In their new 11-song CD, “Commutathon,” Nuclear Bootz makes sense in a rock ’n’ roll punk kinda way. Underground and cool with catchy beats and unrefined nuances that build up to a fever pitch, or take you on a steady and chill groove, Nuclear Bootz leaves you wondering what else they’ve got up their non conformist and slightly wrinkled sleeves.
The opening track, “Don’t Need,” is a straightforward punk rocker with a retro slap-back delay on the vocals and drums that almost seem like they’re going to fall apart but, yet, they always manage to land in the right place.
“Kitty Blue” is a tune that sounds like it belongs on a classic album. The tambourine totally glues this number together. Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to notice it, but its shy sparkle makes it real sexy.
“Love Is a Feeling” … what can I say? It is just a great song with a great feel! How does one write a song that’s all hook with no identifiable verse or chorus? Nuclear Bootz has accomplished this remarkable feat both handily and simply. If there is a signature sound to be had here, then this tune would surely be it. There is some wayward guitar work in here along with some very nice dissonance too, but that’s the thing about punk. It’s just not supposed to be entirely pleasant, now is it?
“Filing Emotions” is a stark and dark underground masterpiece. There is much strangeness in the notes played primarily by an oboe that is set in contrast to an anthem of delicious musical understatement that drives along smooth and cool.
“Comutathon” loses its way a little bit for a few songs from “Cheap Suit” to “Smell-O-Vision” (which is almost the exact same riff as “Beer Dick”), but just when you think they might not come back, B-Minor cues up and redeems the effort with a slow and moody work of feeling art. We can easily forgive a band that sounds too much like itself as long as they’re pushing the envelope a little. At no point do these guys give off a feeling of trying to be something they are not nor are they trying to force something out. They’re just playing it like they feel it. Especially when we get to hear such awesome energy building up in Portland’s underground, it is worth a few misses.
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a Portland freelance writer.