The Warped Tour celebrates skateboarding and the music that stokes it, a list that in recent years has expanded to include ska, metal, hip-hop and even swing. Its main event, however, remains hardcore punk, a style that, despite its limitations, is still thriving.
Recent releases by three bands in this year's Warped lineup, which swoops into RFK Stadium next Tuesday, show that the music is being refueled, refined and even reborn.
If there's a need for a new Green Day, Blink 182 could certainly do the job. The 12 songs on this Southern California trio's "Enema of the State" (MCA) are jauntily tuneful but mostly rueful. "She said it stopped being fun/ I just bring her down," laments "Don't Leave Me," one of a half dozen songs about women who don't, didn't or won't have anything to do with bratty singer-songwriters Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge.
The problem may be immaturity, one track admits ("My friends say I should act my age/ What's my age again?"), but "The Party Song" suggests that the issue is actually misogyny. Still, this album is so playful and melodic that the attack on women who "try too hard" passes like a momentary misunderstanding.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8154.)
L.A.'s Suicidal Tendencies recorded one of hardcore's few crossover successes, "Institutionalized," a talked-sung epic of teenage alienation. Then the Tendencies did what hardcore musicians were supposed to do when they grew up: Switch to metal and sign with a major label. A decade later, singer Mike Muir and his latest lineup have rediscovered punk with "Freedumb" (Suicidal/Side 1 Dummy).
Although the album includes funky breaks and metallic guitar, it's mostly a return to the band's early sound. That's apt, since the title song is a renunciation of the world Muir encountered outside the punk demimonde: "Lies are cheap and free/ So the profit margin works exceptionally," he reports, while "I Ain't Like You" jeers that "I hate myself sometimes it's true/ But I can't hate myself enough to be like you." There's nothing so striking as "Institutionalized" on "Freedumb," but the band does seem energized to be back in the indie opposition.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8155.)
What sort of punk band thinks that "Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes is really cool? The Dropkick Murphys, a bellicose quartet from "Good Will Hunting" territory. The Boston band's "The Gang's All Here" (Hellcat) celebrates working-class and Irish American solidarity and the way it's tested--usually in fights that spill out of the bar and into the street, but sometimes in battles on such alien turf as Europe ("The Fighting 69th") or a disco-oriented neighborhood near Fenway Park ("Pipebomb on Lansdowne").
This album features a cappella sing-alongs, sea chantey melodies and a title song that would suit Johnny Cash, but the band's specialty remains tuneful high-speed punk. And brawling, of course.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8156.)
CAPTION: The bratty--some might even say sophomoric--lyrics on Blink 182's new album, "Enema of the State," are misogynous but redeemingly playful.
CAPTION: On "Freedumb," Suicidal Tendencies rediscovers punk with new energy.