-->
Music

Millencolin: Home From Home

Jeremy Schneyer

Millencolin

Home from Home

Label: Epitaph
US Release Date: 2002-03-12
UK Release Date: 2002-03-11
Amazon
iTunes

Swedish punkers Millencolin made quite the breakthrough with their last record, Pennybridge Pioneers. On their first three records, changes to their sound were hardly noticeable, as they plowed through song after song of speedy, melodic, sometimes ska-inflected skate-punk. They were pretty damn good at what they did, but there's really only so long that a band can mine that style before they either break up or feel the need to diversify. Pennybridge found Millencolin realizing that they were not only a great skate-punk band, they were a great band, period. They slowed the tempos down a notch, and started to emphasize songcraft over velocity. The end result was one of the best rock records of Y2K. Seemingly taking a hint from their contrymen Fireside and Starmarket, who specialize in heavy, melodic, emotional rock of the highest order, Pennybridge Pioneers managed to be smart, tuneful, and addictive, all the while rocking your pants off.

So, the question that rears its head with the band's new release, Home From Home, is, of course, will the band continue their winning streak, or simply relapse into old habits? Pennybridge was such a self-confident stylistic departure that it's pretty tough to imagine the boys simply lapsing back into the speedy punk rock of old. And while they certainly don't do that on Home From Home, they unfortunately don't quite keep up the bar that they set with Pennybridge. The best songs on the record pretty much go for the midtempo, melodic stuff that the band perfected on Pennybridge. "Montego" soars on a fantastic chorus that recalls the glory days of Bob Mould's Sugar, and "Black Eye" features some great guitar interplay, as well as a great shout-along chorus. "Botanic Mistress" sees the band at it's happy, pogo-inducing best, with another fun shout-along chorus that goes "All I wanna do / Is live my life with you". If I had to guess, I'd say that this song is an ode to pot, but it's hard to say because the cheap bastards at Epitaph saw fit to only send me a cheesy advance copy of the CD in a cardboard case with no lyrics. This is significant in that singer Nikola Sarkevic has the tendency to actually write some pretty damn good lyrics. While sometimes they're fluffy and more than a little bit silly, he has the tendency to throw in some startlingly insightful lines here and there. While these little lines have the tendency to get lost in the bluster of the band's music and in Sarkevic's slight Swedish accent, the inclusion of a lyric sheet is always welcome. However, no dice on that front, so unfortunately, a lot of the subtleties of Sarkevic's thoughts will have to be left to head scratching punk-rockers listening intently with their headphones.

Although there are quite a few highlights on Home From Home, the record as a whole is not nearly as cohesive as Pennybridge was. For one thing, it starts off on the wrong foot with "Man or Mouse" with its unfortunately boneheaded "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus. From there, the band launches into three strong cuts: the speedy, melodic "Fingers Crossed" and the above-mentioned "Black Eye" and "Montego". The next two tunes mark the low point of the record -- "Punk Rock Rebel", which is supposedly an affectionate tribute from the band to one of their early skating heroes, comes across as cheesy and forced, while the metal-tinged "Kemp" is just tuneless and annoying.

The second half of the record is pretty damn watertight, but even so, there's nothing here that quite catches fire like Pennybridge's standout tracks. "Afghan" is a thoughtful meditation on the war on terrorism, and with lyrics like "So show the world you're strong/The weaker one is wrong", delivered with his trademark bellowing sneer, it's clear where Sarkevic's sentiments lie. Lines like these show that while Sarkevic may not be the most adept wordsmith the pop music world has ever known, he does have some interesting things to say, and he manages to convey them efficiently and unpretentiously.

Home From Home is not a bad album. In fact, it's actually pretty damn good. Sarkevic is still one of the best singers in all of punk rock, and the band pretty much mops the floor with their peers when it comes to songwriting prowess and general musical excellence. They happened to pull off quite the stunner of a record with Pennybridge Pioneers, and Home From Home's main fault is that it doesn't quite hold up when compared with that high-water mark. However, judged by any other standard, and compared to practically any other modern pop-punk record released this year, Home From Home holds its own with no trouble whatsoever.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock each did their stint as a lonely Mexican cowboy, it seems. These and other things you didn't know about A Charlie Brown Christmas.

How Would You Like to Be the Director of Our Christmas Play?

It's really a beautiful little movie and has affected my life in numerous ways. For years, especially when we were poor, we always tried to find the littlest saddest Christmas tree possible. In fact, my son Eli has a Christmas tree set up right now that is just one single branch propped up in a juice bottle. And just a couple weeks ago we were at a wedding, everyone was dancing, and me and my wife Amy and my friend Garth started dancing like the Peanuts characters do in the Christmas special. -- Comic artist James Kochalka.

Bill Melendez answers questions with the sort of vigor that men a third his age invest thousands in herbal supplements to achieve. He punctuates his speech with belly chuckles and comic strip taglines like "Oh, boy!" and "I tell 'ya!" With the reckless abandon that Melendez tosses out words like pleasure, it's clear that 41 years after its premiere, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of his favorite topics of conversation. "It changed my life," he states simply, "being involved with this silly little project."

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image