Review: Teenage Bottlerocket, ‘Tales From Wyoming’
I often say that I’m nostalgic for late 90’s/early 00’s pop punk/punk rock, but what I really mean is that I’m nostalgic for the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater soundtracks. It’s a cliche, and you will probably hear the same thing from anyone around my age that grew up playing those games. The songs felt reckless and carefree and were the perfect soundtrack to a game where all you did was skateboard, tag buildings, and then skateboard some more. That was huge for me, and I’d be lying if I said that those soundtracks didn’t have a hand in developing my taste in music.
It’s been a little while since I’ve heard songs that shared the same qualities as those songs did. I’m sure it has everything to do with this band releasing music in that time, and being one of those bands that was probably featured on a Tony Hawk: Pro Skater soundtrack, but the new Teenage Bottlerocket album ‘Tales From Wyoming’ brings me right back to sitting in front of my TV with a Playstation 2 controller in hand. The songs on ‘Tales From Wyoming’ are fun, fast, and carefree. Reckless, carefree, and full of youth. These could be some kids’ Tony Hawk soundtrack.
I was having a discussion about music with a co-worker yesterday, and I was talking about how I look for different things from different artists, depending on the artist. I’m not necessarily always looking for music that creates a deep, emotional connection; sometimes, I just want to listen to music that is fun, easy to sing along too, and doesn’t weigh too heavy on my head lyrically. ‘Tales From Wyoming’ is just that. The first single from the album was “Nothing Else Matters (When I’m With You)” and that is the perfect example of what I mean. This is a fast and fun punk rock love song and feels like a perfect song to sing in the car with the windows down.
The third single from this album does more of the same. This time, it’s not a love song, however. It’s a song about…Minecraft, of all things. I love Minecraft as much as the next person, I just never thought I would be sitting here listening to a song about it that wasn’t a parody of an already popular song. You can thank my ten-year-old cousin for the countless amounts of these that I have heard. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but you get the point.
There are some songs that hit a little harder than these though. For instance, “Dead Saturday” is heavy on the punk and light on the pop. Albeit, the vocals still have that pop feel to them, but other than that, the song is a straight punk rock jam. The same can be said for songs that come later in the release, see “Bullshit” and “I Wanna Die.”
I find myself going back to those lighter songs more frequently though. I like those harder songs, but I feel they just don’t feel like they fit in with the rest of the record. They feel almost like a forced attempt at diversifying the tracklist, and if those had been cut, this album would be perfect. It does have the potential to be a Summer Soundtrack, an album that I blast in the car with my friends and just have fun singing along too. Teenage Bottlerocket took me by surprise with ‘Tales From Wyoming.’ For the most part, I really, really like this record. I’m sure kids are going to eat it up, and I hope I was correct in that these songs become some kids’ Pro Skater soundtrack. They deserve it. 4/5