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Bullets and Octane - Songs for the Underdog

  by Paul Raven

published: 7 / 10 / 2007

Bullets and Octane - Songs for the Underdog
Label: Arces Records
Format: CD


Gutter-punk rock and roll on debut album from new band Bullets and Octane, whose misogyny leaves a sour taste in the mouth

Bullets And Octane are a band on the rise, as a slew of high-profile support slots bears witness. Delivering the gutter-punk rock and roll sound that is gaining popularity across the globe, they've got every ingredient required for breakthrough guitar-band success – as unpalatable as some of those ingredients may be. The music is nothing to complain about – but nothing to write home about either, to be honest. Drawing on the melodic West Coast punk tradition, with its bright chord progressions and well-placed drops and stops, and combining it with the brash and gritty end of hot-rod rock and roll, with its bluesy solos and traditional song structures, 'Song For The Underdog' has a very current sound. But it lacks a coherent sonic identity of its own as a consequence. It's kind of caught between a number of camps, and the workman-like musicianship of the band isn't strong enough to raise them above the pack. They're not bad ... but they're not great, either. Then we come to the lyrics, which are predictably simplistic street-tough anthems aimed at middle class kids who like the imagery of punk and its power to offend. All the usual culprits are here: the song about missing the friend who left town; the song about being too skint to afford the heating bill; the songs about how much you like to drink whisky and shout loudly until you pass out; the song about how much of a screw-up you are, and how little you care about it. Classic themes for the genre, certainly - but not invested with any real sincerity nor explored in new ways. Identikit rebellion music, with just enough swagger and irony to make it forgiveable. Forgiveable until you take into account the misogyny, anyway. I don't know, perhaps its just me – maybe I've crossed that invisible line of age where your sense of what's cool deserts you for good – but I'm surprised to hear a band this young cheerfully singing a song that describes a girl as being “the perfect bitch / the kind you'd like to take her innocence / and leave in the morning / and say goodbye.” Real classy. Maybe they're being ironic ... but I have to say I doubt it. Whether those lines encompass singer Gene's own opinions, or simply what the marketing suits have said will sell, it's all just a little too unreconstructed, and it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. So, we have a band that are sonically somewhere in the middle ground between Good Charlotte and the Bronx, but lacking the manufactured pop sensibilities of the former and the authentic honesty of the latter. Off-the-shelf MTV teen punk; songs about drinking aimed at listeners who, in the vast majority of American states, aren't anywhere near old enough to drink. Simple, brash, puerile. They'll probably be huge.

Track Listing:-
1 Breakout
2 The Perfect Bitch
3 City Of The Angels
4 Song For The Underdog
5 Building A Legend
6 I Caught Fire
7 Harder To Breathe
8 Gravestone Love
9 Welcome To Our Holiday
10 Sweet Angel
11 All Down Hill From Here
12 My Heart Is An Empire
13 Everyone's In Love With Me

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