Hunx & His Punx

Street Punk

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After breaking camp with the legendary Bay Area queer youth punk unit Gravy Train!!!, singer Seth Bogart embraced the candy-coated pop of both '60s girl group sounds and campy glam with his early singles under the name Hunx & His Punx. A stellar 2011 album, Too Young to Be in Love, highlighted the catchiest moments Hunx and his collaborators could offer, and a more subdued solo album followed the next year in the form of Hairdresser Blues, credited solely to Hunx. Street Punk is a shocking change in direction for the Punx, dropping much of the happy-go-lucky melodicism and sex positive sloganeering of earlier albums in favor of angry, cathartic songs rooted in the unrelenting sounds of '80s hardcore and '90s riot grrrl bands. Shannon Shaw (leader of her own group Shannon and the Clams) returns as one of the Punx, but really serves as a co-star throughout Street Punk, taking lead vocals on roughly half of the songs and usually the most aggressive and hate-fueled ones. Shaw manages to channel a young Glenn Danzig circa early Misfits on tracks like the ominous "You Think You're Tough" and "Mud in Your Eyes" and just screams her way out of half-minute blasts "Everyone's a Pussy (Fuck You Dude)" and "Don't Call Me Fabulous." Bogart leans more toward shades of the Germs' iconic Darby Crash on gutter-crawling affairs like "Rat Bag" and "I'm Coming Back," but can't completely let go of the glam pop of earlier albums, which shows up in just a slightly more unpolished form on tracks "Born Blonde" and the doo wop-tinged album closer, "It's Not Easy." Bitter, alienated punk is a strange look for the usually jovial Hunx, but one gets the sense it's as much a cultural obsession taken to its logical conclusion as bubblegum and girl groups were on previous outings. More than one song ends with the sound of bashful laughter, almost as if Bogart and friends can't believe they're actually going through with this display of all-out aggression and just have to giggle at how out of character it feels. Despite that, the album is great, in particular Shaw's uncannily Misfits-evoking performances. It's a testament to the verve of Hunx & His Punx that whatever form their muse takes, they fearlessly follow it and are even able to communicate a core of their own sonic personalities when doing so. The same can't be said of too many bands putting covers of early Beastie Boys punk jams like "Egg Raid on Mojo" on their albums in 2013, and of those that are, no one is having as much fun with it as Hunx.

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