The Descendents


California produced a lot of punk bands in the early '80s, and most of them sucked, but this one didn't. Essentially the umpteenth punkers wetting their cute little neurotic teeth on the Buzzcocks' breed of pop-punk (geez, the way you hear punk these days, you'd swear nobody ever listened to anything but worn-out vinyl copies of Singles Going Steady. Who says the Sex Pistols were the most influential punk band?), the Descendents presaged Weezer with their upfront tales of nerdy teenboy angst over girls. Whoever writes the lyrics for this band is pretty, well, blunt when it comes to women: he admits that all he wants is to get laid, and then gets pissed off and wounded when other guys get the girl instead of him. Uh, maybe you better change your approach, guy? I don't think girls like being told that you're only going out with her in the hopes of getting some (even if that's exactly what, oh, 90% of red-blooded males are thinking anyway. Sorry to break it to you ladies, but men are disgusting pigs). Anyway, like a lot of bands, the Descendents peeked early, but they didn't break up after they'd lost a little steam. They took a few years off in the early '80s after lead singer Milo Aukerman left for college, and then reformed. When Aukerman left again several years later, the band didn't break up - they simply hired a new singer and changed their name to All, who are still going strong on the American punk club circuit with their patented pop-punk-and-purge formula.

Fat EP (1981) **1/2

A very brief little piece of plastic, the five songs here collectively last about as long as an average pop single. It's kind of redundant to own, too, since the entirety has been compiled twice: the first time on Bonus Fat and the second on Two Things At Once. The Descendents seem more influenced by Black Flag than anyone else at this juncture, penning amelodic blurts concerning junky suburban culture. "My Dad Sucks" and "Mr. Bass" are anti-parent and anti-fish, respectively. The 16-second "I Like Food" is pretty spastic and self-explanatory. "Hey Hey" is kind of nondescript. Now for the real deal: "Weinerschnitzel", one of the greatest novelty numbers of all time. Lasting all of 11 seconds, it goes like this:

"Welcome to the Weinerschnitzel, may I take your order please?"

"Yeah, I want....(unintelligible, thrashing)"

"Do you want (bull? veal?) sperm with that?"


That one little ditty is a must hear, so hear it in some format - like Two Things At Once.

Milo Goes To College (1982) ****

No doubt about it, this one's the Descendents' peak, a perpetually frustrated masterpiece of mastubatory adolescent suburban boredom. A handful of numbers suck, but mostly this one hits bullseyes with great sing-song melody after melody and pissed-off hooks. Topping it off is Aukerman's snotty punk sneer; technically it's not even a very interesting voice, but for some indefinable reason it really puts the material across very well. And the material's quite strong. The Descendents want to be bears 'cause female bears don't take money for a lay, claim that they're not losers and then proceed to make fun of a guy who actually gets dates (thereby proving that they are losers), claim that "I'm a boy and not a toy" in another anti-"Parents" screed, spit on trendy new-wavers and surfers, want to be stereotyped and live in suburban homes, and get away from it all (school, prick-teasing girls) on their boats (the Descendents are probably the only good band I know of composed of fishermen). Towards the end they start singing thumbnail sketches of girls, starting with the mysterious "Kabuki Girl" (probably some foriegn exchange student). The sweetest and poppiest song on the record, "Marriage" slides into "Hope" (that you'll ditch that jerk for a guy who really cares, namely me). "Bikeage" taunts a junkie girl, and they close with the suicide lament, "Jean Is Dead".

I Don't Wanna Grow Up (1985) ***1/2

The Descendents return after a layoff a less impassioned and less interesting band (maybe they got girlfriends in between). They've slowed down the tempo and eased off the frustrated anger, leaving them a pleasant but not highly compelling pop-punk band. However, there are quite a number of chewy mid-tempo potential singles here, particularly on Side Two, which contains "Silly Girl" and "Christmas Vacation" both worthy of the Go-Go's. Side One contains more rude and rather, how do you say, asshole-ish material, including not one but three theme songs: "Descendents", "I Don't Wanna Grow Up", and "Pervert" ("I don't wanna relationship, I just wanna FUCK, ALL THE TIME...heh heh heh").

Bonus Fat (1985) ***

A reissue of Fat, with the "Ride the Wild"/"It's A Hectic World" debut single (from 1979) and another track tacked on. The early single is surprising in that it's not punk at all, but medium-grade power pop; it's not very interesting, but it's a nice bonus. This little commodity is still rather superflous, though. Go straight to Two Things At Once like I said earlier.

Enjoy (1986)
All (1987) **

Okay, so the 1 second title track is cute, and "Clean Sheets" is a strong pop song. Most of the rest is simply boring, as the Descendents substitute herky-jerky novelty numbers for good pop songs. It gets really annoying really fast; I've never been big on spoken word over servicable garage backing, especially when the words are as silly and juvenile as this. Really, the Descendents were serious about not growing up: they've never progressed in their attitudes towards life and the female sex since junior high. The "high point" of the record, if anyone's interested, is when they lay out their "All-O-Gistics". Caffeine plays a big role in their universe, if you're curious.

Liveage (1987)**1/2
Hallraker: Live! (1989) **1/2

Two live records, neither of which overlap in material. Unless you're a superfan, unnecessary, though the cover of the Beach Boys' "Wendy" is a nice touch. If you're interested in the Descendents, there's really only one album that's totally necessary. Which one is that? Well.... _________________________________________________________________________________
Two Things At Once (1988) ****1/2

....this one. This is the Descendents purchase to make, and the only essential one. It contains the entire contents of Bonus Fat and Milo Goes To College, meaning that it contains nearly all of the band's best material. There are a few highlights from I Don't Wanna Grow Up that I'd tack on to the end to make The Descendents' Best, but otherwise this is all the Descendents you'll really ever need.

Somery (1991)

The greatest non-hits package. __________________________________________________________________________________
Everything Sucks (1996)

The "comeback" only means that Milo Aukerman is back on lead vocals again; the Descendents call themselves All when he's not on board.

Post Your Comments

Can't Go Back