U.S. Roughnecks - Twenty Bucks and Two Black Eyes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

U.S. Roughnecks

Twenty Bucks and Two Black Eyes (2004)


Reviewing street punk, Oi! and 80s style hardcore is notoriously difficult, but not for any of the usual reasons. There's not really any originality or fresh ideas left in style, there hasn't been in years, but it's important to understand that for some bands that's by design. Street punk, presented like this and not in some of it's more goofy incarnations, is purposefully traditionalist. There's more a sense of "let's do something well and get the crowd going" rather than "let's do something new for the sake of art."

U.S. Roughnecks certainly subscribe to the former philosophy and while we've all heard material like this before, Twenty Bucks And Two Black Eyes is generally well executed and benefits from a bit heavier production than one would expect. All the elements are here: the buzzsaw guitars, the growling gavel voiced lead, the gang vocals... and it's all just as fun and catchy and dumb as it ever was. The record reminds me of The Forgotten's Keep The Corpses Quiet in that the pace never drops from it's brisk speed and lead guitarist has stronger classic rock n roll chops than one would expect. Big Jay, known for his work in Lars Frederiksen's more high profile band The Bastards, sounds particularly good on this record and his bass is prominent in the mix.

Of course there are less inspired moments on here. The lyric sheet for "Serve And Protect" actually says "CHORUS FUCK THE COPS X7." There are more than a few songs about fighting in the streets and a good number about life as a skinhead. Sure it seems a bit silly to me as I sit in an armchair and rattle away on my laptop, but I suspect it all plays out far better in the excitement of a live show.

Whether this record will appeal to you or not really depends on your opinion of the whole genre it represents. Fans of The Forgotten, The Unseen and either of Roger Miret's bands should be feel right at home with this. My tastes have expanded over the years but I haven't forgotten how to enjoy a band like the U.S. Roughnecks; However I can't really blame those of you that have moved on and left this sound back in the 80s.

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