I experienced punk's first wave, but I didn't guzzle the Sid Vicious-flavored Kool-Aid. My favorite punk records were British: Wire's Pink Flag, the early Clash and Buzzcocks LPs, Never Mind the Bollocks: pretty typical for a guy growing up in late-'70s metro Detroit. Punk briefly excited me musically, and the political element was peripherally interesting, but my ardor for it faded quickly.
When post-punk emerged around '78 or '79, I fell much harder for those groups than I had for punk. American hardcore seemed even cruder and less interesting than its U.K. counterpart. It wasn't until I encountered the Minutemen, Meat Puppets and Hüsker Dü that U.S. punk really riveted me.
I relate this biographical prattle to let you know my bias: Punk's never formed a huge part of my listening diet. Musically, it swiftly solidified into one of the most conservative styles ever. And if I wanted political commentary back then, I'd read the Village Voice (or listen to Crass or Entertainment!), not the banal generalizations of some undereducated oiks.
So, to the Crowd's 12-year-old Letter Bomb, which TKO has reissued on CD, tacking on 1995's Dig Yourself EP: These Huntington Beach dudes ply a tuneful, bouncy, mildly snotty brand of punk that's as suburban as their stomping grounds. Hooks plant themselves in your brain with great facility (especially on "Once In a While" and "Your Generation"), guitars buzz and chug with a not-so-different kind of tension (Buzzcocks allusion intended; the Crowd cover two 'cocks classics, "Time's Up" and "Love You More"), and the energy level is teen-skater-high. Letter Bomb features 18 songs and no surprises, but it gives you 18 reasons to shout along in an aggressively melodious manner. That's enough for many people.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to email@example.com.
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