Review Summary: Taking this grooved coaster for a spin results in an album overflowing with steaming love ballads appropriate for a punk rock ‘60s prom.
Drum ogre Bill Stevenson has likely stared contemplatively at the murky stains on his desk, brown rings etched from years of coffee, wondering how a band could possibly improve on the often imitated but rarely challenged Descendents formula. The Ergs! claim the Descendents and ALL as their primary influences. This tribute is certainly recognizable in their music but their contention for pop-punk domination is propelled by their ingenuity rather than their ability to polish a familiar sound. Dorkrockcorkrod
is their first palindromic full-length studio effort, three years and six EPs after forming in 2000. Taking this grooved coaster for a spin results in an album overflowing with steaming love ballads appropriate for a punk rock ‘60s prom.
is explosive and upbeat, categorized as pop-punk because of its heartfelt tributes to girls and its geeky, nasal vocals. Hyperactive finger-thumping bassist Joey Erg (Joe Keller) and riff-raff rocking guitarist Jeffery Erg (Jeff Schroeck) surround their punk rock Renaissance-man lead vocalist and drummer Mikey Erg (Mike Yannich) on Dorkrock
. The album unravels with remarkable continuity as transitions between songs are seamless and track numbers lose meaning. Quicker numbers like the sequential “Most Violent Rap Group” and “Pray for Rain” are usually played as a single song during live performances because they naturally complement, and the opener is just a preface to the story told by “A Very Pretty Song.” The first half of the album rarely settles from symbolizing the intensity of an oscillating bridge before collapse, whereas the second half tones down to slinky-sized waves of punk rock slow dance.
Fast-paced beats are exhausted but leave room for breakdowns held by entire songs like “It’s Never Going to Be the Same Again,” and “Rod Argent.” Regardless of each song’s speed, The Ergs! manage to provide compelling music that climaxes during blistering build-ups and falls around the topics of love to lonely beats and rhythms. “Pray for Rain” is a perfect example of this exciting dynamic, as the entire song rises perpetually with verses sung by a lover well aware of impending relationship doom. At its peak, Mikey Erg yells to his partner, “And I could write you the perfect song! About how everything’s gone wrong! And you could sing along!” This crescendo is one of many talented treats throughout the album.
Even the common music listener understands that speed does not equal talent. The Ergs! design incredibly rapid songs that would probably fall on deaf ears if they did not tie in so many musical intricacies. Guitar solos are used as tools to craft volatile song structures. Joey’s bass escapes the fate of being lost through cheap speakers or under the relentless drum work. The bass is the standout instrument considering the ferocity of the album, plugging away through high-pitched guitar shredding. Joey Erg treats his bass like a banjo with his fingers running the fretboard like a corrupt conglomerate (and we’re not talking about rocks here): with haste and careful attention to detail. This musical frenzy has a finesse to satisfy a fickle need for refined punk rock.
Why would The Ergs! be played at a punk rock ‘60s prom? The music on Dorkrock
goes further than emulating the Descendents prowess for designing emotional hits, taking conventional rhythms and redesigning them while clad in letterman sweaters. “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” is a plea to a girl from inside a soda shop, while “Rod Argent” and “Everything Falls Apart” could have been solid efforts by The Wonders if Tom Hanks pushed them for heavier efforts (and bought them all leather jackets). The lyrics mostly touch on love issues, maintaining a decidedly sweet attitude and straying away from annoying, resigned feelings. Altogether, The Ergs! aren’t a committed retro band, yet their versatility is an appealing, refreshing, and noteworthy component within pop-punk.
Bill Stevenson is a legend who sits on his punk throne (barstool) high in Colorado, running The Blasting Room and producing some of today’s finest punk rock. It seems like destiny for The Ergs! to record with Stevenson in Fort Collins, given that The Ergs! are descendants of ALL and worthy of praise as one of the best current punk bands, primarily thanks to Dorkrockcorkrod
. Pop-Punk has not been dominated for quite a while, and if a band is going to take over the genre, The Ergs! are absolutely ready for this distinction.