Album Review: Answering Machine - Bad Luck
To pull from the popular meme: the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was rock-n-roll’s greatest era – change my mind! Punk rock pioneers The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and Ramones, not only covered this era’s music, but also incorporated its influence into their original material. Some 40+ years later and Brooklyn, New York’s Answering Machine is smashing their raw, pop-punk style into their bubblegum rock-n-roll influences on their latest album Bad Luck and fitting snuggly alongside bands such as Mr. T Experience, Chixdiggit, and Squirtgun as the latest incarnation of this punk-n-roll style. With their singles “Cherry Coke” and “Bad Luck,” we got a taste of the balance between the distinctive vocals of JD and Samantha, their smooth harmonies, clap along rhythms, and infectious, sock hop ready melodies. A similar 1960’s vibe can be heard throughout this album on songs such as “Riverdale” (which line “is it clover or crimson” could be a nod to Tommy James & The Shondels), and “Wet Blanket,” an ultra-catchy, Beatles paced tune that relies as much on Samantha’s backup harmony to hold you in the song as it does JD’s leads. However, Answering Machine also cleverly slides in several songs to reveal the layers of who they are as a band. Where “Hollywood Smog” allows its softer pace to give Samantha’s vocals the spotlight before catapulting you into the energetic burst of a chorus, they turn the energy up to eleven when they dig into their classic pop-punk style on “Bubblegum,” “This Year,” “Marie,” and “Water Signs.” I grew up on 1960s rock-n-roll and spent hours under the headphones listening to my dad’s record collection: The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, The Buckinghams, etc. When I came into my own in the mid-1990’s, I found punk rock through Green Day and then discovered the Lookout Records sound. With Bad Luck, Answering Machine firmly plants their feet on both sides of these genre lines and delivers a great album that is as refreshingly upbeat and dripping with rock-n-roll nostalgia.