The Grandest Slams
(Hidden Home Records)
While most would consider sports fan-ship to be accessible and mainstream, punk rock is largely accepted as an alternative and underground hobby, often still finding it’s home in basements and small venues. Typically the cultures of both groups have their own lingo, wardrobe, and social practices that don’t mingle well with each other, and historically speaking, “punks” and “jocks” didn’t get along. However, within the last couple of years, it’s common and familiar to see people wearing hockey jerseys standing among people wearing bullet belts at the same shows. Googling “sports-themed punk band” yields plenty of results and there’s a growing trend of these sorts of bands popping up all over the world.
The Urban Outfielders are a baseball-themed punk rock band from Boise, ID and they marry the two cultures of sports and punk rock in such a way that’s both classic and contemporary. While the punk, baseball-themed band the Isotopes out of Canada have already laid claim to being the “original baseball punx,” the Urban Outfielders are coming out swinging (get it?) on The Grandest Slams, their debut full-length release. Prior to this, the band dropped a tiny EP called Double Play in 2015, featuring the tracks “You’re a Home Run, Baby” and “3 Strikes You’re Out,” both of which are also on this debut.
The Grandest Slams starts off with “3 Strikes” which writes off a love interest who made the mistake of rooting for the NY Yankees, among other things. It’s a fun opener and really sets the tone of the rest of the release, packed with gang vocals and an old-school instrumentation that’s reminiscent of the Ramones. Moving on to “Batting 1K” is a different experience. This track is much more fluid and pop-punk and just as enjoyable to listen to. While it strays a bit from the overall niche-y theme of the record, it gives listeners a small taste of what this band sounds like in the practice studio (with an educational guess).
“Pedro” is one of the best tracks on this release. It’s so uplifting and the chorus brings it all together in the most perfect way. The melody is super catchy and it’s easy to get it stuck in your head. Listeners will most likely put this song on repeat and really enjoy it for a while before moving on to the rest of the album. “The Big Wind Up” is another one of those tracks that will definitely get stuck in your brain and refuse to leave for several hours. It takes its influence from classic Ramones tracks (and sounds just a bit like “Rockaway Beach” if you squint).
Another wonderful track on this release is “Centerfield” which has a chorus that will have you singing along without even thinking about it. “Put me in coach! / I’m ready to play! / Today!…” Hopefully this track is a staple in the Urban Outfielders’ set list, since it had me bouncing around in my bedroom alone.
“Underneath the Stadium Lights” is a cute little punk rock ballad. It combines doo wop and heavy grungy guitars to make for a very laid back and romantic song. It’s also the longest track on the album, clocking in at almost four minutes. However, it never feels dragged out or repetitive, as the intricate guitar work keeps it entertaining from start to finish. “Grand Slam” is fun and poppy, and would be another track that should be on the set list if it isn’t already. The gang vocals and simple lyrics make for a song that would do absolutely wonderful live, begging for a big sing-a-long for crowds.
The last track on The Grandest Slams is “I Wanna Be Traded” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Picture “I Wanna Be Sedated” but all the lyrics have been changed to fit this new title. It’s as silly as you would picture it, but it’s well deserving of a listen just purely for what it is.
Overall, Urban Outfielders have knocked it out of the park with this album. From start to finish the band has completed something that’s equally fun and well done in a way that isn’t cheesy. They’ve managed to pull off exactly what they intended to and still make it entertaining and interesting to listen to. Home run!