Written By John Arthur
Juggernaut Drunk is a band from and wholly of Atlantic City. The down-and-out beach resort most famous for gambling binges, tacky neon lights, and whoring is a recurring theme on almost every track of their album, “Stumbling From Jitneys.”
Not only do the songs revolve thematically around AC, but the album artwork (a historic photo of a Jitney), the song titles (“Sold To The Cash For Gold,” “Ghost On A Jitney”), and album title do as well.
“Stumbling From Jitneys,” however, approaches the city from the perspective of those who live there, and, despite what tourists either don’t see or choose to ignore on the way to the blackjack tables, it’s not all flashing lights, upscale escorts, and free drinks.
Juggernaut Drunk instead offers a more realistic view of day-to-day life in America’s Favorite Playground, a view where gambling addicts lose it all and sell everything they’ve got to the pawn shops that line Atlantic and Pacific avenues, where kids get into street fights, and where prostitutes are strangled and disposed of in the bay—the final song on the album, “Eastbound Strangler,” tells the true story of an Atlantic City serial killer who killed four women and left their bodies, always facing east, on the west side of town.
Despite the dark motifs, the album isn’t joyless, nor does it lack a sense of humor. The music, often danceable and almost always up-tempo, is somewhere between punk and classic rock. The closest modern day equivalent, stylistically, might be the Arctic Monkeys.
Lyrically, Juggernaut Drunk relies on wit. The album is littered with clever couplets and astute observations.
“The Jersey Shore looked a lot cleaner before, when hypodermic needles washed up on the shore,” sings Donny Specs, lead singer and guitarist of Juggernaut Drunk, in “The Seagull.”
Specs’ vocals fall somewhere between Mick Jagger and Tom Waits, with the delivery of Jagger and the gravelly, weathered sound of Waits. Together with the bass of Hugh Burnside and the drums of Dave Freeman, Juggernaut Drunk deliver solid, straightforward rock music on “Stumbling From Jitneys,” but, although their musical abilities are striking, it is their ability to tell a story that leaves the most lasting impression.