Count To Ten - Jukebox Zeroes (Rankoutsider Records)
You know these guys, even if you haven’t heard their music. They come from Philadelphia but they belong on New York City’s Lower East Side, circa the early 1980s. That puts them on the side of the good people and we’d be fucked without their like.
This is the second album in a career of more than a decade (there are three EPs scattered in there along the way) and none of it diverges from Jukebox Zeros’ stock-in-trade. Which is to say that they play it hard and fast and very much in the style of the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys (especially), the Dictators, Kevin K, Sonny Vincent and dozens of others who were either there when it counted or dearly wish they had been.
It’s on Rankoutsider, the record label run by Pat Todd (Lazy Cowgirls) so there’s another clue.
“Count To Ten” is 10 songs (there’s a surprise) and there’s not a power ballad between them. Snarly opener “Snot Bucket” makes it clear where “Count To Ten” is coming from. It’s “Young, Loud And Snotty” writ large but with little room for the brotherly love their hometown professes to have and has a certified ear worm quality. “B Train” is more of the same. “Green Wave” takes a smidgin of surf tremelo and pours it out onto a hot, dry Philly sidewalk.
We all know a “Drama Queen”. The Zeros’ song by the same name approximates the Dolls' sound without the slop. “Hey Now! Oh My!” veers deep into power-punk territory. “(I Am) Insomniac (I Am)” is almost as catchy.
“ … “ is the closer (exactly how do you say that?) and improbably matches the bass-line from the Blues Brothers intro to a mess of dirty guitars and lyrics about city living.
The Zeros are old hands who can all play. Lead guitarist Brian Zee is Philly’s version of Joey Pinter, taking his licks from the best and turning them into his own. “Fallen’ Apart” puts his chops fully on display.
Dictators NYC bassist Dean Rispler produced “Count To Ten” and did a sterling job for the most part, with guitars placed left and right in the soundscape and Peter Santa Maria’s commanding and nagging vocal right in your face. It’s an uncluttered mix with lots of punch.