Saturday, May 23, 2020

Bankshot - "Angst For The Memories" CD Review!!

It's now time for our 131st monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and with things slow as usual during the pandemic, let's dive into the archives for an album I should have reviewed on here long ago, namely defunct local punk quintet Bankshot's only studio album "Angst For The Memories"! Independently released in 1999, this album was recorded that March at Full Scale Audio Productions with producer/Gsis Murphy alum Keith Davis, much like the previous year's "Local Steel" compilation. Bankshot are represented here by vocalist Ron Pelletier (ex-Ten Brick Limit), guitarists Christian Pasiak (Sleepy & The Noise) & Lucas Schmiedendorf (The Sick Sons), bassist Neil Vallee, and drummer Clint Wilson (ex-12 Gauge Ready). "Angst For The Memories" has been out of print for two decades, but there are no shortage of free uploads of this album on YouTube and elsewhere, such as this full video, and The Rad Zone has had CD copies in the past.

Myself, I own an original CD copy with liner notes, so I'll be getting as full of an experience as I can for this write-up. However, I was only 10 years old when "Angst For The Memories" was released, so if I miss any context from the lyrics or performers, I apologize, I truly wasn't there. With 15 songs running for 44 minutes or so, let's kick off this long overdue CD review!

The opening song is "Losing Face", which is about reflecting on a poor life choice, highly implied to be a former friendship. The opening noodly guitar riff is slightly odd, but when the song proper kicks into gear, it's full of classic skate punk action that's tightly played and to-the-point! Ron's youthful vocals don't really showcase the bitterness of the lyrics, and boosted backing vocals would have helped on the choruses but this is a nice showcase for Bankshot's collective talents to start! Second is the album's shortest track, "Planet Payback", where Ron sings about life not turning out how he expected, and how it's payback for his past decisions. After another guitar intro that doesn't sound like the song ahead, we get a faster paced attack complete with a nice solo from Christian! Solid drums from Clint as well, but this is a song that could have used a longer composition, as it feels like they dropped a few verses from this one. Fun track for punk diehards while it lasts though!

Third is the three+ minutes long "One Minute Alone", which is about still needing time alone to collect your thoughts, even when you're having fun with friends. The up-tempo composition and forceful drumming are welcomed, as is another lead guitar solo, and Neil's bass cuts through well on this track in particular! The verse singing is a little sleepy when the song doesn't call for it, but it could be an ironic choice given the lyrics. Solid early number all around! Next is the "Bobbing For Rotten Apples", which is about looking for a second chance from a loved one. This is technically the longest track on the CD, but that's due to a minute's worth of closing and opening samples taken from "There's A Lot Of Work Out There To Do" by Dennis Day, which I believe comes from a Disney vinyl record on Johnny Appleseed.

The title is otherwise metaphorical on this song, which has a nice composition, maintaining a fast pace while also giving a bit of a dramatic flair all at once! Ron sings with force at the expense of clarity here, which isn't ideal, but this is the best written song so far on the CD, and I like how it builds as it goes along! That said, I don't find the samples add anything to what Bankshot themselves wrote. Fifth on the album is "Long Days", a lament about the end of a relationship and what one would do to get their partner back. This song has more of a ska influence on the verses, which gives things some nice variety, but the choruses are fast and intense, and the vocals are a nice match throughout here! The bridge feels a little rushed, and the ending is too abrupt, but while I'm not a diehard ska punk fan, I can definitely appreciate this song's fun atmosphere! The drums and bass are particularly effective, and this is another early highlight!

Song #6 is "Think", which is about two women who have a lot of personal problems, despite Ron being too busy to give them willful attention. Clint's drumming is noticeably off in the introduction, but the song overall is quick and entertainingly direct, with a fun skate punk vibe. In this case, Christian's guitar solo feels tacked on and unnecessary to the song as a whole, but when everyone's focusing on the verses and choruses, this song is a firecracker, and well worth a listen! That's followed by "No Way Out", about a boy who murders his father, only or the act to haunt him into adulthood. A very straightforward modern punk number that is a massive contradiction from the dark lyrics, this track has solid energy and a nice bass track from Neil, and the vocals are well sung with the track, but if the lyrics were meant to be ironic given the music on hand, the impact was admittedly lost on me. Entertaining track overall, but don't let the break at 66 seconds fool you!

