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Descendents: Hypercaffium Spazzinate *

Track List

>Feel This
>Victim of Me
>On Paper
>Shameless Halo
>No Fat Burger
>Without Love
>We Got Defeat
>Fighting Myself
>Spineless and Scarlet Red
>Human Being
>Full Circle
>Comeback Kid
>Beyond the Music

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hey're still able to write and play songs that tap into the teenage feeling that drove them. The melodies are strong, the musicianship is still leagues beyond their peers and they still have an innate sense of when to end a song before it drags on too long."

Spin - "The band sounds better than ever...mounting a muscular four-way attack that captures the immediacy of their frenetic synchronicity better than any non-live album of theirs to date..."

Entertainment Weekly - "The songs prove, yet again, that the Descendents' best cuts fully transcend their genre. They may be punk in speed, but it's not their velocity that makes them lovable." -- Grade: B

Pitchfork (Website) - "HYPERCAFFIUM SPAZZINATE is the first LP in over 12 years from the California pop-punk icons, and it relies on the same humor, honesty, and personal experience that has always powered their music."

Album Notes

Personnel: Milo Aukerman (vocals); Stephen Egerton (guitar); Bill Stevenson (drums); Maddie Stevenson, Miles Stevenson, Longfellow (background vocals).

Audio Mixer: Jason Livermore.

Recording information: Armstrong Recording, Tulsa, Oklahoma; The Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado; Whitehouse Studio, Newark, Delaware.

The band photo in the packaging for the Descendents' 2016 album Hypercaffium Spazzinate says a lot: the geeky, misfit kids who recorded the band's early triumphs are now middle-aged men, all over 50, and noticeably greyer and heftier, but most importantly looking cheerful and confident. It's a young person's birthright to wail about their lives, but what about these guys? The Descendents still have their own reasons to howl, and despite being eligible to join AARP, it still suits them. The unspoken theme of Hypercaffium Spazzinate is the ultimate inevitability of adulthood, and how it impacts your life. From the glum reality of having to watch your diet in "No Fat Burger" to the phenomenon of seeing kids get medicated out of their geekier behavior in "Limiter," these 16 songs come from the perspective of a grown-up. But despite (or perhaps because of) their maturity, these guys still clearly love the speedy charge of punk rock, and griping about the state of their world is as liberating for them today as it was in 1983. Milo Aukerman's vocals are as strong as ever, and better controlled than they were in his salad days. The hard, lean rush of Stephen Eggerton's guitar work is precise and effective, and Karl Alvarez's percolating basslines and Bill Stevenson's epic-scale drumming provide a sturdy platform for their aggressively hooky tunes. This music is taut and satisfying, and if there are plenty of pop-punk bands doing something similar these days, the Descendents fathered this sound, and they still deliver with an enthusiasm that makes all the difference. Though the Descendents are genuine adults these days, they still have troubles with women and self-image, and "Feeling This," "On Paper," "Testosterone," and "Fighting Myself" confirm that while they've learned a lot, they're still aware of what they don't know, and they aren't afraid to sing about it. And "Beyond the Music," in which they sing about the bonds of friendship that keep the band together, and "Full Circle," a celebration of California punk history, are powerful reminders of how much music still means to them. In 2016, the Descendents are playing punk rock for the same reasons they always did -- they want to, and they need to -- and the fact they can mature while sounding thoroughly like themselves makes Hypercaffium Spazzinate a welcome late-era addition to their catalog. ~ Mark Deming


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