Philly’s own Jukebox Zeros play a decidedly unfashionable brand of rock’n’roll, circa 2010. I’m talking about a lineage that can be traced back to Chuck Berry, who begat the Rolling Stones, who begat the New York Dolls, who begat the Replacements and so on and so on. There’s precious little irony in their tunes, or anything whimsical or child-like. It’s all pounding drums and screaming guitars, simple progressions and simpler sentiments. But what they lack in originality they make up for in enthusiasm and conviction.
Their new EP, City of Bother and Loathe, comes hot on the heels of last year’s Rock’n’Roll Ronin CD. Vinyl only this time out (with a download card, natch), the new record delivers 3 new tunes and a Testors cover in just a little over 11 minutes. Despite all the aggression in these grooves the sound is surprisingly concise and uncluttered. The sonic palette doesn’t vary much from song to song so you take the little touches as they come; the piercing one-note piano solo on the title track, the tempo shifts on “Cop Shop,” the poppier-than-usual chorus on “Secret Streets.” Their take on the Testors’ “Let’s Get Zooed Out” is a little too reverential, but I suppose there isn’t a heck of a lot you can do with one minute and 40 seconds worth of grimy gutter punk except hold on tight and hope it doesn’t derail. And derail it doesn’t. Cuz despite the lip service paid to all things sloppy and loose, the thing I like the most about Jukebox Zeros is their tight attack and streamlined sound. This is punk rock played with a respect for pop sensibilities and an explosiveness that never quite falls into chaos. (Rankoutsider Records).