DS Album Review: The Bouncing Souls – “Ten Stories High”
Dropping the needle on a new Bouncing Souls record is like feeling the warm embrace of an old friend. That’s especially true with the New Jersey punk vets’ latest LP Ten Stories High. The album welcomes you in with open arms, as frontman Greg Attonito delivers the opening lines to the uplifting title track: “Ten […]
Dropping the needle on a new Bouncing Souls record is like feeling the warm embrace of an old friend. That’s especially true with the New Jersey punk vets’ latest LP Ten Stories High. The album welcomes you in with open arms, as frontman Greg Attonito delivers the opening lines to the uplifting title track: “Ten stories high… Words in the sky… Every day we live to grow… Life is all we really own… Ten stories high”. This is as good an introduction as any in the Souls’ expansive discography, going toe-to-toe with fan favorites like “That Song” and “Apartment 5F“.
Without hesitation, the band kicks things up a notch with “Back to Better” and “Another Night In Denver”, two blazing fast punk anthems that sound like they could have been lifted straight out of a classic Souls record. Bryan Kienlen continues to cement his legacy as one of punk rock’s all time great bassists, delivering an onslaught of his signature bouncy, rumbling basslines. “True Believer Radio” provides a healthy dose of nostalgia, calling back to perhaps the band’s most iconic song, while still having what it takes to stand on its own as a modern classic. I can definitely see this one becoming a fixture in the Souls’ live setlists for years to come.
And because it wouldn’t be a Bouncing Souls album without a few good love songs, “Shannon’s Song” and “Andy and Jackie” mark the halfway point of the record. There’s no debating that these Jersey boys are among the best in the game when it comes to writing sappy love songs, but if I had to pick favorites on Ten Stories High, these more mid-tempo tracks would likely find themselves on the chopping block. “Shannon’s Song” has a bit of a “Simple Man” feel at times and is definitely the more high energy of the two songs.
Track #7 “Vin and Casey” rights the ship and picks up the pace once again. Greg says this song was inspired by the heartbreaking story a fan told him about their friends, Vin and Casey: “They took them to their first show, which we were playing, but shortly after that both of them actually passed away. And ever since then they’ve been going to Bouncing Souls shows to sort of keep that connection. It was just this really tragic but also beautiful story.” 7Seconds frontman Kevin Seconds provides vocals on the song’s second verse, and overall, this is an expectedly heartfelt tribute from a band that’s always made it a point to honor their fans.
The album marches forward with another feel-good track in “Magnus Air Organ”, before rolling into the hard-charging “To Be Human”. Both songs sport the big choruses the Souls are known for, but there’s a stark contrast in their tonality. The latter has an almost Hard Rock-like feel, and while it’s a little different from the band’s standard fare, I think they pull it off pretty damn well.
Rounding out Ten Stories High is “Higher Ground”. This is pure, unadulterated, classic Bouncing Souls. Listening to this song when it was premiered as one of the album’s first two singles took me back in time to the first time I heard the Souls. This track instantly clicked with me, and as cliché as it may sound, blasting “Higher Ground” on my morning commute on a gloomy Florida morning brought more than a few tears to my eye. The title track got me amped on this record, but this song was what really sold me on Ten Stories High. Everything from Greg’s tender delivery of the sentimental lyrics to The Pete’s one-note guitar lead during the first verse is quintessential Bouncing Souls. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting conclusion to this album.
The Bouncing Souls are back, folks! This is their best record in 20 years.
I give Ten Stories High 4.5/5 Stars