Night Birds - Fresh Kills Vol. ll (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Night Birds

Fresh Kills Vol. ll (2020)


Back in 2011, the same year as their debut full length, The Other Side of Darkness, Night Birds released a CD compilation of 15 various odds and ends tracks. A vinyl version of Fresh Kills - Vol l, also on Grave Mistake Records, arrived the following year. It brought together a fun but fractured collection of demos, vinyl only singles, and surf instrumentals. These songs displayed an already powerful band solidifying their sound.

Now, nine years later, Fresh Kills Vol. ll unceremoniously shows up. It’s 20 more compiled tracks, and this time it shows a band at the peak of its powers. The songs come mostly from three excellent EPs - Maimed for the Masses (2013), Monster Surf (2014), and Who Killed Mike Hunchback? (2016).

By now, most should be familiar with Night Birds’ sound. It’s an unholy combination of the surf punk of Dead Kennedys and Agent Orange, and the snotty hardcore of Circle Jerks and Wasted Youth. Here that sound is on full display.Like most compilations, it lacks the artistry of a properly curated LP. It helps some that they chose to leave the running order of the individual EPs intact. What helps even more is the sheer quantity and quality of the material. The individual songs are also pretty short, so Fresh Kills Vol. ll never gets bogged down.

Some of these songs, or different versions of these songs, eventually made it onto one of the band’s four studio albums. “Maimed for the Masses”, “Demon Haunted World”, “One Eye” and “Oblivious” all fit into this category, and all are highlights. Surf instrumental tracks like “Agent Zero” and “Expect the Worst” burn with the intensity of Dick Dale colliding with Greg Ginn. “Boat Trash” will be of special interest to regular Punknews podcast listeners. The closing track is a fun ad for Mutiny at Muscle Beach featuring the one and only Tesco Vee from The Meatmen.

As good as the last Night Birds album, Roll Credits (2018), was, its eight songs and 17 minute run time left fans wanting more. Fresh Kills Vol. ll should go a long way to satisfy that craving. For the time being, Fresh Kills Vol ll is only available digitally. It deserves a proper physical press. This is just another reminder that Night Birds are one of the very best punk bands of the 2010s. (And hopefully 2020s.)