The soul of Squirtgun and Digger style pop punk persists on these nine tracks. Tight guitar and drum work with bass playing of the cleverly understated Mike Dirnt variety lifts the group above the waterline for sure. The Challenged might get tired of being compared to the pop punk classics of the ‘90s, but they flourish within that sound, writing songs that I’d like to hear five tracks at a time, while driving across town by night with streetlamps brushing overhead—thinking about integrity, romance, and ambition, all that stuff. But I don’t have a car. And I’m sitting at a sticky wooden table surrounded by quizzes and paperclips. In sum, Basically is a definite success in the pop punk form: tracks like “Go Fuck Yourself” carry the torch. But I’d like to hear the Challenged reach out and bring their distinct view of the world to the genre, too, like they do on “The Director” where the lyrics are a storyboard to a movie about the song. Which is inventive and cool. More of that, please.
–Jim Joyce (Self-released, no address listed )