Capgun Heroes - The Naked Raygun EP (Cover Artwork)

Capgun Heroes

The Naked Raygun EP (2023)

hey pizza! records

Naked Raygun have been an American punk rock institution for the past 40 years. Countless bands have cited them ad an influence on their songwriting. Dave Grohl's first punk rock show ever was seeing Naked Raygun at the legendary Cubby Bear Lounge on the northside of Chicago. The band has become synonymous with the background "Whoa's" which have been often replicated but rarely duplicated. Therefore, it is no surprise that the band is a large influence on Chicago area pop punks Capgun Heroes. Vocal harmonies are a large part of the band's short but exciting discography. After checking this EP out, I encourage all who haven't to revisit their debut LP "Last Call For Adderall" which was released in 2021 on Hey Pizza! Records. The band has now released an EP of three select Naked Raygun classics which truly fit the band like a glove.

Capgun Heroes start with "Rat Patrol" from the debut Naked Raygun album "Throb Throb." For those who don't know, the debut album is the most experimental of the band's catalog. The songs borrow from every genre from punk to post-punk and beyond. Being from Chicago myself, I remember first hearing the band on the Saturday night punk rock program "Fast and Loud" from Northwestern University's WNUR (For those seeking more history on Chicago punk rock, I urge you to look up the various compilation albums released from the classic radio station). The band stays true to form on this track, kicking it off with the classic buzzsaw guitar riff responsible for starting many circle pits over the years. The standout on this recording would be the powerful backing vocals that help carry the track. This song has been a constant staple in the Naked Raygun live set. The band moves on to the second Naked Raygun album "All Rise" to present us their take on the harmony heavy "Knock Me Down." The band sounds a bit harder and more aggressive than the original track. This showcases the band's versatility in their own recordings between both bubble gum pop punk and heavy Ramonescore. As a long-time fan of Naked Raygun, what I appreciate are all the attentions to detail. For example, all the guitar harmonies are present in the chorus, and not just the power chords. I also really enjoy hearing the full vocal range of Capgun Heroes lead vocalist Joe, who especially shines on this track. The last track “I Lie” was a very ambitious track to cover in my opinion. I would say that a good majority of Chicago punk rock kids of the 90s first heard this song when veteran Chicago punk band the Bollweevils covered it on a split release with 88 Fingers Louie. This song has since become a Chicago punk rock anthem. If you are familiar with Capgun Heroes, then you are more than aware of the influence this song has had on their material. The song opens with the signature “Whoa’s” heard throughout the Naked Raygun discography. I really appreciate how the band took some artistic liberties in the phrasing of the chorus musically. The choice in covering this song, especially being from Chicago, pays homage to both Naked Raygun and the 90s scene in which the members of the band came up through.

This short and sweet tribute EP would be a great introduction to both Naked Raygun and the band they directly influenced. I find these tracks to be versatile enough in style to give the listener a good taste of the overall Naked Raygun sound. Unlike many tribute releases, the band did put their own take where necessary. Those subtleties do not at all take away from the power of the song. Keep your eyes on Capgun Heroes as I hear they are currently writing and recording the follow up to their 2021 debut album.