"Hey, this sounds like punk rock," smirks a sarcastic friend of mine, as the latest CD by the Bouncing Souls, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, spins in the back of my room. Yes, indeed. What my friend means is that the album, the band's sixth, sounds pretty much like any other punk rock CD we could have thrown into the stereo.
It's a precisely formulated balance of fast-paced musical riffs and shifts, loudly corrugating vocal tones and lyrics that are blended in accordance with the universal punk-rock recipe: one part raging youth power, one part wish-you-were-my-girlfriend. And don't forget to sprinkle the top with some kind of anti-serious anthem; in this case, "Streetlight Serenade" with lines such as, "I'll sing this song to my bike/and everything else that I like/this goes out to the handlebars."
But is that bad? Formed nearly a decade ago, the New York-based and New Jersey-originated Bouncing Souls wear the punk rock label of honor, Epitaph records. They have toured across the country with other accurately patterned punk bands including NOFX and the Descendants.
Fans have said that How I Spent My Summer Vacation, which was released in June, is possibly the band's best material to date. And bassist-vocalist Bryan Kienlen says, "I've never, ever been happier in my life."
Clearly the Bouncing Souls have figured out what their audiences like - why go around changing things?
How I Spent My Summer Vacation is catchy and cute. In a press release, the band describes their music not as "the smelly toilet stall, heroin addicted puck rock, but the punk rock which is a celebration of youth." Well, put down a checkmark because the Bouncing Souls have accomplished just that.
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The Bouncing Souls will be playing on Monday at the Launchpad with Flogging Molly, One Man Army and Madcap. This tour is benefiting the Widows and Children fund of the New York City Fire Department. A percentage of tour money will be donated and there will also be donation jars at the show.
I expect the show will be energized and romping, just like punk rock. Rah-rah, oi-oi and solidarity, man.