LA veterans Junkyard follow up their excellent 2017 comeback album ‘High Water’ with the release of a ‘new’ album entitled ‘Old Habits Die Hard’. Now, this album contains long lost songs recorded back in ’92 and features original members David Roach, guitarists Brian Baker and Chris Gates, bassist Todd Muscat and drummer Pat Muzingo.
These songs have actually been previously available and Junkyard diehards will probably already own the albums ‘Joker’ and ‘XXX’ that the band self-released and were selling over 10 years ago.
This collection of songs were slated to be released as the follow up to 1991’s ‘Sixes, Sevens and Nines’, but of course Grunge happened, the music scene changed, the band were dropped by Geffen and the proposed album shelved. It’s a familiar story that rings true with so many bands from that era.
Presented here in all their glory are the handpicked gems from those sessions, released for the first time on vinyl.
While ‘Sixes. Sevens and Nines’ followed a more laid back, country rock direction, with the likes of the MTV friendly ‘All The Time In The World’ and ‘Misery Loves Company’, the band found themselves trying to deliver hits for their record label, but still remaining true to their punk rock roots and write the songs they wanted to play. Those sessions provided an album that harks back to their first album and ultimately the sound the band continues with to this day.
‘Old Habits Die Hard’ is pretty much as you would expect, it doesn’t stray from what Junkyard were doing at the time. Hard, bluesy rock with a southern twist and a sleazy delivery.
That trademark bluesy swagger is evident from the off. The likes of opener ‘Pushed You Too Far’ and ‘Fall To Pieces’ are prime Junkyard. It’s all spit and sawdust, engine oil and cheap whiskey, as Gates and Baker trade dirty riffs and southern licks while vocalist David Roach spits lyrics like a punk rock Vince Neil in his prime.
At times the band comes close to repeating themselves. The bloozy ‘Blue Sin’ is pretty much a rewrite of ‘Long Way Home’ from the debut album and ‘Take Me Home’ is very similar to ‘Blooze’ the opener of that very same album. But I’m nit-picking, as they certainly didn’t struggle to deliver the singles the record company demanded. ‘Tried & True’ could’ve been the strong single contender. Heartfelt, full of sentiment, but with that bluesy Junkyard swagger still intact. Baker and Gates’ howling leads and fat riffs don’t disappoint. Again, ‘Holdin’ On’ is more evidence of that. A great melodic verse that leads to a catchy chorus, with nice gang backing vocals thrown in for good measure. It’s a song that would’ve been pure MTV fodder back in the day and it still holds up all these years later.
With its instantly hook-ridden chorus and metal riffage ‘I Come Crawling’ is the band taking the bull by the horns and delivering the goods. Elsewhere, the acoustic and countrified ‘Hanging Around’ is Junkyard doing their laid back balladry thang, which they always did with style and substance.
It’s interesting to note that Junkyard never actually split up and have been touring sporadically for their entire career. And while I feel ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ is not as strong an album as ‘High Water’, it’s a snapshot of where the band were heading during the Grunge years and proves they still had the songs when the record company ditched them for plaid and goatees.
This collection of songs do not sound dated or out of time because Junkyard were never part of that whole scene anyway. They continue to do what they have always done, play low down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll with attitude, because they are doing it to please nobody but themselves. As they say, old habits really do die hard.
Author: Ben Hughes
Acetate Records: Here
Buy Old Habits Here