Pop Goes the Punk

U.S. Crush
(Immortal Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: August 10, 2000

By Tony Bonyata

Similar to their album cover, which features a picture of a billowing active volcano, the music on U.S. Crush's self-titled debut album is erupting with swelling pop melodies, hot-lava guitar textures and urgent punk attitude.
Led by vocalist Denny Lake, and joined by fellow guitarists Hodgie Haynes and David Hanson, bassist Ky Lambert and drummer Dennis Wolfe, U.S. Crush is jumping headfirst into punk-pop - a genre that sounded fresh when bands like Green Day and Rancid perfected it earlier in the '90s, but now is sounded a little dated, and well, green and rancid.
U.S. Crush But you can't blame these Southern California rockers for trying. Their debut album is a fine effort that has all the guts of punk while still maintaining well-written melodies that linger on.
From the punky power-pop and rich harmonies of the opening number "Bleed," to the break-neck rhythm of "Everything" and the bump-and-grind glam send-up on "Same Old Story (She's So Pretty)" these boys don't let up. They purposely avoid the cliche, sappy ballads that stick out like a 'Vote Gore' button on ripped-up, safety pinned t-shirt, instead plowing through each song with a ferocious appetite.
The two stand-out tracks on the album "Loser" and "Underground" both find a happy middle ground for punk and pop-rock to shack up together without shame.
Lake's urgent, impassioned vocals work well over the snaky harmonies and shimmering guitars on "Collision Course," "Stand Up," with its call-to-arms chorus and "You Wanna Be A Star," which blends a Green Day swagger with '70s rock guitar excesses. His scowl on "Debutante" also owes a deal to the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, while traces of REM's Michael Stipe can be faintly heard when he lets his guard down.
Although hummable tunes covered in safety pins and fluorescent pink hair may be on their way out (again), U.S. Crush seem unconcerned - doing it up like it was the first go 'round.

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