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.

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]