Being a writer is admittedly a struggle. Every so often, though, I get messages from band members offering to send me free hard copies of their music in exchange for a review. I like this, especially when the music happens to be bloody good. Such is the case with Irish punk band The Lee Harveys, whose debut album Gun City speaks volumes about why I fell in love with punk in the first place.
Like their Irish counteracts Hooligan, Lee Harveys’ sound is the non-thrashy of-age type of punk rock that reminds me of the late ’70s golden era of the movement. Fronted by ex-Strougers vocalist Gerald Fitzgerald (“Bitzy”), with Paul O’ Brien on drums and Stanton on bass, the band has compiled a catchy, feel-good album of anthemic punk, though one that is by no means lacking in any depth.
‘Here Comes The Cops’, for example, is written with a sceptical view of police force, but rather than simply lashing out and saying “fuck the police”, the boys depict the tension and social unrest that comes with a particular situation. The same can be said of ‘Bright Light”s tail of death and drugs, which has some really dirty guitar work, with PA from the band Paranoid Visions also contributing.
Indeed, the lyrics and accompanying music on the whole record pull the listener into a very real (and, notably, unglorified) world of corruption and class struggle. But Bitzy never preaches; instead, he manages to find a definitive line between ambiguity and catchiness, which will no doubt inspire people to think, as well as dance.
I really like the track ‘Don’t Dictate’ (which has pays homage to Woody Guthrie’s slogan “This Machine Kills Fascists” on the hook); while ‘Tell The Truth’ is sharp and to the point (“Too many lies/Ain’t no surprise/[…]All they gotta do/Is stand up and tell the truth”). The unashamedly Ramones-influenced, pop-punk joint ‘Oh (x5)’ doesn’t shy away from the “Oh oh oh oh oh ohs”; and ‘Fake’ is fast and furious in its tempo.
Overall, this is a very well made album that exhibits a lot of passion and talent. Gun City may be the first album in The Lee Harveys’ discography, but the trio is by no means lacking in experience. All three of the lads gel together very well and manage to transfer their concerns and frustrations into fourteen tracks of short to-the-point punk rock. All of this comes across very natural indeed.