The late Joe Strummer, frontman for Clash/Mescaleros, may not be solely responsible for injecting punk rock with topical, worldly concerns, but he certainly got the whole ball rolling. Strummer, for many, represents punk's expansion from straightforward pub-rock to a mélange of rock 'n' roll, reggae, ska, world music, and rampant experimentalism. He also embodied the music's social consciousness.
Strummer was always the coolest, most punk rock guy in the room, no matter the room. In Buffalo, Chris Malikowski fills that role. As frontman with the distinctly Clash-influenced Wolf Tickets since the early '90s, Malikowski kept Strummer's promise, specializing in a ribald form of punk that grooves as much as it sneers and snarls.
Last week, the band took over the Leopard Lounge – the intimate "club within a club" at the Town Ballroom – to celebrate the release of its new album, "Death by Misadventure," which is available now as both a digital edition and a limited run vinyl LP. The band's heroes – the Clash, Social Distortion, Bad Religion – are in evidence, but the songs comprising "Death by Misadventure" smack of Buffalo streets and nightclubs, cold booze-fueled nights and hard-won integrity.
During the Leopard Lounge gig, the band's tight interplay was pushed through the roof by the playing of Josh Heatley, who gets my vote for the regional top punk drummer slot. The album sounds killer on vinyl, but live, this stuff really explodes.
You can find the Wolf Tickets oeuvre, including "Death by Misadventure," on streaming sites now.