Cleopatra 2020


New World punk revivalists pay noisy tribute to their spiritual home and make their paeans resonate.

This collective never pretended to be independently cultivated but, over the last forty years, they created a genuinely individual schtick which could be a sole saving grace for a covers album if not for the record’s underlying sentiment: love for The Big Apple – the turf that enabled distinct nonconforming artists grow, rise to fame and sometimes prosper. THE FUZZTONES don’t belong there corporally anymore, yet they still share the NYC ethos, which is why “NYC” has a sort of nuclear energy about it many a contemporary musician would not be able to muster and project. Of course, the material selection plays a major role in such cases, so the veterans approached the tracklist with a connoisseur’s taste.

Sure, singing Sinatra seemed normal for a nihilist crowd ever since Sid Vicious made “My Way” a part of punk narrative, therefore there’s nothing alien about this ensemble opening their eighth album with “New York, New York” – even though what sounded triumphantly suave in Ol’ Blue Eyes’ voice becomes a reckless romp when delivered by Rudi Protrudi’s booming vocals, especially given lyrical changes and the removal of the titular line. Afterwards, the foursome stick for the most part to the legacy of the CBGB’s denizens – including BÖC whose “Transmaniacon MC” has been modified enough to acquire a previously unheard fervency – yet if JON COLLINS BAND’s “The Man In Me” has retained its original piano-laden portent, “Microdot” has lost the infectious “Chinese Rocks” core. Still, THE VOIDOIDS’ “You Gotta Lose” – another piece Richard Hell co-wrote – oozes youthful vim via mighty twang, and Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” exudes a relaxed sexual threat.

Protrudi’s team may not move away from the rhythm-and-blues of MINK DEVILLE’s “Let Me Dream” or THE FUGS’s “Skin Flowers” – harmonica remains at the pieces’ fore – but buzzy ivories lend a fresh flavor to DEAD BOYS’ “High Tension Wire” and “Not Anymore” and fuzzy guitars spike NEW YORK DOLLS’s “Babylon” with raw bile. There’s no needless urban sophistication to the quartet’s take on Wayne County’s “Flip Your Wig” where the groove is a garagey as it gets, yet RAMONES’ “53rd & 3rd” is infused with an unexpected elegance which will seep into a rather faithful reading of MAD VIOLETS’ “Psilocybe” that’s mesmeric, indeed. The group place a carnivalesque scent in THE CRAMPS’s “New Kind Of Kick” that’s punctured by Eric Geevers’s bass and spiced up by Marco Rivagli’s drums while the singer’s six string rave an’ rage, and Lana Loveland’s organ waves lap over this sweet noise.

This is how they capture the New York spirit – by echoing the city’s natural sonics through instrumental barrage and emotional singing. It’s hard to restore its punk past, and there’s no need to, because THE FUZZTONES update the glory of yore for future use here.


December 23, 2020

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