Record Review: Teenage Bottlerocket - Stay Rad!

The first time I listened to Teenage Bottlerocket was a few years back when they played the Pirate Satellite Festival in Stuttgart in 2015. I immediately fell in love with their way of writing songs that seem simple at first glance but once you take a closer look (or rather give them a closer listen) you realize they are put together in a very clever way. "Tales From Wyoming" made my list of Top Ten Records in 2015 (if you follow the links: I still wrote in German back then, but I'll link to the blog posts anyway).

"Stay Rad" prompts that feeling again. If often feels like listening to a Ramones record. The sound of Teenage Bottlerocket is equally fuelled by the talent to write simple yet effective songs with catchy melodies. It's the first album since the unexpected death of drummer Brandon Carlisle in 2015, the twin brother of singer and guitar player Ray Carlisle. They had formed the band together in 2000. There was the "Stealing the Covers" album in 2017, but this is the first one with songs originally written by the band since that sad turn of events. And they made a record that you will love if you liked their albums before this one. It's all there: Punchy guitars with lots of distortion, the vocals split between Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman, the dribbling bass by Miguel Chen and as a new element the impelling drums by Darren Chewka who joined the band in 2016.

The lyrics once again range from B-movie-inspired horror ("Creature From The Black Metal Lagoon") to childish humour ("Wild Hair (Across My Ass))". But there are also very serious moments, for example in "Little Kid": Ray Carlisle commemorates his brother - and hearing him sing “I can’t figure out how to be a little kid again" is touching. In "Everything To Me", Ray pays tribute to his son Milo. I think a lot of fans can relate to that: It's about growing up and accepting responsibility and coping with loss while not losing fun in life. From the heavy metal inspired twin guitars in "I Want To Kill Clint Carlin" to the textbook punkrock gem called "Death Kart", Teenage Bottlerocket leave nothing to be desired. An early punkrock highlight in 2019.

"Stay Rad!" by Teenage Bottlerocket was published via Fat Wreck Chords on March 15th. Here you can watch the video for "Everything To Me":