Bring your liver and first aid kit.
Jackshack Records, 2012
7.0 / 10.0
Punk has lost its way in recent years. You’ll find anything moderately gritty and short gets the [insert sub-genre here] punk label. Yet it seems to have been a while since anyone had just ‘punk’ streamed into their earholes. The days of The Ramones, The Stooges, The Sex Pistols and The Clash seem to have gone, with few but remaining bands struggling to keep it alive. Radio airplay for punk seems impossible unless you shift towards the pop and mascara route of Green Day.
Foster Care started in 2008 as a five piece called Herschel Walker, and as bassist Jesse Crawford stated, “Through some kind of degenerate Darwinism” the band became the four piece we see reviving New York’s punk scene. You can certainly pick up the fact half the band are New York bred, with echoes of its punk past on display here – yet the other half’s Southern origin creeps through in a unique juxtaposition – especially on album closer “West Coast Midnight Karate League/Don’t Want Nobody”. Despite still being played at great pace, the southern drawl and twanging guitars provide an edge you don’t find with most punk bands.
Influenced by liquor, the color brown, juke joint drug/murder tales, and benzoylmethylecgonine, New York based Foster Care bring punk back to where it belongs; commercially non-friendly, traditionally short gritty songs to put you in the mood for whiskey, fights and giving the finger to everything. Their debut LP Bad Vibe City is released at a time when punk is needed. Youthful rebellion is missing, and their early shows seem to have been providing just that.
Lyrically, bands like this don’t ever get the applause they might deserve. On the surface you may think you’re hearing some crazed football hooligan chants, yet “Death on The Installment Plan” references infamous nihilist French novelist, Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Yeah? Yeah. Even guitar playing maniacs can be intellectually poetic. Aside from the lyrics, the music does more than what you’d expect from a sweaty drunken union of fuck you’s and lost love as the music grabs and shakes you, forcing you into an uncontrollable fit and self inflicted whiplash.
The album takes a few tracks to warm up, but by the time it reaches standout track “Don’t Make Me”, Foster Care reach a level and sound similar to that of The Libertines in their prime – just after a few more drinks and punch ups. The band is scratching the surface of what could be really good. I don’t mean this in a negative way, Bad Vibe City is a good record, it’s just because they’re so close, I’m more intrigued about what album no.2 has to offer.
This music is meant to be heard live. Go see Foster Care whilst you still have the opportunity for intimacy; just bring your liver and first aid kit.