1. Lonesome Dusty Road
2. Cruisin’ With My Baby
3. Ode To My Lungs & Liver
4. Rock Opera
5. The Day I Met My Doom
6. Hong Kong Sex Bomb
7. Lonely Hearts (Can’t Take No More)
8. Tequila Blue
9. I Hate Pneumonia
10. Treat Me Like A Dog
Local mainstays The Side Burns’ latest LP, Freakout 509, is an aggressive, exaggerated, unholy alliance of sixties swing rock and early Green Day. Bursting swaggering guitars and playful lyrics, Ziad, Philip, and Paul have crafted their own genre: punk rockabilly. And it’s every bit as cool and odd as it sounds.
Newbies to the band might be fooled by the country affectations of Lonesome Duty Road, which seems to parody the genre itself. Exaggerated crooner vocals sound at times like a drunk, unhinged Elvis as the band careens through this unexpectedly subversive tune which is both dark and hilarious.
Cruisin’ With My Baby is a personal favourite, vibrating with a trebly bass line and catchy chorus. The punk rock rasp veers into fry scream territory at times, and paired with anthemic “woah” tracks underpinning the bridge, you’d be forgiven for thinking this a long lost gem from Green Day’s Warning.
Folksy punk gets its day in the sun with “Ode To My Lungs and Liver”. Group voices come into play and pack an extra punch to lines such as “I smoke a lucky strike / hope you don’t fuck my life.” The wry lyrics and laid-back 90s rock flair offer flavours of OPM’s Heaven Is A Halfpipe– dark humour, but hewn together with lighthearted melodies.
The ‘Burns really show their mettle in the rollicking good times offered by Rock Opera. I feel bad for all the Green Day comparisons, but if this track was not inspired by St Jimmy/ Homecoming from pop-punk-turned-Broadway record American Idiot (2004), I’ll eat my guitar strings. Hell, they’re both bands consisting of three dudes who sing and play instruments! Both songs end with rolling drums, and both songs compare toxic love to the physical and mental toxicity of heroin! Whatever their inspiration, the guys pull it off easily. The track moves through sections, each one offering a different tempo and melody despite sharing a cohesive narrative, and cuts just shy of being the longest song on their 10-song record. I can just hear this song being echoed throughout a dingy rock n roll club in an LKF basement, and that makes me tingle with joy just a bit.
The Day I Met My Doom cranks the gain straight up, offering sludgy shades of post hardcore vocal affectations. In the true spirit of punk, slurred vocals aren’t a problem when the lyrics don’t matter as much as how they are delivered.
The Burns harken back to the 70s in Hong Kong Sex Bomb, a 70s-saturated rock n roll romp. Laden with nostalgic innuendos and guitars with attitude, Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light springs to mind as a similar ode to the blind passion of young lust.
Tapping the same vein is Lonely Hearts (Can’t Take No More), which offers theatrical elements galore. The song name itself is a clear invocation of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper era, but the dramatic pomp and circumstance is given some gritty old-school emo texture.
Eighth track Tequila Blue is a departure from form (but listen out for the album title, Freakout 509, being given a shoutout). This song is stripped back musically, carefree and summery with bongo drums laying down the rhythm and a saxophone adding some flair to the melody. The lead vocalist’s tone is different here too, clearer and richer, doing away with the guttural post-hardcore rasp while retaining his idiosyncratic, warbling vocal affectation. It feeds nicely into ska punk offering I Hate Pneumonia, a track heavy on the sax and punchy “warped Elvis” vocals.
Treat Me Like A Dog is a hell of a closing number. It weaves in slow and cautious, all picked guitar melody before the vocals and bass ebb and flow over it. It careens into a deeply satisfying 90s grunge tune, plodding thick into a musical interlude where the tempo picks up aggressively. It ends somewhat abruptly, each instrument dying off one by one with discordant notes or featherlight cymbals. All this fluid movement between sections of the song make for possibly the most cohesive track on the album, showing that the ‘Burns can turn their hands to deft song structure as well as any genre known to man.
Check out Freakout 509, as well as their earlier stuff, on BANDCAMP now!
By Jasmine GW