In which I accidentally review another album: “Vacation” by Bomb the Music Industry!

Listening to: “Vacation” by Bomb the Music Industry! Vacation

Note: My plan for this entry really wasn’t to make it a review, but that does seem to be what happened.  Again. Maybe there is something to this stuff?  Anyway, whether or not you’ve heard BTMI’s “Vacation” yet, read on to find out why it’s a solid summer album.  And why second chances are always important.


Today’s “Listening to” album brought to you by music-rudie-thinks-she-hates-the-first-time-around-then-changes-her-mind-about. (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Sorry, grammar nerds.) I was so, so disappointed in this album the first time I heard it.  (I promise this isn’t the Junior Battles review all over again… done with parentheses now, I also promise.)  I thought the three singles I had heard before the album was released–namely, “Everybody that You Love,” “Hurricane Waves” and “Can’t Complain”–were the only good tracks on the album.  And even out of those, the first one was the only one that really stuck with me.  The second song on the album, “Vocal Coach,” sounded just repetitive, kind of like a “this is the song that never ends…” ditty.  Even with a few listen-throughs, I felt really let down.  BTMI’s last album, “Scrambles,” was a masterpiece in my mind.

Then I vaguely started to remember something.

The first couple of times I listened to “Scrambles,” I thought it was awful.  Where was the insane ska/punk/hardcore/undefinable band I knew and loved from prior albums, who came up with songs like  “I’m Too Cooooool For Music” and “From Martyrdom to Star(tyr)dom” and covered entire Weezer albums at shows?

See, the thing is, BTMI! grows through their albums a ton more than many other bands.  Some bands do a great job of progressing and growing together through their albums while keeping true to one sound–with ska bands, The Slackers are great at this, for example.  In pop punk, every Ergs! album is trustworthy.  But BTMI! doesn’t do things this way, and it’s part of what makes them so awesome.

For instance, one track on the album, which I just now remembered because it just came on, is a 38-second tune that sounds like it was pulled out of the score from “The Little Mermaid.”  It’s part of the reason that when I first got the album, I thought I was being trolled and had downloaded the wrong thing.  I still think it could be shoved into any Disney movie, but now I respect and accept it as part of what makes this crazy album so great.

This is the problem I first had with “Scrambles.” BTMI! doesn’t follow any guidelines or rules regarding genres or style in their music.  Jeff Rosenstock, who writes most of the band’s music, is an incredible, forward-thinking musician.  He helps BTMI! progress their music through each new release, regardless of the style or feeling set up in a prior album.  The reason I was upset with “Scrambles” and “Vacation” was that they weren’t what I was expecting.  After a few listens to really let the music sink in, I realized that’s part of BTMI!’s appeal.  It’s nice to know when you like a certain style of music, but why tie yourself down to it?  BTMI! completely breaks down that idea; they seem to say, “Here’s a new song, kids!  Parts of it sound like the background music to Donkey Kong for SNES mixed with Dillinger Four! Enjoy!”  They don’t let themselves or kids who listen to their music and go to their shows fall into a rut of the same old  junk.

Though I thoroughly love “Album Minus Band,” “Get Warmer,” “Goodbye Cool World” and “To Leave or Die on Long Island,” I feel like the songs on earlier these albums could easily be interchanged from one record to another without me noticing.  With “Scrambles” and “Vacation” (and also “Adults!!!…” even though I haven’t really mentioned that album in this entry), when I hear a track I can immediately place which album it came from.  With the direction these guys are going, I can’t wait to see what’ll be on the next album.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I go through the same dejected, confused, wondering-what-happened-to-them phase for the first few listens, and then fall completely in love with the new album.

This album must be called “Vacation” for a reason, because listening to it just feels like summer.  Plus, you know, all the tracks about surfing.




I will now go listen to this album on fancy schmancy orange and pink vinyl while wearing the shiny new BTMI! t-shirt that came with it and reading every single word on the album cover (kidding!…).  I suggest you do the same.  At least the listening part.

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