Still strong 40 years later
Fusing an exciting mix of punk, blues, metal and bubblegum pop, Los Angeles-based band Redd Kross originally came together while its members were still in school. Based around the songwriting talents of brothers Jeff (vocals/guitar) and Steven (bass) McDonald, the group released their debut album in 1981. Despite having to change their name over copyright infringement, having a cast of rotating musicians around them and an unfortunate stretch where their original label folded and they couldn’t legally release music under their name for three years. Around the turn of the century, the band chose to go on indefinite hiatus and instead worked on side projects for a while, occasionally reuniting to play a show here and there. They finally released new music in 2012 to critical acclaim, before taking another break. Now in 2019, the new music is finally ready, in the form of an album called Beyond The Door.
Fans of Redd Kross will be relieved to know that there is no groundbreaking style change on Beyond The Door; with the McDonald brothers driving the bus they’ll never stray far from their influences. That being said, there are a few little surprises sprinkled here and there. The album’s opener is the aptly named “The Party,” which is a hard-hitting blues-punk tune that gets everyone in the mood to, well, party. “Fighting” surges along with a riff reminiscent of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” Other standout moments include the retro doo-wop-y vibe of “The Party Underground” and the pleasantly confusing lyrics of “Ice Cream Strange and Pleasing.”
The best song, though, is the title track, because it contains a little bit of everything heard on the rest of the album. It’s got a ’90s garage-rock drumbeat, 1950s boogie-woogie piano, blues-inspired guitar work with a sassy solo, nasal vocals a la John Lennon, and a couple of key modulations just for the hell of it. Plus, like so many good songs are, it’s just pure fun.
It’s nice to hear that Redd Kross are so obviously still enjoying themselves because the quality of the McDonald brothers’ music will only recede when their hearts are no longer in it. And given how enjoyable Beyond The Door is to listen to, they still appear to be going strong.