Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Punk's Not Dead Yet


Punk’s not dead, yet it is getting a little stiff. Do we really need more play by the numbers politically charged punk rock bands? This is the perfect rhetorical question for The Hollow Points who fill their songs with rhetoric. It just begs to be asked, so now the plot dictates somebody answer it, so it might as well be I.

The Hollow Points are from Seattle, Washington and with all of that rain and the threat of Mt. Rainer blowing its top someday they’ve got two good reasons to be mad right there. Most of the songs on The Black Spot on Disaster Records rant against the establishment be it government or corporations, but to the band’s credit they keep it fair and balanced as this snippet from “The Sickness” shows: “Republicans and Democrats you corrupt and delegate and decide our country’s fate, I don’t know how I’m supposed to choose between two evils that I hate.” There are a few obligatory mentions of the war in Iraq and Halliburton, but the band is smart enough to cloak much of their anti-establishmentarianism lyrics in generalities. A song like “The Black Spot” is wise to just say “Live up to your disgrace! No respect for the human race! A red party marionette you’re not my Mr. President. I WANT YOU AWAY!” Angst like this will be just as timeless twenty years from now, unless a woman wins the presidency and then it might sound odd.

Sound wise The Hollow Points biggest antecedent is probably Social Distortion. Songs are fast, but not too fast and generally short on dynamics. That’s okay; you’re usually not looking for dynamics with hard charging amplified three chords and a cloud of dust type punk. Let the poseurs play around with big musical variations, we’re talking the proper use of subtlety here. Skateboarding, punk legend Duane Peters of U.S. Bombs produced and guitars really growl in the mix. The Hollow Points do stretch it out on a few choice cuts to prove that variety can sometimes be nice. My favorite track is “Sleaze of Seven Seas” which adds more than a dash of New Wave leavening to the full bore assault. “My Misfortune” incorporates a Spanish flamenco feel into something that quickly heads into Rancid territory, while “Pieces of Eight” is from the pirate/Irish genre that seems to pop up every now and then. Luckily it’s the last song and can be easily omitted.

I hope you’re not getting the impression that I’m panning this album. I’m suffering from a small case of ageism – heard it done before and done better. That doesn’t mean the world can’t use more punk rock of the sort played by The Hollow Points. Kids need some current music they can use for a soundtrack to their next protest of the World Bank. Meathead jocks need some music they can go aggro to while pummeling kids smaller than themselves. Pasty faced geeks who can tear their selves away from the latest video game sensation might like the rebellion offered up on The Black Spot. This aging wannabe rock critic and sometime musician might hear the same ol’ shit, but still feel compelled to pick up his guitar and play along to the codified chord changes. The Hollow Points may be running on retreads, but if you’re pissed off it’ll still get you to where you need to go.

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