It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to celebrate good driving music with the awareness of our rising global temperatures, smoggy cities and decreasing supply of fossil fuels. But with a new CD player in my car and a copy of Burning Streets’ debut Is It in Black and White, there really couldn't be a better combination.
With their noted admiration of the Clash, it seems likely that Burning Streets took their name from one of Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros’ best songs off their final release, Streetcore. Said admiration is also embedded in the album’s lyrics as the opener “Kiss the World Goodbye” suggests, “The future is unwritten, true hearts never die / But if you've lost all your passion, kiss the world goodbye."
Musically, Boston’s Burning Streets don’t so much resemble the Clash as they do melodic street punk neighbors like Far from Finished, the Ducky Boys and Street Dogs. The Bouncing Souls catch a namedrop on “13 Hours” and would also seem to serve as an influence, especially on the punk ballad of a closer, “Throwing Rocks.” Vocalist Drew Juliano has a kind of Trevor Keith-quality in his pipes that blends with the natural Boston accent for a nice overall feel that isn't too poppy or too gruff. This is evident in tracks like “You’re Alive and Today” and “The Reason,” which also demonstrates the aforementioned Bouncing Souls influence in music and lyrics as Juliano sings, “Just stay a true believer / And we’ll never let you down." Most of the lyrics on the album are the kind of left-of-center rhetoric you’d expect from a punk band, though tracks four and five (“Tea Party” and “The Draw,” respectively) might throw up a flag to the wary P.C. progressive. However, “Tea Party,” which features Ed Lalli of Slapshot and the Welch Boys fame, seems like more of a historical account of the actual Boston tea party than any modern day Michelle Bachman-led idiocy, and “The Draw” (which proclaims “Attention everyone: I've never killed, but I've got a gun” is probably more figurative than any Second Amendment manifesto. The aforementioned Souls-alike anthem “Throwing Rocks” is probably the album's finest lyrics-wise as Juliano admits, “I’m alone and I’m scared / But this is who I am / This is what we are / Throwing rocks at the stars.”
The already impressive lineup of Sailor's Grave bands only gets better with this release. Rife with solid hooks, booming anthems and a sense of vigor that can’t be quantified, Burning Streets have crafted an impressive debut with Is It in Black and White. Grab it for a road trip or blast it through a boombox, it’s good Boston punk no matter where it takes you.