Night Birds - Roll Credits (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Night Birds

Roll Credits (2018)

Fat Wreck Chords

It has been three years since the release of Night Birds’ mighty third full-length Mutiny At Muscle Beach and after an approximately one year break they are back not only touring, but they have also released what they call a “mini-album” titled Roll Credits. With this release and the recruitment of original member Mike Hunchback as their second guitarist, it is not only very clear that the band has nowhere near lost their touch in their ability to write some amazing punk rock tunes in their unmistakable style, but that they have branched out in ways that will only strengthen their sound in future releases.

The eight-track album ignites with one of Night Birds’ signature instrumentals that fans have come to expect in each of their major releases. The song is called “Pull The Strings” and it is filled with some of the PJ Russo’s finest surf-punk riffs. When you hear it for the first time you can see that it is a very fitting introductory track for the album.

Roll Credits continues with some songs that long-time fans have been waiting quite a while for. “Onward To Obscurity” is classic Night Birds. Lead singer Brian Gorsegner’s vocals are as fierce, angry, and sharp as ever. The rowdy guitar chord changes and swift drumming shows that the band is at the top of their game and have clearly mastered their sound. And just like “Off The Grid” from Mutiny At Muscle Beach where CJ Ramone does some guest vocals, this time Night Birds enlisted Jerry A of Poison Idea to do some guest vocals on this track. Hopefully Night Birds continue this tradition of having a legendary, old school punk rocker to do guest vocals on one song on their future releases. It’s a real thrill for fans to get bonuses like that.

While “My Dad Is The BTK” also has Night Birds’ sound of blaring punk rock with some hardcore and surf mixed in, it is a bit more involved than the rest of the tracks on the record. It starts off just the drum beat and Brian screaming, “B! T! K!” along with it and immediately after, the main guitar riffs blasts right in. The quick and hard-hitting guitar changes are accompanied by these slow bends that add a bunch of accent to the rest of the song. The track gets a bit anthemic towards the pre-chorus and once the chorus begins Brian’s vocals go into overdrive while a the lead guitar cranks out a lick that vaguely follows along with the vocals.

Night Birds do go out of the comfort zone a little bit in Roll Credits, most notably with a cover of the song “I Need A Torch” by The Suicide Commandos. The guitars sort of take the back seat on this one, especially in the beginning where they let some of the chords ring out while the bass takes the lead. Brian’s vocals or much more melodic and reigned-in than usual. Even when the track speeds up, the band is playing around (maybe little bit more than) mid-tempo. It’s a gloomier side of Night Birds that we don’t get to hear all that often. Between the melancholiness and the darker guitar fills that pop up towards the middle of the song, it’s almost like the band mixed together the best of The Damned’s sound and the best of the Descendents’ sound. Overall, this cover is a pretty fascinating step that the band took.

Appropriately, it is the title track that ends the record. “Roll Credits” is also an instrumental, but once again the band took a bit of a risk on this track that paid off quite well for them. In past releases instrumentals such as “Miskatonic Stomp” from Mutiny At Muscle Beach or “Boat Trash” from the Maimed For The Masses 7-inch it is typically the guitar that rightfully takes the lead. In “Roll Credits” that changes a little bit. While the guitars do play the main riffs and hit incredibly bright power chords for the most of the song, towards the middle of the track there’s a fuzzy bass solo that is later showered down with more heavily distorted guitar chords. In what might one of the most unexpected highlights of the whole album, the band also incorporated (what sounds like) an eight-bit sounding synthesizer that plays the main riff along with the guitar, which makes the track sound like the ending credits of an old school video game. It’s weird. It’s unexpected. It’s incredibly cool and creative.

Roll Credits very much shows that Night Birds have made a triumphant return from their break. It has tracks that long-time fans will be very comfortable with, which in turn will make them very excited to blast. The record also has songs where the band dared to experiment a bit — quite successfully, I might add. There are some remarkable and positive changes that the band made with their sound. With the addition of a second guitarist that’s expected to happen, I suppose. I truly can’t wait to hear how/if they take more advantage of that in the future. Roll Credits is a quick listen, but it was very much worth the wait. You’ll be giving it multiple spins a day for a long time.