THE PRESS RELEASE: “Brett Newski’s fourth studio album Don’t Let the Bastards Get you Down is a call to arms against whatever destructive forces we may find ourselves battling, from our individual struggles with toxic relationships, low self esteem, loneliness, and apathy to the more global challenges facing us in 2020: The erosion of face-to-face human connection, the breakdown of the proverbial village, the destruction of the planet, and the myriad ways in which our social media addictions amplify these problems. Depression and anxiety are at all time highs, with many, if not most of us, struggling to preserve our optimism. So how do we regain control and stay hopeful in the face of these challenges? Perhaps it’s less screen time. Perhaps it’s changing the way we approach our tiny pocket TVs. Perhaps it’s discovering or recommitting to our passions. Perhaps it’s getting our hands dirty in pursuit of real solutions to our problems (instead of just complaining online). Perhaps Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down can shed some positive insight. What could topically threaten to amount to “too much reality” for the listener is buoyed by Newski’s signature blend of largely up-tempo, guitar-driven alternative with splashes of what people describe as Geek Rock, Happy Punk, and Diet Grunge.”
MY TWO CENTS: Geek Rock, Happy Punk, and Diet Grunge might sound cute and clever — but I’m not sure they really apply to Milwaukee singer-guitarist Brett Newski. Or at least not his fourth full-length Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down. To my ears, he’s not particularly geeky, punky or grungy on this 10-track gem. Mostly, he’s a first-rate alt-rocker in the vein of Tom Petty: A guy who can come up with a wry lyric and a catchy chorus, pair them with a hummable melody, voice them in a dusty nasal drawl, and set the whole affair against a stylish backdrop that balances roots and rock. Nothing to get down about there.