All Systems Go!

Picture of All Systems Go!

All Systems Go!

All Systems Go! - All Systems Go! ©1999 Coldfront Records
1. All I Want
2. Vodka Sonic
3. Nothing At All
4. Staring At The Stars
5. I'll Be Your Radio
6. Can't Stop Gettin High
7. No Just Us
8. Subzero
9. Blow It Up
10. Junk Drawer
11. California Bummer

Pop punk is a vast enigma. On the surface, it's an agonizingly simplistic genre filled with kids who can barely play their guitars trying to be the next NoFX or Pennywise. Yet on a deeper level, so few bands actually have the songwriting ability to come up with material that is exceptionally good and as a result, you have a glut of semi-catchy, slovenly bands who sound like every other band of the genre. However, out there in the wilds, there are some shining examples of bands who can do justice to pop punk and All Systems Go! happens to be one of these bands.

Of course, there would be no discussion of All Systems Go! if one doesn't take a look at the band member pedigrees. The band was founded by Doughboys frontman John Kastner along with Big Drill Car's Mark Arnold. This self titled debut was rounded out by the other half of Big Drill Car, Frank Daly, on bass and vocals with drummer Mark Taylor (who apparently is the only guy who doesn't qualify to be mentioned on the jewel case sticker). As any fan of pop punk knows, Big Drill Car essentially helped invent the smoother, more melodic side of the genre. Without a doubt, the ability of Mark Arnold and Frank Daly to help form singalong gems with a bit of aggression is unparallelled. Daly did happen to just be along to help record this album as he retired from the touring lifestyle shortly after the album came out, but his contributions on this record are fantastic. All Systems Go! avoids trying to sound like Bad Religion or Pennywise, instead opting for the Cheap Trick realm of pop harmonies and melodies. In fact, there's a good chance various members of Cheap Trick are currently hexing All Systems Go! for coming up with all the melodies they couldn't. Heck, Paul McCartney and the ghost of John Lennon may very well be cocking an ear in the direction of All Systems Go! This self titled album is chock full of some of the smoothest, catchiest material you'll hear in the genre. Although the CD is very straightfoward and doesn't break even an inch of new ground, the songwriting is so splendid that it's an irrelevant afterthought. Kastner and Daly split vocal duties and when they are harmonizing, it's pure bliss. Very rarely do you hear two voices sound so good together and this is one of those cases.

Considering the quivering masses of unwashed, minimally talented bands that have been the scourge of pop punk for the past few years, it's a shame a band as shamelessly catchy as All Systems Go! have been essentially ignored. This is one CD I'll put on in the car when I'm in the mood to feel carefree and sing along at the top of my lungs.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2002

Back to top