Substance abuse, suicide, plane crashes and drowning rank among the Top 5 Lethal Threats to Rock ’n’ Roll, but all of them combined don’t exact the toll of that most insidious slayer of punks: Responsibility. Still, Jeff Badger battles on. Fifteen years ago he was bashing out Dead Kennedyesque anthems to carelessness as frontman of The Hot Dogs. These days he’s mowing his lawn, chairing an art department and doing dad stuff, but he’s also making cool music, even if he has to play everything himself. The five-track EP Renovator, Badger’s first release in seven years, “explores reconciliation with art, aging, and the apocalypse.” Thus we get the title track, in which a couple buys a fixer-upper in a hip but still shady neighborhood. “Watch them grow heirloom tomatoes / In the old vacant lots / But still laying low after the sun goes down / To avoid getting robbed, or shot.” “Diamond Rhythm” punches like the records the Dogs made as Transmission Drop in 2010 and ’11, while tracks like “Last Man” and “The Frame” recall the bent indie-pop of his duo with Blair Wells, Custardpaws & Mr. Freezy. Badger may have a 401 (k), but he hasn’t turned in his rock card yet.
— Chris Busby