Friday, August 7, 2015
Cassette Review: Public Health "Down" (theory eight records)
[$5 // Edition of 100 // https://publichealth.bandcamp.com/album/down]
I'm not sure what it is about cassettes, but I often time like to think of them as being short- maybe it is because of the cassingle- and "Down" by Public Health is no exception as it is a five song EP. Maybe it's because I once received an Equal Vision Records sampler on cassette that was four songs on each side. Maybe it's because when I think of a "demo tape" I never think of it as being very long. But for the most part, the idea of really long music doesn't fit with cassettes for me (I know that it does exist and I have reviewed it and do enjoy it) and in a society where A.D.D. is growing and growing that is not a bad thing either. (I also like to think about what it would be like if each cassette I reviewed was someone's three-hour long masterpiece and how much of my time I'd have spent then versus now).
Public Health has elements of clanky rock n roll. I'm reminded of Tom Waits only without the deep set vocals. The vocals are actually a bit more distorted in their delivery. With hints of punk it also can also remind me of New Bomb Turks and The Cramps. There is also some slight rockabilly in here and that brings about the idea of the Amazing Crowns and how there once was a band called Royal Crown Revue and Amazing Royal Crowns and they even played Warped Tour together but then ended up having to change names because apparently they were too close looking or whatever. I don't know the entire story, but I do remember seeing them both on Warped Tour together once back when Warped Tour had just become a thing and it was most excellent.
With some leanings towards surf this has a certain level of Epitaph appeal to it but by that I mean Epitaph from before the 21st Century because it's that earliest days of Punk-O-Rama I hear coming out (Not past 4) It can also remind me of The Strokes- back when I heard that one song by them that I liked- and through some more dreamy clank we end on the last song which is really not like any of the others as the vocals are higher in their pitch and it's more of a chick-chick clank ala High Pop. It actually most reminds me of how the Vandals used to pull out one of those standout songs every once in a while that would make you wonder whether or not you were still listening to the same album.
I realize that I'll sound completely like that bitter old man stereotype if I say that punk isn't as good now as it was back in my day and, yes, I also realize that people who grew up with punk in the 1970's would say that same thing about the punk bands that I grew up with (Because I was born after the Ramones and Sex Pistols, but still love them) I'm not saying that punk rock is dead and I'm not saying that it isn't good I'm simply saying that it isn't as good as it was when Epitaph was first starting out and so was Nitro Records and Fat Wreck Chords. Obviously there are still good bands in the genre because Public Health is one of them. Being reminded of that time though is really one of the best feelings you can get.
To me, it's really the double edged sword to sound like Public Health but not in a bad way. For older guys like me, listening to this reminds me of a time when I felt music was at its very best. The fact that someone can do that in this day and age (And seriously, just search the "punk" tag on Bandcamp) is remarkable in and of itself because most music which comes relatively close quickly gets silenced by me. But also, if you're younger and you're hearing this, you're just thinking, "Wow, this doesn't sound like..." whatever punk band the kids are listening to that week. Regardless of whether or not that brings kids back to listen to those who came before, at least they are listening to something of substance so for that Public Health becomes rather vital.