Little Bags - Little Bags (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Little Bags

Little Bags (2016)

Community Records

Zach Quinn has had a pretty busy year, having put out a PEARS album, a solo album, and now a Little Bags album all in the same year and, even more surprising, being this prolific has not caused his quality to suffer at all, as all three albums are excellent. For those of you who don’t know, Little Bags is basically PEARS. As far as the lineup goes, the only difference between Little Bags and Pears is that the two bands have different drummers. We’ve all seen bands make more significant lineup changes than that and keep their own name, but the difference between PEARS and Little Bags is more about style than personnel. Think of the bands X and The Knitters, which have always had pretty much the same lineup, but while X were one of the pioneers of punkabilly, The Knitters focus on a more country sound. That’s what Little Bags and PEARS are like: despite having essentially the same members, PEARS plays hardcore, and Little Bags plays pop-punk.

Yes, you read that correctly. Little Bags is the members of PEARS playing pop-punk. I was as shocked as you were to hear about it, but once I thought about it, it made sense. When I last saw PEARS live, the show came to a screeching halt as the band addressed the problem of a group of Nazi skins throwing punches in the pit, and while Quinn handled the situation, guitarist Brian Pretus vamped by off-handedly playing the opening riffs for “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls and “Fat Lip” by Sum 41. If those are the first songs that come to you that easily, you have to have some sort of interest in pop.

I expected this album to be a PEARS style take on pop-punk, a radically experimental take on the genre with abrupt changes in style and tempo in the middle of every song. However, Little Bags doesn't sound like an experimental take on pop-punk, but it absolutely sounds like a hardcore band’s take on pop-punk. It's like repurposed furniture, like when you see a desk made out of an old door but you can still clearly tell that it used to be a door. Little Bags sound like a band that took all the pieces of the hardcore punk machine apart, kept them in tact, and reassembled them into a pop-punk machine, complete with fuzzy guitars and vocals that move towards hardcore screaming. This isn't Blink style pop-punk. This is more like raw, unrefined, unpasteurized, artisanal pop-punk that you can only get at Trader Joe’s and maybe Whole Foods. Even the PEARS style of dry humor remains in tact, especially on the album opener “Fishes Give a Fuck.” It's a funny name to begin with, but even funnier when the song title comes up in the context of the lyrics: “Like Aquaman out on a bender/Fishes give a fuck.”

I realize that some of our readers get tired of how often all of us at PunkNews sing the praises of PEARS, but with Little Bags, Quinn and company show that, on top of being artists that push the boundaries of genre, they're also a group of artists with incredible range. While PEARS remains the superior band, Little Bags is nothing to sneeze at, and gives these guys a great outlet to make another type of music that they enjoy.