Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down

Brett Newski

Independent release, 2020

http://brettnewski.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/01/2020

Even though Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Brett Newski tackles topics surrounding how to cope with and stay optimistic in a world with plenty of challenges (i.e., the destruction of the planet, low self-esteem, loneliness, social media addiction, etc), this fourth album offers plenty of upbeat and seriously fun variations of punk and indie rock sounds that often point to the '90s. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Though Newski handles guitar and vocals, he's got help on bass, drums, and keys from Spatola. Half the tunes have co-writers and were penned during string cheese eating sessions, motel lobby boredom, or while hanging out with a rabbit.

Newski starts the album with the hand-clapping and spirited guitar work of the charming “Grow Your Garden,” which builds into a punk influenced atmosphere with plenty of soul, too. “What'd Ya Got To Lose” follows with power pop ideas in the rhythmic setting that brings to mind Elvis Costello's best days.

In the middle, “Last Dance,” co-written by the Grammy nominated Pat Macdonald, starts with swift acoustic strumming before building into a fuller tune of jangly folk rock with clever lyrics. Meanwhile, “Pure Garbage” is perfect, New Wave-ish, upbeat indie pop that brings to mind the almighty Ted Leo in his prime. “Lousy T-Shirt,” an album standout, remains bare with just a guitar accompanying Newski's engaging storytelling along with Shane Alexander's backing vocals.

Deeper cuts brings us the busy and frantic “Effervescent,” where tight melodies anchor the swirling climate, and “Fight Song” ends the listen with a raw folk song, as the bare execution highlights Newski's strong vocal prowess.

Self-described as “Geek Rock,” “Happy Punk,” and “Diet Grunge,” Newski definitely has a sound of his own. His witty, insightful wordplay suits his equally clever musicianship that's runs parallel with names like Stephen Malkmus, Doug Martsch, or Rocky Votolato, but with a comedic appeal.

Rating: A

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