cone magazine

Review: New Junk City / Rutterkin Split

“Energized storytelling at its most raucous” 

Album Release Date: March 8, 2024 
Genre: Alternative / Punk

Much like B-sides, split album releases have, for the most part, gone the way of the dodo. After all, in this age of streaming, what are you flipping? Who are you searching for? Despite this, the concept remains as fun as ever: two artists joining forces to give the listener a taste of two distinct worlds with comparable sonic energy. Proving that split projects live on, skate-adjacent label Say-10 Records recently released a punk double-bill from New Junk City and Rutterkin. To say the least, it’s one hell of a fun time.

Taking the catchy angst of early Green Day and adding more intricate emo-styled guitar, Atlanta-based group New Junk City makes the kind of noise that demands to be played in car lots. With three full-length albums in their discography, they’re the more experienced of the two bands, and that expertise shines through on wax. From the opening squeal of “Cleveland,” NJC’s dynamic sound grabs the ear, boosted by the killer opening line, “Half my friends are getting sober. The other half are getting worse.” What better opening gambit from a group of self-confessed “geezers” chasing the punk dream?

The track “Dr. Friedman” sees the group exploring a wide range of themes and subjects, including antidepressants, single life, and crappy jobs, all while delivering head-banging drums worthy of Travis Barker. On the track, they prove somber songs with happy melodies are not just an arena for sad English musicians with big hair. 

The band’s four tracks end on a high with the superb single “Bad Names.” The song’s tale of misspent youth, suicide, and regrets follows in the footsteps of heart-aching pop-punk classics like blink-182’s “Adam’s Song” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” With the track boasting a five-minute runtime, the group creates a world for listeners to inhabit, showcasing their effectiveness as storytellers.

Rutterkin offers a more snarling sound, but it’s just as fun. With moments of erratic guitar shredding that would make J Mascis proud, the Florida rockers similarly elevate the basic punk formula with impressive musicianship. However, when critiquing such aggressive tunes, the important thing is whether you’re throwing the horns and air drumming, and Rutterkin succeeds on both fronts. “Metamorphoses,” in particular, fills your heart with the urge to throw a trash can through a window – it’s also a love song. 

“Roman Catholic Holiday” brightens the mood and is the split’s most upbeat moment, filled with unique hooks and breaks. Similar to NJC, it’s at the finish line that Rutterkin truly shines with the incredibly titled track “Dogspeed You! Black Labrador.” On this track, the band tears it up, bruising bowel-shaking bass tones as needling guitar lines dance around one another to create something explosive. It’s by far the group’s most musically accomplished track, indicating the direction they should take their sound in the future.

At a mere 24-minute runtime, the New Junk City / Rutterkin split release never lulls or outstays its welcome. It’s a perfect tonic for a shitty day and practically begs to be played loudly during a hot evening. If you’re looking for some fresh punk sounds that make you feel like you’re still in your teens, look no further than this split album. It’s a riot in two shades.  

Words by: Sam Walker-Smart
CONE Mag Album Score – 78%
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