Sunday, March 15, 2015
New Regrets - EP - Punk Lives
Bandcamp (available now)
New Regrets make no attempt to reinvent the wheel, but what they do they do as well anybody. Full throttle punk that sounds as tough and urgent as anything did in the seventies, and that's largely down to the presence of frontman Ed Pittman, who was there at the creation.
Ed Pittman at fifty-eight is still the same politically motivated nuclear folk rocker he's always been, going back to 1979 when his band Toxic Reasons exploded onto the punk rock scene and captured the attention of people like East Bay Ray, and the Zero Boys' Paul Mahern who each took a shot at recording the band. Pitman left the band after their first long player (Independence, Risky Records, 1982), but his time in the band left behind a legend that remains to this day. Pittman has the requisite (well, it was requisite until the punk pop cuties came along later and soiled the scenery) vitriol, and his ragged edge vocals belie a melodicism that always manages to keep anything he does at the top of the pack.
He also writes like a miniature novelist - his songs seldom outstay their welcome, but those two minute are generally a joy. He gets in, says what he has to say in a manner that suggests he's listened to the best lyricists, and gets out. It's a bit amazing to think that a story could be told replete with refrains in less time than it takes to brush your teeth, but he does it every time.
Besides his well schooled wordsmithery and hummable tunes, he's also smart enough to have behind him a crack band half his age that sticks to the script as they tackle the tunes with dare I say, musical skills. That's right - they may be blasting through two minute punk rock anthems, but they're closer to the brawny delivery of New York City's The Dictators than they are to the Sex Pistols. No fan of hard rock or heavy metal would be put off by what's laid out here musically. It's a fun, fun ride.
The whole of this EP is under ten minutes, and can be had for three bucks, so don't just take the free listen on Bandcamp, throw these hard workers a few bucks, and act like you give a shit.
'Hang 'Em High' comes out of the gate with a clever metallic riff that welds itself to the tight chording rhythm guitar track, throbbing bass and drums, but it's Pittman who closes the deal with a voice and melody that sounds as comfortable as a pair of well worn boots. He sounds like a new version of every great punk band while retaining a persona that is clearly his own. This is the first time I've wanted to join a punk band in decades - these fellows do it right.
After a two minute tome on the ruling elite, it's off to the land of personal relationships, and 'Bleed For You' is an instant classic. It's driven by a great bassline by Jayson Hartings, whose playing certainly exhibits skills that were though unnecessary in punk's earliest days. At a minue thirteen, it's over all too soon.
'Play Your Game' features Pittman against the world as he unleashes his well earned angst towards everything that's gone so wrong. The guitars sound like chainsaws as their leader hurls them down the path of rock reclamation. He's not going to play your games anymore, and he's come back to take what's rightfully his. This is what punk rock was always supposed to be about, best of breed.
Matt Clark and James Downing play the parts of the punk/hard rock guitar team to a tee, and 'Ripper' is a great example of their ability to play slightly offset lockstep rhythms that slam their way into the room and keep things tightly focused - their edges are rough, but with intent at keeping the vehicle between the white lines. This has metal roots to go along with the punk sneer, and it fits perfectly. Pittman is again brilliant with both words and tune.
Pittman's venom drives 'White Planet', and his message is as clear as his band is tight. This one has that slightly science fiction tone that occasionally makes its way to the surface of the best punk, making some strange dna connection with Dick Dale's wildest rides. It's the combination of blitzkrieg guitars with a swinging, surfing drum beat that just drive you wild. A great way to end a set that's only crime is ending too soon.
Go with with me on this one - check it out, spend a few dollars and do your part to keeping yourself young, and this thing called rock alive, because this is exactly what it's all about.