January 10, 2003

Armstrong "Dick, The Lion Hearted"

Punk rock. Punk rock. Punk rock. Punk rock! Punk rock!! That's all Armstrong know in life, and that is all they need to know. You may remember Zach and Donivan Blair from their previous (still together?) band, the pop-punksters Hagfish. With Armstrong, they're breaking no new punk-rock ground, they're not really changing their Hagfish formula--not that they're treading water or anything like that. It's just that this whole pop-punk thing rhymes with Avril Lavigne, and that right there is the key to the mystery of why Joseph Does Not Like Most Punk Rock.

There's a more melodic edge to Armstrong's music, I'll admit--after further listens, Dick, The Lion-Hearted became more and more melodic, though it never really became less generic. That they've got Bill Stevenson (All, Descendents) behind the mixing board probably speaks volumes into Armstrong's sweet melodic edge. The problem with the breaking of Pop-Punk is that it seems like so many other bands are making music like this, some of them are better, others of them are much, much worse. As pop-punk is not really my choice of music, I really can't compare them to anyone, nor do I feel like faking it, either. Now that Punk Rock is teeny-bopper music, I've moved on. Apparently, though, many of these songs were written with Hagfish's lead singer, George Reagan, which makes me wonder if this would have been Hagfish's next record.

One exception, though: "Follow Up," the closing track is aces. It's slower, and four out of five teens will tell you it is Not Punk Rock. It's more of an Elvis Costello-style rocker ballad type of thing, and I really really like it! If Dick, the Lion-Hearted had more songs like it and the Jawbreaker-jr. "So Much for Everything" and "My Pattern," I might not have become so terribly bored by it. Still, if these guys work a little more on melodicism and keep breaking away from Punk, then they might make a really great statement, and I wouldn't feel sad about having to use "punk rock" as a pejorative.

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: