Tuesday, December 25, 2012

36 Songs, 36 Days (2012 Edition), Day Thirty Five: We Are The Fallen by Pennywise

Almost 25 years old and still standing up for the little guy...

It's a hardcore Christmas everyone!

Now keep in mind that outside of the songs on this album, All or Nothing, the only things I knew about this band was that it was named after the evil clown from Stephen King's It, and that its once and future lead singer Jim Lindberg once threatened Adam Carolla with something ominously referred to as 'Poo Poo City' during a taping of Love Lines back in the 90's.  Hell, until I heard All or Nothing, I thought Pennywise was a ska punk band, which is why I decided to sample it.

And on top of that misinterpretation, there's the fact that All or Nothing is something of an anomaly in the band's discography, as it's the only album which featured vocals by Jim Lindberg's 'permanent replacement,' Zoli Telgas--'permanent' apparently meaning only 'a year or two' in Pennywise terms, as Teglas bowed out after injuring his back and was replaced by Lindberg.  So what I experienced in this album is not the 'pure' Pennywise experience.

As for the song--this is certainly a band that wears its influence on its sleeve, in particular the band Bad Religion.  Even though Teglas' vocals have a quality that evoke no less than Dexter Holland of The Offspring (which is a band probably as diametrically opposed to Pennywise as any band can be without being pop or reggaton or something outrageous like that), the vocal phrasing of the lyrics themselves is extremely reminiscent of Greg Graffin's.  Plus drummer Byron McMakin's fills at times evokes the older band as well.  Add in that Pennywise's subject matter, social and moral injustice, is also the main part of Bad Religion's playbook and....well, you've got something really similar.  I can almost close my eyes and picture a young Graffin penning this call to activism amongst the 'warriors of sorrow' back when he was a younger man and not the elder punk statesman he is.

(Of course, to be fair, Pennywise is about to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, so maybe it's time to consider Lindberg and co. elder statesmen in their own right!)

Now I like Bad Religion, which is right up there with The Fall in my mind as one of the more cerebral punk bands ever.  Pennywise is not exactly my cup of tea, partially because they don't have the intellectual element I enjoy in Bad Religion, and partially because listening to them only makes me want you, you know, go listen to Bad Religion.  But since this is not the 'pure' Pennywise experience I would have had listening to their previous albums, maybe I should hold off on writing them off until I hear the band fronted by Lindberg.

2013 will see Pennywise hosting a show at the Hollywood Palladium to commemorate their aforementioned 25th Anniversary.  God bless them for lasting that long in a cultural world that has written off this style of music.

Here's the song.  Come back here in a few days for the wrap up of this year's cycle and news on what's in store for 30Ss, 30Ds for 2013.

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