Tag Archives: Blink-182


It’s an international power-trio showdown! From Wales, the young men in Stereophonics bring to the table their new album, Just Enough Education to Perform (V2). The challenger? Three dopes from southern California who call themselves Blink-182. You may have seen them running around naked on MTV. Who’s the better band? Let’s find out…

The three young Welshmen in Stereophonics have been around since the late 90s, and have found their brand of Manic Street Preachers-style arena rock to be very palatable to UK ears. Frontman Kelly Jones sounds like Rod the Mod at 2 in the morning after a pack of Dunhills; the music is capable midtempo rawk, crashing riffs sharing space with quiet moments. Throughout their 3-album career, they have been a singles machine, cranking out fist-pumping, pal-hugging numbers with the efficiency of The Army Corps of Engineers. Just Enough Education to Perform (V2), their latest album, is a misstep on the level of Howard The Duck.

Stereophonics are kind of like the UK Blink-182: Three good-lookin’ kids who bash out anthems just serviceable enough to justify their garrulous tour riders. But while Blink has stuck to the same sophomoric pop-punk formula since the band’s inception, Stereophonics – most notably principal songwriter Jones – have decided to become ah-tists, mate. Maybe that’s why their new album stinks like blue cheese.

Blink-182 has never apologized for their utter lack of originality. Their mantra seems to be, “if it ain’t broke, copy it.” “What’s My Age Again?,” the head-rush lead single from 1999’s Enema of the State, is like hearing Tommy Tutone on speed. Who can blame them? “867-5309” was a great song. Blink-182 have since released a string of well-received, completely serviceable rockers that retain the band’s So-Cal, skate punk sense of humor while still selling millions of records. It’s Joke-Punk for the masses, and those boys’re getting away with murder.

Since their appearance on the pop culture radar screen, Blink-182 have gone on to rekease a live album chronicling their recent world tour. I’m sure it’s very nice. Most likely, when a new studio album surfaces, it’ll be more of the same sugar-punk that the trio has become rich playing. And if there’s a “We Didn’t Start The Fire”-esque history ballad in the bunch, I’ll wear a barrel. After all, these are the guys who rhymed “would never make it” with “can’t drive naked.” But Stereophonics? Well, let’s just say Kelly Jones might have been spending some time towing the line on the Downeaster Alexis.

J.E.E.P.‘s “Have A Nice Day” is the kind of decade-per-verse historical rock crapola that no one besides Don McLean has any right to perform. Here, as Jones yaps about Kennedy and The Moon and whatever else, he and his band end up sounding like a Jesus Jones cover band doing their modern rock take on “Right Here, Right Now.” Unfortunately, “Have A Nice Day” typifies what’s wrong with Stereophonics’ new material. With his lyrics, Jones is trying way too hard to be lyrical, man, and you know, make people think about shit, you know? And I really don’t think that’s a good avenue for three young guys from Wales to travel down. The group’s Performance & Cocktails (V2) LP from 1999 struck a balance between boozing, cigarette-smoking rave-ups (“Roll Up And Shine”) and Brit-pop ballads (“Just Looking”). There was no pretense. Songs were about girls, drinking, and drinking with girls, with plenty of influence from Faces and AC/DC. Unfortunately, the bland rock of J.E.E.P. keeps putting shitty Mike & The Mechanics songs in my head. “Can you hear me? Can you hear me runnin’…?”

The band’s new material is probably just up to snuff enough to sell a few tickets to their gigs on the annual UK festival circuit. Even though J.E.E.P’s mediocrity will stink up the joint, “classics” like “Thousand Trees” or “Local Boy In The Photograph” (both from 1997’s Word Gets Around) can carry a crowd. Even when Canadian-Rock-sounding tripe is spilling out of his mouth, Jones’ roughshod voice is still cool, and very Rock and Roll. So that’s something. But he and his mates should really take a page from Mark, Tom and Travis of Blink-182: Less cock, more rock! Crank up the amps, order a round of pints for the lads, and leave the proselytizing and message songs to Billy fucking Joel.



The consensus: girls playing Rock is hot, even if they aren’t really playing rock.

