The RattleSnakes

snakes_spreadThe RattleSnakes
Spread for the Wide Eagle
TRS Records

Click to hear: “The Nod

With Spread for the Wide Eagle, The RattleSnakes have given us that most rare and precious gift: a punk rock record of genuine genius. We owe them big time.

It’s been two years since the ’Snakes released their head-turning sophomore album, Tidal Living. The original trio has since been joined by bassist Greg Bazinet (of Gully infamy), and drummer Mike Cunnane started playing with the frenetic post-punk band Huak in the interim, too. The result: The RattleSnakes’ sound is brawnier and brainier than ever.

Bazinet’s recruitment freed vocalist Tara Bincarousky from bass duties, ostensibly allowing her to concentrate on singing. She still shouts lyrics like she doesn’t give a shit (again, this is punk rock), but that’s just art. And on songs like the breezy “Lift,” she’s got indie-pop-perfect pitch.

Before launching into the opener, “The Nod,” the ’Snakes give a nod to The Minutemen with a clip of their van’s ignition starting up. Then they deliver a song that would make D. Boon proud. Guitarist Brian Cohen (Bincarousky’s fiancée) crams the track’s three minutes full of great, gnarly riffs. Bazinet keeps busy contributing cool fills on the low end, and Cunnane is all over the kit, playing with a barely controlled frenzy that’s amazing to hear.

“The Nod,” “Stank Ass Husky,” “Horse Radish” and “Rainbow Sprinkles” are sonic tornadoes. Hooks fly by like fastballs. I’ve heard this CD well over a dozen times as of this writing, and pieces of these songs are still surprising me. “Jane Candy,” “P.L.P.” and “Unfold Your Clothes” are nuanced, complex compositions I still can’t get my head around.

The summery “Stray” evokes the bounce of their earlier gem, “Baby Take a Look at Me Now.” “Parking Garage,” a song that originally appeared on their debut, 2007’s El Bursto, is filled out here with more backing vocals and some choice organ. A couple tossed-off, untitled tracks (titled with tiny illustrations) close the album, but after the mad whirlwind of the preceding 10 songs, it’s a welcome respite.

Reviewing Tidal Living in ’08, I wrote that The RattleSnakes’ next release “could be a monster.” The monster has arrived. Let it in.

— Chris Busby