Eighth is "Thanks For The Bruise", which is directed at a woman who left an abusive relationship, though it starts with a 30 second intro of an angry old man threatening someone (if it's sampled from something, I couldn't place it.) Arguably the heaviest song yet on "Angst For The Memories", Christian and Sal deliver my favourite guitar performances yet here, and Ron's singing has the right melodic touch to go with the song! Again, this intro adds nothing, but the music comes together just right across the board, and it's my favourite track so far! Next is "Buying The Flag", which is a criticism of an unnamed political candidate, though the lyrics heavily imply that it's the late Ross Perot, who ran for U.S. president as a third party candidate in 1992 & 1996. Given that 1999 wasn't an election year, the lyrics don't cut as deep as they may have had this song been written about a 2000 candidate, but it is what it is. The full punk action ramps up after a soft 25 second intro.

This song sounds rougher than a lot of it's predecessors, especially the bridge between the first two verses, but the raw nature suits their punk genre, and Christian gets another brief guitar solo to shine late. I like the song, but it's not as polished as others on the CD, and the political commentary is easy to miss from how the song is performed. The tenth track is "Fall From Grace", about a woman who leaves a dysfunctional home for a new city, only to find that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Despite the somewhat melancholy lyrics, they contrast well with the upbeat skate sound here, and I like the upbeat guitar work, as well as Ron's higher register vocals. It's a fun song, but it ends super abruptly after just 2:19, which is a shame, as it's another album highlight! It could have at least used one more verse and maybe even a solo to help put it over the top.

Next up is "Consolation Prize", a motivational song about persevering when things don't go your way. The second of two songs here to exceed 4 minutes in length, this gives Neil his best showcase on the CD during the opening bass/drum-centric verse, but the song dives into a standard punk vibe afterwards. This song feels like a few different songs stitched together, so some extra editing may have tightened things up a bit, but everyone performs well, and the vocals match up consistently as it goes along! Track #12 is "Bottled Love", a lament to an ex-girlfriend that one wishes would return. Musically, this song cuts to the chase with more punk intensity, though like with prior personal songs, the message may be lost unless you look at it ironically.  The mid-song ska break adds some nice variance, but the hard hitting skate attack around it works on it's own merits, especially with Clint's drumming and the extra oomph from the backing vocals, so there's a lot to like here!

After that, we have "Marathon", which seems to allude to a getting revenge on a bully or tormentor now that they have no one on their side. I was getting a Bad Religion vibe from this one, if that's a fair comparison, and that definitely is a plus in my book! Ron has good vocal control as this one rolls along, the melodies are really solid, and while it's not an overly aggressive song, it's nicely paced and well performed. Another album highlight for me! The penultimate track is "Little Morning Pick-Me-Up", which alludes to coffee (Folgers, specifically), albeit in the context of someone who would rather write songs, drink coffee and relax in bed than be traditionally productive. After a 54 seconds long intro (which is softer than anything else on the CD), we get into Bankshot's fast paced punk wheelhouse with solid riffing, though the actual meat of the song is over real quick. It's solid while it lasts, but I wish this song was more substantial, as the intro didn't need to be that long.

"Angst For The Memories" closes with "Friendly Foe", about changing your tune over a supposed "friend" who has taken advantage of you for far too long. More of a drawn out number comparaitvely speaking, the lyrics are arguably the easiest to make out on the whole album, the quick musicianship and rapid drumming contrasts well with Ron's deliberate narrative vocals, and it's a solid way to put a bow on the CD! So, what are my final thoughts on Bankshot's only album? Overall, this is a raw but energetic and very promising album from a band too good to have only lived for two years, and it's easy to see why it's gotten so much underground attention in the punk community since their 2000 breakup! Fans of 1990s skate punk will be right at home with these songs, which mostly stay on that trajectory with verve and attitude, and while there are things they could have addressed, it was clearly the right album for the moment!

Christian and Lucas' twin guitar attack was great throughout, as were Christian's occasional guitar solos, Neil and Clint provided the right rhythm across the board, and while Ron's vocals weren't always the clearest to hear, his attitude and tone fit, especially given their ages at the time. That said, some songs could have been lengthened, had less abrupt endings, or had their introductions cut down or removed entirely, especially the two with samples. Songs like "Thanks For The Bruise", "Marathon", and "Long Days" proved what Bankshot were capable of, and while they disbanded just a year after this CD came out, it holds up well for genre fans. Give "Angst For The Memories" a listen at the above links, but what are we reviewing on the site in June? I don't yet know, but if no major new releases come out, I will dive into the archives once again.  Our anti-bias buffer rule limits us from a new (Mike) Haggith album review next month, but other than that, it's wide open.

Time will tell what is next, but stay tuned for our next CD review next month, and for more news and notes on the site next week! Thanks everyone!

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