First Light

The Ratchets

Pirates Press Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The Ratchets dropped their first album way back in 2006. More than a decade later, their punk rock spirit is still fresh, inviting, and much needed in this highly political climate on this long overdue sophomore album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 First Light.

“Gotta Be Cool” starts the album out in a blue collar rock sort of way, where traces of Springsteen run through their melodic punk ways. This continues with the anthemic and restrained “Drug Control”. Further along, “Bad Vibes” brings a punchy, sing-a-long setting to the stadium rocker, while “2-4-6-8 Motorway” takes nods to New Wave with a quirky and irresistible formula. Side A finishes on the playful, Elvis Costello-ish “World Trade Lungs,” where traces of power-pop are in attendance and ultra-memorable.

Side B offers the soft and warm “Paterson,” which has bit of Americana flowing under the crashing percussion and rich guitar work, and “Fiscal Spliff,” one of the best tracks here, picks up the pace into a thoughtful punk rock template with a timeless spirit. However, “Stray Emotions” is a close second with gravelly vocals and a radiant energy generally reserved for record of the year contention. The album ends on “Jammyland,” the longest effort by far, and, like the title implies, it explores jam band ideas in a punk rock sort of way. Organs complement the proto-punk landscape as The Ratchets runs the gamut of their sounds with much precision.

A truly exceptional piece of wax that was produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls, this album has a rawness that captures all the emotion and grit while highlighting each member's respective talents. Not just a punk record, fans of Tom Petty or the Stray Cats will find just as much to absorb here as will Joe Strummer or Mike Ness enthusiasts on this triumphant return from the criminally overlooked The Ratchets.

Rating: A

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