Chubby and the Gang seemingly came out of nowhere and dropped ‘Speed Kills‘, one of the best albums released last year. With the follow-up ‘The Mutt’s Nuts‘, the Gang is taking advantage of the momentum that the debut record built. Made up of vocalist Charlie “Chubby Charles” Manning-Walker, and the Gang: guitarists Ethan Stahl and Tom “Razor” Hardwick, bassist Maegan Brooks Mills and drummer Joe McMahon, these are not newbies, having played in London bands like The Chisel, and Big Cheese. But together as Chubby and the Gang they have found their stride and with ‘The Mutt’s Nuts‘ they’ve made an almost flawless example of punk.
Like ‘Speed Kills‘ a sense of roguery runs through this album and the Gang effortlessly makes a cocktail by shaking up the rousing punk of bands like Sham 69 and The Business, with the aggression of Motörhead, and the pub rock of Dr. Feelgood. It’s aggressive and blue-collar, and at times angry, with a theme of “modern life as war“. But Chubby and the Gang are not your regular angry punks. They are not without hope and they are certainly not afraid to showcase crack musicianship, great songwriting and sweeteners like handclaps, piano, and hooks aplenty all surrounded by fist-pumping anthems.
It doesn’t take long for the line in the sand to be drawn. With the leadoff title track followed by ‘It’s Me Who’ll Pay‘ the Gang rip the doors off the joint and you know this is going to be a sonic experience. Most of the time the lyrics are difficult to pull out as Chubby’s voice strains and shouts like Lemmy, but Manning-Walker’s voice and delivery are the glue that brings everything together and it’s worth it to find a lyric sheet so you can shout and sing along. He has an ideal range moving from gruffness to bellowing to, dare I say, even tender on songs like ‘Take Me Home to London‘ and ‘Life’s Lemons‘.
Overall, Chubby and the Gang are experts at laying down straight-ahead punk: ‘Beat That Drum‘, ‘Overacheiver‘, ‘Someone’s Gunna Die‘ and ‘Getting Beat Again‘ are all punk rock ragers and they also provide ample opportunities for headbanging with the metallic ‘Pressure‘ (which would fit right on ‘Overkill‘ or ‘Bomber‘) and the pounding ‘White Rags‘. But on songs like ‘Coming Up Tough‘, ‘Life on the Bayou‘, ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice‘ and ‘I Hate the Radio‘ that cocktail they made goes down easy and they hone in on a sound that is theirs alone.
Producer Jonah Falco of Fucked Up turns everything up to 11 and the Gang lets it all hang out! Take my money. Out now on Partisan Records.