Half nonsensical sneer-ready sarcasm, half heart on the sleeve sincerity, Vancouver’s punk rock brats B-Lines (who take their name from the bus line that runs through the downtown core of the city) unleash their newest gestation of scrappy punk songs in Opening Band.
Racing by in a musical blitzkrieg in just under 20 minutes, Opening Band is further proof that early 80’s hardcore will never truly die as long as there are bands like B-Lines to carry the torch.
Touching on the issues of the day, from vitamin supplements as an excuse not to exercise in “Supplements”, to wanting desperately the comfort that comes with being boring in “Normal Again” to establishing their particular brand of sarcastic poetry with “Nervous Laughter”, a song about a painfully awkward person (perhaps the person singing it?) who can’t help laughing in the face of pain and embarrassment. And finally ending with the album’s title track, a gleeful salute to the unambitious, the songs on Opening Band contain some of the band’s best lines and euphemisms. Musically, its utter simplicity is almost archaic and its ambitions seem to be no more grandiose than to get the listener from the beginning of the record to the end with as few paper cuts and stubbed toes as possible. And to saddle the ruminations on life and love with a guttural backbeat.
Singer Ryan Dyck spits forth the lyrical assaults with a refreshing conviction and often sounds so excited to share that the rest of the band are straining to keep up with him. It keeps the whole aura of the record sounding as if it’s constantly teetering on the edge of total destruction, like a train about to jump the tracks.
Appropriately for a punk band in the digital age, the B-Lines’ ambitious don’t extent beyond playing shows for small handfuls of people, drinking drinks of choice and releasing records that sound as if they were recorded on one of those old brown Fisher Price tape players in a closet.
Which is, perhaps touchingly, perfectly in line with how such a band would’ve operated in the early 80’s in southern California.
Opening Band is fast, and chaotic, but all of it infectiously so. Still, 20-ish minutes of straight B-Lines is probably about right. Any less would feel like a tease and anymore and your jaw may begin to slack as you fall into a mental stupor. Which I would presume is no accident on the part of the band.
This record then doesn’t feel so much a record made BTFU (by them for us), but a record made BTFT. Something to do, an excuse to go out and play shows and cut into the monotony of the daily grind. See new faces and places and remain perfectly content making peanuts as the opening band. So if punk rock still means doing what you want, then B-Lines are punk as f*ck. And Opening Band is their battle cry.