Home Street Home
Fat Wreck Chords
My god I was not optimistic when I heard that Fat Mike, Jeff Mark, and Soma Snakeoil were teaming up to produce a punk rock musical. I sneered, I was…angry. Angry at the very idea of a punk rock musical. Here I am cursing myself for doubting Fat Mike and his wonderfully beautiful Home Street Home. Fuck me, right?
This album is devastatingly good.
Home Street Home is a soon-to-be-real musical based on real life experiences of youths on the streets and the culture that surrounds them. Home Street Home is also a punk rock musical recording that, gods, is everything that you would want from a punk rock musical. Like Quadrophenia on crack. Tommy giving rimjobs for smack. No, really, there are songs about rimjobs, blowjobs, safewords and love.
It’s an album about love and the obstacles that are too often in the way.
Getting away from the dangerous and hetero-normative life structure that restricts and hurts us more than squatting ever could. Finding love outside the boundaries, finding other people hurt and pushed out into the open, wild world. Home Street Home is built around empathy for youth. The feeling of isolation and safety found in bedrooms and basements, only to be violated by those you hold dear.
Sue, the teenage protagonist of the record, runs away from a sexually abusive father and into the subcultures of the streets. Exploring drug use, sexuality and living in the gutter, Fat Mike paints a rough but utopic image through Sue and the cast of characters he employs. This all happens on the album with a little help from his friends. Frank Turner, Old Man Markley, Lagwagon, Dance Hall Crashers, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and the Descendents are all represented in one various form or another. Lena Hall and Jeff Marx bring the Broadway cred. Marx in particular is well suited for the frank subject matter–winning a Tony for his work on Avenue Q. The album is full of punk rock legends that both make you cry and laugh (Frank Turner is oh so very British on “Bad Decision” and “Another Bad Decision”).
“Monsters” leads off the album and kicks you right in the chest. “Fecal Alcohol Syndrome” reminds you we are the sum of our parts and have to make the best of our lot in life. “Gutter Tarts” explains the seedy capitalism of sexuality on the edge. “Missing Child” is devastating in its realty. Same for “Three Against Me.” The line between abuse and love is a reoccurring theme throughout. There is a lot of heartache on Home Street Home but there is also a lot of hope.
Fat Mike I love what you did here. You and your friends brought to life the real world struggles of youth on the streets. Punk is about questioning the status quo, about finding a better way to live for yourself. Home Street Home is a testament to what punk can say and do for a better, weirder world.