Top 5: Atom Age

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The Atom Age
The Hottest Thing That’s Cool
Asian Man Records
Street: 05.29
The Atom Age = Rocket From the Crypt + Riverboat Gamblers + New Bomb Turks
There is definitely something to be said for brand loyalty when it comes to punk rock record labels—Asian Man Records helped kick-start the success of Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms and Less Than Jake, recently revitalized the careers of The Queers and Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy, and is the current home of unique and influential bands such as Bomb the Music Industry! and Andrew Jackson Jihad. Given the label’s pedigree, it was easy to give The Atom Age a chance—and I’m glad that I did. The second full-length album from this Berkeley, Calif. quintet blows the doors right open with “Dig the Future,” blistering with punk rock fury and garage rock swagger. Brendan Frye’s sax is easily the standout element of The Atom Age’s sound, as he gives an extra gallon of rocket fuel to the band’s already frantically fast numbers (“Cut, Paste, Kill” and “Nothing Ever Changes”), but is an equally effective attitude enhancer in slower songs such as “I’ve Been Thinking” (featuring an excellently screamed vocal performance by Peter Niven) and “Eaten Alive.” There is an inherent coolness to The Atom Age’s music, evoking the spirit of Speedo and the strychnine-fueled chaos of The Sonics—this is straight up rock n’ roll channeled through punk rock energy. The album closes with the organ-driven duo of “Dead Wrong,” a slow creeper of a tune, and the title track, where the organ, sax, speed and Ryan Perras’ voice meld to form one of the catchiest, coolest songs released this year. This really is the hottest thing that’s cool—pick up a copy and let it blast your ass straight into the future.

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