Album Review: The Brokedowns – “Species Bender”

Album Review: The Brokedowns – “Species Bender”

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There are so many bands doing the Dillinger Four thing. You know, it’s cool and all because the dudes in Dillinger Four sure can write some punk rocking tunes… but c’mon guys! There’s got to be more out there than Dillinger Four in your old tape decks, right? You got something besides Situationist Comedy in your record collection. Right? Right!?

Well, even if you don’t, The Brokedowns certainly do. And that’s what makes Species Bender such a bitchin’ album.

Now, you might tell me “But, Ghost Country, this still sounds like Dillinger Four!” and it does and tunes like “Celebrity Death Panel” couldn’t point their finger at it more. But from the opening of “Wizard Symptoms” you know this isn’t just a tribute album. There’s a distinctive twang, a riffy nature to The Brokedowns music that keeps them spruced up and fresh. Take “Done With Funk” and “Loyal Looper”, two of the album’s best tunes that trade the direct punk rock attack for a more  rock’n’rolling approach which hearkens more to the likes of Rocket From The Crypt and Obits than anything else. It’s a simple twist yet it brings a whole new life to the songs. It makes you want to get up and dance, or at the very least put some sweet shades on and send you cruising nowhere bound down a highway in the middle of the night.

The dizzying guitar lead of “Loyal Looper” could be the soundtrack to an old Twilight Zone episode, albeit one of the more badass ones, and “Apocalypse Seaside Heights” is so goddamn infectious you might catch yourself humming it repeatedly (and annoyingly to those around you) throughout your day.

But the Brokedowns take a step further and turn what could have easily been a gimmick into something truly unique and their own. From the more classic sounding “Celebrity Death Panel” and “You Got Miller’d” to the more unique songs like “This Cult Is A Bummer” the transition is seamless; The album showcases The Brokedowns ability to resort to the tried and true rules but also their fearless ability to bend and break them at will. In short, The Brokedowns know how to write some rocking, catchy punk rock. You want singalongs? Check. You want short tunes about bad times? Check. You want rough vocals and a crunchy bass lines? Check.  You want lyrics humourous and witty lyrics referencing things like the Octo-mom? Check! But the thing is, there are quite a few bands that match all those characteristics. What the Brokedowns have achieved with “Species Bender” is something far more than just Pabst Blue Ribbon punk rock, it’s a ridiculously tight album that’s both accessible and complex. It’s both intelligent and care-free. It’s catchy and infectious but not annoyingly so. But most importantly, it’s an instant classic and a step ahead for a genre that was quickly stagnating. With “Species Bender” the Brokedowns went from being the band that wear their influences on their sleeves to being the band other bands wear on their sleeves, and that’s a hard merit to get in the punk rock world these days.

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