God bless Redd Kross! It’s been 15 years since their last album, Show World, and amazingly in 2012, they’ve released a gem of an album called Researching the Blues. The brothers McDonald have never sounded better and have come back to bring their infectious brand of power/punk/pop/glam/rock back to the world.
One of the oldest punk bands I can remember from waaaay back in the day, the brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald have seen many many band members come and go, lots of changes in sound, and many fads pass them by. Being a homegrown LA band, one of the great aspects of the band have always been their sarcastic lyrics and realistic take on the “fakeness” of Hollywood bands and the music scene in general, never taking themselves too seriously, while still poking fun at all the numerous “real” bands that have graced all the “cool” scenes to formulate here. But whether it’s their music, their lyrics or their attitude, one thing remains clear after all these years, their uncanny sense of melody mixed with the perfect amount of swagger and attitude have always combined for the perfect blend of ass kicking rock n roll.
Tuesday night at the Roxy saw them returning to the stage to play some songs from their latest album and getting their rock legs back underneath them. One of the few bands I’ve loved forever and never seen, I was pumped to see them perform and to hear their infectious songs in all their glory up close. When you listen to the various albums, you can hear many different influences in any given album or song. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who they sound like, but that’s what’s so special about them. Really they just sound like Redd Kross and the fact that you can’t really pinpoint their sound is the ultimate compliment.
With the place packed and the opening bands all done and accounted for, the brothers took to the stage and started cranking out the righteous tunes. Opening up with classic rocker “Switchblade Sister” instantly struck a chord with the band’s faithful and right off the bat everyone was freaking out. Rolling right into new album opener “Researching the Blues” then into old staple “Burnout”, within 12 minutes the band had sampled 3 different decades worth of material, each song sounding fresh and new. It was at this point that the band launched into the power hour cranking out classic hit after hit with the likes of “Pretty Please Me”, “Frosted Flake” and “Jimmy’s Dream” highlighting my favorites list.
Steve McDonald has been on my radar for the past year or so as he’s one of the founding members of the almighty OFF!, so it was no surprise to see a certain DJ named Keith Morris manning the turntables during band setups and getting the nod of thanks from the band for keeping the audience riled up between sets. But despite Steve’s residency in OFF!, Redd Kross is still his first born baby and the interplay between he and brother Jeff just seemed so natural and easy despite their long layoff. I have no idea whether or not they plan to continue on or not, but damn if they didn’t bring the house down! No one was ready for the end of the set, and to my surprise, their entire encore was comprised of old, old tunes from their early punk days. It was great to hear them bash out some oldies and it seemed like they were having a blast revisiting their past. Although there’s a definite expiration date on some of those songs, you could certainly hear where their carefree, playful nature started. From their earliest beginnings they always had fun, and that was the theme of the night, fun for all.
I was definitely surprised to hear that Redd Kross were releasing a new album. I never thought I’d hear another. But not only is it a big surprise, it’s also a very good album. Sans nostalgia factor, I would actually consider it one of their best. Sounding mature, yet retaining all the characteristics of the band’s sound and playful nature, it’s some of their best songwriting to date. I hope that if they’re indeed here to stay awhile that this time around they’ll get the absolute respect they never got the first time around. A brilliant band, I highly recommend you catch Redd Kross if they roll through your town, and if you’re looking for a good ol rock record, check out Researching the Blues.