Descendents – 9th & Walnut (Album Review)

Descendents – 9th & Walnut (Album Review)

One of the the pioneers of what became known as Pop Punk, as well as a long-running band in the genre, Descendents was formed in 1977, in Manhattan Beach, California. It stood out among the slew of angst-ridden Punk bands that surfed the tide of the late ’70s through the ’80s because of its wacky, fun, yet thought-provoking songs. For the most part, though, Descendents’ records are any Punk Rocker’s must-have–particularly 1986’s Enjoy! and the ensuing year’s All, both of which produced now classic tracks such as “Get the Time,” “Sour Grapes,” “Cheer,” “Clean Sheets,” “Pep Talk,” and the beloved rendition of The Beach Boys’ “Wendy.”

Currently consisting of the ever charismatic Milo Auckerman (vocals), Bill Stevenson (drums), Karl Alvarez (bass), and Stephen Egerton (guitars), Descendents took a long hiatus in the 2000s, and then returned in 2016 with Hypercaffium Spazzinate. Now, Descendents is back with the follow-up–their eighth studio album, 9th & Walnut–an 18-track package comprising mostly songs written during the band’s humble beginnings, from 1977 to 1980; and which may be regarded as an homage to former members the late Guitarist Frank Navetta and Bassist Tony Lombardo, both of whom wrote most of the songs in this collection.

Released on Friday, July 23, 2021, via Epitaph Records, 9th & Walnut is definitely a throwback to Descendents’ old sound–not that their music has drastically changed over the years, but it exudes a sonic air of nostalgia for when Punk songs were typically short, simple-structured, and talked of juvenile woes.

9th & Walnut opens with the breakneck track “Sailor’s Choice.” It is then followed by a series of melodic and frenetic, quick stompers such as “Crepe Suzette,” “Nightage,” “Grudge,” “Mohicans,” and “It’s a Hectic World.” Interspersed between these engaging speed songs are less-than-a-minute rockers like “You Make Me Sick,” “Baby Doncha Know,” “Like the Way I Know,” “Yore Disgusting,” and covers of two songs by The Last–a lesser-known Punk contemporary of Descendents. Finally, Descendents wrap up 9th & Walnut with a lovely rendition of “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five.

Overall, quite strong collection, recommended standouts include “Tired of Being Tired,” “Lullaby,” and “Ride the Wild.” Forty-four years have passed since their formation, but Descendents do not show signs of slowing down. In fact, 9th & Walnut is proof that the band is yet to lose its sense of melody, direction, and fun. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives 9th & Walnut 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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