The Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Susquehanna (Cover Artwork)

The Cherry Poppin' Daddies

The Cherry Poppin' Daddies: SusquehannaSusquehanna (2008)
Space Age Bachelor Pad

Reviewer Rating: 3.5

Contributed by: Skibz777Skibz777
(others by this writer | submit your own)

To answer your first question, yes -- the Cherry Poppin' Daddies are still around. Additionally, they've just released a new album, and no, it's NOT swing. No, they haven't "abandoned their roots"; the Daddies were never a "swing band" to begin with. Believe it or not, they've released four studio a.
iTunes StoreAmazon

To answer your first question, yes -- the Cherry Poppin' Daddies are still around. Additionally, they've just released a new album, and no, it's NOT swing. No, they haven't "abandoned their roots"; the Daddies were never a "swing band" to begin with. Believe it or not, they've released four studio albums (and one all-swing compilation) since their inception in 1988, all filled to the brim with rock, funk, swing, ska, jazz and punk, with a bit of country, glam rock, disco and grunge thrown in for good measure. Now freed from the major label shackles of the short-lived and much-reviled swing revival that pigeonholed them into double-platinum superstardom, they've returned with Susquehanna.

In a very admirable move, the Daddies haven't degraded themselves to giving in and catering towards their "swing band" image; they've retained the same multi-genre concept album approach as seen on their previous work. Every single track is composed in an entirely different genre (this time with a predominantly Latin vibe), with all its songs united under the same lyrical theme: Each track is a narrative where the song's characters reflect on times of their lives, both good and bad. That being said, Susquehanna is obviously not an easily accessible album to the average listener; how much eclecticism you can handle is the determining factor in whether you find the album fresh and varied or jumbled and inconsistent.

However, it's the most musically simplistic songs that make up Susquehanna's standout tracks. In what may be the band's finest song, "Hi and Lo" finds the Daddies trying their hand at ska-punk í la the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, skipping along at a pleasant upstroke-heavy speed before arriving at a breathtakingly epic chorus to rival "The Impression That I Get"; with powerful guitars and a fantastic hornline, lead singer Steve Perry strongly, earnestly yelps "I've been high / but mostly low / A lifelong lodger on a dead-end road / But I like mine / to shine like gold / The darkest hour turned brighter than a rose." This is ska-punk at its absolute finest, a product of quality songwriting and musicianship, and a song that is possibly better than Reel Big Fish's entire repertoire; ska fans burnt out on the superficially sunny and wacky vibe that the genre's adopted since its mainstream explosion would be hard-pressed to argue.

Meanwhile, "White Trash Toodle-oo" is perhaps the most inventive thing ever done with neo-swing. The song bristles along with standard retro swing rhythm (with not-so-standard lyrics regarding a family with an abusive father and suicidal wife), before lunging aggressively into a full-on punk rock chorus. There's even time for a peppy trumpet solo at the bridge! Here, the Daddies have realized swing's true contemporary potential via the introduction of punk rock (much like the Bosstones did with ska music), presenting the musical evolution the swing revival desperately needed in its heyday. They may have arrived a bit late, of course, but they've done more than Brian Setzer could ever hope to do with swing.

The rest of the album is speckled with high points. Ska resurfaces in the form of "Hammerblow," a killer third wave tune, and "Blood Orange Sun," whose lyrics and vocals save it from its bland, Sublime-style reggae. Standard swing returns in the superb "Wingtips," whose moving lyrics are partially obscured by the overuse of the word "diaper" in the chorus. "Bust Out" is a Latin-flavored rock tune that works excellently as a dance number but not quite as the single the band wants it to be (the Spanish-language translation, "Arrancate," closes out the album). "The Mongoose and the Snake" successfully swings with swanky, hair-greasing rockabilly, while "Tom the Lion" swings with breezy, hip-shaking calypso. "Julie Grave" is a rockin' throwback to the `70s, whose sing-along "na na na na" bridge is ripe for Bic-flicking. The album's closer, "The Good Things," neatly ties everything together, musically and lyrically, in a surprisingly effective mellow rock fashion.

Susquehanna proves challenging at points. What furthers the album's inaccessibility is the band's approach to the more exotic genres; on "Breathe," while they nail the sound of bossa nova to a tee, the band doesn't add an ounce of their personal uniqueness, making it just "a bossa nova song" rather than a "Cherry Poppin' Daddies song" that would easily connect with the rest of the albumÔ??s sound. Likewise, it's hard to get into a traditional flamenco tune right after a straightforward rock song. While these tracks may work for some, the average rock or ska listener will find themselves frequently skipping them.

If you're looking for another dose of watered-down novelty swing, stick with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The Daddies' melange of styles is an acquired taste (as is Steve Perry's nasally voice); however, if you're willing to take the time to listen to something different that fits into that rare category of style AND substance, you can do no wrong with Susquehanna, the newest release from perhaps the most misunderstood and underappreciated band of the 1990s.


People who liked this also liked:
Light Years - Temporary [EP]Chase Long Beach - Gravity Is What You Make It.Reel Big Fish - A Best of Us...for the Rest of UsDevo - Something for EverybodyThe Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit RiotThe Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Pin Points and Gin JointsGreen Room Rockers / The Pinstripes - Midwest Soundclash [10 inch]Rancid - Let the Dominoes FallThe Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Medium RareThe Sounds - Dying to Say This to You

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
internettroll (January 26, 2009)

Score reflects the pollution level of the Susquehanna River.

pinkerton (January 25, 2009)

"hi and lo" is on a RBF split 7inch they did. it came with 2 stickers also.

Skibz777 (January 24, 2009)

Oh, wait, I'm an idiot: 'Susquehanna' IS the band's fifth studio album...

Skibz777 (January 24, 2009)

I'm not sure if it was PunkNews or myself who messed up in the first paragraph, but the band has actually released FIVE studio albums since their inception.

NewKid (January 24, 2009)

I listened to this record a lot last summer. One of the first concerts I ever went was them at the Cleveland Rib Cook Off a mess of years ago. Definately a fun listen for the summer.


flamebaitnickloving (January 24, 2009)

I heard Hi and Lo on a compilation 11 years ago but my friend took it back and for some reason it was impossible to find legally or illegally.

That rules they've released it (and updated the recording I'm sure).

hitlerbadzakgood (January 24, 2009)

thank you for clearing up all my misconceptions about the cherry poppin daddies! i couldnt go a day without knowing what happened to these guys!

BarleyPat (January 24, 2009)

As far as the swing revival went though, the best was Royal Crown Revue imo.

BarleyPat (January 24, 2009)

Yeah, Kids on the Street was really good. As far as Zoot Suite Riot goes, Master and Slave was great (Drunk Daddy was good too).

overdefined (January 23, 2009)

Before CPDs were lumped in with the swing thing they were kind of associated with the ska scene. They were on a few comps I had and I enjoyed their album Kids on the Street. But they sold their souls to the devil so they will always be remembered for it.

scorpiondeathlock (January 23, 2009)

brian setzer does it better.

paulrulzdood (January 23, 2009)

that is crazy, especially considering RBF "turn the radio off" only went gold..."sell out" seemed bigger than "zoot suit riot" but i guess i'm wrong


preston (January 23, 2009)

Four studio albums in 21 years? Hardest working band in showbiz.

red_eye_inc (January 23, 2009)
paulrulzdood (January 23, 2009)

zoot suit riot RIOT throw back a bottle of beer

bring back swing! bring back swing! i want another swing revival! 1998 FTW!


Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go