Pennywise

Picture of Pennywise

Pennywise

Pennywise - Pennywise ©1991 Epitaph
1. Wouldn't It Be Nice
2. Rules
3. The Secret
4. Living For Today
5. Come Out Fighting
6. Homeless
7. Open Door
8. Pennywise
9. Who's To Blame
10. Fun And Games
11. Kodiak
12. Side One
13. No Reason Why
14. Bro Hymn

After a shaky start (which can be heard on Word From the Wise/Wildcard) in the late 80s, Pennywise blasted into the 90s with one of the more impressive melodic and aggressive records that, along with Bad Religion's trio of albums (Suffer, No Control and Against the Grain), helped set the tone for the musical style for the following decade. Although bands such as Offspring and Green Day obviously received the majority of the attention, there was a time when Offspring was still an opening act for Pennywise on tour and this CD helps demostrate why.

Pennywise has always had a surefire formula for their formidible following. They truly do give the audience what they want. Live, they play the songs the kids want to sing along with, allow kids onstage to sing verses or sometimes entire songs and provide music with enough adrenaline to keep the pit whirling. On their albums, the band sticks to a fairly straight forward methology of catchy, speedy anthems with Jim Lindberg's everyman vocals being exceptionally easy for most anyone to sing along. Fletcher's guitar suggests that he listened to as much 80s speed metal as Bad Religion. The drumming is entirely at breakneck speed, never allowing the intensity of the album to slow down. And of course, the band sings about issues that hit home with their target audience, particularly "Bro Hymn", which tells us all about what "bros" do and how they stick to one another. This particular album just so happens to contain a bevy of highly catchy and fun tracks. From beginning to end, it stands as one of the better albums of its kind. Although the guitar sound is bit thin, there's very little to criticize as it provides a little more than a half hour's worth of energetic, frantic singalong punk.

For those who have any interest whatsoever in the 90s poppunk phenomenom, Pennywise is one of the cornerstone albums that should be in all collections. The band may have repeated themselves on every subsequent album, but the blueprint is at least a good one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2002

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Wildcard / A Word From the Wise

Pennywise - Wildcard / A Word From the Wise ©1992 Theologian
1. Final Chapters
2. Covers
3. Depression
4. No Way Out
5. Gone
6. Wildcard
7. Maybes
8. Stand By me

Pennywise would reach the heights of bro-oriented pop punk stardom in the 90s, but they got off to a rough start in the late 80s with a pair of rough EPs that ultimately were reissued in 1992 on Theologian records. To a large degree, neither Wildcard nor A Word From the Wise particularly even sound the Pennywise most are familiar with. In fact, if you didn't know any better, you'd be hardpressed to identify the band on a blind listen. The band was all over the place with their playing ability and production quality. To say they sound youthful would be fairly kind. Granted, there have been many worse sounding punk records with considerably worse performances, so it's not as though this the absolute worst thing ever. However, in the context of Pennywise's career, these early songs do not stack up whatsoever.

On the flipside, one could argue that at least the band wasn't stuck in the songwriting formula that would ultimately make most of their records sound alike (also known as the Bad Religion Redundancy Syndrome). "Maybes" is amusing in its attempt to throw in a little funky guitar and/or ska, though the amusement factor may be based in the fact that the band wasn't quite sure what it was fusing into the song. Their cover of "Stand By Me" is the only track that survived later setlists, which has a certain amount of fun novelty involved.

This is the sort of early effort that isn't particularly going to enhance one's appreciation for the band. It's a snapshot of a band just learning the ropes and not quite being ready to record. Even if you're a Pennywise fanatic, this is one release you can live without.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2010

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About Time

Pennywise - About Time ©1995 Epitaph
1. Peaceful Day
2. Waste Of Time
3. Perfect People
4. Every Single Day
5. Searching
6. Not Far Away
7. Freebase
8. It's What You Do With It
9. Try
10. Same Old Story
11. I Won't Have It
12. Killing Time

After lighting upon the formula set down on their 1992 self titled release, Pennywise has not looked left or right since. Their fast paced, highly energetic sound has long been either consistent or stuck in a rut, depending on just how much you care for bands who stick to one thing. Admittedly Pennywise's style has become something I do not get much out of anymore, but nevertheless they do their thing well. The band knows what pleases their crowd and they adhere to that motif well. Jim Lindberg's vocals are well sung, but done in a common man way that any fan can sing along with and their songs are huge with the skate/snowboard/punk-mosh crowd. Their live shows give their fans precisely what they want and in that regard they are quite good. Certainly it can be argued that Pennywise is more for teenage boys and girls than anything but that's their choice for a target audience.

Regardless of anything else, About Time may in fact be Pennywise's finest moment. Though there isn't any measurable change from Unknown Road or the self titled album, About Time is fully consistent and rocking throughout the entire album. All twelve songs are catchy as the common cold, perfect for singing along with in the car and have more energy than any roomful of sugar laden preschoolers. These are the type of songs that translate to a live setting perfectly and are captured so well in the studio that you may very well find yourself slamming about your bedroom in glee. There is little subtlety in the fast paced riffing and relentless drum pounding, but Jim's vocals are dead on with sing along melody. The lyrics are bro-oriented, also perfectly intended for their given audience, but also good for the genre.

Easily the one Pennywise album I'll hang onto for good, About Time is a great example of post Bad Religion melodi-punk done right.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Full Circle

Pennywise - Full Circle ©1997 Epitaph
1. Fight Till You Die
2. Date With Destiny
3. Get A Life
4. Society
5. Final Day
6. Broken
7. Running Out Of Time
8. You'll Never Make It
9. Everytime
10. Nowhere Fast
11. What If I
12. Go Away
13. Did You Really
14. Bro Hymn Tribute

Buying a Pennywise CD is a safe investment. Since their self-titled release back in 1992, THEY HAVEN'T DONE A SINGLE THING THAT'S DIFFERENT!!! The production is better, that's for sure, but they are still writing the exact same songs in the exact same style. Absolutely nothing new. Nada. That's my main criticism.

The thing about Pennywise is that what they do on each album is very enjoyable. They are the premier new-school punk band of the 90's, playing at breakneck speed with singalong vocals, metal-ish riffs, and songs against bad things. Pretty basic and it works. Like I said, this album is not different from the last one or the one before or the one before. So if you like anything Pennywise has previously done, then you will love Full Circle. As usual, some tracks do stand out, I particularly like "Broken" and "You'll Never Make It". These songs will surely be highlights of mix tapes as Pennywise of the past has been. So if you like Pennywise, you have my seal of approval for this album.

Incidentally, bassist Jason Thirsk died in the summer of '96. The final track is a reprise of "Bro Hymn" dedicated to the memory of the man. And then, after a few minutes of silence, there is an incredible, moving piano piece that really should be heard. Here's to the memory of Jason.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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