Descendents / Circle Jerks - Split EP (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Descendents / Circle Jerks

Split EP (2024)


This split is exactly what you think it is- it’s two iconic first wave hardcore/punk bands playing each other’s songs and having fun- and it IS a lot of fun.

Descendents rip through three short Circle Jerks songs- “Red Tape,” “I just want some skank” and “Beverly Hills.” The band plays it fairly faithful, but it is fun to hear the Descedndents, who have gotten a smoother, more melodic sound over the decades, interject some of that early barb wire slash into their music. Milo sounds excellent and adds a little Keith Morris vitriol into his delivery and the band as a whole seems to be throwing back and having fun to the time period just before they started their own band.

The flipside finds the modern iteration of the Circle Jerks- Keith, Greg, Zander and Joey Castillo, blasting through two tracks: “Kabuki Girl” and the big smasher ”Hope.” As with the flip-side, Circle Jerks are having a lot fun blasting through some of the earlier Descendents tracks- they add their own snarl to these tracks that are more yearning than they are CJ style angry/nihilistic. Whereas Keith usually throws his middle finger at the world, resigning to never fitting in, it is interesting to hear Morris express some hope on “hope,” even if that hope is just misplaced hope for a romantic object. It’s a blast and it’s fun and maybe gives slightly new perspective to Keith and crew.

Interestingly, CJs also recorded a version of “Loser” but it is unreleased. While Morris stated in an interview with the Vinyl Guide podcast that he changed some of the lyrics that are considered more offensive in the 2020s than the 1980s, Descendents Bill Stevenson asked the band not to include the track on the EP, likely because it might reignite a firestorm regarding the songs originally lyrics that has been put out two or three times already.

To me, it is interesting that even if CJs were to change the lyrics, it might still raise some sort of uproar from some “Fans” and non-fans. At this point, it’s clear that the Descendents aren’t hateful people and when the original lyrics were written, the world was a different place and people had different sort of educations- the Descendents have had 40 years to prove that they are good guys, and they have done so consistently for 40 years.

But the fact remains that even with CHANGED lyrics on “loser”, there is a potential for both Descendents and CJs to take some flack, which in my opinion, is severely mis-directed energy and is counter-productive to fighting prejudice. That is, punk treads on much thin ice these days that even in “correcting” itself, it still damned- it’s hard to imagine a more Catholic, more reactionary, more self-strangulating perspective than that. Maybe everyone is a little too uptight these days. Punk shouldn’t be hateful, but it shouldn’t be in shackles either.

But, all that being said, uhm this EP frickin rocks- and the cover is *chef's kiss*. I especially appreciate that both bands did multiple songs, instead of a more lazy approach and cut one song each. It shows they both still care about their art, they both still care about their fans, and they both still are rad as hell.