Public Eye’s second album ‘Music For Leisure’. Written in the wake of the US presidential election in 2016, and surrounded by the sinister political voices that seemingly felt legitimised by Trump, it’s the sound of fury, Boredom, Alienation, exercised through repetitive solid basslines, raw guitar stabs that loop (‘Awful Questions’)  and a production that sounds cold at times and angular, sharp and isolated. Arty punk if you like videos that would be black and white and feature urban landscapes apartment blocks and concrete you know the drill.

Formed in Portland, Oregon in 2016, Public Eye’s membership takes in three-quarters of notorious punks Autistic Youth,  vocalist Nick Vicario delivers his words through a one-paced tone it remains melodic taking a leaf out of Joy Divisions Ian Curtis’ book (possibly) as he remains impassive throughout its tastefully melodic stuff.  There is a certain amount of metallic industrial Buzzcocks going on as well like the borrowed licks on ‘New Years’ which is totally early Shelley and Diggle.

The vibe might be one of worry about how the world is turning to shit due to all the right-wing nonsense we’re currently experiencing in countries around the globe and not just America which helps resonate these songs. It’s not a warm fuzzy record but a jarring jolt and they encapsulate that on the excellent ‘Lost Dog’. I guess they’re preaching to the converted here because I can’t imagine a Make America Great again trucker hat-wearing no to immigrants or let’s help the less fortunate is going to gravitate towards a record of this nature anyway.

It does soften and the mood isn’t always one of despair honest! ‘Neat Machine / Red Flag’ is a great mid-paced song with great arrangement and I love the bv’s and gang vocals on the chorus. If you want to escape the madness tracks like the lo-fi riffs of ‘The Fiend’ is basic and simple but that doesn’t take anything away from the energy it creates. Certainly, the second half of this record gets warmer if you know what I mean and the penultimate slab of black and white ‘The Duet’ is excellent with its rolling bassline taking centre stage before the headfuck whig out of the saxophone comes crashing in. It only leaves the decidedly frosty but strongest track on the record ‘You’re Being Laughed At’ to wrap this up all the best bits of this record all poured into one three and a half minute song.

If all else fails and we’re indeed heading to Hell in a handcart thanks to governments who only serve themselves then we’ve got a pretty decent mixtape for the trip and this would make the cut.

Bandcamp

The story of the RATBOYS goes back to the summer of 2008. In epic Def Lepard and Guns N Roses lengths of recording breaks, The Ratboys have taken their time between albums to let the first one breathe haha!

Truth is the band fell apart and it took them until 2017 for Vincenzo and Eric St John to reboot the RATBOYS. With little success at first until finally in early 2019 guitar slinger James and new drummer Reno entered the pictures.

Within a couple of weeks the sophomore album “Click” was recorded and, like the first album, it was mixed by the one and only Pierre Vervloesem. Proceedings get underway with their homage to the one and only Ramones with ‘Everybody Loves The Ramones’ which is a fair statement and using ever Ramoneclone trick in the book voila! a song is born. The retro crunch of ‘Swimming With The Sharks’ is more of the same to be fair with familiar Ramone like melodies its uptempo but with a mixture of Sweet glam thrown in for good measure which is the MO for the album I guess with various degrees of separation from the likes of The Heartbreakers and other sleazy Rock and Rollas thrown into the mix at various junctures.

 

‘Listen Closely To Your Heart’ has that johnny and Walter trade-off going on which is never a bad thing at all. The band change gears throughout the album with songs like ‘Summer School girl’ being more power pop and laid back it adds the classic power-pop jangle whilst ‘Stand Up And Fight’ is straight outta The Boys songbook with added attitude and a bit of a kick.

After a brief venture through Motor City territory, we end up at ‘The Golden Age Of Trash’ and one of the best tracks on the album as the band stray off the power-pop path and take a trip through the mid ’70s Mott like glam which makes for a really good tune.  They introduce a swirling keyboard to proceedings on penultimate track ‘Leave Me No Choice’.

Whilst it doesn’t break new ground its a really solid album blending all the components I love from power pop to punk rock to ’70s glam its great to hear bands like the Ratboys kick out the jams and I hope they continue to evolve and hope its not another decade or two before they follow this one up.

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Buy ‘Click’ Here / Rum Bar Records Bandcamp 

Author: Dom Daley