So Dumb/So Stoked (EP)

Teenage Bottlerocket

Pirates Press Records, 2023

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The Laramie, Wyoming punk rockers Teenage Bottlerocket suffered a massive tragedy in 2015 when their founding member and drummer Brandon Carlisle died unexpectedly. The band had amassed a huge following in the punk scene by then. In time, they forged on with the new drummer Darren Chewka (of The Old Wives) and came back with an excellent LP in 2019.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This new four-song EP spotlights the difficult year of 2020 for the band, when the world was struggling to progress, and the members’ thoughts are front and center and surrounded by tuneful and infectious songwriting.

“So Dumb” opens the listen with razor sharp guitar playing from Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman alongside Chewka’s thumping drums, as the ultra-melodic and toe tappin’, head bobbin’ formula flows with an energy that has you singing along immediately.

“It Wasn’t Enough” follows and places Carlisle on vocals for the rugged approach that’s still plenty harmonic, albeit a little more forceful, where swirling guitars and the hard-hitting rhythm section complement the shouted backing vocals.

There isn’t a bad tune present, but the final two are the best- maybe the best from the band to date. “So Stoked” buzzes with Templeman’s smooth pipes guiding the perfect, charged and driving pop-punk formula that makes great use of Migue Chen’s meticulous bass work. “Heart Attack”, the closer, uses the backing 'woah ohs' strategically against the very detailed drumming and softer moments that illustrate a rare intimacy present in the genre.

Ten minutes of top notch pop-punk probably won’t be enough for most of us; thankfully, Teenage Bottlerocket's back catalog goes back a couple decades, so there’s plenty more to explore.

For fans of legends like Ramones, Screeching Weasel or The Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket is essential listening, and their perseverance following the loss of Brandon Carlisle is admirable.

Rating: A

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© 2023 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Pirates Press Records, and is used for informational purposes only.