I'm a dumb sappy fuck -- that much should be obvious to anyone who's read my stuff before. Being the giant sap-wad that I am, it's only natural that I make mixtapes for anyone who so much as looks me in the eyes, let alone acknowledges my sorry existence. After all, there's no easier way to communicate "hey baby, I'm a PUNK and I'm emotionally under-developed as FUCK" than an hour of fast rock music and ill-mannered guitar romanticism. Bonus points if you actually dub the thing to a cassette tape, so that way the garbage man eventually gets something nice when rooting through your ex-girlfriend's trash can. Because let's be honest, where else would the damn thing end up?
Anyways, the point I'm making here is that I make a lot of mixtapes and playlists and junk. Like, I've made three within the past month or so. Did anyone actually listen to them? I dunno, fuck it, don't care -- they're fun to make and get me all sorts of excited about music. Among these hundreds of playlist features and auditory mainstays, there's few bands that I reserve more excitement for than I do Sacramento's Boats!. Some might remember me featuring them in a mix, like... shit, two years ago (https://youtu.be/Eq3ZsJGgmgc). Okay, so maybe nobody remembers. The important thing to note is that -- and I know, I know, it's wrong for a parent to pick a favorite --, but Boats! was easily my favorite band of the bunch, and has appeared in almost every mix I've made since. At the time I was only familiar with the Bandcamp album that the song was ripped from (https://boatsboatsboats.bandcamp.com/...), which turns out was only a preview of an album that later released in 2012 (if anyone's got the whole thing, please hit me up. The closest thing I could find were these songs on ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/boatsboa...). But even when my exposure was limited to those four songs, I still went fuckin' head over heels for this band. I must've listened to that thing hundreds of times since I've discovered it, which when you think about it, is sorta like watching the trailer for a movie on repeat, without ever actually seeing the fucking movie. Sounds dumb when you put it that way, but I guess my love for Boats! errs on the side of dumb. It's truly unconditional.
"Black And White" -- as far as I can tell -- was recorded in 2011 and released on vinyl by Modern Action Records in 2013, meaning that this is probably the band's newest release, save for a collection tape that was put out by Shake! Records in 2015 (if anyone's got that, please send a rip or a copy to me in exchange for dollars/kisses). The band also recorded some songs for a game called Sunset Overdrive in 2014 (https://store.steampowered.com/app/84...), which let me tell you, was fuckin' SURREAL to hear them out in the wild like that. I already adored their 7" prior to playing the game and discovering their involvement, promptly resulting in me geeking the fuck out -- but only in silence. Because unfortunately, Boats! doesn't seem to get nearly enough recognition online. Who was I gonna geek out about it to?
You. I'm geeking about it to you. Listening to this album, you better be geeking too.
I thank my lucky stars every fuckin' time I listen to this album; not only because the album revisits all the songs from the dearly beloved "One Of Us" single, but also because these new songs easily managed to live up to their splendor. This... this shit rocks my socks. This shit rocks my damn toe jam, it's so good. From the supercharged guitar melodies, bruised time and time again by repeated heartache, to the wilted, sugared vocal harmonies dripping with tenacity, emotion, and a sparkling resonance of sheer irreverence, Boats! proudly bears its heartbreak and raw nerves in a tightly-wound shitfit of rock 'n' roll bliss. The irresistible simplicity of these songs should speak to anyone who considers themselves a bit of a guitar romantic at heart -- because I know it sure fuckin' does for me. Boats! is a goddamn hit-maker. SHOW THEM YOUR LOVE.
Gonna need everyone to re-calibrate their frequencies here. This ain't none of that uncultured punk stuff. This is rock 'n' roll, man. A backrolled ear-ciggy of sugary, pogo-pop beatitude, the filter half-cut, this propulsive noodle-prone panache served straight down your ear cavity in its rawest form. This is the realest of real deals right here.
So. Unrelated question. Where do we draw the line between punk and rock 'n' roll, anyways?
I'm not sure. I've never really cared enough to delve into the idiosyncrasies dividing the two, but I'm sure some cheeky bastard will come up with a flow chart to explain it all anyways. Wherever that line may reside, The Pop's self-titled tape makes sure to walk it like a pre-teen adolescent hopped up on... well, a fifth of carbonated soft drinks -- meaning it's all over the damn place. The album kicks off with some relaxed, sultry, headbobbing-grooves in "Rock 'n' Roll", calling back to a more classical, hardened rock sound that's gone woefully unappreciated in recent decades. Is it a little hokey? Sure. But is it a shit-ton of fun? You bet. From the outset, The Pops makes it evidently clear that they're not only here to both rock AND roll, but to also stomp around to some electrifying tunes that channel a more overt punk energy. Tracks like "Pop Fiend" and "Cry" pulsate with an crazed intensity that front-loads darkened chords, brisk, hard-hitting tempos, and throat-wrenching wails above all else; a far cry from the jerky melodiousness explored in the previous two songs. But, not unlike a loving father who just got done piledriving his newborn into their crib, The Pops dial things back down with some cloyingly sweet lullabies, once again capturing that dreamy, ear-pleasing hookiness with some slow-paced ballads at the tail-end of the cassette. The Pops is a band that clearly functions with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek -- its animated, goofy, and more importantly, a damn good love letter to all things that've ever rolled 'n' rocked. The Pops are tops.
Thank you to Connie for bringing this album to my attention. It's a Bloomington-based thing that's got that Connor Martin fellow involved -- the same Connor from Skull Cult (https://skullcultusa.bandcamp.com/), Buttzz (https://buttzz.bandcamp.com/), Evel (https://xlhell.bandcamp.com/album/eve...), and I think The Bills as well (https://bill.bandcamp.com/album/take-one). Don't know anything about the other two members, but they did a damn good thing with this tape.