Album Review: Rockstar Racecar - Hunk Oasis
The late 1970’s was a great era for punk rock for many reasons, including but not limited to, The Sex Pistols giving us the quintessential punk rock attitude and venues such as CBGB’s welcoming a wide variety of acts to its legendary stage who brought together punk spirit with metal tendencies – this intersection is where we find Bloomfield, New Jersey’s Rockstar Racecar. The catch, though, is that this isn’t some lost band from a bygone era, but a group of teenagers who quote The Stooges, Descendants, and Black Sabbath as influences and have recently released their 3rd album Hunk Oasis. As the 20-second guitar solo leads you into opening track “Assault,” you first catch a glimpse of their metal tinged side, before they kick into high octane following the appropriate first line “let’s get this show on the road,” and balance between shredding guitars and gritty vocals that hit a high-pitched screech at specific times ala the classic metal stylings. However, the first half of the album also provides us with their snotty punk rock offerings that sees front man Troy Donahue perfecting his Johnny Rotten-esque snarl on songs such as “Dogs” and “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” – the latter which has them smashing both styles together into one. But it’s the second half of the album that shines brightest as it gives us extra layers of who this band is and what they can do when they push outside their comfort zone and toy with unique rhythms to pull in catchier aspects such as on “Building An Army” or “I Am A Bear,” both providing us with an early Green Day/Ramones combination that begs to be compared to the raw, early material released by Lookout Records. Though this album is a bit all over the place in its styles, from song to song it still somehow manages to work together as one cohesive body of work, showcasing the best of what this NJ band brings to the table by never losing sight of the group’s signatures – classic metal riffs, a rhythm section that knows exactly when to keep you moving and when to pull back and allow the vocals to take the spotlight, and Donahue’s distinctive snarl and clever songwriting.