ULTRA: Bay Area Babylon: CS

Ultra is that underpriced tin of Aldi coffee; so good you need to know—were the beans handsome? How long has the bean tree been spillin’ these goods? Is this a Pepsi? But no info appears on the can because Aldi doesn’t care. It’s Aldi. Get your cheap yum yums and your full body pillow on sale and get outta here. That’s Ultra, too. All I know is they hail from Oakland, and track number three on the Bay Area Babylon cassette, “Perpetual Violence,” starts with thrashy clatter and gives way to a rousing one-time chorus—”Architects in a game / puppeteers they got names”—that rinses away tough grime and yields catchy punk gold that Raygun would travel back in time to steal. What else to say? They’ve got a song about boozing in ancient Sumer, a song with a goofball hallelujah, too—”Take me to church / make it hurt.” The singer sounds like an angry Pee Wee Herman in the best way. Tasty bass lines thwump around under all-business guitar. Too slurmy to be pop, too catchy to be hardcore. Who are you Ultra, my rock’n’roll mystery baby? I wanna get to know you. There are only a hundred of these cassette pups out there. Goin’ get. 

 –Jim Joyce (Self-released, [email protected], livelifeultra.bandcamp.com)