The folks that caught the first wave of punk rock music just as it was breaking talk about it like war camp prisoners being liberated from slavery. For the first time, gone were the requirements of style, a sensible message, or, even, musical ability in the pursuit of making music.
Many of the first punk groups were comprised of sloppy musicians, as you may have heard. Their devil-may-care attitude and the fact that many of these made some very good rock records informed the future generation of artsy-punks who now knew that they had nobody to whom they needed to answer.
In 2020, just as the world was suspended, punk had once again been pushed out towards the very margins of commercial acceptability. Most artists reacted in the way that they’d learned to do over the years. Their music drifted further into the abstract. Their lyrics had layers and musicianship exhausted the vocabulary of rock. Now, punk was the one who required a college degree for admission. Punk had become prog without the fancy 10-minute guitar solos. Rick Wakeman might smile in satisfaction.
This is where the Newtown Aces come into the picture. The duo is comprised of long-term musicians. They’ve had the opportunity to see the trends come and go. They’ve been playing for decades. Creating a brand new band in 2021 is, no doubt, a risky endeavor. Still, with too few voices directly addressing the many people who were there for the punk revolution, Barny Smith & Dist set to work.
The result is a love letter to the potential of punk music and, also, incrimination towards the music industry’s compliment role in a world that has failed us. Waiter (a declaration of intent) acts as the host’s introduction and parental advisory. This is an album of overtly political songs.
The aggressive post-punk tone of Living in my head and Take back the streets contain heartfelt promises about rejecting the current political and economic system, even at the expense of personal comfort.
The poetry of Punk walk is a reminder of the things that inspired so many to create their own versions of the Clash of Killing Joke. “I don’t want what they worship“, Barny pledges.
The muscular bass guitar of No control accompanies recollections of punk’s credo of acceptance and investment in humanity and tolerance. Hey!Hey!No! No! treads on similar lyrical territory, but is delivered with a stomping groove, not unlike glam-rock icons Alvin Stardust or Slade.
It takes anger as pure as summer rain to write these types of songs. Nowhere is this more evident on the combative Firing squad and English Newtown gorilla, essentially the group members’ bios in musical form.
Finally, on Misunderstood, the English band holds true to their promise. This is not an art-rock record. It’s a direct statement, a complaint about the rich elites, their lack of care for those around them, and a warning for the many dreaming of joining them.
The future sound of punk is a powerful debut record from one of rock’s most well-intended groups. In a time where bands create their music to accommodate uncaring algorithms, this counts for a lot.