It would be easy to classify Scranton’s Heart Out as just another punk/hardcore amalgam. They play loud, fast, and loose, with a snark that lifts their songwriting beyond the three-chord trenches of their genre’s vast wasteland of wannabe SoCal miscreants, creating a personality so essential for a band of this ilk. Combining the best steel-toed, anarchist heave of bands like Minor Threat with the wise-ass tendencies of a NOFX, Heart Out is as infectious as it comes – a cut above your prototypical anti-authority musical mindset, broadening the appeal exponentially.
Comprised of musicians who are all certified veterans of the NEPA music scene, Heart Out seems intent not to self-define its sound, but rather roll with the aggressively melodic punches it so eloquently dishes out over the course of 10 tracks on “The Thirst.”
Vocalist Pete Tanski’s diverse delivery channels everyone from The Descendents’ Milo Aukerman to Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret, providing the lead character for the musical story that is each track. Recorded at Scranton’s Rec Room Studios under producer Cliff Evans (the band gets a co-producer credit), with the same punch and clarity that made Rancid’s “… And Out Come The Wolves” such a fantastic crossover punk audio document, “The Thirst” is practically begging to be heard.
Lead track “Bukowski’s Dog,” is a rather sly breath of fresh air from the beginning, with alterna-minded, jangle-fuzz picking as an intro prior to the power-chording that electrifies the song – guitarist Eric Brocious nailing a few choice surf-punk licks throughout, like Dick Dale meets The Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones. Seguing effortlessly into “Glad You’re Dead,” which is much more in the vein of the frenetic pulse of Bad Religion, yet manages to squeeze in a progressive, jazzy instrumental breakdown into just 2:57 of song. Heavy-handed nuance, indeed.
Standouts like “Scarlet Gospels” are old-school punk at its finest – irascible demeanor culminating with a “1, 2 fuck you” after one of many guitar crescendos, knocking the song’s teeth back on track. Classic “Whoa-oh” backing vocals underscored throughout the song should make it a die-hard punk favorite.
“Martyrs” does not skip a beat in quick succession, with some of drummer Joey Solimini and bassist Zac Wilson’s most repentless rhythmic discharge.
Tradeoffs like the Cheap Trick-on-amphetamines pleasantries of “Kurwa” mingle with the Stooges/Jesus Lizard noise volatility of “Kiss Army Draft Dodger” to enhance the ecstatic disunion of Heart Out’s eclectic punk vision.
No need to be solely of the punk persuasion to enjoy “The Thirst.” As long as you’ve got a jones for a rebel beat and enjoy questioning the answers, in a musical sense, you’ll totally get the message here.
Mark Uricheck is a Weekender correspondent who writes weekly CD reviews. Reach Weekender at [email protected]