Latte+ - Next to Ruin (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Next to Ruin (2019)

Phocomelic Music

There’s something to be said about a band that does one thing, and does it really well. That’s Latte . What Latte does is write songs that could have been on the first three Ramones albums. They might play a little faster, but you get the idea. Latte is an Italian trio that has been around since 1997, and Next to Ruin is their 8th full length. It’s also the first record on their own Phocomelic Music label. I can’t speak to the band’s earliest material, but the last three albums have been excellent. No More Than Three Chords (2014), Stitches (2017) and the new album paint an amazingly consistent picture.

Three of the songs on Next to Ruin are direct Ramones references. The title track, “Lost in Berlin” and my personal favorite, “Hey Hey It’s Dee Dee’s Birthday Today” are undeniable. Even the name of the band’s new label and the song “Phocomelic Boy” are likely inspired by the 1932 film Freaks, the same movie that spawned the all time classic “Pinhead”. (Phocomelia is the condition that makes children have flipper arms. How’s that for political correctness!) The rest of the 13 tracks are Ramones-like in sound and spirit. They’re catchy, three chord punk songs that will have you singing along in no time.

A bunch of the songs are about girls like “Cookie”, “Good Looking Girl” and “She’s the Evil”. “Waiting For You”, “I Miss You” and “Sleepyhead” fall into this category too, and in a perfect world all three would be huge hits for Latte . The most perplexing song on Next to Ruin has got to be “Everybody Loves Your Wife”. Is it possible that Europeans have a completely different view of Melania Trump than we do? I think they may be overestimating her popularity here in the good old US of A. Sometimes things get lost in translation.

What can’t get lost in translation is closer “Very Abnormal People”. It’s a one minute barn burner that’s an anthem for the outcast and will probably become a live staple. Next to Ruin is a fun record to listen to, but also has some meat on its bones. There are serious moments mixed in with the simple, upbeat songs. It celebrates the absurdity of life without skipping over the occasional rough patches. If catchy, three chord, sing along punk in the vein of the Ramones, the Riverdales or The Huntingtons is your thing, you should definitely be listening to Latte and Next to Ruin.