When bands started to get announced for Manchester Punk Festival this year one of the ones that really stood out to me was The Raging Nathans. I first checked them out early last year and was really impressed and then included them in a top ten bands I wished I was seeing at Fest 17. It was like the MPF gods answered my prayers by booking them. Then recently The Raging Nathans' guitarist and vocalist Josh Goldman got in touch and asked if CPRW would review their latest album, Cheap Fame. Of course we said yes!
The Raging Nathans play a fast and fun style of melodic pop punk music similar in sound to bands such as The Dopamines, Dear Landlord and The Copyrights - a trio of really really good bands. Cheap Fame begins with the song Dayton and you can immediately hear those bands in the Raging Nathans sound. Musically it's fast paced but the vocals are delivered in a mostly melodic way that will have you singing along quickly. Dayton is a track about your loved one being upset with you whilst you're on tour and wanting to get back home to them. This song is followed up by Teenage Amnesia. Kind of ironically, despite the word amnesia being in its title, this song is one that will get stuck in your ahead immediately. By the time we get to the second chorus you'll be shouting along like you've heard the song a million times before. I loved the punchy way in which every line of the song is delivered, changing things up for the standard, and at times predictable, sound of pop punk. The third song is named The Gold Rush. On my first listen of the track I was really impressed with the bass playing of either Jarad Reynolds or Dereck Brown (there are two bass players listed in the credits for the album and it doesn't say which bassist played on which song!). It's a very relatable song for most of the punks that I know as it's about feeling ignored and left behind in your life. The harmonies on the final stretch of the song are absolutely superb and some of the best I've heard in a while.
Bartending At Funerals starts in a delightfully energetic fashion with a delicious guitar riff to go along with some pounding drums and more incredible bass work. The track looks at the subject of suppressing negative thoughts and emotions and it pulling you further and further down. In true pop punk fashion this is a really upbeat and uptempo song for quite a downbeat topic. B1505 is another sadder song about missing a departed friend and not quite believing that it's true. It's a catchy and hooked filled song that grabs your attention from the very first listen. I particularly enjoyed the use of multiple vocalists for the chorus. This gave the song an even bigger sound. The guitar solo towards the end of the track absolutely rules as well! The sixth song, Horsefly, slows things down ever so slightly and has a bit more of a melodic sound. It also feels as if there is a lot more spite and venom in the delivery of the song, like someone has really pissed off The Raging Nathans. Horsefly is about telling somebody that you think has really wronged you exactly what you think of them and how they don't mean a thing to you. I read on the band's Facebook page that The Raging Nathans like 90s skate punk heroes Face To Face, that's an influence that I can really hear on this track.
Brain Is Floating is another song that tackles the topic of mental health. This time, in particular, it looks at the feeling of anxiety and how sometimes you don't quite feel like your head is in the right frame of mind. For the first time on Cheap Fame we get some more intense screaming style harmonies that adds a bit more passion to the song. There is also a fantastic breakdown section that then leads into a final flurry of a superbly catchy chorus. Up next was one of the stand out track on my first listen of Cheap Fame. Sucker Punch starts out interesting fashion with a lo-fi demo-ish sounding beginning before we are treated to a fantastic song about trying to be a good person despite all of the trouble and strife that life throws in your direction. Vocally the song feels more laid back than most of the album, I think this is why the song caught my attention so quickly. It's a bit more relaxed and less in your face. The ninth song, Circling The Drain, is by far the longest on the album coming in at a massive three minutes and two seconds. I think that this is my favourite song on the album. It's about getting older and gradually feeling worse and worse and missing your youth. It's cheerful. I don't know if this is because of its length but there is a feeling of epicness about Circling The Drain. It just seems to have a bigger sound than the rest of the album. Maybe it's something in Matt Yonker's brilliant producing skills. The tempo that the vocals are delivered does a magnificent job in filling the song with an irresistible energy that you can't help but get swept away with.
Florida Days really ups the tempo in spectacular form. Buzzsaw guitars and rapid fire drums are the name of the game on this song about the anguish you can give your family when you try and take your own life. Again, cheerful stuff. These types of songs can be difficult listen but I really feel like they are important for getting more folk to talk about mental health and to help to combat it together. Kudos to The Raging Nathans for stepping up and writing songs about it. Good For You is yet another stand out track. It's got everything I love in my pop punk songs - it's catchy, it's full of hooks, it's got an upbeat tempo and there are plenty of harmonies. What more could anyone want? It's about rich snobs who treat people who they deem to be beneath them badly and never wanting to be the same. The penultimate song is called CTRL+ALTRIGHT+DEL. This shorter song wastes no time in getting started and the band power through a track about a friend who has been brainwashed into believing something that you don't agree with and the dissolution of that friendship. The track may be short but it certainly packs an incredible punch. Last up is Holding It In. Something I'd noticed throughout Cheap Fame is that the songs are packed with a lot of lyrics. This however isn't the case on Holding It In. It's simply a verse and chorus combination that is repeated a couple of times. The song is about trying to keep yourself together on a daily basis and trying not to let the world know you're struggling.
Cheap Fame is a superb pop punk album from start to finish. The pop punk scene in the States is full of incredible bands but judging from this album The Raging Nathans could be the next breakout band. I'm now so excited to see them at Manchester Punk Festival this April. If you're going you should be too!
Stream and download Cheap Fame here: https://theragingnathans.bandcamp.com/album/cheap-fame
Like The Raging Nathans here: https://www.facebook.com/TheRagingNathans/
This review was written by Colin Clark.