Four bands offer their variations on Lookout/Mutant Pop style pop punk. Roll call… With their musical chops and use of the Ramones-core formula, the Adorkables clearly have advanced degrees in Whoa Oh Oh Oh Oh-ology. But just as not every BA in creative writing yields a great novel, those whoa oh degrees don’t translate to real world success. “21st Birthday” seems too much like a finger-wagging morality tale—you, object of romantic love, have committed the ultimate sin of doing something of which I disapprove and to compound the situation, you did it with someone other than me. Maybe if you really dig Lillingtons-style vocals you can overlook this. Next up are the Kilowatts, the best band on the disc (and not to be confused with the Kill-A-Watts of Rip Off Records fame). These gents mix lo-fi pop punk, think Automatics or After School Special, with an appreciation for more traditional pop embellishments, especially the piano break and handclaps on “Without Your Love.” Fine fare on all four cuts, though I’d love to hear them with production/arrangement guidance from James Cahill (Kung Fu Monkeys). In the number three spot are the Screeching Weasel-worshipping Sheckies. They’ve got Ben Weasel in their guitar sound. They’ve got Ben Weasel in their whiney vocals, and they’ve got Ben Weasel in their “I’m not such a bright dude” lyrics (“Knucklehead” and “Sumpin’ Wrong with My Brain”). They don’t sink to the annoying depths of, say, the Nobodys, but I’m not among those who think the world needs more Screeching Weasel in its collective diet. The Bluffingtons are in the cleanup spot. They get off to awkward start. The title suggests a surf song but the band opts for metal. They try to cleanse the pallet with the conventional pop punk fodder of their other songs, but such efforts are in vain. Final tally: one for four.
–Mike Faloon (Cabana 1, www.cabana1records.com)