Song of the Day: Redd Kross “Stay Away From Downtown”

jubilant power-pop played with white-hot energy

Back with a new album after an extended (15 years!) recording hiatus, LA-based punk-pop band Redd Kross have made a triumphant return to form with Researching the Blues (written and recorded in 2007, but only released last August), their finest and most rocking work since 1987’s shoulda-been-a-massive-breakthrough, the essential and influential Neurotica. Satisfying long-time devoted fans and undoubtedly gaining more than a few new ones in the process, Researching the Blues is a collection of “10 brand-new songs scientifically engineered to make anyone happy!” Lead single “Stay Away From Downtown” is an instant classic, loaded with jubilant power-pop hooks and played with white-hot energy.

35 years into their careers, brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald (along with guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald this time around) lay absolute waste to the ageist notion that rock’n’roll is a young man’s game. Researching the Blues is at its heart a traditionalist power-pop record, but sometimes the best art comes from knowing the rules and exactly how to bend them to your will.

Redd Kross have always worn their various pop culture influences (Kiss, Cheap Trick, The Beatles, The Partridge Family, etc.) on their sleeves with humor and wide-eyed enthusiasm, so it should come as no surprise that the promo clip for “Stay Away From Downtown” finds them in low-rent Kiss/Kabuki make-up and gold & silver leather jackets, hamming it up in front of a green screen.

With three long-time devoted friends at my side, I recently (and finally!) paid witness to the sweet-hot atomic fireball that is a live Redd Kross show. Bassist Steve McDonald declared, “We are Redd Kross, everybody freak out!” And we did.

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