Ramonescore: a campy sub-genre of a sub-genre, paying tribute to a legendary band that helped birth that very sub-genre. Bands who participate in the act of Ramones worship typically play light-hearted, upbeat songs about drinking, girls, and drinking because of girls. Some people appreciate Ramonescore for what it is. Others write it off as vacuous, repetitive pop-punk, played exclusively by guys with Screeching Weasel tattoos. And while I understand those criticisms, you have to be a real stick in the mud to outright hate this shit. It’s fun!
Sure, if you listen to enough of the stuff, you’ll certainly hear a lot of similar (if not exactly the same) chord progressions. And reading through tracklists, you might get overwhelmed by the amount of things these bands do and don’t wanna do. I view all of these idiosyncrasies as a set of strict parameters that must be adhered to when writing songs. It’s easy to write a shitty Ramonescore style pop-punk song (believe me, I’ve heard my fair share), but quite difficult to write good ones when playing by these “rules”.
With their debut album Just Wanna, the Pinoles pass the test. This record delivers everything an old school pop-punk fan could ask for. Nine tracks in 20 minutes, all simple, catchy, and easy to sing along to even after you’ve thrown back a few. Some of my favorite songs are “Padded Walls”, “You Make Me Sick”, “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, “Santa Cruz”, and the title track. These guys don’t fuck around. Just like the Ramones, they get you in and out quick. I appreciate the efficiency.
Like most Ramonescore bands, these Californians wear their influences proudly on the sleeves of their leather jackets. Their frontman uses a Mosrite guitar to deliver a barrage of downstroked bar chords, à la Johnny Ramone. The little “whoa oh-oh-oh” bit on the album’s title track is lifted straight from Screeching Weasel’s “High School Psychopath”. And there are numerous references to classic songs and records sprinkled throughout the lyrics across this entire album. There is no shame in their game, and that’s perfectly fine by me.
Regardless of whether you enjoy this brand of pop-punk, I highly recommend checking out Just Wanna. It’s a very well produced record with fun, no-nonsense songwriting. Listen to the album below, and head over to the Pinoles’ Bandcamp page to download it.
Official Review Score:
4/5 Converse All Stars