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The 65’s – New Fun Hell EP (Pyrrhic Victory)

The 65's - New Fun Hell EP
13 February 2016

Formed in Rutherford, NJ in 2009, now based in nearby Lyndhurst (former home of alternative dance club Aldo’s, a frequent haunt of mine from 1988-92; it sadly burned down in 2004), this forceful Garden State foursome finally follows up their 2013 I Got You EP. On this three-songer, the group abandons the softer side they displayed on two of I Got’s four songs, sticking with the punk-fueled style of that EP’s hottest, most hard-hitting number, “Have You Been Saved?” With Clark Manchester replacing Frankie Fender on second guitar, New Fun’s “Hold on Tight” and “Drown” still manage to be just as taut and stimulating as “Have You,” while packing an even heftier punch. By that token, the opener’s line “Hold on real tight/we’re going for a ride” is apropos! Powered by piledriving rhythm section Ryan Struck and John Steele, both songs bring to mind a cross between London’s newer Cheatahs and Bob Mould’s Hüsker Dü/Sugar.

In my review of I Got in issue 70, I compared singer/guitarist/founder Joe Pugsley’s gasoline-gargling, sandpaper-gruff growl to Leatherface’s Frankie Stubbs and Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin, with a Bruce Springsteen grimace. That still suffices, though you can also envision a fuming, frenzied Mould behind the mic when Pugsley spits out the EP’s closing line “Watch us drown,” as if his life was on the line. And while the EP’s chosen single “A New War” is slower in tempo, mining the attractive atmospherics of Franklin’s Swervedriver and his prettier Bolts of Melody, it still blasts like a steam furnace. With so many bands nesting in nearby NYC nowadays, it’s a pleasure to have such a potent one plying its trade only seven miles from my Jersey hometown! (