Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Ratcliffs- Bubblegum Warfare

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."- Albert Einstein 

Who knew Einstien and Dee Dee had so much in common!? I did! I think this quote of a genius can easily be applied to the beautiful structure of a sound we define as punk rock and at it's very most foundation, that's what you find. Simplicity. This principle is very much alive in Europe and as a devoted fan of bands like the Mugwumps and DeeCRACKSAustria is a place that I've been dialed into for years. This is largely in part due to those guys having such a crystal clear understanding of what a punk rock song should be, and they play it with no unnecessary embellishments. There was another band from Innsbruck that I heard a few summers back by means of a sampler that was made for the Monster Zero Mash in Bergamo from 2014. They were called The Ratcliffs and I remembered liking their song, but being the scatterbrained girl that I am, I got distracted by something shiny probably and forgot to research them further. It happens!! Anyway, let's fast forward into the present. I saw that they finally had a full length record coming not too long ago, checked out the stream when it went live, and in a few words I was smitten with it pretty quickly. I've been craving so much to hear a good pop punk record lately and it has arrived in the form of one called "Bubblegum Warefare"!

The songs were recorded/mixed during the Summer and Fall of 2014 by Matthias Mayr(aka Hias) at Workstation & The Shithole(aka Hias' bedroom) and then mastering was handled by Mathias Magerle. If theses names sound familiar, it's because they are!! Both of them were involved with the last Mugwumps record and like their work on "Can't Be The One", the sound quality they produced this time is great once again!!  The cover is a great fit with the album title featuring a photo of Paul shot by Jonas Flattinger and artwork by Karin Berner. Simple bubblegum concept, bright colors, I like it! Once that was all finished it was time for the painful process that always happens since everyone's waiting on the plants and there's not enough supply to meet the demand, but good things are worth the wait!! Official release happened on March 8th from the fine people of Monster Zero Records. 300 copies were pressed to pink or black vinyl and come with a download code. Collector nerds like myself, the pink wax is apparently super limited! Digital only can be found on the Ratcliffs bandcamp page where it's also streaming in full! Lastly, a small and limited edition run of 30 cassettes was made on Paul's label, Campfire Tapes. So your listening options are many!! But for now, go press play on that stream if you haven't done so yet.

I woke up early on the morning MZ announced the record was streaming and decided to investigate right away since I was so curious for it. Most of the time when I'm looking at a stream I don't start from the first track, but instead scan the song titles for one that jumps out at me. Usually that method proves to be quite effective and this time I decided to play "You Can't Break My Heart" first since that's an experience that typically spawns a great song. Especially in pop punk and my hunch was correct!! The Ratcliffs sound is simply a breath of fresh air and I was drawn right in by it. Paul is most certainly one of us in his devotion to the Ramones and Lookout bands, which you can hear in his songwriting but there's also some nice touches of 50's/60's rock 'n' roll in there too and it's very cool. Overall there's a huge injection of fun in their style, not taking anything too seriously and the lyrics are super catchy. Another thing I like about Paul is his vocal style. He's got much more of a melodic Joey-esque crooner approach and I'm into it! This recording also has a great lineup of talent! I mentioned Hias above who adds being a fine guitar player to his résumé and then Klemi who also plays drums for Insanity Alert shows his diversity, easily going from thrash to pop punk and did a wonderful job. The LPs 12 tracks cover a wide range of topics and open up in a very Riverdales Phase 3 sort of way with the first one, "S.L.I.T.H.E.R" that is a quick burst of  punk rock, talking of a two faced person. "Zombie Walk"  drops into a mid-tempoed pace and most definitely gives a nod towards I Walked With A Zombie. Monster songs never go out of style with me and the Ratcliffs do well in bringing an element of horror to their mixture without sounding cheesy. "Swine Flu Outbreak" and the metamorphosis illustrating "Teen Wolf Again" also go along with this theme and were infectious in their ability to get stuck in my head. I really love "Chinese Whispers" too! Its got some great backing vocals but as a true romantic, I gotta say I choose the ode of love lost called "Radioactive Queen" as my favorite track! The lyrics are enjoyably demented, expressing the woes of being burned in more way than one and the chorus is beautiful!! "Never Any Good" adds a little more variety, standing out a bit with just vocals and a more clean guitar but stays cohesive with the record and shows that early rock 'n' roll side I mentioned. 

2016 was SO SLOW to start out with new releases! I was waiting for something to come along that captured my attention and "Bubblegum Warfare" is it. This is a nice open to what is promising to be an eventful rest of the year so don't sleep on this first pressing and order a copy before it's gone. With both Hias and Klemi relocating soon, there are no immediate plans for The Ratcliffs besides the release show they played but seeing how that Austrian scene is such a supportive network of talented people, something is always bound to come together. Follow their facebook page to stay tuned! 

The Ratcliffs are...
Paul- Vocals and Bass Guitar 
Hias- Guitar
Klemi- Drums 

All songs written by Paul Coyote

Side A
1. "S.L.I.T.H.E.R."
2. "Zombie Walk"
3. "Li'l Light Bulb"
4. "Swine Flu Outbreak"
5. "Too Many Issues"
6. "The Thing To Do"
Side B
7. "Chinese Whispers"
8. "Teen Wolf Again"
9. "Radioactive Queen"
10. "You Can't Break My Heart"
11. "Never Any Good"
12. "Camp Nowhere"

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