Home Read Albums Of The Week: Five Hundred Bucks | $500

Albums Of The Week: Five Hundred Bucks | $500

The Philly roots-punk outfit's gritty tracks & narrative lyrics are worth your money.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Creativity begets creativity, which is why some creatives can’t stop themselves. Especially in independent circles, where artists and fans connect in powerful ways, creativity can spread like a virus, infecting and inspiring others in unexpected ways. Take Philadelphia’s Five Hundred Bucks, whose members have played in bands such as The Holy Mess, Captain, We’re Sinking, The Bella Vista Social Club, The Great Explainer, Brackish, Mt. Ida — and the list goes on.

In fact, just as the project started taking shape, Jeff Riddle, the songwriter behind Five Hundred Bucks, was asked to take part in another creative project altogether: a movie called Uncle Peckerhead and its soundtrack. Maybe it’s this reason that $500, the band’s first full-length, feels so narrative, full of characters and conflicts — stories that Riddle sings about both his own experience and the experiences of those around him. There’s a sepia, Americana tone that tints the punk-rock restlessness on $500 — a warbling organ solo here, a bluesy guitar lick there, stripes of acoustic guitar — and only serves to darken the already dirty the edges of this album.

“The record, on a whole, has an air of gleeful nihilism,” says Riddle, “or dare I even say optimistic nihilism to it, whatever the hell that means. There’s a lot of ‘I really want to give up or quit, but I don’t know what the hell else I would do so I might as well stick with it,’ which is a sentiment that I’ve felt when it comes to music or just even life in general.”

It’s this vulnerability that makes Five Hundred Bucks’ music feel so honest and relatable — and why $500 feels so refreshing in an era where appearances seem so important. Better still is knowing that this album, which already stems from a lush vine of creativity, will likely cultivate even more rich, meaningful music in one way or another. After all, Riddle and his bandmates can’t stop themselves.”