Picture the scene; You’re the guitar player in a cool punk n roll band with a member of The Wildhearts, you release a well-received mini-album, a couple of singles, do a bunch of great support gigs with cool bands, even some great headline shows of your own. Things are looking up. Then The Wildhearts reform, your singer/bass player goes back to said band (quite rightly) to take on the world and record one of the greatest rock albums of the last decade, leaving your little band in hiatus. The drummer and guitar player form a cool as fuck pop-punk band called The Spangles and you’re left twiddling your bleedin’ thumbs until they’ve got it all out of their system.
Well, we may not have The Main Grains anymore, but that loveable rogue JJ Watt is back from the ashes with a new band and he’s only gone and roped in the likes of Kory Clarke and Tracii Guns to guest on his new project The City Kids (no, not the long gone, Cardiff based glam legends, how many times do I have to tell ya?!)
Joining JJ are guitarist Dennis Post (Warrior Soul/Flush The Fashion), Berty Burton (Tigertailz) and Dave Sanders (Falling Red). The City Kids follow the recent single release ‘Best Of You’ with their debut album ‘Things That Never Were’. Self-produced and mastered by the legend that is Dave Draper, ‘Things That Never Were’ is a collection of songs and ideas penned by the guitar player when he was still in The Main Grains. In fact, the overly catchy ‘You Get Nothing’ was a live favourite in their set.
You could say The City Kids sound is no real departure from JJ’s previous band. If anything the sound is rawer, the vocals dirtier, but the melody is still prevalent throughout. This is gritty rock ‘n’ roll with a sound that sits somewhere between Social Distortion and The Yo-Yos.
‘Best Of You’ opens the album in style with a Ramones style “one-two-free-four” count in and a blistering guitar lick. Dirty biker rock is the order of the day, JJ’s vocals as gritty as the guitars are dirty. Fat, ringing power chords fill the verse as it powers to an anthemic and upbeat chorus. A sonic guitar solo that would make Dregen proud and a Wildhearts styled mid-song breakdown gives you a hint where these guys are coming from and where the rest of the album will be taking us.
It’s no surprise the aforementioned ‘You Get Nothing’ was a Main Grains live staple. That chorus refrain is a banger, and hearing a recorded version finally does it justice. At 2 minutes 30 seconds, it’s over in a flash leaving the listener crying out for more.
And much more they give us. Mid-paced rockers such as ‘Before You Fall’ and ‘All I Want’ are all well and good, the latter taken to another level with some blistering fretwork courtesy of LA Guns guitar slinger Tracii Guns. Elsewhere, ‘No More Heroes’ is a catchy, radio-friendly slice of power pop with a punky edge, think The Replacements meets Social Distortion for reference here.
There are a couple of true standout tracks. ‘Rats’ is a killer, trashy ride featuring Billy Tee and Alex Holmes from The Suicide Notes. Their delivery adds a certain sleaziness that gives an edgy, Faster Pussycat meets Backyard Babies feel. The guitars are slung around the knees, the gang vocals spat with venom. This one is a whole lotta fun, as is album closer ‘Round And (A) Round’. A song that was co-written with Warrior Soul legend Kory Clarke and features the man himself sharing lead vocals with JJ, along with those The Suicide Notes dudes, yet again adding gang vocal goodness for the chorus. This is a killer, no-frills anthem. Upbeat, punk and belligerent just as you would expect. Kory’s unmistakable raspy vocals are on fine form and it pretty much sums up the whole feel of the album.
If you like your music, loud, proud and raw as fuck, if you like your rock with some dirt under the fingernails and extra power under the hood, then you could do no better than check out this new long-player from The City Kids.
The limited-edition 2 CD version of ‘Things That Never Were’ sold out in just 5 hours, but you can pre-order the extremely unlimited standard CD from the link below right now.
Buy ‘The Things That Never Were’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes