Descendents

Picture of Descendents

I Don't Want To Grow Up

Descendents - I Don't Want To Grow Up ©1985 SST
1. Descendents
2. I Don't Want To Grow Up
3. Pervert
4. Rockstar
5. No FB
6. Can't Go Back
7. GCF
8. My World
9. Theme
10. Silly Girl
11. In Love This Way
12. Christmas Vacation
13. Good Good Things
14. Ace

Resurfacing after a few years of absence, the Descendents released I Don't Want to Grow Up, which found vocalist Milo Aukerman fresh out of his college experience and drummer Bill Stevenson coming from a few hard years in the Black Flag machine. With original member Tony Lombardo handling bass and Ray Cooper on guitar, the band wrote some pretty good songs for the album, but unfortunately this album lacks greatly, due partly to production and partly because the band sounds quite subdued in their performance. For anyone who has heard the live version of the songs here on Liveage! and Hallraker, these songs have as much punch as a quadraplegic on sedatives. The bass rides strongly in the forefront, but the muted guitars and mushed sound quality hurt what amounts to a pretty good record. "Good Good Things", the title track, "Silly Girl" and "Christmas Vacation" all are very good songs but aren't given their due here. It was almost as if the studio had secretly substituted decaf for regular coffee during the recording session. Fortunately, the band would only get better from this point.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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Two Things At Once

Descendents - Two Things At Once ©1987 SST
1. Myage
2. I Wanna Be A Bear
3. I'm Not A Loser
4. I'm Not A Punk
5. Suburban Home
6. Marriage
7. Hope
8. Bikeage
9. Jean Is Dead
10. Catalina
11. My Dad Sucks
12. Mr. Bass
13. I Like Food
14. Hey Hey
15. Weinerschnitzel
16. Global Probing
17. Kabuki Girl
18. Parents
19. Statue Of Liberty
20. Tonyage
21. M-16
22. Ride The Wild
23. It's A Hectic World

Two Things at Once is actually my first induction into the world of punk rock, as it was the first actual punk album that I ever purchased. Like many Descendents fans of today, I discovered the band well after the fact, nearly five years after their 1987 transmutation into ALL. However, even a decade after these songs were inflicted upon the world, hearing them was very responsible for changing my music tastes forever.

The album is essentially a compilation of early Descendents works for an SST release. Milo Goes to College makes up the bulk of the album with Bonus Fat making up the rest (as well as the very early "Ride the Wild" single). Unlike many of the hardcore and punk bands of the era, Descendents took a different route in lyrical topics, choosing to write about girls, food, fishing and more food. Though youthful and sometimes a bit crude, their insight into things was fairly remarkable. Most Descendents fans can point to various songs as being right on the spot for certain tragic breakups or simply general dismay with relationships. Perhaps that has been the single most obvious point to the band's staying power for two decades. With the band members essentially being the outcasts who wrote songs out of anger and feelings of alienation, the music taps into what so many of us feel or have felt at various points in life. What teenager can resist singing "Parents, why don't they shut up"?

Nearly twenty years after this music originally was released, I have personally graduated a bit beyond a lot of the sentiments expressed here and when choosing a Descendents/ALL album, I will pick a newer album. But Two Things at Once is a remarkable snapshot taken of the band, an honest and earnest expression of music. So many of the songs on the album are instantly powerful and also timeless pieces that will never quite become stale.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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All

Descendents - All ©1987 SST
1. All
2. Coolidge
3. No, ALL!
4. Van
5. Cameage
6. Impressions
7. Iceman
8. Jealous Of The World
9. Clean Sheets
10. Pep Talk
11. All-O-Gistics
12. Schizophrenia
13. Uranus

No one really knows it, but this is the first album featuring ALL as a band. It's not just a title, after all. In my opinion, the band ALL began the second Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton joined Bill Stevenson in the lineup. That nucleus has lasted over ten years, seeing through projects with three singers, four if you want to include Milo. All as an album is more of a precursor to the future than it is as a signpost pointing to the past. While "Clean Sheets", "Coolidge" and "Pep Talk" are Descendents classics, sure and true, the experimentation of "Impressions", "Schizophrenia" and "Iceman" are more in the vein of future ALL. At the time you almost had to feel sorry for Milo for trying to find vocal melodies to go over some of Stephen Egerton's wild guitar lines and the result is some awkward songs. All is a somewhat difficult album that shows growing pains for the new lineup; however, it is also filled with enough great songs to make it worthwhile.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Liveage!

Descendents - Liveage! ©1987 SST
1. All
2. I'm Not A Loser
3. Silly Girl
4. I Wanna Be A Bear
5. Coolidge
6. Weinerschnitzel
7. I Don't Want To Grow Up
8. Kids
9. Wendy
10. Get The Time
11. Descendents
12. Sour Grapes
13. All-O-Gistics
14. Myage
15. My Dad Sucks
16. Van
17. Suburban Home
18. Hope
19. Clean Sheets
20. Pervert

During the Descendent's FinALL tour in 1987, commemortating singer Milo's final jaunt with the band before diving headfirst into academia, the band recorded and released this absolutely smoking live album. Liveage! covers all eras of the band's (now) revered go-around in the 80s, with tracks culled from all their albums. Newish members Stephen Egerton and Karl Alvarez postively blow away their predecessors with sheer ability. It's rare to actually prefer live album versions of songs, but in this case, every song here is far better than their studio counterparts. With the sound much more aggressive and clearer than the majority of the Descendents' studio albums, Liveage! takes the original versions and gives them a caffiene charge boost. Milo's endearing ad libs and vocalizing actually improve the songs immensely. Moreover, the setlist itself picks out the best tracks from the band's repetoire. (A few fans complained their favorites weren't on Liveage! and Hallraker appeared a couple years later as a companion disc from the same tour.) All I can say about this album is that it successfully summed up the band's career both as a solid songwriting act and live show. Now...go out and buy it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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Hallraker

Descendents - Hallraker ©1989 SST
1. Global Probing
2. My World
3. Hurtin Crue
4. Hey Hey
5. Kabuki Girl
6. All
7. Pep Talk
8. Jealous Of The World
9. Christmas Vacation
10. I Like Food
11. Iceman
12. Good Good Things
13. Cheer
14. Rockstar
15. No FB
16. Cameage

In response to the fans who felt their favorites were not included in the 1987 live album Liveage!, the Descendents were kind enough to release a second disc of fan favorites that picked up the slack. Not that I was complaining; I still consider Liveage! to be one of the best live albums around. The material chosen here represents a bit wider range, from super old material like "Global Probing" - a great choice - to the more eclectic and slightly unlistenable "Iceman" (one of the hard to digest tracks from the All record). The production isn't quite as smoking as it was on Liveage!, but the talent of newer members Stephen Egerton and Karl Alvarez do add zip and zing to older material. Drummer Bill Stevenson sounds especially pumped during the set, with many furious fills and hits. Hallraker isn't as necessary as some of the other Descendents records but as a bookend, it isn't bad at all.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Everything Sucks

Descendents - Everything Sucks ©1996 Epitaph
1. Everything Sucks
2. I'm The One
3. Coffee Mug
4. Caught
5. Rotting Out
6. Sick-O-Me
7. When I Get Old
8. Doghouse
9. She Loves Me
10. Hateful Notebook
11. We
12. Eunuch Boy
13. This Place
14. I Won't Let Me
15. Thank You

Having been a Descendents fan for many years but still being too young to have actually seen them the first time around, the reunion and new record come as a complete godsend from heaven. Stephen Egerton, Bill Stevenson, and Karl Alvarez have continued in ALL (and its revolving stable of singers) and took the summer out to write and record Everything Sucks, with singer (and occasional pinup god) Milo Aukerman.

Surprisingly, this album soars over all their previous albums, with hardly a bummer among the set. The last Descendents studio album, All, had moments but was riddled with annoying guitar noodling courtesy of Stephen. He's gotten that out of his system in ALL because he has written his first real song, lyrics and all, in the title track. It rips into your stereo and sets you into the punk ride of your life. "I'm the One" is girl song #1, with its very true lines "You say that I'm not your type/but still you call me late at night/every time he picks a fight". "Coffee Mug" is a raging ode to their liquid drug of choice. "Sick-O-Me" is another great girl song telling us "Relationships deteriorate/I've seen it from the start/Easy as it is to fall in love/It's easier to fall apart". Damn, caught myself singing that after my last breakup. And then you have the depressed outlook from Bill Stevenson in "She Loves Me". Flipping over to side two, the ALL-ish sounding "Hateful Notebook" tells us about a girl who writes everything down and Milo wonders "what she's like between the covers." "We" is a fantastic, heartfelt romantic song (romantic punk, the trend for '97). Immediately afterwards, "Eunuch Boy" loses his tool in a lawnmower accident. Another high point is "This Place Sux", which Milo apparently wrote after living and being a biochemist in Wisconsin.

One of the nicest aspects of this reunion album is the inclusion of songs by original members Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo. "Doghouse" in fact features both men playing. Though some of the material will remind fans of ALL, that's because three-quarters of this band is ALL and originally many of these songs were written with that band in mind before Milo came back into the picture. Bill, Stephen and Karl have become a formidable unit in the past decade and this album is proof.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1996

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'Merican EP

Descendents - Merican EP ©2004 Fat Wreck Chords
1. Nothing With You
2. 'Merican
3. Here With Me
4. I Quit

The one thing you can give the Descendents credit for is that they make albums for the right reasons. Singer Milo Aukerman is an academic by nature and gets together with his friends in ALL to make a new album when he has the time and some new songs together. There's no cash-in aspect that taints many "reunions" of some of the classic punk bands.

Sadly, despite the enormous anticipation that surely accompanies a new Descendents record of any sort, 'Merican does almost nothing to excite me. This four song EP (five if you want to consider the hidden track) was issued about a month before the full length CD, Cool to Be You and was meant to get people excited. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the boat for fast paced pop punk sailed away. Either the Descendents shouldn't be on that boat or I'm not meant to be a passenger anymore. Regardless of which it is, 'Merican comes across as lackluster, particularly knowing the caliber of musicans that these guys are. In 1996, hearing Descendents take on the pop punk world was exciting and fresh. In 2004, it just sounds like four guys going through the motions. And granted, part of that could be my utter distaste for a style I feel should have been thrown in the river with like a sack of unwanted orphans. Bill Stevenson, Stephen Egerton and Karl Alvarez are far too creative and talented to be spinning their wheels on this sort of thing.

Aside from the realistic patriotism provided by the lyrics of the title track, almost nothing of this EP excites me in any degree. Perhaps the full length CD is more compelling, but 'Merican isn't exactly the encouragement to go buy it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2004

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