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Cool to Be You

Descendents

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Album Review

Released in 2004, Cool to Be You is the first Descendents album since Everything Sucks was issued in 1996. Luckily, the only thing that has changed about the band is their switching of record labels from Epitaph to Fat Wreck Chords. Milo Aukerman, Bill Stevenson, Karl Alvarez, and Stephen Egerton continue to spit out hook-laden pop-punk with the energy and humor they have been known for since the early '80s. Like the Ramones before them, the Descendents' overall sound tends to be interchangeable, in the best possible way, with previous efforts. Why mess with a good thing? For instance, among these 14 tracks, "Nothing With You" can be compared to "Clean Sheets," while "Cool to Be You" and "Mass Nerder" are anthems à la "I'm Not a Loser" and "I Don't Want to Grow Up." One slight variation is the first overtly political tune the band has ever attempted, which finds them addressing (dare it be said) more adult-oriented themes! Written by Alvarez, "'Merican" opts out of a CNN/Rage Against the Machine dictatorial harangue about specifics and instead chooses to sum up the current world situation, and the U.S.A.'s involvement in it, by celebrating the positive (Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, Walt Whitman) and damning the negative (slavery, Joe McCarthy, Ku Klux Klan). The approach is personal, righteous, and even patriotic, but not preachy. Still, Cool to Be You as a whole is soaking in the Descendents' realism and positivism — their most enduring traits — and as the lyrics on "Dry Spell" bluntly state, "Life's just a series of lows and highs." And by the way, they did include a song that happily combines their love of both spicy food and lavatory humor: "Blast Off."

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Fueled by "rejection, food, coffee, girls, fishing and food," the Descendents sprang up during the halcyon days of the Los Angeles punk scene; fusing the blind rage of hardcore with an unexpectedly wry, self-deprecating wit and a strong melodic sensibility which set them distinctly apart from their West Coast brethren, they gradually emerged as one of the most enduring and adored bands of their time. Formed in 1979, the Descendents' first lineup consisted of vocalist/guitarist Frank Navetta, vocalist/bassist...
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Cool to Be You, Descendents
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