For many, the high temperatures and blaring rays of sunlight of the summer solstice mean a couple things: parties, water and pop-punk music. I know for me, many summers meant I would be riding around town, windows down, stereo turned all the way up, blasting blink-182 or New Found Glory. As long as it got the girls in the car with us or down to the bonfire, we didn’t care.
As seasons change and my age has taken me out of my carefree teenage years, I find summer lacking the same energy as it once did. While I still enjoy cranking up Enema of the State and Ocean Avenue on a crisp, clear sunny day, I find that my real energy comes from straight-up punk rock.
Bands like Millencolin, Lagwagon, Rise Against, Much The Same…they get me revved up and turned on for summertime action, like kicking over gasoline tins into fire pits, off-roading on construction sites and belly-flopping into a crowded pool of children. If it takes my mind off the fact that my back is glued to the leather couch in my living room due to the heat, then the music has done its job.
2007 has now given me even more reason to be stoked for the summer: The Swellers’ fantastic new album, My Everest, which I think is safe to say, one of my top favorite releases in the punk rock genre and easily one of 2007’s very best achievements in fast-paced, high-energy punk music. It goes down like a nice spoonful of Midtown, A Wilhelm Scream and early Alkaline Trio. The foursome from Flint, Michigan are young and heavily influenced by bands highly-acclaimed not only by the AP.net majority, but by people who just like their alternative rock infused with a dash of pop and skate-punk/hardcore.
The twelve tracks on the disc are blazed through with incredible ferocity and demonstrate the multi-faceted skill of these soon-to-be-famous punks. Celebrating the DIY culture and their hometown roots, they come off as very blue-collar and relatable to the casual listener, which is what has helped their influences become praised. For example, the firing opener, “Vehicle City,” is about the band’s hometown, and the changes it has undergone in terms of just growing up and trying to get out (something I am sure many can relate to).
The pummeling tune “The Flood” has a manic drumbeat that keeps the song flourishing, in a song talking about destruction and adapting to new surroundings. My favorite cut, “The Is My Everest” is packs a punch well-worth the price of the album, climaxing into a punk rock anthem for everyone, with a deep-throat, gut-twisting guitar riff all the way through. Really, in all honesty, every track plays like an anthem speaking to a generation under scrutiny, as in such tunes like “Clean Slate” and the high-octane “What’s At Stake”. My Everest doesn’t really ever take a breath from being a kick in the teeth (although “Keep Looking Where Your Eyes Are Looking Now” is a two-minute acoustic number). Even during the 5 minute 22 second finale, “The Way Back Home,” which incorporates anthemic hardcore with an epic build-up, the band doesn’t ever stop to be artsy – they light some dynamite and throw it in your ear canal to keep you awake and interested.
Nick Diener is also a great vocalist, taking the same rough-vocal cue from Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) and Nuno Pereira (A Wilhelm Scream), with soaring emotion in his voice and sounding incredibly impassioned in his delivery. His brother, Jonathan, keeps up the rhythm by tearing apart the skins, while Lance Nelson and Garrett Burgett pile up the rest of the pieces, only to knock them over with earthquake-like riffs.
Matching the pop-hook sensibilities of Midtown, the vocal style of A Wilhelm Scream and the grinding thrash sound of Lagwagon or Much The Same, The Swellers are destined to have the torch passed down to them as the country’s new-found punk rock heroes to all misfits, mischiefs and people looking for some energy not in the form of an aluminum can.
Forget drinking Red Bull – The Swellers’ My Everest will give you wings all throughout summer and then some.