Descendents - ‘Merican EP
Fat Wreck Chords, 2002
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
The Descendents are my favorite punk rock band. I don’t have to think about it, and I haven’t for ten years. Milo Goes to College is an unfuckwithable landmark in my musical history. Everything can be traced back to that album. It was poppy, it was clever, it had angst. The bass playing was technically proficient enough to seem crazy great but also fun enough that when I bought a bass guitar in high school I learned to play by printing out the tabs for all the songs on Milo Goes to College and jumping right in. I never really got the hang of the bass guitar, but I never stopped loving the Descendents. Their latest album—Cool to Be You, from which the first two songs on this EP are culled—came out the second semester of my senior year of high school just as I was branching out from punk after a deep incubation of a couple years. It was perfect timing because I revisited Milo Goes to College and all my favorite tracks from their discography. (Other than Milo Goes to College, I sort of played pick-and-choose from the rest of their albums and came up with about an albums worth of tiny masterpieces. “Get the Time,” “Silly Girl,” “Clean Sheets,” and “She Loves Me” pretty much cover the 35 years the band has been in off-and-on existence). Despite spreading six albums over 35 years the quality pretty much stays the same. There’s something ageless about these guys. Forever young, some shit like that. I also admired the fact that they were all just normal dudes and Milo really did go to college. The title track is probably the most political the Descendents ever got (the EP and album Cool to Be You dropped in early 2004, the year Bush was reelected) but it’s still good. Trademark style and all that. The first Descendents song I ever heard was “Wienerschnitzel,” which is about 16 seconds long and features the band placing an order at the titular restaurant at rapid-fire speed. These guys just sand about your usual shit and somehow managed to do it really well. They sang about fishing, biking, food, heartbreak, coffee, more heartbreak, and more coffee. They always sound like they really just don’t give a fuck but in that sweet way you want bands to not give a fuck. They’re not trying too hard because they don’t have to. And that’s what I always loved about them. And that’s why I love this EP. The other track on the A-Side—“Nothing With You”—is just a simple, totally fucking sweet love song (“I don’t wanna move/ I’ll just sit here in my living room/ See what’s on the tube/ While I’m hanging out with you”). “Here With Me” is more of a sad love song and “I Quit” is basically Milo’s reasons for quitting the band so frequently over the last three decades. The Descendents could put out an album next month and I feel like it would still be good, like all their albums. All and Enjoy are a little spotty, but All, Everything Sucks and Cool to Be You are solid and now that they’re reuniting again for festival shows, I’m holding out hope for another record because they very obviously know how to work their melodies and very obviously love playing together.