[27 January 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
What do you say about a seven-inch record that’s less than four minutes long? As little as possible? (Har de har har.) Well, that’s the task before us in reviewing the latest seven-inch-cum-EP by Wyoming pop punksters Teenage Bottlerocket, because the single is, indeed, just three tracks long and each one, save for the last, scrapes by at just about a minute in length. (The final one is a minute thirty-seven.) But, in actuality, the ultra-super-short length of the material isn’t the problem here – you know this is punk, and punk, generally, is pretty short outside of the likes of Hüsker Dü’s “Reoccurring Dreams”. The problem here is one of regurgitation (more on that in a second) and, more importantly, lack of a distinct theme. Two of the three songs are covers. The first is “Ich bin Ausländer und Spreche Nicht Gut Deutsch”, which is, of course, sung in German. And the final is the German-inspired “Via Munich”, which is a reworking of a Tony Sly song already included in a tribute album to the late artist. But what middle track “I’m the One Smoking Marijuana Motherfucker” has to do with Germany is anyone’s guess. The Netherlands, maybe. But Germany?
All in all, the songs are short and punchy and possibly humorous in a juvenile kind of way. But including one song that’s already available elsewhere seems to be a kind of cheat. And not really connecting in any kind of way with a theme or message that would make the three songs chosen here make any kind of sense is odd. So what you get with the American Deutsch Bag seven inch (or EP) is a smorgasbord of stuff that doesn’t really hang together. That said, if you enjoyed American Pie and its sequels, you may get something from this release. For others, it seems a bit of a pittance to spend money on goods that are so short and squandered, and you may wonder (as I do) what the whole point of this record is to begin with. If it’s meant to be a good laugh, it is, at best, a subtle chuckle. Basically, American Deutsch Bag hardly reaches the mark, and to be a true judge of this kind of material, one supposes that a few more songs needed to be added to this grab bag. As it stands, though: is this satire, or is it sincere? The answer lies, alas, not in here.