Review: Bobby Mahoney – Another Deadbeat Summer (2024 LP)

New Jersey, probably unfairly, isn’t usually a name that immediately leaps out as a well-known producer of musical superstars. Yet the roster of huge hitmakers emerging from the garden state, from Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, suggests there is certainly something in the waters of the Jersey Shore.

Baptized in that water and standing on the shoulders of giants, Jersey natives Bobby Mahoney follow the release of singles “Empty Passenger Seats” and “We Go On“, with album Another Deadbeat Summer, out now through Wicked Cool Records. Several years in the making, the album is a testament to the power of no-frills rock and roll, built on the time honoured tradition of belted chorus lines and growling guitars. With fast hitting garage rock stylings and infectious sing-alongs, Another Deadbeat Summer proves to be full of the songs my playlist was sorely missing.

Album opener “Shot In the Dark” wastes no time getting straight to its point. With crisp, crunching overdriven guitars and a thumping rhythm section, the tune builds itself into a rousing crescendo. Serving as an up beat opener, “Shot In the Dark” sets the tone for what Another Deadbeat Summer is all about – no nonsense rock and roll, hooky songwriting and good old drums, bass, and guitar at full tilt.

Balancing moments of levity with full blown audio assaults the second track “Moth to the Flame” carries a lighter touch. A catchy, almost mandolin styled electric guitar riff is an effective earworm with E-Street influence. The song muses on inevitable desires serving as a metaphor for what I assume is the biographical experience of gigging life in lines like “climbing into bed at 6am, insanity tells me to do it all again, like a moth to the flame“.  With some hometown references (“Brooklyn to Brunswick, I can do it in my sleep“) and another catchy, well written chorus the two openers are a solid one-two punch combo.

“Nothing for Nothing” will arguably land a podium finish for most spins from me, packing in an unbelievably catchy hook with bitter wisdom delivered in under 2:46. Opening lyrics “you get nothing for nothing, and nothing ain’t cheap, you pay for the longing, but the hurting comes free” set the tone, leading to the ridiculously catchy pop-rock sensibilities of the chorus lines “Hi, bye, whatever you’d like, when it all falls apart what’ll be on your mind…“. Passing the campfire test, the midpoint brings everything down to just an acoustic guitar and lead singer Bobby Mahoney’s softly delivered vocals. Building back into the rousing finale with a signature wall of sound, I may have played this one a few more times before moving on.

“Take What You Can Get” is another fast paced punk tune that succeeds on its team effort. Opening with a pulsing kick drum courtesy of drummer James McIntosh, some sweet harmonics and solos from guitarist Andrew Saul, well placed sliding bass lines from Jon Chang-Soon and the rapturous sha-la-la’s from Mahoney himself, this one earns each member a gold star. A sardonic and tongue in cheek title, “Take What You Can Get” is a blue collar anthem and ode to our day to day addictions. Traversing lines about the nine to five production line and crawling deep into the top shelf, the song is summed up in the line “everyone needs a fix, everyone is a bitch for something, coffee, booze and nicotine“.

“No Amens In This Van (Miami 2019)” is both a reference to Billy Joel’s “Miami 2017” and the age old issue of unreliable band vans and their habit of breaking down. Built on a true story that stranded the band on the Palmetto Expressway in Miami, Florida, the song was written in a Miami hotel while the van was being fixed. On the face of it, it’s about a van. Beneath the surface however it’s really a song about friendship, bonds built through levity in hard times and what it means to stick together.

“Lay It On Me” is a surprising but welcome shift in tone, vibe and presentation. A stripped back and tender tune, this one shows off the versatility of the bands playing and songwriting. The mixture of heart felt expression in the chorus has a nice juxtaposition to the sarcasm in lines like “will we find redemption? Tune in next week” putting this one high on my list of favorites.  A beautifully written and performed song coming at the halfway point, this one gets extra points for a ripping guitar solo that fades the song to its conclusion.

Next up is title track “Another Deadbeat Summer”It’s difficult not to make comparisons to Springsteen/E-Street here with the big band stylings. Equipped with pianos and saxophones like a raspy off shoot of “Born To Run”, the palpable angst about a dead end town shares some similarities but maintains it’s own brand of punky overtones to ensure that it’s inspired, but original. Offering some divergence from the album’s sound with some fun interplay between the guitars and the sax, “Another Deadbeat Summer” is a super fun track that fairly earns it’s title track credits.

“Empty Passenger Seats” keeps its finger on the pulse with a rip-roaring follow up about the jubilation, trials and tribulations of long haul driving as a band and dreaming of bigger things. The song is best examined through the lines “Staring at the dashboard after driving you home, a painful sort of release with nothing next to me” and “We were driving straight from Richmond through the middle of the night, chasing the sun, dreaming of a sign of life beyond the Turnpike“. An ode to the dreams, the excitement of post gig highs and the long drives back home, this one is carried by heavier punk undercurrents with excellently delivered, shouted chorus lines. Having been stuck in my head since the single release, it goes without saying this one comes highly recommended.

“Called It Quits” and “Lorraine” follow suit, with astute songwriting complimented by tight musicianship. The latter examines a love gone bad with some fun musical Easter eggs, with album references from Ryan Adams to the Rolling Stones.

Fun stand-out “Roaring Twenties” follows. With a stripped back introduction, there is a nice touch of songwriting class on display here. The build up pushes the sing along vibes making lines like “here’s to the future, here’s to last ditch dreams and here to you, baby and the roaring twenties” push into territory that feels utterly necessary to be shouted back.

“We Go On” is the second single and my personal favourite from the album. The song is the genre at its simple, head-banging, pub choir best. Turning the Gibson SG up to 11 the band deliver a hooky, endlessly catch tune that burrows into your brain and refuses to leave. Musing on life, death and creating immortality out of the good we do with the time we have, “We Go On” is the album’s absolute stand-out.

Final tune “Black and Milds”, rounding out the album on a softer note. Wading in melancholy, the song cruises and croons its way to the album’s emphatic full stop.

With a dose of punk tinged old-school rock n roll, Bobby Mahoney offer well written songs, delivered with the attitude of a Springsteen album sang by Joey Ramone, and while you might find this one in the Alt-Rock section of your local record store or Spotify recap, it offers much more than what’s on the tin. With a touch of punkish garage rock pumping in its veins Another Deadbeat Summer delivers several tunes designed to be sung in chorus with your pals, side by side in the front row.

But, of course, if overdriven guitars. thumping drums and punk driven, shouted chorus lines aren’t your thing then buyer beware. At the end of the day, Another Deadbeat Summer is just straight up and down alt-rock polished by influences like Frank Turner, Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem and much more. Doing away with any pretext of long frolicking prog introductions, pseudo intellectual wankery or over philosophizing, Bobby Mahoney are best described by the final line of “Rock and Roll Star” by Oasis: “it’s just rock and roll”.


Another Deadbeat Summer is out now. Grab it HERE