Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The Bouncing Souls have a song on the last studio that they released a few years ago whose title is "Better Days," and it appears on "Anchors Aweigh." It is the epicenter of where the 20-year-old, legendary band from New Brunswick, N.J., comes from and has for more than two decades, letting their stubborn as nails, but pessimistic punk rock sweat itself out and onto the legions that they've crazed over the years. New Jersey gets a bad rap - mostly at the hands of those pricks in New York - but it's a state that proudly abides by its blue-collar work ethics and its bands (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and relative newcomers The Gaslight Anthem) detail them with persistence and verve, not necessarily bringing them to life because there's no need. It's already life personified for the kinds of hard-scrabble dramas and just-getting-by struggles that are a dime-a-dozen in so many places, but feel better suited coming out of the rural Midwest or the states and cities that the industrial revolution came into, saw and left behind in a pile of coal droppings. New Jersey bands find the lemons and they find the sweetener needed to make something different out of the remainder of the time and experience of calling home where they call it, surrounded by friends and family who are going through all of the same sad climates. The sad climates aren't lasting ones though. They exist and those principle characters dealing with them continue on in spite of them, getting out their umbrellas, raging against the forces when they need to blow off some steam and then plodding on with a generally impossible to break resolve. Bouncing Souls are the embodiment or the instrument for this I'm rubber and you're glue stance against natures and its various concerts, its detractors and distractions, rallying against the poisons and all of the rottenness. "Better Days" takes us into a place where the ceiling's caving in, pieces of plaster thumping down in handfuls upon our heads as the music is full of speedy current, ripping into the shoreline. It involves a woman who doesn't love a man any longer - when she won't hold him anymore and that's when he cracks start to show themselves as worry lines. It's a song that is nearly three minutes long, but it feels one-third that short, just barreling to the point, striking upon the raw nerves and giving us a glimpse of one's own personal hailstorm. "Big Eyes" is a take on the sentiment that there's no reason to lose your mind, patience or temper over the various parts of your extended days and nights that make you livid and destroy your confidence in guiding lights or benevolence. The Bouncing Souls, with Gregg Attonito's gripping and fierier than a furnace vocals, give us every reason in the world to believe in the same kinds of silver linings that they somehow still believe exist out there - despite so much crumminess and despair that needs to be shoveled through to get to them. You must work through the brown and black linings before you'll ever see a silver one, Attonino seems to suggest, but the willingness to persevere through the potholes and the lumps in the throat will make all the difference in overall mental and spiritual health. The Bouncing Souls live this mantra, striving for all of the goodness that they can wring out of the split decisions and the ugliness that abounds. It's a simple equation - just keep going, keep living through the fog, stomp through the fog and grit your teeth, bring some friends and make it your own victory lap one way or another.
Bouncing Souls Official Site