Bayou City

The Cops Drop Their Arresting Punk On First Offense

The Cops will ticket you with crazed punk rock.
The Cops will ticket you with crazed punk rock. Photo by Violetta Alverez
If you're making punk music today, you could easily blend in with the youths that are dropping pretty consistently at any given time. If you're a band that wears outfits, the same could be said. When I first heard Houston's The Cops, I was pretty shocked that a band that dressed up, a band that felt pretty tongue-in-cheek, and a band that seemed to be in it for the joke of it all actually played good music. The role of bands that dress in costume is that they'll usually sound terrible or in the least, be a surface level sounding band. That's not the case here, as The Cops bring blistering punk with themes from a cop's point of view to each and every track of their debut full-length First Offense.

Opening with "Downtown," the band quickly hops to it with speedy, old-school punk that reminds you of the fevered pace that The Jam used to employ into their brand of punk. Plenty of gnarled edges like good punk should have, the song opens things up nicely to how the band makes music. This is followed by the intense sounds of "Homicide," which is fast and furious and makes for the first stand out track of the album. There's no weakness found here as the song's stride doesn't slow, the drums are snappy, and the guitar is in your ears while the vocals are in your face.

click to enlarge "First Offense" from The Cops offers plenty of blistering punk songs. - ARTWORK COURTESY OF ARTIFICIAL HEAD RECORDS
"First Offense" from The Cops offers plenty of blistering punk songs.
Artwork courtesy of Artificial Head Records
The same could be said about "Hot Pursuit," the third track, though it's the fourth song "Life on the Beat" that really opens the doors to how diverse these guys are. Sure, it's punk rock, but it's far from boring with a guitar that snarls in the opening before the second guitar cuts through like a crazed knife-wielding madman through a crowd of tourists at a theme park. This pace of speedy songs keeps up on "Night Stick," where it feels like the band isn't going to let up, like a fight between two strangers fighting over a found dollar bill. They keep this up two songs later on "Police Brutality," where the way the song is recorded feels like the band is playing on stolen gear.

A couple of songs later, they mix things up and change from the street fight sound and get a bit more sing-song on "Repeat Offender." The song isn't a large turn, but it's not as quick and insane sounding as some of the previous tracks, keeping a more melodic sound and adding to what these five do together as a band. This carries over into another standout, "Riot Tonight," where more of that old-school punk sound echoes from underneath in a way that's closer to the works of Swingin' Utters or U.K. Subs. They close things off with the more melodic sounds of "Street Hooker Love," where backing vocals and a slower stride make the song one you can't forget after one listen.

The end result is an album full of fast and furious punk that just happens to come from guys who dress up like police officers. In eleven songs these guys go from street punk to old-school punk with ease, and should make you think of them more as a legit punk band and less as one who wears costumes. You can stream the album in all of the usual places when it's released this Friday.

You can grab a vinyl version of the record at the band's album release party at Insomnia Gallery on February 16. The all ages show will have a support set from Houston's DaggerHead as well. Doors at 8 p.m.; Free.
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David Garrick is a former contributor to the Houston Press. His articles focus primarily on Houston music and Houston music events.