Squawk Radio

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Liz Presents a Musical Wake-Up for a Quiet Sunday

It is a remarkable CD that can contain songs both funny and troubling, but such is the nature of Punk Rock sometimes. The Offspring, a California Punk band finishing up their second decade of music-making, are actually a discovery of my husband’s, but their album, “Smash,” made it onto my iPod almost immediately after he purchased it. I love Punk for its raucous sound and in-your-face attitude. But when it’s also intelligent, insightful and socially relevant, I’m blown away.

The Offspring blew me away on first listening. I love it when that happens.

I just don’t know how they manage to make such disturbing subject matter so much fun to listen to. In the song, “Bad Habit,” the bad habit in question is a road-raged driver’s propensity for shooting people. Gee, and I thought biting my nails was a bad habit. And then there’s the song about gang violence, but it bears the innocent-sounding title, “Come Out and Play.” And “Self-Esteem” is about a guy who can’t manage to leave his emotionally abusive girlfriend, which should make the song tragic, but it has some funny lyrics like, “I took her back and made her dessert.” And there’s the ska-influenced “What Happened to You?” that makes me want to dance, dance, dance, but it’s about a junkie who’s one step away from the grave.

How can I be listening to all this stuff and still have such an enjoyable experience? I guess because the music is intelligent, insightful and socially relevant, AND it’s powered by some truly righteous guitar chops. Ironically, the music is prefaced by a first cut that features a smooth-talking announcer who tells the listener it’s time to “sit back and relax.” Then the Offspring launch into “Nitro,” and the listener knows it’s going to be a while before s/he’ll be relaxing again. Even after the CD ends, relaxation is still a good ways away, on account of it’s going to be a while before the listener’s brain can escape the hard-driving, thought-provoking music.

Last year, the Offpsring released a greatest hits CD which is way up on my To Buy list. They get some decent play on Satellite Radio, and everything I’ve heard by them has been much like the fare on “Smash,” funny and smart with enough of an edge to make you cringe a little for smiling while you listen, most notably “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” Hey, as long as the Offspring are making music like this, I’d say they’re not only pretty fly for a bunch of white guys, but they do their job quite nicely, thanks.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 11:28 AM