In the realm of punk rock and all of its sub-genres, The Waste Aways probably fit most appropriately into the cowpunk cross section. The guitars have a gritty basic sound that is indicative of bands such as Social Distortion. Likewise, while the singer doesn’t over do it, he has just enough twang in his inflections to let you know right where he stands from an influence perspective.
This record opens with a track that very much sets the tone for the entire release. With a standard open D – G – A guitar progression and a baseline that walks all around, singer Sam Kelly begins a simple story of self discovery and a humble request…”don’t tear me down!”. There’s nothing fancy going on. It’s a straight forward ditty… about as basic as they come, which is the primary challenge with this type of music. Because the instrumentation tends to remain basic, listeners will rely heavily on the singer to cast the hooks. Such hooks can come in many forms such as potent lyricism, irreverence, comedy, well written melodies etc. On the whole, The Waste Aways do an average job in most of these areas. Vocally, it’s not horrible by any means, but it doesn’t jump out as incredibly moving either. This is not to say that the band doesn’t have anything to offer.
While the first song isn’t necessarily an attention grabber, the following track titled She Says I Say worked a little better in that regard. With some slightly more dynamic guitar work and string raking, I found myself slowly getting hooked in on a catchy chorus: “she says, she knows, I kinda doubt it though, cuz she’s just buying time”. I felt like this song could have used more vocal harmonies and back up vocals to give it a little something extra, but it was catchy nonetheless. It had me reminiscing about a long defunct San Diego band that I will always miss called The Classified and some of their work on Seven Years Bad Luck.
As the record continues, The Waste Aways do a decent job of mixing things up from track to track with different tempos and grooves. They soften things up a little bit on Falling Into Falling Out, while they give you a more country rooted shuffle feel on Rust. …and of course, they have the higher energy punk rock rowdiness to offer on tracks such as Time, Razor (albeit short), and Bodies In The Sun (which is perhaps my personal favorite).
In a genre that probably doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves beyond Hank Williams Jr. and Social D, The Waste Aways are doing a pretty decent job representing it right here in San Diego!
3 out of 5 SDP Skulls
Reviewed by Todd Dulawan