Fifteen - Buzz (Cover Artwork)


Fifteen: BuzzBuzz (1996)

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: TheTommunistThe Tommunist
(others by this writer | submit your own)

[insert riveting anecdote about how I got into Fifteen here] Say what you will about Jeff Ott, his politics, or his apparent case of total insanity, but the man and his band, at a time, put out some damn good pop-punk records. 1996's offering, Buzz, is in my opinion, the best overall album by Fif.
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[insert riveting anecdote about how I got into Fifteen here]

Say what you will about Jeff Ott, his politics, or his apparent case of total insanity, but the man and his band, at a time, put out some damn good pop-punk records. 1996's offering, Buzz, is in my opinion, the best overall album by Fifteen. Sure, other albums have damn good songs, but only this one manages to stay consistently terrific from start to finish.

Starting with the midtempo "World Starvation," Jeff and Fifteen take us for a ride. Yes, the production leaves a lot to be desired, but every instrument comes in quite nicely. You can hear every lick of the guitar, every note of the bass, every chime of the cymbals, and each and every slipup and mistake. The music stays pretty standard with these three instruments, but harmonicas pop up in "World Starvation." It's not the most complex music, but it's catchy, upbeat, and has a nice level of grit that doesn't become overbearing. Some songs race by, some move along slowly, but every one of them is a rough gem representative of the East Bay sound of the mid-nineties.

Jeff Ott switches back and forth in the vocal department, going from his smoother vocals to the gruff vocals that would rarely appear on later albums. Of course, neither of these styles changes the fact that Jeff is a terrible singer, but regardless, his voice does indeed lend itself well to the music. Some people don't dig the gruffness, but I think it works well in most cases, except for when he butchers an Operation Ivy line at the beginning of "No Tion," but he makes up for it with his bouncy "bah da bahbah."

In the lyrics department, Buzz comes at a time where Fifteen was moving away from pop-punk songs about girls and moving towards pop-punk songs about politics. Previous albums had a little bit of each, but overall, they tended to lean more towards personal songs. This album has a better mix of the personal and the political. "Helter Smelter," "Violation," and "In Our World," amongst others, makes up the political side, while "No Tion," "Food Not Bombs," and "Predisposition" demonstrate the personal. Regardless of lyrical content, every song on here rips, but having heard a superior version of "Food Not Bombs" on the live Allegra album, I am ever so slightly disappointed in the vocal delivery on this version.

But even with the slightly (and I mean very slightly) inferior version of "Food Not Bombs," Fifteen's Buzz is damn near perfect. It's an album that stands as a turning point for the band, moving towards more political music, and as such, presents a more equal balance of personal and political songs. Yes, the production is not as polished as the band's Sub City releases, but nonetheless, it matches the mood and content of the songs. If you can only check out one Fifteen album, this is the one. Hunt it down if you can; it's completely worth it.

[insert hilarious play on words to end review here]


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
bornagainstcrackhead (October 11, 2006)

fifteens great,jeff otts great. and this album is great!!

Anonymous (March 24, 2005)

I dug this album, but I think Lucky was by far greater. I don't understand how some one oculd dislike the band. Jeff is clearly out of his mind, but at least he follows his own goals, much less his own morals. With the politics involved, of course its gonna piss some one off, but at least have the respect not to put down some one with that much integrity and drive.

Anonymous (February 7, 2005)

no political pop punk or emo without fifteen? they are great but now thats just silly.

Anonymous (February 6, 2005)

Fifteen is the best punk band ever. Buzz kicks ass, Swain has more heart, and Choice has Petroleum Distillation, the finest of Jeff's punk rock epics. If you are reading this review, you should own all three. And, despite what some people may say about Jeff, it should be noted that without Crimpshine and Fifteen, there would very likely be no political pop-punk, and no emo today. The man is fucking influential.

backupdork (February 5, 2005)

i have nothing bad to say about anything fifteen has ever done, with the exception of the "Hey Joe" cover.

Anonymous (February 3, 2005)

Everything I have ever heard by this band has bored the shit out of me.

Anonymous (February 3, 2005)

brilliant opening to this review. it's about time that someone around here recognizes the waste of energy the reviewers put into reviewing their own lives. bravo, ol' chap!

Anonymous (February 3, 2005)

I suggest just banning everyone from reviewing anything that Ott is involved with, because it just triggers bitchfests.

Anonymous (February 3, 2005)

haha, i hope thats a joke

Anonymous (February 2, 2005)

Their singer is probably one of the ugliest/dorky frontmen i've ever seen.. he might be a good guy and have a good message.. but thats what writers are for... you dont front a band when youre that ugly

Anonymous (February 2, 2005)

This band is HIGHLY overrated. Don't believe the hype.

Anonymous (February 2, 2005)

The lyrics on the first few Fifteen albums aren't too bad. They are actually done pretty well for the most part. I think later on he got a little too focussed on spelling out what it was he was trying to say. And he uses some really cheesy metaphors. (sew my broken heart back together again)

hubitcherkokov (February 2, 2005)

My favorite Fifteen album is "Lucky", but this band never put out a bad album (althought it took me FOREVER to get into "Survivor"). Fuck this band was absolutely amazing.

Anonymous (February 2, 2005)

this guy writes the shittiest lyrics ever!
spounds like a first grader talking bout politics.

fuck that

Anonymous (February 1, 2005)

whoa. i haven't listened to these guys in forever.


gladimnotemo (February 1, 2005)

So I was reading some back reviews, so can someone explain to me why Jeff Ott is out of his mind? I'm thinking he is just by a little bit of his zine I read online...but the full story would be appreciated.

notfeelingcreative (February 1, 2005)

Speaking of Grass Records - how about the Marshes "Fledgling?" This score is for that.

THe wasted time album was good too.

xWileyx (February 1, 2005)

man i miss this album i lent it to a emo hipster and never got it back...it's a solid album maybe could've used a bit more in the production department but whatever

CorpseOfMyMotivation (February 1, 2005)

Mr. Ott is fucking nuts.

Anonymous (February 1, 2005)

Speaking of Grass Records - how about the Marshes "Fledgling?" This score is for that.

Anonymous (February 1, 2005)

I can't believe you gave this album a 10.

notfeelingcreative (February 1, 2005)

Great record, before Jeff's vocals changed to the more Billie Joe Armstrongesque sound of latter-day fifteen.

Anonymous (February 1, 2005)

This album took me the longest to get in to, but it's hands down the best. To me, this is Fifteen's climax, their earlier albums were just good catchy punk rock, and their later ones became blander and sillier sounding. There are occasional lyrics on here that could have used improvement, but aside from that, this album is fucking great. I'm pissed that someone borrowed this album from me several years ago and never gave it back.
And I think Jeff Ott is a great singer, he just sounds retarded at times (mostly on later albums).

Anonymous (February 1, 2005)

you can't be punx if your not homeless! OI OI OI!

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