Reviews Raging Nathans Cheap Fame

Raging Nathans

Cheap Fame

This what pop-punk used to mean. On the record it’s clean and melodic, while the live show feels more aggressive and forceful. Think of those Ramones studio records and compare them to the live experience. Then throw in the pedigree of the band members here, splitting time in The Dopamines, The Slow Death, and The Queers. Two of those three aren’t particularly known for their optimism, if that gives a hint at the tone of this record.

Cheap Fame is the band’s second full-length and it has a consistent approach from start to finish, sounding more veteran than one expects of a band without that many releases. Then again, they formed in 2007 so it’s taken a while for the Josh Goldman-fronted group to get where they are today. To keep looking bigger picture at this 13-song, 28-minute album, the songs are pretty traditional in verse-chorus-verse structure, often leading to a melodic chorus that alternates between group harmonies and Goldman’s singing which peppers emotive flux at just the right few moments. It’s punk rock with actual singing—but not too much of it.

The songs here primarily follow two main styles. All are short and fast, with something of a bass-up-front sound that puts more attention on rhythm instead of riffs. Tone-wise, it’s about a 50-50 split of personal, first-person songs where Goldman reflects on life experiences (“Dayton” and “Florida Days”), and some real pessimistic downers (“The Gold Rush” and “Holding It In”). Influences range across the board. 1990s Lookout Records is the most obvious, but there are more subtleties within, such as the drawn-out bridges in “Bartending the Funeral” or the walking bass line in “Sucker Punch.” It’s melody first, but with the core attitude and emotion that it takes to really make a melody deliver. The rhythm emphasis further sets it apart from some of their peers in the modern era Fat Wreck pop catalogue or at Red Scare. A couple of songs do have some strong similarities to The Dopamines.

It’s clean, but not too clean. Emotional, but not too emotional. Aggressive, but not too aggressive. It’s singalong punk rooted in the classics. There are songwriting similarities to Jesse Thorson of The Slow Death in how it incorporates familiar tropes and ultimately sounds new, but The Raging Nathans is Goldman’s project where his voice and style takes the spotlight.

Released on Rad Girlfriend in the US and Plasterer in the UK. Cover art by the one and only Winston Smith.

8.0 / 10Loren
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8.0 / 10

8.0 / 10

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