Tag: nofx

MUSIC REVIEW | The Vandals – Fear of a Punk Planet (1991)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Sometimes, I just need something light and fun from my punk rock.  Sometimes, I just need the Vandals.”

Vandals 1.jpg
Picture it, Brisbane Australia at the turn of the millennium, a young Pete Laurie gets obsessed with Bad Religion, and very quickly sees that obsession spread to their So-Cal contemporaries.  Snot nosed teens in the 80s who kept their bands together long enough to perfect their craft and become punk rock elder statesman in the 2000s.  What that meant was literally dozens of records to catch up from bands a like NOFX, Guttermouth and The Vandals.  While Bad Religion tackled the big issues, Guttermouth focused on giving society an adolescent middle finger long after their own adolescence were over, and NOFX graduated from finger giving to tackling big issues.  But The Vandals focused more on keeping it light, fun and tight.  With a constantly changing line up over their first few years and albums, things began to solidify with Fear of Punk Planet.

The Vandals have always specialised in the mundanity of life.  They’re not system fighting, issue driven, machine against raging punk rockers.  They’re much more interested in giving the small moments of everyday life a kick of punk energy.  Like having a crush on a local Vietnamese pizza delivery girl in a song like Pizza Tran.  It’s A.D.D, frantic pace never gets in the way of its punk edge.  An edge that still somehow manages to shine through on the mix of glam rock, hair metal and disco that is The Rodge. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | X – Los Angeles (1980)

XLosAngeles

As much as I love punk rock from the 90s and beyond, I’ve never really done my history homework and listened to the bands who really kicked it off. Sure, I’ve heard plenty of the biggies, like The Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Saints. But when bands like Bad Religion and NOFX have more than a dozen great albums each, it’s hard to find time to look back further. X is a band I’ve known I should listen to for years, but I guess it wasn’t that high a priority, since I got to things like Anthony Callea and Falling in Reverse first. At the risk of too little too late to ever recover from such a credibility blunder, I listened to X’s Los Angeles.


It may have come out in 1980, but this sounds like punk rock in its infancy. Your Phone’s Off the Hook But You’re Not, Johnny Hit and Run Paulene and Soul Kitchen are all direct descendants of 50s rock, just sped up and turned up. It was also a great surprise to hear an ealyish punk band with a woman taking on half of the vocals. Punk in general is so masculine, and even more so in those earlier days. A female singer gives Los Angeles a dimension you don’t hear enough in the genre. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Pennywise – Yesterdays (2014)

Yesterdays
Along with Bad Religion and NOFX, Pennywise have endured long enough to make sure that teenage punk fans of the 80s and 90s have never had to resort to ever listening to any new bands ever since. These guys have all been cranking out albums on the regular for upwards of three decades. And for the most part, they never seem very interesting in surprising anyone. I, for one, love that. These bands all do what they do really well, so if they can stay consistent, I don’t need any huge leaps in evolution or experimental genre hopping.


Technically a new album, Yesterdays is almost entirely made up of unrecorded Pennywise songs from the band’s sessions from A Word From the Wise in 1989 and Unknown Road in 1993.   But to any Pennywise fan, this isn’t just a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut the first time around. With the majority written by the band’s late bass player, Jason Thirsk, Yesterdays is great tribute / goodbye to Thirsk, who’s shadow has hovered over the band for almost 20 years now.

Like I said in the opening paragraph, Pennywise isn’t the kind of band who has changed all that much over the years. Which means they’re in a better position than most bands to record songs written decades ago. If they sound dated, it would only be because you find the entire Pennywise aesthetic dated. Luckily, I dig what they do, so another album of solid, tight, Californian punk rock is OK by me.

Old or new, these songs are Pennywise songs. After taking a break for 2012’s All or Nothing, it’s great to have Jim Lindbeg back behind the mic, and the guitar of Fletcher Dragge is as fast, as distorted and as palm muted as ever. And really, not to sell the contribution of drummer Byron McMackin or bass player Randy Bradbury short, but that that Linbderg / Dragge combo is all any Pennywise fan could ask for.

Closing their live shows with the originally Thirsk penned, later reworked as a tribute to the bass player, Bro Hymn Tribute is a nightly reminder to Pennywise fans that the band has never forgotten him. And now we have Yesterdays as another memorial. I’d say that Yesterdays is for Pennywise fans only, but at this stage in their career, I’d say that about any of their albums. Either you’re going to be into what they do, or you’re not. Which album you choose to base that decision on doesn’t really matter.

Pennywise

MUSIC REVIEW | The Descendants – Milo Goes to College (1982)

album-Descendents-Milo-Goes-to-College
Ah, to be a punk rock fan in California during the 80s.  Being able to see bands like Bad Religion, The Vandals, NOFX, Social Distortion and Guttermouth, all just starting out, playing in tiny clubs.  I probably wouldn’t have been cool enough to know they existed in those early years.  Even if I was, it would have been hard to get into those sorts of clubs when I was 6 or 7 years old.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t nostalgically remember a scene I was never even a part thorugh rose coloured glasses.


The bands listed above probably only prove my own surface level appreciation for the big bands who made it through to main stream success, which is why I know I need to dig deeper.  With no better reason than the fact that I have often seen NOFX’s Fat Mike wear a shirt emblazoned with this band’s iconic logo, I decided to listen to The Descendants’ 1982 outing, Milo Goes to College.

Early on, Parents is a great example of what I associate with this time, this region and this version of punk rock.  When vocalist Milo drops a line like, “Parents, why don’t they shut up”, it’s a kind of ill-informed angst and self-unaware naiveté that only makes it more endearing more than 30 years later.  Or is it so self-unaware?  Because when they returned to a similar snot nosed, middle finger flip for When I Get Old on their album Everything Sucks almost 15 years later, it makes me think there was more deliberate irony in Parents then I initially expected.

As amateur and aggressive as Milo Goes to College is, there’s no denying that there was a more accomplished band waiting to happen.  Bikeage and Jean is Dead show the poppier melodies were always inevitable. By slowing things a down a little, it also shows the musical ability of the band, smothered by the speed of so many of the other songs.

15 songs in 30 minutes is a good indicator of what to expect from Milo Goes to College.  Over all, the production is exactly what you’d expect from a fledgling punk band of the time.  Somehow completely locked to its time of recording, yet completely timeless and vibrant all these decades later.  It’s very DIY, very raw, very tinny and you can hear every band member almost figuring it out as they go along.  And all off of that is what makesthis albumreally, really great.

The Descendants