I was (and I guess I’m still a big fan of the classics) a big ska-punk fan in my younger years (not that it really has any bearing on this review) but just because a band features a brass/horn section it doesn’t mean they’re a ska band. In this particular case, The Atom Age is not a ska band. They’re a punk band with a singular saxophone player who is prominently featured on every track of their debut album Kill Surf City. The band is from Berkeley, CA and is fronted by Ryan Perras (who was once the drummer for The Queers and billed as Ryan Qwon Doe). Now I’ve heard comparisons to Rocket From The Crypt and Voodoo Glow Skulls but I’d also like to throw out the Blue Meanies as a point of reference. There songs are pretty straightforward but the saxophone adds a little bit of that “psycho circus” element at times. I love it.
There’s plenty of melody on Kill Surf City but it’s also forceful, hard-hitting, and unrelenting from start to finish. Guitars blaze forth without a single upstroke anywhere in sight and the vocals are a bit gritty without being gruff. Seriously, there’s no filler to be found. The Atom Age also manages (because of the sax) to infuse their punk rock and roll with some jazzy skronk and (at times) an almost garage/rockabilly spookiness. I applaud the band for doing the punk
with horns thing and actually pulling it off without being gimmicky. I mean, this sort of thing could devolve into parody really quickly, but it never does.