The latest in a continuing line of candy cigarette movies that play out like extended advertisements for Clearasil, cutting-edge fashion, and Herbal Essences, Josie & The Pussycats should be commended for realizing that it is exactly that. The film addresses the overt consumerism inherent in teen-oriented cinema, but then kicks its own ass for being a part of the problem. Brilliant. But no one’s seeing Josie for the plot. It’s all about the girls themselves, and their Rock band, The Pussycats.

It would have been so simple to re-formulate Josie & The Pussycats as a trio of Britneys, spouting Simon Fuller-penned dance fantasies while wearing galactic silver lingerie and hot pants. Wisely, the creative team of Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Can’t Hardly Wait) used a different model. Instead of pixie stick popstars, the reincarnated Pussycats are a guitar-slinging power trio with equal parts Runaways, Go-Gos, and Blink-182. When we first meet them, they’re performing their single “3 Small Words.” Legs planted, hair blowing back, Josie (Rachel Leigh Cook) hits power chords on her black Gibson and really makes you wish Joan Jett was still young. Bassist Val (Rosario Dawson) nods along, and Mel (Tara Reid) hits her crash cymbal with appropriate Debbi Peterson flair. In an online interview, songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmunds described the sound that the braintrust desired for their new Pussycats. “The music started punk, but we ended up with something more pop-flavored, almost Go-Go-ish.” While the well-fed songsmith is known more for pulling heart strings than guitar strings, the tight, Hole-like harmonies and distortion crunch he created for the new tunes proves his cross-genre ability. (Who knows? Maybe he’ll persuade R.Kelly to do an album of Stiff Little Fingers covers?)

The soundtrack album promises all of the songs therein are performed by Josie and the girls. Don’t believe the hype. While the three actresses are certainly the hot tamales about town, they might have spent a little more time practicing their fake stage moves. Tara Reid’s tangled blonde main goes a long way toward heroin chic fantasy, but it can’t hide the fact that her hands are hitting cymbals while a drum fill plays on the soundtrack. They could have taken cues from the recent Almost Famous, which did a great job of making Sweetwater look like a real band up on the stage. Or the producers could have hired The Donnas, if they wanted looks and chops. Instead, we’ll settle for a few more close-ups of Cook’s to-die-for doe eyes and cool Pat Benatar 2K1 brush cut. But that’s the thing about these new Pussycats. They’re hot, yeah. But in a nails-for-breakfast sort of way. We don’t worry about the technical stuff, because just like Prince and Sheena Easton said, these girls Got The Look. In an early scene, Josie’s bent over the engine of her sometime boyfriend, fixing his alternator as he strums badly on her guitar. Whew. What a way to switch up those gender roles. I’ll be outside the theatre cooling off.

In a genius move, the film makes Josie and the girls heirs to the rock star throne only after evil record company geek Wyatt (Alan Cummings) murders the hilarious boy band send-up Du Jour. While making fun of the N Syncs and Backstreet Boys of the world is easier than pouring piss out of a boot, an opening scene featuring a Du Jour public appearance is spot-on, and hilarious. Sporting a feather boa and a top hat, the always reliable Seth Green (Scott Evil in Austin Powers series) cops the earnest face and head tilt-leg slide combo move favored by so many of our high cheekbone’d friends. It only makes the Rock more powerful when Du Jour’s sickeningly funny performance is followed by Josie and the girls strapping on their instruments and turning things up to 11.

So that’s what it comes down to. While Josie & The Pussycats has its “Believe in Yourself!” afterschool special-isms and too much of a rickety plot involving the curse of disposable income, it still has three gorgeous girls doing their damndest to rock the house (even if the girls we see on celluloid aren’t really the ones rocking us). It’s like my man Jeff said after seeing Detroit girl rockers Stroker Ace:

…[S]ometimes it’s nice to be exactly like the little 12-year-old girls who swoon over the Backstreet Boys. It feels good to embrace the kind of love/lust that you know is totally without merit, because dammit, we all want to bed a musician after we’ve seen him/her on stage. Didn’t you read/see High Fidelity?

(Aside to Rachel Leigh Cook: I’m single.)