Allston punk trio GREAT LAKES USA new album is all “tight buttholes,” awesome riffs and anger. The band has come a long way since its early days of playing Hot Water Music covers in between beers with their first full length album, Live Fast, Die Whenever, released on November 6, sans emo repeats.
“We went to our buddy Jay Maas at Getaway Studios’ temporary location and after a week of ‘tight butt-hole’ this and ‘hard T’ that, we had 10 pretty solid songs,” says bassist Pete Hoffman of the process in the band’s bio. By temporary location, Hoffman means a mansion in Dover that Maas, of the Boston band Defeater, was squatting in.
It’s unclear how buttholes influenced the music, but whatever it was, it worked. The album is thrashy and loud, with a perfect hint of Allston angst. It’s chock-full of self doubt, masked by a driving tempo and a lot of bass. The punks stay true to their roots, calling out lyrics that every Allstonite can relate to. “Staying sober is a chore, and I’m known at the liquor store… I don’t’ wanna wake up, think I didn’t do enough,” and finally declaring “No, this is our home.” And indeed the band does call Allston home. Hoffman bartends at Lonestar Taco Bar and the singer, Alex Heinz occasionally fills in for Defeater.
Beyond the local hook, Great Lakes USA pump out music that any teen to 20-something can get into. It’s harsh and wild, while maintaining tight hooks and breakdowns. The album’s single, “Rambling Dudes Forever,” starts off fast-paced, like most of the other songs, but changes time at the 1:50 mark, slowing the pace and practically forcing your head to bob to the beat.
Exit 384 Media, the band’s PR firm, got it right when they said “For a three-piece group, Great Lakes USA sure as hell know how to make a ton of noise.” The band produces a full bodied sound with no holes. Although many bands favor countless instruments and a crowded stage, Great Lakes prove that a loud amp and a lot of talent can produce a sound just as good. The simplicity of the instrument make-up compliments the band’s musical tone: sad, young and drunk.
The gravity of the lyrics does not reflect the attitude of the band outside its songs. “I will let you down, yeah I will let you down,” screams Heinz just before the song outros into the sound of a bong rip with the Goo Goo Dolls playing in the background. The last words are “That’s what’s up Johnny Rzeznik, that’s what’s up.” Heinz’s worries channel through the lyrics, the forceful guitar and the pounding percussion, giving the listener an outlet for their own feelings. These guys know the purpose of music, but don’t take themselves too seriously.
Live Fast, Die Whenever is a definite step-up from the band’s debut EP, Life’s Rough. The vocals are more mature and the sound of better quality and talent. Gone are juvenile lyrics about fairness and high school-esque screaming fits mid song. They traded out useless shredding for purposeful riffs that add to the body of their songs, and upgraded from emo influences to true punk roots. Although hints of their Hot Water Music cover-act days are still obvious in the new album, it comes off as endearing and nostalgic, rather than immature. The new album shows great improvement in the band’s cohesiveness and overall ability.
Stream or download the new album at blacknumbers.bandcamp.com.