The Brokedowns

Species Bender

Written by: PP on 30/11/2010 04:11:57

"Species Bender" by Chicago-based The Brokedowns has been floating near the top of my review list for quite some time now but I've never gotten around to reviewing it, partly because I really want to like it for the references to awesome bands that it contains, and partly because I just don't think it's that great of a record so didn't feel the urge to listen to it all too often. Fact is, they play precisely the sort of Midwestern punk that's my favorite style within the genre, referencing bands like Off With Their Heads, Boston-based punk rockers such as The Welch Boys, not to even mention one of the best punk rock bands of the last decade, Dillinger Four.

The idea is to have a rough vocalist, lots of guitar melodies and unconventional rhythms for punk that borrow equally much from psychobilly as they do from high-octane melodic punk, and present it in a way that makes do for a perfect beer drinking session background music. However, the problem is that in many places, The Brokedowns simply sound like a poor man's Dillinger Four without any of the intricacy in instruments, the intelligence in lyrics, or the strength in songwriting. That said, there are a couple of excellent tracks here too that display some of the talent many journalists praised the band for in reviews of their previous albums. "This Cult Is A Bummer" brings to mind Frank And Earnest's excellent EP from two months ago, and elsewhere tracks like "A Romantic Weekend At The Night Train Vineyards" or "Skvll Skewll" make an appearance with some good guitar melodies.

So it seems that the main problem with "Species Bender" is its inconsistency. It fails to elevate the majority of its songs to the same level as many of those especially in the final third of the record. Even a die-hard punk rock fan like me, who loves every band that The Brokedowns sound like to death, I have to swallow my genre bias here and admit the balance between the good and the average is dangerously tilted towards the latter. It's not terrible, but it could be so much better if all songs were like the few mentioned in this review. The artwork is awesome, however.

Download: A Romantic Weekend At The Night Train Vineyards, This Cult Is A Bummer, Skvll Skewll
For the fans of: The Welch Boys, Off With Their Heads, Dillinger Four
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.09.2010
Red Scare

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