Today's punks are sweeter and funnier than the Ramones, Clash, or Sex Pistols. Few could imagine, for example, Sid Vicious saying the following words, recently shared by Kai Daniels Freyleue, guitarist and singer of Massachusetts punk rock band Amber Fly:
"I have a very happy life. My childhood was perfect–I couldn't have asked for a better one."
Having taken a beating during the Reagan years, Punk toughened during the revival that kicked back against George W., and today's third-wave punks and their satellites sound emotionally prepared for today's mundo extraño political climate. When you listen to Paramore, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, or Amber Fly, you still find some darkness, but also high jinks to lighten the existential suffering.
Perhaps that’s how they survive Trump's America. The rage still explodes, and the lyrics remain erudite, but all are infused with lightheartedness and often humor. Stuff rolls off them. Indeed, the band’s name, inspired by the color of beer and the unceremonious unzipping of a girl named Amber, shows the same, as does the Knit Fabrics, taken from a faded advertisement on the side of a Lowell factory.
Take, for example, the song "Life Force Dry" off Amber Fly's EP Knit Fabrics. The song is introduced by Mission Impossible-esque percussive power chords that hint at the truly impossible mission accepted by those seeking to right the world with top-down power and partisan politics.
All they talk is politics:
Get elected, pick up chicks,
Let your fuckin' country go to waste.
Well I don't know why you waste your time
Battling through politics for social rights.
Amber Fly’s vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, Kai Daniels Freyleue, confirmed my hunch by admitting that this song was originally written during George W.'s reign and that the recent American election had aroused it from hibernation.
Freyleue had been writing songs for as long as he could remember but started making music with lead guitars Nathaniel Swanson when they were in the eighth grade. Immersing himself in many genres for many years, Freyleue developed his own musical and songwriting style that crackles when paired with Nathaniel Swanson's solid and lively musical arrangements makes for amazing synergy.
It’s on full display in Knit Fabrics, which sprinkles the punk garage sound with moments of post-rock, shoe-gaze, and prog-rock, atop clever and often droll lyrics.
It’s on full display in Knit Fabrics, which sprinkles the punk garage sound with moments of post-rock, shoe-gaze, and prog-rock, atop clever and often droll lyrics. The beautiful production of the EP owes thanks to band friend, Ethan King in Lowell, Massachusetts (Jack Kerouac's birthplace, so there must be something in the water). There's no reticence in these refreshingly cliché-free songs, no timidity about speaking your mind whether or not Wall Street will like it. And the tracks' salient commercial potential doesn't strip one iota from their authenticity.
The first track, "Memories," has a sweet post-rock intro that morphs into a machine gun drum solo and then some pounding guitars, so crammed with enthusiasm their feet don't touch the ground even though the song is about a failed relationship.
"Overkill on Overtime" features the deliciously jangly sixties guitars that keep popping up through the album, adding a serendipitous touch whenever the lyrics call for a reflective frame of mind, while in "Daddy's Girl," Andrew Howard's dreamy bass guitar underpins a psychological profile of a girl at war with the identity she's been given by a father she can never meet.
In sound and vision, it’s a darn good listen. Pay heed.
9100 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars