Not long ago, loving both Led Zeppelin and The Clash was unthinkable. The divisions between classic rock and punk were so deep and wide that closing the gap wasn't merely impossible, it was unnecessary—those on either side were more than happy to be separated. But time has a way of blurring once-clear lines. Recently, bands like The Hold Steady, The Constantines, and now Call Me Lightning have drawn from punk and classic-rock history in equal doses, merging the former's spitfire energy with the latter's sense of larger-than-life grandeur. With Soft Skeletons, Call Me Lightning's thrilling follow-up to its 2004 debut The Trouble We're In, it's as if the line never existed at all—the only thing that unites a group of angry, alienated iconoclasts like a fist-pumping punk rock song is a lighter-raising classic-rock anthem, so why not take a bit from both?
A Milwaukee-based power trio named after an obscure Who B-side, Call Me Lightning makes up for its relative lack of size by aggressively pumping up its sound until it approximates Who's Next-style (by way of Black Flag) thunder. Exploding out of the gate with the introductory smash-up "Meet The Skeletons," Soft Skeletons maintains an exhilarating adrenaline rush until the propulsive title track at the album's midpoint. The insistent shout-along choruses of "Billion Eyes" and "Bottles And Bottles" make the album's first 15 minutes whir by at an almost reckless pace, and while the rest of Soft Skeletons doesn't quite catch up, it remains a deeply satisfying record that builds a bridge between sweaty basements and roaring arenas.