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Jersey, Start Trouble, Avoid One Thing And Dork

Call it what you want–pop-punk, power pop, melodic punk, etc.–but you can’t avoid it these days. Good Charlotte are all over MTV, Tim Armstrong’s writing songs for Pink, and teen magazines run ‘punk’ fashion spreads.


So it’s not really surprising that a stack of pop-punk CD’s landed on my desk in the past couple of weeks. (Desk being metaphorical–I’m actually sitting on my bed with a laptop in my lap.) They’ve all got a few things in common: pounding drums, power chords, sing-along choruses, and a tendency to be on key at least most of the time. One of them clearly stood out as better than the rest, two of them were pretty good, and one of them annoyed me, so…

Jersey – Generation Genocide
Jersey are a foursome from Burlington, Ontario. My first reaction was “Why on earth would a bunch of Canadians name themselves after the lamest state in the U.S.?” Due out on April 27 on Stay Gold records, Jersey’s debut full-length ‘Generation Genocide’ is working-class, sing-along goodness. It’s hard to sit still listening to it, and the title track has been stuck in my head for two weeks. While a lot of bands of this style feel forced, Jersey oozes honesty, and a friend of mine up in the far cooler North told me they’re already pretty big in good old Canada. They sound a little like One Man Army, but with more feeling behind it. Buy it. And keep an eye out for their summer appearance on Warped Tour. I’ll be at whatever stage they’re on.

Start Trouble – Every Solution Has Its Problem
You know that band. The one with the forced-bratty vocals, the drummer who repeatedly pounds one drum over and over again (I’m not a musician, so I can’t tell you which drum it is). The songs on serious topics that you just don’t buy. The humping rhino on their website. (Okay, so they don’t all have that.) Start Trouble are that band. Problem is, so are a lot of others. They think they’re being different by tossing in some reggae/hip-hop influenced songs, and may think they’re being risky by using lyrics like “I wanna fuck nonstop,” but each song sounds like it came out of the same bin that Sum 41 and Good Charlotte have dug their hits out of. Unsurprisingly, they’re the lone band in my pile signed to a major (Sony/Columbia), and their producer worked on Sugar Ray and Save Ferris’s albums. To be fair, they’re not bad musicians, it’s just all been done so many times before, and I don’t get anything new from this album.

D.O.R.K. – Furious George
If you like Jack Black, you’ll like D.O.R.K. They don’t sound like Tenacious D, but they have a similar sense of humor. The spoken interludes between songs on this album are enough to make it worth listening to. Start Trouble should take note–D.O.R.K.’s “I wanna make out with you” is much more winning than “I wanna fuck nonstop.” And yet they’re a Denver local band whose release, titled “Furious George,” was given to us on a CD-R with the band’s name scrawled in black marker. Don’t lose hope, D.O.R.K., since it looks like Sony/Columbia’s handing out record contracts to bratty pop-punk bands. Keep an eye out for these boys around town, since they just returned from South by Southwest.

Avoid One Thing – Chopstick Bridge
Avoid One Thing come from Boston, and it can be hard to stand out in the Boston scene. It helps if you’ve played in Gang Green and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, though. Bassist/singer Joe Gittleman did just that before forming this band, and this, their second album, adds the talent of Amy Griffin (their press release says to ‘imagine Billy Zoom and Exene Cervenka morphed into a single being,’ though I wouldn’t go that far). Joe sounds vaguely Mike Ness-ish, but not as nasal, which is a good thing. Their lyrics are probably the most mature out of the four bands reviewed here, and they may arguably be the most musically talented as well, but they simply don’t grab you like Jersey does.


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