What is pop-punk? I don’t know. I remember most of my favorite punk bands being pretty poppy, but nobody ever tagged them with being pop-punk. Then again, none ever had choruses as catchy as Sweet Caroline – what song does, though? The term is thrown around often when referring to Grabass Charlestons, and perhaps it’s fitting, but it just sounds like punk to me. On their new album, “The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d”, Grabass Charlestons play what they refer to as “sweat dripping, whiskey-drowned dirty Florida punk.” I don’t hear much dirt or whiskey, but perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by years of listening to GG – nothing is ever dirty enough.
I do hear some tight, catchy punk anthems. It’s nothing Earth shattering, but it’s certainly enjoyable. The songs walk the tightrope between old-school and new-school punk, but never quite fall into either land.
I would have never considered giving this competent disc a bad review, but even if I had, the cover of Tom Waits’ “Cold, Cold Ground” would have saved it. Any punk band with the balls to take a stab at a Waits song must be commended. The rhythm section is solid, but a bit rudimentary, which I suppose can be a great asset if you dig that sound. The guitar work is an interesting highlight to many of the songs, but often falls short of full-on rockin’.
The songs flirt with pop, but there aren’t any truly great sings along – whatever that’s worth. There is some great songwriting and musicianship though, just don’t come into it expecting another “Sweet Caroline.”