Blasting out of Dayton, Ohio, The Raging Nathans are about to release their second full length album Cheap Fame and it’s an absolute banger. It’s so infectious that it should come with a warning from the World Health Organisation.
Musically, it hacks back to the golden age of first-wave pop-punk with elements of Green Day before they went stratospheric and The Dopamines, which is no surprise when you realise that the band features members of The Queers, Slow Death and the aforementioned ‘Dopamines. It’s fun, fast, melodic and everything that’s great about pop-punk rolled up into thirteen tracks of 24-carat gold.
The album blasts off with Dayton, where the loneliness and frustration of tour life never sounded so joyous. Bittersweet lyrics over absorbing basslines that gallop along at a frantic pace set the template for the album and hook you in from the off.
Teenage Amnesia follows, sounding like a beefed-up Green Day, before they disappeared up their own arses, which is apt as you might do a double take at the album cover which was crafted by Winston Smith who also designed the cover artwork for Green Day’s Insomniac album. Despite the title, this song is anything but forgettable as it hits like an adrenaline rush and will have you screaming along to the chorus in next to no time. It’s the first anthem from the album.
There’s no let-up in pace as The Gold Rush and Bartending The Funeral blitz your ears. The harmonies on the former add extra lustre and I know I’ve already mentioned the bass playing but it really is exceptional on this album. Depression rears its ugly head in Bartending The Funeral but the energy in the song is truly uplifting.
Whilst you wouldn’t like the Hulk when he’s angry, you’d love The Raging Nathans because when they get angry they write great fucking songs. Case in point is Horsefly, one of my favourites on the album (of which there are a few). The pace may dip but the aggression is ramped up as vocalist Josh Goldman directs his ire at whoever has pissed him off, especially in closing line “you’re just a fucking insect to me”.
The next couple of songs both deal with mental health, which is rightly so a hot topic at the moment, and it’s great that people are talking about it more. Hopefully this carries on and we can remove the stigma. Brain Is Floating, with its repeated chorus line and harmonies addresses anxiety in a simple yet catchy way but it’s the self-doubt of Sucker Punch that really hits home. A scratchy lo-fi intro, reminiscent of Green Day, leads in to some chugging guitar riffs which are counterbalanced by a more restrained vocal delivery, echoing the feeling of self-doubt. Some great, very identifiable, lyrics as well with “I don’t know if I’m a good man, but I know I fucking try” got me yelling along in moments.
Circling The Drain ups the energy levels still further in a tale of misspent youth and getting older. Guitars buzz away as vocals are delivered non-stop on a tune that sounds familiar yet different, if you know what I mean: like an old favourite you haven’t heard in a while but still sounds fresh and relevant. Despite its sunny title and upbeat sound, Florida Days is actually about suicide and whilst the lyrics may be bordering on depressive you can’t help but get caught up in the effervescent energy of the track.
The last few tracks are perfect sum up what The Raging Nathans are about. From the hook-laden Good For You with its “up yours” attitude to people that look down on you, to the furious CTRL+ALTRIGHT+DEL that takes pot shots at the alt-right movement and final track, the simple, infectious Holding It In with its fast riffs and scream along chorus.
By drawing influence from the best of 90s pop-punk The Raging Nathans have updated the template for today. Depression, anxiety, anger, frustration are all melded together so brilliantly that I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say we may have a future classic on our hands.