* Prices may differ from that shown
I have been listening to various forms of punk music for about 18 years now and the descendents where the band that first got me interested. Although this wasn't the first album of theirs i got into (my first was the wonderful i don't want to grow up) this is the album i generaly go back to and listen to now. This album is awesome is has a raw powerful quality with a real feeling of passion and love for what they are doing. It is a lot more hardcore sounding than their later albums apart from maybe 1997's everything sucks. After this album was released they took a break while the lead singer Milo went to college and got a degree, during this break the drummer bill stevenson went on to drum for Black flag until the descendents reformed. Their lyrics genrally revolve around a set few topics girls, coffee, food, angst and fishing. They are without a doubt a group of total geeks, which i find personally refreshing and inspiring.
From the outset this album has short fast and powerful songs, the opener Myage (the -age suffix appears again and again through out their song titles) with its catchy lyrics spit out over the surfer-esque guitars and rythemic drumming, catches you and shows you what is to come. This is followed by the fast and punchy I wanna be a bear which clocks in at 40 seconds with the line at the end which always brings a smile to my face "i don't want to smell your muff!". Next is the awesome I'm not a loser a real anthem for geeky misfits everywhere. the rest of the album follows suit with some amazing blasts of short catchy punk played as it should be. other stand outs for me are the truely awesome Bikeage and Hope both of which have been covered numerous times by bands like sublime and blink 182. This album has some amazing riffs and entertaining snotty lyrics and a certain naivety which gives it a great charm.
If i where to recommend a record of this genre to anyone it would be this one. This bands influence in modern music is huge, with bands like nofx, blink 182, greenday etc. all oweing a great debt to these forerunners of the pop-punk genre. I think anyone who is into this style of music and has not heard this should do themselves a favour and buy this now. you won't regret it! I think these are easily on a par with what i consider to be the great american underground bands of the 80's along with husker du, black flag, mission of burma and minor threat.
*California punk rock has never sounded so... brief*
This now seminal California punk rock record from 1982 laid down both the musical ground rules and the attitude for a slew of 90's punk groups and the mutation of the frenetic and simplistic chords, devil may care swagger and disenfranchisement of groups such as Descendents ultimately paved the way for stadium groups such as the Offspring, Green Day and Blink 182.
If you're a fan of California punk music or hardcore punk you really should check out this fantastic short album of fifteen tracks, all belted out before you really get a chance to hum along (although the themes sink in pretty fast). With the longest track weighing in at a tiny 2:14, what do you have to lose?
*An import, but not too hard to track down*
'Milo Goes to College' can be had from most of the usual outlets, although you may have to back order it if you try and get it from your local music store. Amazon stock it (currently £14.19), Play has it for £10.99 and American music websites including CD Universe (www.cduniverse.com) and Interpunk (www.interpunk.com) have it available from $12.29-$13.75 + postage.
That said, your best bet is probably to download it and Play are cheapest for this (£5.95 for the MP3s). The iTunes store also has it, but at £7.99 you're better getting it elsewhere and then converting it if you use an iPod.
*Fans and critics have nothing bad to say..*
'Milo Goes to College' receives rave reviews from fans and critics alike (out of the 50+ reviews on Amazon.com, only 5 give it three stars or less) and it's a common staple on the 'top xxx' lists of punk music fans around the world. The recording quality is surprisingly good for a punk record of this era and I think this has a lot to do with it. Critics are equally generous, with the record making the Spin 'Top hardcore albums of all time' list and with a slew of positive reviews from professional reviewers.
*Good songs don't have to be long*
The Descendents can always be relied upon for snappy songs that make their point and then finish. Hardcore punk groups are known for being succinct and this is no exception. The guitar tracks are punchy if short on chords, lead singer Milo Auckerrman (who actually was off to college to study chemistry (how punk isn't that?)) yells out his lyrics with gusto and bravura and the album is finished before the dust has a chance to settle.
The Descendents were fairly original in that song writing duties were shared out equally among the band members, which unfortunately means that the quality of lyrics etc. does vary. Songs such as 'Suburban Home' and 'Statue of Liberty' are great examples of indignant and vaguely politicised tracks, while others such as 'I Wanna Be a Bear' make their point somewhat crudely.
My only issue with the record is that it comes across as slightly misogynistic. As is to be expected from a group of teen punks of this vintage, most of these tracks are about girls and the women aren't treated so favourably. Auckerrman and co. often seem to draw direct correlation between the world of dating, marriage and sex and the more oppressive aspects of life in the 'rat race'. Several of the tracks seem to feature a recurring motif of women as forbidden fruit, partaking of which will emasculate men and tie them down to established roles. Ideas like this have been around since biblical times, but it doesn't make them seem any less twee.
*Specific tracks worth checking out*
Although most of the tracks are worth a listen, highlights for me included:
'I Wanna be a Bear' - A funny little track about men and women and a lack of willingness to fulfil the normal roles of society. It's only 0:43 long and is surprisingly good, but is let down by a final line so crude I'll not repeat it here...
'Parents' - Another great short song, with lyrics that almost anyone will be able to relate to, a healthy dose of ire and understated, Misfits style guitars.
'Catalina' - An oddity about escaping from the shackles of the world to go fishing. Snotty and sneering, this is a good listen if only because the level of indignity is unusual for such a young group.
'Suburban Home' - Classic punk song that mocks the suburbs and the 'mom and dad' culture that homogenises and dulls down every aspect of life.
'Marriage' - On the offensive again, the Descendents attack marriage and point out that they see the institution as sexless, grim and controlling. The line 'I want you to be my wife and stay with me for the rest of your life' is odd and seems to suggest that a marriage is all about male control over women (as you'd typically write 'stay with me for the rest of *my* life').
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 I Wanna Be A Bear
3 I'm Not A Loser
6 M 16
7 I'm Not A Punk
9 Suburban Home
10 Statue Of Liberty
11 Kabuki Girl
15 Jean Is Dead