Review: Yard Work, Yard Work II: Here Comes the Neighborhood

With a new lead singer, home improvement punks turn everyday experiences into 90-second anthems


With their second, somewhat improbable release, Yard Work evolves into less of a concept band. On 2018 debut Earn the Rock, the quartet – containing members of Nineties Austin punk favorites the Chumps and the Motards – centered 8 of 12 tracks around the theme of home maintenance: cuts like "Ladies Love a Man (Who Loves the Lawnmower)." June's follow-up, titled with an on-brand spin of either a Joe Walsh album or a single from Ice-T's crossover trash-rap band Body Count, distinctly decreases their chance of getting a Harbor Freight sponsorship. Here, only a couple cuts play up suburban sweat equity, though highlight "Crack in the Slab," powered by Toby Marsh's bouncy bassline and unison vocal assist, makes a run as the "best song ever about uneven foundation."

Purveyors of 90-second songs (only one track clocks in at over two minutes), Yard Work specializes in anthemic mid-tempo punk with whopping rhythms and fairly ghostly garage guitar. The sharp, expressive singing of Candi Fox, assuming mic duties following legendary Chumps howler Sean McGowan moving away (hence the album's "somewhat improbable" existence), leans lyrically into little, relatable everyday experiences. "Rolling Trashpit" externalizes fast food, littering, and long drives, while the puzzlingly victorious "Can't Find My Glasses" deemphasizes the importance of said eyewear: "Don't bother to look/ I really only need them when I'm reading a book." HCTN's best moments come when Fox's musings resound existentially and the band's tight song structures cooperate: the workaday life critique of acoustic guitar-braced "How You Set Up the Drawers," and "Floodlights," a commentary on materialism where you amass endless "stuff" but "Haven't got a thing to wear."

***

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Tim Stegall, April 13, 2018

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