The Boils, From the Bleachers / The Runs, Wet Sounds

The Boils, From the Bleachers/The Runs, Wet Sounds

The Boils and the Runs, and it’s only my first day — oi!

Two punk rock CDs could not be much more different than The Boils’ From the Bleachers and The Runs’ Wet Sounds. The two CDs reflect the opposing poles of strong ethos and pathos that make the trajectory of the music we listen to so dynamic. While The Runs churn out the traditional blend of Misfits, Ramones, and The Adolescents in a juvenile, ribald attempt to vent their sexual, societal, and psychological frustrations, The Boils grind those frustrations into a powerful, gritty, 25-song attack that leaves you wanting more.

I’m not saying that The Runs are bad for punk rock — in fact, their style brings in the masses. The title of the album, Wet Sounds, pretty much gives away everything: they’re a traditional punk band with a scummy sense of humor about life, liberty, and all the angst that comes out of punk-y disenfranchisement. And there’s really something in this album for everyone who has ever liked any punk over the years. Drummer Shawn Kees bangs out catchy tunes like “My Girlfriend’s an Australopithecine” in a style coming straight out of the Orange County, CA, scene of the 1980s. Meanwhile, morbid irony bleeds through vocalist/guitarist James Dunbar’s songs, like “Blood Feast (A Love Song)” or “Bought and Sold,” where he does his best Mike Ness impression and sneers his way through anti-capitalist lyrics. The problem with the CD isn’t the lack of heart, nor is it a lack of talent; the fault lays in a lack of direction — a lack of taste. The guys in the band seem to lack strength and individuality, and instead of risking a laugh on them, they go for the cheap laugh, the easy sound, and a style lacking in originality.

The Boils are a different story altogether. Although their roots lie deep within the oi! punk of yore, their latest CD, From the Bleachers, presents a unique style that feeds the genre as a whole and brings out the best in faith, compassion for one’s fellow man, and friendship (not to mention that they lay down one wicked rock-steady beat). While The Runs are that guy at the bar fucked up out of his wits and breaking objects unnecessarily, The Boils are that guy slapping you on the back, buying you shots, and saying “this one’s for the troops.” Unstoppable battle ballads like “Into the Enemy” and “A Far Cry From Extinction” highlight the group’s moon-stomping attack-mode ethos, which is turned up throughout the album as the band rebukes those who seek glamor and subjugation.

The album’s opening track begins with singer Greg Boil showing off his tattoos of the iron eagle and the liberty bell, and you think, “Oh, no! Is this going to be that kind of oi?” The album’s lyrics, however, stay faithful to a pragmatic conceptualization of American fraternity and freedom, in the face of a kind of Orwellian takeover staged by business leaders and politicians who wage war for economic resources and the profit of the wicked. At the same time, the band’s economic use of solos and punk pretension exemplifies oi!, while their skinhead reggae really kicks. In the end, these guys are just searching for a little freedom in the sun with lass and lager in hand. The Runs, on the other hand, want the same, but are just a little too f-ed up to go and get it. I guess the lesson is that if you like The Runs, you’d better cheer up before that guy from The Boils steals your girlfriend and your beer.

(TKO Records -- 8941 Atlanta Avenue, #505, Huntington Beach, CA. 92646; http://www.tkorecords.com/; Urban Cheese Records -- http://www.urbancheese.com/; The Boils -- http://www.myspace.com/theboils; The Runs -- http://www.theruns.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, June 28th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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