August 15th, 2016 marked the release of a great new freshmen effort for Four Lights (consisting of Dan Gardner on vocals and guitar, Jeff Mangalin on guitar and vocals, Brian Lewis on bass and vocals, and Kii Kay on drums). These younglings have punk chops in their blood. Dan told me stories of a time when he heard “Rock the Casbah,” the slightly sell-out “hit” for the Clash back in 1982 and then, like a good father should do, was referred by his dad to the “real” stuff… The Clash and London Calling, which this reviewer always used as a “gold standard” of old school punk from the late ‘70’s and very early ‘80’s. Dan loved the “referral.”
The glorious 12 uptempo tracks on their first album, Death to False Posi, are as gritty as a Ramones set with a real punch led by Dan’s vocals and driving beats that are music to this old punk rocker’s ears. As if their music wasn’t “cred” enough, they even feature guest vocals on the title track from the lead singer of the fabulous Bay Area punk band Bracket, as proof-positive of their chops.
Their sound is also informed by Weezer, Plimsouls and Cheap Trick. The Replacements’ style also peppers their sound, in tight, well thought-out 3+ minute sonic assaults one could pogo all night to.
For the last year, these men have worked on and honed these 12 tracks. Gems like “Is That You?,” born from a tough time for Dan, opens with the telling line, “Staring into the bathroom mirror…” Or, try “Whiskey Woahs,” a tale of an insincere chance meeting between two lonely people in a bar with “…the whiskey talking…” when one says to the other that they want them. Then there’s “Sixes,” a plaintive song about a breakup after a partner has “gone south.”
(Engineered by Don Farwell at Earwig Studio, the group plays the Awesome Fest and Tijuana in early September, and you can catch them at Kraken in the U District with the Young Go Hards and Junebugs on October 7. Mark your calendars and get set for a hi-NRG night! You can get Death to False Posi via fourlightsrock.bandcamp.com digitally or on CD – out now. You can sample the LP below via Bandcamp.)