Off To A Bad Start


Big Stir Records, 2023

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


You may have never heard of Santa Barbara's short lived pop-punk outfit Popsicko, but you’re probably familiar with some of the bands the members are associated with. Frontman and guitarist Keith Brown actually sang for Pennywise; Tim Cullen (guitar, vocals) would play in Summercamp; drummer Mick Flowers made appearances with The Rentals; and Mark DeSantis (bass) played in Bad Astronaut and Sugarcult.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Very tragically, Brown died in a car accident in 1995, when the band were on hiatus due to internal struggles, and this, their only album, never received the attention it deserved.

“Nastassja” begins the 13-track listen with smooth singing, driving guitars, bouncy bass and thumping drums that straddle the line between punk and garage rock. “I Don't Need You” follows with a denser delivery that makes nods to grunge-rock but still carries much melody, and the raspy singing and acoustic guitar fueled “Some Mother’s Son” builds into a scrappy yet very tuneful ’90s rocker.

Some of the best tunes land in the middle, where the college rock spirited “Gettin’ Used To You” makes me think the band listened to a lot of Soul Asylum and The Replacements, while the buzzing punk rock of “Distrust” comes with plenty of sing-alongs.

Inching towards the end, the dreamy, swirling “Same Old Me” sounds like the song The Smoking Popes forgot to write, and “To Would Have Beens” exits with both singing and talking in a nearly folk-rock climate.

This reissue finds the debut available on vinyl for the first time, and it comes with a book about the rise and fall of the band. It’s a strong reminder of how much great but overlooked music came out in the ’90s. Off To A Bad Start was originally released in 1994, the year that Green Day became a household name, and there’s little doubt that Popsicko would have seen plenty of residual fame from the pop-punk explosion had they stayed together.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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