A quick listen and a quick look at Bullets Or Balloons tags on bandcamp just goes to show how the far punk rock has travelled since the spirit of '77. What once meant intentionally amateur, no-fi 3 chord riffing from adrenalized teenagers has become shorthand for an anything goes approach, and an anarchic and revolutionary zeal. In many ways, punk rock has "grown up", or at least been refined, honed liked a sharpened straight razor, ditched the cartoonish caricature, while retaining the energy and fury and sarcasm.
Bullets Or Balloons are a group from Olympia, Washington, a place that has always held a loose definition of "punk rock". This short 'n sweet 7", released on the new Machine VII label, out of Takoma, Washington, is a blast of spastic, intricate songwriting, and sarcastic spoken word, that covers a lot of ground. Bullets Or Balloons are more inspired by Hella, Gang Of Four, The Minutemen, and At The Drive-In than The Exploited or The Sex Pistols, which is to say that they can play their instruments. Ryan Prado, writing for the Portland Mercury, described their sound as "temporal time-signature noodling and noose-tight riffs," and I couldn't agree more.
The four songs on the 7" are dirty, but never messy. Bullets Or Balloons are insanely well rehearsed, and the efforts are well captured on this small vinyl slab. Seeing as how progressive, psychedelic punk rock has been getting more recognition, these past couple of years, it seems that the time is right for people to discover this talented, and most likely insane, three piece.
What Bullets Or Balloons is doing is important, as it takes punk back to its "anything goes" roots, and avoids the cliche. This raises the possibility of actual revolution, an actual breaking down of rules and boundaries, rather than just becoming another lifestyle accessory.
So here's to the real punk rock! And for smart, passionate, committed bands like Bullets Or Balloons with something to say, that can actually play!
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