Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ratbones- Ratwars

As someone who likes to go past the surface of what's well known for the different international scenes that I'm into and is lucky enough to have quite a few friends in Italy, I first heard of Ratbones a couple years ago from my long time friend Andrea Imbalzano. That is a common thing for us, to constantly trade off new bands we think are cool and I was quick to appreciate their Ramones heavy influence that carried a lot of punchiness. The band went through some big shifts in personnel after their self titled album was released, parting ways with their lead singer and bassist but the story wasn't over! With the remaining elements of Ludo and Paolo, Andrea was added in to take on the role as bass player and this newly regrouped Genova/Milan lineup moved forward. They've been steadily playing shows but for someone on the outside like me, the time to hear what they've got has arrived in the form of a very cool 7" called "Ratwars".

The songs were recorded during September of 2014 at Evolution Studios in Ravenna, IT by Alex Bounty, then from there the songs were sent across the ocean to Johnny "Machine" Wilson to be mixed and mastered at FTLP Studios in Denver,CO. Between the brilliant talents of both Alex and Johnny, the finished product sounds very bold and fantastic! The cover art and layout were handled by my favorite graphic artist and always perfect man for the job, Riccardo Bucchioni. He's always got a great sense for tailoring imagery in a very precise way to every band he works with and for Ratbones, he did just that. I love the war rat! He looks mutated, super punk rock, and like something you'd probably want to avoid in a dark alley. Or any alley really. The colors are also very beautiful too. I can't ever say enough good things about his covers! On the back, there is a photo of the band shot by Marylita. Official release happened on October 2nd, 2015 and this is the first one out on I Buy Records with distribution by Monster Zero Records. It was pressed to black vinyl, comes with a download code, and digital only can be purchased on their bandcamp page where the songs are streaming in full. 

Since Ludo has always been the main force of creativity as far a songwriting is concerned for Ratbones, I wasn't too worried for the quality of the music to change but I was curious to see how this new shift with him moving to being lead vocalist would go. It didn't take me more than a few seconds to get right into this change with the first track on Side A called "Lost In East Berlin". Ludo sounds great, coming through with Andrea and Paolo with a much more polished presentation music wise. This is my favorite song on the record for it's We Want The Airwaves type feel. I actually listened to it a few times in a row the first time I ran through the songs because the arrangement is gorgeous from that steady palm muting that runs throughout, to the solo, to the keyboards Alex added in. I adore it! The pace picks up with the more aggressive "Operation Rebirth" that follows after. In a minute and a half it gets the job done not needing any overstatement, then it's time to flip to the next side. "Enemy In Me" also stays within that quick burst of tougher energy and has some nice changes. I love the way it leads into the chorus that makes it the standout for singing along. The last track is Andrea's first contribution as a songwriter and it takes a different turn with it's more romantic approach but it blends well. Definitely some early Screeching Weasel vibrations going on in there and I have no debate for that!

This is one of my most favorite 7"s of the year because in a time where it seems like many newer bands try to separate themselves from the importance from punk rock's great foundation in an effort to establish identity, we need ones that will carry on the tradition. That's exactly what Ratbones does, and very well at that so make sure to get a copy of this 7" for your collection! Stay tuned to their facebook page for all upcoming news and if you find yourself in the Seregno area on Saturday, well I am very jealous of your chance to see them play a show with the Manges and none other than the MIGHTY CJ Ramone himself! Punk rock isn't dead. You just gotta keep looking for it and these guys are proof of it.

Ratbones is...
Andre Ratbone- Bass, Backing Vocals
Ludo Ratbone- Vocals, Guitar
Paolo Ratbone- Drums

With keyboards on "Lost In East Berlin" and "Striped T-Shirt Girl" by Alex Bounty; and additional backing vocals by Johnny "Machine" Wilson

Side A
1. "Lost In East Berlin"(Ludo)
2. "Operation Rebirth"(Ludo/Sex Dario)
Side B
3. "Enemy In Me"(Ludo)
4. "Striped T-Shirt Girl"(Andre)

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