February 13, 2013 by Daniel
Does Apple even do New Music Tuesday anymore? Wait, let me go check.
Seems like they haven’t done it in its original form in like five years. Shows how out of touch I am with mainstream music distribution, I guess. I had a friend at my old summer camp who always knew the hottest stuff coming out, and sometimes that stuff was okay, and it also made him popular with the ladies, so when I got back from camp I vowed to keep up with it. I signed up for the newsletter and everything, but the first two weeks that I checked it out was just a cesspool of the very worst pop music, so I vowed to never check it again.
Despite my negative experience, I still think the idea of having a weekly spot for new music is cool, so I’ve decided to do my own variation of it, which works especially well because I listen to a lot of albums but can’t really put my words into a piece of “criticism”; these will be more in line with standard reviews. Oh, and when I say “new music”, I really mean “new to me”. Lots of the stuff on my music list is fairly new, but some of it is going to be older. Some of it won’t even be on my list at all! Anything is fair game so long as I haven’t heard it before. This is going to replace my Highlights feature as the weekly update of the blog, because I got bored of doing that and would rather put my time into something that actually requires a bit of thought instead of verbatim regurgitation. Cool? Cool.
So, last week I got this e-mail from a band called Destroy Nate Allen. They had seen the Jeff Rosenstock interview I did in 2011 and asked if I would review their seventh (!) full-length album, With Our Powers Combined. Since I really liked the cover art and figured that any band who knew of Jeff Rosenstock was probably cool, I happily obliged.
The husband-and-wife duo describe themselves as “an interactive, sing-a-long folk punk band”, which basically means that they write songs self-consciously made for crowd-shouting and fist-pumping in a punk/ska style. Everything they do has been created for maximum audience participation – they eschew stages entirely when they play live, preferring to get the crowd into a big circle and romp around within, and the songs are simple with repetitive but catchy hooks.
This stuff works surprisingly well in a studio setting. For one, they’ve enlisted The Gnarboots as a backing band instead of sticking to an acoustic duo setting, which beefs them up with a classic 90s pop-punk sound. While musically the songs aren’t all that interesting, they make up for it with really infectious choruses and some blunt but witty lyrics. Nate and his wife Tessa have particularly snotty punk voices that are hilariously off-key half the time, and there’s an unbridled, unashamed enthusiasm here that’s reminiscent of The B-52’s. And while they’re not really appropriate for a kiddie crowd, they easily could be with their silly, good-natured attitude; “don’t go down to the boobie bar/if you want a real relationship you won’t get far” is certainly as sound advice as any.
Look, being honest, there’s not that much on With Our Powers Combined that sets 21-year-old-me’s heart aflame. But the simple, anthemic earworms offered up on the album bring out the 16-year-old in me – the part of me that just wants to go to ska/punk shows with my friends and get really sweaty dancing around. Chances are that most of you will find Destroy Nate Allen annoying; the rest of us will just be over in this corner laughing and having a good time with our teenaged selves.