Release Date: Sep 23, 2016
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The first words that come from James Alex on Beach Slang’s first EP are, “I’m a slave to always fucking up / It’s not OK, but maybe it’s enough.” A second EP and two LP’s later, not much has changed - and not much has to. After all, Alex believes in the healing power of rock 'n roll, and only outsiders and losers believe something that stupid. Or as the next two lines of that song go: "Kids like us are weird, and more, we’re brave / We tie our tongues and turn them into rage." In keeping with this theme, Alex opens Beach Slang's fantastic new LP, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, by demanding that you play him something loud and fast and also "something that will always last".
Beach Slangâ€™s debut album could have easily been titled A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. It had plenty of references to staying young and being alive. While those are not gone on the band's excellent sophomore full length, a little more growing up bleeds through. Teenage Feelings grounds itself in adolescence but adulthood lingers more than ever before.A spiritual elder to The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us,the album never strays far from their glorified style.
Beach Slang are a hearts on the sleeve, cards on the table kind of open. There’s no pretence; it’s their truth, the whole truth and nothing but the ugly truth. Across a handful of EPs and debut album ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’, the Philadelphia punks opened a door to a world of young love and old wounds. ‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’ sees the party continue.
For me, teen-punk went out with bongs and wearing pavement-sweeping skate jeans. But Philadelphia trio Beach Slang are nostalgic for their lost years – the 80s era of collegiate bands like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements – while throwing its air-punching soundtrack forward to the future. You won’t find knob gags here: these are songs that distill frustration, alienation, youthful abandon and rebellion into something more thoughtful, informed by wiry post-punk (Art Damage), distortion-rich guitar melodies and widescreen atmosphere (Hot Tramps, The Perfect High).
This is the soundtrack to growing up. Beach Slang’s second full-length does a stellar job of building on frontman James Alex’s knack for storytelling. Sharing the tales he heard from kids on the road, the album addresses the courage and strength it takes to get through the tough times growing up. ‘Future Mixtape For The Art Kids’ and ‘Punks In A Disco Bar’ mix together heartfelt choruses with snappy hooks.
A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings is anything but a misnomer for Beach Slang's sophomore LP, which hears frontman James Alex leading the band through a second helping of hopelessly romantic, idealistically nostalgic punk-tinged indie rock. Opening with the one-two punch of "Future Mixtape for the Art Kids" and "Atom Bomb," the Philadelphia-based band wastes no time blending the bleeding-heart sincerity of the lyrics with brash ringing guitars and drums begging to be pogoed to. Across the ten new songs, Beach Slang run the gamut of the album's titular sentiments, as relatively lighthearted lines about stitching hearts to sleeves and each other ("Future Mixtape for the Art Kids") turn into lyrics detailing reckless booze-fuelled nights ("Spin the Dial," "Wasted Daze of Youth"), all capped off by a poignant plea to fight to survive in closer "Warpaint.
Few albums start off with a mission statement as direct as “Play it loud / play it fast.” It’s not the only approach Beach Slang is open to, but it’s the one that works on new album A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. Frontman James Alex doesn’t offer any misdirection. The album title describes the disc and the first line of the album, on “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids”, starts the path that the band’s going to take (though to be fair, they admit that playing it quiet can also save a life, such is the role of music for adolescents, and everyone who was one).
“Play me something that might save my life,” Beach Slang’s James Alex growls over chugging power chords on “Future Mixtape For the Art Kids”, the first track on the band’s sophomore album, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. While not exclusively so, the phrase “music saved my life” often gets associated with the halcyon days of adolescence. Being a teenager means being overcome with new emotions, feeling things harder because you haven’t been callused by the world.
Less than a year has passed since Beach Slang released its debut LP, The Things We1 Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, and yet it almost surely felt like more to them. After near constant touring in support of the critically acclaimed record, the wheels started to rattle and shake. There was a stretch where the world thought the band had broken up, and drummer JP Flexner ultimately quit the group several weeks later.
Following quickly on the heels of several EPs and last year's excellent debut LP, The Things We Do to Find People Who Think Like Us, Beach Slang has quickly released the follow-up less than a year later. Thankfully, very little has changed. The songs are still smart, fun, heartfelt, melodic punk shout-a-longs about, well, teenage feelings of loneliness, alienation, and rebellion sung by former Weston guitarist James Alex (who is in his 40s).
If you're familiar with any Beach Slang song, you've pretty much already heard A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. That's kind of the point of Beach Slang. James Alex speaks almost exclusively of being young, loud, and wild to reacquaint listeners with the dormant emotions they once felt were inextricable from formative moments: discovering the Replacements, playing in a high school band, making out on the filthy couch at your first punk rock show.
Beach Slang's sophomore album opens with the words "Play it loud, play it fast," followed later in the verse by "Play me something that might save my life. " That encapsulates the spirit of A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, an aptly titled 30-minute blast of discontent and consolation. The record follows the band's similarly angst-ridden debut by less than year, and is likely to sweep up fans of that album with a consistent sound and intensity.
Do it for the kids. So goes the mantra espoused by several colleagues of mine, half inside joke, half journalistic mission statement. The aphorism, often shortened to DIFTK, is typically invoked whenever we need a reminder of why we do this job in the first place. As patrons of an echo chamber of Twitter beefs, streaming wars, and the ins and outs of Drake’s romantic life, it can be easy to feel like rock journalism has morphed into an SEO-powered assembly line—but we’ve got to keep the machine running, for the sake of everyone clicking.
Beach Slang feel like a rock and roll fan's dream come true. They're from Philadelphia, which currently has the hottest scene in the United States thanks to bands like the War on Drugs, Hop Along, Modern Baseball and Sheer Mag. They write raucous, feel-good anthems full of so much sincerity and sentimental lyrics about adolescence that you might be fooled into thinking they're the Replacements in disguise.
Beach Slang’s acclaimed debut The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us was a catalog of the trials and tribulations of youth. Eleven months later, frontman James Alex, a father in his 40s, seems to have acknowledged that he’s grown up some. True to its title, sophomore record A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings maintains heavy reverence for those emotionally jumbled salad days, but approaches the subject from a perspective of nostalgia and observation rather than contemporaneous experience.
Ally Sheedy's Breakfast Club character warned, "When you grow up, your heart dies." Not so, says Beach Slang bandleader James Alex, whose 42-year-old heart still pumps fierce, gory, and earnest indie-punk anthems. The Philadelphian parades his Replacements adoration throughout 10 brisk tracks, hardening emo themes with a punk-lite edge, his lyrics preserving the sting of adolescence. "I never belonged," whines the singer on "Spin the Dial," though he ultimately prevails thanks to music.