“Best of” lists are often like snowflakes, no two are quite the same. Given the breadth and depth of a music scene like Austin’s this is to be expected. Because of this however, when common threads appear between lists issued by varying outfits it forces one to sit up and take notice. As a dyed-in-the-wool cynic and champion of punk ideology, my initial thoughts whenever I see such an occurrence are that the bands in common between lists must be the ones being shoved down the more mainstream audience’s throat by the “powers that be.” Not a year goes by where one of these bands doesn’t crop up and after listening to them, my sole reaction is something along the lines of “really?” Here at OVRLD we aim to be as thorough as possible in reviewing new releases both from Austin’s up and comers as well as the more underground acts and when The Golden Boys showed up on a number of 2012 “Best of” lists we wondered why we hadn’t heard of them before. Not one to let the ball sail by we set out to find out what the fuss was all about.
On first listen I was all set not to like The Golden Boys’ Dirty Fingernails LP for the cynical reasons mentioned above, but something happened as the album progressed … I found myself digging it. In preparing to write this piece I listened to the album a second time and once again, I was into it. Dirty Fingernails is raw, but rehearsed – catchy, but offering a slight challenge as well. Clearly there was something here, but was it a missed “Best of” for 2012?
In the parlance of the current scene The Golden Boys would most likely get lumped in with the bulk of Austin’s garage punk scene, but I’m less convinced that’s where they belong. While there is both a bit of a punk and garage vibe on Dirty Fingernails there’s more to it than just that. There’s an almost psych sensibility to many of the album’s tracks, reinforced by the screeching rock organ that underlies much of the album. I believe it’s this along with an overall early-rock vibe that’s enamored so many other reviewers with this album. There’s a sort of 60’s/70’s era nostalgia that The Golden Boys engender and it’s the kind of thing that (in my experience) is devoured by most of the reviewers who were raised to revere the likes of the Beatles and the Stones as gods.
If you can forgive The Golden Boys the sin of sounding like something a Brooklyn hipster or a Rolling Stone reviewer would be into, there’s actually a decent album to be heard here and decent amount of talent. I’ll leave the discussion of whether Dirty Fingernails belonged on our Top 50 Albums of 2012 or not to you, dear readers, but I think it’s certainly worth listening to for both 60’s-idolizing hipsters and cynical hardcore punk curmudgeons.
– Brian Audette