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Melbourne’s The Gun Runners have been chiseling away the last few years and have managed to score support slots for the likes of Bad Religion, NOFX, Strung Out, No Use For A Name and Crime In Stereo among many others. The band entered the studio with Sam Johnston in late 2009 to record what would become their debut album “A Few Friends”.
The opening track “Seconds Away” showcases the band’s melodic punk leanings, showing off the vocal dynamics between the band’s main vocalist Nick and the others, backed by the driven drums and thundering guitars. The track contains one of the catchiest choruses on the album. “Minimum Wage” is more upbeat than the song before it, with the band’s guitarist Jules handling most the vocal duties. Jules’ vocals aren’t as strong as the others, which is saved by Nick chipping in with some backing vocals during the chorus. The song contains quite a nice lead part towards the end, ending the song in a pleasant fashion.
The album’s best song “Jack=Better Than You” sounds like it could’ve featured on a Mid Youth Crisis album. If the band can keep writing songs of this standard, the sky is the limit for them. The song highlights the band’s technical riffing, as well as Nick’s catchy vocal melodies. The album’s title track “A Few Friends” also featured on the band’s demo, but the version of the song on the album is on another level. The song sounds so much better, as it should. The aptly titled “Party Hard, Hard Party” is sure to become a party anthem when the band plays it live. The line “we drank all the beer and smoked all the cloves” is something that I can imagine the band and the patrons being involved in quite regularly. The song features the band’s bass player Cam taking over the vocal duties for the first time on the album.
“Forcefield” could have almost been considered as a ballad when you listen to the first 20 seconds of the song. The song then kicks in, in a similar fashion to the songs before it. I would definitely head bang to the fast riff towards the end of the song. “Hangover Junkie” features Cam taking over the vocal duties once again, he doesn’t have the strongest voice ever either, but it works well for this song. The track’s chorus is probably the simplest chorus on the album, but it is also up there with the catchiest. The next track “Sniztel With Salad Gravy” is the fastest song on the record, with the intro sounding like it could have appeared on a Bane record. “Our Way” is another song re-recorded from the band’s demo and features some solid gang vocals during the song’s chorus and lyrically talks about living your life the way you want to live it.
The cleverly titled “Nesquick Defers Uni” puts the band’s own unique twist on the classic Descendents record “Milo Goes to College” but don’t let the name fool you, the song sounds nothing like the aforementioned band. The songs chorus is the closest thing to a standard pop punk song on the record. “1981” is also re-recorded from the band’s demo and is another great example of the band’s ability to craft interesting punk songs with catchy vocal lines and better than average guitar riffs. The following track “What To Say” keeps the train rolling with another super catchy chorus delivered by the band’s vocalist Nick. “Van Of Courage” tells the story of the band’s passion to get our there and play their music, and is one of the more straightforward, melodic songs on the record. The album’s closing track “Traffic Gun” is the longest track on the album, but ends the album perfectly. The song basically sums up the album and pinpoints the band’s best features throughout the album.
My only criticism with the album is some of the vocals. The band’s main vocalist Nick has the best voice by a country mile, and I feel the songs would benefit from him doing majority of the vocals. There are a few cracking songs on this album, and with it only being their debut release, once the band has some time to grow I can see them being a force to be reckoned with within the Australian punk rock scene.
“A Few Friends” is a release The Gun Runners can be proud of, one that should start turning a few heads. The band has earned a solid reputation of putting on great live performances, so if you get the chance to check them out, definitely do it.
1. Seconds Away
2. Minimum Wage
3. Jack = Better Than You
4. A Few Friends
5. Party Hard, Hard Party
7. Hangover Junkie
8. Sniztel With Salad Gravy
9. Our Way
10. Nesquick Defers Uni
12. What To Say
13. Van Of Courage
14. Traffic Gun