“I’m a hard-luck kid, so why even try?” Beach Slang singer-guitarist James Alex hollers on his band’s excellent debut. In fact, this hard-luck kid is in his early forties. But that only makes his commitment to blustery, big-hearted punk-rock catharsis that much more heartening. Another fine export from the same Philadelphia that’s already gifted us Hop Along and Low Cut Connie, among others, Beach Slang hits for the Replacements super-fan cycle on The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us — drunk-and-dumb slash-and-burn on “Young & Alive,” underdog-anthem soul charge on “I Break Guitars,” autumnal acoustic ache on “Too Late To Die Young.” At a time when many bands are crushing out on the low-fi indie-rock side of Nineties nostalgia, Beach Slang recalls the muscular alt-rock of that era, when bands who grew up in the shadow of the ‘Mats started reaching for a sound to fill bigger rooms and car radios.
It makes for an album that’ll definitely have a “Calgon, take me away” vibe for aging refugees of the 120 Minutes years. Alex, who did time in Nineties emo band Weston, never pushes his chainsmoker’s croak beyond adorable reenactments of well-worn punk rock anti-heroism (“The night is alive/It’s loud and I’m drunk,” he sings on “Noisy Heaven”). But there’s something refreshing about a bastard of old who doesn’t try to slow down his band’s headlong thwack with stubble-stroking musing on midlife malaise or clunky lit-seminar over-trying. For these guys, noise will always be enough.