Los Angeles punk act, Badtown Boys, came together in the spring of 1985. Comprised of brothers Greg and Chris Keith, Tom Komisar and Tim Cunningham, the band kept a low profile until finally issuing their "Blue" EP in 1987. The four song release caught the attention of Dionysis Records owner, Lee Joseph. Joseph quickly put the band back in the studio to record the "Borrowed Time" EP, which went unnoticed in the states but gained quite a following overseas. Soon, Gift of Life Records came calling and offered the band a contract to record a full length album. That album came in the form of "Badtown Boys", issued in 1990. The album was license by american label New Red Archives and saw the band touring the west coast to modest success.
The following year, "Date With Death" was issued to even greater response and it seemed as if Badtown Boys were on the cusp of becoming punk's new darlings. In 1992, Greg left the band, leaving Chris to take over lead vocals but this change was brief when Greg returned in 1993 to help the band write and record, "Pennyless in Paradise". Over the next six years, the band would see many lineup changes while issuing numerous singles and albums, notably the presence of new singer Stephan X. Taking on a more modern sound, the band's popularity began a downward slide, culminating in a breakup in 1999. Though the band would regroup briefly numerous times over the next few years, the death of Stephan X in 2004 would signify the end of their activity.
"Date With Death" is a powerful and concise blend of 50's music and '77 era NYC punk. With the Ramones as an obvious reference point, each song blends seemlessly to form a perfectly balanced album that begs for repeated listenings. Greg Keith's nasally vocals and Komisar's rapidfire guitars intertwine perfectly from start to finish. Though the band is missing the tongue-in-cheek humor of the Ramones, they compensate by upping the tempos and thickening the sound. You couldn't ask for a tighter and more pulverizing slab of retro punk. New Red Archives has still balked on giving this gem the digital treatment, so be sure to dig into this fantastic vinyl transfer and experience the raw urgency of California's Badtown Boys.
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