Beach Slang: The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City (2020)

Ok, this one is way too new -- a few hours, basically -- for me to have formed an opinion on it.  But I thought it might be nice to showcase a 2020 album now that we're just into the new year, and I've been listening to the damn thing all morning.  It's certainly the first album I've heard in months that has made me want to get in the car, roll down the windows, and crank up the volume.

Obviously, and I guess this is the cliche when describing Beach Slang, these guys listened to a lot of Replacements.  Both the rockers and the ballads conjure up Tim-era Westerberg, right down to some borrowed riffs; hell, they even have 'Mats bassist Tommy Stinson playing on the album.  Is this a good thing?  Well, on first blush at least, yeah.  The songs where Westerberg is most prominent are definitely the immediate ear candy here.  I'm a little less taken in by singer James Alex's forays into what fluctuates between hair metal and glam, his hard rock growl (at best conjuring a bit of the Japandroids) a bit much.

Still, while the album is relatively brief, there are a number of tunes that have already sent me scurrying for the replay button.  "Let It Ride" is the 'Mats' "Talent Show" as performed circa Tim, and it's a rousing little anthem.  "Tommy in the 80s" is a brassy pop nugget (apparently referencing not Stinson, but late great power pop legend Tommy Keene).  "Born to Raise Hell" is about as deep and nuanced as the title suggest, which detracts not a bit from the fun.  And "Sticky Thumbs" and "Kicking Over Bottles" expertly fuse mid-period Replacements riffs and the MTV-era pop-metal of my college years.  Meanwhile, the Westerberg-y ballads "Nobody Say Nothing" and "Nowhere Bus" (and after a listen or two I'm not certain these are different songs) are both lovely.

Of course, I hate to wear out the 'Mats thing.  There are songs that break free of the mold, like the T.Rex/New York Dolls glam of "Stiff."  They're not bad, but might take me a longer to decide whether they work for me.

Anyway, like I said, way too early to decide if this is a great album, or just one that's a ton of fun because of its instant familiarity, but I'll enjoy figuring that out.

Here's an audio rip of "Let It Ride":
...and an audio rip of "Kicking Over Bottles":


  1. Humanfund here.

    I'd like to offer my sense of how these guys compare to the 'Mats. I realise doing this is the equivalent of scholasticist counting heads on a pin, but hey I really dig the 'Mats, at least through 1987.

    Just listened to first 30 seconds of Let it Ride. Then I had to stop, partly because one of my favorite Beat Happening songs came on the radio. Sounds like 'Mats covering a Kiss song circa 1986, when Bob was pretty much done. The 'Mats' cover of Black Diamond on that great live album you reviewed a while ago is rawer than this Beach Slang track.

    Kicking over Bottles sounds like 'Mats circa 1990, when they had lost their endearing sense of abandon.

    I await a band who approaches the 'Mats' circa 1984-85.


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