Album Review: Teenage Bottlerocket – “Tales From Wyoming”

Teenage Bottlerocket are back with their 6th full length album and their first since amicably leaving previous label Fat Wreck. The band’s new home is the more eclectic Rise Records and everything seems all the more fresh for the move. The album was, like previous efforts, recorded at The Blasting Rooms and engineered by Jason Livermore and Andrew Berlin, but was this time produced by the living legend that is Bill Stevenson (Blag Flag/ Descendents/ All).

Of the 14 tracks on Tales From Wyoming there were a few already available to fans before the official release. ‘TV Set’, which was originally available on last year’s Red Scare Industries anniversary compilation 10 Years Of Your Dumb Bullshit, makes a very welcome re-recorded appearance. In the run up to the release date several songs were drip fed to various media outlets, namely ‘Nothing Else Matters (When I’m With You)’, ‘They Call Me Steve’ and ‘Haunted House’, and all three songs possessed enough light-heated catchy hooks to keep the average Bottlerocket fan foaming at the mouth anticipating the album’s release.

On Tales From Wyoming, Teenage Bottlerocket as ever, cover a myriad of topics; From the beginning of a relationship (‘I Found The One’), to the end of one (‘Last Time’), from Minecraft (‘They Call Me Steve’) to junk food (‘Too Much La Collina’) and from Haunted Houses (eh….’Haunted House’) to disagreeing about Metallica (‘Nothing Else Matters, When I’m With You’). Teenage Bottlerocket manage to keep everything pretty diverse and interesting, while keeping it all ticking over with the usual pop punk down stroking, dual vocal roles and infectious melodies. Other highlights come thick and fast. ‘In My Head’, the album’s opener, will do as it says on the tin and will swim around your consciousness long after you have stopped listening. ‘Dead Saturday’ belts out the speakers at an aggressive pace as does the minute and a half blast of ‘Bullshit’. With the band slowing things down somewhat with ‘Cockroach Strikes Again’, the band’s longest song to date at nearly 4 minutes in length.

No one wants or really expects Teenage Bottlerocket to find a new sound or direction. Fans of the band know and love the way the band operates and just want more of it but there are a couple of noticeable departures with Tales From Wyoming. Firstly, as fans of the band will already know all of the album covers adorn the same artwork with the only difference being the colour to the background and Bottlerocket logo. Tales From Wyoming changes things up slightly by giving the artwork a multi-colour red, white and blue background, paying homage to the Wyoming flag, with the logo appearing as white. This may not seem like much but is a distinctly noticeable difference to super fans. Perhaps the biggest surprise comes with the final and aforementioned song ‘Last Time’. ‘Last Time’ is essentially a ballad where Ray Carlisle plays with a violin accompanied acoustic guitar, which is a massive departure from anything the band has done before! This will turn some heads, maybe all the way around Exorcist style, but is a refreshing end to the album and is perhaps an indication to what a Ray Carlisle solo album might sound like were he to ever follow that path.

Teenage Bottlerocket say they strive to make every album like the last one but just a little bit better and while Tales From Wyoming doesn’t quite better 2012’s brilliant Freak Out, it does however stand shoulder to shoulder with it, which is in itself highly commendable. The new relationship with Rise Records has given them a new found impetus and the fact the label reached out to Bill Stevenson to produce Tales From Wyoming has proven to be a bit of a masterstroke. Naysayers will claim Tales From Wyoming is just more of the same from the leather clad Ramones loving four piece, while fans of Teenage Bottlerocket will thank their lucky stars that remains the case!

4/5 Stars

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