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.
For more informationon the Crowd, visit www.tkorecords.com.
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