’68 with Grenadiers, Pagan + Crusch Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 21 July, 2017 It just …
I didn’t want to like Teenage Bottlerocket’s new record. Ideologically, it seems like a shitty move. A cover record full of songs from your friend’s bands who nobody knows—kinda seems like Elvis buying up the catalogues of blues musicians for peanuts and repackaging mega-hits from them.
One spin of the record though, all ideology disappeared. And yes, sure, that might be a product of a misaligned moral compass and anaemic convictions, but this idea—which seems like a ham-fisted cash-in at the expense of their friend’s bands—perfectly showcases the star that is front man Ray Carlisle.
No matter who has penned the material, when Ray steps up to the mic he hits his lines with an urgency and passion that hasn’t been heard on a pop punk record since Thrash Unreal. His command of melody propels these songs that stick pretty much in the Teenage Bottlerocket wheelhouse—punk, little bit of rock, little bit of hardcore, little bit of ska—into immensely enjoyable numbers on a record brief enough to leave you wanting more.
While the record doesn’t overstay its welcome, it does stumble a bit when Ray cedes the spotlight to Kody Templeman. Though the co-lead vocalist often brings a dynamism that bolsters Bottlerocket’s original compositions, here he just seems not as passionate as Ray. The songs where Kody steps up and takes on the leads aren’t as arresting but, when you’re dealing with the bulk of songs under two minutes, this really only ever seems like a minor gripe.
Whether or not you can get behind the Stealing the Covers idea—and it really doesn’t seem like an ironic title—this will have Teenage Bottlerocket fans hyped about whatever’s coming next.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Back and Forth, Don’t Go, RoboCop is a Halfbreed Sellout
STICK THIS NEXT TO: The Lawrence Arms, The Descendents, Four Year Strong (remember that covers record)