Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Case Race for Party Punk

I’m calling it right now: This is the year for party punk. More red solo cups will be crushed than ever before. People will construct wizard sticks that will necessitate a new unit of measurement. People will be smoking weed by the pound and slinging coke because that will soon be their job.  And it will all be because of Party punk.

The impetus for this claim is obvious: FIDLAR is going to be the band that breaks this genre. FIDLAR’s debut, which was released on Tuesday, is loud, fast, angry, and druggy as all hell. In short, it rules. It’s no commitment, and intrinsically, it makes one want to get really drunk. 

FIDLAR - "NO Waves"

Of course, because the word “trend” exists, FIDLAR is not the only band playing this brash form of punk: there are also three power-houses of party punk around the United States.

We have Nashville’s Diarrahea Planet, the long haired southern party boys that take as many cues from tour mates Jeff The Brotherhood as much they do hardcore. Also they four guitarists. Indulgent? Exactly.  That’s kind of their whole deal. They released Loose Jewels in 2011 (a 19-minute degenerate anthematic masterpiece) and have another record forthcoming this year. 

 Diarrhea Planet - "Warm Ridin'"

Across the country, up in Oregon resides Mean Jeans; the eternally bummed but drunk disciples of the Ramones who released On Mars last year and have garnered some attention with their latest single “I Miss Outerspace.” Mean Jeans area of expertise is getting “twisted” (drunk/high), while trying to woo that cute girl who can drink you under the table.

 Mean Jeans - "Anybody Out There?"

Down in Flordia we have Too Many Daves, the most org-core of the bunch, consisting of a bunch of forty-something eternally drunks on the verge of a mid-life crisis, pushing it off one beer at a time.

Too Many Daves - "Dude's Room"

So what makes these bands party punk? And moreover what makes them good or at least worth listening to? By all acounts, these bands consist of drunks and drug addicts. (Read: All). They are all, by their own admission, pieces of shit in some compacity. They steal. They drive drunk. They are unemployed and fully unemployable. They do nothing with their lives. Yet, they write some of the catchiest music I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Upon the first listen of FIDLAR, I was humming along lyrics and telling everyone I knew to listen to them. (Sidenote, shouts to my Creative Writing Professor for turning me on to them. Second side note, my bad for sounding like a pretentious dick.) Diarrhea Planet has that rare quality of spouting kind of depressing lyrics yet making the listener feel absolutely empowered. After hearing “Fauser” for the first time, I felt like shotgunning a beer and writing love letters to everyone I knew. Mean Jeans’ music is tailored made for a music video whose centerpiece is a keg. Too Many Daves is the drunk uncle telling you on Thanksgiving everything will be okay as he hands you a Labat Blue.

I think what’s most engaging about party-punk is that it is resurrecting pop-punk from it’s tomb of Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy rip-offs. Even in that era, pop-punk bands took themselves too seriously, to the point of ruination. Most if not all, however, started off as "just a couple of jokers" before transitioning into annoying highschool crooners. Now, the bands that I’m defending are fundamentally the same - they are, for lack of a better term, three-chord bands, or seemingly so, at least. Every pop-punk band ever has been slapped with that label, and not without reason. What seperates these bands from their predecessors is the content, the bones of the beast. They fully embrace the somewhat silliness of their genre. Whereas Blink-182 had songs about going to space that had some sort of “massive corporeal impliciations” or whatever Tom DeLonge says when he’s fucked on painkillers, Mean Jeans has songs about going to space and drinking Jaegar with aliens. Where Green Day had an entire album literally built up to “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”, Diarrhea Planet constructs an entire album dedicated to shotgunning beers and bumming cigarettes -- my hatred for Nimrod rivals my hatred for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Say what you want about party culture, but Diarrhea Planet’s creedo is much more preferable to Green Day’s self-indulgent Pac Sun bullshit. Now of course, the Blink-182 influence is palpable in FIDLAR, but that could be attributed to location or the fact that Dude Ranch was a huge influence on them. I’m actually a huge fan of Blink-182, but even on joke songs, they faultered where FIDLAR flourishes -- seriously have you heard Buddha? that album sucks. Blink-182 took several albums to find footing and become good songwriters, where FIDLAR knocked the ball out of the park on the first swing.

A quick aside: I’m sure Wavves will enter into the conversation eventually, as FIDLAR are likely to be compared to them because of their lassiez-faire attitude, their SoCal sound, and their inclination towards weed-smoking. However, Wavves, in my opinion, is not party-punk. Wavves is yet another case of where the artists’ mental condition overrides their artistic output which, in my opinion, sucks. At the end of the day, Wavves is still shitty pop-punk for people who would otherwise be ashamed to admit they like pop-punk.

But what if the idea of a band dedicated to throwing their lives away turns you off? It’s a valid complaint, but I would still at least give some of these bands a listen; there’s a bit more of a weight here than just getting fucked up. These aren’t one dimensional lovelorn songs either. Every song, from FIDLAR to Too Many Daves, carries an emotional urgence that manifests itself in escapism and fear of death. Fear of death is, naturally, a recurring theme throughout media, but framed within this context it becomes a little more potent. “Well, we’re going to die, so we might as well be in a constant state of suspended animation and get as close to death as possible.” It’s a complex view and a complex way of coping, but an interesting view to get regardless. And the best part: The music is really fucking fun and over as quickly as it began, leaving no time for self-aggrandizing or sentimental bullshit that pop-punk magnetizes oh so easily toward and oh so often.

With that, I should remind you that this is the year party punk will break. FIDLAR is going to be huge. Diarrhea Planet is going to definitely gain some steam and some more fans with their new record. Mean Jeans will hopefully arouse some more interest around the Internet beyond the org-core reach. Too Many Daves, I suspect, will continue to operate quietly among the Florida scene while a crop of copycat bands pop-up. So, crack open a beer and get your friends together. This is going to be a fun year.

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