Blowout opens with an old home video clip of Alex Levine, bassist and lead singer of The So So Glos. At seven years old, he goes on about a topic years beyond his age, how, “as you know,” Kurt Cobain recently shot himself, “pow!”
So, Kill Your Idols is a good touchstone here. Like that New York-based punk band, The So So Glos and Blowout takes as much influence from their NYC hometown as they do the West Coast punch of Lookout! Records. The bouncy bass of Operation Ivy and the unrelenting drums of H2O meld into a caustic, melodic pop-punk party on “House of Glass,” for example. It’s one of a dozen richly produced songs on Blowout with a much deeper resonance than its beery sheen suggests—meaning, movement, and melody seep through this release.
Blowout reflects a years-long chronicle for the boys from Bay Ridge to break out of the New York neighborhoods they call home. Yet there’s still no compromise. The quartet released this record on Shea Stadium, the band’s new imprint named for the Brooklyn venue they run. And the album sounds much bigger than the small DIY space The So So Glos call home base, packed with gang shouts and guitars that verge on actual stadium-sized coherence, like, say, the giant chords opening “Everything Revival” or the fist-pumping chorus of “Island Ridin’”.
From the dreamy pill-pop of “Xanax” to the blustery harmonica opening the acoustic flounce of “Dizzy”, Blowout melts nuggets of rock history into addictive pop-punk bangers (the album cover mirroring Dookie notwithstanding). While “rock” is most indicative of the varied sounds, punk is accurate here for the idealism The So So Glos inhabit. Because they also seem to be battling against the tagline of Kill Your Idols, the 2004 documentary chronicling the rise of alt-rock in NYC: “You Are A Target Market.”
Brothers Alex and Ryan Levine, their step-brother and drummer Zach Staggers, and guitarist Matt Elkin will not be pinned down. “Son of an American” critiques privilege from a point that acknowledges the privilege of the critique. “Speakeasy” directs vitriol at the anonymous critic, condemning the emptiness of talking shit on the Internet. The fragility of “Lost Weekend” chills through vulnerable melodies and an outsider perspective.
Unlike a number of bands trying to make a statement, The So So Glos actually happen to be in a valid position for effortless critiques of authenticity: hometown Good Ol’ Boys unapologetic for who they are and how to manifest a community vision. Is there a chip on the shoulder? Yeah. But that doesn’t mean these dudes aren’t figuring out how to cast that fracture. Instead of just polemic, The So So Glos understand the evaluation they make is two-sided. Blowout is one big party. But it’s a worthwhile, insightful, and productive event—everyone’s invited.
Essential Tracks: “Son of an American”, “Wrecking Ball”, “Dizzy”, and “Lost Weekend”