Hey there fellow tourists, how are things? I’m doing pretty well myself, but I must admit that I have some bad news. As classes here at beautiful SDSU are ending I am preparing for another summer full of traveling and adventure. Which means that I won’t be able to write to you guys for some time. Now before you start to worry, just remember that while on my travels I’ll be collecting more awesome souvenirs for all of you awesome people! Anyways, since this is going to be my last post for a while I thought I’d do something different and give you guys a Souvenir of the Week from my home land of punk. This week’s souvenir is the album Vacation by the band Bomb The Music Industry!
Bomb The Music Industry! and their leader Jeff Rosenstock are what I consider to be true citizens and patron saints of the land of punk. The band started after the demise of Jeff’s old ska band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches (aka ASOB) and the very first song of theirs was recorded with the built in microphone on Jeff’s Powerbook back around 2004. Since they have put out six full length albums, a few EPs, and a few Splits with bands such as Mustard Plug, O Pioneers!!!, and Laura Stevenson and the Cans. All of which have been put online for free by the donation based record label, Quote Unquote Records, that Jeff founded. Not only did they put their music online to download for free but they also tried their best to only play all ages shows, keep ticket prices down to $10 or less, and would even help kids make their band t-shirts for free instead of having to buy them. Also, if all of that wasn’t enough to prove their raditude there were often times where they would allow fans to come on stage and play along with the band if they brought their instruments to a show. Bomb The Music Industry!’s and Jeff Rosenstock’s earnest attempts at sticking closely to the DIY movement, honest lyrics & not so perfect instrumentation/vocals, and overall dedication to making punk fun and a treat again have solidified their position in the pantheon of punk gods. Sadly, as all great things must come to an end so did Bomb The Music Industry! as they are now on an indefinite hiatus. Although it is sad to think there will never be another Bomb The Music Industry! album again, I think that Vacation is an extremely fitting last album.
With the name Vacation and the majority of the songs being written by Jeff while he was on a trip to Belize its not surprising that this album has a very beachy & summery vibe oozing from practically every song. That coupled with the album art and song titles such as Sponge Board/Baby Waves, Hurricane Waves, Sunny Place Shady People, and Felt Just Like Vacation it might be easy to assume that this is just some surf punk album, but if you did so you’d be wrong.
Although this album does have a very summer vacation vibe to it, it is also much more than that with lyrics that cover some serious topics. For example, the song Everybody That Loves You talks about the fact that some day everybody who loves you will leave some day and that is just a part of life that you have to come to terms with. Another example of this albums heartfelt and serious lyrics can be found in the song Felt Just Like Vacation where Jeff sings “I don’t want to feel those crippling blows that I can’t explain to myself, my friends or you.” These and other personal lyrics about things like the loss of friends and acceptance of ones flaws show just how much heart and soul went into this album, as well as a maturing from the days when Jeff would talk about how hard it was to be unemployed and broke.
Besides the lyrics, the instrumentation on this album really sets apart from most other punk albums including ones from Bomb The Music Industry!’s past. Part of what makes this band great is their fearlessness when it comes to using various types of instruments. Besides the traditional Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, and Drums this album makes use of a lot of interesting instruments, including a Saxophone, Farfisa Organ, Banjo, Violin, Pedal Steel, Mandolin, Tannerin, and Glockenspiel. Although this large amount instrumentation might seem like this album would be all over the place sound wise, the level of cohesiveness achieved is amazing. While all of the songs are unique in their own ways, they all still sound like they belong together like a happy little family instead of some kind of patchwork mess.
Also, so many of the songs roll perfectly into the next that it’s almost a shame to listen to this album out of order. The first five songs Campaign For A Better Next Weekend, Vocal Coach, Everybody That You Love, Sponge Board/Baby Waves, and The Shit That You Hate are a great example as are the last four songs Can’t Complain, Everybody That Loves You, Sunny Place/Shady People, Felt Just Like Vacation. Plus, the entire album is bookend-ed with the ending guitar riff on Felt Just Like Vacation being the same as the keyboard intro to the album in Campaign For A Better Next Weekend.
I could keep going on and on about various other aspects of this album that I find spectacularly noteworthy, such as the how great the instrumental tracks Sponge Board/Baby Waves and Sunny Place/Shady People are or how this album is chock full of great lines of advice like “The shit that you hate don’t make you special” and “Nothings forever dude”, but I don’t want to gush too much about this album/band and want you to experience it all for yourself. So to wrap it up some of my favorite tracks are: Campaign For A Better Next Weekend, Vocal Coach, Hurricane Waves, Can’t Complain, Everybody That Loves You, and Don’t Destroy Yourself. If anything I wrote here interested you even in the slightest then I highly recommend this album to you, especially with summer fast approaching. If you want to download this album for however much you want to donate (even if its $0) then just click right here.
I just want to thank you all for allowing me to share my souvenirs with you these past few months and I hope you have a rad summer. Remember! Punk’s not dead, its just on vacation!
Photo credit: http://www.amazon.com/Vacation-Bomb-The-Music-Industry/dp/B0053TRRN6