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Beach Rats – Rat Beat
Rat Beat - Epitaph Records
Beach Rats is a sparrow-tattooed band comprised of New Jersey, specifically Asbury Park, residents vocalist Ari Katz from Lifetime, guitarist Pete Steinkopf & bassist Bryan Keinlen from Bouncing Souls, guitarist icon Brian Baker (Bad Religion / Minor Threat) and Let it Burn beats-man Danny Windas, AKA “Dubs” on drums. With two of punks all-time best guitarists and song writers in tow, one would have nothing but the highest of expectations for this album: Rat Beat. Certainly Epitaph Records agrees as they were willing to put their moniker and money on it.
The first track, Bikes Out! is so full of 80’s spit, it blasts right out at you almost like a Minor Threat record would. Brian Baker is totally stuntin’ on this track. His punk-riff mastery is in show-off form. Bryan Keinlen’s bass is always punk rock perfect, climbing around in just the right spots. Ari Katz is in whiney somewhat subdued snotty form on vocals. Ari’s vocals are reminiscent of the Dickies, Reagan Youth or maybe Angry Samoans. Rat Beat has what you would expect from Brian Baker: Lots of classic guitar tones and all the lost riffs from the plethora of bands he has graced prior.
Track 5, Summer’s End,features an almost Fugazi riff in it. I would like to know which member actually wrote that part. You would guess the D.C. native Baker. This record is somehow less beachy and more east coasty however the band sounds less like a Jersey east coast band and more like a California west coast band. Translation: this band sounds like they are from Fullerton California but are influenced by New York and D.C. punk bands. I love the simple tight production via producer Eric Bennett at Lakehouse Studios in Asbury Park. It sounds like an Inner Ear Dischord recording done in Los Angeles though rather than Arlington, Virginia. The entirety of the album has an 80’s vibe for the most part with a little 90s thrown in and the production matches perfectly.
Track 7, Clorox Boys has a lot of attitude, emotion and feel with its’ clean guitar sound and broken guitar chords during the verses. This is the stand out track for me. It would be put on my playlist of all-time best emo-punk songs. And I’m talking 80’s dark emotional punk like T.S.O.L., Toxic Reasons, Marginal Man or M.I.A., none of that bullshit screamo emo that came along in the 90s from places like Florida.
This 12-song record sounds pretty fresh for “middle aged” dudes. Like some teenage punk rockers in their suburban Flip or Flop house in Santa Monica wrote it during their summer break. Rat Beat certainly doesn’t see this crew stretching limits by any means, but it is chock full of tight tempo-changing riffs and sweet punk leads. I would have liked a cover song on this album. Maybe on their next, City Baby Attacked by Beach Rats? So in conclusion: If you’re a fan of 80s and early 90’s in-the-pocket punk that Brian Baker is legendary for, this may be a lost treat for you.
Dig into this Epitaph release on July 29th!