The Starvations - Gravity's a Bitch (Cover Artwork)

The Starvations

Gravity's a Bitch (2005)

Gold Standard Laboratories

If you're anything like me you miss the good old days of punk rock. From the late `70s to the early `80s when punk bands played with raw emotion and energy. Most of the current punk bands that are lauded on this site bore me out of my mind. Every so often, though, a band comes around that brings glimmers of the past and infuses them with originality and that raw energy and emotion. The most recent band to achieve this is the Starvations. With their third album Gravity's a Bitch, they have moved completely away from the straight-forward "modern" punk of their early days and crafted a unique and extremely compelling new sound.

Fans of psychobilly are definitely going to dig this, but it doesn't exactly fit into that genre. On this album the Starvations take roots rock and Americana and combine that with the classic Slash/Ruby Records-style punk of the early `80s. Album opener "The Rising Horizon" is a straight-ahead punk rocker loosened up by sea chanty-like accordion. This is followed by the beautiful ballad "Purgatory," which features a lush piano arrangement and subtle background harmonica building up into a stomping, raucous chorus. The album's thrid track "Lost At Sea" sounds like the result of Tiger Army and the Decemberists being locked in a room together and is probably the most fun song I've heard all year. "One Way to Remind" and "Corner of My Eye" plug honky-tonk piano into Germs-like hardcore punk and still manage to keep an overall bar room sing-along feel.

The Starvations' unique sound and originality is what will draw fans in at first, but Gabriel Hart's vocals and lyrics are really the star of the show. His voice sounds like Tom Gable impersonating Danzig and his lyrics take the morbidity and humor of the Misfits and add that to the personal and social outrage of Decline of Western Civilization-era L.A. punk bands. Just take lines like "And I walked / And I sunk / Severed my limbs / Swimming in junk" and "We're slowly decaying into our parents / Frigid and soulless and co-dependent" as examples. The album finishes brilliantly with the surf-punk rocker "Nightshade Sweats," the country-laden, spaghetti-Western theme "This Poison," and the jazz-punk fusion title track.

This is easily one of the best albums of the year. If you're a fan of punk rock when it was fresh and original and real you'll love this. Misfits fans will love this. Tiger Army Fans will love this. AFI fans will love this. I think just about everyone will love this.