By Metal Dave
Few things are more exciting than finding a lost stash, and when the goodies in question come courtesy of Junkyard, you best call in sick and enjoy the buzz.
“Old Habits Die Hard” amounts to what would have been Junkyard’s third major-label album circa 1992 had the greasy, boogie-punk, blooze rockers not been guilty by association when Seattle washed away Hollywood’s hair bands. To be clear, Junkyard was always more “street” than Strip. Uglier, too!
Recorded nearly three decades ago by the mostly-original lineup of vocalist David Roach, guitarists Chris Gates (Big Boys) and Brian Baker (Bad Religion, Minor Threat), drummer Patrick Muzingo, and longstanding bassist Todd Muscat (who replaced Clay Anthony after 1991’s “Sixes, Sevens and Nines”), “Old Habits Die Hard” is a jackpot of hard-bouncin’ rockers (“Pushed You Too Far,” “I Come Crawling,” “One Foot in the Grave”); Skynyrd-style stomp (“Out Cold”); distortion-drenched blues (“Blue Sin”); and punk-tinged rants (“Fall to Pieces”). In other words, it’s the must-have Junkyard starter kit for anyone who missed the band’s early years.
While highlights await at every turn, the lost-soul lament of “Hangin’ Around” offers the unique twist of a gruff Gates sharing duet vocals with Roach. As the song unfolds, the two Texans tell their true tale of moving to Hollywood seeking fortune and fame, but instead finding themselves “washing windows for spare change and sleeping on the ground.”
“Tried & True,” penned by then-writing partner/current ’Yard guitarist Tim Mosher, is a holdover from his previous band, Broken Glass, and easily could’ve rivaled or surpassed any gritty ballad by Junkyard’s former opening act, the Black Crowes, had it been released on time. Then again, great songs are timeless.
Another track for the ages is “Holdin’ On,” which sounds like it could’ve been co-written by former writing partner Steve Earle given its open-road, Americana vibe.
Hardcore fans will notice “Old Habits Die Hard” is comprised of songs previously released in limited runs across the titles, “Joker” and “XXX.” While true, “Old Habits” deletes the just-for-grins cover songs and edits/condenses the sequencing into a leaner, more focused album that’s been majority-endorsed by the band and collectively viewed as a higher-quality, more official release.
Packaged with lyrics, vintage photos and available in “beer-colored” vinyl (Yes, please!), “Old Habits” perfectly captures Junkyard’s dirt-kicking, signature sound. And, arriving as it does on the heels of the revamped band’s excellent 2017 comeback release, “High Water,” Junkyard proves to be both currently relevant and historically vital.
Rating: A winner. In spades!
To order “Old Habits Die Hard,” visit Acetate Records.
Fun Fact: “Old Habits Die Hard” opens with an “Introduction” by Hollywood scenester Donnie Popejoy who used to introduce the likes of Junkyard, the Hangmen and L7, among others. Arriving in full tuxedo after coming from his gig as a maître d’ at a local fancy restaurant, his habit of holding two beer cans stacked on top of each other earned him the nickname, “Two Cans Donnie.” Sounds like the perfect host.