Sonny Vincent - Bizarro Hymns (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sonny Vincent

Bizarro Hymns (2011)

Still Unbeatable

While punk rock has its fair share of immortal heroes, such as Iggy, Joe, Joey and Johnny (your choice), it has an equal share of those that were lost to the winds either due to luck, marketing, drugs, or personal preference. Although Sonny Vincent was involved in the early wave of New York punk with his band the Testors, recorded with Wayne Kramer, Scott Asheton, Captain Sensible, Cheetah Chrome, Lou Reed, John Cale, Greg Ginn, and many others in the annals of American punk, he's barely a footnote. On Bizarro Hymns, his new release of original material, Vincent shows that his relative anonymity was error on our part.

"Don't Give a Fuck" kicks off the album and captures Vincent's vision in its tight two-and-a-half minutes. Muscular Detroit-style riffs bang continuously, injected by the energy of early NY punk. His voice is also a combination of the two cities, pulling the tough-guy Ramones act from the east but also exposing the soft vulnerability heard in the deeper ranges of Iggy's and Stiv Bator's voice. Interestingly, because his voice has a faint rasp and seems to constantly shift from low pitch to high, he almost resembles a punk David Lee Roth.

As with most garage-cum-punk rock, he stops here and there for ballads, but retains the tough-guy barking to show that even when he's soft, he still one of the gang, which in a way exposes more insight to Vincent than a song that simply spelled out how he felt.

But, where the album truly succeeds is its mixture of blues rock and punk. While a lot of "punk 'n' roll" groups try for this combo, more often than not it seems like they're aping the last of the garage rockers not because that's what fits the music, but because its what they like to listen to, resulting in static, and even boring music that goes throughout he motions. But, either because Vincent was there when the style was hot, or because he's got a blues background, he's able to perfectly capture the swinging sloppiness of blues rock and fit it into the angry energy of punk. He does it so well that you can't pick out which parts are punk or which parts are rock and roll. Instead, all you have is a single slamming mass of wild music that just is what it is.

Bizarro Hymns doesn't break much new ground, but it does add a snapping platter to a field which has a few iconic albums, and a lot of mediocre stuff. If this release gets any exposure, I don't think it will be nearly as blasphemous to utter Vincent's name in the same breath as Iggy as it is now.

The LP version of this is the one to get, because it comes with a CD of the entire recording as a bonus.