In a world of revolving trends, many musicians find themselves not able to keep up with what is hot on today’s music scene. Country songs cross over onto pop charts. Country songs become dance mixes. Hard rockers belt out a ballad now and then. Some acts find themselves on the receiving end of a sellout choke hold, until either giving in or giving up. Being rich and famous, as it’s been said, is not as glamorous as it seems. But in today’s Britney Spears-afide world of music, where the word “influences” often means nothing, bucking any system could cost an artist his or her career.
Punk unit, Burntside, doesn’t seem to care about trends. Members of the band are not shy about what they are into. With a new CD and some fresh dates, they’ve been busy doing what many before them have done: basking in the simple, yet complicated and misunderstood, world of punk.
Recorded in Rockford, the self-titled debut has plenty to offer. A four-song demo, the disc will surely whet any punk appetite. True to the genre, the first cut, “Bad Decisions,” is a strong example of why punk music has had so much staying power. Like the Ramones and Misfits, Burntside does not pride itself on drawn-out guitar solos that get so technical they scare off most listeners. The proof of punk’s power lies in the lyrics and the melodies, created nicely by this band.
Lyrically, Burntside captures the in-your-face, blue-collar world of fun, frustration and angst, without deep philosophical rock ‘n’ roll excursions. After all, this is punk, and Burntside does it well, proving it as Shawn Scarpetta belts out “I make bad decisions all the time. …” The band also pays homage to Glen Danzig and Misfits with a medley of “Martian” and “Vampira,” blending the two tunes into one song.
A true-to-form performer, Scarpetta delivers pure punk ranges, staying as far away from high notes as he needs to, driving home classic, monotone verses. The band’s only guitar player, the 34-year-old keeps it simple, yet powerful, showing off his true musicianship only when needed.
Bassist Rob Jackson and drummer Dan Marinelli make up the rhythm section battery that keeps up with Scarpetta nicely, locking in all three instruments into the driving melodies. Both Jackson and Marinelli don’t get tremendously fancy; however, the holes left at times by only one guitar are filled in well.
Although this disc hardly lacks quality, it is stripped down and raw, without juvenile lyrics, pubescent overtones and melodramatic theatrics, which may prompt fans of Blink 182, +44 or Green Day to pass. It’s pure punk—the way it was originated. The New York Dolls, Ramones, Misfits and Velvet Underground would be proud of this effort.