The GC5 – Never Bet the Devil Your Head

The GC5
Never Bet the Devil Your Head

If you’re fed up with the turn punk has recently taken down the poppy, pretty boy road then this is the record for you. Cleveland’s resident raucous punk rawkers, the GC5, bring an old-school punk ethic to their music that respectfully recalls the past and pays its dues to punk rock history while still having a distinctly modern appeal. The band’s name is a pun on pioneering Detroit rockers, The MC5, but their music most reflects the modern working-class punk band ethos and belief system such as workers rights and anti-corporate left-sided politics. Whatever the mix for the vitriol, the boys in GC5 pack some serious punk rock heat.
The band is made up of Doug McKean (vox/bass), brother Dave McKean (drums), and Paulie Weaver/Pete Kyrou (guitars/backing vox). McKean has a penchant for spirited, “Irish” sounding working-class punk-rock songs. You can hear the streets, the pubs, and the Guinness in his scratchy vocals (even though the band’s average age is barely 20). But as rousing as the songs are, they still have catchy edges and sing-a-long choruses. Pump your fist, stomp around, and sing along with my favorite song on this record, “Breakin Down.” Most of the songs are up tempo and rocking, but there are slower ballads like “Lies & Prophecies” and “When All Else Fails.” But it has to be said that basically every song on here can be called a ballad, no matter what the tempo of the song as McKean’s earnest narratives remind me of Social Distortion’s Mike Ness.
Production on this album was handled by Ryan Foltz of the Dropkick Murphys. His touch definitely gives the GC5 a good touch of the Murphys’ signature sound but without the traditional Irish folk elements that makes the Murphys a band close to this reviewer’s green Irish heart. It’s fairly obvious through listening to this record that these guys put on a rollickin’ and energetic show. After releasing their debut full-length, Kisses From Hanoi, in 2000, the band played over 250 shows in support of that record sharing the stages with such punk stalwarts as the Bouncing Souls, the Swingin Utters, and the Dropkick Murphys. So chalk up some genuine road experience as a reason why the GC5 bring such a grizzled, street-smart sound.
This type of punk rock is one that never gets old. If it’s done right, it’s inspiring and uplifting but also something you can cry in your beer to. This stuff does nothing but get my ass up and moving and pumping my fist (use your imagination at home, kids). The GC5 do old style punk rock up right; the sound is hard and earnest, yet catchy enough to be stuck in your head all day. No doubt about it, the GC5 rock!