Teenage Bottlerocket - Stealing the Covers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Teenage Bottlerocket

Stealing the Covers (2017)

fat Wreck Chords

On Stealing the Covers, Teenage Bottlerocket takes a rather novel approach. Instead of reworking a bunch of old punk classics, they pay tribute to unknown bands that they like. Most of these songs are so obscure that they probably could have buried who wrote them in the fine print of the liner notes and passed them off as originals. Theoretically, they’re helping to promote the smaller bands as well as giving their own fans some fresh material while they wait for a new full length. (A seven inch with two new TBR songs was released simultaneously.) So does this record accomplish its mission? Sometimes.

The songs on Stealing the Covers are a bit of a mixed bag. Some just sound like decent Teenage Bottlerocket songs. “The Way I Know”, “Back and Forth”, “Don’t Go” and “My Very Best” would fall into this category. It’s exactly what you’d expect, Ramones-core pop-punk loaded with harmonies and sing along choruses. Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman trade off on lead vocals like they have on the last few records. New drummer Darren Chewka doesn’t miss a beat. “College Town” and “No Hugging No Learning” are similar in style, but are below average TBR songs. “Gay Parade” and “It Came From the Radio” also use the same formula, but the end product is better and they are a couple of the more inspired tunes.

A few tracks on Stealing the Covers are more adventurous. “Shit Fuck God Damn” sounds like a dirty Blink-182 joke song performed by a hair metal band. “Alien Motion Technology” has a Lillingtons sci-fi vibe. “Hat Nerd” has a jangly, They Might Be Giants feel. It’s sort of annoying at first, but you’ll still find yourself helplessly singing along. “I Kill Butterflies” is similar but darker. There are a couple of potential classic TBR songs too. The excellent, synthy, new wave influenced “RoboCop is a Halfbreed Sellout” tells its story from the perspective of a computer. Closer “Why the Big Pause” is another standout, even if it’s essentially a dad joke.

Cover albums are often the last resort for bands that are running on fumes creatively. Only time will tell if that’s the case for Teenage Bottlerocket. Stealing the Covers might seem a bit underwhelming at first, but eventually the songs will burrow into your brain. It’s undeniably catchy. In some ways, it’s similar to last year’s Ray Rocket solo album Do You Wanna Go to Tijuana? It’s consistently good but rarely great. It’s a delicious musical snack, but it will still leave you hungry.