Released on 86’d Records, I came to Rations with a blank slate. Thirty seconds of research tells me the band is a four-piece from Long Island and includes, among others, 86’d Records’ own Wells as a member. Trivia aside, most folks don’t buy a piece of vinyl based on any of that info above. They buy it because it’s good (or because it’s some gimmicky limited release). Rations are good.
The record starts with the winding punk “Leaves of Grass,” which plays on stifled anger rather than cathartic burst, and the tension bears just beneath the surface as winding guitars define the song. Follow-up “Occasion for War,” continues on the path but it mixes a slow-paced gang vocal, almost of a barroom chantey tempo instead of a “whoa-oh” punk rock number. “No More Warheads” and “Relived/Replayed” both have a familiar feeling, blending some rough-edge East Bay melody and gruff Fest-punk, but it keeps a harder tone throughout that’s all Rations and a bit less produced.
While the songwriting paces itself carefully and expresses its emotion subtly, it manages to maintain a concise and direct feel, avoiding the trappings that many likeminded abuse by drawing out songs needlessly. Instead, Rations, er, ration the heart of their songs into powerful nuggets that hit their point, temporarily dwell in the moment, and move on without waiting for fanfare and stage dives. Sure, the songs fit that umbrella category of “punk rock” but, really, they’re hardcore songs being played at the wrong rpm. It’s raw, brutal, and over too soon.
7.5 / 10
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86'd Records has put a free downloadable sampler on their bandcamp page. The comp includes new songs from Utter Failure, Rations, Dead Uncles, Rubrics, Rad Company, and more.
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