Jeff Rosenstock has been a central figure in the independent punk scene for over 15 years now, but he's only just starting to get the credit he deserves. He's fronted The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb The Music Industry, two legendary groups notorious for their raucous live shows and DIY ethics, who even went as far as letting any fan who learnt a song to play with them on stage and playing all age shows where tickets were $10 or less. His solo work is power pop played with a whole lot of punk exuberance and pace. It's packed full of melody and unforgettable hooks and will appeal to those into early punk and fans of modern hardcore and indie rock.
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Jeff Rosenstock writes some of the most exuberant guitar pop around. His music sounds like the best power pop on fast-forward, creating punk songs with breakneck pace, anthemic hooks and irresistible melodies. On his fourth solo record ‘NO DREAM’, Jeff balances hardcore punk with soaring vocals to shape his heaviest, most passionate and arguably best project to date.
‘NO DREAM’ is packed full of buoyant energy and bold proclamations. It all screams sincerity; you can tell Jeff loves what he’s doing and lives for it. He likes shouting things (like the album title and three track titles), but his voice is all rounded off with a melodic tone. He’s joined on four of the tracks by Laura Stevenson, Jeff’s fellow member of DIY ska punks Bomb The Music Industry. There isn’t too much ska in here, save for the offbeat guitar stabs on ‘Scram!’ and the Morricone/Streetlight Manifesto horns on ‘Old Crap’, with Laura instead offering melodic coos to Rosenstock’s loud declarations. Attention is immediately grabbed in the hardcore punk stormer ‘NO TIME’, energy which doesn’t let up until the gorgeous Heartland anthemic introduction of ‘N O D R E A M’. The serenity is quickly replaced by a rumbling background drum build-up, leading into breakneck skatepunk which feels like it could collapse in itself any moment. There’s a brief black metal cacophony and in a marvellously creative contrast, the intro riff returns. ‘f a m e’ bears a similarly clever structure, as Jeff’s series of questions lead to an explosive verse, Sonic Youth guitars and repeated vocal motifs which meet Bad Religion and Ramones “woah-ah-ohs”. ‘Leave It In The Sun’ channels Joyce Manor’s yearning nursery rhyme delivery and rounds it off with a West Coast pop guitar solo, whilst ‘Honeymoon Ashtray’ sports an alluring indie pop bounce.
I’d love to flick through his record collection, I bet there’s tonnes of Beach Boys, punk from every era, Guided By Voices, maybe even some Magnetic Fields, and a couple of worn-out copies of The Buzzcocks’ ‘Singles Going Steady’ and The Descendents’ ‘Milo Goes To College’. Rosenstock writes punk as it was originally intended, laden with melody, catchiness and passionately poised. ‘NO DREAM’ is as sharp as it is catchy and you’re unlikely to hear a better punk record all year.
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