Sight & Sound

LISTEN: The Wunder Years – Pitstops On The Road Less Travelled

pitstopsThe festive season is an amalgamation of many sentiments. For some, its time is best shared in the comfort of those closest to them- be it friends or family. Others find solace in the seemingly endless road that beckons- solitary journeys that evoke the deepest of personal introspection and wonderment. If the latter is true, than perhaps the overtly bubbly nature of this time can be a little soulless- one too many “feliz navidads” sung by wide-eyed children in busy shopping malls.

In 1999 I discovered an indie/punk band on my travels around Northern California called The Wunder Years. A perfectly monikered band for those who happened to grow up alongside the troubled (but very thoughtful) childhood of one Kevin Arnold dreaming of someday landing their very own Winnie Cooper. Regardless, this particular Wunder Years took their cues more from the likes of Jawbreaker than Joe Cocker- resulting in a near seamless blend of Kerouacan contemplation and road weary rock n’ roll.

They sang about what it is like being lost in youth, finding one’s self on your travels, and growing up along the way. I for one, thought that at the age of 18/19, it was the perfect accompaniment to those years— like the audio version of On The Road. Plus, they threw in a rendition of a Cars classic, which was very well done. Appropriately, the album was called Pitstops On the Road Less Traveled. And at the time, it felt right- another chapter in a book we’re all writing.

In the years since, the band dissolved and the moniker was taken up by Pennsylvania pop punk act The Wonder Years, who felt it wasn’t necessary to avoid copyright issues. This band, while at times seemingly energetic and youthful, is by far the lesser of the two. It’s a shame that they’re the band most people will associate the name to. But as this is a nostalgic trek down the road less travelled, here are three songs from Pit Stops.

Listen: “Go Kid Go”
Go Kid Go

 

Listen: “Vacations/Seperations”
Vacations Seperations

 

Listen: “Just What I Needed”
Just What I Needed

 

 

Supplementary notes: Members of The Wunder Years went on to form The Ghost, and The Velvet Teen. Brian Moss, the band’s primary songwriter and vocalist, does time as Hanelei.

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Music, Sight & Sound

Listen to the City Mouse split with Weekend Dads

It’s Alive Records’ City Mouse are now streaming their split EP (a little slice of infectious pop punk goodness) with labelmates Weekend Dads.

The female-fronted trio harken back to the glory years of Lookout-era pop punk with a touch of The Eyeliners and Teen Idols, while Weekend Dads is just as catchy, just a little snottier.

You can stream all four tracks from the split 7″ below. You can grab a copy of this bad boy from here.

It’s fantastic to see that It’s Alive Records are still releasing music the best way possible, the good ol’ 7″ split. Your digital copy will only set you back $4.

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Headlines, Music

My Money is Still on Less Than Jake

It feels good to be this old, that’s the initial reaction I got when I first listened to Less Than Jake’s new single (listen below), the first from their forthcoming eighth studio album. See The Light as it’s called, is rather apropos.

Truth is, I can’t tolerate 96% of music that flies under the “punk” or “hardcore” or “extreme” flag these days. But when I heard “My Money Is Still On The Long Shot”, I took a moment to reflect back to about 1996/1997 where I’m sure I spent a great deal of time in the pit with some of you older lot. But favourite memories of those days weren’t the times I got kicked in the face by Doc Martens, but rather the times I… wait for it… skanked to the glorious sounds of third-wave ska, punctuated by pop punk melodies and a grand ol’ horn section.

You see, the upbeat music in the late 1990s for us “rebellious punks” didn’t have the constant draining melancholy of The Wonder Years, Man Overboard et al, it instead reflected a certain optimism skating alongside realism.

Less than Jake of course, were the (pez)kings of this brief but populace era and this new song is both a remarkable throwback and evolution of a sound thought long gone.

Is it as simple as saying that when we were kids and our “shit music” (ska and pop punk- the real kind- for me) was infinitely better than the kids today and their brand of “shit music”? To me it does, and I believe I’m not the only one who feels that way either.

Looking back at one my favourite Less than Jake songs from their debut album and comparing it to this new track, I’m bound not by their similarities (they are not), but how they both make me feel, almost 20 years apart.

