Google the phrase "Victory and Associates," and you'll find at least three exact matches: a professional recruitment firm in Dallas, a marketing and public relations outfit in Tampa, and a fiery rock 'n' roll band from the Bay Area.
The band comes up first -- but even if it didn't, the fact that this bunch of irreverent punk-inclined rockers managed to coin a moniker so perfectly satiric that it is actually the name of square businesses elsewhere is pretty impressive.
That kind of sly irreverence is exactly what we'd expect from Victory and Associates, an outfit that matches anthemic rock with punk energy and sharp-tongued critiques of materialism, narrow-mindedness, and other unfortunate but common traits of American life in 2011. This formula is employed with great proficiency on These Things Are Facts, a new album whose release the band will celebrate tonight at S.F.'s Brick and Mortar Music Hall.
Guitars and drums drive Victory's music relentlessly forward with the ferocity of post-hardcore, but its songs are tempered with a pop-punk band's ear for melodies. Lead vocalist Conan Neutron has a muscular shout that lands somewhere between boisterous and empathetic, introspective and ready to pounce, depending on the song. And unlike a lot of punk-leaning rock records, most of the songs on These Things Are Facts actually sound different from each other. Opener "Get Tough, Get Through It" is motivational fist-pumper; "You Can't Eat Prestige" is a snarling, sarcastic taunt; and later on in the album, "Not Returning" meditates on leaving behind a constrictive hometown before exploding in the choruses. The only song that really falls flat on the album is downtrodden closer "Home Is Where You Hang Your Hope," whose lyrics carry a bit too many cliches.
Still, through most of these 11 songs, sheer speed and sharp dynamic changes -- along with potent singalong hooks -- keep the momentum contentious and fun. These Things Are Facts is a smart, energetic listen -- punk rock at the heart, but not too serious to throw down a soaring chorus or flashy guitar solo once in a while. It's good enough to make us wonder if maybe that band name isn't satiric after all.
Victory and Associates plays tonight at Brick and Mortar Music Hall.