Of all the novelty acts and sub-genre minutia to spawn from the garage rock revival, Hunx and his Punx — the distillation of the very being of Seth Bogart (a.k.a. Hunx) — is one of the most intriguing. The group’s debut full-length, Too Young To Be in Love, was assembled from the spare parts and rehashed progressions of golden-era girl groups and early rock, produced by Ivan Julian of Richard Hell and the Voivods, and had enough homoeroticism and trashy fun to have been the missing soundtrack to The Birdcage, had it been directed by Tim and Eric. Hunx has returned with a reduced lineup of Punx (formerly the Punkettes) and a sophomore full length, Street Punk, which is a far more aggressive endeavor than its predecessor.
Kicking off with the equally hilarious and obnoxious “Bad Skin”, Street Punk runs through the numbers of current garage rock standard fare. There are fuzzy guitars that beg for a Greg Ginn reference, antagonizing screams, and only 2 of the album’s 12 tracks clock in at over 2 minutes in length. While the punk flavor isn’t particularly inspired, the album is dotted with bright spots of toothy rage in which Hunx adopts a rather Blag Dahlia-esque sneer (“Born Blonde”, “I’m Coming Back”) to deliver lyrics about the fabulous side of life in a solid punk-rock caricature. However, the best bits of Street Punk are the numbers carried by Shannon Shaw (of label mates Shannon and the Clams) and her charming Ronettes-meets-Joan-Jett croon. Shaw’s songs, “You Think You’re Tough” and “Mud in Your Eyes”, bring the Spector-informed sheen of Too Young To Be in Love back into the fold to add some sugar to the otherwise gritty melee.
The novelty of a band that could very well have been assembled in John Waters’ basement is scaled back, and with it some of the humor and the over-the-top homoeroticism that made Hunx’s debut stand out. And, surely, someone somewhere is going to allude to some form of higher art within the fun of Street Punk by interpreting the album as some vague homage to the lurid greatness of the the likes of Lux or Darby — and perhaps that might be between the lines here – but the truth is that that would be a pretentious notion to apply to a record so blatantly about just having fun within the completely warped world of Hunx.
Essential Tracks: “You Think You’re Tough”, “Born Blonde”, “Mud in Your Eyes”