Expectations sometimes provide shocks to the system when things prove to be quite different that what you expected. The Poison Boys have released some previous singles/ EPs and material, which I have loved, and I went into this debut album expecting the album to be a more straight forward up tempo punk n roll album. While it is definitely a punk n roll album at its core, these 12 diverse songs make up an album that is diverse, deep, accessible, and a whole lot of fun. I have been following the Poison Boys for a few years now, and I could not be happier with what they have done here. I can imagine everyone from Chuck Berry to Johnny Thunders wanting a chance to come back and guest on this one.
The title track gets the party started and hits my original expectations as it comes on like a cross between the Humpers and Electric Frankenstein. The mix allows the guitar riffs by Matt Dudzik to pop out of the speakers and the bass (mostly Adam Sheets) and drums (mostly Matt Chaney) hit just as hard. ‘Slow Down’ starts with some brief piano notes before everyone else gets in on the action. The riff in the song feels pretty standard, but the song really connects perfectly. I actually thought about old artists like the Big Bopper here as well as someone like the J. Geils Band as this song compels the listener to smile and enjoy the moment. I can picture the glasses in the air as the crowd sings along to the main hook. Another stone cold rock n roll style classic follows in ‘Cut Right Out.’ If anyone out there remembers the likes of Junk Records, this one would have fit like a glove on their roster with those backing ‘wooohs’ settling nicely in the mix. The beat here carries a great groove, guaranteed to get the hips shaking.
Starting on track four with ‘Empty Heart,’ we start to see the band really expanding the songs. The thundering groove of this epic five minute plus song initially may feel a little long, but this one has proven to be a grower with Dudzik’s charismatic vocals being stretched and pulled on the journey. ‘Downtown’ returns to a fairly basic trash rock standard approach with a simple hook that hits the spot. It feels a bit like the Stones jamming with Hanoi Rocks, especially the way some of the guitar pops in the mix where it gets some extra space. I also love the false ending but perhaps I should not give that away. Wrapping up the first half of the album, ‘Up to the Sky’ opens with some acoustic guitar reminding me of Johnny Thunders before the song kicks in at a midtempo pace on this fellow five minute rocker. The acoustic guitar touches really give this album a wonderful depth. Dudzik’s vocals on the chorus really inspire a singalong, even if you are like me and can’t sing a note.
Flip the record over and the good times show no let up with first single/ video ‘Tear Me Apart’ getting it started at breakneck speed. The vocals really take a backseat here with the verses featuring fewer words, and the electrifying guitar riffs pushed to the surface. The hook in the chorus is sharp, but it is the guitar that has stayed with me the most on this one so far. The piano that is featured here and across other songs will hopefully be replicated in the live setting. ‘Desperado’ features some awesome saxophone and again reminds me of early Hanoi Rocks, right down to Dudzik’s vocals, the tasteful backing vocals, and the way the chorus is constructed. This has been one of my early favorites from the record. Hopefully, the band will get an opportunity to make this a single at some point. Slowing the pace down a bit, ‘True Romance’ simmers along nicely with the groove getting under the skin. The backing ‘woooh’s’ are used again here to awesome effect. When the main chorus hits, it really opens up the whole song with the switch in the dynamics.
‘I Won’t Look Back’ turns the tempo back towards rocket speed with the guitar licks again deserving to be highlighted, but the song itself has been the slowest to connect with me. The band hit trash rock nirvana again with the rollicking ‘Say Goodbye’ reminding me again of the Humpers with the rhythm section nailing this one. Closing song ‘Been Here All Night’ truly feels like it had to be the closer on the album and ends the record on an incredible high. The song shimmies and shakes on the beat with the guitar riffs begging to be played by the listener. Something tells me the guys worked long and hard on this one but knew exactly where it needed to be on the album. It just feels like a celebration musically.
The Poison Boys showcase that there is plenty of magic left in rock n roll over the course of these 12 songs. There has clearly been a ton of heart, sweat, and love used to create this album as these songs drip with the genuine distilled spirits of everything that makes rock n roll amazing. Are the vocals always spotless? Do the instruments hit every note perfectly? Absolutely NOT! This is pure, primal rock n roll the way nature intended. A great summer for music became even better with this album. Recommended? You should have it put it on order when you started reading my introduction.
‘Out of my Head’ is available Here
Author: Gerald Stansbury