“9th & Pine” (1996)

 

“My Money Is On The Long Shot” (2013)

 

Out with the new, in with the old crowd.

[hr]

Less than Jake’s new album, See the Light, is out November 12th on Fat Wreck.

 

 

 

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Music

Hey Heroes For Hire, buy your own God damn beer

Touring isn’t easy, and finding money to do the things you want on tour is even more difficult, but Sydney pop punkers Heroes For Hire may have taken the whole crowd funding fad twelve steps too far. I’m skeptical on the authenticity or the seriousness of this crowd funding venture but nonetheless, it’s active and a real thing- so we’ll take it as such.

The band are currently on tour in the UK with recently reformed American pop punkers Allister and have now started crowd funding for… wait for it, their beer. The requested funds is for £500 and as of press time, it sits at £39 pounds funded by 9 people. 9 horrendously stupid people.

What a disgrace.

Regardless of whether the band are serious about it, people can genuinely donate their money to reach the band’s goal, and I’ve got a serious problem with bands who believe they’re entitled to tour “luxuries”, joke or no joke. Kids being kids? Or just a generation of silver spooned “rockstars” taking their sense of entitlement to their similarly entitled ADD generation fans? I dislike crowd funding in general, but this is beyond a farce. Crowd funding for bands is a joke.

And yes, so perhaps I’m old and from the generation of bands and musicians that toured on their own dime, worked two jobs so you could buy a guitar, and didn’t complain when your shitty van broke down on a highway in the middle of nowhere. So what. If you’re in a band today and you can’t afford to record your album, go on tour, or God forbid buy your stupid asses beer, you should probably get a real job.

I’ve had the displeasure of seeing Heroes For Hire live, it was an excruciating experience. This band blows. But whatever. Just buy your own God damn beer.

 

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Album Reviews, Music

Review: The Wonder Years – Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

It’s hard to quantify the connection a listener gets to a record as deeply specific as Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing; a record about growing up and away from suburban Philadelphia life. But the best thing about the suburbs is that their stories are almost interchangeable with just about any American suburb. And so Suburbia is buoyed by these terrific pop punk odes to life on the road away from the basements (“Came Out Swinging”), great summers (“Summers in PA”), conservative fanaticism (“I Won’t Say The Lord’s Prayer”) and everything in between that a listener can, for the most part, easily relate to (getting older, getting a job, moving out of your parents house, responsibility).

Unlike the band’s previous work however, there is a new sense of focus, a bite to Suburbia that The Upsides and Get Stoked On It! lacked (maybe all the rough nights on the road and in airports have given them a bit of grit?). Add some wry humor and some quick wit, and you’ve got a pop punk record with the kind of urgency we haven’t seen since those old Lookout bands. Perhaps having spent my suburban American life just a few postcodes away brings a closer connection, but while Simple Plan and their kind may have bastardized pop punk with their overly sugary coating, The Wonder Years still maintain the idea of punk first, pop second.

Suburbia is a terrific record about growing up while never really wanting to on the inside. (Hopeless)

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

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Uncategorized

The Farros leave Paramore

Josh and Zac Farro, siblings and co-founding members of American rock/pop outfit Paramore, have announced their departure from the group. MTV confirmed the pair had left the band, stating the wheels had been set in motion months ago.

In a post on the band’s official website, remaining members have written a statement explaining the departure;

For the last year it hasn’t seemed as if they wanted to be around anymore. We want Josh and Zac to do something that makes them happy and if that isn’t here with us, then we support them finding happiness elsewhere.”

They continue on to say that while the departure is certainly an unfortunate event, they will continue on as Paramore;  “three of us who are still here are ready to take on another chapter of our journey together.”

In a recent tweet, frontwoman Hayley Williams put any rumors of their demise to rest; “Paramore is (still) a band.”

We had no idea there were other members of the band. We thought it was just Hayley and a bunch of robots. Paramore last released brand new eyes in 2009.

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Uncategorized

Sydney’s Tonight Alive premiere new song

Sydney pop punk act Tonight Alive are currently in the United States recording with noted producer Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182) working on the follow up to their debut album All Shapes & Disguises.

The band have released a short 3-song EP to tide fans over until new material is done. A song from that EP, “Thankyou and Goodnight” has made its way online and can be heard above.

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