What follows is an unauthorized, facts unchecked account of Wrong Place At Wrong Time, the new record by the New York City-based rock band, The New Restaurants, which comes out Friday, September 4, in the year of our trash fire, 2020, written by the person who runs this fake-turned-totally-real record label.
I knew about this record long before I heard it. Travis Harrison was talking about how good it was while the band was working on it and he was mixing it. Then Doug sent me the record months ago. I listened to it but probably just half-listened because it was right when the world was imploding – at that point we were still talking about booking shows for the summer. I wanted to do a beach party.
But then Doug sent the record when it was all finished, and asked if I wanted to be involved with it. I replied “yes” within two hours (how’s that for customer service? Please leave a Yelp review on yr way out) and now we’re here.
This thing starts off real nasty. Like, a full 27 seconds of abrasive noise before things spread out and the lyrics start – and when they do – well, it’s like a disassociated free association, all the ways we really are getting stupid faster. It’s an anthem for everything we say we don’t want to be, but keep speeding towards. The message is concise: fucking look at yourselves, you morons. And then here we are in the record.
“Fuck Dallas BBQ” is deceptive, a catchy little tune about a miscommunication about whatever fueled by ignorance – it doesn’t matter what it was about because there’s no way it can work out well if we’ve gotten this far. But somewhere in there there’s a glimmer of sympathy – hey maybe these guys are actually rooting for us, if we end up having a future after all.
“Lobbies” is a blistering scuzz-punk blast the opens up into the expanses of a sweet poppy chorus that manages to sneak in the sorta beautiful imagery of being “refracted by prismatic light” before reminding us that tbh none of this matters, because “lobbies are the empty spaces in between the things” and we should just get on with whatever the hell it is we’re supposed to be doing.
Then we get to the non-title title track (“Tool Tim”) – the one where the album gets its name from the chorus. Doug and Beau ping-pong lyrics in maddening rounds that maybe have something to do with nostalgia and feeling out of place, but whatever, the sentiment of “wrong place at wrong time” just feels correct, especially now.
On to “Physical Space.” This is the sleeper on the album. It’s got the most space in a minimalist jam kinda way up until the shredding J. Mascis-level outro – clever with the title and all – but we’re still in nostalgia land, transported back to a simpler time before the endless nightmare of Netflix adding a Shuffle option. Is digital space really any better of an option than experiencing real life? It doesn’t matter if you can’t get out of your own head (or ass).
Crossing into the back half – if this was on vinyl – which, hey, it really should be, right? If enough people buy it, let’s do that some day – puke splattered 1s and 0s with neon clouds. But “Endless Summer (at The Bruce Museum)” – who hasn’t driven thru the neverending banality of Connecticut and wondered about the Bruce Museum – and what does it have to do with the Boss? But it’s a suburban quarantine from what the city dwellers consider “real life” I suppose – but we’ll dip our toes in the water, if we ever get to enjoy a summer vacation again.
“Monster Truck Rock” is just a short, huge jammer of a rock song. Don’t make me get into it.
“Dug Up Proust” was the song I heard on here and though “holy crap this is a hit!” – it’s got the drums and bass that kick you in the face and drag you thru it – and the stream of consciousness lyrics – maybe even more than the rest of the record – coalesce like a warm, fuzzy goo around your brain so that when you get to the chorus, you’re so totally all in. Just look at this poetry:
He decided he would live forever / And then he died
He was heartbreakingly afraid of dying / And then he died
He took absurd amounts of vitamins / And then he died
So far ahead of his time and
Such an asshole
Then these guys have the gall to add a fingersnap break to the song. Who does this? What is this West Side Story shit? I don’t have an answer, but I know that I love it.
I can’t help but wonder if the implication is that Proust faked his death – but it probably isn’t. “Faking Your Death” seems to be a reminder that you can’t get out of stuff. Own up to it. Do whatever you were gonna do, or supposed to do, or just something, anything.
The band ends the album with one of those songs that we (musicians?) all know. The one that probably started as a jam at practice, and is too long because there’s a weird thing you want to do with it, or you wanted it to feel dramatic, or whatever – but it’s fine, because you’ll stick it at the end of a record, and maybe the real heads will get it and ironically claim it’s their favorite track because there’s a two minute intro before the meat of what’s really a damn great pop punk song about escape and tragedy and self-preservation, all just begging for context.
Listen to this record. Really listen to it. Enjoy it too. Buy it if you can, or at least stream it. Take it for a test drive or out for a walk (but please keep your distance). You can hear a bit about what the band has to say about the record in this interview with Street Wannabes.
It comes out tomorrow on Bandcamp Friday and the band is donating all proceeds to VOCAL-NY.
VOCAL-NY is a statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness.