Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

O Pioneers!!!-Black Mambas

January 1, 2007

opioneersBand Name: O Pioneers!!!

Album Name: Black Mambas

Best Element: Passion and unflinching simplicity

Genre: Punk

Website: http://www.opioneers.com

Label Name: Team Science Records

Band E-mail: www.myspace.com/opioneers

In a world of over-produced, formulaic, pretty-boy pop-punk, it’s only natural that a resistance should pop up. And resistance has appeared, right where it should: the underground. Led by Latterman! and now O Pioneers!!!, true punk is clawing its way out of the grave pop-punk would bury it in.

There’s really no way I could bash this, even if I didn’t like this – based on the amount of crap that’s been tagged with the name ‘punk’, anything that truly gets back to the roots of the punk movement is worthy of praise. It’s a good thing that O Pioneers!!! is great.

It takes some getting used to, as the stripped down sound leaves no room for “well, I kinda like it.” In fact, when I first heard the guitar/drums/yells that are O Pioneers!!!, I was disappointed: the creeping feeling of “that’s all there is?” started to come over me. But over time, the simplicity got to me. The intense passion behind the ragged out-of-tune yells, frantically strummed guitar and rock-solid drumming is really a revolution unto itself – forsaking the overdubs, layering, and factory-produced charm that comes with the modern scene and getting to the core of songwriting.

The songwriting here is really good – as there are no tricks associated with O Pioneers, the burden of proof lies squarely on the guitar. It doesn’t disappoint, as it serves up more than the just four chords in even time. From the shifty, sliding guitar work in “Autographs are for Rock Stars and Official Papers” to the surf-rockin “Enemies on Speed Dial” to the awkward strum patterns of “The Weather Underground”, the duo manages to mix up the songwriting enough so that you can stay focused on the lyrics and vocals without getting bored by monotony.

But even with all the variations thrown at us (the non-chord intro to “Motley Crue, Probably Saved My Life”, the start/stop of “Remember When it Meant Something”), this still gets tedious to the listener not accustomed to listening to a straight half-hour of yelling. One problem is that this album isn’t an album to make an album – it’s an album so that people can memorize the words and then go scream them back to O Pioneers!!! at a show. Everything in the lyrics (“connection” appears in multiple songs, as well as “friend” and “heart”) and in the delivery (I can only imagine what the minute-long call and response sections on “Remember When It Meant Something” are like live) points to the fact that you have to see O Pioneers!!! to become a true believer in them.

Another problem is that as a reviewer, I’m accustomed to hearing a lot more going on in music. Maybe it’s everyone and not just reviewers, but the best bands of recent that I have been listening to have been complex. And O Pioneers!!! is not complex.

All this to say that O Pioneers!!! is really great. You may not like Black Mambas, but nevertheless, they are one heck of a band. Anyone with this much passion, idealism, and good songwriting must be commended, and that’s what I’m here to do.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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