Another Month of Mondays

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Given Steve Soto's honorable punk rock roots in the Adolescents, it's little surprise that Joyride's second album sounds as good as it does -- maybe a little older and a little wiser, maybe a touch calmer around the edges, maybe a bit of jamming here and there instead of full stun. There's even a mandolin cropping up on the almost title track, "Month of Mondays"! But it all feels good and feels right, loud, chunky, impassioned, and as satisfying as anything by such contemporaries as Fluf or the Cadillac Tramps. Soto and Greg Antista split the singing and songwriting duties admirably, able to hoarsely but warmly declaim and come up with fun backing parts for each other in equal measure. Antista has some real winners himself -- "Be Alright" is a wonderful example of charging, invigorating music mixed with downbeat sentiments, delivered at full volume. Everything connects more than not, but when it really all comes together it's a treat -- check out "Running Away," with a great singalong chorus right on up there with the Replacements' best going-down-fighting moments, or the brawling, fierce "What Happened," the whole band clicking and building everything up to new levels. Mike McKnight turns in some good lead guitar soloing, the type that gets your soul instead of killing you with flash. His end turn on "Better Off Dead," accompanied well by Tony Terborg's piano work, is one particular standout of many. For all the fact that the participants are older than most punk rock brats, they can still kick things out with the same intensity -- "Thinkin' About You" shows that much. The whole set feels just like the back cover photo -- band blasting away loudly while a kid merrily runs in front of the stage.

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