Sometimes you come across a record which reminds you of why you fell in with a particular band/style/etc in the first place. A record that you can proudly hold up in the air and scream to the winds, "THIS is _____ in full glory, this could be the only ______ record you need to own", or "HELL yeah, ________ is/are back!"
This "new" record by legendary Chicago punkster Jeff Pezzati's "other" band The Bomb, Indecision, could be exactly that. Note: "New" because while released in 2005, the record's new to yours truly (had it since then but only listened to a song or two until - get this - yesterday), and "Other" because Pezzati's main gig Naked Raygun is alive and kicking, in fact performing tonight at House of Blues, Chicago.
Naked Raygun at Subterranean, Chicago 11/4/06
Pezzati is hardly new to the scene, having led Naked Raygun out of the miniscule early 1980s Chicago punk scene into national recognition, and international gigging, by the early 1990s - themselves solidifying their signature Buzzcocks-meets-Minor Threat sound over several classic, legendary albums until their hibernation period that began in 1992. Retired from music for some time, Pezzati and the rest of Raygun performed a handful of reunion gigs in 1997, and disappeared again until reuniting - for good, apparently, in 2006.
Meanwhile, in the late 90s Pezzati resurfaced with a new crew and new songs, eventually with a Steve Albini-recorded debut LP Torch Songs in 2000 (on Pezzati's own Jettison Music label, itself named in tribute to the legendary Raygun 1988 LP Jettison). That record was OK, but was singular in that it featured Jeff on bass guitar for the first time since his stint with Big Black in the mid 1980s. The songwriting, while itself OK, didn't exactly match up with what Naked Raygun could toss off in an afternoon, at their peak. Put it this way - I have it as a longtime fan of Jeff Pezzati, but it's not something I'll ever give more than a casual glance at.
The Bomb, Jeff Pezzati on right
We need to back up a bit to bring this all into context.
Naked Raygun was/is one of those genre-defining bands, a case where great riches, fame and worldwide domination could have been theirs had they simply wanted it enough. Raygun perfected the strongly melodic, funny, blistering, powerpophardcorepunk style made famous in the 90s by bands such as Green Day and Foo Fighters - yet Raygun did it first, in some cases 10 years before. They were just too soon, and furthermore, were sadly content to live with the regional fame they accrued (they were HUGE in Chicago during their prime, to the point where other major touring acts wouldn't schedule opposite a Raygun gig), and the occasional national (and in 1989, European) tour to play for the kids. So when they faded out in 1992, after a mediocre album which did nothing but keep the name in the record racks, they left the door open for the usurpers in that post-Nirvana age to take the torch they blazed and run with it.
Fast forward to yesterday. In the process of researching tunes for the blog, I popped on this record and was BLOWN AWAY. Everything I loved about Naked Raygun is here in full glory - the blistering guitars, the fantastic call-and-response choruses, Pezzati's signature "whoa-oh-oh" vocals, it's all here - evidenced over 12 spectacular songs, recorded by Jawbox's J. Robbins. And I never knew about it! Pezzati is back as vocalist and primary songwriter, but this time with Jeff Dean on guitars, and stole the rhythm section from Chicago-area punkers The Methadones to anchor it all.
THE BOMB / Indecision
(2005 Thick Records)
OK, there are a few not-so-stellar tracks, but every album has them, and I'll not name them just because I'm silly that way. However tracks like the incendiary "Burn It All" (despite the odd-for-Pezzati skapunk intro) are as good as you'll ever find from him, and easily could be tracks from a great, lost, Naked Raygun record.
So I know Jeff Pezzati still has it in him. Why doesn't Naked Raygun - as I said, back in full blown tour mode with us today - do this? The world would be theirs, if they wanted it.
1. Up From The Floor
3. Hardly Shed A Tear
4. Burn It All
5. Further From The Truth
6. Never Want To See You Again
7. Won't Apologize
8. Bring The Shotgun
9. Turned On
10. Nothing To Say
11. Faith Anymore
12. 1000 Tons of Ice
------------- APPENDIX ----------------
This record as-released is a bad, bad sufferer of the audiophile's greatest scourge, ugly overcompression/limiting (better known as the Loudness Wars). See the links on the sidebar for more info about this horrible affliction, and here's a good visual of it below from this album as-released (click through for full-size)...
I do have tricks up my sleeve for fixing the worst of it, bringing some well-needed dynamics back in play, which I've done for the fileset linked above (and trust me, it now sounds 1,000,000 times better for it) - but post-facto restoration should IMHO never be needed - get it right the first time!
Here's a visual of the same files in the shot above, but having been de-futzed with care:
I really, REALLY despise this trend in music. We all have volume knobs, if things are too quiet, TURN IT UP! Don't do it for us, and don't give us muddled/flattened crap. End rant.