Screeching Weasel - Screeching Weasel (Cover Artwork)

Screeching Weasel

Screeching Weasel (1987)

Underdog records

Many know Screeching Weasel as one of the greatest pop punk bands of the 90’s. They released classic albums like My Brain Hurts and Anthem for a New Tomorrow. They’re known for their Ramones influenced sound, and strong melodies. Back in 1987, they released their debut album. A self-titled release on Underdog Records, featuring 27 short songs. Back then they were influenced by the Angry Samoans, Black Flag, Adrenalin O.D., and the Circle Jerks. That being said, this is a hardcore album at heart. It’s filled with infectious melodies, and a goofy charm that makes it instantly memorable. The production of the album sounds totally different than most hardcore albums in the 80’s. It sounds more like a pop album in terms of production. Huge sounding drums with a lot of reverb, and in-your-face vocals. It adds to the insanity of it all.

A lot of the music was written by guitarist, John Jughead. He brings a totally different feel to the older Screeching Weasel material. They’re known for their use of common chord progressions, but here there’s some interesting guitar work. Bassist, Vinnie Bovine starts a lot of the songs off with simple bass riffs that follow the guitar. Drummer, Steve Cheese plays sloppy, but really shines on the album. Especially on songs like “Society” and “California Sucks”. With song titles like “Say No! to Authority” and “Clean-Cut Asshole”, you can tell they were looking to piss people off. There’s a strong hatred for jocks, hippies, working, and authority on this record. Vocalist, Ben Weasel puts on a show with his delivery and lyrics. It’s one of the most sincere angry albums in punk. In “Society” he makes a hilarious puking sound, and screams “FUCK!” with pure frustration in “What is Right?” While it’s primarily a faster album, there’s some songs that sound more similar to their later material. You can tell that these songs were directly inspired by the Ramones. Songs like “Murder in the Brady House” and “My Song” showcase that influence perfectly.

The whole album is a sloppy mess, which is exactly how it should be. It shows an early band trying to figure it all out. It’s one of the catchiest albums in punk. All it takes is one listen to know the songs. In “Leave Me Alone” the frustration really shines, and ends in an outrage of hardcore punk. He criticizes jocks, and doesn’t want to hear about their hip use of drugs and alcohol. Songs like “Liar” and “Raining Needles” are some of the fastest Screeching Weasel material ever recorded. Most of the songs are structured in a unique way, but still remain melodic. “K-Mart Blues” is a song that most bands wouldn’t even dare to emulate.

There’s even a cover of the Oscar Mayer theme song, sung by drummer, Steve Cheese. You can tell that the band had a great sense of humor, especially at the end of “What is Right?” While Jughead is playing a solo, the music stops and he keeps going. He can be heard saying “What, is it over?” It doesn’t get any better than that. While songs like “Wanna Die”, “Don’t Touch My Car”, “Cows”, and “Jockpunk” are memorable pop ditty’s, the album ends with an acoustic song called “Yeah Baby!” It wraps up the ridiculousness of the album perfectly, while penning a surprisingly fun classic.

Since most of the songs are so short, there’s not a bad song on here. They’re all in the same goofy vein. If you like one of them, you’ll probably like them all. It’s not an album for everyone, but there’s a lot of magic in this release. 27 songs in 34 minutes is a pretty impressive thing to do. While it’s not the most mature album, its angry youth energy make it an unheard classic in the history of 80’s punk.