Long has my love affair been with the rock that the Descendents bring, roughly since 1982 or so, when they were one of the staple bands on Rodney B’s radio show. I have personally turned hundreds of people, including my wife, onto their perfect blend of tough as nails hardcore and sappy, lovey dovey pop, a sound that has since been co-opted, corrupted and perverted by the corporate music conglomerates and can currently be heard being profaned by Blink 182, Bowling for Soup and hordes of other lesser bands. The efforts of these lesser bands have thoroughly soured me on a punk sub-niche I once held sacred, yet a new Descendents disc can still make me wanna bounce off the walls while singing mushy love shit at the top of my lungs. Hypocrisy, you say? P’shaw, says I. Aside from the fact that the Descendents virtually invented the pop-punk style currently polluting the airwaves (taking no so subtle cues from predecessors like the Buzzcocks and the Last), they have managed over the years to retain the one thing those that have followed lack: a feeling of honest sincerity. From the first note, you know they ain’t following some formula while trying to chase the fame train; this is the REAL THING. A lot of effort and work is put into what they do and it shows. Even through their weakest efforts (the All album they did right before Milo went back to college, for example, was spotty at best), one can sense the level of commitment they have to the music they play. The four listed tunes (and bonus tune tacked onto the last track) on ‘Merican bookend nicely with the tuneage found on the band’s previous effort, 1996’s Everything Sucks. The years of playing incessantly as All (sans Milo) has honed them into one mean machine, able to break your heart with the vocals, slice up the remains with the buzzsaw guitars, and pound whatever’s left into oblivion with a rock-solid backbeat. Best thing of all is that this is just a tease to get the kids lathered up in impatient anticipation for the upcoming full-length due out in a month or so. Although seven years is quite a long time for any junkie to get his fix (and please, guys, take pity on us poor saps and drop these bombs with a little more frequency), the wait was well worth it. Neither recommended nor considered mandatory listening, this is essential in ways only previously reserved for things like air and water.