Mint - 2015
"I had a teenage epiphany," is how Renny Wilson describes what must be one of the more delusional ambitions in the history of pop music. "What would it be like to synthesize Foreigner with Crass?"
The talented Edmontonian, now ensconced in Montreal's fertile Park Ex neighbourhood, got down to work on his recent Punk Explosion/Extension album way back in 2007 after the breakup of his high school garage band, the Subatomics. "After we broke up, I started recording new songs on my own," he recalled. "I'd recorded some songs at home that I'd envisioned sounding like 'the punkest thing ever', whatever that means." Those original songs found their way onto a limited cassette-only release as just Punk Explosion back in the summer of 2014. The good folks over at Mint added a few extra tracks recorded at Wilson's home studio and then pressed the whole lot up for this swell LP.
The bulk of Punk Explosion/Extension is, thankfully I'd say, actually more of a quirky garage explosion than a straight-on punk one. Those who grew to love Wilson's homage to slick eighties AOR, Sugarglider, a few years back will hardly be disappointed. While there is still plenty of grungy guitar and Reichian caterwauling to sate the studs-and-leather crew, other tracks - the poppier 'Clean' and the opening nugget, 'Youngsters', to cite a couple of the gems here - showcase a knack for crisp guitar riffs and lithe falsetto vocals.
And then of course there is the business of Foreigner and that questionable brainflash. "'Juke Box Hero' was what I then considered the most over-the-top and corny song on the radio, and I would love to listen to it when it came on the super hits stations," he says. Wilson is right on that one - they really don't come much more grating and annoying than this. Here, however, the offending track is given the full Wilson treatment, and is thus virtually mauled to death by crashing drums, grinding guitars and a nodule-inducing vocal performance worthy of a trip to an ENT specialist. Still, for all that, 'Juke Box Hero' is, to these ears, beyond redemption and my guess is you'll be reaching for that tonearm lift long before the song is through.
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