Unlike the snarling punk of bands like Rancid, pop punk is making waves among the mainstream music community, led by popular bands such a Blink 182. Small acts that once only received underground fame are now on the verge of breaking into popular radio and culture.
Some of emerging pop-punk bands, including Good Charlotte, may only be carbon copies fabricated by MTV and major labels to cash in on Blink’s success. But California-based punk band The Ataris have worked their way from the ground up and now appear on the verge of commercial success. The group’s newly released album End is Forever (Kung Fu Records) proves The Ataris continue to be deserving of their success.
According to the band’s Web site, www.ataris.com, the story of The Ataris are a “punk-rock fairy tale.” Kris Roe, a young musician from a small Indiana town, gave his homemade demo tape to the long-lived punk outfit The Vandals, and weeks later was invited to record for the band’s label. Roe moved to California, formed a band and soon became the popular punk group’s guitarist/vocalist.
The band’s third full-length release comes on the heels of its successful sophomore release Blue Skies, Broken Hearts . Next 12 Exits (Kung Fu). While the album continues in the popular style of melodic punk rock with an “emo” influence, it diverts onto some artistic paths far from the sound’s norm.
Songs such as “Giving Up On Love” and “I.O.U. One Galaxy” follow along the same lines of the group’s previous creations – poppy punk with the single unifying theme of songs about girls, young love and heartbreak.
Some tracks are stylistic and unique. The track “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start” (taken from old school Nintendo) employs keyboards to create a sound that catches the listener off guard while still catching their ear. Other tracks use pianos, xylophones, and even country-style guitar. One track, “Teenage Riot,” is vastly different than any song the band has created, sounding similar to the upbeat, poppy anthems of mainstream punk veterans Green Day.
The album as a whole seems somewhat angrier. Vocalist Kris Roe usually prefers to harmonize when he sings, but several of the tracks on End is Forever use crunching guitars and loud screams. “Song #13” is harder and angrier than anything the band has ever put out. Ironically, right after this heated tune comes the album’s final track “Hello and Goodbye,” a soft, romantic acoustic ballad.
End is Forever moves but still retains The Ataris’ style. While an avid fan might dislike the album on first listen, they will be hooked on the melodies and lyrical genius of the songs by the third time through.
While the album progresses, it does not move in the direction of a band “selling out” and changing its style to cater to mainstream tastes. Rather, mainstream tastes are starting to grow and expand, fitting nicely with the band’s style.
The Ataris are currently on tour across the United States, Europe and Australia to promote the new release. Starting in April the band will tour with none other than punk’s boy-band Blink-182. The tour will come to D.C., hitting the 9:30 Club May 7th. After that, The Ataris look to blue skies of success, looking to an end that seems forever away.
End is Forever is in stores now