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Tired of the same new punk band coming out with the same old sound? The same new pants from the same hip store? While some may say new music doesn’t necessarily have to be different to be good, in this time of mass musical regurgitation where this week’s band sounds just like the last, The Atom Age has taken a stand and have been able to create a style of “21st century horn-tinged rock ‘n’ roll” that infuses garage rock, surf/indie, punk (pop/melodic), ska, jazz, and more, that tickles the ear with delight. All these different styles come together for some very danceable and “sing-alongable” tracks (that’s right folks – we create new words to describe this album, it’s that rad). Their style is reminiscent of many genres and you may be reminded of your favorite band while listening, but The Atom Age has something unique.
Kill Surf City is The Atom Age’s debut full-length record, released in March, 2010 on Solidarity Recordings, and weighs in at just over 45 minutes spanning 14 tracks. The album kicks off with a quintessential punk riff and nonstop energy that continues throughout its entirety. The vocals in the album are very versatile. Ryan varies his voice to create different sounds within each song, all the while maintaining a constant style that is classic punk/hardcore grit, with a little twang of old rock ‘n’ roll. Backing vocals really complete each song, and vary from gang “street punk” chants to Beach Boys-esque “waa waa’s” to the poppier “whoa ooo’s”.
Saxophone is an integral part to the sound, and The Atom Age has a great saxophone player. He belts out notes that really make you “drip some sort of liquid in your undies.” At some points the sax adds a crazy ‘psycho’ ska element reminiscent of MU330, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Less Than Jake, etc., while at others it reinforces the kind of jazz/rockabilly sound that makes these guys so different. The importance of the sax is truly displayed in the intro to One Minute To Midnight, with crazy, scary screeches kicking off the track, and again on Look, Watch, and Listen, where Brandon takes over with a blaring solo fit for a jazz ensemble, a carnival, or… a punk rock breakdown. Unlike some bands that only feature horns on select tracks, one thing I enjoyed about The Atom Age is that the saxophone is present on every track, and it really fills out the sound, not just adding a couple of harmonizing notes.
There are truly inspirations from the 50’s and 60’s apparent in this album; starting from the cover artwork to some of the sax and drum parts, there is definitely an aura of another era. Close your eyes and listen to Rock ‘n’ Roll And Why I Preach Against It, as your mind takes you to a time of surfers and bohemians, rockers and greasers. The Atom Age manages to mix all these styles without sounding generic, too gritty, or overly poppy. The songs are melodic and at times catchy, yet maintain a core that is true to ska/punk. This is an album that has not left my CD player (yes, I still use a CD player!) since I got it 2 weeks ago! There’s a lot of great songs to sing along to, dance to, and just appreciate. I look forward to new material from these Bay Area rockers.