Defining ‘punk’ is like trying to ask The Sex Pistols to please keep the noise down. Whilst the good intention might be there, it’s a truly futile effort. Throughout the years punk has evolved in both the UK and USA to mean different things and be recognised differently by every generation. Classic punk can, of course, be nailed down to bands like the aforementioned Pistols and The Clash but many will also add Green Day and early Fall Out Boy to the mix and that’s before we even begin to get into the rise in popularity of pop punk like Paramore. So, how do we classify punk? Well, two things are a given: an element of DIY and a fan first attitude. For this reason, Rare Americans are the new pop punk kids on the scene with their debut self-titled album, Rare Americans.
Listen to lead track ‘Cats, Dogs and Rats’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhEOImokCcM&t=1s
Rare Americans are an example of, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again.’ After their first musical effort, The Lunas, didn’t pan out, frontman James Priestner and guitarist Lubo Ivan were left searching for a sign and found it about as close to home as you can get. During a family holiday in the Caribbean, James discovered a song writing partner in his brother, Jared, and the chemistry is outstandingly evident in the band’s music. Sighting bands like The Stokes, Rancid and Bad Religion as their inspiration, Rare Americans prove they have a good knowledge of what makes good music and are eager to apply it to their own. Rare Americans are armed with a plethora of songs dipping their toes in an abundance of genres but still managing to keep that pop punk core in James’ vocals and the band’s lyrics. From fun to thoughtful, Rare Americans have produced a stellar debut album with the help of producer Joe Chiccarelli (previously worked with White Stripes and The Stokes), drummer Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse and The Shins), bassist Yukki Matthews (The Shins) as well as a host of friends’ voices for backing vocals.
Taking ‘Cats, Dogs and Rats’ alone, it’s obvious Rare Americans’ goal is not to mimic what has come before but to pave the way for a whole era of pop punk. The main frame of classic punk is there, in the way the trio create songs about ‘the underbelly of society’, but by using acoustic guitars and horns as their main sound gives them a new and stand out sound. Much like Twenty One Pilots, Rare Americans do not completely limit themselves to one genre by also incorporating hip hop/rap, like in their song ‘Balmoral Hotel’ which also adopts a more sombre tone than ‘Cats, Dogs and Rats’ and makes Rare Americans a band that has something for everyone. If these two songs aren’t already enough to convince you, listen to ‘Pay Me Back’ which is a mixture of soft acoustic guitar and a harder, angrier sound that shows no sign of industry conformity.
Rare Americans are here to make music for the enjoyment of fans and if they happen to make it as rock stars along the way then that’s just a bonus. Rare Americans will be available in full August 10th.
Review by Skye W.Winwood