Sunrise Skater Kids - Friendsville (Cover Artwork)

Sunrise Skater Kids

Friendsville (2016)

Chodezilla Records

This is the most generic regurgitation of every imaginable current pop punk trope... but that’s the idea. Friendsville by Sunrise Skater Kids is a parody of the current state of the pop punk scene: both its sonic tendencies and the attitudes expressed by its followers.

Sunrise Skater Kids is the creation of Jarrod Alonge: a popular YouTube comedian specializing in music comedy. Jarrod rose to prominence after his Every Pop Punk Vocalist video (in which Jarrod played a character fronting a fictional band known as Sunrise Skater Kids from Baltimore) went viral. Following the success of this video, Jarrod released a song called “Pop Punk Pizza Party”, which didn’t have all too much direction as it was mainly meant to work in a lot of the jokes from the original video, but overall it did a good job of tying these moments together in a cohesive pop punk composition. About a year later “Pop Punk Pizza Party” along with four other Sunrise Skater Kids tracks appeared on Jarrod’s hour long roast of scene music, Beating a Dead Horse. All five of these track reappear on Friendsville, so I’d just like to give them a quick shoutout before moving onto the new material.

If you want to get a good sense of what Sunrise Skater Kids is, I recommend starting with “First World Tragedy”. The premise of the song is fairly simple: pop punk vocalist whines about his ultimately trivial problems over a generic pop punk instrumental. These tropes are recreated so well, that anybody who isn’t in on the joke might not understand that it is, in fact, supposed to be a parody. In fact, actual pop punk band, High Down, recently came under fire for blatantly ripping “First World Tragedy” off with their new single “Family and Friends”. I’d also like to mention Take it Easycore which showcases the ridiculousness of the pop punk/metalcore fusion that bands like Chunk! No Captain Chunk have been experimenting with. I’d consider it to be a failed experiment but that’s just me.

Friendsville was everything I expected and then some as Jarrod leaves no corner of pop punk untouched. When it comes to modern pop punk, Friendsville covers all of the bases: from Mayday Parade (“Rain on My Parade”) to NoFX (“Exposure Bank”). However, when he’s not going after any band in particular, Jarrod tends to emulate more of a Neck Deep sound and the title track even makes direct reference the band in its final chorus. Every track off of Friendsville has its own unique contribution to the album even if it's not aesthetically. “Nothing Special”, for example, is ironically one of my favorite cuts, despite the fact that it is self proclaimed to be a filler song. It’s also a great showcase of Jarrod’s comedic timing as he manages to make the childish repetition of “Patty Walters is a chode” hold some sort of comedic substance. “Rylo Ken” was a track that had to grow on me, as I didn’t initially understand what the track was trying to do lyrically. It initially just seemed like a summary of the seventh Star Wars film whined over an acoustic guitar track, and while it is also that, I think Jarrod was trying to portray a pop punk frontman who’s had no real struggle in their life and instead has to pass the plot of a movie they saw off as their own personal emotional story. And if nothing else, it provides the essential “I hate you, dad” line that the album wouldn’t have been complete without.

Overall I’ve found myself coming back to every one of these tracks on a regular basis over the past year, though “Rain on My Parade” is a bit too childish for my tastes and the early 2000s pop punk medley, “All The Old Things”, is mostly a reminder of why the most of the artists featured in it faded into obscurity. Jarrod himself seems to be a fan of most of the artists that he rips on, but even if you think pop punk is a joke (I tend to find myself somewhere in the middle), I think you too can find something to love about Friendsville.