Friday, December 06, 2019

Redd Kross - Beyond the Door

I first encountered Redd Kross (probably then still Red Cross, until the company sued them for using the name) around 1979/1980, while they were still a teenaged punk rock combo engrossed with 70's rock'n'roll (especially KISS), glam, and 60's garage (among other things). They were wild and sloppy, but had some great songs and before long they tightened up their act, added some wild'n'wacky thrift store clothes and became more of a fantastic power pop group, while still maintaining punk rock energy and wildness. Fronted by the McDonald brothers - Jeff on guitar and vocals and Steve on bass and vocals - they have gone through innumerable line up changes, but have always maintained a cohesive Redd Kross sound. I picked up this latest release when I caught them out here last month and they continue in their quest for creating perfect power pop party anthems!

The riff-laden, harmony drenched opening number, "The Party", sets the theme for the record - crazy catchy and vocals that the Sweet would be proud of. They don't lose any melodies or harmonies but beef up the energy for "Fighting", they get a bit more overly 70's in the title cut,  and "There's No One Like You" (sounds like Steve singing this one) starts as almost a ballady love song but builds up in heavy intensity while never losing the sweetness.

Their 60's influences come to the forefront in the psychedelic "Ice Cream (Strange and Pleasing)", with hints of tunes from the era while throwing in some powerful 70's riffage and "Fantastico Roberto" kinda continues in this vein - kinda everything that they have learned up to this point thrown in the mix to create the current RK sound. Steve's "The Party Underground" is their ode to the dive bars they have inhabited for the last several decades, with a Partridge Family poppiness over the top of their lick-laden guitars (lead man Justin Shapiro - ex-Celebrity Skin - particularly stands out here). Their mastery of melodies is overly abundant in "What's a Boy To Do?", "Punk II" is particularly un-punky, but is a bit off-kilter and wacky, "Jone Hoople" has some hip starts'n'stops among their 70's sounds and the closer. "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'" is more energetically lovely Redd Kross coolness.

The Melvins' Dale Crover drives the drums on this one, Jason's lead breaks are all spot-on, with equal parts melody and flash, Steve has always been an exceptional bassist and the vocals here are probably the best that they've ever done (and yes, they do occasionally have some help, but still...). After more than 40 years of non-stop rockin', the brothers are still as strong as ever. This stands up to any of the work in the 80's and 90's - fine stuff!