The Neighborhood Brats Blast Through Bushwick
The difference between the Neighborhood Brats and a lot of punk bands is that the Brats are more musically imaginative than most. Guitarist George Rager plays big, fat, blasting chords, not just crunchy little two-string power chords, and chooses his spots for solos. Frontwoman Jenny Angelillo projects with a big, powerful wail; likewise, the group’s sound is a throwback to classic first-wave bands like the Avengers, Dead Kennedys and Adverts. There’s been some turnover in the rhythm section, but the current one is as strong as ever, They’re making a rare New York stop on April 26 at 7 PM at Our Wicked Lady; cover is fifteen bucks at the door. There’s a screamo band on afterward who are good with song titles but not so good with music.
The Brats’ latest album Confines of Life – streaming at Bandcamp – came out about a year ago. It’s arguably their strongest release so far, both musically and lyrically. Rager’s multitracked, overdriven tube-amp guitar sonics are especially juicy this time out. As usual, they don’t shy away from disturbing issues. They tackle eco-disaster in Who Took the Rain, the catchy opening track, then take a venomous sprint through Signs and Semantics, Rager tossing in a couple of wry Dead Kennedys references.
Angelillo raises a middle finger to the objectification of women in Miss America Pageant while Rager shifts from Flamin’ Groovies jangle to fullscale roar. “I am not a model, I don’t act,” she wails in FFBF, which is over in less than a minute and a half. Transitional Housing is a spot-on, funny dismissal of the homeless-industrial complex, followed by We’ll Find You. Is this about surveillance, or us finding each other? Hard to tell.
The band reach hardcore escape velocity in Harvey Weinstein (Is a Symptom), then shift to ghoulabilly for the catchy instrumental All Nazis Must Die. It’s hard to think of a more spot-on appraisal of the state of the world right now than I Weep for the Future and its macabre undercurrent.
The longest and most musically interesting anthem on the record is Migraines: you can hear echoes of PiL and the Buzzcocks along with a peak-era DKs acidity. “All you do is talk and talk, I’m not standing quiet in the shadows,” Angelillo sings in next-to-last track, LeBron James. They wind up the record by punking the hell out of Joan Jett’s I Want You. This is one of the best rock records of the past several months.