With creative titles indicative of its stream-of-consciousness themes, So-Cal based DIY punk rock band, Nate Funk, has created a series of pop punk anthems for today’s version of tour life. These tracks make up Thoughts on the Road, their latest release.
Nate Funk began as an acoustic solo project, but quickly transformed into a band after the solo recordings of Nate. “As a DIY recording experiment, Nate Phung recorded the full length, Growing Up is Dumb by himself in 2018. Satisfaction with the ability to put music out immediately brought a second full-band release, an EP titled Thoughts On the Road in 2019.” Bassist Logan Barton and drummer Justyn Snowden signed on as band members, “and the current iteration of Nate Funk and the Phunky Bunch was born.”
“I Left My Heart in Ogden” is the first track of their 2019 release, Thoughts on the Road. With serious pop punk vibes akin to classics like Blink-182 and 7 Minutes in Heaven, this track is perfect for die-hard punk fans. The instrumentals are well-balanced and the parts link together nicely to form coherent, catchy rhythms that shift throughout the song to keep things interesting. While the bass isn’t easy to pick out in this one, the guitar lines are at a good level, particularly when they are isolated with the vocals. The drum parts are simple, but effective at driving the song forward, particularly through transitions such as that when Nate sings, “I think I love you / But I waited at your work / They said that you had clocked off two hours long ago / I sat outside and cried / called a million times / To see what was up with you.” “I Left My Heart in Ogden” takes classic pop punk themes—musical and lyrical—and creates a sense of comfortable nostalgia that will reel in fans of the genre.
“Fuck Off, Portland, Let Me Pump My Own Gas” is one of the stand-outs of the record thanks to its shouting choruses and energetic instrumentals. The track addresses the hard life of touring and “the punk rock life.” Relatable for fellow musicians, the song also serves to give fans an insight into the side of touring that they might not always see behind the glamour. Although the track is only two minutes long, it packs a lot into its lyrics and crashing, rolling instrumentals. Nate leaves nothing to the imagination, baring it all in the lyrics: “Another night, another show/ In a town I’ve never been before / I play another punk rock set / Day drinking makes me feel regret / Today I’m off to Portland / Zooming down I-84 / What the fuck was I ever thinking….” Despite the cheeky, almost tongue-in-cheek title of the track, its lyrics are straightforward and provide a refreshingly honest take on the music industry.
In terms of its instrumentals, the bass is much more prevalent in “Fuck Off Portland, Let Me Pump My Own Gas,” which I appreciate as a bassist. Still, the mix is impressive for a DIY project, with every instrument allowed to play its part. Despite the relatively small lineup (three!), the tracks all feel full, especially this one.
“I Didn’t Earn Enough Punk Rock Points For This Tour” provides surprising ska elements to the album that are easy to appreciate. Although the track differs in musical aesthetics, its overall vibe suits the rest of the record in terms of energy and aggression. Nate’s fantastic phrasing is one of elements that stands out: A goofy tone and staccato notes combine with jumpy instrumentals, the spaces in each rhythm working just as hard as the notes themselves to create a complete track. I would love to see more songs in this genre from Nate Funk: While they are clearly talented in all areas, they truly stand out in “I Didn’t Earn Enough Punk Rock Points For This Tour,” making it my ultimate favorite track of the album.
“The Worst Thing” is the final track of Thoughts on the Road, but not my favorite. After the energy and sheer force behind “I Didn’t Earn Enough Punk Rock Points For This Tour,” this track hits a little too soft for my liking. In terms of vocals, Nate was much stronger in the previous tracks: At points, the vocals get a bit strained and pitchy, possibly due to awkward phrasing or compensation for the instrumentals, which don’t feel as full as in the other tracks. A stronger bassline in the mix could remedy this, as could adjusting the speed energy of the song to make it harder-hitting, or even lighter. While “The Worst Thing” isn’t my favorite of the album, it does hold potential in terms of lyrics: “The worst thing you could do is tell someone you love them / When you don’t.” While this could definitely be cut down to sound a bit less awkward, the meaning of the track does hold that hard-hitting element that makes a solid punk track.
Nate Funk is currently writing new music “with the intentions of recording a full-length to release at the beginning of next year.” Stay tuned for updates!
***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post.***