Benny and the No-Goods - Fistful of Dullards (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Benny and the No-Goods

Fistful of Dullards (2018)

self released

I first became aware of Benny No-Good (Hagood) through his band The Enders, who put out an album on East Grand Records a few years back. That band played metal tinged punk that bordered on hardcore. I also knew that he did the acoustic folk punk thing under the Benny No-Good name. Benny and the No-Goods is neither of those things. It’s a solo project in the sense that he played all the instruments on the recording, but musically it’s straight up pop punk. This is heavily influenced by the Ramones, and as you will learn later, The Lillingtons.

The Indianapolis based No-Good recorded Fistful of Dullards at the Sonic Iguana, so you know it sounds great. (It was not recorded by my friend Greg Simpson, so in this case I can’t even be accused of being biased.) Opener “Bandthem” is the band’s theme song, but more importantly it lets you know just how catchy this collection of songs is going to be. The bittersweet “Everything’s Alright” is even catchier. Next up are three classic Ramones style ‘I Don’t Wanna’ songs. The snarky but upbeat “I Don’t wanna Hear What You’re Saying” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Outside” lead to the more contemplative “I Don’t Wanna Fade Away”.

The second half feels a little different, but is no less compelling. Pop culture references abound. “Run Like Hell” was obviously inspired by horror movies and love gone bad. “The Groove Has Left My Heart” is the first of two list songs, which I love. The lyrics are made up almost entirely of 80’s song titles. It’s big fun for people like myself who grew up listening to 80’s rock and pop. The cover of Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” is probably the only song on Fistful of Dullards that you wouldn’t play for your mother. (If you did play it for your mother, it would probably get stuck in her head. It’s a wonderful piece of songcraft.) No-Good contributes a cool new wave guitar intro to his revved up version.

“I Wanna Be a Lillington” is the other list song. It’s made up entirely of Lillingtons lyrics and references. Way back in the 90’s, there were several bands that had songs about wanting to be a Ramone. (I may have even tried my hand at it.) This is an updated version of that. It’s awesome, even if the breakdown at the end is pure plagiarism. Speaking of plagiarism, closer “Operation Suicide” actually feels like a Lillingtons song. The riff and melody will certainly sound familiar. It’s obvious that these songs are love letters to the bands, and not really an attempt to rip them off. If you love The Lillingtons and the Ramones, you will probably love this.

The ten tracks on Fistful of Dullards fly by in 23 minutes and change. I found myself listening to it over and over. It feels familiar from the first listen. Every song is an earworm, and you’ll be singing along in no time. There are ample memorable choruses, and most have lush harmonies too. Most importantly, Benny and the No-Goods never get too wimpy. That tends to be the main problem I find with modern pop punk. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to check out Fistful of Dullards