Don't talk shit about rust belt cities. Yeah, they've fallen on hard times the last, I don't know, 40 years, but they have a resolve and culture to them that any major metropolitan area wishes it had (I'm looking at you, NYC). Within these cultural microcosms (Although I wouldn't call a cities style 'micro'), beautiful and often amazing works of art can spring forth, proving you don't need to live among the worlds wealthiest in LA or NYC to make your voice heard. Mallwalkers, who hail from Buffalo, NY, prove this with their record, Shake The Rust Off.
Mallwalkers exhibit a very prominent punk tone in their music, but it maintains a minimalist approach. The drums aren't fast, and while they have an aggressive tone in their voice, it's not screaming. I'd liken them to a mixture of Gang Of Four meets The Saints, but with more horns (Anyone has more horns than Gang Of Four), and both those bands hold a special place in my heart, so their similarities help their sound.
"Put Your Heads Together" is the crown jewel of the album, really defining the bands well-oiled, but fun, approach. It's slightly repetitious, but never feels annoying because of it, and keeps you wanting to dance the whole way through (If you aren't dancing already). Other tracks like "Shake It To The Flor" and "Brownified Beach Party" keep the lighthearted fun going strong, and really gives the strong impression that these folks are killer live.
Thankfully, they don't try to overstay their welcome with that sound throughout the whole album, instead trying their hand at some more punk-like fair. "Baby Pterodactly (I don't Wanna Be A)" and "It's Time" are close to the others in style, but they do manage to up the energy level enough to make them stand out. "Baby Pterodactyl (I don't Wanna Be A)" really takes the medal out of these two, giving the album some depth and proving you don't need to wear plaid pants or have a mowhawk in order to get punk-rock cred.
Even when some of the songs don't live up to what I'd eventually come to expect ("Going Downtown" and "Get You Back" really being the only two), I was always anxious to hear the next song. As an album, it doesn't drag, and as stand alone songs, nearly all of them are worthy listens. I might have a slight bias here because I use to live in Buffalo for 3 years, and enjoyed the music scene there immensely (Fashion Expo 1990, Mom And Dad Parade and A Hotel Nourishing being among my favorite acts), but really, Mallwalkers have done a great job here, and have hit their target, my heart, with their music arrow. You don't have to live, or ever have lived, in or around the rust belt to appreciate what Mallwalkers have done here. All you have to do is listen. - Shane