Is it possible to feel a warm sense of contentment as you listen to a song called “Headbanger”? Can one take comfort in a song called “Animal Eyes”? How about “Wild, Wild Party”? If these songs are some of the latest offerings from Milwaukee’s ever-reliable glam-punk trio Indonesian Junk (and they are), the answers are a resounding “yes.” Yep, Indonesian Junk is back, and boy oh boy does it feel good.
Not to say that the new Spiderbites is more of the same, or that it’s a cozy nostalgia record that dutifully replicates the sound of ’70s New York punk. That era has always been an obvious touchpoint for Indonesian Junk, but singer-songwriter Daniel James (along with bassist Johnny Cyanide and drummer Mike Mattner) is just so damn good at writing hooky, swaggering rock songs that every riff, every power chord, and every sneer feels fresh.
Opener “Mean Christine” sets the stage with a textbook shout-along chorus and a tale of a knock-down-drag-out lover who, after a few drinks, “goes off like a loaded gun.” “Wild, Wild Party” takes all of two minutes to perfectly capture the raucous energy of a chemically enhanced blowout, while the equally rowdy “Headbanger” pays tribute to—what else?—the immortal rock and roll lifestyle. “Don’t want to hear no boring music at the punk rock show” James sings on the latter. It’s equal parts statement of fact and winking threat.
Elsewhere, Indonesian Junk cools things down a bit on the desperate “I Could Die” and the slithery closer “See The Light.” (Both songs, along with the winning “When I Find You,” previously appeared on the group’s 2018 Darkness Calling EP.) Likewise, album highlight “Animal Eyes” is something of a departure—there’s more than a little bit of Bob Mould and Bob Rock in the song’s sleazy DNA.
Produced, engineered, and mixed by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings, Spiderbites is easily Indonesian Junk’s best-sounding record to date. There’s nary a moment that doesn’t pack a sonic punch. Before the band celebrates Spiderbites‘ release at Circle-A Cafe on September 28, buckle up and experience the comforting wallop—or would that be the welcome sting?—of the entire thing below.