Binky Philips and the Planets 2019
For punk’s sake! “The only band that didn’t get signed” eventually muscle up for their first-ever record release – youthful, if filled with nostalgia.
One may approach this collective cautiously, with a pinch of suspicion: surely there was a reason why they, the denizens of “CBGB” and other New York haunts, failed to land a deal and didn’t get any contract in the ensuing decades, right? Apparently, not, and now Binky Philips’ perseverance finally pays off, even though the guitarist had to add his name to the ensemble’s to distinguish it from many subsequent groups of the same moniker. What didn’t need any upgrade, only a few refinements, is the quartet’s sound because their fire and ire are still in place, so the album’s finale “Wear Out The Grooves” – rambunctious blues, given a vinyl crackle for further authenticity – can become a verdict on the listener’s part. Yes, the 28-minute, 10-track record will warrant repeated spins.
Plentiful uncompromising riffs from Binky and Nolan Roberts’ voice not only sharpen the edge of “Splitsville Or Bust” and other short missives but also shape choruses, while the rock ‘n’ roll groove feels relentless enough to make any old geezer dust off their denim and strut their stuff. Yet whereas the ticking rhythm and sweet harmonies of “Kinda Liked It At The Time” welcome dewy-eyed reminiscences, the foursome strip it all from the past sins and infuse the resulting recordings with optimistic shuffle as “Just Fine, Just Fine” suggests – they go the distance by measuring time in “24/7, 366” – but sarcasm is always there.
There’s no smile, though, behind the menacing “Drinking Gasoline” which would channel existential angst into heavy performance that’s as tight as the disco-drenched “Leave Me Hanging” and as focused as “Blink” whose crystal licks come completely unexpected. Still, this gnarled balladry serves the group well, especially when contrasted by the frantically belligerent “Sour Grapes.”
“No more bringing up the rear”: this line should ring true for the veteran band that managed to move to the frontline. Justice has been served, fresh material delivered, and glory seems to be around the corner – deservedly so.