There's virtue in simplicity. It's one of punk's charms. Drawing on the high-energy, straight-ahead spirit of the Ramones and the pop-punk tunefulness of acts like Screeching Weasel, the four members of Teenage Bottlerocket are as incendiary as their namesake, ripping through two-minute anthems geared for punk's outcasts and spirited iconoclasts.
From the enthusiastic power chord blasts of "Skate or Die," with its promise to make "skating a threat again," to the fair-weather attitude of "Not OK" and the hard-charging, fist-waving swagger/diss of "Bigger Than KISS," the Wyoming band's fourth studio album, September's "They Came from the Shadows," is its finest moment: bigger, louder and tighter than anything the group has previously released.
The band began with twins Ray and Brandon Carlisle following the dissolution of their prior band, Homeless Wonders in 2000. Donning leather jackets in a conscious ode to the Ramones, the idea from the outset was to strip things bare-bones, and drop artistic pretension in favor of catchy, full-on songs.
"I went through a time in my life when I was listening to nothing but Fugazi and really weird and complicated music," Ray Carlisle said. "I guess I grew through it or grew up or something, and I just wanted to strip it down. So we started writing the most simple songs we possibly could."
Teenage Bottlerocket went through a couple guitarists before Kody Templemen (of The Lillingtons) joined in 2004, solidifying the lineup. After recording 2005's "Total" and 2008's "Warning Device" for Red Scare Industries, the band joined Fat Wreck Chords to let its latest loose.
"They Came from the Shadows" benefits from a bigger budget and more studio assurance. Self-produced and recorded in the same studio as the previous two, the disc is nonetheless a stronger, harder-hitting record.
"It definitely sounds bigger and better," Carlisle siad. "I think we're just more comfortable with the studio, and we know what we want there."
The new album has a more freewheeling aesthetic than other Bottlerocket efforts, expanding beyond the musicians' pop-punk roots. It's not a dramatic difference, but tracks like Templeman's "Forbidden Planet" recalls the chunky attack of Pennywise, and Carlisle's terrific "Fatso Goes Nutzoid" plies a furious hardcore style worthy of Suicidal Tendencies.
"We didn't feel any restrictions with this record," Carlisle said. "We weren't, 'Oh, that's not Ramones enough.' We're like, 'This song fucking rocks. Let's rock it.'"
While known to pull out a Dead Milkmen, Green Day or Ramones tune on occasion (they favor "I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"), the quartet has added a new song to its repertoire of late: Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me."
"It's just a fun song that we bust out whenever the mood fits. Sometimes, we get the audiences that are all just standing there, with their hands in their pockets and you seem under the microscope, and I don't think it's a good time to bust it out," Carlisle said. "But wherever people are pounding the beers and pogo dancing, it's like, 'All right, let's pull this out and see how it goes.
"Last night (in Tampa, Fla.), I don't think it went over too well, but the night before, in Atlanta, it went great. So it's a little hit-or-miss. It's a little cheesy, but at the same time, that's kind of what's awesome about it."
Teenage Bottlerocket with Cobra Skulls and The Constanzas perform at 9 p.m. Monday at The Conservatory, 8911 N. Western. "Chris Parker