Sum 41

sum-41-5002d9de07e67Sum 41 may seem an odd band for to be plugging on here, mainly for the fact that I have no doubt everyone reading this will have heard of them. Everyone I know will remember their early teens being littered with hits by the Canadian punk-pop outfit, their most famous obviously being ‘Fat Lip’. But the reason I feel this post is warranted is because it appears they’re a band that’s been forgotten, remembered fondly but no longer have a place on the iPod, however I would argue that if people gave their new stuff a listen they would be surprised at what they find, in my opinion Sum 41 have been improving with every album.

Back in the day I remember Sum 41 being a favourite amongst the boom of pop punk in the late nineties and early noughties, along with Blink, Good Charlotte, The Offspring and American Idiot-era Green Day. People first started taking notice of them with their debut album All Killer No Filler for a lot of people I think that’s where their love for them both started and finished. It’s injustice really considering this is actually their worst record, it’s eclipsed by the groups original EP, Half Hour of Power and a lot of the songs on the album were taken from that record the only good additions were the aforementioned ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘In Too Deep’ which are now the songs the band are known for. Their follow-up Does This Look Infected? was just as popular at the time and a far superior album. Although nowadays when I talk to people Infected? is much less remembered. When I go back and listen to the record now this is where you can start to see the potential for a serious band, they’re still joking around but there’s some very strong instrumentation and well structured and thought out songs.

It was in 2004 with the release of Chuck were the group really changed their focus and with it lost their commercial success and in retrospect the love of teenage fans. I must admit, I didn’t care for it when it came out I was still more interested in the jokey/poppy stuff that was coming out of Blink or Good Charlotte. Chuck saw Sum 41 start to write about some serious topics after the band had a near death experience on tour and were saved by a man named Chuck, the album though is not without its catchy hooks and fun songs but ultimately was a lot darker than their previous work and perhaps they were still maturing in their musicality as well back then. It wasn’t until 2007’s Underclass Hero that I began to take notice again, having matured massively myself I was heading into the darker side of rock moving towards the emo side of things and while everyone was looking elsewhere I cam across my old friends Sum 41 again and Underclass Hero was breath of fresh air. Combining the more complex emotions I was experiencing in late adolescence with the fun riffs and simplicity of the pop punk that had got me into rock music in the first place. It quickly became one of my favourite albums and to this day I still very much enjoy listening to it.

Their latest album Screaming Bloody Murder furthers their transformation into a serious rock group, the lyrics littered with pain and hurt that may have come from lead singer, Deryck Whibley’s divorce to his wife Avril Lavigne. The music on this record is so well structured it is at times hard to believe these are the same guys that brought us that simple pop music from our childhoods. Sum 41 produce music of top quality these days, go have a listen to their new stuff and I promise you won’t be disappointed, also their documentary to accompany Screaming Bloody Murder is a fun watch as well so here it is:

 

¡TRE!

Green-Day-TreSo we have reached the end of Green Day’s concept trilogy after ¡TRÉ!’s release date was brought forward. So far ¡Uno! was a pleasant surprise but ¡Dos! was much less enjoyable. Unfortunately ¡TRÉ! continues in that direction, it is by far the worst of the three. The band clearly didn’t have material to fill three records and it really becomes apparent here.

Kicking off with a downer in the form of ‘Brutal Love’ you may think things are going to pick up but they don’t. The lyrics are tired and boring which is mirrored by Billie Joe’s vocal performance – reaching an all-time low in ‘Drama Queen’ as song which would be better off locked away in Josef Fritzl’s dungeon. We also see the trio return to some of their methods from the dire American Idiot era with the song ‘Dirty Rotten Bastards’ which manages to combine a few shit songs into the space of six minutes making one massively shit song. Then when you finally reach the end we’re given a God-awful ballad going by the title ‘The Forgotten’ in which even the guitars sound like they can’t bothered to make a decent sound. This is quite truly a disaster.

It seems that perhaps people were too scared to tell Green Day that actually not every song they write is good, they could have done well to lose two of these three albums maybe taking some highlights from the second and third and replacing the odd dud that appeared on the first. After being filled with hope listening to ¡Uno! and have now fully reverted to my view that these guys are three washed up middle aged men still desperately trying to be 20 again with ego’s the size of the alps and credibility the size of a gnat.

¡Uno!

Well two parts of Green Day’s new trilogy are now upon us. But it has taken me this long to give the first part a listen, as we all know Green Day are now shit so I thought I’d give it a listen so I could have a good rant. Unfortunately, my opinion of the album was not quite as clear cut as that, but let me know if you agree with me.

Green Day’s last two albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, are incredibly bad records. It seemed that Green Day had got incredibly pretentious and actually started believing they had some kind of statement to make. A confusing choice considering they’re a band that are known for being simplistic, those two album seemed to be saying they’re more than that. Obviously they are not and with ¡Uno! it appears that they may have actually begun to realise that. It often feels like a hark back to their old, more original and better, sound.

When I first heard Kill the DJ I must admit I hated it. I thought it was another nail being hammered into the trio’s coffin but actually since listening to the album a few times my mind has been completely changed. Kill the DJ is actually the biggest step in the right direction Green Day have had in years. Stripping down the music back to basics, because let’s face it none of them are actually good musicians, and singing about something that doesn’t matter. The catchy chorus genuinely does show you what made Green Day good in the first place. They’re not ground-breaking by any means but they can make a good tune that can stick in your head and is incredibly easy to listen to.

That’s not say, though, that there aren’t moments of shitness here. As an album by the halfway point it gets a bit tired and the second half of the album drags, with every song sounding the same. It’s weakest points come Oh Love and Angel Blue. The latter sounds like a re-hash of about 100 previous Green Day songs that have exact some structure and insanely similar sounding riffs. The former being just over five minutes of a boring two-bar song that seems to repeat itself over and over without changing.

This album definitely sounds like a step in the right direction, it seems much more like the original Green Day that was so fresh and listenable and manages to drive the band away from their over-complicated political albums that were so poor. As an album it’s a fun listen but it does beg the question that maybe Green Day should have just stopped while they were ahead, they struggle to kkeep up the quality on this disc and it makes me worried to see how they’ve managed to get three albums of this material. Still, we’ll see what happens, review of ¡Dos! to come next week.

 

Days Go By

Back in my early teens The Offspring could do no wrong in my eyes, being a young wannabe punk their whiny pop punk was ideal for me and with their last album ‘Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace’ which is now, quite unbelievably, four years old they showed that they’re never going to grow up but have still got it in them to create a perfectly passable album. When I first listened to ‘Days Go By’ I was beginning to think they may have even improved upon 2008’s LP. Opening track ‘The Future is Now’ and title track ‘Days Go By’ both exceed anything on ‘Rise and Fall…’ then just as you think this band could have reinvented themselves you are met with track six. ‘Cruising California (Bumpin’ in my Trunk)’ within about thirty seconds all your good feelings of the previous five tracks are obliterated and then their shards are shat on by a terrible pre-chorus which seems like a lame attempt to make a new ‘Pretty Fly…’ and it doesn’t stop there, as well possibly ruining their own name within the space of about a minute this travesty also pisses in the face of one of punks fore fathers The Ramones by quoting their famed ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’ line. After this abomination of a song, which I have since found out is actually the first single, the band have set themselves with the impossible task of redeeming themselves and unfortunately no other tracks are worthy of even staying in my memory. It seems such a shame as in the first five tracks I was getting quite excited, but maybe it’s time that Dexter, Noodles and Greg K took some time, did some growing up and perhaps come back in a decade with something completely different because this is surely the last nail in the coffin for pop punk.