Music

Boyracer: A Punch Up the Bracket

Still think mohawks and boots are punk rock? Not compared to making music entirely on your own terms.


Boyracer

A Punch Up the Bracket

Label: 555 Recordings
US Release Date: 2006-02-14
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Two pairs of fists form the cover of Boyracer's latest album, A Punch Up the Bracket -- just the right representation of the group's do-or-die mentality. Staunchly independent, Boyracer is the punkest of the punk, in attitude if not in style.Their singles/greatest hits compilations are named Boyfuckingracer and Punker Than You Since '92. Their live set, and much of their studio work, is soaked in feedback. Their songs are filled with lyrical takedowns of frauds and fakes. They're the anti-superstars, a reminder that the music world is made of people, playing songs for other people.

Sole constant Boyracer member Stewart Anderson takes a DIY approach to recording and releasing music which has yielded a lengthy discography, with split singles and limited-pressings galore. Sometimes it seems like if Anderson finds some extra change under the couch cushions, he'll use it to release another CD, another 7", or another cassette.

This grassroots populist approach wouldn't be remarkable if Anderson weren't such a gifted songwriter, with a knack for melody and the wherewithal to sing and play his heart and guts out. Boyracer's songs are ablaze with not just energy, but also feeling. Inside of the punk demeanor there's anger and bitterness, and also tears and regrets and love, and so many other feelings that give their songs a deeper impact than your average ramshackle indie band.

Boyracer formed in Leeds, UK, in 1992, and Anderson has kept Boyracer rolling along in some form ever since, even after he moved to the US. Currently, the core of Boyracer is Anderson and his wife Jen Turrell, an excellent songwriter in her own right. They live in Flagstaff, Arizona, they work on a ranch (judging by the CD booklet photos), and with a few friends, they've made an album of songs that are as dynamite, and affecting, as anything Boyracer's done in the past.

A Punch Up the Bracket opens with Turrell's sing-song threat "Money grubbing / What a racket / I'll punch you up the bracket". And then the electric guitar rings out (with echo), the drums pick up the pace, and Anderson sings a typically rough yet passionate song while squeals of guitar noise and harmonized ba-ba-bas populate the background. Once again, it's on...

Boyracer roll through 21 songs in 45 or so minutes, sounding as fierce and sensitive as ever. Nearly every song comes off like a barb thrown at someone who's stepped on their toes. A past album included a nasty answering machine message from a record-pressing rep who the band considered a sexist jerk, with the liner notes telling you who he is and not to do business with him. That spirit runs through their lyrics here, which are often a prodding or finger-pointing at the arrogant, the greedy, the selfish, and the phony. Yet the songs are generally not simple daggers or blind insults so much as genuine attempts at understanding why people act as they do, at making someone (that ubiquitous "you") understand what they've done or what their actions have caused. And the way Anderson sings, the songs are almost always tinged with a sense of loss and regret, as bittersweet as they are angry.

A Punch Up the Bracket sounds like a 'typical' Boyracer album in all the right ways, yet it's also fresh and forward-looking, with the group never settling into one expected sound. The tone of the album often plays up the 'pop' side of the band, accentuating the melodies -- not easy throwaway hooks, but melodies. Their voices are clear and bright, the still-lovably-raucous guitars work to complement them instead of covering them up, and there's an overall light, airy feeling, helped along by synthesizers and acoustic guitars. That lightness meshes well with the music's propulsion and vigor.

This blend of the rough and the tender accentuates what's so special about Boyracer, the way they can take a sweet pop melody and make it explosive and rebellious. And the way they use words, and songs, tersely, cutting right to the point. A Punch Up… ends with a gorgeous slow number that expands before our ears. It sounds like a love song but isn't. It's melancholy yet incisive, and represents everything I love about Boyracer. Oh, but earlier, about halfway through the album, there's a spunky cover of an obscure punk song (The Petticoats' "Normal") that represents everything else that I love about Boyracer: fierce individualism, verve, an absolute love for song as a means of expression, resistance, and entertainment. A Punch Up the Bracket encompasses all of these qualities. It's Boyracer at their best, but when aren't they?

7
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

"I'm an Audience Member, Playing This Music for Us": An Interview With Keller Williams

Veteran musician Keller Williams discusses his special relationship with the Keels, their third album together, Speed, and what he learned from following the Grateful Dead.

Books

Shintaro Kago's 'Dementia 21' Showcases Surrealist Manga

As much as I admire Shintaro Kago's oddness as a writer, his artistic pen is even sharper (but not without problems) as evident in Dementia 21.

Music

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Proclaim 'Jazz Is Dead!' Long Live Jazz!

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad bring their live collaborative efforts with jazz veterans to recorded life with Jazz Is Dead 001, a taste of more music to come.

Film

"I'll See You Later": Repetition and Time in Almodóvar's 'All About My Mother'

There are mythical moments in Almodóvar's All About My Mother. We are meant to register repetition in the story as something wonderfully strange, a connection across the chasm of impossibility.

Music

Electropop's CMON Feel the Noise on 'Confusing Mix of Nations'

Pop duo CMON mix and match contemporary and retro influences to craft the dark dance-pop on Confusing Mix of Nations.

Music

'Harmony' Is About As Bill Frisell As a Bill Frisell Recording Can Be

Bill Frisell's debut on Blue Note Records is a gentle recording featuring a few oddball gems, particularly when he digs into the standard repertoire with Petra Haden's voice out front.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 4, James Chance to the Pop Group

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part four with Talking Heads, the Fall, Devo and more.

Music

Raye Zaragoza's "Fight Like a Girl" Shatters the Idea of What Women Can and Can't Do (premiere)

Singer-songwriter and activist Raye Zaragoza's new single, "Fight Like a Girl", is an empowering anthem for intersectional feminism, encouraging resilience amongst all women.

Music

VickiKristinaBarcelona Celebrate Tom Waits on "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" (premiere)

VickiKristinaBarcelona celebrate the singular world of Tom Waits their upcoming debut, Pawn Shop Radio. Hear "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" ahead of tomorrow's single release.

Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.