5th of Wisk and a Bottle a Pill
If you’re a fan of the “I can smell the alcohol emanating from these songs” school of punk rock – in other words, that happy confluence of Bad Religion and The Pogues (and who isn’t?) – you are gonna love this record. Pleasing Melanie have been hard at work spreading their unique brand of roughhouse pub rock around town the past few years, and now we can enjoy the fermented, frothy and, yes, aggressively intoxicating fruits of their labors on disc whenever we want, thanks to the rollicking 5th of Wisk a Bottle a Pill.
From the get-go, this album runs on the adrenaline fumes of the tail end of an all-nighter – giddy, woozy, and always charged. Punctuated with “heys” and “hos,” the modern punk shanty drinking anthem “Responsibility” opens the album with a sneer – a shipful of pirates wearing Rancid T-shirts over their tattoo sleeves, practically daring each other to skateboard right off of the plank. Though “Responsibility” provides the template and tone for the disc, there’s plenty of variety to be found if you stay onboard. “Going Down South,” fr’instance, rides a lurching reggae beat that competes with a “TV Party”-era Black Flag chorus. “Twenty 6, Thirty 4” gets kind of Black Crowes/white boy funky for awhile before the energy drinks and adult beverages kick in, powering the song into overdrive. A bit of a left turn (and a red herring for those expecting a break in the festivities) comes at the beginning of “Good Girl”; Pleasing Melani get all sultry, subdued, sessy and jazz-infused before awakening with a jolt and hammering away with a Jon Spencer blooze zeal.
Singer Carl Quandt emphatically embodies the spirit of the material with his alternately barking, cajoling and smirking smoke-tinged vocals. I don’t know if there’s single-malt in them there pipes, but it sure sounds like it. He and the rest of the crew certainly know how to have fun. Witness the jaunty, tightly wound “Cap N Crunch,” wherein the frontman brings to mind a bleached-out SoCal punker with a monocle, trilling syllables and hamming it up like an extra from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – it’s amusing and rocking at the same time. As for “Xxxx,” well, picture a revved-up Brian Setzer plugging into a Marshall amp after a few too many Mojitos at the bandstand.
Several tunes benefit from the accomplished saxophone touches provided by Scott Snyder. His lines on “Friends,” for instance, add a bit of sophistication to Quandt’s sing-speak. The spirited drumming of Al Quandt, combined with Pink 5’s bass – not to mention stellar guitar and vocal work by Nate Ochoa and Matt Brown – make this album jump out of the speakers even at its most inchoate moments. A great hidden (shh) track at album’s end cuts loose with dual guitar leads as it staggers around like the guy at the bar who can’t decide if he wants to fight you, be your best friend, or both. Embrace Pleasing Melani, but watch out for that right hook. (D.M. Jones)
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