This Night Birds article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Barrett.
These days, punk rock isn’t really a genre that holds much significance for the very general music listener, excluding the classics of course. But every now and then you’ll hear something really special in the genre, something that has enough freshness to keep punk alive, while remaining true to the roots and the big artists of the past – whether it be those from the late ‘70s movement, or the American hardcore scene.
On ‘Mutiny at Muscle Beach’, New York four-piece Night Birds tick so many boxes in regards to how great punk rock can be. The album is noisy, powerful, precise and full of adrenaline.
Album opener ‘(I’m) Wired’ is one of those classic, “this album is gonna rock” tracks; it’s impactful and very to-the-point. The guitars race around, the drums create one hell of a storm, and the vocal delivery is very gritty. ‘Life Is Not Amusement for Me’ immediately follows, and while hanging onto the hardcore approach highlighted by the opening tracks, it also has a surf rock feel to it which is actually a really nice touch. It seems like Night Birds not only take a lot of influence from a lot of pinnacle punk bands, but also from the artists that influenced those bands. Speaking of surf, ‘Miskatonic Stomp’ sounds like it was lifted straight from the ‘60s, the guitars have that vintage surf rock tone, and the drums are superbly fill-heavy.
The band have that vintage punk edge down so well; it shows up so often in their choruses. The song ‘In the Red/In the Black’ starts off sounding a tad bit like ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ by Dead Kennedys, but then the vocals kick in and the hook is incredibly infectious. ‘Golden Age of Tv’ follows and carries on the same vibe as the previous track but also includes a mind-blowing guitar solo and a few sound clips from TV shows thrown in.
‘King Kong’ is a great track; it’s another memorable one, with some of the most enjoyable lyrics on the album with its “everyone wants to be King Kong” hook. The album ends with the song ‘Left in the Middle’, it’s a really nice change of pace as it’s possibly the most melodic song on the album, with its emphasis on conventional chords.
There isn’t much to complain about with this record. Some songs are better than others, but in just under twenty-five minutes, it never allows itself to get obnoxious at all. None of the weaker tracks really fill up too much time either.
It’s definitely worth digging a bit deeper to prove that punk isn’t ‘dead’ or ‘dying’. Night Birds have taken everything that makes punk rock a powerful genre while still managing to keep themselves sounding fresh.
‘Mutiny at Muscle Beach’ is out now via Fat Wreck Chords.