A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the diecut Carry On single by Booze & Glory
The catch about the genre that’s affectionately known as “street punk” is that those who make the music often do not make it for very long. The reason for that is simple: street punk is impoverished by nature – the best of the genre is made by penniless players who are making music either to entertain themselves or their friends – and it loses something after the band or musician in question sees some success. That isn’t to say that, with money, street punk bands cease making good music, just that the music loses an importance which never really returns post-success.
Look at Rancid, for example. Conspicuously, Rancid has made good punk albums for over twenty years but haven’t made a good street punk album since the band broke through in 1995. Why? Because all of the band members now have homes, don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from and don’t really have most of the problems they had while they were making their debut, Let’s Go and …And Out Come The Wolves.
The revolving door nature of street punk may be seen as frustrating or unfortunate by fans but, happily, there are still hungry bands on their way up and injecting the genre with flesh blood – like Booze & Glory, for example. True, the band is now six years, three LPs, four split EPs and several singles into their career, but their power and hunger remain in clear view and earshot on their newest diecut single, released by Pirates Press/Contra.
While they’re short, both sides of this single are undeniably sweet. “Carry On” is the A-side track and instantly recalls the glory days of nineties street punk (like the stuff that, yes, Rancid as well as Dropkick Murphys, The Unseen and Street Dogs were doing) with its speedy pacing, angry lyric sheet and rushed-raucous songwriting locked down tightly. Singer Question Mark forcefully grabs and holds listeners by the ears and refuses to let go as he barks out his frustration at the hollow promises he’s been told (“Do you remember back in the day/ The years of growing up … When you really believed the world belongs to us?” is a good example), but mirrors that with his own promise/threat to simply carry on while he and fellow guitarist Liam the Lion, bassist Super Bubbles and drummer Frank Pelle force belief from listeners with a wall of high octane, no-going-back punk rock.
As one listens – after the shock subsides – it’ll be impossible to decide if there’s any chance that the balance the band has stricken between ‘brilliant’ and ‘brutal’ is in any danger of faltering, but the rage of it is infectious enough that you’ll soon be indifferent. The finesse of this assault is flawless and, when it’s done, there will be no question about whether or not those listening will need more; flipping the vinyl hurriedly just goes without saying or thinking.
The B-side concedes only a fraction of the amount of energy that the A-side bore as “Blood From A Stone” slows down a little in order to include gang vocals and some “bring it on home” songwriting devices. Once again, Question Mark gives up a bit of regret and/or forlorn reminiscence in his vocal tone (matched nicely by lines like “It’s a life sentence/ No chance of parole/ I guess I’m as free as a man can be”), but it feels a little more genuine here – particularly in the more dry-eyed places (when “the boss” calls for the singer and his crew’s soul, for example), regardless of the volume levels.
In that end, as the song fades out, those who have gone front to back with this single will find that they’re not quite satisfied. Both “Blood From A Stone” and “Carry On” are great – that’s not the issue – but with just two songs on this single, listeners will only have their appetites whetted. They’ll want more immediately after working through this listening exercise, without question. That instinct comes through with all the force and power of reflex, and therein lies the proof that this single is a perfect success; Booze And Glory may indeed not be around for long but, after hearing this single, they’ll have a lot more bodies in line waiting/hoping for whatever may come next.