“You fight with your fists, you kiss with your lips, and you dance with your hips.” The Austin-based band the Act Rights’ soul-punk is reputed to make their audiences do all three. Their new Tonequake Records release, Sweat Equity, is believed to truly capture the band’s “artistic prowess and no-holds-barred approach to music”. The Act Rights are: Colton R. May (guitar and vocals), Ajit Tim D’ Brass (guitar and vocals), Charlie Cruz (bass and backing vocals) and Will Wolfe (drums and percussion).
The album opens on “Mind Train”. It’s an apropos intro to what the fearless foursome does and yet it barely scratches the surface of their signature sound. It is clear that their dive-bar beginnings are clearly still a part of their performances in the studio and no doubt at live venues as well.
It’s quickly followed by “Praying Mantis”. This one, like all the other songs on the new CD, was written by (or at least credited to) the entire band. Their brand of music often contains the teeth-gritting energy of punk, the freedom of new wave and the joy of rock and roll.
The next number is titled “Opossum’s Head”. There is a freshness to their music that belies their youth as a group. The quartet has only been active since 2010 after all. This particular piece even appears to easily blend a bit of garage and even psychedelic music into the mix.
“David Duncan 5021”
“David Duncan 5021” follows perhaps a bit too quickly here but then again it might be part of the band’s “hit-and-run” modus operandi. With a running time of a bit over two and a quarter minutes it doesn’t really matter as the boys are already quickly moving on to another tune.
“East India Rush”
Rush they do, indeed, right into the song “East India Rush”. This one rocks even if the title—much like several others—might confuse the listener. Perhaps it’s an inside joke referencing something personal or maybe it’s simply what is expected of them. Either way, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the ride.
“Jamestown Jheri Curl”
The sixth selection is “Jamestown Jheri Curl”. If you haven’t realized it yet, the Act Rights are putting all their efforts into drawing you into their universe whether you really want to go or not. This one has got to be specifically written for a club full of rowdy drinking twenty-somethings looking for a good time as it smacks of potential group participation.
“Heavy Boys” is the next song up on this oft’times peculiar playlist. This torrid track is a bit brassy and even elementally jazzy. Yes, if you haven’t figured it out yet, boys and girls, as the sing s states–they do what they want and are especially proud of it.
“Hot Date” is up next on the disc. This is yet another track on which some listeners may feel either energized by the band’s often adrenalin-charged performances or alienated by their characteristically unbridled efforts. By now it should be painfully obvious that the band aims to make you feel something.
Is “Sausage Mountain” anywhere near Candy Mountain? Who knows? It’s uncertain where exactly the place is but it is the movement that counts and not the direction when it comes to this band of bawdy boys. It’s yet another example of exactly what the group can do in the studio.
“Water Safari” is the closing cut. It’s an apt end-note to this album in that it’s yet one more example of the sweat these guys put out just to make their music work. They write and no doubt play live specifically to grab the complete attention of all their listeners.
They might be perfect for some and an acquired taste to others. It makes no difference. They will drag you kicking and screaming if they must into their musical inner circle. Simply put, The Act Rights are (ahem) “Heavy, Boys” and girls.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.