Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CD Review: Teenage Bottlerocket - Warning Device

Honestly, a friend introduced me to Teenage Bottlerocket, which disappoints me because I can’t even claim discovery; any music fan knows that laying claim to band discovery is not far removed from the thrill of getting your driver’s license or kissing the hottest girl in school when you know she shouldn’t be kissing you.

Warning Device (2008) marks Teenage Bottlerocket’s third release, following Total (2005) and Another Way (2003). Seems like the band likes to release albums too few and far between—lazy ass punk kids. What Teenage Bottlerocket and Red Scare records has in Warning Device, however, is a pop-punk record that’s rife with teenage angst, love’s promise, and senseless fun. You’ve heard all that crap applied to other similar albums and bands, so I’m going to tell you the truth: because Warning Device is a kick-ass album, it’ll cause you to involuntarily tap you toes, sing along, and make you believe that you can actually play drums (or want to buy a snare, high-hat, and a kick drum). If you’re not careful you’ll end up twitching like a kid with Tourette’s.

Pop-punk is more about venting, moving, and having fun than it is about complex chord progressions, incendiary solos, or lyrics with highbrow sensibilities or philanthropic messages. That’s why it bothers me when I read criticism that Warning Device sounds a tad too similar to Teenage Bottlerocket’s influences, namely the Ramones (though you could also count the Mr. T Experience, The Dickies, Screeching Weasel, and the Groovie Ghoulies among them). It’s true, however, that when “Gave You My Heart” starts off I can’t stop waiting for the Ramones’ “Pinhead” to kick in.

Still, if we’re going to expect Teenage Bottlerocket to write completely original songs, then we should expect the same from do-no-wrong, established pop-punkers Green Day. To get a better sense of what I mean, take another listen to “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Give Me Novacaine” from American Idiot (2004) and then take a another listen to “On With The Show” by Motley Crue and “Bullet the Blue Sky” by U2.

With dual vocals provided by Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman, there are a number of killer tracks on Teenage Bottlerocket’s Warning Device; keep an ear to the ground for “Bottlerocket,” “In the Basement,” “She’s Not the One,” “Crawling Back To You,” and “Pacemaker.”

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