happy hours air travel clubHappy Hours Air Travel Club – O.C. Rippers (Ruined Records)

From what can be worked out their online footprint, OC Rippers are your typical punk rock band circa the 2020s: Feet firmly planted in their home turf (New Jersey), they’re not out to win friends or influence people and aren’t embarking on any world tours any day soon.

They’re not fussed being pigeon-holed because their influences are as varied as the quality of cocktails in a beer barn. They’re also realistic about their chances of hitting the heights because they’re aged (at a guess) in their 40s and not named Taylor.

The OC Rippers are musical weekend warriors and the sort of blokes you’d talk about records and share a beer with. That’s good because punk rock’s boat that floated its ability to change the social fabric sailed decades ago and even back then it was at long odds. All the more reason to kick against the mainstream industry pricks.  

Just like its predecessor “Wasteland Blues” (also on Ruined Records), “Happy Hours Air Travel Club” is 16 tracks of no-nonsense, old school punk gunk. Half its tracks clock in at less than two minutes and they border on hardcore or speedy thrash without fully crossing over thanks to the band’s underlying musicality.  

Allegedly recorded in six hours, it’s more life-affirming than life-changing. The sound is like early Dead Boys or The Humpers.. Comparisons to the great and greatly self-destructive Candy Snatchers are hard to avoid.

Frontman Lyle’s Jello-derived vocal centres the album, flipping from an oxygenated yelp to a growl in less time than it takes to spell Erick Purkhiser. Guitarist Johny’s fluid and fat lines (no, not those lines) provide as much fuzz buzz or melodic backbone as each song requires. The engine room is nothing if not consistent with a trace of swing in the rythmic zing.

If the vibe of songs like “Born to Fuck”, “Mean Streets” and “Money Bands” is more obvious than the lyrical content, there’s a handy insert with the words to aid interpretation. The tempos are mostly fast but songs like “Touch” and the nimble “Damaged One” avoid accusations of OC Rippers being mere speedcore one trick ponies.

A smidgin of keyboard wash and the trash sensibility of “Late Night TV Lover” scrubs up well.  “Luvv Muscle” nags more than The Barmaid when the backyard fence needs painting (she ended up doing it if you really have to ask) and there’s no mistaking Lyle’s vocal nod to “Surfing Bird”.

If there’s the slightest hint of “Pretty Vacant” in the guitar figure in “Murder” is that such a bad thing? The tearaway “Public Scene” is as mean as you want it to be.

The great thing is that you can listen before you buy, thanks to the ubiquitous Bandcamp platform , and if you have enough energy left after all those fireworks to click the Buy button, punk rock fulfilment in your desired format is dead simple.

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