Hunx & His Punx – “Street Punk”

(Photo Credit: Soundcloud)

Grade: B

Key Tracks: “Born Blonde,” “Street Punk”

Brilliantly named Hunx & His Punx have jumped to a bit of a different ship. With the most straightforward album title of the year, the San Francisco band tighten up their sound and pick up the pace. The album is titled “Street Punk” because it is, well, an effort to be a street punk band. This change is no more apparent than in the band’s album covers. The older, ridiculously fabulous Hunx & His Punx had an album cover of a close-up of a male crotch in a speedo. This album, a (faux) tattooed chest. Track eight is called “Don’t Call Me Fabulous.” The reason for the band’s switch in sub-genres is unknown, but what we’re left with is a decent transition record, over as soon as it starts.

The second track on “Street Punk” is called “Everyone’s a Pussy (F**k You Dude)” and consists of only those six words, screamed over a blistering thirty-one seconds. The album is twelve tracks, and barely twenty minutes. This is probably for the better, because Hunx & His Punx haven’t exactly mastered street punk yet. The album is full of quick punk blasts, but ones that land in between street punk and their older, girl-group influences. The result is a strange blending of ideas, one that has moments better than others, but often succeeds in doing its job. It isn’t as loud, or as consistently quick as other street punk albums. It does have the ferocity. There is anger and disgust, some coming natural and some forced. But even when it’s forced, it usually works, because the band believes it’ll work. Shannon from fellow San Fran punks Shannon and the Clams shares vocals on this record, resulting in a nice back-and-forth between singers.

Hunx is, in a way, his usual self here. He sounds the same vocally. Some of the lyrical themes are the same. Yet the band has sped everything up, and added reverb and feedback. It’s a different Hunx & His Punx, and it makes the listener wonder where the band will land next. And with the crotch and the chest taken as album covers, what’s next? What genre does the arms align with?

If you like this, try: “Living Dummy” by Pangea (2011). They’re an equally genre-less California-based punk band, and “Living Dummy” is one of my very favorite records.

-By Andrew McNally

The Ducky Boys – “Dead End Streets”

Photo Credit: Ducky Boys bandcamp page

Photo Credit: Ducky Boys bandcamp page

Grade: B

Key Tracks: “Up, Down & Wrong,” “I Was Intoxicated”

Boston street-punk legends the Ducky Boys returned from a second hiatus and even more line-up changes in 2011, and their second album since is a solid effort. It isn’t a goldmine, but it holds up remarkably well amongst the albums of their other aging contemporaries. The Ducky Boys have stuck to the same successful status quo, and it produces another good album. Lyrically, the album is kind of all over the place, in a good way. There is some emotional damage coming through in some lyrics, as the Ducky Boys have always defied some punk stereotypes and been ones to open up and explore themselves. There is, of course, typical street-punk songs too. Songs like the title track and the opener “You Don’t Wanna Know Me” exemplify the 90’s Boston street-punk scene that brought them thus far.

Musically, most tracks follow the simple punk formula, which is completely expected. In fact, it is welcoming to embrace, as most punk bands that survive the same length of time that the Ducky Boys have often open to slower and catchier music without any reason. The Ducky Boys have reason when they do, as they occasionally embrace acoustic, bluesy or reggae-inspired rhythms throughout the album, which provide some nice breaks in between stacks of punk songs. When the Boys switch up their influences, they work, because they have their reasoning to back it.

“Dead End Streets,” like many other punk albums, does begin to become tedious by the end, as the band’s better ideas are exhausted earlier in the album. Punk albums tend to have a way of making 34 minutes feel longer. “Dead End Streets” is still a strong record though. It is not completely original, and it does not stand up against classic punk. It does not try to be anything more than what it is, though, and it excels as an enjoyable and listenable street-punk record from some legends.

If you like this, try: “State of Grace” by Street Dogs, 2008.

-By Andrew McNally