Look, guys. Here’s a true Internet fact: no one needs to defend pop punk anymore. Just let it go already.
Out of every possible genre, real or imagined, one that either exists today or will exist in the future, for me there is none worse than pop punk. It’s the loathsome, whiny little brother brooding in the corner of punk music.
In so many words, I can’t stand it and I tend to judge with a heavy hand those who listen to it with unabashed enthusiasm and not a whiff of irony.
The good news is this, though: if your group has pop punk influences but you disguise yourselves as an indie or emo rock band, you’ve shed the connotations of the genre and are now completely rad.
I make an exception for this hatred of the tag for only one band, and their pop punk sound is so minimal that I can tolerate it. It’s almost like Phil from Frisky Dingo taking small doses of poison over time because he knows Killface is going to try to kill him even though he has cancer. It’s EXACTLY like that, actually.
The point is: Piebald’s We Are The Only Friends We Have is a unique breed on this year’s list. There’s been a little bit of everything genre-wise, but the group’s name refers to the quality of horses having irregular patch colors, generally black and white. I feel it’s a fitting metaphor for pop punk. Those who don’t like it are correct and full of potential (white). Those who like it don’t have souls (black, the absence of light).
Interesting note on the band: they come from the same area as Converge. So if you’re not into one, there’s the other, or death, pretty much. I saw Piebald open for mewithoutYou years ago in Orlando at The Social, a tiny venue. I think that’s what originally turned me on to them. Their live presence was special.
We Are The Only Friends We Have is 12 tracks, and I own it if only for the fact that it manages to bottle the group’s live show energy in a way that I’ve only ever seen hardcore bands (like Converge) do before.
Lead vocalist Aaron Stuart has a killer voice, too. It’s a perfect fit for the 40 or so minutes on this album, but may be a large point of contention for those who can’t handle music without harmonies. It’s the same people who don’t like vocalists such as Tim Kasher of Cursive, or Aaron Weiss of the aforementioned mewithoutYou.
I’m into it though. Plus, “American Hearts” annoys the bejesus out of my LTR lady. So I play it all the time.
From Piebald’s We Are The Only Friends We Have, this is “The Stalker” –
Standout tracks: “King of the Road,” “American Hearts,” “Fear and Loathing on Cape Cod,” “Karate Chops for Everyone But Us” and “The Stalker”
Weakest track: “It’s Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better”
RIYL: Promise Ring? I dunno.