Beach Slang, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
I’ll confess to being pretty disappointed in recent years with punk rock in general. Maybe I’m showing my age, but seriously, most of what I’ve heard lately has left me pretty cold, to the point where I’ve wondered if it’s really worth listening to as much anymore. Then, as happens at times like these, the Universe steps in to tell me I’m wrong, and I’m being a moron…in this case, “the Universe” being Pennsylvania rock dudes Beach Slang, who’ve stopped me in my tracks and left me reeling.
Right from the first track, the band — fronted, interesting, by ex-Weston guitarist James Alex — shows that they know exactly what they’re doing, and that they fucking mean business. “Future Mixtape for the Art Kid” is raw and bruising but tight, with raspy/husky, half-whispered vocals, crunching guitars, and driving rhythms, riding the line between labelmates Japandroids’ fist-in-the-air anthem-rock and Jawbreaker’s snarling post-punk roar, with the added fire of thoroughly underrated early-’00s band The Talk.
There’s an oddly British lilt to the vocals (hence the Talk comparison above, in part), but while there’s a bit of old-school UK power-pop in there — think The Boys — what comes through way more strongly is The Replacements, particularly on “Spin The Dial,” which cheerfully mines “Alex Chilton” and crossbreeds the result with more rootsy rock like Lucero or Old 97’s. And god damn, those guitars…they’re barely restrained ’til the chorus, when they absolutely explode into a ball of chiming, shining fire, while Alex croons, “I’ve got a halo on my heart…”
“Punks In A Disco Bar” takes a similar tack, with rough-yet-melodic guitars, sung-shouted vocals, and solid, straightforward drums. “Atom Bomb” ups the speed some, just about charging into Rocket From The Crypt territory with unstoppable rhythms, guitars that may actually be on fire, and vocals that make you want to drive a muscle car around the ‘hood, throwing metal horns at anybody you see.
The band slows things down a little bit for “Hot Tramps,” which has genuinely hummable melodies buried beneath the wall-of-noise guitars and Alex’s mostly-whispered, cigarette-scratched voice. Despite the distortion, it’s a lovable, gentle, warm-hearted gem of a song, one I could listen to for days on end. “Wasted Daze of Youth” is along the same lines, with some awesome, chiming guitar riffs that are scuffed-up but still sweet. Just listening to it makes me want to rush home, plug in, and play guitar as loud as I can, until the neighbors come banging down my door.
So yeah, sometimes I lose faith, and sometimes that faith is restored. Sometimes, like with A Loud Bash of Teenage Feeling, it happens in a way that knocks me flat on my back, smiling wide, and all feels right once again with the Universe as a whole.