If any band on Earth can deliver us from evil, it’s Redd Kross. The brothers McDonald, pride of Hawthorne, California, have been bringing sonic sunshine to punk’s heart of darkness since 1978 and their seventh full-length release, Behind the Door, is here to tell you – yeah, you! – to stop tweeting, step away from CNN, and get your ass back to the party. It’s a goddamned all-American rager and it’s not over till Redd Kross says so, which won’t be anytime soon judging by the 11 rambunctious cuts on Behind the Door, which brings them to Underground Arts on Saturday as part of a 53-city (!) fall tour with proto-grunge sludge gods the Melvins. (Steven McDonald, bassmaster in both bands, is working double-duty.)
The band’s cited inspirations for Behind the Door sound like they came right from SNL club kid Stefon: “K-pop, glitter gangs, embarrassed tweens, long-term relationships (and) a mysterious character named Fantástico Roberto.” While non-ironic adoration for all things pop cultural has been part of Redd Kross’ oeuvre since the beginning, so has their signature blend of sweet harmony and guitar-driven ferocity.
To wit: The opening track, a power-popped makeover of Henry Mancini’s “The Party,” boils over into “Fighting,” a ball of a headbanger that clocks in at a mere 2 minutes, 24 seconds. The title track, an apparent reference to the 1974 B-movie ripoff of The Exorcist (Linda Blair being a McDonald brothers’ muse) is archetypal Redd Kross: take a little Cheap Trick, mix in a lot of KISS, sprinkle with candy-coated melodies and raunchy mega-riffs, turn up to 11, and serve piping hot.
Behind the Door’s closer is another cover, a rowdy remake of the Sparks quirky “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way,’” and is the perfect way to end the party on a high note. While we flounder through the Orwellian shitshow that is life in these United States at present, Redd Kross is here to remind you that somewhere, it’s a sunshine day where everybody’s smilin’and the party is just getting started. — JOANN LOVIGLIO
PREVIOUSLY: Q&A W/ Jeff McDonald Of Redd Kross