Teenage Bottlerocket – Stealing the Covers (Album Review)

TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET – Stealing the Covers
Released – 14th July, 2017

Teenage Bottlerocket Line up:

Ray Carlisle – Lead & rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Kody Templeman – Lead & rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Miguel Chen – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Darren Chewka – Drums, backing vocals

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Teenage Bottlerocket are one of the best and most immensely fun punk rock bands out there today, and they’ve had a solid run of great records since their debut album Another Way, from way back in 2003. Their latest offering is Stealing The Covers and as the name suggests it’s a bunch of covers. Mostly from bands that you’ve never (or barely) heard of – and it’s just fucking great!

One problem for punk bands is that as they get more experienced they can lose some of their edge. You can put it down to them becoming better songwriters, better musicians or access to better production values, and while it can make for great records, sometimes it can make the music a little too safe. But by covering a bunch of obscure songs from under-appreciated acts they’ve found a way to keep their music a little less predictable. Of course, this isn’t to say that if TBR released a new original album it wouldn’t be just as great, but whatever, it’s a thing a lot of bands struggle with.

The album kicks off with ‘The Way I Know’, by a band called Varsity Weirdos and it immediately harks back to the simple brilliance of songs like ‘Don’t Want To Go‘ – the kind of poppy, fun silliness that TBR are famous for. From there it’s all great until it hits ‘Robocop was a Half-Breed Sellout’ – which is just fantastic. It’s such a weird topic to write about, and I just love it! While it’s hard to know how these songs sounded originally (without tracking them all down) it’s great that TBR have been able to infuse their sound with all of the music – you could listen to this whole album and not know they are covers. They all feel like TBR songs – okay, maybe not ‘Hat Nerd’ (originally by The Four Eyes), but it’s the exception that proves the rule… that’s a thing right?

 

As with all TBR records the vocals are impeccable. The duelling vocals of Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman are as wonderful as they’ve ever been – and the switching of the two leads from song to song or verse to verse breathes life to the music in a way that other bands might struggle to pull off. One would assume that it would have made for an interesting recording/writing process – trying to figure out how to work their voices into other people’s songs without taking too much away from the original work, but they pulled it off. It always feels organic – especially with something like ‘It Came From The Radio’, which sounds more like a TBR song than most TBR songs.

This is the first album that TBR have released since the tragic passing of their drummer, Brandon Carlisle (twin brother of Ray), in 2015. Their new drummer, Darren Chewka, does a solid job. He doesn’t ever really get a chance to shine, and maybe that’s due to the material, but everything about his playing is strong and fits in seamlessly. It’s always hard to get on board with a new band member, and Darren had especially big shoes to fill, but when it works, it works.

So the bottom line here is that this is a fucking great record, and fans of TBR are going to be absolutely stoked. For those unfamiliar with Teenage Bottlerocket, you could liken this music to The Ramones, but more modern and much weirder, but also much better (yeah, I said it, fight me).  Stealing the Covers is another in a long line of rad-as-fuck Teenage Bottlerocket records, so don’t be a pussy, go out there and buy this one.

Teenage Bottlerocket – Stealing the Covers track listing:
1: The Way I Know
2: Back and Forth
3: College Town
4: Don’t Go
5: Robocop Is a Halfbreed Sellout
6: No Hugging No Learning
7: Shit Fuck God Damn
8: Gay Parade
9: It Came From the Radio
10: Alien Motion Technology
11: Hat Nerd
12: My Very Best
13: I Kill Butterflies
14: Why The Big Pause

Rating: 8/10
Stealing the Covers is out July 14 via Fat Wreck Chords
Review by Dave Mullins

 

 

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