I’m honored that Danny Rockett (aka Son Ranto) has asked me to review his latest album, “Out of Left Field.” I guess that means I did a decent job when I critiqued his first long player. And heck, you won’t find album reviews on any of our competitor’s blogs!
If you’re not aware, Rockett and our old pal Bleacher Jeff are the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Bleacher Bum Band. They bring a Rolling Stones-like energy to their recordings with a punk/speed metal hybrid for the most part. You can’t pigeonhole the band to one genre, however. “Out of Left Field” is an eclectic mix of Cubs-themed bangers that will please fans of almost any musical flavor. In fact, here’s how I described the band in my last review:
“Take the best parts of They Might Be Giants and Ween, mix in a heaping cup of Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead, a teaspoon or two of Green Day, and equal dashes of David Byrne and Jack Rabbit Slim. As for lead vocalist Rockett, he fits squarely in a range that starts with Mike McColgan of Dropkick Murphys and ends with Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.”
They’re a little tighter and more polished the second time around. If you grew up listening to Chicago’s LOOP-FM 97.9 back in the 1990s you’ll definitely feel a Jonathan Brandmeier vibe. That’s a good thing, trust me. I attended a sold-out Brandmeier show at Poplar Creek back in 1991 and it was a three-hour party. I don’t think the Bleacher Bum Band will reach that type of notoriety, but the quality of the music is just as good. Besides, it’s all about just havin’ fun, something we all need as Cub fans these days.
Some of the songs on this album are real singalongs. Rockett can master a hook when he wants to, and I prefer the more upbeat songs like “We Are the Cubs” and “Old Style.”
I’d like to see Danny write a song about David Ross and his puzzling lineups, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with if the Cubs sign Shohei Ohtani (or if they do not). That’s probably going to be part of this year’s caroling effort in Wrigleyville.
I love that the band provided all the material I needed to properly review his music, including a very professional press kit. Here’s their marketing pitch, and I hope when they drop number three they’ll consider me to write the liner notes.
“A 9-inning rock set made by Cubs fans for Cubs fans, to be released Worldwide on June 17, 2023. Celebrate the passion of life in the bleachers while lamenting the [team’s]’ legendary historical heartbreaks. ‘Out of Left Field’ is an energetic and eclectic mix that will musically transport you back to Wrigley Field.”
Fair assessment, but you’ll need the review, too. That’s my job.
- We Are the Cubs – A genuine feel-good singalong that is infectious from its opening chords. The band chose the perfect song to kick off the album and someone would send it to Marquee.
- Hug Watch – The band goes back-to-back with spot-on harmonies, and I love the grungey guitar hooks by Bleacher Jeff, especially on the bridge, where Jeff shreds. The lyrics tend to get a little repetitive, but the guitar is the star here anyway. I do like the way the song closes, and this one definitely needs a video.
- Old Style – When I heard the opening I immediately thought of three television shows: Friends, Beverly Hills 90210, and That ’90s Show. That said, Old Style could never have come up with a better jingle from their Wacker Drive advertising suits back in the last decade of the last millennium. Fans of Green Day and Better Than Ezra will love this song, and yes, it’s okay to chug a few while listening.
- Blue Friday – Speaking of drinking, a nod to Rockett and Co. for excellent sequencing here. “Blue Friday” is a rock and blues song that provides a little hint of Kenny Wayne Shepherd and a whole lotta misery. As Rockett sings, “There’s no baseball in October, and I blame the owner.” Keep those frosty mugs filled with your favorite ice-cold beverage while we sit on the outside looking in during the 2023 postseason.
- Ballad of Poncho Boy – Last season, Poncho Boy “stole” Bleacher Jeff’s seat and though there aren’t any reserved seats in the bleachers during the regular season, Jeff is a fixture. He even gets a wave from Ian Happ before each game. Poncho Boy sat in the rain just so he wouldn’t lose his stolen seat to its rightful owner. Now he’s famous, but how the heck did he avoid going to the bathroom? It’s not one of the best songs on this album, but it sure is a fun tale.
- Cubs of ’69 – A tribute to the best second-place team of all time, with nods to Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Ken Holtzman. The song starts off a little overstuffed lyrically, but it’s quite a ditty once the band starts rocking. The song has a Great Flogging Molly vibe, by the way.
- Steve Garvey’s Hairy Arms – We all hate Steve Garvey, and now he’s considering a run for Congress as a member of the GOP. But that pales in comparison to the 1984 playoffs when Steve “Fucking” Garvey singlehandedly brought the Padres back from a 2-0 deficit in the NLCS. I believe the ’84 team was much better than the 2016 World Series winners, but fate had another idea. The song provides plenty of painful memories, but Bleacher Jeff is straight fire, once again.
- Damn Steve Bartman – Are we really going back-to-back with devastating NLCS losses? I love the speed metal here, though, and it kind of reminds me of “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” by Ministry. Maybe Rockett and his bandmates can replace those awful cup snakes with a left-field mosh pit and some body surfing. I love Rockett’s vocals here, but how does he keep up? A stone groove. See what I did there?
- Steve Stoned – This song is a great way to bookend the album. It’s a little shoegazey and psychedelic, which appeals to my personal music tastes. Think My Bloody Valentine meets Silversun Pickups. I love the heavy drums, too, and though I’m not sure who’s singing backup, the echo effect is mesmerizing. The entire song is addicting, right up to its incendiary bridge and coda.
Bleacher Bum Band’s Starting Lineup
Danny Rockett – Music/Lyrics, Vocals, Guitar, Percussion: Danny has performed on stages from Broadway to dive bars, fronting rock bands God the Band and Bad Teenage Moustache and composing for theater, commercials, and film.
Bleacher Jeff – Guitar, Vocals: A Left Field Bleacher legend and musician, Jeff has appeared as a guitarist and vocalist in numerous bands and is mentioned regularly on the Cubs broadcast.
Jarrett Gable – Bass, Vocals: Jarrett is a new father who has rocked the bass in bands for decades and has been palling around with Danny Rockett at Cubs games since the 80s.
Darko Kurjak – Drums: Drummer for the well-known Serbian rock band Partibrejkers, Darko recorded drums for “Out of Left Field” remotely after the band’s old drummer Mike Southside quit. He also plays on BBB’s first self-titled album “Bleacher Bum Band”
Tony Rossi – BBB’s new drummer: Tony doesn’t play on this album but he is an incredible musician and will be performing live with the band all summer long.
- Where to Buy: The Son Ranto website, which is a great way to support the band, by the way. Danny has plenty of merch and swag available for purchase, too.
- Where to Listen: The whole LP is not streaming anywhere just yet, so jump the line and purchase the download. You can stream or buy “Ballad of Poncho Boy” as a single at Bandcamp.