The Low Budgets – Leave Us A Loan LP

The Low Budgets
Leave Us A Loan (Picture Disc reissue) LP
(Schuylkill Records)
Alright, the fact is that not every punk rock record is golden. Any fan of the music can begrudgingly admit that, and every fan should – because it is the definition or critical thinking. The first step to truly appreciating any music genre is recognizing that some shit is exactly that; it’s shit. That’s how we differentiate between poor records and great ones, and that’s how we’re able to recognize how good The Low Budgets’ Leave Us A Loan LP is. From note one, listeners will be shaken to the foundations by the old school mixture of rock and punk that drives the album, and they’ll be further gratified when they realize that every song might feature a little bit of tarnish, but they’re also all golden. The critic in me wants to find something (anything) wrong with this album for contrast and, eventually, I decided that I don’t like the fact that my review copy was pressed on a picture disc (I’m not a fan of picture discs in general – it feels like someone somewhere just wants to command a different price point and site something novel as the reason), but that’s really just my desire to differentiate art and music talking – it’s a trivial complaint but it’s the one I’m clinging to here so I don’t just gush puddles all over Leave Us A Loan.

As soon as needle catches groove and “Asthma Attacker” opens the album’s A-side, The Low Budgets show listeners exactly what they’re playing with, and give them the opportunity to jump on excitedly, if they want. There, after the band takes a few bars to get locked in and stomp their feet to shake off the dust, singer/guitarist Chris Seegel, guitarist/keyboardist Joe Genaro [formerly of The Dead Milkmen –ed], bassist Dan Stevens and drummer Steve Levandowski just blaze forth hard and fast and in a way that commands attention. For the song’s entire two-minute running, the band plays like they have something to prove and they never break stride once; listeners will be swept up and held by the song’s unrelenting urgency and, while the lyric sheet is almost unintelligible, listeners will find that they’ve been hooked by the song’s power and passion and will be ready to follow the band wherever they might be headed next when “Asthma Attacker” crashes to a close. The energy of the song is no less than astounding.

After “Asthma Attacker” sets the precedent for Leave Us A Loan, “Plastic” slows down a little (however the decrease in tempo does offer a clearer picture of the plan through the song’s play – it’s still pretty blurry) before The Low Budgets get absolutely petulant in their posture for the aptly entitled “Wipe My Ass With The World” and cat-calls police officers with “Fat Cop” before widening their criticism for “Beer Belly” and finally wringing all the heart, soul and ska left in them out (sort of – the song sort of splits its time between playing “and” beats and minor chords similar to how The Stooges used to play them) into the instrumental strains of “Clark Park, After Dark.” Now, in ending the side with an instrumental cut [which also happens to be the longest song on the album –ed], listeners would be justified in guessing that The Low Budgets collected every last scrap of music they had left in them and used it to pad the end of Leave Us A Loan‘s running, but that’s not the case. Rather, the discovery that there is a whole other side to play with is thrilling and will have listeners rushing to discover what more the band might have for them on the flip-, and so they’ll continue earnestly.

…And happily, listeners are handsomely rewarded right away when they elect to continue with the B-side of Leave Us A Loan. “Philadelphia” doesn’t open the running with any particularly notable grace (the rhythm section just seems to enjoy playing “and” beats too much, to the point where it hobbles both the tempo and the play, here), but The Low Budgets regain their rhythm as “Signals” proves to be lighter of foot, and the leaner, meaner bass tone which powers “Gaper’s Delay” will really hook listeners and get them chanting all the “Hey”s and “Ho”s along with the band. Later, “Shit!” taps into a perfect street punk sensibility which doesn’t allow anything to hang heavily in its running and piles on the fun vibes for a minute (literally one minute) before chancing upon a well-played, two-minute melodrama which actually sounds like a great, lost old Cure demo called “Breathing Kiel” and then finally closing out the album with the fantastic “Let Go” – which has all the fun it can with grainy, amphetamine-saturated and street-punky speed and vintage punk snot before just crashing to a close. It’s at around the moment the needle lifts from the album that some listeners might realize that they have to remember to breathe, and will gasp, anxiously; after the needle lifts, listeners will realize how far they’ve gone with Leave Us A Loan, and how little time it took to do.

While some critics could easily complain that ending the B-side of Leave Us A Loan exactly the same way that the A-side opened the running self-contains the album and so doesn’t leave any possibility for growth, those of a particular mind will love the album and venerate it for being the gloriously single-minded blast it is; there was a time when punk albums didn’t need to have a focused direction or viewpoint – they just needed to be hard, loud and fast. Leave Us A Loan has all of those things nailed down lightly, and will win any listener who expects/wants that and nothing more. If that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get here. [Bill Adams]


The Low Budgets’ Leave Us A Loan is available as a free download here on the band’s bandcamp page. It is also available as a picture disc reissue. Buy it here at Shopcreep.

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.