Teenage Bottlerocket / The Ergs! - Under the Influence Vol. 4 [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Teenage Bottlerocket / The Ergs!

Under the Influence Vol. 4 [7 inch] (2008)

Suburban Home

Many punk rock fans are salivating at the Under the Influence series (can you imagine when the Gaslight Anthem / American Steel volume is released?). This is the first one I purchased: two beloved modern pop-punk bands hit us with cover choices that aren't surprising if you're a fan of either the band.

Teenage Bottlerocket tackles Green Day's "Having a Blast," one of the best tracks off their seminal masterpiece (yeah, I said it), Dookie. Teenage Bottlerocket takes the BPM up a few notches, and the harmony is improved over the Green Day version, but other than that it's a carbon copy cover. I would have liked to see them take it to a different plain. While it's crisp and completely listenable, there's no incentive to listen to it over the original, which should be rule #1 when attempting to cover a song.

The other side shows the Ergs! take on Devo's "Blockhead." Where Devo uses muted guitars and synthesizers, the Ergs! transform it into dirty punk rock. Even the loud, monotone gang vocals of "Blockhead!" at the end of the Devo version is turned into a more familiar hardcore-sounding call-and-response. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the song is hearing how much Jeff Erg's guitar playing is influenced by Devo, something I'm sure he wouldn't be afraid to admit.

The Ergs! win this battle, but overall the set works like bubble gum -- delicious for a handful of spins but isn't long lasting. Thanks to Suburban Home offering a free digital download with purchase; you won't have to feel guilty about taking it out of your record player. Although, you may want to keep the 7" jacket in view for quite some time, as Mitch Clem's take on Dookie is endlessly funny and cute.