I’ve always found punk rock in all its many forms to be, even when it’s anthemic, one of the most confessional genres as far as lyrics go. They are often confessions that speak to a broad audience and generally not with the pathetic whine of the solo singer-songwriter. Take for instance the opening few lines of “Around the Corner” from the album Empty Bottles by Indiana grit-punk quartet Bomb Cats, “Can I still get lost in the city? / Can I still get lost anywhere? / Can I still find a place that no one’s ever heard about? / Where people slip away for a while.” Living in the aged metropolis of Chicago, I have felt these same sentiments many times.
It is fucking hard to go somewhere where there are no people around you in this city. It is virtually impossible unless you’re willing to stay up late on a sub-zero night, and even then there is always someone waltzing around in a moth eaten overcoat trying to bum a cigarette or a dollar from you as you get off the train. Singer Chris Farrell continues, “I used to run around the corner/and no one noticed me at all.” Perhaps my sense of longing for solitude and Farrell’s sense differ slightly in their reasoning but it’s this want of discovering something new that many people can relate to.
The confessions continue on “Empty Bottles” as Farrell laments, “you can take my body / please don’t ask me for my soul,” over a steady and jangle-y blues-rock riff as his band mates ooh melodic arias which give the song character. I should mention, if it isn’t already clear that the type of punk that Bomb Cats play is not the minute and a half speed metal kind, but that of a band like Social Distortion at their most radio friendly. And Bomb Cats are extremely radio friendly all across Empty Bottles.
There’s the melodic downtempo “I Wanted to Tell You,” the sparse and catchy “Fight Forever” and the bar room rocker “Anything” which was penned and sung by bassist Russ Webster. Then there’s the nearly nine-minute “She Said” where Bomb Cats let it all go and the song culminates in an all-out jam session. They do pay an odd homage to the faster side of punk on the quirky sore thumb “The Dog Who Loved Starbucks” but finish the record off nicely with the country tinged head banger “Get Away.”
Empty Bottles may get punkish at times but its roots are in old-fashioned rock n’ roll of the kind it seems is harder and harder to find these days. If you’ve been on the lookout for some good tunes to knock a few back to, Bomb Cats Empty Bottles is a pretty good album to drink to.
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