Getting ripped, and not ripped off, in Ocean County
Wasteland Blues – O.C. Rippers (Ruined Records)
Ocean County, New Jersey, is a 40-minute drive from the Ashbury Park foreshore of Bruce Springsteen and a million miles from his $5000 concert tickets. The same goes for the music of O.C. Rippers, whose 16-song “Wasteland Blues” album is a million times more exciting.
It’s the vinyl version of the 2021 debut CD and if you hang around the I-94 Bar you’ll know the modus operandi: Equal parts Dead Boys, Stooges and Candy Snatchers (especially) with songs that mostly last less than two minutes and are spat out at breakneck pace (for the most part) with venom.
“Wasteland Blues” follows a well-worn path that was immortalised (if that’s not too ironic a term) on compilations like the “Killed By Death” series that chronicled the lonely, lost and lethal punk rock bands of the 1980s and ‘90s American Midwest. Like the bands on those records, they are mightily pissed off.
O.C. Rippers is a local punk supergroup of sorts, by all accounts, with members doing time with Dead Heroes, No Parole, Something In The Water, Wormeaters, Phibes and Lethal Aggression. Although I wouldn’t know them if I slipped on their vomit in a dive bar, their album passes The Saturday Night Test with flying colours: i.e. Would I pay 10 bucks to see them on in a place where I risk spilling my drink because I need a pinch bar to separate the soles of my boots from the beer sodden sticky carpet?
Although you might have heard this story before, it’s the manner of O.C. Rippers’ telling of it that makes it worth a re-run. The songs have variety and dynamics, and range from ful frontal punk rock assaults to a bluesy groove. Singer Lyle can swing from an adenoidal outburst (“Do The Whip”, “White Lightning”) to a scuzzy growl and Jonny’s guitar fills the available spaces without lapsing into monotony.
Dig deep and you’ll realise that “The Power of Love” (not that one) is a pop song. “Just Gotta Run” could be mistaken for a slice of New Wave of British Metal before finding its punk rock feet, while “Vomit-pig”, “Born in Waco” and “Piss” are foot-to-the-floor bursts. “Rock and Roll Until I Die” sounds like Dr Feelgood covered by Sid Vicious.
“Feed Me” features the most fuzzed bass you’ll hear this side of a Cosmic Psychos experiment and the rhythm section indulges in some spectacular floor routines that would do the US gymnastics team proud.
Not the worst 15 bucks you’ll spend this month and a much better investment than a ticket to boost the superannuation account of boring old Broooooooce.