This week, we go from the streets of NYC to the the cold of the great plains to discover two interesting bands. Both have their own ways of dealing with music and hold true to their stories, songs and travels.
“Junkyard Golem” – Out of System Transfer
Born of the city that brought us “Choking Victim,” “INDK” and countless other classic punk rock gems from the jungle of New York City, Out of System Transfer continues that tradition of Big Apple bands. Combining trombones with pianos, banjos and guitars, this band brings a unique take on the folk world to the table of punk rock with a memorable sound and a fun album. “Junkyard Golem” is a well-produced, well-thought-out and well-composed example of what is possible for anti-folk and acoustic punk rock bands in the world today.
The album begins with the high-energy “Hank Stamper’s Blues,” in which a fast-paced bluegrass feeling is instantly delivered in a modern “thrash-grass” style. The album moves on to the fan favorite, “The Horse,” where politics of anarchism meets a playful, singalong-style folk song that is just as entertaining to dance to as it is to sit and listen. Out of System Transfer has a knack of delivering sometimes serious material in a way that a variety of listeners can get into and enjoy.
“June, 1969” is a good example of a modern anti-folk song that tells a story. In fact, all of these songs tell a story of city life and the dealings of a punk band caught in the fray of the excitement and horrors of New York. “Slant Rhymes and Eye Rhymes” is another great example of storytelling, taking the listener on a trip across the U.S. while leaving their woes and worries in the city. A traveling song written about traveling and writing songs really adds some depth and underground feeling to the band that connects with its audience and is able to convey its imagery through song. Classic troubadours such as Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot and even Jim Croce would be envious of the songs and stories delivered in “Junkyard Golem.”
Grab this album if your fancy is rock and roll, ska, folk, crackrocksteady or any form in between. The album does a great job of delivering its message to a variety of audiences while sticking close to punk rock roots and an anti-folk tinge. The true difficulty, while listening to this album, is trying to find a favorite song or memorable quote that stands out above the others. An excellent listen for fans of all music.
Check out Out of System Transfer at outofsystemtransfer.bandcamp.com.
“Glass Bones” – Straight Line Arrival
Straight out of the “freezing wasteland oilfield state of North Dakota” comes Straight Line Arrival’s “Glass Bones” with possibly one of the best album covers of the year. Besides that, the sound of the album varies from acoustic bedroom songs to alternative-sounding rock ‘n’ roll with dazzling displays of fingerpicking placed in between those lines.
Fresh off the presses, “Glass Bones” hits with a quick intro to the album, which is a bit of a downer, but quickly picks the pace up with the title track “Glass Bones,” an excellent testament about resiliency and strength. The heavy stomping chorus deploys a bit of anger and passion in the vocals and declares, “I’ve got glass bones, I’ve got thick skin and I’ve got a thick skull to match it.” The song is a look back on the year that apparently took a lot from the artist and lets everyone know that they won’t be taking the experience lightly. “Glass Bones” is a great bounce back track after a hard time and can give a bit of motivation to those in need of a little boost.
Another track that sticks out on this album is “Stuffed Elephants,” partially because the song doesn’t so much as even mention the animals in any form. Regardless, the lyrics stand out and present a message about love, hope and the future. “If I could hold a job as well as I can hold a cigarette, when I was 60 I could retire and not to a hospital bed,” is a humorous way of looking at one’s employment situation and gazing slightly into the future. The wordplay in this song is fun, and the melody is catchy enough to not get lost behind the vocals.
With a number of effects, ranging from over-driven guitars to backing vocals, this album really holds its own against the wave of underground acoustic artists flooding the airwaves and house shows of today. Straight Line Arrival delivers the album in a confident manner while getting their stories and experiences represented through songs in different styles. The experimentation with diversity and the method in which this band approaches it,positively adds to the overall musical experience of the album.
Check out Straight Line Arrival at straightlinearrival.bandcamp.com/album/glass-bones.