Labelpaper + Plastick
2. The Brink
3. Louisville Slugger
4. Secret Machines
5. Freedom of Recession
6. Anywhere But Here
7. Dead Man
8. Where In the World
9. Farewell Show
10. Jackson Dawn
11. Some of Mine
12. All of None
13. The Years
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Punk rock bands couldn’t pick many finer places to hone their craft than Boston. With the exception of New York and London, there are few other cities with as great a punk history than Beantown. The Have Nots came up a generation after the likes of The Dropkick Murphys and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but their latest album, Proud, is very much in the vein of their predecessors.
For better or worse, The Have Nots don’t exactly reinvent pop-punk on Proud. On the one hand, there’s something to be said for using a formula that’s worked pretty well for a lot of bands over the years, but on the other, it all has been done before. Among the record’s catchier songs is “The Brink,” a song that relies almost completely on a recipe written long ago. “Whoa”s, gang vocals, unison breaks--all the ingredients are there. It’d be easy to criticize this one as being too formulaic if the song weren’t so damn catchy. Next, the chorus of “Louisville Slugger” is somehow even catchier than its predecessor. This one introduces the Suicide Machines influenced ska guitar that the band uses several times throughout the record. Vocalist Jon Cauztik sings, “I’ve got a Louisville Slugger in the back of my ride,” on the chorus which will inevitably implant itself right in your brain.
The Have Nots aren’t exactly new to this whole ska/punk thing having formed from the ashes of Boston band Stray Bullets. For those who came up in the Boston punk scene, it’s not hard to hear that band in songs like “Secret Machines,” a song driven by Cauztik’s raspy vocals and upstroke-laden guitar. This is one of many songs where the lyrics are at least vaguely political, not surprising from a band whose debut EP was cleverly titled Serf City USA.
If there’s one thing that holds Proud back, it’s the album’s length. “The album’s too short?” one might wonder. Quite the contrary. Clocking in at 13 tracks (or more, if you get a copy of the record that contains bonus tracks), the record truly does feel a song or two too long by the time the slow melodica and organ driven dirge “Some of Mine” lulls you to sleep. That said, here’s hoping that listeners make it to the closing “The Years.” This one’s an appropriate closer; it’s sentimental and sensitive, yet still true to the 12 songs that precede it. Appropriately, it’s another of Cauztik’s excellent set of lyrics. He seems to jam pack every song with words that, while sometimes tough to decipher, almost always seem meaningful.
The shelf life of bands like The Have Nots tends to be pretty short, so it's tough to predict how long they’ll be around. However, in their 2+ years as a band, they’ve toured with The Dropkick Murphys, played the Bosstones’ annual Hometown Throwdown, and have now released their debut full length on one of the genre’s most notable up and coming record labels. Regardless of what’s to come, The Have Nots have already packed an entire career into a few short years, with Proud the latest notch on their belt.