m reluctant to put too much emphasis on cover songs, but their cover of “Two of Hearts” is awesome.