Berkeley's on Fire SWMRS Primary Artist

Berkeley's on Fire SWMRS Primary Artist
Categories: Soups, Noodle
Brand: Fueled By Ramen
15.99 USD
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Bay Area punk outfit SWMRS make a significant advance in their maturation with their second set for Fueled by Ramen, Berkeley’s on Fire. While retaining the D.I.Y. spirit and snotty attitudes from their earlier days as Emily’s Army, the quartet borrow from the early-2000s garage rock and post-punk revivals, swapping between cool grooves and jangly bounce like U.K. contemporary Rat Boy. With Rich Costey (Muse, Mew) at the helm, production has improved, the songwriting is tightened, and the taut runtime delivers a brisk, refreshing listen. Much of the album’s charm lies in frontman Cole Becker’s vocals, which affect an irresistible Joe Strummer/Tim Armstrong slack-jawed drawl. Even when he’s singing – as on the sweet Ikea Date and the Vines-esque Bad Allergies – SWMRS still sound like youthful punks searching for meaning in a messed-up world. That world is targeted in classic punk fashion throughout, with the boys – guitarist Max Becker, drummer Joey Armstrong, and bassist Seb Mueller – taking aim at U.S. politics, societal woes, and capitalist evils, summed up in the thumping Lose Lose Lose with the proclamation that 2019 is a fucking disaster. Other standouts include the jangly bopper Trashbag Baby, the new wave bounce Too Much Coffee, and the gritty Lonely Ghosts, which adopts an air of ’90s alterna-cool. While their entire catalog is worth a listen – from the no-frills punk of their first two efforts to 2015’s Drive North – Berkeley’s on Fire feels different, like a band that’s hitting their stride with a catchy blend of punk-indebted styles delivered with the conviction of a more seasoned act. ~ Neil Z. Yeung