Hot off the heels of their self-titled sophomore album release in September, Brooklyn-based punk quartet Bethlehem Steel makes a stop in Santa Fe with support from locals Full Speed Veronica and Ordinary Things.
On their newest, the band continues the same fuzz-pop, garage-punk sound they set forth on their 2017 debut album Party Naked, but with an ultimately darker lyrical tone spawned by singer/guitarist Rebecca Ryskalcyzk's delve into difficult introspection. They're still carrying a bit of a torch for nrrd core acts like Rozwell Kid and Weezer—but we're talking old Weezer, back when they were worth it, and really, it's only in the deceptively complex arrangements of the seemingly bubblegum pop songs that things sound familiar. Ryskalcyzk's voice is sugary sweet and near-perfect, but there's a rawness and bubbling emotionalism just beneath the surface.
The darker viewpoints come in parallel with a new lineup for the band between albums. With Ryskalcyzk and longtime drummer Jonathan Gerhart holding down the fort since 2012, additions like bassist Patrick Ronayne and guitarist Christina Puerto open new sonic and lyric directions, particularly once Puerto joined Ryskalcyzk for songwriting duties.
"A lot it was kind of just processing some painful shit," singer Rebecca Ryskalczyk explains of writing with Puerto. "It was both of our past experiences, through relationships and life, that helped our songwriting and sound."
Then again, Ryskalczyk has never shied from intense lyrics.
"I wish I could fall apart, see how long it takes to get back whole again," she sang on "Alt Shells" from Party Naked. "Maybe you could break my heart, and I won't care."
But we get the feeling she really does care, and with Bethlehem Steel's ever-tightening sound and focused lyricism, the sky's the limit. It's interesting how we keep hearing about the dearth of guitar-driven bands facing the music industry, but bands like this prove it's a genre that probably won't ever go away, we just have to look a little harder to find the straight up gems like Bethlehem Steel.
Bethlehem Steel w/ Full Speed Veronica and Ordinary Things: 8 pm Tuesday Nov. 12. Free. Second Street Brewery (Rufina Taproom), 2920 Rufina St., 954-1068