Dude Ranch



by Channing Freeman EMERITUS
June 20th, 2007 | 519 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

"Well I guess this is growing up," sings Mark Hoppus in blink-182's "Dammit," an introspective lyric from a band who became famous for being the complete opposite of introspective. It’s interesting to hear a line like that so early in blink-182’s career. Pretty much every one of the band's earlier records focused on the outer surface of things, never venturing too deep or looking too far into the issues they presented. It was a sound that worked for them, one that their semi-shallow teenage audience could relate to. Somehow, when you're having a bad day, hearing Tom Delonge sing "Shit Dad, please don't kick my ass" just hits the spot. So, again, it's interesting to hear a song like "Dammit," which captures not only the angst of being a teen (my girlfriend left me, I’m a day late and a buck short, etc.), but also the resignation that comes after the angst, the part of you that says “Sure this sucks, but it won’t last forever.” That second part is rarely seen in pop-punk anymore; these days most bands just seem to focus on the angst. Blink-182, on the other hand, were able to tap into the teenage spirit better than almost any other band ever has, and they were able to convey this in most of their songs, and I think, more than the catchiness and more than the humor, that’s why they were so hugely popular with young people. On Dude Ranch, blink-182 were kids being kids, and that’s precisely what they should have been doing.

Ten years ago, blink-182 were just breaking through as a young band whose sound was a bit rough around the edges, not too polished or refined yet. Thanks to Green Day, pop-punk was now a legitimate musical force in the mainstream, and blink-182 were able to find their home catering to what the young people wanted to hear. After a few less than impressive releases, they put out Dude Ranch and the single “Dammit,” which kicked off a long and fruitful career for the band. When this album was recorded back in 1997, the band members were all very young, around the age of 19, and it certainly shows. Mark’s and Tom’s singing is rough and scratchy (although Tom’s was always sort of that way), and the production, while not bad, is certainly nothing to write home about. Still, it’s charming and the flaws are endearing. It’s nice to hear a blink-182 record that isn’t shiny and polished from studio magic. Dude Ranch is a completely bare and honest record; its pros and cons are all apparent right from the get-go. It’s not tedious or overbearing, it’s just fun, catchy, and extremely sincere in its approach and delivery. While blink-182’s self-titled album may be their best, Dude Ranch is perhaps the one that best showcases what they were all about.

“Pathetic” is a rousing album opener, showing right away the band’s penchant for dual vocals. Mark and Tom trade off lines in the verses and join in together for the chorus, singing about identity and becoming comfortable with oneself. Right away it’s apparent that there’s a high level of immaturity on the album, but it feels completely warranted, unlike on the band’s next few albums. They were kids singing about being teenagers, something that was still very real to them at the time. On later albums, they would try to recapture this effect, but they never could quite make it as heartfelt and believable as it is on Dude Ranch. “Voyeur” is about lust, “Dick Lips” is about how your parents lose all semblance of trust in you after you screw up once, “Josie” is about the best girlfriend ever, “Emo” is about just wanting more, etc. Every song on this album is about something that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives (except maybe “Degenerate,” heh).

Surprisingly, this album is actually one of the band’s better performances musically. Tom’s riffs are catchy and original, and he doesn’t always rely on the same power chords to get his point across. Mark hadn’t quite settled all the way into playing only root notes, and he busts out some impressive licks here and there (check out “Boring”) and as an added bonus, you can always hear him underneath everything else, providing a solid musical floor for everything to stand on. At this point, drummer Scott Raynor was still in the band, and while he isn’t nearly as impressive as Travis Barker would be, his tight, albeit repetitive, style of drumming fits Dude Ranch perfectly.

Dude Ranch is raw pop-punk perfection. If pop-punk bands these days could consistently put out records like this one, the genre wouldn’t be such an utter shithole. The band’s sound is tight, the songs are catchy, and the lyrics are fun and well-written. Dude Ranch shows a young band who had no idea they would become such a huge musical force, and they were just fine with that. They were just out having fun. Growing up indeed.

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    Once upon a time, there was this group of immature kids. They wanted to make a band. The...

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    blaisetheslayer (4)
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  • serialthrilla (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

If pop-punk bands these days could consistently put out records like this one, the genre wouldn’t be such an utter shithole
True dat.This Message Edited On 06.20.07

June 21st 2007


I like this review. I'm glad I just knew a few songs from this album while growing up because I'm sure I'd be impartial.

June 21st 2007


"Josie" was my favorite song in 7th and 8th grade and it came on the radio the other day and I almost cried while I was singing all the lyrics. I probably hadn't even thought about that song in 7 or so years. Wow.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

One of my favorite pop punk albums and Blinks best with Enema imo. Mostly because it brings back so much memories listening to it.This Message Edited On 06.20.07

Digging: Julie Doiron - I Thought of You

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

this is probably my favourite blink album. it has more filler than the others but the best songs. i sold all of my blink cds anyway.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I need to find this in my house ASAP.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

I remember this album. It is good, like this review.

south_of_heaven 11
June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I need to get this. blink 182 is killer...except for that gay shitfest that is their self-titled album.

The Sludge
June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I remember a long time ago when you announced you were going to review this, and just thought about it last week.

You and I have very similar tastes for the album, and you hit everything I thought about it in the first two paragraphs.

Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2007


Awesome review - agreed with the quoted post in the first comment as well as this being a great album.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

[QUOTE=south_of_heaven11]I need to get this. blink 182 is killer...except for that gay shitfest that is their self-titled album.[/QUOTE]It's a good album.

BTW, Dammit was the song that got me into blink 182.

June 21st 2007


I got to cover Dammit at two house shows, it was great fun. Great review, great album.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Pop-Punk at almost its finest. Great review as well.

June 21st 2007


I've only heard Dammit and Degenerate off this, but yeah, blink-182 were the best pop punk band around.

Enema of the state is the best album they recorded though.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Millencolin and Lagwagon etc. are better, but Blink were sick at times.

June 21st 2007


Their self-titled album was their critically acclaimed.. I definetly agree that it's one of their best.. but I still like their first two albums better.

Fire Away
June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Great review.

I'm Sorry is pretty underrated. It has that "something bad happened, but you have to pick yourself up and get over it" stuff that you spoke of about Dammit in the first paragraph.

dub sean
June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

this is the best blink-182 album. I liked the review. Good stuff!

June 21st 2007


good review, but the drummer in me likes enema more.

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, for some reason, everything you described brings me right back to those moments in high school when i would play this while out on my lunch with my friends.

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