There's a lot of stock in "good" vs. "bad" in this racket. To wit: when a new album comes out and is shot into the hands of execs, managers, agents, publicists, bookers and fluffers, it's always accompanied by a brief declaration of whether or not it's decent by whoever heard it first. "It's good" or "it's okay" or "it's bad" is the total summation that everyone on the business end of music gets. The criticism, with its literary allusions, cultural reference points and contexts of oeuvre and drug histories, is plugged into the equation like Lite Brite bulbs a little later on. What matters first is always "Is it any good?" And more often than not, it's just okay.
The Ataris, for instance, are just okay. They sound a great deal like Blink-182, which is to say they're not particularly offensive, not in an industry in which being aggressively boring is a favored skill, but they're also not especially exciting. A testament to this is how distracted I am by Atari Teenage Riot, an unrelated noise band that sits temptingly beside the Ataris on my playlist. That said, this longtime pop-punk band definitely has privileged status in the angsty teen and post-teen echelon, though perhaps less now that they've released an emo record. Welcome the Night is a sleepytime version of their old, revved-up selves. Unfortunately, the stylistic change hasn't done much to invigorate their overall sound.
Which is still just okay.
The Ataris with Blackpool Lights and Wax on Radio at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.hob.com. Sun., 8 p.m. $17.99-$19.99. All ages.
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