(Bellyache Records, 2013)
If you’re a band and you write a song called “Born with Guitars in Our Hands,” there’s really no reason to dig into it any further than that, is there? I mean, that just writes itself. Sure, you could argue that “Born” might very well be a Poison tune or something, but you’re clearly not on this site looking for Poison sound-alikes. And if you are … send me an email, I’ll hook you up.
I kid. Destroy This Place is not a Poison (or Warrant, or Ratt, or Dokken) ripoff, they’re a Detroit punk band, with a defiant “pop” or “post” in front of that “punk” at any given time. But you know – if I read those signifiers, I’d probably muster a tired shrug and ask condescendingly if we were still doing that. Because you know why? This is rock and roll music. You could conceivably replace any of the RIYL names below with Jawbreaker, Redd Kross, The Get-Up Kids, Sugar, or Superchunk and no one would be the wiser. Destroy This Place just fits in with all these guys.
I’d listened to a bit of Thunderbirds Are Now! in the past (the band from which co-singer/guitarist Ryan Allen comes) so I was ready for this level of energy from these guys. And just like you can’t mention early Superchunk in a conversation without saying the word “pogo” (you can’t, can you?), I drop the “pogo” bomb on Destroy This Place, because that’s all I really wanted to do while listening. This is a great record, and fun, and if you like any of the bands I mentioned above, you know you’re in for a treat.
They say in their press materials that Allen sounds like Westerburg and co-singer/guitarist John Nelson (former band: New Grenada) sounds like Ozzy (?), but they’re only half right. I’m going to invoke Merge’s flagship band again and suggest that Allen gives off a distinct Mac vibe, and we’re all good for that. Consider especially his voice paired with the overdriven guitars and spastic drumming of “Werewolf Mask,” and you’re smack in that territory. (Key lyric in that song: “Take off that werewolf mask / We’re the silver bullet band” – ha!) Although on “Born with Guitars in Our Hands,” Allen twists and dives within the melody like a real Jon Auer aficionado. Another good thing.
But Nelson’s tunes are great too, especially leadoff track “Lethal Sky,” ripshit Sugar worship if there ever was, but built within Destroy This Place’s fireballing framework. Here, insistent rhythms give way to pop hooks, then blow sky high on the eminently repeatable chorus. “Defeated” couldn’t be any further from the sentiment that word conveys – Nelson and co. couldn’t sound more upbeat in this territory.
So it’s easy to see why Destroy This Place should find a home in virtually every stereo out there, especially those of us who came of age listening to indie rock in the 1990s. The band creates a fantastic amalgamation of the style perfected across a decade or so of 7-inches and full-length records eagerly gobbled up by the perpetual outsiders to mainstream media, and does it with a hand so accessible it would be shameful if your little sister hasn’t heard of them by next week. They may not be the new Poison, but they sure can write a hook. Born with guitars in their hands, indeed.
RIYL: Superdrag, Superchunk, Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms, Friendly Foes, Thunderbirds Are Now!