The Bar Stool Preachers - Grazie Governo (Cover Artwork)

The Bar Stool Preachers

Grazie Governo (2018)

Pirates Press Records

Grazie Governo, the second album by The Bar Stool Preachers is sort of tough to define and that’s a good thing. This 13-song affair runs the gamut of ska, punk, and everything in between and beyond. As a result, this is a record that could appeal to a larger audience beyond punk rock.

It’s hard to say what sound the band is attempting to focus on, as the lines often blur from track to track. And sometimes, those lines are blended within each song. Take the “Choose My Friends” as an example. The track starts off as a mid-tempo punk song, but halfway through the verse, it shifts to a chicka-chicka ska song with a straight rock beat (with guest vocals from Aimee Interrupter). As the song progresses to the post-chorus, it takes flight with some speedy muted guitar licks in the vein of NOFX or Propagandhi. This is worth noting because it provides a microscopic example of the various different sounds throughout the album. Other examples of this genre-bending formula are “Grazie Governo” and “Drive”, the latter of which incorporates a bit of a classic-rock sound as well.

While the band attempts to mix genres within each song, there are some tracks that are just plain punk rock. “Drink” and “2:22” are pretty good examples of this. There are also some tunes that are more or less straight forward ska songs, though the band definitely makes an attempt to vary that sound as well. The title track, for example, utilizes a Jamaican ska sound equipped with rimshots and the one drop, while “High Horse” explores more of a Southern California ska sound.

The band does an excellent job of utilizing the guitar, bass, and drums to create catchy songs, often times accentuated by the organ. But it is the vocals that provide passion. With the accent evident and a blend of grittiness and smoothness, the lead singer gives clear emotion to the songs. Often times, the vocals start low and gradually move to a higher register, providing a more passionate approach. “8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts) is a great example of this.

The Bar Stool Preachers have toured extensively beyond their hometown of Brighton, England and this album highlights their experience, though they are still in their toddler years as a band. With songs that range from socially conscious, working class anthems to unlove songs, the band shows that they can appeal to a larger audience. And with this album and their passionate live shows, the group is sure to pick up more and more fans along the way.