Bad Assets - On Trial (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bad Assets

On Trial (2015)

East Grand Record co.

Bad Assets is a five piece street-punk/Oi band from Detroit. On Trial is their second full length and their first for East Grand. They play earnest, passionate, working class anthems with a Midwest sensibility. Musically, it’s classic punk with shouted lead vocals and gang vocals on the choruses. Bad Assets’ tracks range from high-minded political punk to low-brow drinking songs, and everything in between. Their sound will appeal to fans of bands like Cockney Rejects, The Business and Anti-Heros.

Bad Assets’ blue collar roots come through loud and clear on album opener “Weekend Offender”. It’s a song about getting drunk with your friends on Friday night after a hard week of work. “Broken” displays the band’s devotion to Detroit, even as it acknowledges its many problems. “Fuck You, I Quit” is “Take This Job and Shove It” for the 21st century. Lars Frederiksen gets co-writing credit and sings on the title track, one of the album’s highlights. It's about being constantly judged by society. “Yesterday’s Hero” deals with the struggles of ex-soldiers, but runs a bit long. “PC Police” is another highlight and contains a line that really sums up Bad Assets. “We’re not racist or sexist or anti-gay/We just want a beer, so go the fuck away”.

“Return to Sender” laments how cheap, imported products have cost hard working Americans their jobs. “Wish You Were Here” is one of the best songs in recent memory about a fallen friend. It’s sentimental without being sappy, and has a great Mike Ness style guitar solo. “Prick, Not a Mick” is the album’s most confounding song. It seems to be railing against people pretending to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day or as an excuse for getting drunk. (It hardly seems like one of the great issues facing modern society.) “Motor City Violence” closes the record on another high note. It features the familiar raspy growl of Jay Navarro on vocals. (Navarro has been a busy boy this year. He’s put out the excellent new Break Anchor LP. He’s toured with Suicide Machines. He’s played shows and is working on a new album with Hellmouth. He’s even managed to be a guest on a couple fellow Detroit bands’ records.) The message of the last song is a potent one. It accuses the powers that be of ignoring crime in the city as long as it doesn’t spread to the wealthy suburbs.

On Trial doesn’t have quite the sonic punch of the band’s 2012 LP The Spirit of Detroit. The mix isn’t as in your face, but it’s still a very good album. Bad Assets really captures the essence of the working class experience. Their songs express facing big battles and celebrating small victories. Street-punk and Oi are not all that fashionable in current punk circles, but this is honest music whose roots go back to punk’s earliest origins. This is blue collar music made by blue collar guys from a blue collar city. Highly recommended.