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Bad Sports - Kings of the Weekend

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Artist: Bad Sports

Album: Kings of the Weekend

Label: Dirtnap

Review date: Jul. 29, 2011


Bad Sports - "Teenage Girls" (Kings of the Weekend)


If you spent any time with Matador’s Casual Victim Pile, you know that quality garage rock is thick on the ground in Texas. Especially but not exclusively in Austin. Bad Sports was one of two non-Austin bands on the compilation, representing the Dallas suburb of Denton, a couple hundred miles north and, culturally, worlds away from the state capitol. The trio’s members – Orville Neeley, Greg Rutherford and TV Daniel Fried – are connected nonetheless, having done stints in Texas bands including the Mind Spiders, the Wax Museums, the High Tension Wires and OBN III. Their “Can’t Remember Your Name,” from CVP, was fuzzy, frictive, somewhat out of focus but raging with high spirits, as it balanced Who-like power chords with Ramones-y blistered pop. It was not the best thing on the record, but pretty far from the worst. Kings of the Weekend, the band’s second album, raises the stakes considerably with clearer sound, more varied and nuanced songwriting and at least two ass-kicking songs.

Mark Ryan, from the Marked Men, recorded the disc in his Fort Worth studio, and deserves some credit for the clarity. As with the Marked Men’s Ghosts, you can hear every word, every guitar strum, every drum fill, without sacrificing any of the raw energy and mayhem.

Bad Sports touchstones are classic first-wave punk, the Ramones and the Clash prominently, bands whose buzz-saw riffs slice right through bubblegum worthy melodies. They sound just like the Ramones on “Can’t Just Be Friends,” and superbly Clash-like on the chord-crashing, “You Don’t Want to Know.” Not as goofy as their counterparts in the Wax Museums, these guys are still pretty funny. “I’m In Love With Myself” is a palm-muted paean to narcissism. “Who needs girls when you’ve got a mirror?” indeed. Later songs plead with the emotionally damaged (“Schizophrenia…won’t fix itself” from “I Can Be Cruel”) and fume over unwanted guests (“I don’t want you on my couch…get out!” from “Can’t Stay”) with black humor.

People who like garage rock will enjoy all of Kings of the Weekend, but there are a couple of tracks that might even win over the uninitiated. “Teenage Girls” is a twitchy, guitar-bashing, power pop anthem a la Flamin’ Groovies or, more recently, the Exploding Hearts -- as full of sweetness as it is of aggression.

It’s “Days of Denton,” though, that really puts the album over the top, coming last in a string of solid to great tunes, and blowing them all away. Fried has described “Days of Denton” as a North Texas version of “Born to Run,” an anthem to dead-end braggadocio, strident with power chords, made poignant by the inevitability of compromise. “And you took a new stage for you to act your age / If you stay a couple more, you’ll become what you hate / And what’s the point of trying when you’re dying in the days of Denton?” Based on the strength of Kings of the Weekend, I hope the members of Bad Sports find it in their hearts to keep trying.

By Jennifer Kelly

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