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Neon Straightjackets: ‘Ex-Girlfriends and Ecstasy’

Neon Straightjackets keep it loud, fast, and fun

Neon Straightjackets' debut album is full of energy.
J. Hubner

J. Hubner

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 12, 2023

Neon Straightjackets is an alternative/punk rock four-piece band stemming from northwest Ohio, but they play and scream like they’re from Seattle in 1989,” says Neon Straightjackets’ Bandcamp page. 

If you give their newest single “$#!7canned” a listen, you might be inclined to agree with that statement. Big guitars, pop-punk rhythm, and vocals belt out like a band on stage at 1 a.m. with nothing to lose. The four-piece seem to pull equally from Green Day and Nirvana. 

On their debut full-length Ex-Girlfriends & Ecstasy, Neon Straightjackets (frontman and guitarist Larry Stahl, guitarist Johnny Hopkins, guitarist Mikey Cramer, and drummer Colton Lloyd) keep it loud, fast, and fun, the three elements needed if you want your Midwest rock n’ roll band to make its mark.

“Heavy,” “Stargazing,” and “Have a Nice Fall” come roaring out of the speakers like a rallying cry for the disenchanted. More than the Seattle sound, Neon Straightjackets seem to be channeling the mid-90s angst of Foo Fighters, Everclear, and The Offspring. Crunchy guitars, big drums, and vocals scream at full volume. There are even touches of Days of the New as well. Alt rock vibes pervade in the hazy “Nightmares and Nosebleeds,” while “I Hate Humanity” sounds as punk rock as you’d think it would. 

Neon Straightjackets lock into this ramshackle quality in their songs as if they’re barely holding it together. You think at any moment the whole rock n’ roll train is gonna go screaming off the tracks into a fiery end. But these four always seem to right the train at the last minute, locking into an almost reckless abandon on songs like “Worryworryworry” and “Scatterbrain.” They even bring things down a notch in the jangly strummer “Terrible!” 

The Midwest has always been an underappreciated source of great rock n’ roll. Everyone’s always “L.A. this” and “New York that” when all you need to do is hit The Fort any Friday or Saturday night for a great night of local rock. Neon Straightjackets is one of those bands you can see, and Ex-Girlfriends & Ecstasy is the album you’ll be hearing them play. 

Most likely loudly. Very loudly. 


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