Are YOU tired of waiting on some air to breathe? How about just waiting for something to work out all that teen angst raging inside you? Don’t lie to yourself. You know you feel it.
The Oakland, CA based pop-punk band has actually been around for a little while, but just recently settled on their name. You may have known them as Emily’s Army, The Raining Souls, The Clocks, or the phonetically simplistic Swimmers. While they were busy trading titles, they managed to record a couple albums, earing comparisons to Green Day’s early work. Which makes a lot of sense because Billy Joe Armstrong produced them (It’s also worth noting that SWMRS drummer Joe Armstrong has a bit of an in).
But considering they’ve changed names and producers since then, let’s just focus on their most recent effort Drive North. This time around they worked with FIDLAR lead vocalist Zac Carper, and the influence shows. The songs ”Harry Dean,” “Brb,” and “Uncool” fit right in with modern party punk bands like FIDLAR, PUP or Cloud Nothings. But Drive North also has a serious pop bent to it. The anthemic “Figuring It Out” shows the band knows how to put together a real radio single, and the infectious “Miss Yer Kiss” and “Turn Up” almost venture into Owl City territory. While some of the lyrics are a bit wanting, the pop tunes lend a nice balance to the punk ones. This duality probably stems from the band’s two lead singer/songwriters, brothers Cole and Max Becker. There is a noticeable difference between the two’s voices and styles, but both brothers seem to embrace both sides of the band’s sound.
While a lot of people will probably favor one type of song or the other, Drive North features two slam dunks. Home Runs. Sure Bets. Two pieces of screamin’ good art that have come together to take over my life— “Miley” and “D’You Have a Car?”
”Miley” is a stoner punk love song with huge dynamic range. The almost whispered verse yields to the massive chorus –
“You bring the bleach, I’ll bring chlorine. We can dye our hair a color that nobody ever seen. You’re a national threat and you’re messing with my head. Cause Miley you’re a Punk Rock Queen.”
Anyone that has found themselves falling for someone weird, different, or dangerous (or is Miley Cyrus and -let’s be honest- those kinds of people are the hottest so everyone knows what I’m talking about) can identify with that.
“Are you tired of waiting on some air to breathe? Are you tired of me?…D’you got a car? D’you got a set of keys? Tell me where you’re going, is there room for me?”
UUUUUUUUUGHHHH, Yeah I know it’s super awesome.
Both of these songs manage something that is very hard to do – something that is essential to punk music. They speak simply of feelings that everybody has in words that everybody can understand. What’s impressive is that they manage to stuff these songs with classic punk imagery and archetypes in a way that is new and exciting. They’re not singing about anything different than The Ramones did, but it’s still fresh. When you add in SWMRS’s use of electronics –loops, samples, synths and other effects—the end result is a unique and modern punk sound.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dump a bottle of peroxide on my head and drive off into the night with my head out the window, blasting “D’You Have a Car?” until I run out of gas.