“Mr. Falwell, you are not my god.” bluntly states Paolo Rossi, at the end of Wasted Youth‘s 1986 release, a six song EP titled Get Out Of My Yard!. Channeling classic punk rock in every sense of the phrase, this disc scratches an itch to hear genuine, vintage high-energy music, plus a brief or superficial critique of a decade’s social injustice.
The mid to late 1980s were a special, and odd, time period. Hair metal tore up the airwaves, digital recording and the mass-Internet did not yet exist, and Reaganomics and televangelism were in full swing. Big hair, big spending, and big statements were in vogue. As in previous decades, folk, country, and rock music chose to discuss social ills. The time was ripe for commentary and discourse, so fledgling underground punk and metal bands, offshoots from the ‘stuffier’ status quo of rock, flourished wherever they could scrape together a few tunes and an audience.
Get Out Of My Yard! cements those times briefly in song. For those receptive, this is a classic underground “crossover” release, enthusiastically mating punk and metal. The mix suffers from some “dating”: it’s very vocal-heavy or vocal-forward, and the bass drum sounds muffled or muted. Other then that, the sound and mix is clear and comes through just fine. Vocals are a loud ‘spoken-sneered’ or ‘raised voice’ type delivery with an angry, biting, disillusioned bent, much more tolerable and intelligible then the genre’s later screamers. Songs are basic and stripped-back, with no layering and no real attempt at flourish like gang vocals or guitar solos. There are a couple of song-serving, very simplistic guitar breaks, in line with the rest of the material. Guitar riffs are, for the most part, very thrashy, very heavy, very enjoyable, and very moshable. Bass guitar is thankfully not buried, and lends a lot of gritty heaviness to the songs. Songs are typical verse-chorus hardcore punk fare, with sparse, few-chord arrangements and mid-tempo to fast uptempo percussion. Drums bring in both “Missionary Imposition” and “Tormented”. Wasted Youth excels at tempo shifts, near false-endings, and other dramatic, heart-pounding angular momentum builders. Lyrics are delivered with some genuine disdain and emotion, which is lacking in a lot of later punk. The sonic highlight of the album is the well-composed and thrash-inspired “Ethiopian Nightmare”; the lowlight is the young man’s thinly disguised sexual fantasy “Blind Nuns”. That’s relatively speaking, since all of the songs have flashes of brilliance, all have a driving force and energy, and none are filler.
The sixteen minutes and change of playthrough is time well spent listening; it’s a brief walk down memory lane for those who grew up with this genre. California’s Wasted Youth was a band that was tight but not polished, coarse but not crass, acrimonious but not too venomous, and overall, very listenable. Get Out Of My Yard! is recommended for any fan of punk, hardcore, thrash, or speed metal and anyone who wants to hear where some of these genres took root.
Young and Bored
Band lineup (studio):
Paolo Rossi: Vocals
Rick Seccombe: Lead guitar
Chett Lehrer: Rhythm guitar
Dave Kushner: Bass guitar
Joey Castillo: Drums