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The Atom Age - Kill Surf City

by Kevin Wierzbicki

There wasn't really any punk music around when the atomic age began; it took a good fifteen years or so before surf music, often used as a baseline by many of today's punkers, came around. On the other hand surf and lots of additional cool genres were around for the birth of Berkeley-based The Atom Age and the band has taken elements of many of these styles and honed them into their own razor-sharp brand of rock. With two guitarists slashing away The Atom Age definitely creates a fine edge; on "Baby Says" the frenetic growling of the twin axes reminds of early keyboard-less Billy Idol. "Kill Surf City" glides along (surprise!) to a surf beat and Joe Strummer-like vocals; the formula stays in tact but gets a little angrier for "Atom Man." Lead singer Ryan Perras also is a member of the Queers and while not exactly emulating that band, The Atom Age has the same penchant for well-written, hooky and memorable three minute songs. Another big part of the groove here comes from sax man Brendan Frye; he's at least always honking away in the background but he takes the spotlight with greasy blasts during the bridge of "Look, Watch, and Listen" and during a James Chance-like intro to the Madness/Clash mash-up of "One Minute to Midnight." Frye is no doubt a wild man in concert and Kill Surf City begs to be heard live. Until then, play it loud.

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