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Empty Bottles and Liquor'd Spit (Self-released)

For too long now, the "mall" punk aesthetic has reigned over a genre whose very definition rebels against the corporate America that has commercialized it and packaged it for the masses. Not that there aren't some gems that occasionally appear, but punk rock is supposed to be the anthem of disenfranchised American youth. It's a byproduct of isolation and being fed up. Nothing could be more fed up and isolated than four South Florida punks who have had it with the heat and reggaeton.

Five Across the Eyes (or FATE, for the acronymically oriented) hails from Miami; Empty Bottles and Liquor'd Spit (EBALS?) is their second self-funded release. Opening with a wash of Rancid-style chunky/crisp bass lines, four-on-the-floor drums, and guitar-neck thrashings, the band gives a fitting tribute to being raised in the South Florida sun in "Another Round." Lead guitarist Alex blends his vocals with rhythm ax-man Shawn into a full-range assault of Oi! and street punk, replete with gruff, whiskey-soured, close-to-the-edge intonations.

FATE falls between the guitar-driven punk 'n' roll of the Crumbs and Eater, with hints of Boston-beatdown strength. The guts are anchored by an impeccable rhythm section of metronome heaviness. Of the five tracks on this EP, "Quick to Draw" and "Run and Hide" are the most successful, drawing on the band's chemistry and blasting away with Chuck Berry-ish guitar solos instead of typical, "mall punk" breakdowns.

Angst. Energy. Youth. It's all here, tempered with an attitude of performing for performance's sake. FATE is enthusiastic to gig around town to maintain the scene that bred and embraced it. As the sing-along on "Quick to Draw" announces, "My future is unwritten!" Sure, but it's lookin' pretty bright.

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Abel Folgar