Destroy Nate Allen... With Our Powers Combined: An Album Review.
The Mayonaise Explosion
I first encountered Portland, Oregon’s Destroy Nate Allen at the now defunct TOM Fest half a decade ago. I saw this non-descript bearded man with a beat up guitar, surrounded by a circle pit, singing every word along with him. This man was playing acoustic sing along punk rock. What? I was enthralled.
Fast forward to 2012.
He has since married Tessa, quit his day job and spent the majority of his time on the road with Tessa touring the country as the acoustic punk rock duo. I followed the adventures of this punk rock couple travelling in a van, eating beans from aluminum cans and burritos from sketchy taco carts via Facebook and reminisced on memories of my own childhood living with a touring musician. In January of 2012, Nate and Tessa (aka, Destroy Nate Allen) joined forces with San Jose’s Gnarboots and released the record ...With Our Powers Combined. Nate’s acoustic charm is still there, but now backed by a band bringing a myriad of punk and ska influences: Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, Blaster the Rocker Man, X-Ray Spex, Sublime, Bow Wow Wow, etc. It’s a refreshing break from the inorganic keyboard driven pop dominating rock n roll radio these days.
The art work and liner notes recall super hero comics and include complete lyrics, chord changes and, my favorite: brief explanations of each song’s meaning and/or inspiration. Like much punk rock, the lyrics are simple yet deep and designed for the listener to sing along with. Many revolve around misplaced reality. Chick Flick for example, speaks to the fantasy of Hollywood films in relation to reality: “You’re so much better than the guy in the movie/You’re so much better than the girl on the TV screen…You’re a real live person right in front of me/You can say words that hurt me/But you’re better than a fantasy”. This is appropriately followed by We Talk Occasionally on the Internet, and later, the dangers and empty pleasures of strip clubs is explored in Boobie Bar.
Other highlights include Our First Apartment (Ghetto) which discusses the all too common occurrence among the young and artistic of living in a ghetto apartment, where everything from your neighbors sex life to their bathing practices are out in the open. Almost out Of Texas, Emergency and the heart breaking Long Weekend Blues also stand out.
Every song on this record is charming and thought provoking and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It should appeal to fans of hardcore folk, punk rock and second wave ska. Destroy Nate Allen offers a refreshing look at life, faith and politics with an honesty and lack of hubris. It may also be the only non-children’s record in history to extol the virtues of eating your vegetables and laying off coffee.
You should be as proud to own it as Nate, Tessa and the Gnarboots should be of creating it.