Thanks to the music in our lives for helping us to surviveAfter I heard these words harmonized out in the second track "So Jersey," I knew I was hooked. I knew that I had found it. Every summer we all do the same scramble, the search for that record that resonates with us for the long hot months of May through August, maybe even early September. You know exactly what kind of record meets the qualifications as "the Summer Record," one that you and all your friends have, one that you can listen to on any car ride, spent searching for cures of boredom, and all you can do is scream along as Greg Attonito wails out, "we are not alone / in this city that is our home" on the track "Sounds of the City." So in that respect, the Souls have delivered the perfect summer record, but the question remains: Does it maintain the staying power to listen to in reference to their other classics such as How I Spent My Summer Vacation or what some consider their best, Hopeless Romantic? Not only does it meet the rankings, but the Souls have delivered quite possibly their most musically diverse release.
With the use of the accordian, trumpets and harmonicas throughout, we have been introduced to a side of the Souls that I for one was not expecting but am fully embracing. Not only are we seeing a more open-minded Bouncing Souls (quite possibly from doing several tours with the likes of Flogging Molly), yet when I opened the case and put in the record, my first thought was that sonically, and I don't know how they did it, but damn, this record is LOUD. It's easy to imagine why with guest spots from the likes of Chuck Ragan and Brett Gurewitz, and a fantastic production job by Ted Hutt; the sounds and music on the album are flawless. Even on the softer spoken songs like "The Pizza Song" or "Lean on Sheena," your eardrums are slowly being peeled away.
One of the most impacting moments is the song "Letter from Iraq." For those of you that haven't been keeping an eye out on their website, they have been supporting several American soldiers who are currently serving overseas and the song's lyrics were adapted from a letter by Iraqi veteran Garett Reppenhagen. The emotional velocity of this song ranging from anger to confusion is a very impressing and powerful addition to the album. In the sea of current artists stepping on soapboxes screaming their political agenda, it's refreshing to see the Souls press the issue in a much more personal and effective way.
One key the Souls made sure of was that they kept constant the simplicity and anthemic structure to all the songs on The Gold Record to hold over any aged fan. There will be plenty of shouting and fist-pumping at your next Souls show. Bryan Kienlen's bass-lines still drive straight through your chest while the rapid fire snare hits from Michael McDermott shoot out over Pete Steinkopf's progressions on the guitar, showing they're still riding on top of the their songwriting game.
Now, you may be wondering what has made this record stand out as a definite for your collection. Yes, they have the love song, "Midnight Mile;" yes, they have a blasting opening track, "The Gold Song;" and they have no filler on this album. I think one of the lasting impressions that The Gold Record has made on me was their commitment to the community of loyal fans and underdogs that they call out to. The Bouncing Souls operate their band as a single unit; there is a lack of mention of "lead" in the liner notes, and justifiably so. Their close unity crosses over into the audience listening and you cannot help but connect with anyone sharing the experience with you, and on this album, that sense of community and togetherness rides through every song. The communities of patrons whom listen to the Bouncing Souls will for the most part all agree that the Souls are able to capture all that is fun about being in a punk band, or are still enjoying the loyalty and adulation that comes from being at one of the Bouncing Souls shows. Everything just seems to click; whether live or now on a new record, the Bouncing Souls fail to disappoint. Not only will this record suffice for any elder fan of the band, but it is sure to win over a new legion of younger fans who may be receiving their first introduction, and a fitting one at that. With The Gold Record, they encompass what has made them one of the most undisputed forces in the punk scene for nearly two decades. As personified in "The New Thing," Greg states to all contenders and young upstarts, "We're still dreaming / still believing / no longer looking for the new thing," and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't ask them to alter their voice in any way, especially when it sounds so good.