Review # 65
Artist: The Bristles
Title: Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown
Label: Beer City
Hello 30,000 Songs readers! Sorry about the long delay between posts. I was out of the country for a while, and then I was sick for a bit (not unrelated), and then I had a lot of catching up to do on work because of being out of the country and/or sick for three weeks. I'm back, I have a brand new record needle, and I'm looking forward to finishing up the "B" LPs over the next week or so.
So, let's dive in. I own The Bristles' Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown because of a miscommunication. Many years ago, I recommended to my friend Tim that he check out local punk band Bristle (the subject of my previous review). He mistakenly picked up this record by The Bristles, who I had never heard of before. Years later, as regular readers are aware, he moved away and I got all his vinyl, and thus, this record that I didn't actually recommend came to be in my collection.
The Bristles are (were? Not sure, and internet searches have been inconclusive) a street punk band from New Jersey, not to be confused with the European band of the same name. This record sounds like the type of rock 'n roll influenced street punk that I probably would have liked a lot between the ages of 17 and 22 but have mostly moved on from. The record reminds me a lot of Blanks '77, and like that band, the Bristles would probably be fun to see live, but aren't something I listen to much on record any more. The music here is fairly generic, sounding like a lot of mid to late 90s street punk bands. There's nothing seriously wrong with any of the songs, if that kind of music is your cup of tea, but listening to this record I found my attention wandering at times. The songs are up-tempo and some of them (such as "Blue Collar Crime" and "Local 827") are fun and kind of catchy, but there's just not a whole lot of depth to the music. Aside from the opening instrumental track "109," it more or less just does the same thing from beginning to end.
Lyrically, the band is class conscious and seems sincere. The songs on this record mostly deal with the frustration of being stuck in a working class lifestyle, with a couple of songs about unionism and one about using substances to escape the bleakness of this life. The hopelessness that comes with poverty is a great topic for a punk song, but here it starts to feel more than a bit repetitive. If you're looking for deep insights or correct spelling, the lyrics here provide neither.
In a final analysis, I would describe this record as just ok. I've listened to it twice now and could imagine maybe putting it on again some time when I'm in the mood for street punk. There are definitely a lot worse bands in this genre (some would say I myself have been in one, but that's neither here nor there). This record just doesn't excite me too much.
I looked on youtube but couldn't find any videos of the US based Bristles to post. There are some songs on their myspace if you want to look them up.
Look for another post about one of the more unusual records in my collection coming soon.
Total songs listened: 814