Lower East Side

Lower East Side Stitches

Ng / Artemis Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Good intentions doesn't necessarily accomplish goals. But you have to admire the intentions of New York's Lower East Side Stitches. In an interview, the band said they wanted to get some of the seediness back into the Lower East Side of New York City. Apparently, the new-yuppified district does not settle well with a band whose roots are firmly established in the smart ass traditions of the Ramones.

Well, a good start to scruff the starched shirts in the Lower East Side would be to play Lower East Side out every single rusted-out car and through the windows of every rat-infested apartment complex in the area. If you're a casual fan of punk, you may be inclined to write off the Lower East Side Stitches. And you would have good reason to, with the first two tracks.

"Desensitize," and "TV Zoned Out," are textbook punk tracks that would fit perfectly on any Operation Ivy or Sunny Day Real Estate type of album. True to form, "TV Zoned Out," seems like an update of Henry Rollins's classic, "TV Party Tonight."my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But give those songs a second listen, as well as the other 12 tracks on Lower East Side and you will hear a band with the makings of a great punk band: strict attention to song structure, great lyrics and most importantly: a killer, sick sense of humor.

Songs like "Miss You" and "Lisa" are detailed songs about failing/failed relationships. "No no, I just can't seem to miss you/And all the fucked up shit you always seem to do," Mick Stitch appropriately spits out in bile on "Miss You." The creative word play steers the song just short of "my ex-girlfriend is a raging bitch" mentality, but not too far from that territory. And nothing kills the pain of a breakup better than beer, and the band even gives the drink its own songs with, "1st beer of the day." The beer theme surfaces again, somewhat on "Grudge." It isn't directly mentioned, but the sneering chorus of "I got a grudge" sounds an awfully lot like "I got drunk."

The band isn't all concerned with getting drunk and raging on about relationships, however. "Badge To Kill" and "TV Zoned Out" are good socio-political songs. Most of the songs on Lower East Side, however, deal more with the sheer emotional energy of being really, really pissed off more than any concrete political agenda. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The rhythm section of Lower East Side Stitches makes most of the songs memorably catchy and pulverizing. "What's Going On" seems like a perfect marriage of street-tough punk and 80s guitar-worshiping metal. "Lisa" is abrasive, but the chorus and the poppy structure of the song make even the noisiest moments on Lower East Side easy to listen to.

"What's The Story," possibly the best song on Lower East Side, showcases the best elements of the band. It's a great mix of clap percussion and pulverizing guitars. It is no wonder Spike Lee recruited the band to play a part in his slice-of-New York movie Summer Of Sam.

True to punk form, Lower East Side is a quick listen. More importantly, the talented playing of guitarist Mick Stitch, drummer James Baggs and bassist Damian (appropriate name for a punk band), make enough of an impact to make you want to give the album repeated listens. With Lower East Side, the Lower East Side Stitches have sewn a tight addition to punk's proud, but tattered cloth on the New York music scene.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ng / Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.