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Weasel Mania

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Album Review

Ben Weasel's eulogy to his own band is — of course — built equally of cynical jibes, bruised geek entitlement, and a little bit of genuine pride. "Everything was a hassle," he writes of Screeching Weasel's tenure in the liners of Weasel Mania. "A lot of the fans were pricks and the mood in the van ranged from cartoonish therapy group for mental defectives to crank-fueled hockey fight, but somehow it managed to pretty fun. It's amazing what you can tolerate with youth on your side." With Weasel's acerbic wit and a sizable Ramones fetish as their guiding factors, Screeching Weasel tried to bring some laughs and energy back to a too-serious scene. They didn't always get it right, as Weasel Mania proves. But as it skips across the band's output since the baiting 1988 anthem "Hey Suburbia," it's clear that even when the songs were only rudimentary or the jokes fell more than flat, Screeching Weasel stuck brazenly to their guns. The My Brain Hurts material — "Cindy's on Methadone," "What We Hate," "Science of Myth," and the title track — endure as scrappy pop-punk classics, angsty, peppy diagrams for a thousand Simple Plans since. "Science of Myth" in particular is a Ben Weasel classic, his overcompensating yell exploding in rapid-fire youth apathy as Danny Vapid fills in the razor guitar and Mike Mills-style backing vocals. The set includes the Wiggle era's shamelessly lowest common denominator Ramones romp "Jeannie's Got a Problem with Her Uterus," the Green Day answer song "I Wrote Holden Caulfield," and "Phasers on Kill" and the more effective Ramones romp "Cool Kids," both from 1996's Bark Like a Dog. Weasel Mania isn't the sort of thing you listen to in one setting. "The scene is dumb," "the kids are dumb," "getting old is dumb," "the Ramones and the Queers rule" — their perpetual themes just don't hold up. But Weasel's endearing for that same tenacious lethargy. You either love them or you hate them, and sometimes it seems like they're hoping for the latter. But there's no denying Screeching Weasel's influence, and in that Weasel Mania is their proper legacy.


Formed: 1986 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

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

Chicago's Screeching Weasel generally have a polarizing effect on most punk fans -- either you love their amateurish, tuneful Ramones imitation and singer/guitarist Ben Weasel's smartass suburbanite, often pop culture-oriented lyrics, or you hate them. Over the course of the band's career, which lasted for more than a decade and saw several breakups and numerous personnel changes, Weasel (in spite of occasional nitpicking from critics) remained true to his staunch D.I.Y. indie ethics, as befits a...
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Weasel Mania, Screeching Weasel
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