Although Descendents are considered as THE pop punk pioneers and maybe one of the most influential punkbands in history, I have to confess that I don’t remember myself listening to any of their work before they transformed to ALL. It was Dave Smalley’s joining (formerly Dag Nasty and later Down By Law vocalist) that first hooked me up with Stevenson, Alvarez and Egerton. Milo already went on studying by that time (resulting in a Ph.D. for microbiology). In fact, it was also the period when CD’s came out and I never really bothered gathering any of Descendent’s earlier work, that I assume was only available on vinyl at that time. Actually, I wonder if all these reviewers referring to Descendents when they hear a good song by a new band are really aware of the music this band produced in their early years.
It wasn’t until 1996 with the release of “Everything Sucks” on Epitaph that Milo’s voice struck a nerve with me. Though most of ALL’s work is considered easy poppy tunes, I had become a big fan of the astonishing and highly technical musicskills of ALL’s members already, with drummer, bassist and guitarist always ranking high in everyone’s list of most skilled punkmusicians. But for me Milo’s clear and poignant (dare I say “manly”) voice instantly topped both Dave Smalley’s and Chad Price’s voices, the former and current singers for ALL.
7 years went by, with some of their members recording amazing albums in their own Blasting Room studio's, and they kept teasing us by announcing this new work for a couple years now, but finally here’s this 4-song EP (it’s actually 5) that’s released about a month before their full-length “Cool To Be You”. The first 2 songs will appear on that album, while the others are exclusive for the EP.
“Nothing With You” instantly reminds of what Descendents sounded 7 years ago, rather churning-attacking yet catchy guitarplay, amazing basslines and solid drumming added with a mindsticking chorus. If you ever wanted a description of what power pop-punk in my book sounds like, then this song would be quite self-explanatory.
Did Fat Mike himself write the lyrics for “’Merican” perhaps? I’m not really used to these guys singing about politics, but here they surprise by taking a critical look at America’s honorable history (Ku Klux Klan, Vietnam, slavery, pollution) and the obvious indifference about it by most inhabitants. Musically, this title track is also my favorite song on the EP, baring those same aforementioned ingredients, while there’s something early Bad Religion shining through here as well. The chorus must be one of the best I heard in years; you’ll sing along those few sentences in no time!
As there were a couple more hearfelt songs on the LP, there’s again an input of this with “Here With Me”. and let's all pray that the more Rock ‘n Roll tinted “I Quit” (dealing about the less interesting matters that go with playing in a punkrockband) won’t turn out to be a reality-song.
Which brings us to the hidden unnamed track. I don’t have a problem with bands trying out something different, but Descendents better stick with their energetic or lightfooted hearfelt songs instead of this slow and useless rubbish. No wonder they didn’t have a title for it, and I try to look at it as a decompression-song after 4 amazing tracks, again! I’m already looking forward to this day when I will open up my mailbox and find that full-length in it.
The proof that there's nothing cheesy about pop-punk lies in these 4 songs. Amazing bassplay, tight percussion and guitarplay and the distinct Milo vocals make for another astonishing EP by these legendary guys