I never really bought all the claims that Screeching Weasel sounded like the Ramones. Sure, there were some basic similarities in the guitars and drums, but there were also some glaring differences: Ben’s singing style was snotty (he sounded more like Fat Mike than Joey Ramone), Dan Panic had a way of filling in empty spaces in the song with some genuinely amazing drumming, and Jughead’s guitar was way too happy to get confused with Johnny Ramone’s. When Screeching Weasel broke up for the first (or second, or third, I never could keep track) time, and Ben took his rhythm section with him and formed The Riverdales. They eliminated Jughead’s guitar and thus started sounding more like the Ramones. It seemed to be the point. Still, Ben’s singing was snotty and Dan Panic’s drumming was amazing. Then, we had some reunions and breakups of the Riverdales/Screeching Weasel combinations, some newcomers adding different wrinkles, some awesome albums and some albums we should all forget about (cough-cough-Emo-cough-cough), and now we’re back to a broken-up Screeching Weasel and a reformed Riverdales, minus Dan Panic, plus Dan Lumley on drums. And now, they really sound like the Ramones. I mean, they really sound like the Ramones. Like, I could be playing this album and you could walk into the room and get a weird look on your face for a solid five minutes as you try to figure out which Ramones album this is, yet not ask me which Ramones album this is lest you be caught not knowing all the Ramones albums instantly upon walking into a room. Ben’s singing has lost the snottiness, he’s deepened his voice, and he now sounds a lot like Joey. Dan Lumley doesn’t have the fills that Dan Panic had (damn, do I miss that Dan Panic drumming), and the bass for Screeching Weasel/Riverdales always sounded like the Ramones. So now they’ve finally gotten there. I’ll say it again, they really sound like the Ramones. But, of course, this begs the question: if you want to listen to something that sounds this much like the Ramones, why not just play a Ramones album? I’m not sure that I have the answer to that one. But I do keep playing this Riverdales album, even if I’m not sure why.
–todd (145 Records)