Marking their four decades on the scene, SoCal punk veterans pay homage to fellow noisemakers.
It must have been difficult for these hardcore veterans to record their 40th anniversary album without bassist Steve Soto, who passed away in 2018 leaving singer Tony Reflex, the band’s other founding father, to be the sole bearer of their flag – but the quintet persevered and, not really able to write fresh material, mustered a fierce collection of covers. Not that their takes on pieces by influencers and peers lack fantasy: here, the Californians venture beyond the obvious, the current political climate in America, and stitch a sort of concept from the mostly obscure cuts, including one by a Spanish team. Run through the tracklist, and newly forged links become apparent.
With SPIRIT’s reinvigorated classic “I Got A Line On You” following the anthemically wild “I Like Drugs” from the SIMPLETONES repertoire, erasing the image of cocaine from the listener’s mind will prove impossible; given that these numbers are wrapped in the sweet spank of “Home Is Where” and “Not Going Back Home” – after the acidic delivery of TOXIC REASONS’ “God Bless America” whose initial solemnity ain’t never compromised nevertheless – perceiving the dots and lines comes easy. And, of course, it won’t be feasible to ignore any offering starting with a hurricane reading of THE STIFFS’ “Fuck You” where agrro’s swapped for effervescent rock ‘n’ rolling courtesy of Dan Root and Ian Taylor’s guitars which jollily rage, alongside Reflex’s voice, on “Lion’s Share” by GERMS before THE DICKIES’ “Just Say Yes” opens doors for infectious harmonies to flow in, and THE DILS’ “Class War” is angrily infused with a folk motif.
As a few tracks don’t reach the two-minute frontier, there’s a comical edge to everything so, once “Dirty Bomb” gets whacked thanks to Mike Cambra’s drums, “Fast, Fucked & Furious” should raise a smile despite the ensemble’s quasi-serious hysterics. This is why a longer “Not With You” from ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN’s armory doesn’t sound menacing, no matter how Brad Logan’s four strings ram it, well, home for “Back Door” to squeal and celebrate the ensemble’s milestone achievement in a true punk style. Long may they stay young.