North Side Kings

Organizing Our Neighborhood
(Thorp Records)

If there weren't asshole junkies and layabouts, Danny Marianino and company would have precious little to go on a tirade about. Lucky for us, there seems to be no end to the supply of good-for-nothings hanging around the social hall. This third effort goes further out than the band's last release, A Family Affair, in proving that beneath the hardscrabble exteriors of North Side Kings beat the hearts of civic-minded good egg citizens, even if the NSK notion of organizing the neighborhood often involves rearranging someone's face. ("If you spit on my street, it's safer to move.")

This time out, though, they've ditched the Mafioso affiliations that may have been a shrewd marketing ploy in view of The Sopranos' pop culture supremacy, but sometimes blurred the line between Italian pride and racism. Here, Marianino settles that mistaken score with his equal-opportunity-to-pummel block watch group ("We got a crew of 30 niggas that will settle the score") and an almost utopian worldview ("The only way to be in perfect harmony is to smash a brick in the face of your enemies"). While there's no softening of the band's musical approach, the cleaner mix and more streamlined guitar attack here allow some of Marianino's funnier beefs to leap out above the din. Notwithstanding a cover of Social Distortion's "Down on the World," the North Side Kings sound optimistic, upbeat and damned near accessible to the Joe Schmoes who are too scared to stand near a mosh pit. But don't take stay-at-home critics' word for it. The guys in the band'll tell you themselves: "North Side Kings are undefeated, lowlife!"

 
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