I don’t believe any sort of cosmic alchemy exists when it comes to musicians, but Pushy has me thinking twice. The members of this Portland band create some truly righteous rock ’n’ roll—if it were 1975, they’d be sharing stages with the likes of ZZ Top or KISS and playing to thousands of weed-smoking longhairs every night.
But it’s 2018, and this kind of heavy rock is pretty much relegated to music’s nether regions. And while Pushy might get labeled as “retro” or “throwback,” I’d like to think that they’re simply playing rock ’n’ roll the right way—cathartic, good-timin’, and greasy in all the right places.
What’s most impressive is how Pushy somehow managed to capture the stank of their shows on wax with their brand-new debut LP, Hard Wish. Opening track “Fannys” gets right to it, with a juicy opening riff fueling tales of living in the country. “Blacktop”—arguably the record’s best song—recalls early Scorpions with a fantastically serene opening that soon gets buried under an avalanche of riffs that never lets up. The album also includes “El Hongo,” one of Pushy’s earliest recordings, and “Lay of the Land,” which flashes the band’s chops over the course of 10 delicious minutes.
Pushy wear their influences on their denim jackets, while lyrics occasionally stew in classic rock tropes. But they have an advantage over the countless other bands attempting to party like it’s 1975, and their résumé is spotless, with members hailing from former Portland heavyweights like Hosmanek, Fellwoods, and Billions and Billions. Burke has a set of pipes that could shatter glass (he once joked it’s because he wears his trousers extra tight), although he never abuses his powers. Guitarist Ron Wesley’s bag of licks fills out Pushy’s sound without getting in the way. And the rhythm section of bassist Neal Munson and drummer Travis Clow absolutely steamrolls, but they also give each other room to breathe.
Pushy may have caught lightning in a bottle on Hard Wish, but I’m certain they’ve got plenty more where that came from (like I said, there might be greater forces at work in bringing these four cats together). Whatever it is, I’ll have what they’re having.