For the first time in a couple years, Hot Snakes will perform live in San Diego. On Sept. 10, the veteran punk-rock outfit will headline a show at The Irenic, which inspired me to revisit some of my favorite songs in the band's catalog. Among their three albums, there are plenty of gems, but I narrowed it down to the cream of the crop. Here are eight Hot Snakes songs on permanent rotation:
"Automatic Midnight": Hot Snakes never needed more than 100 seconds or so to make their point. The title track of their debut album is 94 seconds of ass-kicking riffs and huge hooks. Come to think of it, I'd take an extra 90 seconds of this.
"Salton City": Hot Snakes have swagger; they usually show it through relentless, we-don't-give-a-fuck punk anthems, but in the case of "Salton City," there's a hip-swiveling boogie that shows their danceable side. Turns out it's just as gnarly as their punk bruisers.
"I Hate the Kids": The group's greatest anti-anthem, a tongue-in-cheek takedown of youth culture from dudes too old to give a shit. This is grumpy, hilarious 30-something punk at its best.
"Suicide Invoice": Hot Snakes vocalist Rick Froberg has kind of a twisted sense of humor. The gist of this song—two people enter into a suicide pact but only one goes through with it, leaving a debt to be collected via suicide invoice, "yellow, white and pink"—is dark, intense and nightmarish, but still an amusing concept, fucked up as it is.
"Unlisted": Basically the Hot Snakes song with the catchiest, most soaring chorus. It's worthy of inclusion just for those 12 seconds.
"Think About Carbs": The greatest tool in Hot Snakes' arsenal may very well be John Reis' guitar riffs. Here, they land with lethal force—catchy in the beginning, weighty by the middle and simply devastating by the epic outro.
"This Mystic Decade (Will Finish Here)": At three-and-a-half minutes, this is fairly colossal for a Hot Snakes song, and they make every second count with a tension-building melody and an explosive chorus.
"Plenty for All": Put that opening guitar riff on an endless loop; it's perfect.