While pretty much every modern punk band is influenced by Agent Orange and The Dead Kennedys, not too many carry the banner successfully blending surf vibes with ferocious 80s hardcore. Yet New Jersey’s Night Birds do exactly that, all without sounding completely derivative and managing to keep things fresh.
Celebrating their 10 year anniversary as a band, which if isn’t quite the golden years is at least the silver years in punk time, Night Birds haven’t slowed down or missed a beat as proven on their 4th album Roll Credits which was just recently released on September 21st on Fat Wreck. Self described as a “mini-album” (isn’t that just an EP? but fuck it, we’ll call it a mini-album from here on out) the 18 minute, 8 song Roll Credits sees original guitarist Mike Hunchback reunite with theband effectively making Night Birds a 5 piece for the first time in their history.
Roll Credits kicks things off with the surfy, instrumental “Pull The Strings” before segueing into the hard hitting, nihilistic, circle pit inducing “Onward To Obscurity” which features guest vocals from Poison Idea’s Jerry A. Like famed NJ home state natives The Misfits, Night Birds have always flirted with humorous, tongue in cheek, campy horror themes on their albums, and this time around it’s on “My Dad Is The BTK” which is an infectious tune through the lens of a kid who is convinced his father is the infamous serial killer.
“I Need A Torch” is arguably the poppiest song (and I mean that in the most non-derogatory way imaginable) Night Birds have ever released and a bit reminiscent of NOFX with its insanely catchy chorus. If you’re afraid of the band slowing down in any way shape or form though, they answer all concerns with the just over a minute ripper “White Noise Machine”, a no bullshit hardcore song reminiscent of bands like Negative Approach.
I’ve been listening to Night Birds for a while now ever since they first released Fresh Kills and The Other Side Of Darkness, and Roll Credits is easily my favorite release since both of those. Perhaps it’s the “mini-album” format leaving absolutely no room for filler, or maybe it’s the return of original guitarist Mike Hunchback, but I’ve been spinning this one for a while now. Roll Credits was released in two forms, your typical album release, and a 7-inch box set which features original artwork for each song by 8 different artists for all of you collector nerds if that’s your thing. Regardless of the format you prefer, if you dig 80s hardcore with a tinge of surf punk and 90s skate punk, give Roll Credits a listen.
White Noise Machine, My Dad Is The BTK, Onward To Obscurity