Urban Outfielders: Out Of This World (Hidden Home Records)

Fantastic new set from cult US Baseball Punx outfit matches energy and wit in equal measure

Released Apr 19th, 2019 via Hidden Home Records / By Clementine Lloyd
Urban Outfielders: Out Of This World (Hidden Home Records) Hands up if you have ever heard of the Baseball Punx movement… No? Well don’t feel foolish, it feels like this could be America’s best kept secret. Some of you might wish it were still a secret. But that is your problem.

Baseball Punx then! It seems there is a strange affinity between punk rock garages and the diamond, or baseball field for the uninitiated. For those of you who want to know more, check out the short documentary Baseball Punx, directed by Jak Kerley. It might seem weird, but one thing falls into place. All those baseball shirts punk pop bands wear… it’s a fucking light bulb moment. But on to business…

Urban Outfielders are a team four years deep into a career of chunky big-hitters. Their business is delivering catchy tunes that make you want to dance your ass off.

It is the kind of garage pop punk that gives you the desperate need for sun, smoke and skanking. The fact that all their songs are based around a sport seems secondary, though their dedication to the cause is impressive. They got a lot more from the team game than you could imagine. To be fair, they seem to approach their music with team spirit. They have so much talent—displaying it through lengthy freewheeling instrumentals that break away from the three-chord styling of the punk-pop canon. The fact that they are so into being a team surely makes styling this movement out a joy through and through.

Do It With You professes just this: Being in it, together, to win it. “Wanna do it our way”… Team spirit! It’s about forming bonds with integrity that last. Well, it could also be sung romantically. The line “You still make my knees weak” throws you in this mind. It is also a terrible position for a baseball player to be in!

The fact that this is the last record made with the percussive and vocal talents of Dicky Rivers gives this sentiment a bittersweet edge. And no, we did not spoonerise the first letters of his name. It is Dicky Rivers, and it is awesome. As the band put it, he is “retiring to the hall of fame” while still top of the game (the tight, thrashy drums will get you every time on this record), there is a sense of joy and no hard feelings within the record.

Big League Chew, that most famous of baseball affiliated consumer product, is also the first track on the EP. Short and sweet at two minutes long, even here we are treated to a stellar little instrumental. Packaged up it puts you in mind of Blink 182 circa Cheshire Cat, but with the musical qualities of a more technically brilliant band.

With the vanishing of bandmate and outfielder Tito Rogers last year, when he “disappeared tragically… in a flash of light”, Where Did he Go (Tito) could only be about the man himself. Deano Barrengrill’s vocals echo Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba as they theorise on his abduction by aliens... More Blink 182 it is then. The crunchy riffs and slammed skins mean you itch to move, throwing yourself from wall to wall slopping beer, nuts and hot dogs with wild abandon.

Final EP track The Wizard of Japan heads underground for the sweaty, thrash-edged sound a la The Distillers. The higher strung riffs and discordant elements are pure punk rock, offering a fantastic closer full of energy. Abandon is on the cards, lining the dugout. Created with Major League Baseball hero Ichiro Suzuki in mind, you kind of figure the discord could denote struggle, the mountain any major sports hero climbs to get to the top of the game.

This short and sweet record of four tracks might well serve as a placeholder for their next record, and a goodbye to Dick Rivers. The previous two records, released in 2017 and 2018, prove them more than capable of producing in larger numbers. We solemnly hold on to our hopes for an outfielders injection soon. For now, get some education in you. Baseball Punx is a thing, and it is coming your way. 4/5