This was a hard review to write. It’s not because this EP is bad, but because it’s so damn good. The pandemic has left us all dying to go to live shows again, and this EP from The Wheelz is four songs of straight-up, fist-pumping, body-slamming sing-a-long anthems meant to be experienced in a live setting. I’ve known Tony and Gordy since they were in their late teens. They’d bring their pogo punk bands in to play at the bar I worked at and, despite my best preventative efforts, they would find a way to sneak a bunch of beers and booze, get fucked up, and play some of the rowdiest shows I’ve ever experienced. These idiots were all about drinking beer and having fun with their friends. Their brand of street punk and pogo style was not my particular taste at the time. Many years later, they would move from our little city and hone their skills all across the US. Tony landed in Tulsa, OK (of all places) and has built a punk empire with the annual FYWROK festival and he and his wife have a traveling Oddities and Curiosities Expo that continues to grow every year. A band I was in at the time, Paper Thin, was invited to play his festival. He put us on the opening night right before The Wheelz. The room was filled with spikey punks and as soon as they hit the first chord, a barrage of beer, silly string, and bodies were in the air. It was the ultimate display of what I thought punk rock was when I was a teenager. It was pure fukn chaos. It was beautiful.
“I mean, it’s a little political. We’re not Crass or anything, but you can’t be a punk band and be pro-government, right?”
With these words from Tony, I dove head first into the new EP like I was a 16 year-old punk launching myself off the stage into a sea of spiky jackets and stale beer. The EP kicks things off with a street punk anthem called “Politicians”. It’s a perfect mid-paced sing-a-long about the same old shit that sparked the punk rock fire in all of this. The message is how “They don’t care about you or anybody, they just want control over everybody.” It’s simple, but perfect, even if it’s redundant.
“Washed Away” comes in with anthemic guitar strums, a simple lead line, and a hearty “GO!”. Tony and the boys have perfected the Oi!/street punk style of songwriting. Elements of The Briefs, Cock Sparrer, and even Street Brats are evident here and on all of their songs. The third song, “Generation Turncoat” is a jammer for sure, complete with stereotypical woahs, choppy guitars, and screedle-dee-dee leads. The EP gets rounded out with “Two Little Boys.” This is epic, considering the genre and approach. It leans heavily on the vibe of “We’re Coming Back” from Cock Sparrer. But I love it for that. I think this is legit my favorite song on the EP.
The production is near perfect. It rides that fine line of being dirty, but well produced. Tony’s throaty vocals are my favorite thing. My throat hurts just listening to it. Shout out to the drummer, Steve Stackhouse from Potato Pirates, for being the kind of drummer that writes for the song, and not to show off his skills. That’s my favorite kind of drummer. Also, Gordy from The Bad Engrish for being the perfect Sid Vicious-style bass player (smile, wink, nudge).
I can’t express how much I love this band. It’s simple, yet is full of heart. It’s chaos, but these little shits know exactly what they are doing. Punk doesn’t have to be some college paper about anarchy. Sometimes punk is best when it’s just being what it is. Three chords, a message, and drinking with your friends. And ultimately, that’s why we love this music that few others do. I give this a solid 8 out of 10 stars.
8.0 / 10
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