Is punk dead? You know, I'm just not sure. I'm certainly pushed towards a big fat yes when I look around at what passes for punk on the charts these days -- Blink 183, Sum 41, Avril Lavigne. Easy targets, I know, but there's still nothing very punk in that lot with their overproduced sounds, and apparent belief that making fun of other musicians, shouting into microphones with nothing very interesting to say, or destroying the Mall of America is somehow to be considered bad ass rather than just plain bad.
Goo Goo Dolls lead singer, John Rzeznik once said: "Punk's not dead, it's just at K-Mart." I think that's a fair assessment of what's happened to the genre. You know, you can actually walk into large chain department stores now and buy clothes already torn to shreds and covered in texta? Wow! Pink hair is suddenly cool for everyone! John's right, punk style died when it became a marketable commodity.
Everyone's doing it, too. Though as for when it began, I don't know, but lately the Goths and punks are almost indistinguishable from the skaters and the beauty queens. The formerly Goth-only stores, like Ice, are drifting from the big cities to the small towns. What the hell happened? I can't say. All I know is, I turned around one day and the world had stolen my fucking hairstyle.
So, maybe popularity has killed the punk look as a form individualistic expression, but if you look away from the charts, to the back streets and garages of America, punk music is holding on.
Enter Baltimore's the Mishaps, yet another cantankerous and loud three-piece band to emerge on the punk scene spouting off their desire to change the face of modern music. While that probably won't happen any time soon, the kids have just the right blend of screeching vocals, static riffs and politically charged lyrics that prove they're at least attempting to keep punk's heart beating.
The Mishaps -- Neal Page, Johnny Bungalow (now there's a cool name), and John Fatur -- are making their names with grueling tours, rocking alongside the likes of River City Rebels and Worthless United. The boys also found themselves part of Vans Warped, and saw their track, "Jenny", added to a free CD distributed to over 6,000 music fans. A pretty good start, I'd say, for a band barely a year old.
The Mishaps' new six-track EP (again featuring "Jenny") is also a good start. The songs on Get Away Volume are all roughly three minutes of over-confident wailing to a fast and furious beat. Lyrically, they tackle the father of an abused daughter on the brutal "Mr Wellington", lost love on "Anything for You", America's fallibilities on "Generator", and the story of a runaway groupie on "Jenny". Like all good punk records, the songs are simple, each with just enough of a discernible melody to make them catchy and memorable.
Unrelenting drums, experimental bass work (especially on opener, "Mr Wellington"), and Page's often blood-curdling caterwauling make for a lot of body-shaking fun. Get Away Volume demonstrates the Mishaps' ample ability to do punk justice, and, hey, even if the music is derivative of the Clash, Supergrass, early Green Day, and even earlier Goo Goo Dolls, at least they're ripping off the right guys.
Now, if we could only get them on the charts.