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Music Review: God Awfuls fail to resurrect punk rock

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by Taylor Kingsbury
Staff Writer

“We need a revolution,” sneers vocalist Kevin De Franco on “Watch It Fall,” one of the feisty numbers on the God Awfuls’ debut album, “Next Stop Armageddon.”

If De Franco’s referring to his hometown of La Verne, then I’m a little lost. Apparently, growing up in an affluent middle-class college town with an almost non-existent crime-rate inspires one to loathe society as we know it.

However, if De Franco’s talking about punk rock, then he’s absolutely right. From its inception as the raw and primal antithesis of all things Pop, to the ironic invention of the pop-punk genre, punk rock has transmogrified into a brand name.

The genre has splintered into several subspecies, allowing surly, non-conformist youth to align themselves with the attitude and fashion of emo, grindcore, or oi, while still claiming their dubious foothold on the punk scene.

While originally fashioned as a no-frills, plug in and play salute to rock and roll, punk as we know it today has more to do with buying an $80 pair of multi-zippered plaid pants at Hot Topic. Somewhere along the way, punk became fashionable, which of course spawned yet a new sub-genre of punk: classic punk; notable because the bands who play it express only disdain for the homogenization of the genre.

But, alas, that too has become fashionable. So, it’s easy to be skeptical when a band like the God Awfuls declares that punk rock songs should not be about girls.

On their debut release, the Awfuls strive for, and maintain, a standard of traditional punk fury with choruses catchy enough to be memorable, but not catchy enough to be on Star FM. The young band certainly has its chops down, and its work captures both the vigor of the brash British punk of the ‘70s and the more melodic sensibility of early-’90s skate-punk.

The album echoes the work of Bad Religion’s peak period, and will undoubtedly thrill disenchanted fans who refuse to accept punk’s popularity.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with catchy three chord tunes about protesting intolerance and defying authority, there are no new punk songs left to write.

Indeed, tunes like “NRA” are well executed, but nothing the discerning punk fan hasn’t already heard thousands of times before.

No one is going to revolutionize punk rock.

So, why buy this? Sure, the God Awfuls certainly don’t live up to their name, but how is that an accomplishment?

We don’t need a new band that sounds like Bad Religion or the Dead Kennedys, because those bands have rich catalogues of their own. Punk splintered because it had to; the genre evolved because it had grown stagnant.

If this is the sound you’re looking for, pick up some early Vandals or Strung Out records. But, I suppose if you have all of those, and you can’t quite afford the plaid pants, you could certainly find worse than this.

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