Sunday November 19th 2017

Stray Bullets – “Ghost Town Rockers”

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Stray Bullets – “Ghost Town Rockers”

 

The Stray Bullets are probably one of the more popular bands on our website. Which in a way, is too bad for us, seeing that their style of music is not one of our favorites.

Now, now, don’t get your trundles up in a bunch (omigod- that’s a real word!). I know, I know, you didn’t think you had any. No, it’s not post-Egyptian reggae music here. No electro-death metal version of Queen songs either. No singer-songwriter thrash indie sonnets.

But you do get the ska-punk. What did Bang say about ska once? He said it was too happy and too jumpy. The kind of music that is used for a kids show at the opening- just before the kids rush Mr. Willie and push him headlong into a tank of piranha.

Which, of course, leads us to the fine new album by Stray Bullets.

Put those bloody images of dismembered kids host in lurid, red water out of your mind. This is ska-punk at its finest where if you do like that style you’re guaranteed to walk away with a smile because even I like it.

I mean I like No Doubt, no doubt. I can take ska in small does and the lead-off track to this album is so kick ass that even though you’re “really heavily into industrial Eskimo grind-core, man” you’re bound to love this song.

Stray Bullets are a great band, you can’t go wrong. Now, if you were a stray bullet from a policeman’s gun nowadays, chances are you’d find your way home to a young black man. “The perpetrator then proceeded to draw bullets out of my gun and aim them towards his torso.”

But that’s another story. Let’s skank a bit.

After some ringing guitar chords and accents we’re into “Knife For The Pusherman.” With an upbeat rhythm, a pushing, chopping ska guitar, desperate, raspy vocals and a melodic guitar line slicing through, this adds up to a song that denotes passion and urgency. A tale of taking the law into one own hands with those who, slowly, take other lives for the loot. “Every single morning, on your corner, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I got a knife for the pusherman.” There’s a part where a guitar plays a Bo Didley beat by itself while the vocalist gives a talking part that ends with “I’m gonna cut your fuckin’ throat.” This is a great, energetic, passionate song and my favorite on the album.

 

Stray Bullets – “Ghost Town Rockers”
Knife For The Pusherman

 

“Ghost Town Rockers” comes swinging out of the gates with three crunching guitar chords till it switches to the upstroke ska guitar chops as the vocals stroll in. “Everybody’s sick, everybody’s broke/ Is this some dirty trick, is this a joke?/ They say it’s lonely on the top/ Down here the party don’t stop ’cause Ghost Town Rocker is all we got.” The verse boosts up a notch in energy as those guitars come crashing in again. This is top shelf rollickin’ roller-coaster ride of ska and punk.

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“Pro Patria Mori” (“it is sweet and right to die for your country”) starts (after some kids imitating a military march) with some strident down stroke chords and a rhythm that recalls “London Calling” to me. Hardly a bit of ska on this one, more a hard driving, intense rock tune with some political-societal commentary that some band like The Clash would’ve turned out in its prime. A winner of a song.

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“Parallels” is a high energy, rockin’ tune with the ska element almost hidden til the breakdown- which is a guitar alone till a trebly bass and rolling drums join in. This song is about the fallen and how we deal with them. “On these streets forgotten souls come burrowing through daylight…these tragedies unfolding…could you or I have fallen, too?…we walk away to lead our lives, dread the reflection you might see and parallels that you may find, the weakest link destroying what remains, these chains of humankind.” A great and powerful song.

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Ska-punk is a style, like the Irish Punk, has seem to have diminished in popularity in recent years. But I’ve seen this band sell out the Midway and I know they draw a lot of fans. And they have the same drummer, Scotty, as The Black Cheers- and I think he’s one of Boston’s best.

And when you hear this album you can see why they’re popular and though styles may change, a band doing a style at its best will always be in demand. So even if, like me, it’s not your first choice, I say give them a chance.

I did and I’m a better man for it.

 

(Slimedog)

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