Thursday, July 26, 2012
The No Tomorrow Boys are back!
I have a theory that when punk music started to take a wrong turn (circa the mid-'80s to early '90s), it was because it had lost touch with its rock n' roll roots. You didn't hear much Chuck Berry or Johnny Thunders or even Iggy Pop in crossover thrash or D-beat hardcore. I like my punk to rock, ya know? So it goes to figure that I'm going to have a soft spot for bands that not only acknowledge the rock n' roll element of punk music but also embrace it. To me, the definitive musical moment of '77 punk rock was The Avengers covering "C'mon Everybody". It was two eras converging - one band paying tribute to the sounds that begat punk rock and at the same time showing just how far they'd run with them. Who was the single coolest dude of first wave punk? Darby Crash? Sid Vicious? Nah, I'm gonna go with Billy Zoom, with his pompadour and silver leather jacket, wailing away on lead guitar like he was Chuck Berry's delinquent son. And when punk rock got really good again in the '90s, who was the band that propelled me into the thick of it? The '50s inspired Dimestore Haloes!
These days, the happy marriage of '77 punk and '57 rock n' roll lives on in bands like Portland's No Tomorrow Boys. I first reported on this trio late last year after they released their first single. And now they've got another record on the street - an endeavor of such magnitude that it took three labels to put it out! Based on their look, you might think, "Oh, so they're rockabilly." Well, not exactly. On this record, I'd describe their sound as '77/garage punk with a '50s rock n' roll influence. My cup of tea for sure! For lack of better terms, they sound more "punk" and less "retro" this time out. Yet they've retained all the switchblade swagger of their debut. Do you like The Gears? Teenage Head? Ever wondered what it would have sounded like if Gene Vincent had been in The Stooges? Then you're gonnna dig "Animal Eyes"! As good as the last record was, this one is even better. I really hear a band coming into its own and figuring out how to blend all these elements together and create a distinct sound. They're not the new Cramps. They're not the next Devil Dogs. They're the one-and-only No Tomorrow Boys! "Animal Eyes" is the shot of adrenaline you need to take your day to the next level. I'm talking wild, primitive rock n' roll without a trace of corniness, brimming with lusty energy and bona fide attitude. If this number doesn't have you off the couch and jumping around like a maniac in ten seconds flat, there may be no hope for you whatsoever.
The B-side is aces as well. "(You Gotta) Romeo It" is surely a crowd favorite when NTB play live. You just have to sing along. They really push the tempo on this one. I mean, they're flying. Reminds me a little of some of those early Beltones records that I loved back in the '90s where it was going a million miles an hour. These fellas are clearly having fun, and so are you if you're listening at home! "Hang On Baby" is no less frantic, and just as much of a blast! This band has done a very impressive thing: take the energy and spirit of music from 55 years ago and turn it into something fresh and happening enough to win over today's young 'uns. In a year full of fantastic 7-inches, this one may turn out to be the very best of the lot. Get hip to these cats!