The New York Rel-X - Sold Out Of Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The New York Rel-X

Sold Out Of Love (2005)


Not being immediately familiar with the local NYC scene, it was easy to assume that the NY Rel-X were a much older band. Just look at their touring history. Since the turn of the century the four-piece has logged miles with the Adicts, UK Subs, Slaughter & The Dogs, the Exploited, Discharge, the Misfits and countless other occupants of the "old school." The assumption that the Rel-X was just some forgotten first generation punk band really wasn't too hard to make. It came as a surprise then that Sold Out Of Love sounds so fresh and exciting. The Rel-X fall somewhere on the scale between Vice Squad and Tsunami Bomb, mainly due to Erika Sushi's vocal presence. While this is a band clearly aware of their `77-era roots, they display a definite tendency towards mid-90's melodic hardcore, a balance that should please fans of either era.

While this is technically their first proper full-length, the New York Rel-X sound remarkably tight and focused over the record's 11 tracks. Album opener "No Way Out" is a complete knockout, charging forward on Johnny Kray's vintage punk guitar work and Sushi's remarkably infectious chorus. While instrumentally the band's completely on target, it's hard to not obsess about Erika's vocal performance. She's a notch or so higher than Agent M of the aforementioned Tsunami Bomb, but definitely in that range. On tracks like "The One She Adores" and the album closing "Just Don't Know," she manages to effortlessly channel Poly Styrene's frantic wail better. Kray makes a welcome vocal appearance himself on "It's All Wasted," and his guitar steals the spotlight in tracks like "Emergency." Adi Monstra has her own moments, particularly with her bubbling bass work on "No More Tears" and her backing vocals on the frenetic choruses of songs like "Drunk On Tuesday." A quick scan of the album's credits prove that everything's been written as collaboration and it really shows. The New York Rel-X, more than anything else, sound like a band that knows exactly what their strengths are.

Sold Out Of Love is one of the better punk rock records released so far this year. For a band that's always seemed like just another name among the hundred or so lifers on the massive Holidays In The Sun festivals, the New York Rel-X make quite the lasting impression. This is as relevant and lively rock music as one could hope for, and clear proof that having deep roots doesn't lock you into sounding old.