Literally years in the making, LIQUOR STORE’s debut, the two LP set Yeah Buddy, serves as the epic statement that a certain resident of New Jersey (hint: it’s not Snooki) has been desperately trying to make for years. But he has been lacking in one key arena – Youth. Liquor Store are true sub-urban punks raised on mountains of pizza, bottomless kegs of Budweiser, and enough ennui to kill a normal human. Luckily, these doods are anything but normal, and their sprawling, yet focused, twin platter rolls up the heavies (Ramones, Dictators, Creedence, Motley Crue, Adrenalin O.D.), and smokes a giant doobie of Truth, Justice, and The American Way.
Take a hit. Hold it in.
The first puff is “Pumpin’ With Red Rock,” opening with a rumble reminiscent of “Hit the Lights,” from Metallica’s immortal Kill ‘Em All. And, much like that classic track, “Pumpin’” will be the soundtrack to many a basement gravity-bong-and-weights session for years to come. “Banned From the Block” follows with the sweet sounds of CCR segueing into an unbeatable combo of the Ramones and New York Dolls, pure fun rock n’ roll, well-earned and well-played. Band mastermind Sarim al-Rawi lays down a pretty solo, completely unrushed, at the perfect tempo for boogieing and taking a slug of beer. If the title “Manchild in Paradise” conjures unwelcome memories of Jimmy Buffet and his pack of marauding idiots, the Parrotheads, then you are not alone. Thankfully this supremely catchy tune stomps all over their cheeseburgers and beer-cozies and brings some tough rock ‘n roll that would make Handsome “Dick” Manitoba proud.
“Gas Station” sounds like a summer spent huffing gas fumes 40+ hours a week so you can pay rent, eat some frozen burritos, and hopefully have enough money to go to the bar and try to get laid. The possibly homoerotic “Oilin’ Up My Boy” keeps the proceedings rolling, until we reach the triumphant pop of “Commando;” like Fogerty penning an ode to our finest combat export, Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Detroit Weirdness” delivers on its title, ending with several minutes of tripped-out sonics meant to enhance your PCP buzz. Good thing the New Jersey/New York City-based Liquor Store counts Detroit shredder Craig Brown (of Terrible Twos & Mahonies) as one of its own. Brown, along with Steve “Bones” Dessimone, lay down sweet riffs all over Yeah Buddy. The fact that three guitarists manage to not step all over each other is a testament to the songcraft on this record. And we can’t forget the pounding of the rhythm section provided by Block and Will, two no nonsense dudes who like to drink beer and smoke ‘em if they got ‘em. A solid unit. A gang of miscreants. The Bad News Bears of the rock n’ roll underground.
Since Liquor Store was not satisfied with a single debut LP, they figured if you’re gonna go, go BIG. Hey, they’re from Jersey.
Side “L” opens up with the hesher battle of “Showdown at Wookie Lake” (“They got sweaty palms and sweaty manes/gonna make you feel their Wookie pain”), then segues via chanting into the rapidly-shifting hardcore/power pop hybrid of “Jerkin It.” On the final side of their opus, Liquor Store goes for the throat. The side starts off with the maniacal hardcore of “Bud Lite Killers,” a rant about some vague enemy, some good-time destroyer in our midst. But it ends on a high note – the epic, these-colors-don’t-run “Proud to Be an American Man.” Standing tall next to Grand Funk’s “We’re an American Band,” this song is an anthem to be sung at county fairs and rib cook-offs for decades to come. Liquor Store leader Sarim al-Rawi (who has done time in VCR, LiveFastDie, and Titus Andronicus) may be a first-generation Iraqi-American, but he knows where his bread is buttered. In the U S of A.
With Yeah Buddy, Liquor Store has crafted a true rock n’ roll journey; perfectly dumb, like The Spits or Black Lips, but speaking to something larger; the fleeting moments of youth before the inevitable adult crash. Much like another New Jersey resident: Bruce fuckin’ Springsteen.