The Ratchets - Heart Of Town (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Ratchets

Heart Of Town (2005)

Pirate's Press

"Punk is dead!" That seems to be a popular ideology nowadays. But is there really any gravity to that thought process? Sure, the Stooges, Dead Boys, and Clash aren't making records anymore, and the "lifestyle" may be relegated to kids in studded denim jackets trying to emulate the Casualties, but good punk rock records are just as present now as they were twenty years ago. Harder to find, yes, but well worth the effort. Sounding a decent amount like Rancid, the Ratchets' 6-song EP is chock full of rousing choruses and crunchy guitars.

At only about twenty minutes, Heart Of Town is able to leave a solid impression with its brand of melodic punk rock, with some truly great guitar work to compliment the style variations on the album. In addition to the fiery punk rock spirit exhibited, there's dashes of reggae and rock‘n'roll to keep any listener on their toes, waiting to see what direction the next song will take. With a sound not far off from either Tim Armstrong or Mike Ness, the vocalist for the Ratchets hits his mark on up-tempo punk rock tunes like "Johnny Too Bad," and slower paced efforts such as the closer "No Reason" that make the melodic reggae flare really work.

What makes this so enjoyable is the musicianship and the melody that the band is able to create. Bringing melodic guitar harmonics to punk is nothing new, but the band is able to make it seem a lot more interesting than many other bands are truly able to muster. They pull off the melody well, and when they need to be raw and a little bit louder, it doesn't sound forced or contrived. All the elements fit into a solid arrangement, with each member of the band filling their niche well and contributing when they need to. It's a solid effort that puts cohesion above individual effort, and that's why things are so fluid. While punk is the main aim, the groove-based, reggae elements are representative of a lot of the better moments on this effort. All the melody, all the grit, and all the good guitar work is present on every single song, showing a band that's not willing to rest on their laurels for too long. Sure, no song really stands out as the EP's flagship, but there are no holes helping it to sink either. "All Debts Get Paid" puts everything together maybe more than anywhere else, though, with a laid-back, calm beginning and closing out with a sing-along chorus.

The Ratchets are not reinventing the wheel by any means with their 6-song EP, but they are impressing and probably whetting some appetites for what's beyond the horizon.