There are no pretty ballads or lush soundscapes on Welcome to Scum City. In fact, pretty is not what Vancouver’s Real Problems are playing to. Scum City is a grit-fest from start to finish, complete with dirty little audio snapshots of life in this city sandwiched in between the songs.
At the end of “I Don’t Wanna Live in the Slums No More,” a voice asks asks, “What happened dude?” and someone answers, “Overdose.” These tiny field recordings make Scum City that much more real. They paint a picture of a city that does a crappy job of covering up its sickness, and they speak among the growing number of pissed off people who are trying to make the best of it.
But Welcome to Scum City is not all social ills and politics. There’s plenty of drinking and women to be had here in this rabid near 30-minute pocket of bad-ass punk tunes. Sometimes reminding me of a much younger and angrier Ramones on a month long bender of speed, smokes and whiskey, Real Problems are far from lacking in energy and have a wicked left hook.
“Knock You Down,” and “Officer Champion,” play hard, and bring to mind faint woozy memories of the first time I saw these guys play at Funky Winkerbeans. It was a crazy affair in which monitors were leaped of from, and noses were bloodied.
Rarely letting up for a second and with barely time to breathe, Welcome to Scum City gets the message across loud and clear: punk and hardcore are alive and well in Vancouver and are not going anywhere.