For the initiated fiends out there on first listen you’ll laugh for a bit. You’ll then scratch your head in wonder for a few moments. Eventually this dumbfounded confusion will be replaced with a rue smile. For the uninitiated – well, you could happily play this at Christmas around the fire, or perhaps round a table for four in a warm lit lounge bar.
These are pretty much the two main emotions you’ll experience listening to possibly one of the most unusual collaborations to ever take place: brass led lounge and classic punk. Of course you could hate the bloody thing, so if the aforementioned genres don’t tinkle your eardrums then it’s best to stop reading now.
Still with me? Good. As I was saying, this is an unholy marriage – the goth punk of the highly influential Misfits holding a bony hand with the jovial, carefree arrangements of The Nutley Brass. In other words, imagine late ’70s punk played by a tuxedo wearing Vegas bar band.
Not literally of course. The Nutley Brass is the 10-year-old baby of Sam Elwitt, a New Jersey resident who specialises in covering the likes of The Buzzcocks and The Heartbreakers via their horns and strings (Beat on the Brass) and more recently, numerous Ramones reinterpretations; all with a little helps from a few friends.
The refreshing thing about Fiend Club Lounge is that it breathes fun. Remember that word in the context of music? Remember when starting a band or a group was all about a bit of fun with your friends? Of course its still present these days, more so in the live setting, but it’s very difficult to sense a band having fun on record.
The album covers the Danzig era of the ’70s and ’80s in incredible ways. The spacey freeform rework of Attitude is so charmingly distant from its original that you could dance around a chandelier instead of the usual body dancing. Die, Die My Darling is silkily delivered with cheery whistles but manages to stay true to its sinister melodies, which at some points, hilariously, turn into Bond soundtrack stuff. Even Last Caress is so optimistically heart-filled that it makes you whistle along to it without a care in the world.
If there’s a criticism to the record, it’s incredibly short at 23 minutes long, which may be an ask for one’s denari these days. None of the Misfits latter day material is present which may disappoint their newer legion of fiends. The fact that it’s wholly instrumental means some songs skittle by as quickly and frenetically as the originals. Then again, whoever said minutes equals value for money in a record? Especially when you have a repeat button at your disposal.