The So So Glos has quietly changed the course of the modern punk revival. The band did it without releasing a record (other than the roughshod duet of EPs Low Back Chain Shift and Tourism/Terrorism) or gaining even a modicum of hype.
Instead, a trio of Brooklyn brothers (plus one) affected a phase shift from within punk by crafting the most lo-fi of rallying points: a music venue. The So So Glos’ Shea Stadium BK, just off Grand Street in East Williamsburg, has spent the last three years collating and concentrating kids fed up with stodgy Aughts-Era indie-rock and looking to dance, then parsing them out among a small cadre of New York City-based punk-rock acts like Titus Andronicus, Diarrhea Planet, and Metz.
While the rest of the blogosphere yaps on about FiDLaR’s perfectly perfunctory debut, The So So Glos have built waves of goodwill through treating its fans like friends and inviting them home to party.
Blowout, The So So Glos’ long awaited proper debut, feels like confirmation of this ethos. A synthesis of sounds borne from watchful co-authors of Titus and the hard-rocking pop of Springsteen, The Replacements, or early Weezer, Blowout doesn’t sound confused about its own infectiousness. Yes, those are “oh-oh’s” bolstering the jaunty “Diss Town,” but that community-baiting isn’t fake to a band that’s already built its own crowd to sing back at it.
Even the most outright pop song, “Lost Weekend,” confidently changes gear from hooky spaz-out to piano-filled halftime pause, a playful reminder that punk, despite all protestations of some of the West Coast’s more aggro representatives, can be well crafted.
But band cohesion of The So So Glos’ ilk doesn’t come cheap—three of the band members have been playing together since before their voices changed (see the secret track at the end of “Dizzy” for a snippet of the band’s halcyon days). Thus, even when the band is hurtling down the freak-out jam of “Blowout,” none of the instruments feel like they’re about to pop a gasket and fly out of control.
However, complete control can have its downsides—“All of the Time” hops to a backbeat that’s a bit too showtuney and that the guitars are content to cede command to. But to make up for rare missteps like “All of the Time,” The So So Glos offers up a blistering potential classic first single, “Son of an American.”
The emotive core of Blowout matches the audiences that the band has cultivated over the past two years. There’s rarely talk of being completely broke; instead, the music is fueled by early 20’s angst about fitting into a world that increasingly seems completely hopeless.
Nihilistic hedonism pervades “Son of An American,” with its “Don’t wanna hear about it” chorus, as well as “Wrecking Ball,” which posits the nature of every college graduate gravitating to the slums of “the great trash patch” to make their unsatisfied youth more authentic.
Lead vocalist Alex Levine emotes less pot-hazed ennui than Nathan Williams of Wavves and far less drugged out frenzy than Elvis Keuhn of FiDLaR. Instead, Levine’s frequently Davey Havok-esque delivery transmits a brash, New Wave brattiness that melds perfectly with his brothers’ choppy work on the back end. Enforcing the stark tonal differences of the three is Levine’s yowled chorus to “Island Ridin'”: “A gangly boy is an angry boy.”
Blowout isn’t a scene defining release, capable of codifying a nation of miscreant youths into a whole behind brilliant potential second singles “Everything Revival” or “Island Ridin’.” Instead, The So So Glos has crafted something of an inclusive record of its activities over the past three years.
Most of the vocals feature an audible, off-key yelp in the background, an artificial recreation of the kids who have propped up Shea Stadium BK over scads of the more established Brooklyn scenes. Artist Reed Seifer’s art pieces of spray painted dollar bills outright say, “New York is a Lot of Work;” The So So Glos certainly knows it. Perhaps that’s why Blowout eventually feels like an exuberant, bratty, and nearly perfectly DIY victory lap from a band that put in the work and is poised to reap the rewards.
The So So Glos – Blowout Tracklist
- “Son of An American”
- “House of Glass”
- “Diss Town”
- “Lost Weekend”
- “Wrecking Ball”
- “All Of The Time”
- “Everything Revival”
- “Island Ridin'”