Poor Lily – “Vuxola”

(Photo Credit: Poor Lily)

Grade: A-

Key tracks: “Birdbomb,” “Railroad Spike”

Charging in at 19 tracks and 30 minutes, Bronx based punk trio Poor Lily’s sophomore release blends 80’s political hardcore punk with 90’s street punk, taking the best of both genres. Opener “Birdbomb” starts immediately with Max Capshaw’s charging guitars and Dom Baiocco’s drums that set the album’s tone of never-ending urgency. The song’s lyrics reference Slaughterhouse Five, a nice touch for the educated listeners. From there, the lyrics often switch from bleakly metaphorical to bluntly political. Tracks like “Crank Radio” and “Microwave” tell stories through their lyrics, while songs like “Send in the Drones” and “Justice Kennedy Has a Cold” tackle politics head-on. In this sense, the album resembles the Dead Kennedys, who handily switched from funny to topical to disturbing on a moment’s notice. Singer Adam Wisnieski’s voice even heavily resembles Jello Biafra’s, a natural resemblance, not faked. His voice is uneven at times, but given the album’s frantic nature, it’s easy to assimilate.

Where the band resembles the Dead Kennedys vocally and lyrically, they’re more musically aligned with street punk bands. The occasional bass breakdown (also provided by Wisnieski) would not sound out of place on a Ducky Boys or an early Dropkick Murphys record. There are hints of hardcore and post-rock included, though, so the album isn’t as formulaic as most street punk bands. Varying song lengths and lyrical switches keep the album interesting. No song sticks around too long, and no idea is too drawn-out. All in all, it is an inventive punk record that does not sacrifice any intensity for ambition.

“Vuxola” is streaming on Soundcloud for free, and drop by their website for more information and shows.

If you like this, try: There’s so many directions to go here. Future of the Left’s “the plot against common sense” (2012) is a much more metrical blending of politics and metaphors (and one of my favorite albums). The Dead Kennedys’ “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables” (1980) is a classic. Also, a forgotten band from the mid-00’s called Cheap Sex put some decent records that resemble what Poor Lily is doing.

-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