Pinhead Gunpowder - Carry the Banner (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Pinhead Gunpowder

Carry the Banner (1995)


Thanks to Green Day's popularity in the 1990s, I was able to listen to Pinhead Gunpowder long before I was even indulged in the more underground aspects of the "scene." This Bay Area "supergroup" has actually been around for a decade, and at the time of this EP included Billie Joe from Green Day and another Bill, from Monsula, doing vocals and bass, and Aaron Combetus (formerly of Crimpshine) on the skins.

With an apparent classic range of influences from The Ramones and Green Day to Face to Face and NoFx, the power-chord deluxe displayed their music on Carry the Banner, a fourteen-minute, angst-ridden disc with plenty of singalongs and power chords to go with it.

Whether it's Billie Joe's "Armatage Shanks"-esque "foo!" opening up the slightly repetitive "Walking Catastrophe," or the temporarily hushed vocals preceding crashing drums and chords in "Mahogany," these are the little things that overshadow the fallacies of the album. The little things also include the improvements in several things over its predecessor, Jump Salty, in that Bill's vocals are much less gravelly and the production sounds a little more manipulated, not to a major label's style, but rather to a style that fits the music well.

Aside from the things that make the EP listenable, there are the previously mentioned negatives, like the three-chord staple - there really is nothing interesting or special going on in the guitar work, and the bass lines basically just follow the guitars. The songs rarely surpass the two-minute mark - just when you really think you're getting into the song, it ends. I managed to fit all four of their major releases in the 90s (Jump Salty, this EP, Goodbye Elston Avenue, and their best release, Shoot the Moon EP) onto one normal compact disc, providing a great example of their work yet not leaving much room for singular longevity.

Nonetheless, this is still a great example of straight-forward Cali punk, and the state of such in the mid-90s. It's worth a look back if not for simply nostalgic purposes.

MP3 - I Used To