Everyone’s favorite multi-continent hardcore punk band The Old-Timers are back with a retrospective greatest hits album covering their six year career that includes selections from full lengths, ep’s, and various compilations.
Since this is a greatest hits album, I’ve decided the best way to deal with the review is to pull from past reviews I’ve done of the Old-Timers releases as I’ve covered a few of them, so this review will also be a “greatest hits”.
In many ways, The Old-Timers are a product of the technology age since none of the band members are close to each other. Guitarist and bass player Donovan and singer Dave used to both be located in South Africa but not even close in country and Dave has now returned back to Scotland, and the drums have come from the US with most of the drums on this provided by Phil Harris of False Idle. Mixing and mastering have often been handled by Sef Idle at Simpul Studios in Idaho. There’s some irony in there somewhere about hardcore music, which if we’re honest is not the most complex, requiring the most modern technology.
As to what you’ll hear on the album…. Driving rhythms, fast guitars, great bass lines and drums and vocals shouted over the top characterize the sound here. Think the pace for some good old-school circle pits and some slower sections for pile-ons and sing-alongs, just good fun music. While the Old Timers are an openly Christian band in focus and themes and that may not appeal to everyone, the intensity of the vocals and the music really shows the conviction of the members and that combined with the overall speed and style and quality of the songs will have a broad appeal.
Hardcore/aggressive punk literally reaches out and grabs hold of you often like a choke hold, compelling odd behaviors like two-stepping in circles, piling onto groups of people, diving off stages, and screaming out lyrics until your voice is gone and the Old-Timers bring plenty of this.
For those not familiar with The Old-Timers, the song “Mammon” quickly lets you know where they are coming from. The rapid galloping bass intro with Matthew 6:24 and Mark 8:36 being spoken over the top while some guitar feedback steadily gets louder until the end of the verses when the song takes off at high speed. Dave Emmerson’s vocals are rough, gritty and in your face as they should be with this genre and he manages to keep them right at the ragged edge while screaming “You can’t serve God and money”. Guitars and drums are fast and dirty and provide the perfect sonic backdrop. One thing I like about the Old-Timers is the layered guitars add an air of complexity to their sound and songs while still retaining the rough, dirty punk rock feel.
Throughout their career, the Old-Timers pulled no punches, lyrics are Biblically inspired, consistent with their Facebook description of being “three men on a mission to glorify God, gather friends, and go have fun getting the gospel out.” At the same time, the music will draw in fans of fast, aggressive punk rock. The Old-Timers songs remind me a lot of Minor Threat, not so much in style and the music but definitely in the approach. Lyrics with a lot of meaning and heart behind them are barked out over fast guitars and drums and production is at the right level, clean enough to be very listenable and yet still retaining that overall feel that you’re standing in the midst of a swirling pit. Songs are catchy and while aggressive in nature and sound still manage to impart a sense of joy and hope. Along those lines, I can’t recommend the video for “This City” enough and it is one of my all-time favorite videos and exemplifies the message of the band.
Whenever I got ahold of a new Old-Timers release, my one complaint was that I always wanted a longer release, because, let’s face it, punk songs tend to be very fast and short…. Old Dogs New Tricks is the perfect answer here.
Written by John Jackson
01. These Grey Hairs
02. The Ramp Locals Part II
03. This City (Extended Cut)
04. This State
05. Soli Deo Gloria (feat. J-son Infirmities)
06. Turnbull ACs
07. Let’s Celebrate Christmas
08. No Regrets (feat. Sef Idle)
10. Joe #1
12. For The Love of Hippos (feat. Scott Key)
13. Hole In My Heart
14. Father God I Wonder
16. Homeless Friends (feat. Ninah Llopis)
17. Broken Glass
18. Walking Stick
19. Sing What You See
20. Fun Times
Donovan de Necker – Guitar, bass
Dave Emmerson – Vocals
Phil Harris – Drums
Matt Lagusis – Drums
“Punk’s Not Dead, Nor Are We!” (2011) [review]
“Soli Deo Gloria (2012)” [review]
“Spiritus Sanctus” EP (2013) [review]
‘For The Love of Hippos’ single (2014)
“Be Reconciled” EP (2014) [review]
“Three Way Split For Last” (2016)
“Old Dogs New Tricks” (2017)
Record Label: Thumper Punk Records/Zap Records, Feb. 2017
Video for ‘This City’