Smogtown - Fuhrers of the New Wave (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Fuhrers of the New Wave (2000)


Even in Punk Rock Land (where the shows cost less than 10 dollars and having something black on is sort of a given), the Orange County band Smogtown is sort of underrated. They've been praised by Razorcake a shitload, but despite being one of the best 2000s punk bands, they play entirely in Southern California, and their records aren't distributed widely. I had to buy my copy of Fuhrers of the New Wave for 50 cents from a dealer on Amazon, and it came in a cracked and broken case (which I thought was kind of appropriate).

But this record, Fuhrers of the New Wave, kicks. fucking. ass! A concept album revolving around the New Wave, a suburbanite band, and the parents and yuppies trying to kick them out (along with Bodie 601), it's ambitious in a way, but is simple, fast, and indebted to Agent Orange and the Germs. It's an epic involving the Fuhrers as they try to bribe their way onto the radio ("Payola or Die"), deal with hatred from the concerned adults ("I Am the Cancer"), while teens deal with drugs, failure and living in residential living areas ("Standard Youth Dillema," "Judy's a Model").

When opener "I Am the Cancer" begins and ends with a sample of Repo Man, the most punk movie ever made, you know where you're at: the dark, nihilistic hole at the center of Los Angeles and all that surrounds it. Singer Chavez declares: "Something ugly reared its head in Surf City / Supposedly it's us." In "Teen Age," he declares that they're living in the Teen Age, as the dude described as Guitardo plays the sweetest, simplest damn riff.

This record makes me want to beat my boring hippie neighbors with a bat. Sure, the Fuhrers are kicked out by Bodie 601 (I still dunno what that is), but it feels good knowing that great punk bands like Smogtown are out there, still playing loud, angry music for any kid who doesn't really like living in that stupid house that looks like every single place on the street. They're out there.