WANNA-BES, THE: Out Went the Lights: LP

I went into this record with zero preconceived notions as to what might be contained in these grooves. Never heard of the band, never heard of the record label, and inferred nothing from the album cover (except that this band must be from Seattle). Needle drop… instant recognition… classic Ramones-inspired pop punk. And I mean that in a good way! (An unfortunate but necessary qualification.) First off: the sound. This record’s sonics remind me of the Riverdales’ Storm the Streets record (their best by far). The drums are dry and dark, the guitars are raw and thick, there’s a nice fat bottom end, the vocals are melodic but strong (and with a subtle Leonard Grave Phillips vibe), all combined in a perfectly balanced mix. Were it not for a few Marked Men-ish melodies, this band and record could very well have been straight outta Lookout! circa 1995, influenced only by the Ramones, Teenage Head, The Queers, and Dan Vapid, but acknowledging the future existence of the Spits. …And second, the most important thing: songs. Too many bands get the perfect sound, all click-tracked and auto-tuned, the requisite oohs, ahhs, harmonies, breakdowns, fast songs and love songs; all the boxes ticked. But the songs sound ripped off, clichéd, dull, or just not fucking punk rock! Contrarily, each and every song on Out Went the Lights works. It’s a punk record with melody. Familiar but original. This is the rare, new pop punk record that deserves a slot in the discerning punk’s collection. –Chad Williams (Mom’s Basement, momsbasementrecords.bandcamp.com)