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Beg, Borrow, Steal

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Album Review

It isn't hard to understand why the Army of Freshmen is an appropriate name for this Southern California-based punk-pop/emo band. Aggressive and hard rocking but incredibly poppy, this type of music was extremely popular among college students in the late '90s and early 2000s — an era that saw the rise of Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, blink-182 and many other MTV favorites. Emo has, without question, been an incredibly crowded field — and for every worthwhile punk-pop/emo band that comes along, there are plenty of forgettable ones. But Beg, Borrow, Steal is among the more noteworthy punk-pop/emo releases of 2004. The Freshmen, for the most part, have something that the weaker emo bands are lacking — hooks — and they bring likable power pop instincts to exuberant, infectious tracks like "Get Um Up" and "Last Dance." They also have a strong appreciation of rap; singing and rapping often compliment one another on this CD, which gets its hip-hop inspiration from pop-rappers like Nelly, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Salt-N-Pepa and Young MC rather than confrontational, thugged-out gangsta rap. That isn't to say that lead vocalist Chris Jay's rapping on Beg, Borrow, Steal is as skillful as the rapping of Nelly or Will Smith, (aka the Fresh Prince) — for all their pop/Top 40 moves, those artists are skillful MCs who can rock the mic to death. Jay's rapping, on the other hand, tends to be clumsy and awkward, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because it adds to the album's nerdy, geeky, good-humored charm. Understandably, some listeners are feeling totally burned out on emo because of all the weak emo bands that have flooded the market, but for those who haven't given up on the style, this generally decent effort is worth checking out.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Ventura, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Punk-pop combo Army of Freshmen formed in Ventura, CA, in late 1997 — vocalist Chris Jay, a recent New Jersey transplant with some 500 completed songs to his credit, assembled the band after meeting guitarist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Kai Dodson, keyboardists Owen Bucey and Dan Clark, and drummer Mike Milligan at local open-mike showcases. A relentless touring schedule earned the band a devout local following, and in mid-2001 Army of Freshmen signed with the indie label Blue Hand to issue their...
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Beg, Borrow, Steal, Army of Freshmen
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