Italy isn’t short of great punk rock bands. The Manges have gained a big cult following with their Ramones-obsessed schtick, enough to secure them a US released split with the legendary Queers; Killtime do almost as good a job at being Screeching Weasel than the Weasel themselves; then in addition to those who’ve broken through to the US, there’s a whole scene of hardcore bands… Hailing from Piacenza, The Nuts are another Italian band on which to keep a very close eye. The three piece band are yet another outfit that take four chords and an unhealthy obsession with Joey & Johnny, but like so many others borrowing from such a timeless source, the results are absolutely first rate. On their 2014 EP they capture four lightning bolts of punk guaranteed to please.
The first thing to note is that none of the songs on this release clear two minutes. In fact, The Nuts’ formula for punk recycling is so strict and so tight that three of the numbers clock in at exactly the same length! In doing so, they’ve almost tapped into the timeless and magical punk formula in such a perfect way – there’s a lot that can be put across in precisely one minute and forty six seconds. ‘Because of You’, combines a fast choppy riff with a careening lead guitar sound before bringing in a tough lead vocal given a broader appeal by extensive use of multi-tracking to create a pop sense of harmony, missing from many of the records that acted as a chief influence from these guys. In terms of bubblegum punk rock – equal parts Ramones and The Queers – it hits the button square on. Keeping up the energy though employing a greater sense of melody in the guitar department, ‘Bad Dream’ is another number that in reminiscent of The Queers and the earlier works of Groovie Ghoulies. The harmonies between vocalist/bassist Vale and drummer/vocalist Palmi are very strong and their carefree use of “whoahs” and “oh-oh”s is great enough to take on the (sadly now defunct) Soviettes at their best.
Better yet, ‘Magical Mistery Day’ [sic] stokes up those Soviettes influences to the max, with thrashing guitars colliding face on with two-part harmonies between the vocalists, while also showcasing the band in an even punkier setting – the thrust of the tune dictated by Palmi hammering the hell from her kit. Although clocking in at a slightly longer length, no more should be expected from ‘Mental Case’. Knowing their style totally works, this number brings more of the same – perhaps with a bigger nod to The Manges (a band with whom they’ve shared a stage). A catchy melodic hook is on hand to reel you in if the riff doesn’t grab you instantly, while a slightly greater spatial awareness allows Vale’s bass more room to explore, a quick guitar-free bar midway exposing a superb approach to the instrument.
All four songs have so much to give in terms of classic punk-pop sounds, even Vale’s accented delivery gives The Nuts a pleasingly distinctive edge. You’ve heard it all done a thousand times, but with such brilliance captured in such a tight and streamlined manner, these guys give a perfect reason to indulge in this brand of punk yet again. If you’re interested in any of the many, many bands using the Ramones’ ‘Leave Home’ as their ultimate musical goal, then The Nuts are guaranteed to appeal in a very big way.