Supercharged punk rock that’s like Minor Threat with an unlikely hangover.
Mike Diver 2011-07-25
Brooklyn quintet Cerebral Ballzy trade in the kind of supercharged punk rock that sends kids into dizzy spins at branded festivals and stinking basements alike, but has slightly older observers in the ranks wondering what all the noise is about. On paper, titles like Don’t Tell Me What to Do and On the Run, combined with track durations that don’t leave attentions the slightest second to wander, recall Youth Crew outfits like Negative Approach and Minor Threat. But while said strain of hardcore concerned itself largely with politics and staying sober – if it concerned itself with anything, some outfits preferring nihilism over grandstanding rhetoric – this lot, when they’re not sweating themselves thin on stage, munch pizza and guzzle beer between falling off skateboards. Straight edge then, in this case, is just another rail to grind.
So the listener doesn’t need to tombstone into these tracks to put themselves in the hospital – such is the lack of depth that splashing about is enough to put a toe or two out of joint (although mainly because aforementioned kids are going ballistic all around you). But Cerebral Ballzy aren’t here for the thinkers of the punk community: they exist to have a good time, and to provide a good time for others. And this enthusiasm is, while not consistently endearing, certainly catchy. Tracks like Sk8 All Day, Cutting Class and Drug Myself Dumb speak for themselves before one of two or three chords is torn into. Each is rebellion as viewed through a television screen, with the wider-reaching after-effects lost in the edit; each is ultimately harmless, and for all the fire in this band’s belly, a reliance on conventional compositions rather weakens their opening-song standpoint of "I don’t wanna be like them / I refuse to be like them".
Produced by The Bronx’s Joby J Ford – who has also worked with Californian hardcore punks Trash Talk, whose MO is much the same as Cerebral Ballzy’s – this eponymous set does a good job of transporting the band’s ferocious live show into one’s living room. And just like Trash Talk’s recordings to date, this is more of a primer for attending such an event, rather than a proper standalone element of its makers’ appeal. So get along to a gig for the experience as it’s meant to be heard, and try not to engage the grey matter too much.