Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Prostitutes - Nineteen

I recently did a Facebook post asking people to name "the five greatest punk rock bands from the state of Pennsylvania". As far as those types of posts go, I usually let my friends do the talking and withhold my own opinions. I'm actually thinking about doing a full top ten list that I'll publish here. But I will tell you this: my #1 greatest Pennsylvanian punk band, without a doubt, is The Prostitutes. That might have even been true if the band had broken up 20 years ago. But I continue to be awed and inspired by the amazing music Kevin McGovern continues to turn out under The Prostitutes name - now 23 years after the release of the band's debut single.

Now based in Baltimore, The Prostitutes in their latest incarnation are a tight power trio also featuring JR Matthew on guitar and Barry Jewels on drums. The recent digital single "Cheap Highs" was a clear indicator that the 2019 version of The Prostitutes are a major force to be reckoned with! In short order, the band is back with another outstanding single that's available as a name your price download from Bandcamp. "Nineteen" is like the older, wiser counterpart to the band's classic song "Twenty-Two". It's a tale of aimlessness, dead-end employment, and rampant chemical abuse. Except in this case, the lyrics come from a place of perspective and reflection. I think most of us have those moments where we look back upon on our younger selves and think, "What in the hell was I doing?!". If you're a great artist like Kevin McGovern, you turn those thoughts into a song. This is exactly the kind of music you would hope to hear from a punk band nearing the quarter century mark of its existence. Lyrically and musically, it's informed by life experience and personal growth. Yet it still rages with a passion and purpose. Kevin doesn't rest on his past glories. Working with his new band mates and kindred spirit producer Tim Shock, he's moving forward! But don't for a minute think that means that he's fully retired his notorious nasty streak. "Not Around" is full of the blunt truth-telling and eloquent tongue-lashings that have been a Kevin McGovern signature for years. And it just straight-up rocks! "Now I'm leaving town/Low budget hearse in reverse" just might be the line of the year. This song is vintage Prostitutes, yet it feels updated for the musical landscape of 2019 punk rock.

If you had told 25-year-old me that I'd be reviewing The Prostitutes in 2019, I would have said, "No fucking way!" I certainly didn't foresee myself still writing about punk records when I was pushing 50, and I probably didn't foresee The Prostitutes making it out of the '90s alive. Yet here we are, and one thing that's become clear to me through the years is that punk rock is not something that people "outgrow". Over 40 is probably the median age of the people who read this blog and the members of bands I write about! I can sit here with a straight face and tell you I'm genuinely excited about The Prostitutes future. Whether you're a longtime fan or just hearing this band for the first time, "Nineteen" is essential listening.


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