There are four New Jersey bands that come to mind when following in the footsteps of late 1970s punk rock perfection. Of course, you have The F-Bombers, who mix the raw and emotive angst of The Runaways with in-your-face action reminiscent of The Distillers, and the grease fire hot sounds of The Obvious, a band that combines the influential intensity of Nirvana and the stage sensationalism of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The Sex Zombies have reunited, so their clash of Iggy, Ian Dury and The Replacements puts them firmly on this top list as well.
The fourth outstanding band in this class is the way back punk ferocity of TV Tramps. Vocalist and songwriter Joy Vay actually was in The Obvious at one point on bass, and she extends her original, savvy sensitive attack on vocals and guitar with the TV Tramps on their latest record, Rip It Up, due out shortly after this writing.
Conventional is never a word you could use to describe Joy. Besides being an attitude loaded rhythm guitarist, this clothing designer/punk princess always takes the road less traveled when she drives her unlimited boundary of lyrics and music. Her collaborations with bandmates Brian Sugent (The Blisters), Matt Guzda and Brendan LeMeune have culminated in an addictive blitz that represents TV Tramps’ signature sound.
Rip It Up detonates with the anthem charged explosion of “Vampire.” Joy shoots immortal lyrical venom into the veins with lines like, “They want me to bite, but it doesn’t feel right. Black Nails and skin so cold, the blood is thick, and it makes me sick. Who cares ‘cuz I’ll never grow old.” Guitar mayhem bends and wails under the ministrations of Sugent, who reminds me of a great blend of early Steve Cook and Ace Frehley before he dribbled off the radar.
“Baby Girl” rumbles in and gets right to the subject as Vay squeals and hiccups her ode to dark and troubled subjects that never knew what hit them till it’s too late. Vay quips the great line, “Another lover with a hole at the hips, another trigger for another trick.” Guitars groan under heavy, half step pull downs as bass and drums lob killer rhythms all day long. Lead guitars are succinct and to the purgatory bound point. This is a wild ride that leaves you holding on to your fedora as it screeches around the hairpin curves of your feverish little mind.
“Johnny Don’t” chops and slams into play as Vay laments on the boy she used to know. Guitars are dirty, tube-loaded glory and bass and drums are notably elaborate in their unity. It’s no easy task to keep perfect meter at these speeds, but Guzda and LeMeune lay down seamless work, giving free reign to Vay and Sugent, who spray the whole thing down with searing salvos of distorted bar chord power. Vay’s Kelly Ogden influence shines Dollyrot bright on this one.
“Keep Your Mouth Shut” tells the tale of Vay’s weariness of the hanger on and the gloomy space they waste. When describing the things that come out of their mouth, Joy puts it exactly right with the line, “It reminds me of something I ate, but don’t ever want to taste again.”
Standout on the disc is the danger-gladdened sounds of “No Ransom.” TV Tramps tear into a noir styled vamp that brings me back to the days of early Sublime, The Cramps and The Stranglers. Feedback beeps hail the intro as the band kicks their metered rage underneath the breathy and guttural expulsions of Vay. I love the analog delay odyssey in the bridge. Strobing and twirling out of control and into a great 1950s lead break, the result is the perfect setup for Vay’s finishing lyrical impact.
“Party Animal” is my next election for a foot-stomping, good old fashion breakdown. Vay utilizes her signature squeal and swoon style to a good result, and the lyrics are about as punk rock sizzling as you’re gonna hear out there today. “It’s never too late to let your panties drop, but it’s hard to get it up with dead boys around. Sizing me up with your hands on me, checkin’ me out like some tasty party meat.” Quick and delicious, Vay takes you on a hot and wild “Joyride” and it ends all too soon for me.
The discs namesake is “Rip It Up.” This is TVT’s salute to the anti-establishment and the boisterous celebration of life in the rock and roll fast lane. Staccato drum hits fire Cheetah Chrome style guitars into the verse as Vay leers with a set of bracing lyrical shots aimed at the party that never stops. “Knock, knock, knockin’ at your door, and if you’re trying to run, I’m comin’ back for more. ‘Cuz we’re losers, fuckin’ bruisers on the run. Lookin’ for some fun, muthafucka come on!” Sugent breaks loose in the middle eight and takes this Lamborghini-fast gem down the gritty road to feedback junction while the rhythm section rips straight through the heart of this four on the floor fastback.
“The Stuff” comes off of the player like a deranged Suzi Quatro meets Cheap Trick hybrid. Vay’s liberal use of hyperboles is engaging and a dedicated nod to the heroes of yesteryear. “He’ll shake the roof right on off of your house. Don’t bundle up ‘cuz he’s going down south. Don’t care who ya been around, big plans for these lips and mouth.” Muffs, Cramps, Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, The Damned and more come through as the band throttles feedback-laced guitars, subtle drum bridges and hypnotic bass and effects into a quick burst of lead guitar speed before the band choruses into the final stretch.
“Whiplash” finishes off this deliciously catchy album. Built on sizzling layers of distorted guitars and the firmly stacked weight of bass and drums, “Whiplash” hits you hard and spins you into a new direction of fun. The descending choruses are strong and memorable as Vay exorcises her confessionary secrets of lust and love to the listener. Guitars growl and grind against Joy’s emotional moxie like a cat in heat.
TV Tramps are one of the Shoreworld’s coveted wishes for success. This is a band that will attract the right attention based off of their selection of style and attention to detail, and that’s what they deserve. In a world of screamo clones, all sobbing narcissistic selfie sadness, TV Tramps rub the down and dirty scent of old school punk right in our smug little faces, and that’s the dose of reality the music buying public needs now more than ever.
TV Tramps will be ringing in 2014 as they officially release Rip It Up (Little Dickman Records) for fans across the Tri-State and beyond. Worthy of note is that Rip It Up will be available in both CD and bonus five-song 7” vinyl for the discerning audio purist.
The party takes place at The Trash Bar in wonderful downtown Brooklyn on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. For more information on the availability of Rip It Up and this superb, thumb to nose punk rock foursome, head over to facebook.com/TVTramps.