Chestnut Road come from France and are quite clearly channelling bands that created punk music heavy on melody and a bit of gruffness; yes, it’s the usual suspects including Leatherface and Husker Du, but let’s be honest, that’s a mighty fine sound and one which many of us never tire of, so who’s particularly bothered if a bunch of French youngsters want to add their own take on a popular style of music? Not me.
On my first listen to this self-titled album, I felt like I was being taken back to a time in the late 1980s / early 1990s when this kind of sound was on heavy rotation on my turntable, from the likes of the aforementioned illustrious duo as well as bands such as HDQ (a pre-Leatherface outfit), (early) Lemonheads and the Cateran. Many bands through the annals of punk history have adopted a similar approach, and Chestnut Road are yet another keeping the flag flying for this sound. This ten-track release highlights that the three members of the band have certainly paid attention when listening to these kind of bands as they have managed to make this sound nostalgic yet fresh enough to repel any thoughts of “not another band mining this sound to death” coming to mind.
The sound is of a beefy quality with the vocals being slightly held back in the mix and the drums not being lost or hidden as is the way on some recordings; it’s pretty faithful to the sound some of the finer exponents of melodic punk rock as noted above had and in doing so, hits the sweet spot with me, as it brings back many memories from when I was in my early/mid 20’s lapping up bands that had a similar approach.
Beyond the fact that Chestnut Road knock out some pretty good songs, I have to credit them with having the balls to throw in a damn fine instrumental track too and “Greener Grass” is one of those tunes where you keep waiting for a vocal to kick in but at the end, you’re not bothered as it’s made its presence known without any addition. This track also contains more of a Dickie Hammond (HDQ/Leatherface guitarist) influence than any of the others on the album and I imagine it would also be a great opening track for the band's live performance.
Another thing I like about this record is that the second side is slightly stronger than the first, with no weaker moments which could highlight a front loading of the vinyl with the better songs; basically Chestnut Road is consistently good from start to finish but my favourite tracks are to be found in the latter half of the release. One of these comes in the form of my favourite track, “Worthless”, which is just a fantastic song and an excellent way to conclude what is a highly enjoyable album, worthy of many, many plays now and in the future.
For those wanting a small shiny disc version of this album, the CD (with two cover versions added for good measure) is released by Japan’s Waterslide Records (although Boss Tuneage is selling them too).