When I threw this badboy on the turntable, Cliff Clavin side up, I was confused when the vocals started. Too high. I switched from 45 to 33. Too low and too slow. Hmmm. Back up to 45? What the hell happened to Chris Clavin’s vocals? A quick look at the notes revealed that the lyrics being sung belonged to the other band: The Max Levine Ensemble, who, sure enough, discovered Operation: Cliff Clavin after being told that they sounded like them.
Eager to hear the new OP:CC above all, I flipped the record over to the side labeled “Max Levine.” Those whacky Plan-It-X tricksters. The first thing you’ll notice when listening to this latest release from the supposedly broken-up band in OP:CC, is that Hannah has either gotten way better at bass, or she is just going being a little more creative. Whichever it is, it sounds great, and it makes the first song “Punk Rock Is Not Just Something You Listen To,” one of the most memorable tracks the band has ever recorded. Of course, the lyrics are phenomenal as well. I’m sure you can figure out the subject if you read the above title over a few times. If not, just keep reading, it will dawn on you eventually. The other two offerings from OP:CC are “Punk Rock Is Not Just Something You Buy and Sell” and “Punk Rock Is Not Just for Kids.” Dude, concept album! Rock opera! Um…sorry, but yeah…if you’re a fan of Operation: Cliff Clavin, there’s no question here: You need this 7 inch.
After I had spun Clavin’s side 40 or so times, I was ready to check out the Max Levine Ensemble. If you’re familiar with Spoonboy, you’ll know what I was going through with the vocals when I first played the record, because he sings for this band. For those of you unfamiliar, think Atom Goren if Atom had a higher voice, sounded really, really fucking happy, and sang super fast. You might be thinking that such a voice would be obnoxious and maybe it is, but fuck, isn’t all good punk rock obnoxious on some level? I say if it’s too annoying for you, then the problem is probably that you think you’re cooler than you actually are (I’m looking in Will’s direction). The Max Levine Ensemble one-up OP:CC with four tracks instead of three, and while they’re not as strong as Side A (or B, depending on how you look at it) I think that anyone with an interest in pop-punk ought to check them out (and besides, you’ve got to buy it anyway for the Cliff Clavin songs). Plus, the liner notes have some writing from Spoonboy that will make you fall in love with DIY punk all over again. I tried to explain it to my girlfriend, but she just humored me with a slight grin. I turn to you, the readers of punknews.org, for the understanding I seek.
An awesome split from two bands doing punk rock right. If you’re new to OP:CC, go ahead and order this along with their discography, Out of Control. I think together they’ll cost $13 postage-paid. I can’t express in words how refreshing that is to me. Is anyone else sick of $8 EPs?