Album Review: Dan Vapid and the Cheats / Jetty Boys Split 7″

When I first hit play on the Dan Vapid and the Cheats / Jetty Boys split 7” it instantly resurrected memories of drinking 40’s in the parking lot behind all-ages venues and ditching class to go to In-N-Out burger with the stereo turned up to 11 blasting Screeching Weasel or Rhythm Collision. But it isn’t just nostalgia that makes this record so good to me.  Nostalgia fades quickly when you realize that the original was not nearly as good as you remember it (have you actually watched Thundercats or Airwolf lately? Terrible!) This record is clearly the work of seasoned pop-punk veterans.

Dan Vapid and the Cheats kick it all off with “One More Chance”, a Ramones-ey rock n’ roller with sneering vocals and a singalong chorus. “Part of the Noise” is a later Descendence-y kick drum and ride cymbal driven burner originally by the band Pointed Sticks. At first the synth part seemed out of place, by the 3rd or 4th listen I appreciated the addition. Dan Vapid proves again that he is a grand-master of the pop-punk school.

As good as the Cheats’ side is, this is definitely not a one-sided split, like too many are.

The Jetty Boys are the latest addition to a long line of most-excellent Wisconsin punk bands (Boris the Sprinkler!), and they do their antecedents proud with these two burners. “Not Even Close” is a 1,029 era Green Day ripper with more hooks than a Japanese whaling Fleet. “Jimmy” is another super-catchy tune (also) with shades of early Green Day. (originally performed by The Roman Line.) Just when you thought this tune couldn’t possibly be any more of an ear-worm, the breakdown hits with a new singalong refrain, which builds into a fugue as the chorus is added in, then the guitar lead,  and by the end every hook in the song is playing all at once. It’s like a perfect storm of pop-punk songwriting, which culminates in a cymbal-grab ending. Perfect.

Both bands play with the zeal and freshness of your first band, but coupled with songwriting talent gleaned only through years of practice. Pay attention to this record, you young “pop-punk” bands. THESE guys are showing you how it’s done. Four and a half stars (this is about as high as my scale goes for anything but Abbey Road or Quadrophenia).

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